BlogRush rushed onto the scene about six weeks ago with the promise of driving free relevant traffic to your blog. I reviewed the system when it first launched and presented some ideas for how to improve it. I also promised an update, which is the post you see before you. Six and a half weeks later and there’s still more promise than results with BlogRush, but the promise may be enough to keep that widget in your sidebar a little longer.
Then again the promise may not be enough. BlogRush has seemed to experience nothing but problems since launch. Within a few days stats were no longer available for viewing and the blogging community quickly pronounced the site dead. Spam filled the widget and the general consensus has been “move along, nothing to see here.” For the most part I agreed, but decided to be patient and wait for the promised phase 2 launch.
Earlier this week I thought I had waited long enough and planned on writing this post with or without phase 2 when an hour later an email arrived letting me know phase 2 was finally here and to have a look. John Reese put together a video explaining the changes and it does a good job describing the relaunch. It’s a little longer than your typical YouTube video, but it’s worth a look if you’re still on the fence about adding the widget to your site.
Naturally for a site that’s been plagued by problems since the outset, BlogRush is down at the moment I’m writing. I’ll assume it’s coming back.
Unlike with the initial launch, there’s been little talk the last few days of the phase 2 launch. Darren Rowse was the only blogger I came across who talked about it and he’s mostly feeling underwhelmed.
I’m feeling underwhelmed myself with the performance of the system, but I do see some promise, which might have me keeping the widget around a little longer.
Thoughts And Observations About BlogRush
- The constant problems say a lot. It’s hard to feel good about a system that has only been working a handful of its first 50 or so days in existence. Labeling something beta is no excuse.
- The goal of BlogRush is to drive traffic and to date that traffic has been invisible. My links have been displayed about 9,000 times in the system, which has resulted in a total of 12 clicks to date. If you need the math that’s a 0.133 conversion rate. I wasn’t expecting huge returns, but 0.133 is pathetically low.
- While the widget does take up some real estate it’s not over bearing. BlogRush offers enough color options to find one that blends well with your blog design. Phase 2 also offers a narrower widget.
- I expected to mostly ignore the widget when encountering it on other sites in an ad blindness sense. I’ve been surprised though, by how often I have noticed the widget and the links. It’s possible that’s only because of my own participation in the system and curiosity about what I see on other sites as compared to here. I’ll admit to hoping to find one of my own links, which may be the only real reason I ever notice the widget.
- One of the early problems too many spammy links appearing in the widget. BlogRush underwent a manual review of all the sites that had joined and the links in the widget have become better and more relevant over the weeks.
- New categories are expected tomorrow. More categories should lead to more relevance.
- The new dashboard is nice and presents a good deal of information. You can get a quick overview of everything, but even better is the ability to see how often individual posts are being displayed and being clicked. There’s an additional reporting tab that allows you to view your stats over any time period. I agree with Darren that there needs to be an easier way to see your total clicks than having to count them on individual posts.
- There are too many credits owed to you. I’ve earned about 18,000 credits since installing the widget yet only half of those credits were used to display one of my links on another widget. The credit balance should really be a lot closer to zero. In the phase 2 video John Reese explains your balance will go up and down, though it seems to mostly be going up.
Why I haven’t Removed The Widget Yet
It’s a question I’ve asked myself. The results are underwhelming and I can’t say I expect the clicks to get all that much better. John Reese makes a point in the video that even though the clicks are low they likely come from other bloggers. One blogger may count a little more than the average visitor in the respect that bloggers write about and link to content they like. The one click could potentially lead to more than one click. In theory this is true, but in practice it probably won’t be.
I’ve yet to notice other bloggers who found me through the widget. At most there could be 12 of them. I’ve also yet to discover another blogger myself through the widget. I may have clicked once or twice at most. There are much better ways to connect with another blogger than through a widget.
John mentioned one other item, which is where the next phase of promises comes in. Next to your individual post on the dashboard stat is an icon to show whether or not your post is cool or hot within the system. A hot post is one that is displayed and clicked a lot, but it’s also one that keeps visitors through the widget on your site a little longer. Two of my current posts are showing the hot icon even though one has only generated a single visitor.
BlogRush is planning a companion site to display posts across the network with hot posts gaining more visibility on the new site. It came across to me as a social news site with the voting being determined by performance in the BlogRush network. Maybe at some future time there will be the usual human powered voting and burying content, but if the sister site can develop an audience your posts could generate good deal of traffic.
For now I’ll leave the widget. It’s mostly unobtrusive and I’m not using the space in the sidebar for anything else now. It wouldn’t take much for another widget to take over the real estate, however. And while I may not be receiving much traffic through it, it’s not as though I’m having to work hard for that traffic.
BlogRush will have to start delivering more than promises in order for me to keep it. Each time you fail to come through on a promise your next one is less believable. I can appreciate unexpected difficulties in the launch of a new system, but at some point you have to work those difficulties out. I’m leaving the widget for the moment, but don’t be surprised if it’s gone before too long.
If you liked this post, consider buying my book Design Fundamentals