That’s free in the sense of not having to spend a dime, though it will cost you some real estate in your site’s design through the addition of a widget and depending on how you feel about adding widgets that might be a higher price to pay.
Just before the weekend John Reese launched BlogRush, a new RSS syndication widget that aims to deliver you traffic equal to the traffic you send to other blogs. The system is brand new so little about how effective or ineffective it will be is known, but it seemed worth giving a try. I won’t be seeing any stats for a couple of days so I’ll have to update this post later in the week or month.
How does It Work?
It’s simple enough to understand. You add the widget to your blog and it displays the titles to 5 posts from other blogs in the system. Whenever someone views a page where you have it installed you earn a credit to have your most recent post title appear on someone else’s blog. One pageview = one credit. Naturally the more popular your blog already is the more traffic you can expect to get through the system.
However if your blog currently doesn’t get a lot of traffic you can still gain more by having others sign up under your referral link. It works in pyramid or multi-level marketing style where you earn credits for the pageviews of those along your chain. You can receive credits 10 levels down, but you earn less credits the further away from you a referral is.
Your Traffic = 1:1 1st Generation Of Referrals (Directly From You) = 1:1 2nd Generation Of Referrals (i.e. Jen in the video) = 1:1 3rd – 6th Generation Of Referrals = 1:4 7th – 10th Generation Of Referrals = 1:8
One view on your site is worth one credit. Eight views on a 10th generation referral is worth one credit.
In general I’m not a fan of MLM or pyramid schemes since those at the top are the ones making the most by preying on those at the bottom. In this case you’re not paying anything to join and if you aren’t close to the top you’ll at least get the 1:1 exchange, which still seems fair.
The targeted part comes from selecting the best category for your blog. Your links should only be showing on other blogs that are in your category. The real question is whether BlogRush will deliver the traffic it claims it can send. We’ll have to wait to find out, but I’ll share some thoughts later in this post.
One area where BlogRush could prove useful is in branding your blog. While it’s too soon to know how much traffic it can deliver your blog name will appear right below your post titles. Each view of your blog name is another branding opportunity. Even if people aren’t clicking on your links if they notice your name often enough it could lead to more clicks through other sources.
Tips For Getting More Out Of BlogRush
Being so new, BlogRush optimization is guesswork at the moment, though there are a few obvious things that would likely improve the traffic you get.
- Write clickable titles – It’s the title of your most recent blog post that gets shown in the widget. The more enticing the title the more likely the click. You should be writing clickable titles anyway and now you’ll have one more reason to do so. I wouldn’t suggest writing titles specifically for BlogRush, though. It should be easy to think of other traffic sources that will always be more important to your success.
- Choose the most appropriate category – If your blog is about photography and you select automotive as the category for your blog don’t expect clicks and especially don’t expect targeted clicks.
- Get in early – I mentioned above there’s a pyramid mechanism at work here. The more people you can get to sign up under you the more potential credits you’ll earn. At some point most of the people who will want in will be in and that leaves no one to sign up under you. Another advantage to early adopters is that BlogRush needs pages to link to as it grows. They plan on giving away credits to those who get in on the system early so why not get some of those extra credits.
- Continue to market as usual – The two ways to earn credits are to get pageviews to your site and to get other people to sign up under your account. It stands to reason that those signing up under you will get less traffic than you do and the credits you earn become less with each level of referral. BlogRush is not going to be a magic bullet for anyone. At best it’ll be a supplement to the traffic you get through other means. The more of that other traffic you can get the more BlogRush will potentially send you.
How Much Traffic Will You Get?
That’s a difficult question to answer since it’s still so early. I haven’t seen anyone offering stats yet, though I expect some will come in the near future. If I had to guess I’d say at best the clicks will be on par with how many clicks you would expect from something like AdSense. In other words don’t expect to see a huge CTR on the links. Chances are you’re going to need a lot of credits to get any worthwhile click numbers.
It will also depend on how prominently the widget is featured on a given site. Above the fold widgets will probably get more clicks than below the fold widgets. Since bloggers gain credits by pageviews it won’t matter where the widget is placed and I doubt I’m going out on a limb to suggest that most widgets end up toward the bottom of the page. The only real advantage of featuring the widget prominently is to try to gain referrals.
Ultimately the traffic you can get will depend on how well BlogRush promotes itself. This could be something that takes off and finds itself on blogs everywhere or it could be something that never gains traction. I’m thinking somewhere in the middle will be closer to the truth. I’d expect BlogRush to start showing up a lot in the very near future and then just as quickly you’ll see most people stop using it. Something like the meteoric rise of MyBlogLog followed by the close to meteoric fall of MyBlogLog.
Assuming Blogush gains traction you’ll probably see it for a long time, though not as much as you’ll probably see it over the next few months. Another reason to get in early perhaps so you can profit while it’s still here.
Suggestions For BlogRush
Even early on I can see some areas where BlogRush could stand improvement. First and foremost is to allow some customization in the look of the widget. At the moment what you see is what you will also get. At the very least allow bloggers to choose the colors for the various parts of the widget in order to better blend it into their sites.
Better blending should lead to more clicks, leading to more traffic, leading to more people blogging about that traffic, leading to…well you get the idea.
More categories would be useful as would the ability to select more than one category to define a blog. Is this blog about business or is it about marketing? Let me select both and offer me options for small business and search engine marketing. More categories or sub-categories will enable better targeting.
Offer some benefits for blogs that generate clicks. Pageviews are a fair source of credits on the surface, but there’s little preventing bloggers from burying the widget in their design. It would be trivial to completely hide the widget visually yet still gain credits. Offer real benefits to people who display the widgets more prominently. Maybe more credits for each click or perhaps share some of the revenue you’ll get when someone clicks on one of your monetized links. If there’s no benefit in making the widget more visible on the page it’s not going to be more visible on the page.
Prepare for the spam BlogRush will get. Since referrals are part of the way to profit expect your links to show up everywhere including spam emails and social media spam. Since the widget won’t provide any direct search engine benefit it should help prevent some kinds of spam. Still expect to receive a lot of spam of the kind where the widget is hidden and a lot of automated traffic is driven to a page.
Should You Sign Up?
Only you can decide that, but I think it’s worth giving BlogRush a try, especially now before too many others join the system. Returns will likely be higher for early adopters. You can see I’ve added the widget and I’ll keep it around for a few weeks at the least while I collect some data on how effective it proves to be.
I’m not particularly crazy about how it integrates into the design here. Naturally I didn’t design this site with BlogRush in mind, but it stands apart from the rest of the page elements a little too much for my liking. Unless it delivers it won’t stick around.
I’m not expecting to see a huge influx of useful traffic flowing into the site because of the widget. I do think there will be some traffic flowing in, but my guess is it will be low value traffic. I would think this will be the case with most people who’ll slowly bury the widget further down the page before removing it completely. I do hope I’m wrong, but something tells me most of us will make better use of the space with something else.
Again I think it’s worth giving a try. It took under 5 minutes to be up and running and it’s easily removed if you decide against it later. As I collect more or any stats on the traffic it sends I’ll update this post.