Archive for the ‘Website’ category

My first BzzAgent review: about.me

May 23, 2011

As I mentioned in my last post, I recently started working as a copywriter for a social marketing company called BzzAgent. Also known as a word-of-mouth marketing company, BzzAgent enlists hundreds of thousands of “agents” to discuss brands and products (L’Oreal, Michelin, and Unilever are just a few of its clients).

The agents receive free products, free services, and discounts. I signed up to be an agent (also called a “BzzAgent”) to see what’s it’s all about (you can do so as well). After filling out some surveys, I was invited to the “about.me” campaign. About.me lets you put multiple online profiles (including Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Flickr profiles) in one place.

I created an about.me page at about.me/christinelaubenstein. You decide which profiles and/or links you want to include on your page. I added my Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Vimeo, YouTube, and Tumblr accounts (granting about.me access to my posts, updates, videos, etc.), but I declined to allow access to my Facebook info (including profile information, status updates, and friends’ photos).

For me, my Facebook page is a relatively private space I don’t want strangers to see. I did, however, opt to add a link to my Facebook page (in case someone wants to friend me). You can link to other pages if you’d like, or add other profiles (Blogger, Posterous, Flickr, TypePad, Formspring, Last.fm, Daily Booth, and Instagram).

You can also personalize your background, font colors, fonts, and biography. Other features include statistics about your accounts and about.me page, ideas for promoting your about.me page, and a place to add your favorite about.me pages. I haven’t yet used all these features, but I’ll still provide my initial thoughts about about.me:

  • It’s a neat idea. Unless you have your own website/blog, I don’t know of any service that lets you list such a wide variety of profiles (LinkedIn, for example, just has fields for three websites, your Twitter account, and your IM screen names). Not to mention the other services don’t let you see content from all your accounts.
  • I like how you can personalize your page.
  • It’s good from an SEO standpoint. You can use about.me to submit your about.me page to Bing, Google, and Yahoo. I did this about two weeks ago, and at least for Google my about.me page already appears on the second page of search results when my name is queried. So creating an about.me page can help push down negative links (if you have them, of course).
  • I’m not sure sure how much time I’ll devote to my page. I have a personal blog and professional website that already allow me to add my Tumblr, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. info. So if I have these sites I’ve already invested in, why do I need about.me? I guess I could use about.me to have all my content in one place. But at this point, I don’t see a huge benefit. Clicking on a link to access my content (at its source) takes one second.

My professional website is in the works

April 13, 2011

I spent a good chunk of yesterday setting up a professional website. It took me a little while to determine my domain name, register my site, and pick out a web host. For my domain name, I ended up deciding on christinedunne.com, which will be my new name as of September 17. I registered the site with GoDaddy and chose Laughing Squid as a host.

After realizing how much I love WordPress (I’ve been using it to blog since the fall of 2008), I decided to set up my site with WordPress’s blog tool and publishing platform. As I explained in my new site’s first blog post, this involved a fair amount of work. But thanks to various online help/tutorials, I figured it out.

I’ve barely added anything to my site, but I look forward to working on it in the coming weeks.

Yup, I’m a copywriter

March 22, 2011

Around 7:45 p.m. I noticed a blunder on the Boston Globe’s website, Boston.com. Can you find it? (Click on the image to see it better.)

Yup: They wrote “Cheat eats,” not “Cheap eats.” It’s not the biggest deal in the world, but it’s too bad one of the biggest newspapers in the country had such a glaring error. Around 8:15 p.m. I checked the site again and the issue was fixed.

The wedding website is coming along

March 6, 2011

My friend Ina created the website a couple of months ago (thanks again, Ina!), and this weekend I updated it a bit (e.g. I added hotel information and a “News” section). I will try to add to the news section every week or two:-)!

Resolution: Use Facebook less

January 3, 2011

resolution-is-to-use-facebook-less

One of my New Year’s resolutions is to use Facebook less. I’m sort of addicted to it, so this will be tough. I’ve decided I’d just like to use it for keeping in touch with people whose emails addresses I don’t have, occasionally posting photos, and seeing messages or posts friends have tagged me in (I receive an email each time this happens so I don’t have to sign in to Facebook to check on this).

I’ve basically determined that Facebook is a huge time waster (at least in my case). To facilitate my resolution I’ve signed myself out of Facebook. By making it harder to access Facebook, I’m hoping this keeps me from using it. We’ll see! I will update you on my efforts! For some reason writing down that I will do this gives me more of an incentive to follow through with it.

Cheap money-making content

November 8, 2010

I recently learned about a handful of online publishing companies that hire contractors to write short and simple articles about topics that are commonly searched for online. Through this focus on in-demand topics and the subsequent search engine optimization of the articles, the content get lots of page views, advertisers, and revenue.

Just for fun, I decided to try writing an article for a couple of these companies. I applied for two I had read fairly positive things about– Bright Hub and Demand Media (the company’s content appears on eHow.com and livestrong.com). The application process was fairly simple for both of the companies. I provided my resume and some (published) writing samples. In almost no time I was approved as a freelance writer.

For Bright Hub, I was approved to write for the company’s “Diet, Nutrition & Health Eating” channel (so I’d write about articles related to these topics). Before I could pick out any assignments, I had to supply my tax information (so they could tax my pay). Because they required me to fax the information I decided not to pursue the opportunity (too much hassle involved). It looks like I missed out on getting $10 per article plus a share of advertising revenue.

I did end up writing an article for Demand Media, however. The company let me fill out my tax information online. I was then able to search for article topics by keyword. I appreciated this search system and the fact I wasn’t limited to one category of topics. Most of the assignments paid $15, though some paid $7.50. I picked one topic– Boston Social Activities– and claimed the article. I had a week to write it.

I did some research and wrote the article following their style guide and SEO-focused (search engine optimized-focused) format. I sent in my article, and an editor had me change one thing. After I revised the article, I sent it back in. It was approved, the article was published, and $15 was deposited into my PayPal account.

I know there are other companies out there (like Associated Content and Suite101) that pay a small amount for in-demand, search-engine-optimized articles. I think it’s cool these opportunities are out there for writers looking for some extra cash and exposure. This may also benefit people searching for particular topics online. They get a quick answer to their question.

The problem, however, is the quality of these types of article is often compromised due to low pay and a relatively lax approach to hiring writers. This practice of “content farming” may be contributing to the spread of misinformation or at least generic information that’s more based on re-appropriating already-existing content than adding value.

Image credit: www.flickr.com/photos/httpoldmaisonblogspotcom/4315218578/

How do you feel about “content curation”?

September 2, 2010

I recently learned about a relatively new start-up in Cambridge called HiveFire.

This company sells “Curata,” a “content curation solution.” Basically it’s a tool that finds relevant content on the Internet (often in the form of blog posts or articles), aggregates a list of the content, and lets you select which articles you’d like to highlight on your website or blog.

Once you make your selections, the articles’ first paragraphs are posted on your site (check out some examples in the “Featured Content Curation Articles” section of HiveFire’s blog).

The whole idea behind content curation is that it can save companies time and money. It’s not easy updating your site with new content every day, so why not borrow content from other sites instead? Or supplement your original content with borrowed content? That’s the philosophy.

Well this begs the question: Is it really ethical to curate content? I guess sites do it to some extent all the time by linking to other articles, or summarizing other articles. But that’s not as automated a process as having one tool seek out (like Google Reader), format AND publish the content. Plus, many borrowers don’t publish content word for word like Curata does.

I’m not a lawyer and do not know the legal implications of content curation, or at least the type of content curation conducted by Curata. I guess Curata’s method is better than automatic publication (there’s at least some human effort involved with the selection of the articles). Plus, it can give exposure to other people’s content.

But hopefully the content curators are not getting rich off of others’ original work. That’s what I fear. But at the same time the Internet is an open place where ideas are exchanged and shared all the time. When no one can curate anyone else’s content that openness become jeopardized.

I guess I’m sort of conflicted about content curation, or at least the type you can do with Curata. Anyone have any thoughts?