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Archive for January, 2011

How to make money from blogging

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 31st, 2011

There’s a nice mention of Blogads.com in this video.

If you’re interested in getting started with us, go to this page.

Internet Advertising FAIL

by Nick Faber
Friday, January 28th, 2011

Buzzfeed procured this list of 101 examples of really, really unfortunate ad placements. As a Balloon Boy fan, I have to say I’m a little partial to #89:

enhanced-buzz-24499-1296165289-0

…which is actually rather fortunate placement, if you’re targeting Balloon Boy fans.

Aaron Schatz: Keeping score for football fanatics

by susie
Wednesday, January 26th, 2011

Football Outsiders has provided stats and analysis to football junkies since July 2003. Creator Aaron Schatz has appeared on CNN and NPR, and he currently writes for ESPN.com and ESPN The Magazine. Aaron has also been written The New York Times, Slate, and The Boston Globe. Aaron’s football commentary continues on Twitter @FO_ASchatz, where his followers range from fellow sports writers and other sports bloggers (including Senior Sports Illustrated NFL Writer to Peter King and redskinsblog) Fantasy Football analysts (including CBSSports.com writer Dave Richard) and plenty of NFL fans. The New England Patriots fan currently lives in Framingham, Massachusetts with his wife and daughter.

football outsiders

bio_aaron football outsiders

Q: When and how was Football Outsiders conceived?

A: I started goofing around with football stats in December of 2002. I was always a fan of Bill James, the baseball statistician, from way back, and I had read Hidden Game of Football by Carroll, Thorn, and Palmer. I didn’t know why I couldn’t find anyone who did this kind of analysis for the NFL on a regular basis. I had questions, and they needed answering. I started playing around with the stats, and within a few months I had some articles. I shared them with some people I knew at larger websites, and they all agreed that the articles were interesting but were for a small niche audience. I got together with some of my frat brothers from Brown, a programmer and two fantasy football columnists, and we launched the site in July 2003. It turned out to be perfect timing because around that time, Michael Lewis’s book Moneyball was starting to become a big deal, and everyone went onto the Web looking for “the Moneyball of (blank).” And there we were.

Q: How many people write for Football Outsiders? Are they all located in a similar geographic location?

A: No, people are spread all over the country. I’ve never even met some of my writers. There are only two full-time workers, me and Bill Barnwell, and we both live in the Boston area, but none of the other writers are here. We’ve got a couple in Seattle, a couple in Chicago. Mike Tanier is in South Jersey, Ben Muth out in Arizona. The college guys live in good college hotbeds: South Bend, Columbia, MO, Gainesville, and Atlanta. There are about a dozen guys who write for FO in one way or another, plus a couple guys who help out with programming.

One of the best parts of this has been the people coming out of the woodwork to write. I reached out to a couple of guys who had good blogs– that’s how I got the two college statisticians, Brian Fremeau and Bill Connelly– but also people reached out to me. Mike Tanier is the best pure writer on the staff; he approached me after working for a newspaper syndication service that didn’t even put his name on the articles. Ben Muth came to us last year, which now gives us an ex-player on staff; he was an all-Pac-10 left tackle at Stanford. And then people have become successful enough to make this into a career. Doug Farrar now makes a living writing, split between four websites (FO is one of them). Michael David Smith was the first outside writer I hired who wasn’t one of my Brown frat brothers, and he outgrew us and now writes full time for AOL. It’s great to have the opportunity to write about sports for a living, and it’s also great to be able to help other people get that opportunity.

Q: With a staff that large, there must surely be different biases for/against teams among your writers. Do the various team loyalties ever create conflict between your writers? Do you strive to keep your allegiances out of your posts?

A: No, I do think I’m part of the “Bill Simmons Generation” of Internet writers who decided that there was nothing wrong with being honest about fan loyalties. I mean, I did start this *because* I am a fan. I don’t want to ever get so jaded that I’m not actually enjoying sports, which sometimes seems to be the case with some of the local Boston columnists. But the FO writers respect each other. None of us have ever had a fight because our teams were facing each other in a big game. We actually keep a list on our FAQ so that if people are accusing us of bias, at least they can properly accuse the right people. When Ned Macey gets accused of Patriots bias, that’s a little silly since Ned lives in Indianapolis.

Q: What sets Football Outsiders apart from other football blogs?

A: Football is a game that can be enjoyed on a lot of different levels. You can be totally devoted to just one team. You can watch it because you like to watch fat guys beat each other up. You can watch it just to see cheerleaders, or to see a couple amazing athletic feats each week. Or you can enjoy it as a chess game where each team has 11 moving pieces at all times. Until FO came around, that last group was underserved by the media. Thanks to FO and the other sites that have popped up in our wake– plus the smartest NFL analyst, Ron Jaworski, being put on high-profile Monday Night Football– that is no longer the case.

I often say that Football Outsiders features intelligent conversation about football from people who don’t write “MY TEAM RULEZZZZZ!” with five “Z’s” at the end.

I also should point out that FO isn’t really a blog, per se. I agree with Nick Denton of Gawker Media about the development of websites, where blogs and websites that considered themselves “magazine-style” websites are gradually combining to be the same thing. We have a blog, sort of, in that we have a section called Extra Points with small commentaries and links to the biggest news of the day. But the main section of FO is more along the lines of Slate or Salon, with regular articles that hit on a weekly basis during the season. What’s important is that we are independent, and that meant that we needed a way to sell advertising through a central broker, and Blogads fit our needs perfectly. It didn’t matter if we called ourselves a blog or not.

Q: Have you found that your demographic of readers has changed since 2003?

A: As far as I can tell, we’ve got basically the same types of readers as we did back in the beginning, only more of them. One thing I can note about our blog is that we seem to have a higher percentage of international readers than the actual percent of sports fans interested in NFL football overseas. That makes sense– if you live in Peru or Israel, and you want to follow the NFL, you have to go online. And if you are that interested in football, you are likely very passionate about it and would want to visit a website where the writers and other users shared that passion.

Q: Are there any specific game highlights that you have encountered during the tenure of FO that stick out most in your mind?

A: Game highlights? I mean, we’ve been lucky to be doing this during some of the most memorable seasons in NFL history. In particular, we’re lucky we’re not doing Super Bowl previews back in the 80s when Super Bowls all ended up 45-10 or whatever. As a Pats fan, the David Tyree catch in the Super Bowl was a miserable moment for me, but of course it is the greatest Super Bowl play of all time for everyone else. Well, unless you think the Santonio Holmes catch the following year was the greatest Super Bowl play of all time. Fourth-and-2, fourth-and-26, the bomb that set TD records for Tom Brady and Randy Moss, the phantom holding call on Sean Locklear, the Antwaan Randle El trick pass in that same Super Bowl, the Saints’ onside kick in last year’s Super Bowl, the “we want the ball and we’re going to score” pick by Matt Hasselbeck… We’ve had a lot of memorable moments to write about.

(I assume everyone knows fourth-and-2 was the play from last year’s Pats-Colts game. For those who don’t remember, the Eagles had to convert fourth-and-26 to beat Green Bay during the 2003 playoffs, the week after Green Bay picked off Matt Hasselbeck in overtime after he followed the coin toss by saying, “We want the ball and we’re going to score”)

Q: What is something that your readers might not know about you or your staff?

A: Some people know that I was a radio disc jockey earlier in life, but most people don’t know my other claim to fame, which is that I’m one of the people responsible for Creed. I was doing middays and serving as music director for 93.1 WKRO in Daytona Beach, Florida (incidentally, number one on a countdown of “cities where I really do not fit in with anyone”). The morning guys brought me this CD of an unsigned band from Tallahassee, which had been their market before they came to Daytona. I listened to it and thought, “This is horrible, but man our listeners love this crap.” There was this “Florida sound” going on at the time, with heavy rock bands that were kind of “grunge lite”– Creed, Seven Mary Three, Mighty Joe Plum, and Matchbox 20, although they went in a softer direction long-term. Anyway, you program a station for the listeners, not for yourself. I convinced our program director to play them even though it was just a demo, and within a week it was in heavy rotation as the number one most requested song on the station. We were the second station in America to play them, after the Tallahassee station, and that popularity in Daytona helped them get their label deal. As I explain to people, everything I’ve done since has been an attempt to make up for my small part in unleashing the horror that is Scott Stapp upon the world.

Q: FO has some big-name followers on Twitter. What does Tweeting add to your blogging experience?

A: I don’t really think it “adds to our blogging experience.” It’s a good way to share small thoughts with readers. Sometimes I’ll come across an interesting stat, but one that’s not big enough to deserve its own post on FO. During games, I’ll have little thoughts about whatever is happening, or a joke. Blowouts for some reason make me go crazy with jokes. Check out my Twitter feed from Monday night December 6 sometime. Also, I use Twitter to keep up with reporters around the league. When news happens, you find out about it immediately. Twitter just blows up with big news, like when the Vikings cut Randy Moss a few weeks ago.

Q: Do you personally have a go-to blogger either for inspiration or provocation?

A: Not really. My biggest goal is to find really good team-related blogs that I can read on a regular basis, so that I can link to them and give them more attention when they write something good. Among the best: Niners Nation, 18 to 88, Texans Chick, and Brian Bassett’s The Jets Blog.

In celebration of this Super Bowl season, use discount code “neckbeard” to receive 50% off your ad purchase on Football Outsiders for the next week.

Innovative Internet ads we’ve seen recently

by henrycopeland
Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

Text wrap internet ad

Intel sponsored blog post on Techmeme

Blogs return to basics

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 17th, 2011

Robert Darnton, dean of French historians, has written a lot about the role of coffee houses in 18th century France and Britain in inspiring free thinking and a self-conscious social class of citizens. So its fun to make an explicit connection between those proto-newspapers and today’s blogs.

To appreciate the importance of a pre-modern blog, consult a database such as Eighteenth Century Collections Online and download a newspaper from eighteenth-century London. It will have no headlines, no bylines, no clear distinction between news and ads, and no spatial articulation in the dense columns of type, aside from one crucial ingredient: the paragraph. Paragraphs were self-sufficient units of news. They had no connection with one another, because writers and readers had no concept of a news “story” as a narrative that would run for more than a few dozen words. News came in bite-sized bits, often “advices” of a sober nature—the arrival of a ship, the birth of an heir to a noble title—until the 1770s, when they became juicy. Pre-modern scandal sheets appeared, exploiting the recent discovery about the magnetic pull of news toward names.

I wonder what Darnton makes of Twitter?

If you’re interested in this stuff, you should definitely read Darnton’s 1999 essay “An Early Information Society.

C. Max Magee: Appealing to the millions of book enthusiasts since 2003

by susie
Wednesday, January 12th, 2011

A favorite site of avid book lovers, The Millions has been offering an “omnivoracious look at books and culture” since 2003. During its 7 years of existence, The Millions has attracted a large staff of regular and guest writers from the US and Canada. Founder, Editor, and New Jerseyan, C. Max Magee has appeared on NPR’s “Weekend Edition” and is co-editor of the upcoming book The Late American Novel: Writers on the Future of Books. Once a Twitter skeptic, Max now has over 6,500 Twitter followers including The New York Review of Books, CSPAN2′s Book TV, and NPR Books. In addition to having a Facebook page, The Millions also has a Kindle edition that updates throughout the day.

Max Magee, Editor of The Millions

Max Magee, Founder and Editor of The Millions

Q: Who decided on the name “The Millions”? Were there other names that you considered?

A: I picked that name back in 2003 when I didn’t even know what The Millions would be about, and certainly before I had any idea that it would grow into something that would last for years. The name is a play on my own name — Maximilian — and because I thought the site should be about all the millions of uncountable interesting things out there.

Q: You have some big name followers on Twitter. What does Tweeting add to your blogging experience?

A: I was a Twitter skeptic for a while, but I found it to be a great tool to help our pieces reach a wider audience. Running a basic magazine-site with very little in the way of bells and whistles can feel a little staid at times, but @The_Millions lets us have a presence in a faster-paced, off-the-cuff, conversational environment.

Q: You’ve been on NPR’s Weekend Edition, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. In the early years, did you expect this success?

A: I never had any particular expectations when it came to getting publicity, but now that the site has matured into something that I think is pretty unique, I’ve often thought that the site is deserving of more publicity. In a lot of ways, The Millions and other sites like it refute the dominant narrative of dying media, dying literature, and dying culture. The site is also, in my opinion, a great example of how it’s possible to build something quite valuable and lasting online with little more than time and perseverance.

Q: The Millions has been around since 2003. What changes have you experienced in the blogosphere in the past 7 years?

A: The blogosphere is the same in some ways but different in many others. There is a much more professionalized element now that wasn’t at all as present in 2003. At the same time, there are still plenty of hobbyists and diarists blogging for their own reasons and without much care for attracting a big audience, let alone making money. It’s also true that in 2003 there was something special and iconoclastic about blogging, and many pundits rushed to try to figure out what this crazy new phenomenon meant. These days, though, I think it’s a fully assimilated part of the fabric of human communication, and it’s gone from cutting edge to boring compared to Twitter, social networking, and most other hot new things.

Q: The Millions has a large staff of bloggers from all over the US and even Canada. Do you keep in touch with one another? Do you ever have meet-ups?

A: We communicate via an email list, but for the most part the effort is quite decentralized. We haven’t had meet-ups, though that would be fun to do one day. A few of us have congregated in one place or another from time to time, though.

Q: Do you or do any of your writers attend blogger conferences regularly?

A: I don’t think any of us has ever attended a blogger conference. In fact, I’m only dimly aware that there are such things as blogger conferences.

Q: What do you think makes The Millions different compared to other book blogs?

A: We’ve been lucky to have attracted many dozens of interesting writers over the years, so we are able to keep the site very fresh in terms of the many different voices represented on the site. I also think we do a good job of keeping the subject matter diverse and fairly organic. I suppose that compared to other sites that pick their niches and cover them very well, The Millions offers a more omnivoracious look at books and culture that might perhaps be difficult for a smaller or more narrowly oriented site.

Q: Do you personally have a favorite blog post? Does The Millions staff have a collective favorite?

A: I have many favorites and I suspect our staff does too. You can’t really go wrong browsing through our Notable Articles. These are pieces that have been big favorites of our writers and readers alike.

Q: How often do you correspond one on one with readers?

A: I sometimes correspond with readers, but more often the interactions happen on Twitter or in the comment sections of our pieces. Most frequently, if I’m corresponding with someone who reads the site, it’s because he or she is interested in writing for the site.

Q: How much time do you personally spend blogging each day?

A: I don’t have as much time for writing as I did when the site was smaller, but I do spend a number of hours a week editing pieces and planning the coverage on The Millions.

Q: Do you screen writers for The Millions?

A: There’s not really a formal screening process (though that’s probably a good idea). Writers regularly pitch us their ideas or even send completed pieces, and we decide whether or not they’ll be a good fit based on subject matter, tone, and of course whether we think it’s good or not. In the early days, I was lucky enough to have a number of friends who were interested in writing for the site before I was ever even really looking for writers. Since we adopted more of a magazine format, writers have generally approached us on their own without us doing any soliciting of pieces.

Blogads draft front-page redesign

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 10th, 2011

We’re getting ready to radically simplify the front page of Blogads.com. Your suggestions welcome!
Blogads front page draft January 11

Google whale fail?

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 10th, 2011

I love many things about Google, but sheesh, this image is a fail.
Google whale

Friendster circa 2003

by henrycopeland
Monday, January 3rd, 2011

I just got a note saying today is Hylton Joliffe’s birthday from… Friendster.

Weird. I tried an old e-mail address and refreshed my Friendster password and found a time-capsule of my dabbling there early in 2003.

Since then I’ve gotten new glasses and lost some hair.

Friendster face 2002

Happy to say I’m still in touch with people from those days.

Friendster friends

Here’s a graph of Friendster’s growth. And here’s a graph of Friendster’s demise.

Twitter ads for VZW yield paltry RTs?

by henrycopeland
Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Verizon paid to put its tweets atop the “2011″ trend today.

As you can see below, after being up for as much as 14 hours, those promoted tweets (three versions in total as far as I can tell) only got retweeted ~90 times. That’s not a lot of RTs for $100k, right?

TZW 1

TZW 2

TZW 3


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