Tag Archives: blogging

Mini Review of SquareSpace.Com



From time-to-time I develop websites for clients and they generally want something reasonable (cheap) and easy to Squarespacemaintain. I’ve been hearing about a new company, SquareSpace, and how great it was so I decided to try it for myself. I was generating a proposal to update a website and decided to implement a prototype in Squarespace so the client could actually test drive my ideas.

I signed up for the 14 day free trial and watched a few “getting started” videos to help understand the interface. The site uses a visual interface and it’s very easy to get started. You pick a template style and color scheme depending on the type of site you want to create: blog, photo gallery, commercial/business. The templates are just a starting point because everything can be customized. You can even start with a blank screen and build your site from scratch. The templates are really CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) pages that can be customized by a visual interface or directly adding/modifying the CSS code.

In the site editor you can add pages and sections in sidebars that appear on every page. When you create a page or section you specify what “widget” to use. Widgets determine the type of content you want to add (journal/blog, html/text, links, search, map, forum, etc.). You can add/remove widgets and even change templates on the fly.

The site editor has four modes: Style Editor, Structure Editor, Content Editor, and Preview. The Style editor is where you pick/change your template, change column layouts, adjust fonts, colors and sizes, and customize the CSS. The Structure editor is where you add sections and pages. The Content editor is the section you will use the most after your site is configured the way you want it. This is where you add blog content, upload photos to your gallery, and change the information that your visitors will see. The last mode, Preview, shows you what your visitors will see when they visit your site.

Since this is a mini review I won’t go into all the details but I will tell you that I had a simple site up and running in four hours without any CSS or HTML coding. The site was mostly functional but it didn’t have the exact look and feel I wanted. I started switching templates to find a feature or a look I wanted for certain parts of my site and looked to see how it was implemented. In some cases it was a simple setting change in the visual interface and in others it was CSS overrides that made the difference (this is where watching the advanced help videos really helped). In one case I wanted to create a HTML page and add links to other pages. Since the linked pages were not created through the normal “add page” process, I couldn’t find a way to do it. I searched the Squarespace Help forum and found a mention of creating a hidden section on the sidebar and creating my pages there. This worked but seemed to be a kludge in the overall design.

Squarespace pricing starts out at $8/month for the Basic package and runs to $50/month for the Community package. You will need the $14/month Pro package if you want to map the website you create to your own domain name.

Pros:

  • Easy to create a website in minutes.
  • Lots of features for creating, maintaining, and monitoring your site.
  • Import content from other blogging sites: WordPress, Movable Type/Type Pad, and Blogger.
  • Detailed website analytics available.
  • Private site areas (password protected) and multiple editors.
  • Supports RSS and iTunes tags.
  • 100% customizable.
  • Great pricing.

Cons:

  • Website must be hosted by SquareSpace.
  • May require some HTML and CSS knowledge to really tweak the site the way you want (you may need to hire a consultant to finish the design).
  • No direct support for adding audio and video content. You can embed flash players using HTML Injection points but that feature is not available in the Basic or Pro packages. This may be supported with new widgets in the future.

In conclusion I was very impressed with what Squarespace offers. They have so many great features that I can’t possibly talked about of all of them here. I would suggest checking it out for yourself (14 day free trial) if for no other reason than to see how easy it is to create your own website.

73’s, Tom


Live Blogging the Blog World Expo



Live Blogging Blog World Expo

08:44
-First thing huge number of Bloggers and No Power Strips
-Keynote area is going to be standing room only

08:54
-Matt from WordPress is is rehashing how WordPress got started I am not sure why a bunch of bloggers need to be told about the wordpress history are we not all bloggers and supposed to know this stuff.

-18 WordPress Staff support a 100 million impressions across there hosted solutions I wonder how many servers it takes to run that.

09:14

-BlogWorldExpo needs a back channel lots of bloggers but I am not seeing tweets or many blog post.

-Matt says get your User Model before you get your business model While I do not agree a 100% their is a need to make sure that when you are launching a web property you need to think about the users.

-Political Blogger wanted to know how to monetize, the short answer start planning two years in advance. But a side discussion has broken out on the ethics and disclosure of those political blogging and the harm it could cause to the blogging space.

10:00
Attending the Corporate & CEO Blogging session

-Corporate number 1 fear is that the corporation will criticized and that they will loose control. They also are worried about the amount of time it is going to take away from their staff to support the blog

-Kodak Rep is talking about their corporate blog and one of the things that surprised me is that they post their customers comments largely un-edited.

-HP Policy on Corporate Blogging is that the each group or person within the company can have a HP blog but their has to be a marketing or way to interact with the various groups in the specific technical industry.

-The corporate blogging session is somewhat a sleeper

-Southwest Airlines bloggers say blogging is a huge commitment, but it has been a huge media bonus for them. They are using their bloggers as conduits into the press. The goal with the blogs were the way to reach their customers and have used the blogs as a way to get focus group feedback. They talk about their handling of the Mini-Skirt issue and say that they did not do a good job. But they said they learned some lessons from that event and

-Southwest, Moderates their comments but they don’t allow personal attacks and or customer service issues. Most surprising that they also moderate all topic post. Thus they completely moderate the entire site. They have PR and Senior people looking at each post. Thus they are controlling the conversation in a big way.

From a personal perspective I cannot imagine controlling the conversation this way. While it looks like they are trying to be fair, I am not so sure that I would like having to go through corporate PR for each and every post. I wonder if this is really blogging this is more like PR controlled spin masters.

Show Floor

No Lunch visited with Vendors. The show floor has a fair number of vendors lost of ad companies. Think I made the folks at Kontarea made when I told then inline advertising is evil and users hate the pop ups piss people off

Lots of vendors and had some great discussions. There are a number of Affiliate marketers here as well along with a lot of vendors that are pushing services for bloggers.

13:30
Attending the Secrets of great video production and Vlogging

-Sorry this session is for beginners a true 100 level presentation. The Presenter is using some purple background death by power point that is boring and hard to read.

-Lots of information being put out in this session and the presenter is all over the place. Death by Power Point in this one.

-Why do presenters continue to make people think that they have to have Feedburner it really drives me crazy.

2:45
Monetization of Podcast

-Well I am not sure why I am sitting through this, but it is always nice to listen to other companies ideas.

-Be a Podcast Consultant thats the first thing that has been covered

-Jason VanOrden is pimping tele-seminars and webinars. Sounds like Network Marketing and something I would buy on late night TV

-Nice Mention with of Talkshoe/Blubrry partnership and also a nice mention from the folks at Podango very gracious

-Non Tangible rewards like swag and products to review.

-Some discussion about the need for sponsorship disclosure and through product mentions. The main point is you need to be honest and disclose. Do not be afraid to tell your audience you need to get paid for the art.

-A show got a six figure grant not a sponsorship from a pharma company.

-Recommendation from the panel to join a network and let those companies running networks to find sponsors for their podcast.

-One problem I am seeing with a discussion here, is that they think ad insertion and being able to rebuild the shows on the fly is king. But the problem is 95% of shows do not have a long tail. Thus 95% of the shows out there have no reason to use technology that rebuilds the show.

-Podcaster should have a Newsletter period.

-Steve Boyett claims his podcast does 40TB a month in traffic? Interesting

-John Havens says the landscape is changing and that things that were once free will soon no longer be free. But the problem with that is most people don’t want to pay for anything and a generation has grown up not having had to pay for anything.


CES Podcast & Blogger Haven Kuddo’s to Waggener Edstrom



Over the past two days Andy McCaskey and I have been enjoying having access to a blogger / podcaster only suite at the Wynn hotel that was provided by Waggener Edstrom, they recognized early on that Podcasters and Bloggers would not have access to the press facilities onsite at CES. AMD provided HP Media Laptops and the folks at Waggener Edstrom provided the suite, bandwidth and even brough in food and drinks on their dime.

Companies like this understand the importance of the blogging and podcasting community, my hat is off and my deepest Thanks to the great team their, that welcomed us in and really took care of us.

Additionally thanks to AMD for providing the Laptops!

[www.waggeneredstrom.com] [www.amd.com]


125 articles a months for $500.00 sounds like slave wages to me!



I found the Wired article “Can Bloggers Strike it Rich? quite fascinating and a bit shocking. If what Wired came up with is true then a significant number of people that are blogging for Weblogs Inc. are not getting paid very much.

If you do the math, based upon comments that Jason puts out on how they are going to do a million dollars in adsenses this year along with the other stuff he likes to brag about all the time, the $500.00 a month wage seems really low, of course the boss and the staff have to be paid a regular wage. It appears those doing the heavy lifting may be getting robbed. Speculation on my part of course.

If they came to me, and wanted 125 articles a month and offered $500.00 a month to blog, I would not know to laugh or be insulted, especially if the contract had a exit clause that said I could not write on a subject for six months. That would be a deal killer.

Considering an article I wrote for a major magazine several months ago was 600 words and I was paid $500.00 in return for services rendered it seems to me writing 125 articles a month for $500.00 amounts slave wages. [Wired]


Flagging Blogger Content a Joke



I have been using the Flag blogger content option to try and draw attention to weblogs that have been setup for spamming. I think I am about two weeks into flagging accounts and have been tracking those that I have flagged and guess what.

Nothing has been done to them. Obviously it takes about 5 seconds to look at some of these sites and realize that spammers are using them. So the question I ask why are the not being killed off.

I am not about to keep flagging accounts if the end result is no action. Some of these sites are infringing on copyright so I suppose that will have to start sending e-mails to that effect as it seems they cannot control their services.

Solution:

1. When a person signs up for a blogger account get a credit card
2. Put in the terms and services that if you use the account for being weblog spam that a one time fee of $500.00 will be charged to the credit card.
3. This will allow us re-course legally if the infringing site does not take the material down.


More Weblog Search Sites joining the Party



I have not really been watching my raw log files for blog specific search engines, at least not until today when I found and article about a new blog that had not yet been discovered by the big search engines and was able to look at the traffic for a couple of days before getting slammed by the big boys.

I was aware of most of these sites but had not paid much attention to them, I think though it is time for a closer look. [Labnotes]

These are the Blog only specific search engines that have been crawling the Labnotes website feedster, icerocket, blo.gs, syndic8, blogpulse, blogslive, topicblogs, and omni-explorer.