On April 27, 2008, I set up Blogger.net.au and wrote about the purpose of the site on InterNoetics (formerly martinetics.com). The post was oriented around turnkey-style websites and the ‘myth’ that they made money. It’s funny reading back on what I wrote back then because – although my opinion hasn’t changed in any drastic way – I do see the sense in automation more today than I did back then. Having said that, I remain rather critical about the nature of the automation, quality of the content and presentation of the material.
Here’s a snapshot of what I wrote back in 2008.
I often see adverts and mini-webpages trying to sell countless ideas or packages that will apparently give you financial freedom, but the most popular one I come across are the turnkey-type ready-made websites that are loaded up with instant content – meaning that all you have to you once you buy the product is upload it to your web server, add some affiliate advertising code and just like magic (so they claim…) you’ve created a portal to financial freedom. I’m afraid it’s just not that easy. If something seems too good to be true on the Internet, it probably is. If something looks like a scam, it probably is. If something smells of dog defecation, it probably is. Many of these mini-sites are overwhelming successful for a range of reasons; but the truth is that the website selling the concept or product is most often the actual source of income, and the useless product the hypster sells to you is their actual means of making money. The fact that there are so many people out there that are frantically trying to get their slice of the online pie means that there are always those that are silly enough to get involved with a product that will do nothing for them.
At the time of writing the Blogger.net.au post, the aim was to gather statistical data on the website’s success or failure so I could determine if article injection from an array of article distribution sites would generate enough revenue to justify having the site hosted. Remember, my theory is that if a website makes (more than) enough money to cover its cost, it is worth keeping. The BlueHost incident of late 2008 put an end to my little experiment. BlueHost claimed – at the time – that the sites I had hosted with them were a drain on server CPU usage. In hindsight, they were probably right. Since then, however, BlueHost will now queue dynamic pages for processing rather than displaying their message proclaiming a website as a CPU hog. So, I archived the website away and never found the time to get it back online. The site has redirected here since around September 2008.
My initial website was built on a factory fresh install of some commercial software that supported two article distribution networks by default. Their support lasted no longer than 6 months before they withdrew that functionality from their platform. In any case, I didn’t like the customization options available, and their templating system was designed by the same guy that put the first man on the man.
Anyhow, recent events led to “reinventing” Blogger.net.au and recreating the same experiment I started nearly four years ago. What followed was a full featured WordPress plugin.
Blogger.net.au Version 2
First, I’m not a huge advocate for article distribution networks. I find their articles ordinary at best… and I’m constantly surprised by the lack of effort that goes into what people write. Authors engaged in article distribution are (seemingly) more concerned about the backlinks to their website than they are the quality of the content they’re willing to connect to their brand. The truth is, Google’s clever enough to recognize duplicate content and they apply appropriate penalties that ensure the disseminated content won’t rank very well.
Personally, I follow author bio links if I’m impressed enough with article content to learn more. Let’s face it, the value of the multiple backlinks attached to replicated content are worth their weight in dog crap. Authors should focus more on the quality of the material they want disseminated in an attempt to generate genuine interest in reading more. Anyhow, this is another discussion altogether.
I’ve written a large number of WordPress plugins that integrate with various third-party content providers. The plugins are designed to turn your website into a genuine blog that updates multiple times every hour with fresh articles. Blogger.net.au uses the iSnare distribution network exclusively… and I’m using other domains for other networks before I work out an effective way of integrating them all together. I’ve written two versions of each plugin: one for use with the Genesis Framework; and other for use with a default install of WordPress. The former has far more functionality.
Is it making money?
It’s hard to tell if the website is making real money yet but it’s become exceedingly clear that it will more than cover the cost of the hosting the blog. I’ll have a better idea of whether it’ll generate a noteworthy income in a few months. Another site I set up for another network is routinely generating about 5-10 dollars a day which isn’t bad given that it’s essentially an automated website that archives nothing other than crappy duplicate content.
What does the iSnare WordPress Plugin do?
The plugin will do just about everything that you would do when manually creating a post. It sorts incoming posts by author and category, it formats them (assuming the submitted post has paragraph errors). It updates post counts, category counts, it checks for duplicates and inserts a featured image. Since the post is sent without a featured image, the plugin will simply assign the post a random image based upon a number of category-specific images included with the plugin. I’ve only included 5 images for each category but I’ve got a friend that’s looking at increasing that to 50. The image feature can obviously be turned off… but I think the website looks better when it’s on.
Articles can be submitted as drafts or as live posts. The latter is the preferred option for anybody wanting a true automated website.
When I built the plugin I wanted to integrate various networking features. For example, each submitted post will automatically send to Twitter via a ‘branded’ Twitter account (with the option of applying hashtags to specified keywords). Blogger.net.au’s account is at @BloggerNetAu if you’re after an example. I’ve also built in syndication features for Facebook and – if you’re readership is silly enough to subscribe – daily digest emails.
WordPress is the ultimate platform for this kind of plugin. Themes can easily be changed, ShortCode functions can easily be applied, AdSense can easily be integrated… and it’s simple to set up. Other plugins – such as ‘related posts’ – can further encourage additional page views.
iSnare is fairly dated now and there seems to be other networks taking on a more modern approach to the way in which they distribute content. A few of the US based organizations tend to apply more scrutiny to the quality of the content they pump out. I’m trialing a few of the other networks with modified versions of the plugin. I’ll provide details after testing is complete.
After only a couple of days of operation, iSnare have sent me about 140 articles.
When will the plugin be available?
If you’re a subscriber to my mailing list – and you’ve been on the list for 12 months – I’ve just sent you an invitation to trial an early version of the software with a download link. If you’re interested in the product, join the mailing list and I’ll let you know when you can get it.
Please join my lonely Facebook page.
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