Archive for March, 2009

Publisher Spotlight: Ronald Lewis

Mar
31

I first came into contact with Ronald Lewis when I sent an email to thank him for signing up for and installing a Lijit widget on his blog. This was back in early 2007, and means (if you do your math correctly) that Ronald was an early adopter back when we only had a handful. We appreciate his local support and the fact that Ronald always has wonderful things to say about our service. This post is long overdue and I’m happy to finally be able to sing his praises in proper blogging fashion.

From his professional bio, Ronald Lewis is a Denver-based author, technologist, speaker, blogger, activist, and entrepreneur. On his blog, he writes about how he landed a book deal, his suggestions for improving personal development, and how he’s managed to get so much press coverage. Recently featured by CNN and BusinessWeek for his future outlook on television and opinion of dating, he has advised individuals and businesses on everything from cloud computing to open source software.

From my own personal dealings with Ronald, he’s a super nice guy and just to prove it, brought his mom to the Front Range Blogger Meetup a few months ago. (How cute is that!)

How long have you been blogging and what made you start?

I’ve been blogging for more than thirteen years now (1995), well before the “automated blog” came along with WordPress and other blogging platforms. I was given a Unix shell account at Wayne State University, where I was forced to learn HTML to create my first homepage on the web.

After learning the basics of HTML, I posted random thoughts in chronological order, and so, my blog was officially born!

What has been the greatest thing you’ve gotten from blogging?

The greatest thing I’ve gotten from blogging is the ability to establish my voice and presence around the world. I am always in awe when I view my website’s stats to notice visitors from every corner of the globe. It’s inspiring to know that your thoughts, opinions, desires, and more can be instantly published and read by anyone. That’s powerful!

Of all the posts you’ve written, what has been your favorite and why?

Of all the posts I’ve written, my favorite at the moment is a story about XOShareholders.com, a website I co-launched in 2001 to launch a shareholder revolt against XO Communications. It was a successful grassroots campaign that netted the site some 2,300 shareholders owning 24 million shares in the company. It also landed me my first book deal.

Speaking of your first book deal, your book comes out this June. What is it about and how will you be using your blog to promote the book?

I do have a book coming out in June! It’s my first and I’m quite excited about it! Stick It To The Man is an unconventional how-to guide to leveling the playing field between consumers and the elite that often take everyday people for granted in business, government, and society.

I’m using my blog, Lijit, and other tools to cross-pollinate social networks, Amazon, etc. with timely information about the book, such as its release, events, tour, and more. The Lijit Wijit is especially helpful for visitors searching for information related to the book, because it easily mines disparate information into a single display. This is perfect for a new author like myself, because it prevents “flighty” Internet users from leaving the page to find what they’re looking for.

How has Lijit helped you to become a better blog publisher?

Lijit has helped me become a better blogger by exposing my content to a larger audience. This doesn’t mean you’ll receive a million hits in one day, but knowing there’s one more prominent property for readers to find your content is a compelling reason to use the network.

I appreciate Ronald taking the time to answer my questions and share his blogging experiences with us. Be sure to keep an eye on Ronald’s blog for more information about the arrival of his book. I’m so excited to say that I knew Ronald back when…

Lijit + Publishers = Even More Money

Mar
27

This blog post comes to you courtesy of our amazing Director of Ad Serving, Dave. He loves writing these posts almost as much as he loves me bugging him to write these posts. But not as much as he loves fly-fishing.

This week, Lijit has released the latest version of our ad platform. The two key features for this release are the introduction of commissions that will be paid to publishers for advertiser referrals, and the launch of our closed beta program for ad placement on the content pages of our publishers.

Publisher Commissions

Publishers will earn commissions in two ways for referring advertisers who create keyword search ad campaigns. Direct referrals are made by publishers who send the link found on the “Sell Your Ad Inventory” tab to an advertiser who builds a campaign. Indirect referrals are made when an advertiser clicks on the “Advertise Here” link found on the Lijit Search Results and creates a campaign. In each case, Lijit will pay the referring publisher a commission for each valid click. The amount that publishers earn for clicks on their search results page is unaffected by the commission structure.

Content Page Ad Placement

To provide publishers with additional ways to monetize their sites, we are building upon our existing ad platform to offer publishers the ability to place ads on the content pages of their sites. Publishers will have the ability to choose between placing text ads or image ads on their sites, and what size they want their ads to be.

Publishers will be compensated on a CPM (cost per thousand impressions) basis, meaning that the publisher’s account will be credited based on page views, rather than clicks. Before opening this up to everyone, Lijit is going to run a closed beta program, so that we can gather real feedback from real publishers that we will use to optimize the publisher experience. If you would like to participate in the beta program, please click here.

Please keep an eye out for more information about Lijit’s program for content page ad placement and how you can participate.

Geek Spring Break!

Mar
23

I spent the last week at SXSW. Commonly referred to as Geek Spring Break (I couldnt find the wet laptop contests though…), SXSW is a great event for Lijit every year.

This year I spoke on a panel entitled Beyond Aggregation: Finding the Web’s Best Content. I was lucky enough to join a panel with old and new friends: Marshall Kirkpatrick (ReadWriteWeb), Louis Gray (LouisGray.com), Melanie Backer (AideRSS/PostRank) and Gabe Rivera (TechMeme) and speak in front of a standing room only crowd (it must have been the ICanHasCheezBurger Happy Cat Plushy I was giving away).

The panel went exceedingly well, with some great questions from the audience.

At SXSW, I did more that just speak on that panel. I also was interviewed by several different bloggers and websites. Here is my interview with Grant Robertson of DownloadSquad. You might notice that I am whispering (we were in the press room) and smiling (there was a really funny massage therapist next to me).

The full post is here:


SXSW 2009 : Finding relevancy in the blog haystack with Lijit from Download Squad on Vimeo.

I got to meet with brands and other bloggers and continue to learn about ways that we can continue to provide real value to our publishers…

(MICAH! You said it was Geek Spring Break! I want the juicy stuff!)

…fine.

SXSW is also about the parties, of which there were about a million. I enjoyed the iMeem party (probably because of the Salt Like BBQ that was served, saving me a 20 minute drive) and we helped sponsor the Colorado Interactive Party at the Pure Volume House, which is always a highlight every year (about 5,000 people came through it).

SXSW is the largest conference in our space. It allows all us geeks to get together, eat a little BBQ and talk about all kinds of things. My favorite picture of SXSW (that I took) is this one:

Which was taken at J. Kelly’s (An amazing BBQ place near my hotel), and includes Richard Moross (CEO of Moo/UK), Harper Reed and Dylan Richard (CTO Threadless/Chicago), Scott Belsky (CEO Behance/NYC), Jared Goralnick (CEO of AwayFind/DC). At this meal, Blaine Cook (who built Twitter’s framework/Ireland), Sarah Townsend (Social Vibe/LA), Mark Dillon (Founder & CTO, Phonetag), and, of course me.

Where else would we ever have met and talked over a meal?

Thats the real magic of SXSW. 10,000 geeks in one area do more than bring down AT&T network or party into the night. We talk about great ideas and interesting partnerships. New ideas are birthed at SXSW (see FourSquare and Contxts) and great ideas are given a further push to become even better (cant wait for the new stuff Lijit is bringing out in April).

So thats the juicy stuff. We geeks came to Austin, ate some BBQ and found some more interesting ways to work together. Some of us left with our laptops adorned with new laptop stickers, but we all left with new friends and business relationships.

See you in 2010!

Get to know Lijit: Mark “The Money Guy” Chessler

Mar
20

Before Mark joined Lijit, we were having problems with numbers. The kind of problems that only a really good finance guy can solve. Especially a really good finance guy with a real live calculator. So, we were really excited to have Mark (or Chess as he’s called by some around the office) come aboard. Not to mention the fact that when he started here, he had the added benefit of already working with a bunch of us in the past.

 

However, you probably don’t know him, so I managed to strongarm him into answering some questions for me. Those finance guys…they just don’t know how to arm-wrestle. Enjoy learning the ways of the Mark.

 

What is your Lijit contribution?

I am the OFG (only Finance guy)- I am responsible for the Accounting and Finance functions at Lijit, which involves producing timely and accurate financial statements, handling a variety of financial analyses, and managing company financial planning.

 

What is your favorite word and why?

Consistency – because it is a foundation for success both personally and professionally.

 

What turns you off creatively, emotionally, or spiritually and why?

Lately, I’ve been turned off by the overwhelming negativity of the mainstream media. I notice this especially in business and sport coverage because I follow those areas the most closely. As an example, sports coverage used to focus on individual and team achievement, now it seems like it’s all about manufactured locker room controversies, nasty salary negotiations, brushes with the law, etc.

I think there is some carry-over to our society in general or maybe society is driving the demand for negative news? Either way, I think the pendulum has swung too far to the negative slant in reporting.

 

What profession, other than your own, would you like to attempt and why?

College football offensive coordinator. There are a few reasons I would like to attempt this. First, it involves complex decision making based on analysis of both real-time and historical data for play calling – in a way, it’s very similar to business decision making. Also, the results of your decisions are known right away, allowing for a constant flow of new information that can be utilized immediately. I think the coaching/teaching aspect of it would be rewarding as well. On top of the specifics of the job, what could be more fun than being directly involved in college football?

 

Something you’re guilty of…

I am guilty of being a college football addict. (See answer to #4). I have gone to or watched on TV nearly every single University of Colorado football game for the last 15 years, including traveling to at least one away game per year.

 

 

Mark looks really happy in the above picture because just a week or so before it was taken, his wife gave birth to twins. So that smile is really a slap-happy grin due to lack of sleep. Whatever the reason, we’re all smiles around the Lijit office having Mark here. And when our company starts making large amounts of money, he’s just the one to trust to count it all.

(Side note: Don’t you enjoy the fine artwork that Mark has hanging in his office in the above pic? Yes, it is a post-it note with an outdoor scene of mountains drawn on it.)

(Last side note: When I asked Mark if I should link to his blog in this here profile, he said that it was less a blog and more a “static webpage”. That means he doesn’t update his blog. For shame, Mark…)

A most Lijit St. Patrick’s Day

Mar
17

Maybe it’s because our logo is green or maybe it’s because we can appreciate a holiday designed to be celebrated with beer, but whatever the case, we’re happy to be spending this holiday with some of the best bloggers out there. Our publishers cover the spectrum when it comes to content and it’s always amazing to see what different people have to say about a day like today.

Some of our publishers like to see just how crafty they can get with green while other blogs celebrate the craft projects that may not be blessed with the luck of the Irish.

Of course, there are the blog publishers who share their favorite Irish jokes, their favorite pictures from Ireland or the real story behind St. Patrick’s Day.

And where would be on any holiday without appropriate food and drink? Whether it’s posting a traditional corned beef and cabbage recipe or something a little less traditional, like Irish Car Bomb cupcakes, your palate is sure to be pleased.

To wash down those delicacies, there is the ubiquitous green beer that comes out of the faucets in Ireland. While I may have just made that fact up, one of our publishers is making sure all of his readers know everything they should about beer and another one of our favorite blogs offers up a complete list of St. Patrick’s Day cocktails.

If you’re in the mood for dancing a jig or two, we have a publisher who created a special playlist just for today and another publisher who recommends the best places to enjoy traditional Irish music…in the Adirondacks.

Let’s not forget the important role that color plays in today’s celebration. If you’re into all things green, then our many publishers have you covered there as well.

We had one blogger share a fabulous Irish quote and taking a cue from her, we’d like to share a toast with all those Lijit publishers out there:

May the lilt of Irish laughter
lighten every load.
May the mist of Irish magic
shorten every road…
And may all your friends remember
all the favors you are owed!

If you’re Lijit and writing about leprechauns, shamrocks or other byproducts of Ireland today, leave us a comment and be sure to include a link to your post. Sláinte!

Pow! Right Between The Eyes!

Mar
13

This post is courtesy of today’s birthday girl, Grace Boyle. Besides being an under-appreciated Gen Y blogger, she’s now 23 and most definitely appreciated around the Lijit office.

You never know what kind of shenanigans or *surprises* are going to come your way here at Lijit. One such surprise I received recently was from a loyal Lijit user, Andy Nulman. He is a fantastic, blogging entrepreneur from Montreal, but he is also an author and released his book Pow! Right Between The Eyes! Profiting From the Power of Surprise not long ago.

This is how Andy describes his book:

“Pow! is three things in one: the name of the world’s most entertaining business book, the sound your brain makes while reading it (akin to 1,000 lightbulbs over your head going off at the same time) and the difference between Holy Jeez! and Who cares? when it comes to your projects.”

Since he has many tricks up his sleeve, in January he offered 200 free copies (pre-release) of his book to anyone who requested via blog that they wanted it. Of course, I had to indulge, so on my personal blog, I sent a shout-out and a month later, I received his book.

Great idea for a book promotion, right? But wait…there’s more. I opened up the book and inside was a certificate to be the next literary giant, entitling me to the services of book agent Bill Gladstone, of Waterside Productions. Just a small sampling of Andy Nulman’s POW! Surprise tactic.

So, thank you Andy. Congratulations on your book release this month. All of us here at Lijit wish you the best of luck. You can follow Andy’s book release excitement on his blog and to check the book out yourself, it’s available at Barnes & Noble, Borders, 800 CEO Read, Books-A-Million, and Amazon.com.

SXSW is Going to Be Lijit

Mar
10

Thats right. I am headed to SXSW.

I will be there from March 12 – March 18, and would love to meet up with everyone!

Want my contact info? Text micah to 50500. Not bringing cards. Follow me on twitter: @micah.

Want to see me speak? I mean on a specific topic? I am on a panel discussion entitled: Beyond Aggregation — Finding The Webs Best Content. I am joined by moderator Marshall Kirkpatrick of ReadWriteWeb, Gabe Rivera of TechMeme, Louis Gray of the famous LouisGray.com and Melanie Baker of AideRSS.

It should be super interesting as we discuss how is good content found these days. After all, with 70 million blogs out there, how do you find the good stuff?

Im attending several parties, having several meetings (want to have one? Send me a tweet), and generally “doing SXSW right.”

SXSW, for me, is going to be an interesting time. A year ago, I was just getting into blogging and social media and working at Lijit, and learning about who was who and what was what. This year, I know a bit more, and know a *lot* more people.

I expect SXSW to be highly successful for Lijit and extremely fun for me.

Here are some articles I wrote after last year’s SXSW. I wonder what I will write after this one?

Wanna Know How to do SXSW? – I wrote about how a veteran transversed the halls of SXSW.

There Were Three Types of People at SXSW – My observations of SXSW 2008.

Here is a link to a lijit search of everything in my trusted network about SXSW. What a great way to discover new content, huh? :)

[I also posted this to my blog LearnToDuck.com. Mostly, because I am lazy. Have you seen Walter's rules? But what LTD readers wont see is that I will be bringing Lijit tshirts. Find me. I bet I have one for you.]

More Chocolatey Goodness – Wordpress Comment Integration

Mar
6

Yesterday, we released the ability for people to have more than one account under a single profile. Yet, we decided that just wasn’t good enough. “No,” we said, “there must be more!”

We huddled together (we often huddle) and thought about options.

Many of the options were just untenable. We thought about having all of our search results in Comic Sans.

Quickly, we realized that wasn’t a great idea.

After a little while, it dawned on us.

“We should integrate Wordpress comments!” (After all, “wordpress” is our #1 search result internally, and we have a kick-ass wordpress plugin.)

A cry rose from our huddle…

(I think one of the developers might have actually cried, but I am certainly not one to to mention any names)

Yeah, that is Daniel Weiss

…and away we went. Now along with our integrations of Disqus, JS-Kit, Intense Debate, if you are using the default Wordpress comments, you will find a nice link in the lower left that will expose a few of the comments on the post, and a link to view more comments.

Wordpress comments integration

With the inclusion of Wordpress comments (even Wordpress.com comments, which is ironic since *cough* Automattic wont allow us to be installed on their Wordpress.com platform *cough*) our publishers can see the direction we are going with our feature set.

Our mission is to expose the expertise and influence of our publishers to their audience by surfacing more of the blogger’s content to their readers. It is clear that OnceUponAWin.com has great 80’s nostalgia content, and a passionate user base making them experts on, well, Shrinky Dinks.

As a user, there is nothing you need to do to have your Wordpress comments surfaced. They will automagically appear within results as of today on bloggers who are using our backend search.

More integrated content; more understanding of bloggers by their audience; more surfaced expertise and influence.

Seems like a win for everyone.

Two widgets for the price of one!

Mar
5

With last night’s release, we’re making it easier than ever to manage more than one Lijit account. (Because doesn’t everyone have more than one blog these days?)  Having just one sign-in for many Lijit widgets is a feature that our users have been asking about for a long time and NOW…we’ve made the dream come alive.

When you log in to your Lijit account, you’ll now see an arrow next to your name along the top of your profile page. When you click on that arrow, you’ll see a drop-down that asks if you want to create another widget. Clicking on that will take you to the account creation sign-up flow, which looks like this…

With this enhanced functionality, you can now sign-in with only one username and have access to the stats across all your blogs. BUT (and it’s a big one) this new feature does not change how our search widget works. What that means is that you still need a different account for each of your blogs, but now, you only have to sign in once in order to maintain all of them.

If you already have a couple of different accounts within Lijit, there is no automatic import process to bring all of your accounts together. But if you choose to set up different profiles under the same account, let us know and we’ll be happy to help delete old accounts or walk you through the process. Send us your feedback. As usual, we’re here working for you.

Publisher Spotlight: Craftastrophe

Mar
3

I tend to use the word “genius” lightly. However, when I first saw the Craftastrophe blog, that was exactly the word I used to describe it. Who doesn’t love seeing craft projects that have gone horribly wrong?

The idea behind the site is one of those amazing things that sounds good in theory, but is actually an out-of-the-park homerun when you see it in action. Whether it’s the knit hamburger dress, the stuffed log pillow, the recycled beer bottle wind chime, or the Barbie doll key bag necklace, you’re sure to be pleasantly surprised by how awfully wonderful these homemade treasures are. Reading this blog almost makes me want to try my hand at a craft project…if only to have something to submit.

When the women behind Craftastrophe installed Lijit AND agreed to be part of this profile, I was almost giddy. Listen to what the brains behind this masterpiece (Karen and Sam) have to say about their site.

How long have you been blogging and what made you start?

Craftastrophe opened in November 2008, but Sam and I have been blogging separately since 1875, it seems. We each have personal blogs and we each own our own web design companies too. It’s a little nutty.

What has been the greatest thing you’ve gotten from blogging?

Friendships. Lifelong friendships based on relating to people as warped as us. That and cold, hard cash. (It was cold and hard because it’s pocket change, not bills.)

Of all the posts you’ve written, what has been your favorite and why?

Karen: There are so many, but one of my favorites was this post (entitled I Don’t Care How Badly You Want to Save The Earth, There is NO EXCUSE for This Sort of Craft) simply because I found it SO ridiculous that anyone would want a bracelet made from a nasty ol’ toothbrush.

Sam: My favorite post has to be the disgusting pig head bra because seriously? That’s so warped and WRONG.

What are the top 3 things you recommend crafters never do and why?

Use doll parts, use animal parts, and use real human parts because nothing good can ever come from that. (Well, unless you’re us because those items bring GREAT traffic.)

How has Lijit helped you to become a better blog publisher?

The search function is handy, and the stats are comprehensive. Being the stats junkie that we are, they make us all hot and bothered to look at weekly. Seriously, we LOVE stats and having all this information in one place is practically orgasmic.

I sincerely thank both Karen and Sam for providing me with smiles and for taking the time to answer my questions. Be sure to follow them on Twitter and if you’re going to SXSW, cheer loudly for Craftastrophe as they accept their 2009 Bloggie for Best Art, Craft or Design Weblog. Keep those craft disasters coming!