Why It Is Important To Balance Creating And Curating Content

Jul
24

I’m a big fan of soul music.

There’s nothing I like more than to listen to an LP from one of my favorite soul artists from the 60’s and 70’s. Singers like Bobby Bland, Curtis Mayfield, Bill Withers and Etta James always perk me up with their emotional and rich ballads, even if the subject matter isn’t particularly sunny.

It’s a passion that I share with others: I relish showing off soul artists to people who’ve never heard of them almost as much as I enjoy listening to them myself. I love putting on a great soul record when I’m entertaining guests and waiting for the inevitable moment when one of them asks me for the name of the artist.

The tendency to share my music taste with others is my way of curating content: I find what I deem to be quality content (in this case it’s in the form of old vinyl LPs) and share it with people who I think would benefit from hearing it. I’m not a soul musician by trade—I’m not creating any new content in that regard—but I am doing a service to unknown soul musicians and those who’ve gone out of style by showing their work to people who normally would never see it.

When it comes to curating, though, bloggers and web entrepreneurs don’t have the same luxuries that I enjoy. They must be both the curators and the creators of content, churning out their own work while drawing attention to content from other writers who have smart things to say. In essence, they have to sing their original soul tunes as much as they must boast the talent of other artists.

The debate on the value of curating content versus creating it is a rich one in the blogosphere, and in my opinion it’s a wasted one. The truth of the matter is that bloggers and web entrepreneurs can’t make a successful career out of doing solely one or the other. A blogger that writes article after article without putting his work in the context of the greater conversation going on among his peers is arrogant at best and foolish at worst. Those who spend the entirety of their time sharing articles and retweeting other bloggers amount to nothing more than a human aggregate of the topics in their own niche

The web is a communal space, one where a person’s success is measured by the number of connections, friends, readers, viewers, likes, and pageviews that they have. Given that fact, it’s absolutely imperative that a blogger understands the importance of working with others. This is the curating side of things: sharing an insightful post from a colleague on Twitter, posting a link to your favorite news aggregate blog, recommending sites to your readers. The more you get involved with the actual community that makes up your niche, the better chance you have at reaching more potential readers and customers.

Like I said though, curating interesting content is something that should be done tastefully and with the knowledge that overdoing it could erase your own online presence. That’s why you should always be pushing yourself to put your own material out there. The only way to distinguish yourself online is to create content that is uniquely you, some perspective or insight that only you could have written. A single well-researched and strongly written article will do you many more favors than sharing dozens of links to interesting tidbits and factoids that might endear you to your followers but say nothing about your perspective as a blogger or entrepreneur. That’s the truth no matter what niche you’re covering, from education to tech to childcare.

Above all, people on the web are hungry for content. They don’t care where it comes from, so they’ll take as many links as you share with them. It’s up to you to decide whether or not those links lead to works written by your own hand or those written by others.

Samantha Gray received her undergraduate education online, and enjoys guiding her readers through the process of doing the same. She is now a freelance writer by day, and she also moonlights as a tutor and zoo tour guide in her spare time. She may be reached for questions and feedback at samanthagray024@gmail.com.

Publisher Spotlight: PaleOMG

Jul
3

We recently sat down with Lijit publisher Juli Bauer, owner and operator of PaleOMG, a site focusing on the paleo lifestyle as well as the daily happenings of Juli’s life. Juli is a huge presence in the Colorado CrossFit community, and never falls short of providing her readers with tips, tricks, and a whole lot of wit.

Read on to find out how Juli got her start, and why she doesn’t plan on stopping anytime soon!

How long have you been blogging? Why did you start?

I have been blogging for a year and a couple months now. I got my start when I began doing CrossFit and then started a Paleo diet soon after. The owner at my first gym asked me to start a nutrition blog for them and once I moved to another gym I decided I would start blogging on my own. At first I would post recipes I found, and then began cooking all different kinds of recipes to post to my website. I started sharing stories about what I did on the weekends and people seemed pretty into that aspect too. I always have stories to share with people, and my blog has become very interactive.

What is your favorite paleo recipe?

I am a big dessert person and when I was changing over to paleo, I had a couple of freak outs when I thought about how terrible life would be if I could never have cake again. I calmed down when I found recipes for paleo bread, and I have a paleo cheesecake recipe that is the best thing I have ever tasted.

Its scary when you go paleo because you think you will never be able to enjoy food again. I learned that you can still have a sweet tooth and get your treats

You have a large following of 30,000+ page views daily. How have you grown and maintained your audience?

I think the success of my blog has come from my honesty. I talk to my readers exactly how I would speak to any of my friends. I talk about my fears with starting paleo, my successes, being scared about certain workouts coming up, or the times I’ve fallen off the bandwagon. You can feel intimidated by a lot of blogs. I like to provide my readers with an honest outlook. I will have a cupcake if I want a cupcake.

What is one of the coolest things that have come from writing your blog?

One of the coolest things about writing my blog has been the people I have met through it. I get emails from people all the time telling me about how I have inspired them to start CrossFit thanking me for helping them through really hard times, and talking to me about other deep stuff that you would never talk to a person regularly about. It’s cool to have people from across the country and across the world that I have never met contact me because they feel as though they have some kind of connection to me.

How has Lijit helped you as a publisher?

The biggest thing has been my groceries – Lijit has helped me continue to do what I love to do. As funny as that sounds, the money I have made with Lijit has been so helpful in that regard. I cook these meals for my blog and I am not always consuming them. I have different allergies, but I enjoy making all kinds of recipes for my blog. If I didn’t have Lijit to work with, I would not be able to post as often as I do, and share all my recipes with my readers!

What does your blogging future look like?

I love writing and blogging on PaleOMG and that will never change. Whether it is my full time career or something I do on the side, I will continue to write no matter what. I love sharing stories with people and food with people because it is what is important to me. I am glad it is important to other people too!

Do you have any tips for new publishers looking to grow their site?

Be yourself and genuinely care about the people who take the time to read your site. They are what is most important.

Go Big or Stay Home

Oct
4

Today Lijit announced that it has been acquired by Federated Media Publishing, the powerhouse conversational marketing and media business that John Battelle started in 2005. I could not be more excited about the transaction, and more importantly, the future that the combined company has before it.

About the same time John was starting FM, I was starting Lijit. Not in a friend’s garage, like John, but rather in my basement.

From the onset, Lijit has been keenly interested in helping publishers who create and curate great content that attracts engaged audiences in thoughtful conversations. In the early days we borrowed heavily from the FeedBurner playbook: provide services that are useful and intuitive and create long lasting publisher relationships. Dick Costolo, the former FeedBurner CEO and now CEO of Twitter, was an early mentor and board member who helped me keep the Lijit mission true to course in an industry where data is hard to come by and experience is everything. Over the last few years we expanded that charter to focus on helping publishers monetize their website(s) and bring them technologies and information that would otherwise be out of reach due to their size.

For all this hard work, publishers have rewarded us by trusting more of their ad inventory to us and allowing us to help monetize more of their properties. September was the first month since inception that we paid out more than $1M in revenue to publishers in our network. Even more exciting is that this number has grown over 50% month-over-month for the last year or so. While revenue is the key metric of success for any business, it is still amazing to see the number of positive tweets, inbound emails, and phone calls we get every week from publishers who are too small or too niche to be considered viable by the larger ad channels in our industry. We love publishers and they are our people.

So in May, when we were first approached by Federated Media, it was a case of mixed emotion. Lijit wasn’t for sale, we were fully funded and coming off our 6th straight month of 50% month-over-month revenue growth. Profitability was within sight and occurring on and off on a daily basis. In short, we were having FUN, AND A LOT OF IT. But, at the same time, if there was bigger play to make – an industry changing and industry leading play to make – it was with FM. It all made complete sense from that first instant of thought.

Lijit has one of the best management teams I have ever worked with. Without fail they embody the charter of “hire people that are smarter than you.” This motto has served me well as Lijit CEO, and I am super excited to see what they can accomplish with greater resources and the association with an A+ brand in our industry.

Over the months as I got to know John Battelle, Deanna Brown and the entire FM management team it become even more clear that the combination of both companies was going to create the first major media company designed from the ground up to help the millions of publishers ignored by all the other companies. This company was designed to harness the amazing power of focused conversations in the engaged part of the web – what FM refers to as the “Independent Web.”

FM and Lijit are going to combine efforts to create a company of scale and substance only indicative of industry leading companies. I could not be more excited for the ride.

Lijit Product Updates: Reader Demographics

May
9

We just completed another round of updates and improvements to our publisher products. We’re putting a lot of energy behind building out our ad services and publisher analytics and we’re expanding our offerings with every software release. So what’s new?

Reader Demographics:

The most important part of being an online publisher, is understanding your audience. On top of all of the other great audience analytics we provide to help you understand your readers, we now offer reader demographic data right inside your Lijit dashboard. This new statistic allows you to see the overall makeup of your online audience, and further understand who you are creating content for, and the demographic distribution of people frequenting your site.

Why are demographics important?

  • Understanding your readers

The best way to effectively create relevant content for your readers, and to attract new readers, is to know who they are. Understanding the makeup of your audience is key to ensuring you are producing content that will engage and resonate withyour audience.

  • Monetizing your site

Advertisers looking to reach the right audience for their online display advertising campaigns always consider demographics when making targeting decisions. You will be better equipped to attract and sell advertising for your site if you understand the demographic makeup of your audience

Check out your dashboard to see the demographic makeup of your site and start down the path of better understanding your readers. Just goto www.lijit.com, login and check it out at the bottom of your Lijit dashboard.

Other News:

  • Removed MyBlogLog support

We removed support for MyBlogLog and disabled it’s use as a content and network source for publishers who use our search engine services.  MyBlogLog had a great run and was a key integration partner in the early days of Lijit. Yahoo is shutting down all MyBlogLog services at the end of May, so we decided to deactivate it on our side before that happened.

  • Welcome Widget support

We made the difficult decision to “end-of-life” our Welcome Widget product. Publishers who previously used this feature will no longer see a UI to manage settings for the Welcome Widget, and we automatically disabled the functionality it provided. We’re always looking for ways to enable our publishers to better engage their readers, so keep an eye out for more site tools and functionality in the future.

Lijit Supports Cookie Week – A Roundup of Cookie Recipes

Dec
3

It is CookieWeek!

Did you know that?

In an effort to celebrate delicious, sweet morsels we’ve done a roundup of some delicious cookie recipes from some foodie, Lijit publishers. Enjoy!

The Cupcake Project: Oreo Cookies Made From Scratch

Brown Eyed Baker: Lemon Burst Cookies

The Perfect Pantry: Sugar, Cookies (Recipe: the world’s best sugar cookie)

Heavenly Homemakers: Snickerdoodles

Andrea’s Recipes: Peanut Butter Kiss Cookies

Lynn’s Kitchen Adventures: Fudgy Coconut Cookies

Whisk: Buttery Jam Cookies

80 Breakfasts: Fig and Honey Cookies

A Few Short Cuts: Cinnamon Bun Cookies

What are your favorite cookie recipes?

Stats, Stats, and more Stats | Lijit Product Updates

Jun
10

This is our first software release of the summer and we definitely consider it a “blockbuster”.  We work hard every month to bring you valuable tools to make you a better publisher and to help you monetize your content. We think this software release does both!

More Ad Stats-

We greatly expanded the range of ad stats available to you in your stats dashboard. Prior to this release we limited the ad stats data you could report on to the previous month, and current month. You can now run reports for any date range you wish, as well as have quick access to your current day stats, yesterday, week to date, and month to date. This should give you even more visibility into how Lijit is helping you monetize your site, and allow you to see the “big picture” when it comes to ad performance on your site.

Read the rest of this entry »

Embed search results on your blog!

Jul
14

There used to be only two ways to display your search results–an overlay that popped up on top of your blog when a reader did a search or with the results hosted on our site. For those that haven’t seen it, this is what the overlay looks like…

With a recent release, however, all that has changed. We’ve had many users asking for the ability to embed search results within a specified page on their blog and now, you can do just that.

To see an example of how the embedded search results look, take a stroll over to Celebridiot. While getting your updates on celeb gossip, do a search using Lijit in the upper left of their site*. This is how you’ll see the search results…

Pretty cool, huh? The only thing with this display option is that it’s not meant for the weak of heart or the less tech-savvy. By this, I don’t mean to offend but do want to convey that in order to embed search results on your site, you need to be able to create your own page within your blog where the results will live. This is not always an easy task and there are some blog platforms that may not allow you to do this. But, if you know what you’re doing, here are the steps for embedding Lijit search results on your blog.

Start by creating a page within your blog for the search results. If you’re using WordPress, you can do this by creating a new page and calling it www.yoururl.com/search. Publish the page and once you have this set up, log in to your Lijit account.

Go to your Wijit configuration page within Lijit. When you’re logged in, choose the ‘Wijits’ tab at the top of the page. If you scroll down towards the bottom, you’ll see an area with a drop-down box to choose where you want to display your search results. Choose the ‘on my blog (embedded)’ option and you’ll see this appear.

You can enter the URL of the page you created for your search results in the empty box and then copy the code below to put on that page.

Save your widget settings at the bottom when you’re done. You’re going to paste the code we provided you on that special search results page that you set up and then, you should be good to go.

We’re excited about this functionality because it allows our users to have even more control over how their search looks and feels. And? This is something you wanted. So if you have any questions about how to embed search results on your blog, feel free to send them our way.

*This site is also a great example of our WordPress plugin overridng the default search of a site and making it way more Lijit.

You’ve Got Comments in My Search Results!

Jun
23

Yeah, that’s kinda old news. By now, if you are a Lijit user, you have seen that we have integrated all the major comment systems (Disqus, JS-Kit and Intense Debate) as well as blog platform comments (Wordpress and Typepad) into the search results.

But, what we may not have done is explain why it’s such a important feature.

Of all the components of a blog post (the title, the body and the comments), only comments describe the engagement level of the readership of a particular post.

Think about it. The title gives you a hint as to what the content is, and the content gives you, well, the content. But its the comments where real interaction occurs.

Lijit, focusing on trust based results, wants to provide the searcher all the possible clues available as to which result is most trust-worthy as well as most relevant. It’s one of the reasons why searchers use less words in their searches to discover content.

In this result from my blog, you will see that the first result, which has the most comments is expanded to show the first few comments. I highlighted an interesting line in the comment about the importance of community interaction:

Disqus Comments

Features such as comment integration are important for us to continue to roll out as we continue to provide search results that provide real value to the blogger and the searcher.

The added benefit of comment systems, such as Disqus, is their network and how people comment on blogs both within and outside the Lijit network. Beyond the simple comment integration, we hope to continue to explore ways to use the comment data in our results.

You will see that we have added Disqus to this blog. We are excited to test it first hand and see what behaviors it drives. Over time, we will continue to use this blog as a place to test other technologies and their potential integration or partnership with Lijit.

If you are interested in us trying out specific plugins or technologies, please leave a comment.

New Lijit Wordpress Plugin Available

Jun
11

We are super excited to announce a new update to our Wordpress Plugin. The same plugin that brought sweet search functionality and stats information to your wordpress blog is now even better.  You might not notice much, as the core of this update revolves around backend functionality. So what does that mean to you???

  • Our search form override functionality is now compatible with just about any wordpress theme out there.  (if you find one that doesn’t work, let us know, and we’ll try to add it)
  • The plugin enables new widget functionality which results in faster widget loading for your readers.

If you are using Wordpress 2.7 or higher, you should see auto upgrade notices for version 1.1 showing up in your admin console within the next 24 hours. You can just auto upgrade from your plugins screen. Or, you can always manually install/upgrade the plugin from the Lijit Wordpress Plugin page. For handy install tips and instructions, you can always reference our Lijit Help pages for guidance.

As always, if you have any suggestions or feedback, don’t hesitate to drop us a line at support@lijit.com.

Typepad users rejoice!

Apr
9

You might remember, back in January, that we announced comment integration if you were using a third-party commenting system like Disqus, Intense Debate, or JS-Kit. Then, in early March, we looped Wordpress comments into the mix. But, if you were a blogger using Typepad, you might have felt a little left out.

No more, ye Typepad users! With last night’s release, you too can now experience the magic of having comments show up in your search results.

(Let’s take a moment to fully celebrate this…)

With that out of the way, there is one thing you have to do if you want to see those comments displayed within your search results. But it’s not hard, it’s totally worth it, and we have the utmost faith that you can do this.

You have to enable your comment feeds within your Typepad dashboard, which is easily done by following the four steps outlined above. After logging in to your Typepad account:

Step #1–> Click on the ‘Weblogs’ tab along the top.

Step #2–> Choose the ‘Configure’ tab.

Step #3–> From there, go to ‘Feeds’.

Step #4–> And finally, check the box to enable comment feeds on indivual posts and pages.

When you’re done with that, be sure to save your changes at the bottom of the page, sit back and enjoy the enhanced functionality of Lijit that we keep striving to bring you! If you have questions or need help with doing this, please leave us a comment and we’re happy to help.