Entrecard is a blogging service that has quickly emerged (or exploded) onto the scene over the last couple of months. Entrecard widgets are popping up on thousands of blogs around the blogosphere – including here at ProBlogger since they became a ProBlogger sponsor.
I get a lot of questions about Entrecard and how to use it most effectively to promote your blog – so I thought I’d approach Entrecard’s Graham Langdon with some of the more common questions. Please note that while Entrecard is a sponsor of ProBlogger this is not a paid post. It emerges out of your questions of a service that I know many of you are curious about and using.
One of the first questions that I get from readers most about Entrecard is – ‘what is it?’ – From what I can tell Entrecard has a number of features that bloggers love – how do you describe it?
Put simply, Entrecard is a free social advertising network for bloggers. Everyone knows that the 125×125 has become this semi-official “ad of the blogosphere.” What Entrecard allows you to do is :
- Advertise your 125×125, for free, on any blog in our network
- Pay with Entrecard Credits instead of real money
- Earn Credits by visiting other blogs, and leaving your card for the owner (through the widget) much in the same way you would hand someone your regular business card
- See 3D statistics of traffic from ad campaigns and from our site, as well as stats for cards given and received
- The whole service is incredibly easy to use and intuitive once you give it a try
So far, Entrecard has been quite effective at sending traffic to members’ blogs. Imagine a user that has a free ad right here on ProBlogger for a day, as well as ads running on 10 small to medium sized blogs. The traffic benefits can be significant. And on top of the advertising network there is an active social network, complete with a forum, messaging system, and more, that our members are actively taking part in. Bloggers have great information to share with each other, and we’re happy that so many are choosing Entrecard as an outlet.
When you place a free ad on someone else’s blog, how long does it run for? Are there other ads in rotation?
When you place an ad one someone’s blog with Entrecard, it runs for a full 24 hours, solid, with no other ads in rotation.
Following is a screenshot of the Entrecard Dashboard:
Where did the idea for Entrecard come from?
I’d have to say the gears started turning when I witnessed the massive launch of BlogRush. The take home message for me was that bloggers everywhere were craving a widget that could bring free traffic. My ensuing thought process went something like this: First, I thought of those fish-bowls in restaurants where you drop off your business card to win a free lunch. So I started thinking of a system where bloggers could drop their digital business cards to each other to earn some sort of reward. Then, I thought about how some “brick and mortar” businesses actually let other small businesses around town advertise their business card on their cashier counter, or on a window sill.
Once I translated this thought process to the world of blogging, I knew what I needed was a widget that could simultaneously serve as a way to not only exchange cards, but advertise other members cards. A Credit system, with varying cost to advertise based on the size and popularity of one’s blog, was the final piece of the puzzle, and thus, Entrecard was born!
You launched two months ago – how’s it been going so far? What milestones have you hit? Can you give us some insight into how many bloggers are using it and what benefits it’s bringing them?
Our launch has been nothing short of amazing so far. We’ve hit the following milestones:
- Over 2,000 free ads are now placed daily through Entrecard.
- Since launching, our members have exchanged over half a million cards with each other.
- As of writing this, Entrecard proudly offers free advertising on 1700 unique blogs.
- We’re now consistently ranking under under 2000 on Alexa (I hate to use the ‘”A” word) daily.
- In the last 30 days, we’ve done over a million page views on our website.
In terms of benefits, reports are abound on Technorati and Google Blogsearch that bloggers are not just receiving significant traffic, but also an increase in comments, a boost in Alexa rank, and more RSS subscribers. Not bad for a free widget that takes up just a little more space than a 125×125! However, I will say that results vary depending on your level of involvement in the program.
What type of blogger will benefit most from it?
Without a doubt, the small to medium size blogger will see the most benefit from Entrecard. It is an excellent system especially for bloggers trying to attain their first 2000 RSS subscribers. It’s not the only system these bloggers should be using of course, but it will absolutely help. Most of our users report traffic of around 20 visits per day, and as many as 150 to 200 per day with particularly effective ad campaigning. While this amount of traffic may not be significant to some of the top bloggers, many bloggers would find themselves greatly benefited from this source of traffic.
Are there any restrictions, limitations, or guidelines for joining the Entrecard network?
Yes, we have a number of basic guidelines for Entrecard membership. We only allow blogs of reasonable quality into the network, so if you only have one post, or if your site is considered “spam” it will not be allowed in the network. We also only allow blogs written in English, though we hope to expand to facilitate all languages as soon as possible. Finally, you cannot have adult content on your blog.
We rely heavily on a flagging system, where users can flag any blog in the network that appear to be spam, offensive, or of poor quality. All these flags are reviewed promptly and proper action is always taken to keep Entrecard a high quality network. So far, this system has served us wonderfully, and has given an equal voice to everyone as to what they do and do not want to see in the Entrecard network.
What tips would you give bloggers who want to get the most out of Entrecard?
With Entrecard, you get out what you put in. So you’ll want to spend some time leaving your card for bloggers in your niche and in related niches to get them visiting your site. You can start buying as many ads as possible on related blogs. Finally, you can hold a contest on your blog and give away Entrecard Credits. This is becoming a very popular trend for our members, and provides a terrific incentive to get others commenting on your blog posts.
Another fairly large element that plays a role in your success with Entrecard is your blog’s content. Members with quality content, well written and useful articles with images, will find that Entrecard enhances their statistics more so than blogs with lesser quality content. And of course, blogs with terrible content simply get removed from our network. But if your content is good, simply participate as much as possible, and I can guarantee you’ll be happy with your results.
You’ve just opened a ‘marketplace’ (pictured below) – what’s this?
The blogger marketplace, which we call the Entrecard Shop, is the next step forward with the Credit economy we’re establishing. Cumulatively, our members are earning thousands of Credits every day, and while it’s nice that you can spend your Credits to advertise on over 1700 blogs, we have a bit of a larger vision.
So we’ve opened a shop where bloggers can buy and sell blogging related products and services for Credits. We have people selling exclusive WordPress themes, Blog reviews, SEO consultations, Blog makeovers, unused domain names, and more. The benefit for the seller is that it dramatically increases the amount of credits you earn, thus increasing your purchasing power as well. The benefit for the buyer is that now you can buy much, much more than network advertising with your Credits.
What is the most unique item available in the shop? What is the most useful?
I’d have to say that the most unique item in the shop is a Shakespearean Sonnet. A blogger, who recently enjoyed a class in Shakespeare, will write a sonnet about your blog for 50 credits, and post it on her blog. As for the most useful item, someone is selling a complete hosting package for your WordPress blog. This gives bloggers the opportunity to finally move off Blogspot or WordPress.com and onto their own hosted account, and pay with credits instead of money. I find it really satisfying to see such unique and useful items being sold in the Shop, which is only just a week old.
Are there any criticisms of Entrecard you would like to address?
Well the system isn’t perfect, and although we’d like everyone to read a full post and leave a comment before dropping their card, some people simply don’t. Some users will stop by your blog just to drop off their card, and then go off to the next one to rack up credits. Now this doesn’t include everyone; we have a lot of quality readers out there on Entrecard. In fact we’ve found that the majority of our users have reported discovering new blogs they now read regularly. But you could very well find, because of some chain droppers, that across all your Entrecard traffic, the average time spent on your site is slightly lower and the bounce rate slightly higher when compared to the rest of your traffic. Regardless, this is still real traffic and you still have the opportunity to command their attention when they stop by. And finally, even for the Entrecard members that do stay only just long enough to drop their card, you still earn a credit for each one of these “chain droppers,” which you can put towards advertising, graphic design for your blog, blog reviews, SEO consultations, hosting, and much much more in the Entrecard Shop.
The best thing our members can do to minimize the chain dropping, is to understand that this is not Entrecard’s intended use, and to really make an effort to read a post and leave a comment on blogs they visit while dropping cards.
Where do you hope to take Entrecard in the coming year? Do you have any more features planned that you can tell us about?
Over the next year, we’re going to expand the social networking features to include favorites, a news feed, and even more bells and whistles. We’re going to enhance the advertising network by adding greater control and analytics. Finally, we’re hoping to expand the marketplace to hundreds, if not thousands of items, and roll out a seller feedback system similar to eBay’s. By the end of the year, I plan on securing either an angel investment or venture capital. I’ve already had some interest from a few angel investors, but I’m looking for an investor who is well connected in an industry that would be of benefit. From the looks of things so far, Entrecard could become big. Very big.
Note from Darren: As a little companion post to this interview in the next day or two I’m going to do a little competition to give away my own Entrecard credits (there’s over 3000 of them). Stay tuned for how to win some of them for yourself to help promote your blog.