Do you Spark?

I’m fairly new to everything blogging related as is this blog. I realized that there are still a lot of stuff that I need to learn to keep a blog moving – and EARNING too. Thankfully, Lorie, a friend-contributor to this blog has taught me a few bits and tricks to this new world I should be calling the “blogosphere”.

Well, I have followed some steps to monetizing a blog and most of them are Pay Per Click (PPC) advertising from Google AdSense and Bidvertiser (as Lorie recommends using). There are also Pay per Post (PPP) sites that offer good compensation for putting up posts for them. I have tried to sign up to a few of them but I keep getting declined because of this blog’s present PR. However, I did stumble on IZEA’s SocialSpark. I signed up and after a few days, this blog got verified – which was cool. My first verification! Haha.

It is something of a social networking site that caters to bloggers and advertisers alike. There are two ways you can get signed up as. One is as a blogger, and the other as an advertiser. As a blogger, you get paid for writing reviews for products and services out on the web. SocialSpark also allows for dynamic pricing if you plan on advertising. As a blogger, you can also pay fellow bloggers to expand coverage of your blog too. It’s a neat package where bloggers get paid to write reviews or advertisers get coverage at the same time it is a networking site where bloggers like us get meet fellows in our own interest groups.

What’s great about Social Spark is that it has its own way of ranking blogs. They call it Real Rank. It is a more realistic ranking system as opposed to Google’s and Alexa’s. Some days you get good traffic, and some not as much. This is favorable for a starting blog like this one because you won’t need to put your blog to a PR 3 to get good sponsorship. By the way, Social Spark calls these “opps” or opportunities to write about a product or service for an advertiser. Another feature I like is the prop/drops button which you can find at your profile. It allows fellow bloggers to let you know how appealing your blog is. Not to fear though, Social Spark members are pretty quick on providing constructive criticism. Advertisers can also have a look at your profile and evaluate if you can provide some reviews for them.

Social Sparks has a code of ethics to keep everyone secure.

-100% Audit-able In-Post Disclosure
-100% Transparency
-100% Real Opinions
-100% Search Engine Friendly

Get signed up now. It’s easy. Setting up a profile is pretty simple too. Once you get signed up, you will have to provide some basic information like your name, address, Paypal email address (this is how you get payed), etc. So head on to Social Spark now and set up your own spark.

Sponsored by SocialSpark

The Changes in Friendster

Friendster was one of the pioneers of social networking. Even before MySpace started to dominate the Social Networking scene, and even before Social Networking became the byword for Internet users and web developers, Friendster was already alive and making puddles among its first users. But somewhere along the way, it started to lose its relevance as MySpace, Multiply, and even YouTube took over. So many things had contributed to Friendster’s slow death: the interface made it so much less advanced than how it should be, and the users, lured by the pretty applications of Facebook, all flocked over to the Social Networking upstart.

While everyone else migrated to Facebook because it’s the newest thing on the Web, I had gone there because of the apps and because Friendster profiles that had been “overpimped” had a tendency of crashing my browser, much to my annoyance.

But lately, with all the changes that Friendster has done for its website, I’m becoming more and more impressed at how it has evolved. Today, instead of the über buggy profiles, even the absolutely tricked-out ones don’t kill my browser needlessly. Friendster achieved this through changing the interface, and most likely, changing the code of the website.

The great thing about Friendster is that it aims to please. A lot of the youngsters now feel rather empowered because of its “Abuse” function. They can have the trolls who either copy their profiles taken down or suspended for abuse. This is just an indication of how Friendster aims to please its users.

One superfluous addition to Friendster, however, are the apps, no doubt created to mimic Facebook’s apps. For me, this was rather useless, because people befriend people on Friendster because these are long-lost friends and schoolmates or classmates. I see Facebook as a more impersonal place, judging from the people who befriended me there.

In my opinion, Friendster is, indeed, more focused on the user himself. Friendster profiles showed more of the personality of the user, rather than giving the user an escape from the real world.

Friendster shows the personality of the user by highlighting the “About Me” and the other a la slambook fields, while Facebook is more on activity-sharing through apps.

I think Friendster should focus more on its strength: the personality and the friendship-development features of the site, and stick to that rather than imitate Facebook and a be-all kind of social network.

I just happen to like the increased stability of the pages, and I do wish they’d keep being the down-home social networking site that they aimed to be, in the first place.

Facebook and Pokey! (A Glorified Tamagotchi)

I recently rediscovered the beauty of Facebook, as it helped fulfill my dream…

…Of getting my own pet dog.

I had initially been resistant to creating my own Facebook profile when Facebook first launched for public use, because I had Friendster and Multiply then, and I thought they were enough. But when my fiancé and I got to try the Facebook apps, with all the pokes and hugs, I believed I found the “mother lode” of social networking, finally.

But when my friends started to join, and found me, and also discovered a myriad of apps and bombarded me with them, I decided I’ve had enough of Facebook and dropped the Social Networking service in question.

The reason? The very system of Facebook allows it to exploit the applications and maximize its advertising potentials and bombard the users with updates and emails, thereby cluttering users’ profiles and activity feeds, and even third-party email inboxes. In an age where spam allergy is an epidemic, I believe that this system, which was the heart of why Facebook decided to go public, turned some of its users off to the service.

But recently, as I said, Facebook helped answer my prayers of having a dog to take care of, with lots of added benefits.

A couple of weeks ago, I wanted a dog so badly, and I found one for only about $15 (Php 500)! I was so ecstatic, because I had wanted a dog for so long, but my landlord won’t let me keep it. And despite my disappointment, I felt like it was a load off my shoulders, because I was already starting to worry about the poop, the pee and the food, even before being able to fully claim the doggie and “install” it in my house.

But through Facebook’s Pokey! (third-party) application, I was able to adopt an adorable choco labrador retriever puppy, and he…

Doesn’t poop.

Or pee.

With Pokey, you can adopt a pet, feed it, give it water, even throw bones and frisbees at it! The only side of Pokey that I didn’t like all that much was the fact that it would show a sad face if you didn’t feed it. I find that function both a good and bad thing: it’s a good thing because you can tell that you’ve been remiss with your pet, but a bad thing also because the facial expression is so… Expressive, that you can’t help empathizing with your Pokey! pet and his heart-wrenching sad face begging for some virtual food.

On the whole, Pokey! is like a super-advanced Tamagotchi (if you still remember that); it gives you an added responsibility, but it also gives you your much-needed dose of pet love, sans the poop. It’s so cool, it revived the love of Facebook for me. 🙂

To Blog or to Multiply?

To blog or to go “Friendstering”/“MySpace-ing”/“Multiplying”/“Facebooking”???

When it comes to online usage, most people go for social networking because it allows them to interact with others. Unlike blogging, which is seemingly a solitary affair, being on a social network is like having an all-in-one online service.

A social networking service already combines email, blogging, and even instant messaging, with more perks. Through social networking websites, users can meet other people, stay in touch with their friends, and with the current setup of social networking services, even play games and use and add other applications.

On the other hand, blogs do offer a measure of interaction. If you install widgets like Entrecard or MyBlogLog’s visitor widgets, you will see the viewers and visitors of your blog. The comments are also there to help you interact with the blog’s owner, or if you’re the blog owner, it will help you interact with your readers.

These tools are not as convenient for the user as the integrated tools and services in the social networking websites, but they sure give a measure of interactivity.

The difference between blogging and using a social networking site is the crowd and your intention in being on that website. Social networking is all about contacts, friendship, and interaction, while bloggers tend to blog because they have something to say.

It all just depends on what you actually want to do: would you want to connect with friends, or do you just want to put up your work and communicate with people, for your own pleasure and it won’t matter whether they view your blog or not?

Either way, the main point is still communication.

Yet you can also integrate both kinds of websites/services, if you are someone who would like to reach a wider audience. You can blog your thoughts, then you can also work on reaching your friends and a broader audience through posting the links to your blog on social networking websites.

It is interesting to note that social networking-based blogs are not exactly considered authoritative. On the other hand, there were quite a few blogspot/Blogger blogs that had been catapulted into industry greats even with just the URL. Amazing factoid.

So before you want to go into either service, you better ask yourself, what do you want to do, really, and which would make you achieve it?

This is Lorie, signing out!