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WordPress.com Now Lets (Some) Bloggers Monetize Their Sites with Ads

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Automattic’s WordPress.com just announced that some of its users will now be able to run display ads on their sites. WordPress is one of the most popular blogging platforms around today. Including the hosted WordPress.com site and its self-hosted cousin WordPress, more than 50,000 new blogs running this software come online every day. Until now, however, users of the hosted service didn’t really have an option to monetize their ads. Now, thanks to a partnership with online advertising company Federated Media, WordPress.com bloggers will be able to run ads on their sites.

It’s worth noting that this just applies to a very specific subset of sites for now, though. Bloggers will have to apply to be part of this program and own a custom domain for their blogs. WordPress will select sites based on “level of traffic and engagement, type of content, and language used on a blog.” What exactly the benchmarks for inclusion are, however, isn’t clear. Federated Media generally only works with larger sites written in English, but is clearly making some exceptions for WordPress.com.

WordPress.com’s announcement doesn’t mention any financial details, besides rightly noting that bloggers “deserve better than [Google’s] AdSense.”

WordPress.com still explicitly prohibits the use of other advertising services on its site, though, including Adsense, Yahoo, Chitika, TextLinkAds, as well as sponsored posts through PayPerPost, ReviewMe, and Smorty.



4:32 pm



Scoop.it Wants to Make Curation Frictionless

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One of the most over-hyped concepts of the last year is “curation.” Most curation services, with the exception of sites like Tumblr, aren’t really ready for the mainstream. Scoop.it, on the other hand, wants to make curation as frictionless as possible and allow anybody to easily create magazine-like pages with curated content in just a few clicks. I’ve tested many curation services over the last few months. Scoop.it has been the only one that I’ve really stuck with.

At its core, Scoop.it is really bookmarking on steroids. It’s clearly geared towards relatively mainstream users, but also fulfills most of the requirements more advanced users would have. As the company’s CEO and founder Guillaume Decugis told me earlier this year when we met up at SXSW, he sees two major markets for the product: companies that don’t have the resources to blog but still want to put up relevant content for their customers and users who are passionate about a certain topic, be it freestyle skiing or tech news.

You currently have to sign up for a private beta invite, but starting next week, sign-ups will be semi-open.

How it Works

So how does it all work? To get started, you simply decide on a name for your curation site (you can manage more than one) and install the bookmarklet. Then, whenever you see a story or site you want to feature, simply click on the bookmarklet and Scoop.it will automatically pre-populate its form with the title, an image from the story and the first few sentences of the text (you can modify these, too). Once you’re done with this, you send the snippet over to your page on Scoop.it and either call it a day or decide where to place it on the grid and modify the size and position of the image.

Scoop.it also offers a second method for curating content, as the service itself will suggest stories to you based on the keywords you have entered for your page.

scoopit_large

Coming Soon: Reconciling Blogging, Facebook Pages and Curation

The service has a number of new features planned for the very near future. The next version of Scoop.it will include the ability to send items directly to Facebook pages and WordPress and Tumblr blogs, an API and a widget that will allow publishers to promote their curation sites on their own properties. As Decugis told me, nobody really wants to have to maintain yet another site, so bringing all of these features together should make things a lot easier for Scoop.it users.



8:28 am


WordPress Writing Helper Wants to Help You Write Better Blog Posts

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WordPress today announced two new features for its hosted WordPress.com platform that aim to make writing blog posts and getting editing feedback a bit easier. With the new “Copy a Post” feature, writers can easily copy and paste old blog posts as templates for new ones. This is especially handy when you’re doing regularly scheduled round-up posts or similar posts. The second new feature allows writers to request feedback from others about their posts. The WordPress Writing Helper is now live on all WordPress.com blogs.

For most writers, requesting feedback is a standard part of the writing process, but WordPress, until now, didn’t make it easy to do so. While you could email a draft to somebody else, that’s not the most elegant solution. Now, you simply click on “Request Feedback” and type in the email address of the person you want to request feedback from. That person, then, will get access to the draft of the post, including a form for providing feedback. This isn’t quite as interesting as being able to add Word-style annotations to a post, but it is still a far better solution than emailing drafts back and forth.

For now, WordPress has not announced any plans to bring these features to self-hosted blogs, but they do look like perfect candidates for inclusion in WordPress’ JetPack plugin, which already features the After the Deadline writing tool.



11:17 am


New Plugin Promises Better Search for Self-Hosted WordPress Blogs

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The default search engine for self-hosted WordPress installs is not very good and organizes search results by chronology and not relevance. Over time, a number of companies like Lijit and others have tried to improve this and many WordPress users also resort to custom Google search engines to offer their readers acceptable search results. For the most part, though, WordPress search remains an unsolved problem. Tigerlogic’s yolink Search for WordPress plugin, which was co-developed with WordPress host WP Engine and is officially launching tonight, aims to change this by offering bloggers a good search engine that is easily customizable and deeply integrated into WordPress.


Better Search for Your WordPress Site

Once installed, you tell the WordPress plugin the kinds of content you want it to index (posts, pages etc.), set up your account (more about that below) and your standard WordPress search is now powered by yolink’s back end (the company’s name is not capitalized!). Your users won’t have to go to Google to search your site anymore and won’t get distracted by ads there that could potentially take them away from your content.

One nifty feature of the service is that it doesn’t just give you the posts’ headlines, but also highlights the keywords your readers were looking for in the context of the post. Once a reader clicks on one of these keywords in the search results, the actual page on your blog will show a yolink-powered sidebar that makes it easy to jump back and forth between different passages where this keyword appears in the text.

Yolink also aims to offer a bit more than just better search results. It also adds sharing functionality to all search results pages. Publishers can customize this feature, but out of the box, it supports sending results to services like Facebook, Twitter, Evernote and Google Docs.

Pricing

For personal sites that don’t promote a business, have fewer than 5,000 pageviews per month and don’t feature ads, the service is going to be available for free. Unless you fall into this free category, though, using yolink can quickly get pricey. Once you get beyond the free and $5/month tiers for small personal sites with ads and basic business sites, prices immediately go up to $25/month and more (yolink argues that most WordPress sites have fewer than 5,000 pageviews, so most bloggers will likely never have to pay). Depending on the site you run, paying that price is potentially worth the money, but sadly, it’s too hard to know exactly how much you will need to pay before you install the plugin as the service’s pricing wizard doesn’t work until you have already installed everything and received an API key (I would argue, too, that if you need a wizard to explain your company’s pricing plans – those pricing plans are probably too complicated).

No matter the issues I have with yolink’s pricing scheme, though, the service itself works just as advertised and it’s nice to see search results on a blog that look and feel like they are deeply integrated into the site and not the result of a messy integration with a third-party tool.



9:01 pm


Jetpack: WordPress Wants to Bring the Best of WordPress.com to Self-Hosted Blogs

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WordPress professionals want to bring the worlds of WordPress.com and WordPress.org closer together. Automattic’s WordPress.com, the popular blog hosting service, is also the company behind the open-source WordPress software for hosting blogs on your own server. While most of the features Automattic introduces to WordPress.com eventually make it to the self-hosted version, some rely on being hosted on the WordPress.com servers and are never released as plugins and don’t make it into the WordPress.org distribution.

Today, however, Automattic founder Matt Mullenweg announced Jetpack, a new plugin for self-hosted WordPress blog that brings features like WordPress stats, Twitter widgets, support for shortcodes and \LaTeX, Automattic’s own Sharedaddy sharing buttons and wp.me shortlinks to self-hosted blogs with just one click.

Currently, all of Jetpack’s plugins are available for free, though Automattic notes that some future features “may require payment.”

jetpack_wide

WordPress has partnered with a number of popular hosting companies, including Bluehost, DreamHost, Go Daddy, HostGator, Media Temple and Network Solutions, to bring Jetpack to their one-click WordPress installs.

As of now, the choice of services included in Jetpack is not that exciting. Virtually all serious bloggers already use a third-party stats package and sharing buttons, for example. None of the current features really seem that exciting and worth installing Jetpack for if you already have a blog up and running. To get started, though, Jetpack looks like a great way to get access to these features quickly.



11:13 am