Why I Won’t Use Blogsherpa

Posted August 8, 2009 by nomadicmatt
Categories: Blogging

Tags: , , ,

A few months ago, Lonely Planet came out with a way to try to engage bloggers called “Blogsherpa.” You tag your blog post with blogsherpa, the LP bot picks it up, and it ends up on their site like so: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/travelblogs/6/631/Exploring+Edinburgh?destId=360630. It’s exactly as it appears on your own blog. When I thought I could have my stuff on Lonely Planet, I thought “cool! I’ll probably get tons of traffic and valuable backlinks!!!!”

But the more I’ve thought about it, the more I’ve tested it, the more I’ve realized it’s a raw deal for me (and other bloggers). While I think the guy who runs it, Matt C, has really good intentions, I don’t believe the bigwigs above him do or are really looking to connect with bloggers. This has just turned into a way to get free content. So Ive decided to no longer going to contribute. Here’s why:

  • Something for nothing. You are giving LP your full RSS feed so they get your whole article. Free content for them, nothing for you. Google adsense is placed next to your feeds but I’ve found that your click through rate is TINY and you don’t get much money from it. Also, if you use adsense normally, this will lower your CTR and thus your payments. Moreover, most of these pages don’t even get cached by Google unless they are really old. Since they aren’t in the Google index, you don’t even get the benefit of a backlink from lonely planet. Then when they do get cached, since the Lonely Planet brand is better than yours, they will out rank you FOR YOUR OWN CONTENT! That’s not a problem if you put some work into building backlinks to page- you’ll get above them but your doing double the work to beat the article you wrote? That’s sort of crappy.
  • No Traffic.  If people are able to read your full feed, why would they bother to click over to your site? I’ve found my Lonely Planet traffic is about 3-5 people per day. Considering I have over 25 posts on “blogsherpa” and usually 1/2 the traffic I get comes from the forum I post in, the traffic value of Blogsherpa is crap. I bet most people aren’t getting anything. In fact, I get a much better conversion from their cluttered forum than I do from Blogsherpa and I don’t have to fight myself in the Google search results.
  • Quality Control.  Let’s be honest- some people are just better writers than others. In the beginning, there was a small group of people who were part of this. But lately everyone is allowed to do it. There is a video that tells you how the program works and let’s you know that as long as you can write a sentence, you get in. Not exactly the highest standards in the world. I’m sure some blogs get denied but I have noticed a large, large number of new sites in the system.  Now, as a branding thing, I think it’s awful for LP because it sullies their brand but that is my business mind at work. But for a blogger, it’s awful for two reasons: First, you get crowded out. With so many blogs out there, unless you are blogging about some unknown destination no one goes to, your blog is going to be just one blog out of many. One popular destination pages like Thailand, there’s a million blog posts there. If your work isn’t at the top, you aren’t going to get much traffic.  Secondly, not all bloggers treat their website with “journalistic integrity.” Many bloggers considered themselves online journalists (I do) and really go out of their way to produce quality work. However, a lot of people write about their trip and it’s mostly “hey mom, look! I’m in Italy”. I love to read those blogs and follow abut 50 in my RSS and, while they do find some cool stuff, in terms of planning my trip, I wouldn’t exactly call these people experts and wouldn’t want to use them for trip planning.

    So while it may sound elitist, I work very hard on my site and my brand. I don’t want to be lumped in with “hey mom” travel blogs on Lonely Planet. Having those style blogs on Lp takes away from the public perception of the value of the all blogs there. If people think some of the sites aren’t quality travel planning sites, they will think all of the sites aren’t. I work too hard on my brand to have it perceived as just another “hey mom I’m in italy” type of blog. When I’m traveling, I put a lot of work into finding budget deals and getting information. And while I’m not 100% there yet, I like to feel my site is more than simple travel blog so to potentially be perceived otherwise doesn’t sound good to me.

I think the idea of reaching out to travel bloggers is great and I’m glad there is an effort on the part of LP to do so but I think how this program is run right now gives lonely planet a bunch of free content and you a bunch of nothing. Most people are going to be enamored with the idea of having content on Lonely Planet but if you really think about it, you aren’t getting anything out of it.  Could this be a great traffic generator? It sure could. LP mentioned me in their community blog and I saw 200 new visitors to my website. Blogsherpa could have the same effect but it requires substantial changes to their program and I think a much broader commitment than the big shots at Lonely Planet probably want to make right now. If there were some changes to the problem and I bit more visibility for the blogger on the LP website, this would be great. But as it stands now, you get the short end of the stick.


Why Barack Obama Will Fail

Posted July 9, 2009 by nomadicmatt
Categories: Poltics

Tags: , , , , , ,

I love Bill Maher. At the end of each episode, he has a “let’s be real” closing speech. A few weeks ago, he talked about how America has a party of big business, banks, defense, big agri, and drug companies. Yes, we know that party- they are called the DEMOCRATS. Then there is the crazy party of religious nuts called the REPUBLICANS. Health care is going to fail because it doesn’t have enough support of DEMOCRATS. Obama will end up dropping the public plan because the democrats, the party of “the people”, are against it.

What happened to the party that supports universal health care, the end of the drug war, the environment, cutting the budget, and cutting military spending? Most Americans are for it. Why don’t the democrats sack up and do what is right. Democrats are the new republicans and the republicans are the new crazy!

I love Obama and think he’s our best bet and believe he wants a lot more than he says but it’s not the republicans who stand in his way, it’s douchebags in the democratic party. The last climate bill, heralded as a major change, is 1200 pages long and has more holes in it than the ozone layer it’s trying to save!

And that’s why Barack will fail domestically. Because Congress is going stand in his way of making the real fucking change that most americans are simply too stupid to know they need and Congress is too scared and beholden to lobbyists to do it.

Obama should use his clout to force down the throat of people universal health care, legalized pot, a smaller military, better education, renewable energy, and better infrastructure. Why? Because we are living in the 21st first century, not the 20th century and every other country is leaving us behind.

We spend the most money for health care and are #37th in the world for it!! It costs 3,000 more dollars to build a car in America because of health care costs. That’s why we build them all in Mexico and Canada. We all know health care is broken but when we talk about a public/private plan like most of Europe has, people talk about a government bureaucrat telling you what health care you will have! Someone already tells me what health care I can have- it’s called my HMO. And it costs them 20% to do that when medicare spends 3% on admin costs.

And let’s face- the war on drugs failed. We can tax the hell out of pot and make a ton of money doing it! Because who gives a shit if dad tokes one up in front of the TV after a day at work and I’m not paying to keep Grandpa Joe in jail because he wanted to cure his glaucoma. Isn’t that a republican issue anyways? What happened to keeping the government out of people’s lives? Weren’t they for that? I guess Jesus got in the way of principle.

Moreover, defense secretary Gates said we spend more money than the next 11 nations combined on defense and 9 of them are our allies!! Something tells me Germany and Japan aren’t gonna bomb us anytime soon and England isn’t gonna try to take back the 13 colonies! You ever think maybe…just maybe..most people hate us because we have a base EVERYWHERE! The anti-war party is now the pro war party and the isolationist party is now “lets kill everybody with nukes party.”

And education- after teaching in America, i realized we are so far behind the rest of the world, I’d never in a million years send a kid to public school in America. We cut, cut, and cut. And we don’t fire teachers when they do an awful job. And when obama says this- who attacks him? The right? Nope. THE DEMOCRATS! Because god forbid we made each state teach the same thing and made teacher accountable when they failed or paid them for when they did good.

Seriously, being back in America the last month and watching the news as made me realize the US is truly fucked and most Americans are too busy watching MJs funeral or listening to Glenn Beck to see the forest through the trees. And when Obama says if we do this, we’ll be better off long term but right now, it’s gonna be painful- politicians and Americans whine and whine and whine because they have been told their whole lives that nothing bad will ever happen and they will never have to sacrifice. So instead we don’t fix the roads, keep farm subsidies, and put it all on the visa because god fucking forbid, America, you actually had to pay for the stuff you wanted the government to do.

And so that is why Obama will fail because, at the end of the day, Americans don’t want to sacrifice, they want a bunch of stuff they don’t want to pay for, and Congress wants to protect their piece of the pie rather than do what is right and needed. And so 4 years from now, we’ll probably elect Obama again simply b/c the republicans won’t have a better option and Americans will still wonder why life isn’t better when it’s because you won’t really let Obama do what he wants to do to help you.

Because if we did that then we might actually become a modern country that lives in the 21st century. You know sort of like Taiwan, where you can get country wide wifi, free health care, and cheap education. That America, is something we should all try to aim for!

End rant…

Switching Gears…

Posted June 28, 2009 by nomadicmatt
Categories: money

Tags: , , , ,

Today I sat down to answer the age old question: How broke am I? Well, it turns out pretty broke. I have a serious problem: I like spending a lot of money……especially on travel. “Ohh you need someone to go to Paris with you? Sure I’ll go!!!”

My location independent lifestyle affords me the ability to do what I want, when I want. So I do that and I end up spending a lot of money. Not so good. I’ve pretty much spent all that I’ve earned this year, which isn’t good. Next week, I meet with my accountant to figure out how I’m going to pay my taxes and what I am going to owe. I’m also going to figure out how to write off my travels as a business expense…I mean after all, I run travel websites and all.

Realizing that if I don’t save any money soon my trip to Europe is not gonna go as smoothly, I’ve decided to shelve some of my trips around the US while I am. I’m going use the fact I’m staying with my parents to really start saving money. No more freewheeling spending. Sticking to the budget.

I leave for Europe on August 23rd and by then I want to save 5,000 dollars as a rainy day fun. That way in case I have any dip in income, I’ll have some money. It’s also a wake up call that, maybe I should go and spend all my money. I’m at the point in life where I should have a savings. I don’t. Maybe it’s time to do one adult thing….

Back Home Again..for now

Posted June 18, 2009 by nomadicmatt
Categories: Personal Life

Tags: , , , ,

Well, I’ve been home for four days now. The culture shock has yet to hit in though. Mostly, I’ve caught up on about 11 months of sleep I missed, had many a doctor appointment (I’m healthy, no cavities, got a bit more near sighted), and been catching up on work. So I have yet to really venture out and adjust (I did get to taco bell! rest easy now people!). I suspect the culture shock will really hit me when I head to D.C. tomorrow to meet some friends, go to a wedding, and meet Tanya from Parisian Spring. Out and about in the culture, I’m going to be freaked out.

I’m already weirded out by the big cares and huge roads. And it did take me a few minutes to remember which coins had which value to them! lol.

But home is going to be a busy time. I only plan on being here for about two months and I have a lot to do in that two months.

I need to:

a) stabilize my income a bit more to ensure I start to actually save more than I spend!

b) Get so far ahead of my work that when I go backpack again, I can have fun and not work so much.

c) Start planning my next backpacking trip. I need to work on the rough outline of my trip to Europe and book my accommodation for La Tomatina and Oktoberfest.

d)head to the Travel Blog Exchange Conference in Chicago

e) find my way to NYC, LA, San Fran, and points unknown

f) Have a high school reunion

g) find time in all of that to see my friends!

It’s going to be an action packed 2 months.

The End is Near..

Posted June 14, 2009 by nomadicmatt
Categories: Personal Life

Tags: , ,

…and it’s time to be on my way…

Leaving Bangkok…Again

Posted June 4, 2009 by nomadicmatt
Categories: Personal Life

Tags: , , , , ,

I’m leaving Bangkok in two days and I’m a bit saddened by it. I was just starting to get into the groove of living here again and now I have to leave. It’s sad. I’ve been Asia since last August and I love it here. Asia is great- I love the crazy feel and the great food and the wild parties and the energy of the area.

Now I have to go home. It’s going to be weird. There’s going to be so many…white people. That’s going to be weird. Lots of white people. I haven’t been around lots of white people in awhile. Moreover, everyone in the starts is going to be going on and on and on about the economy. Blah blah blah. How depressing. I watched ten minutes of CNN and I felt dumber for watching it.

I’m going to be bored too. Every night is a night out in Bangkok but back in Boston, a Tuesday is a Tuesday in front of the tv. Here it is like twenty networking events.

I am excited to eat at all the restaurants I missed back home. Especially taco bell!! Mmmmmm taco bell. Crappy food but yummy. Then all the sushi places, pizza joints, and sub shops. Mmmm yummy.

Also it will be nice to see my friends again and catch up with them. It will be good to see what happened to them in the last year.

I also plan on taking lots of little trips around the country to LA, Seattle, Chicago, and NYC. It’s gonna be fun to take all these little trips.

But until then it’s off to KL for two days before I go to the UK and spend 5 days in Scotland celebrating my birthday next Friday.

What I don’t like About the Blogging World

Posted May 25, 2009 by nomadicmatt
Categories: Blogging

Tags: , , , ,

AngryWarning!!!! This a is rant.

I love being a blogger. I love the web. I love all the useful and useless information I find on it. I love all the people I met. I love the work flexibility it gives me. But despite all that love (there’s a lot isn’t there?), there are many things that irk me to no end in the blogosphere. The blogging world isn’t some utopia where everyone gets along. For the most part we do but like in real life there are good and bad people. Helpers and Users. Nice people and douchebags. I was discussing this a few days ago with a nameless blogger and now I just want to rant. I rant very little on the web but today, I rant. So without further ado….

I hate…

….bloggers who expect things from you but won’t do you favors. These bloggers will e-mail you for links, stumbles, digg, or promotions and ask for help. If I can (and I usually can), I help. But when the time comes for you to need some help, they are no where to be found. Plain rude and get’s them on my shit list. Will I help them again? Nope!

….know it all bloggers. These bloggers leave long and self aggrandizing comments. I’ve seen it on my blog. I’ve seen it on many other blogs. They talk about how everything you just was wrong and that what they know is better because they’ve been doing it longer or if not longer, just better because they are so much smarter and wiser than everybody else.

….people who don’t have link pages but wants links anyways. I don’t like to anybody who does not have a links page. It’s not because if you don’t link to me, I won’t like to you. Naa. I give and get one way links. With 50,000 backlinks, not having 1 isn’t going to kill me. I don’t like to people without links pages because they aren’t a community player. If you expect to be part of any niche blogging community, you should play with everyone. You’re not better than any other blogger no matter how successful you are….in fact you probably got that success with the help of other bloggers. So when I see people without links pages, I really see people are saying “I’m so good, I don’t need your help and I won’t give you any of mine.”

….bloggers who use their twitter count as a sign of success. Just because you have 10,000 followers doesn’t mean anything, especially when you follow 10,0001 people. If I autofollowed everyone, I’d also have 10,000 people. But twitter is about relationships with people not who can get the most followers. If that is what you want though, Ashton Kutcher and you can have a race!

….bloggers who don’t help other bloggers. This is like the first one but it pisses me off so much I just wanted to mention it again twice.

….bloggers who don’t reply to email. Unless you are trying to sell me something, trying to get me to promote your product, or asking me to put up some link, I answer all my email. It may take a bit and the answers might not be long but I get back to everyone. Bloggers who never answer e-mail are just disconnecting themselves from the hand that feeds them.

….bloggers who don’t respond to commentors. Isn’t this all about sharing ides and being part of a community? I may not answer every comment but I read them all and answer as many as I can. I also visit websites. I’ve given up on blogs b/c the owner never commented back to me…and often times I was the only commenter!! What’s the point if you aren’t going to engage in people.

ahhh better!

Note: I should end with saying that this is not aimed at any one blogger or person. It’s just some common things I’ve noticed. I’m not singling anyone in particular out. If you think this is about you, then you’re wrong. Just enjoy the vent and go “yeah, i’ve seen that too!!!”