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Archive: ReviewU

ReviewU Now: Blog Premiere

Blog Premiere
Jason, more commonly known as The University Kid, has purchased the second paid ReviewU ever. Surely, this is an event which will go down in the annals of history. The subject of this review, Blog Premiere, is certainly worthy of such an honor. You see, this new site isn’t just a blog, it’s a blogging magazine. Jason has high hopes for this site, and I do too. Let’s take a look at where it is now and where it’s going.

The site so far

I just have to get this out of the way: The theme is gorgeous. You simply can’t go wrong with a theme by Adii (he made the one I use on this site too). To me, this site doesn’t look like a plain, ordinary blog. It looks like a professionally done news site (which is a big plus). Even in this super-futuristic year of 2008, some people still refuse to see the blog as legitimate media form. Blog Premiere won’t have that problem, as the theme positively screams MAGAZINE instead of ANGSTY LIVEJOURNAL.

Looking past the theme, you’ll see a standard blogging-blog. Topics include how to monetize your blog, what to look for in a web host, how to find motivation, etc. There isn’t that much content yet, but that’s understandable considering the site is less than a week old. Speaking of content, it looks like Jason is accepting submissions. If you’d like your content to be seen by potentially thousands of readers, read this post for details. Speaking of content, there’s one thing that confuses me…

Article updates

Here’s one thing I’m not really clear on yet: Update frequency. If you take a look at the articles that are currently up, you’ll see that they’ve been added over the past few days. If you check out the About page, however, you’ll see that it says that the site will be a monthly publication. Which way is it going to be? I’m not able to figure it out at this point.

Personally, I’d go with weekly updates. Monthly is too infrequent for my tastes. Get a list of writers, have them submit their articles for review two days before the next update, and publish them all on the same day every week. That way, it’ll seem less like a blog and more like a weekly magazine.

Monetization

Ah, they key component of every ReviewU: Monetization. So far, I’m seeing a large banner in the header, a 300×250 square just below that, and a couple of 125×125 spots halfway down the page. Nothing excessive, which is good. Focusing on content at such an early stage is the key. There’s just one problem though: The 125×125s don’t work! Clicking on them leads to a 404 page. Nothing major to worry about though, as all new sites have bugs.

In addition to the ad spots, I’m seeing some affiliate offers worked into a few of the articles. That’s always a good technique, as it doesn’t take up any re-occurring space.

As much as I’m going to hate myself for saying this, this site could actually benefit by expanding it’s ad spaces a bit (after it gets some content going, of course). Two more 125×125 spots and a page-peel ad wouldn’t hurt.

A lot of potential

I’ll be watching this site with great interest. Maybe I’ll even submit an article or two. I think it has the potential to be very, very big. Just think: One weekly (monthy? daily?) publication where you can read interviews with the pros, what’s hot in the industry, and tips for making it big. I can’t think of any other site like it. Consider me subscribed.

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ReviewU Now: MouthyGirl.com

mouthygirl

Hooray for Sabrina, the first recipient of one of my new paid reviews: ReviewU Now. Today’s review is being fueled by Berry Lemonade Jones Soda, as you can clearly see in the picture (too tangy, not enough sweet. Definitely drink chilled). I’d like to thank Sabrina once again for sponsoring the first in my new collection of ReviewU bottles (which will make an appearance in each picture I take).

Anyway, on to the review.

MouthyGirl.com

First of all, what’s this site about? Well, after reading through a few pages of entries, it’s pretty obvious that this is a girl-power site. Alright, maybe that’s a bit too general. MouthyGirl.com is a place for women to read about successful women, womens’ thoughts on living in today’s world, news as it relates to women, advice for women, etc. If you’re not seeing a common theme here, then you must be pretty slow. As a guy, I honestly can’t get much out of this site, but I can appreciate a different viewpoint. I’m not sure how many inspirational girl blogs are out there, but that’s probably because I’ve never really looked. Still, it’s good to see sites out there for women, by women. As cold and heartless as I am, it still bothers me to see girls being treated like objects by their boyfriends/husbands/bosses, and it’s good to know that there are women out there who don’t put up with that crap. As an overprotective big brother (my sister’s still in high school), I approve of this site.

On to the layout

I hate to say it, but the theme being used on this site is decidedly dull. For one, the header is enormous, and there is entirely too much white. To be noticed, you have to have an eye-catching theme, and this one is just plain bland. I would consider looking into a new one.

Broken things

At the time of this writing, two of the RSS buttons are broken. The third one seems to work, but most people would probably give up after the first two tries. Fix those links to boost your RSS count.

While I’m on the subject of the sidebar, that ‘Buy me a beer’ button also doesn’t work. Wordpress loves to break Paypal code, so I’d recommend looking into the Adsense Deluxe plugin. You can paste your Paypal code into there and then insert a comment tag into your sidebar, fixing the whole issue. Either that or just mess around with the sidebar.php file until everything is working.

The $$$

It looks like monetization isn’t a big goal of this site yet, which is good. Newer sites need to focus on building readership before monetizing. Other than the aforementioned ‘Buy me a beer’ link, all I’m seeing is an affiliate ad for bean bags. Hardly even noticeable, so that’s good

Overall

Other than some of the above-mentioned items, I don’t have a lot to complain about regarding this site. It sticks to its niche without wandering around, it isn’t overly-monetized, and it’s updated fairly regularly. Consider making a few of the changes that I suggested, keep up the good work, and you’ll have an attractive site on your hands.

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New Service: ReviewU Now

Right now I have around twenty unanswered ReviewU requests. They’re sitting in my queue, alone and unloved, waiting for the day that I will write about them. Why haven’t I reviewed these sites yet? Well, honestly, there’s nothing wrong with most of them. They’re perfectly good sites, and I like to have something to rant about in my ReviewU entries. In other words, I don’t find them interesting and don’t really want to write about them.

Yesterday this site passed 100 RSS readers for the very first time. It occurred to me that I now have a sizeable audience, and that a plug from me may hold some value. I’ve always said that it’s ultimately up to me whether or not I review your site in a ReviewU, and now I’d like to launch a new service that will guarantee a review: ReviewU Now. This service will be pretty similar to ReviewMe, but without the middle man. In exchange for a guaranteed 300+ word review, I’ll be charging $$$. What will I do with that money? Well, I’ll probably use it to buy a bunch of Jones Soda, which I happen to adore. I’ll then take a picture of me drinking said soda with a sign with your site’s logo/URL on it. While this serves no practical purpose for you, it increases brand recognition for me. As far as I know, I’ll be the only blogger who reviews sites while drinking Jones Soda.

I’ll still offer free reviews, but of course, those aren’t guaranteed. If you absolutely want/need a review from this site, you’ll have to pay up. I’m starting it at $10 per review, and I’ll be increasing the price for every additional 100 RSS readers I get ($20 for 200 readers, $30 for 300, etc). I’ll scale that back once I hit 1,000 readers, whenever that happens.

I’ll be updating the ReviewU page shortly, and I’ll have a new button up as soon as I can. I’m curious to see how this will be received, so please let me know what you guys think.

EDIT: Button is up and the ReviewU page has been updated to include a description of the service and a paypal button.

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ReviewU: Gaming Chronicle

I guess it was only a matter of time until somebody asked me to review a gaming blog. Well, the author of Gaming Chronicle wrote in to request a ReviewU, and I couldn’t refuse. The site is just good enough to warrant consideration, and just bad enough to catch my attention.

The site

As the name implies, this is a gaming blog. A gaming blog that is still in diapers. It looks like the first post was made on February 13th. Normally I wouldn’t waste time reviewing such a new blog, but this one seems to be heading in the right direction, and I like to encourage sites that have potential. Other than that, it’s just your standard gaming site: Gaming reviews, gaming strategies, gaming tips. Gaming.

The good

Let’s start from the top. First of all, I like the header (although I don’t recognize half of those characters. I need an Xbox 360 and soon). Pretty decently done, and it matches the color scheme of the site perfectly. Speaking of the color scheme, I like it. I’ve mentioned before that I prefer darker colors when reading, and this site makes good use of black, blue, and white. Very subdued. As for the layout, it works pretty well. The two-column sidebar doesn’t crowd the posts, which is nice. While I’m on the subject of posts, take a look at them: They’re original, they don’t have any glaring spelling or grammatical errors, and they’re updated every couple of days. This site is on the right track.

Oh, and very clever use of the Firefox referral link in the top-right. For those of you who don’t know, Firefox has an affiliate program (through Google). Every time someone downloads and installs Firefox via that link, he gets a dollar. One thing though - I’m already using Firefox, so I shouldn’t be seeing that text. Familiarize yourself with conditional comments and make it so that only IE users see that link.

The bad

It wouldn’t be a ReviewU without some criticism. First off, I’m seeing too many Adsense blocks. When I see a brand-new blog with only eight posts and four Adsense blocks, I see someone who’s blogging for the money, not for enjoyment. Remember my recent tirade against video game blogs? That’s what I was ranting about (people who focus on ads, not content). Here’s another thing to add to the list of things that shouldn’t be there: The Feedburner widget. Right now it’s proudly displaying zero readers. Personally, I’d find that embarrassing. Take that thing down until you get some more (or any) readers. Also, on the subject of widgets, the MyBlogLog viewer looks out of place. Personally, I’d just ditch it. Gaming blogs tend to focus more on content than reader interaction anyway.

Oh, and one more thing: gamingchronicle.blogspot.com. Fix the URL before you do any serious monetization.

Overall, not a bad site

This blog has lots of potential. Not for making money, but to get the author’s name out there. Keep updating two to three times per week, and with a couple of years and some luck, you might just make it big.

Oh, and try to focus mainly on newer games. That Warcraft III post? That would have been interesting six years ago.

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ReviewU: Slyvisions dot Com

The Sly Guy wrote in to request a ReviewU for his site, Slyvisions, and I just…wait…oh. Well, this is a little jarring. It’s a bit like staring into the future. Oh well, let’s just jump right in.

The layout

Man, what a great layout. Simple, yet stylish. It emphasizes content more than ads, it’s got a great color scheme, and there’s just something about it that feels right. Yeah, I’d say the layout is just perfect. Good placement of the RSS widget too, I hadn’t thought of that.

Ok, I have to be honest. When I picked this theme, I picked it because A.) I liked it and B.) I’d never seen another blog using it. Now I’ve found a blog that’s similar to mine, is in the same niche, has more readers, and has been around much longer. Does this make me an unintentional copycat? My world is shattered.

Anyway, moving on.

The content

His site is, go figure, a make money online blog. Recently, he has:

  • Done a review of Jackie’s Biz Blog (like me)
  • Released his first eBook (like me)
  • Talked about making money with an affiliate network (like me)
  • Talked about a Wordpress Plugin (like me)

He also has a tools page, where you can find a variety of useful tools for bloggers and webmasters.

My, this is getting unsettling.

Anyway, his content all seems to be original and thoughtful, and he updates every 1-3 days, so no complaints here. Nice to see a blog that isn’t just gushing about whatever Chow or Shoe has said recently.

The $$$

He seems to be where I’d like to be in a few months. In terms of advertising, he sells monthly 125×125 spots, 468×60 banners, paid reviews, site plugs, RSS ads, and he has the top spots widget. Not bad. I’ll have to take notes. He also advertises his professional services. Something about consulting with word-of-mouth preferred to cash. Not a bad idea if you’re trying to get your name out there.

The bottom line

Again, we have another site that I can’t rip to shreds because there’s really nothing wrong with it. He’s got the advertising, the numbers, and the content (and don’t forget about the awesome Wordpress theme). Sure, the make money online niche is about as new and edgy as a watermelon, but he’s been in it for months, so he can do whatever he wants.

Actually, there is one thing that I don’t like. He has a lot more RSS readers than I do. Why don’t you guys subscribe to my feed and help my ego about a bit?

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