WordAds: WordPress.com Bloggers Will Be Able to Advertise

Making Money From Your WordPress.com Blog is one of the most-visited posts on this WordPress.com blog. “Can I run ads?” is one of the questions most often asked on the WordPress.com forums. The short answer to that question has always been “No.” The longer answer involved an exception for certain high-traffic VIP blogs.

Enter WordAds, which exists to provide advertising representation to WordPress.com bloggers. It is a partnership between WordPress.com/Automattic and Federated Media. It is optional for bloggers. It is also optional for WordPress.com, in that bloggers need to apply. In order to do so, they must have custom domains (as this blog does). Even so, not all applications will be accepted.

The post announcing WordAds is rather curiously worded.

We’ve resisted advertising so far because most of it we had seen wasn’t terribly tasteful, and it seemed like Google’s AdSense was the state-of-the-art, which was sad. You pour a lot of time and effort into your blog and you deserve better than AdSense.

I find this curious, because WordPress.com has for years run AdSense on blogs it hosts. The quote seems like acknowledgement of a criticism I’ve often seemed leveled at WordPress.com: that it makes money by marring its bloggers’ content with ads that aren’t, well, terribly tasteful.” It also seems like an unnecessary swipe at Google.

The advent of WordAds raises several questions. Update, two days later: Jon Burke of Automattic/WordPress.com was kind enough to answer my questions via email; hence the italics following each question. See also Matt’s reply to my comment on the announcement post.

  1. What will the terms be? In particular, how much of the ad revenue will go to the blogger? It varies.
  2. Will WordAds replace AdSense on WordPress.com? In other words, if a blogger signs up for neither WordAds nor the No-Ads upgrade, WordPress.com may run ads on the blog: but will it use WordAds or AdSense to do so? AdWords is only for blogs accepted into the AdWords program.
  3. Will there be a plugin to allow self-hosted WordPress blogs to run WordAds? Not in the immediate future.
  4. Will it be possible to run WordAds on non-WordPress sites? No plans for this.

I am fairly confident that the answer to the plugin question (#3) will be “yes,” and rather less sure about answers to the other questions. (Turns out I was wrong, certainly about timing, and possibly about the plugin itself.) If you have answers, guesses, further questions, or other remarks about WordAds, please leave a comment.

Threadless, Reddit, and Other Social Veterans

It’s time to stock up on t-shirts, and also time for a sale at Threadless. The sale end is due to end at the end of tomorrow (Monday), and the design is “Larry the Fox Doesn’t Feel So Clever Anymore.”

I see that today is the 6th anniversary of my very first Threadless order. Back in 2005 I lived in Boston and had only one kid; now I’m in Bethesda, Maryland, have two kids, and have seen a lot of other changes in those years. So has Threadless, although still has its community rate the submitted shirt designs.

Another social media site so old it can remember when Web 2.0 was a trendy term is Reddit. I see that I’ve been a redditor for 6 years. Mu current favorite subreddit is Breaking Bad, to which members submit links relevant to the excellent TV show of the same name.

The image shows one of my favorite recent submissions. It turns out that the original was sold on Etsy, “the world’s homemade marketplace”, and another older-than-6 social site. By the way, I did search for Breaking Bad t-shirts, and there are some out there, but none of them edged out the shirts I liked at Threadless.

This very blog is currently hosted at WordPress.com, which is run by Automattic, another social web company that passes the rather arbitrary 6-year test. Congratulations to the four above-mentioned veteran firms, and to other who have been around that long: it’s been a long and interesting passage of time.

iPad and WordPress

20110417-025150.jpgWordPress provides an app for those blogging with iPads, and a familiar face for those browsing with iPads. The face is actually a plugin and theme developed by Onswipe, and built into WordPress.com.

My plan was to get a screenshot of this blog with its Onswipe face on, then to include that shot in a post written using the app. This is that post.

Getting a screenshot on an iPad is easy, which is as it should be,and a refreshing contrast with getting an Android screenshot. Getting the screenshot from the iPad into this post was easy, once I realized that the app hides the photo icon under the onscreen keyboard.

I don’t see an easy way of including links while posting from the app, though. I’m editing the post now, a day later, on Windows, because including the links wasn’t easy using the iPad browser either.

As for the Onswipe theme, I think it would fit better with a blog that had an image for every post. The current post’s image shows that this isn’t such a blog.

Although I am a loyal and longtime WordPress user, and have enjoyed my first two weeks of iPad ownership very much, I am not blown away by the combination of iPad and WordPress. I refer to my own experience of the app and of Onswipe. There are of course other ways in which iPad and WordPress go together, and many other people who use both. If you are one of those other people, I’d be interested in your comment.

Too Many Blogs: But Andrew dot WordPress.com Survives

I have too many blogs. To put it more broadly, I have too many websites. To put it more narrowly, I have too many WordPress blogs; I even have too many WordPress.com blogs. Hence the tag toomanyblogs, and the exercise of culling some of them.

One site that will survive the cull is andrew.wordpress.com. It was my first wordpress.com site, way back in 2005. If I hadn’t scored an invite (thanks, Matt), I wouldn’t have got to wordpress.com early enough to have got such an obvious site address. It also has some interesting content, as I’ve just boasted about in my first post there in years.

Jetpack: Like WordPress.com, But Without the Hosting

When new features are introduced into WordPress.com, some of the people with WordPress blogs hosted elsewhere ask when and how the features will be available to them. The new Jetpack plugin makes a bunch of WordPress.com features available for self-hosted blogs.

Jetpack has its own site, Jetpack.me, and of course its own blog. In the blastoff post, Matt announced that some of the largest hosts have made Jetpack part of the WordPress install. There is coverage elsewhere (e.g., TechCrunch), but not as much I’d have expected.

Jetpack 1.1 (I’m not sure how it differs from 1.0) bundles eight features, including the shortcodes available at WordPress.com. It will make it easier to migrate from .com to another WordPress host. The Intense Debate comment management system/plugin in not part of Jetpack 1.1. I’m not sure whether it will be included in a future release.

I’ll probably try out Jetpack next time I do some admin on one of my excessive number of self-hosted WordPress blogs.

WordPress and Less, Tumblr and Micro-Publishing

Blogs were once the outlet of choice for people who wanted to express themselves online. But with the rise of sites like Facebook and Twitter, they are losing their allure for many people — particularly the younger generation.

So says the NYT, based on a Pew report.

Former bloggers said they were too busy to write lengthy posts and were uninspired by a lack of readers. Others said they had no interest in creating a blog because social networking did a good enough job keeping them in touch with friends and family.

I saw the article via a blog post, albeit one so short that it wouldn’t have been out of place on Facebook or Twitter. The post was by Toni, CEO of Automattic, the firm that runs WordPress.com (among other things).

The guy who put the Matt in Automattic responded to the article at a more traditional blog post length. He pointed out the big picture: “people of all ages are becoming more and more comfortable publishing online.” He also described the various tools publishing as complementary.

Tumblr is a particularly interesting publishing tool in this context, so it was good that an interview with Tumblr founder David Karp went online today (at TechCrunch). He admires WordPress as a tool for “long-form publishing.” David founded Tumblr for people whose dislike of writing presents a barrier to blogging.

But don’t Twitter and Facebook lower those barriers even further? They do, but they lack a strong expressive identity, argues Karp… Tumblr, in contrast, is built to be a place you can be proud to call your online home. It’s very design-oriented and you can customize your Tumblr to reflect your personality.

I think that’s a pretty good characterization of Tumblr, or at least a good motive for founding it and for using it. Meanwhile, I’m posting this on WordPress, which will automatically tell my Twitter followers about it. Hey Twitter types, and others, thank you for reading this opus.

WordPress (not com) Themes: Search and Spam

After the good news about themes at WordPress.com comes some bad news about themes for self-hosted WordPress sites. Siobhan Ambrose at WPMU.org wondered what she’d find if she Googled “Free WordPress Themes.” She examined themes from each of the top 10 hits for that search.

The result? Only one of the 10 theme sites was “safe.” Another was “iffy.” For the other 8, Siobhan’s advice is “avoid,” on the basis that some of the themes use Base64 encoding in order to sneak spammy links into the theme. Base64 can also be used to include malware.

The safe site is the WordPress.org themes directory. Since it currently includes well over a thousand themes, there seems little danger of a free theme shortage. Each of the themes there is under the GPL, and so is free as in freedom and well as free as in beer. In other words, you are free to modify the code of those themes.

This doesn’t mean that every source of free themes other than the official WordPress.com directory is bad. What it does mean is that, just as social media attracts spam, social media tools attract spam-producing components. It also means that some of the people who make those components also study the dark side of SEO.

WordPress.com Themes

Last week, WordPress.com theme wrangler Lance asked on the forums: If you could change one thing about your theme, what would it be? I was the second person to reply.

I didn’t hold my breath waiting for my request to be implemented, since Simpla is not among the newest or the most popular themes available at WordPress.com. But, if you look at a single post on this blog, you’ll see links to the next and previous posts. In other words, my request was implemented within days. I’m impressed, even factoring in the fact that next/previous links aren’t complex things, and that some believe that they should be part of the post layout of every theme.

I’m hoping that the Theme Team will write a summary of Project One Thing. In fact, I’ll head over to their recent post at the WP.com blog to suggest it.

Hot Off the (Word)Presses

Three news items about WordPress together seem to justify a post, especially given my intention to increase the quantity (and yes, quality) of posts here in 2011.

The first is about WordPress.com, which hosts this and millions of other blogs. The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys emailed me a summary of 2010 at Changing Way. They did the same for many others. Michael at TechCrunch and Constantine at Collateral Damage each hit the handy “Post this summary to my blog” button.

I’m wondering if every stats summary sent out showed reported that “The Blog-Health-o-Meter™ reads Wow.” Each of the links in the previous paragraph leads to a “Wow.” That doesn’t surprise me about TC or about CD, but it does surprise me about CW. I note that two of my five most viewed posts were about Lala, although only one of them was posted in 2010.

The other two items are about self-hosted WordPress. Version 3.1, Release Candidate 2, has just been, well, released. I should install it at one of my many blogs (how many do I have? I don’t know, but probably should) even though the new features seem more worthy than exciting.

Finally, if you’re running WordPress 3.0, you should install 3.0.4, a critical security release. Hey, that means I should go and do that very thing right now…