Can You Auto-Blog Without Splogging?
by Antone Roundy | 6 Comments | Blogging, Podcast, Product Reviews
When I heard the other day that Jason Potash and Jason Katzenback are launching a new autoblogging course/system, it caught my attention. Not because I'm planning on becoming an autoblogger, but because I wondered how any big-name marketer could be pushing autoblogging these days.
I downloaded their "free report" and gave it a read. It offered some genuinely good tips for any blogger. And it raised some red flags.
The report attempts to position their product as different from typical autoblogging, which produces ugly "splogs" (spam blogs) with cruddy content that stink from a mile away.
I haven't seen the product, but I'm guessing that it won't produce anything I'd call a legitimate blog -- more likely, they'll be nice looking splogs with better content.
So let's dive into the report:
If you are like many Internet Marketers today, you are interested in getting started with autoblogging. Let's face it. It's the ultimate hands-free "set-it-and-forget-it" business.
Hmm, remember what I said the other day about "Easy Buttons"? Let's just say I have my doubts, but I'll keep reading and see if they can convince me that their system can actually produce value.
What's the real secret to autoblogging? Start building your autoblog empire following a proven blueprint and playing by todays rules, not by trying to trick Google, like it was 2007.
They say they're not trying to trick Google. Unless they've discovered an easy button that creates value on auto-pilot, and are willing to sell it rather than keep it to themselves, I doubt Google would agree. But let's keep an open mind and continue.
Sadly, most autoblogging courses today teach auto-splogging, not autoblogging. What is a splog you ask?
Splogs are generic-looking, butt-ugly blogs, loaded with bad content, plastered with blatant affiliate links and banners ads, that provide ZERO value to the reader or the search engines.
This may be where our paths diverge. I believe a blog can be a splog even if it's beautiful, has good content, and the affiliate links and banners aren't "blatant".
The biggest question comes down to value. And just having good content doesn't make a blog valuable. If a blog is filled with good content that's copied from somewhere else on the web, then unless it somehow adds value, it's still a splog.
How can a site full of duplicate content add value? By including additional commentary. By filtering out the lower-quality content from the source sites and aggregating the best content. By making the good content easier to find.
If all a blog is doing is displacing some other site with the same content, it's a splog, no matter how good the content is.
But let's continue.
Take Away: Use unique content sources. Don't use the exact same crappy content as everyone else.
Is this a hint at part of what the service does? Does it automatically alter the content to make it "unique"? If so, there's no value being added there, and they're just trying to trick the search engines. (Of course, I'm just speculating, so don't quote me as claiming that that's what's going on.)
Bottom line, be sure to use trusted, reliable, moderated sources of content.
Okay, that's pretty straightforward. At least they're going to start you off with content that's been checked to be sure it's not complete junk. So there is some value here.
But the question remains, are the blogs that this system will produce going to create any value?
"Wait a minute," you say. "Didn't you just say there is value here?"
Yes. But where is the value being created? In their service -- at the point where the moderation is being done. If (yes, I'm speculating again) they're giving you content that can be found elsewhere online, in the first place, even if it's guaranteed to be high-quality, it's still duplicate content (even if they alter it to make it look unique).
And in the second place, if they give the same content to more than one of their customers, it'll be even less unique.
Here's the question you have to ask yourself -- if they've found sources of great content that can be autoblogged profitably, why are they selling it? Why don't they create their own autoblogs with it? Apparently, they believe they can make more money selling access to it than by using it themselves (or hiring someone to set up autoblogs to use it).
Maybe they've got a secret that I don't know, but that's a question I'd recommend looking into if you're considering buying the product.
One legitimate answer to my question might be that, just as it takes work to set up autoblogs, it takes work to hire, manage, monitor and pay others to do it for you. By selling access to the content, they make money while avoid those headaches.
But if that's the model, I still don't see how they can find and moderate the content profitably without giving multiple customers access to the same content. If what you're getting from them is going to be truly unique, they've already got someone doing most of the necessary work.
There's a lot in the report that I haven't covered here -- some of which is good, solid blogging advice. And I do believe their training and service will include at least some good value.
The question is, will it really be possible to use this service to create blogs that add value to the internet, or will they just leach value from the efforts and resources of others. If so, how far are you willing to go to make a buck?
October 22nd, 2010 at 12:32 pm
Thanks for "sticking your neck out" and giving 'honest' advice and insight. It really is too bad 'more' expose's are not done in the IM sector. Maybe it's because most people are 'afraid' of reprisal, or just to lazy...
October 22nd, 2010 at 2:21 pm
Totally agree with Vern, well done Antone, keep it up.
October 22nd, 2010 at 7:09 pm
How dare you criticize another IMer or even suggest that they might be misleading their prospective customers.
But seriously I think most IM products are marketed this way - with misleading information that preys on the trust, gullibility and relative ignorance of the "opportunity seeker".
Marketer: "Use this product and you'll make easy money."
Customer: "OK, I'll give it a try."
Marketer: "Good. If it doesn't work you can have your money back."
Customer: "It hasn't worked quite like you said it would."
Marketer: "Well obviously you've done something wrong."
Customer: "Yea, you're probably right. I didn't try hard enough."
What a great scam.
October 25th, 2010 at 10:58 am
The Jasons released another PDF today with some hints about where the content comes from:
Hmm, all stuff you can get using CaRP Evolution and CaRP/WP (although these don't support auto-blogging - they'll update the content within a page, but not create new blog posts).
Okay, so they're apparently not just pulling content that's already out there and modifying it to make it appear unique (unless that's how the 568 people are producing it...probably not). But the question of whether their customers are going to be publishing from the same content pool and duplicating each other remains.
One last thing that jumped out at me:
I took a glance at Better Blogroll, and personally, I'm unimpressed. What you get from it looks almost exactly the same an old-school blogroll to me. The main difference is that it's a short list of links randomly selected from your full blogroll.
I don't know about you, but I haven't clicked a link in a blogroll for many years. Why? Because there's nothing about a blogroll to entice me to click.
If you want to see a more interesting evolution of the blogroll, check out LinContEx. Instead of a boring list of blogs, it displays excerpts of the latest posts from your recommended blogs. A post headline and teaser content are much more useful than a blog name in determining whether a link is worth clicking.
October 26th, 2010 at 2:35 am
Perhaps it's just semantics, but while CaRP/Grouper may not "promote" adding feed items to posts, it is certainly more than capable of doing so. I won't elaborate on that. ;)
I've been displaying a small subset of blogroll links on my blogs for quite a while, with the full list on a seperate page, though, blogrolls tend to be the most undermaintained things on a blog. CaRP could even help there by simply looping through your blog roll and displaying an excerpt of the latest entry from each post rather easily.
Now that CaRP is a freebie, maybe I'll write a plugin to do that, though I'm not sure I'm ready for the "how do I install this the right way" questions that would come with that. there are so many WP users that don't seem to be able to install anything that doesn't have a fantastico button...
October 26th, 2010 at 8:33 am
The difference between what you can do with CaRP and autoblogging is that autoblogging generates blog posts automatically, which CaRP doesn't. CaRP could add content from RSS feeds to existing posts and pages, but not create new posts.
Of course, CaRP can be used spammily, as well as in legitimate ways, like when you display content from a feed that's directly related to, and therefore likely to be of interest to, readers of the post it's displayed with.
I've created a WordPress plugin for CaRP already: CaRP/WP.