Entrecard *Update 01-25-2007* This has become quite the monumental post. I love posts that incite some debate – and make no bones about revisions to correct content, or even change my opinion based on new information. This post is no exception – sorry about having to make it look like the 5th draft of a term paper – but it seems to be “evolving” a bit more every day. If you have something to add – just post or reply to a comment below!

*Update 01-24-2007*When I blogged about this earlier today I sent a message through Entrecard to all the top 5 “Make Money Online” blogs on Entrecard telling them I wrote about them, inviting them to comment, and also to “continue the meme” with a post on their site. I sent one to John Chow, because he was in the top 5, and he wrote about it – AND he dropped his card on me. That was nice of him. John – as I stated in message to you, a link back to my article would have been nice…=) I understand why you didn’t link back to me, because you probably get requests like that all the time, but it would have been nice nonetheless!

Entrecard is the new “it” widget for blogs. If you’re new – is it worth your time to get involved in the Entrecard community – or is your time wasted? What do you “really” have to do to benefit? Are the contests and credits worth it? Is Entrecard a black hole time sucker with a fake economy? This is my review of Entrecard and the experiences I’ve had with it on my blog the last few months. Hopefully I’ll not only give you some things to think about, but after reading this you’ll want to comment and post your experiences as well.

There are tons and tons and tons of posts on Entrecard all over the Web detailing good and bad experiences (*see the links at the end of this post). Entrecard is the new blog golden child, and it’s spread like wildfire from the “A-list bloggers” on down. I’ve been using Entrecard since I heard about it on Shoemoney.com. He saw it at a tradeshow and had good things to say about it. Shoe also saw MC Hammer promoting a dance site – so take that with a grain of salt. Shoemoney wasn’t the only one trying Entrecard, soon John Chow and Problogger were too – and all bets were off. Everyone started adding it (kind of like the Blogrush phenom).

What is Entrecard?

The concept of Entrecard is simple. You create a 125×125 “card” – like your ‘business card on the web’. Really, it’s just an ad. And the 125×125 ads have kind of become the default blogging ad. You place the “widget” on your site and other Entrecard members can do two things. First they can click “drop card” and second they can advertise on your site (on that widget). Everytime someone “drops a card” you get 1 credit. When you drop a card on someone else’s site (with the widget) you get 1 credit.

*update*
Here’s a graphic from the Entrecard site about credits:
entrecard credits

Your “level of activity” in the Entrecard community determines the current “ad rate”.

*update*
How much does it cost to advertise on someone’s widget?

From the Help Guide on the Entrecard site

To advertise your card on someone else’s widget, it costs the number of credits equal to twice the number of cards dropped on that widget each day. So if a widget receives an average of 50 cards dropped into it each day, advertising on that widget will cost 100 credits per day. This helps insure that for every two credits you pay, a unique user will see your ad and be clicking in the general vicinity. It also ensures the economy balances, because every time you drop your card, it creates two credits. That surplus mus be balanced via advertising costs.

When you start Entrecard your ad rate is just a few measly credits. Then (since you are new and your ad cost is very low) you will get a slew of sites wanting to advertise on your widget before your cost goes up. *update* There is however a balance to this, since you are new you ad rate is low, and everyone will want to advert with you at the low rate, which will cause many to drop cards and ask for ads, not only generating credits for you but driving your ad price up (from all the dropped cards). This should get you off to a good start as long as you keep networking within the Entrecard community.

Basically, a new Entrecard signup is listed in the “Most Recent” listings tab in “Campaign” – so those of us that have been on Entrecard awhile know where to look for fresh meat. All activity makes your ad rate go up. *update* See the previous paragraph regarding what determines your ad rate. People dropping their card on you, you dropping your card, approving and rejecting adverts for your site, leaving people recommendations and messages, responding to messages – these are all things that make your ad rate go up. *update*> All the activities within Entrecard, like leaving recommendations, messaging, approving and rejecting adverts – will cause people to drop their card on you making your ad rate go up. In other words – you determine your own “popularity” through your participation in the EC network. When you do things you earn credits, and you can use them to buy ads on other sites. It may not have the greatest algorithm (yet), but Entrecard was smart to tie your ad rate to your involvement in the community. (see last sentence). It forces you to be somewhat involved. Who would want to be on the bottom of a category and have your ad rate be single digit numbers?

Inflated Entrecard Stats?

The flip side of this is that there are some people who have nothing but time on their hands – and they “click, click, click” all day long dropping their card on everyone in sight making their ad rate unbelievably high *update* you can’t “click” your ad rate higher. But the more you increase your visibility (by dropping your card) the more your ad rate will go up because more people will drop their card on you. Thanks to Colin King (see comments below) for pointing this out to me again. I guess the limit of sites you can drop your card at is 300 in a day, and I’ve read about several that have reached that limit. But why, can you imagine dropping a card 300 times? That’s finding 300 sites on Entrecard, visiting 300 profiles, then clicking to 300 homepages, and dropping your card 300 times. That just seems insane to me. *update*:Just because it seems insane to be, doesn’t mean that others don’t see the benefit (read comments below). This post says “worth it or worthless” in the title because you determine what you get out Entrecard and what it’s worth to you.

entrecard make money online category top listings I want you to take a look at the top spots in the “Make Money Online” category today. For a long time John Chow was #1, and now he’s #5. And #3 is Problogger. But if you are new to Entrecard you might be asking yourself – who in the heck are numbers 1, 2 and 4?? This is both the neat thing “and the flaw” of Entrecard (right now). A virtually unknown blogger can click his way to the top“, and that part of the algorithm should probably be changed. Maybe limit the amount of sites you can drop a card on per day to something reasonable – like 50. But you can also have a very high ad price if you have a high level of activity on your account – from lots of card drops (from other sites), to lots of messages and recommendations (and you responding to them as well). So, if you’re having a contest or send out lots of messages – you can significantly boost your ad price.

*update*I want to revise the previous paragraph because it (again) says you can click you way to a high ad rate position, which (in comments and previously in this post) I pointed out already you can’t. You can drop your card 300 times a day to “increase your popularity and visibility” – and that will get droves of people to drop their card on you. Your ad rate is the number of card drops times 2, so to get an ad price of say 360, you just need 180 card drops per day. Now that I realize this it’s more impressive what the “unknown” bloggers have done (and ‘up-and-coming’ is probably a better word than ‘unknown’). Think about this – John Chow and Problogger have massive traffic, so (ask Colin King again points out below in comments) they probably get an unusually high rate of card drops from people hoping to get their attention. Colin, Teri, and Kumo have all become visible enough (in Entrecard’s community) to rank as high as the heaviest hitting bloggers around – all from their own efforts (not guaranteed daily traffic)! My final statement from that paragraph still stands:

In other words, you are rewarded for your “participation in the community” of Entrecard.” Because participation = visibility, and visibility = popularity, and popularity = EC credits and higher ad price. Hopefully this all translates to more rss subscribers, more comments on your posts, and more visitor’s and readers to your blog.

Is Entrecard Worth Your Time

Tossing aside the ability of “clicking your way to the top” for the moment, Let’s look at the benefits of that participation. Going back to the top 5 spots in the “Make Money Online” category on Entrecard let’s talk about the (outside of Entrecard) unknown ‘up-and-coming’ bloggers in positions #1, #2, and #4. *Update*I just want to stipulate that I’m using these 3 sites as an example only – they are currently ranked in the top 5 ad price spots for “make money online” in Entrecard, against arguably the top 2 “A-list” bloggers in the world. Those spots seem to change weekly, sometimes daily depending on amounts of activity the amount of card drops.

These would be:

#1 spot – A Geek’s Journey by Colin King
#2 spot – Toast Egg & Me by Kumo
#4 spot – Internet Dreamer by Toni Turner

The reason that I call all three of these sites “unknown bloggers up-and coming bloggers” is because they aren’t even listed in the Top 100 Sites about Making Money Online. **Disclaimer – Colin King points out in comments below that you have to ask to be on that list or carry their “widget”, something I didn’t know. Actually, that list goes a bit beyond the top 100, it goes up to #281, and Internet Dreamer is listed as #170, but the other two aren’t listed at all. The top money making sites list is scored by a combination of google pagerank, technorati score, and alexa ranking. So it’s a combination of google trust, blogosphere reputation, and amount of traffic – a pretty good unbiased combination if you ask me. I’ve worked very hard on this site – and I don’t even rank in the top 281 yet!

So the point of contention here is the ad price or amount of EC’s (entrecard credits) you need to spend to place an ad with one of these 3 sites. Colin King at #1 has an ad price of 378 credits for one day. Toast, Egg & Me at #2 is 334, and Toni Turner is 301 credits per day. Can you really justify spending that many credits on one of those sites? *update*: Again – I’d like to point out that my point here is to get you to decide if your perceived value of Entrecard makes it worth it, or not? If you buy in to my previous comments about what you get out of your EC participation you will agree with ad pricing, and if you don’t agree you won’t. Leave your comment at the end of this post…

Let’s talk about #4 – Internet Dreamer a second. Toni Turner’s site has only been live for 2 months and 25 days (as of today). She only has 115 RSS subscribers, a google pagerank of 2, 1,838 pages that link to her, and 88,136 Alexa ranking (it terms the site as “low traffic”). The value of a single text link is $15. Total estimated site value $940.

Now #2 – Toast Egg & Me. Kumo has been online 3 months and 20 days. There is no google pagerank yet, with 1,055 links. Alexa ranking is 146,702 (they say ‘just getting started’), and a text link is worth $10. Total estimated site value is only $640.

Last #1 – which is Colin King. He’s #1 in Making Money Online today (on Entrecard), and has been online 9 months, 25 days correction: Colin’s site has been online 3 months and 3 days with a google PR of 0 no pagerank yet – and 10,789 links (according to dnScoop) (how do you have that many backlinks with a zero PR unless you have a penalty Colin states in comments below I made an assumption of his site being penalized by google. With that many links (dnScoop lists 10,789, google says 199) and no pagerank – and there was a very recent pagerank update, you can usually smell penalty. Sure enough, if you google site:www.ageeksjourney.com you get no results, and even googling the domain gets only 2 pages. That IMHO is a big-time google penalty. *update*: He has links for http://ageeksjourney, maybe that’s the issue??), an Alexa ranking of 100,784. A text link is valued at only $10 – but this does have a supposed value of $8,549.

*Update*
I don’t want anyone to get the impression that I think these 3 blogs are either worthless or that no one visits them. I’m merely painting a picture for you, and to illustrate that point I’m going to include the other two blogger like I should have the first time around. The entire point I’m making here is – Look at these 3 ‘up-and-coming’ bloggers – they are actually competing head to head (in Entrecard) with 2 of the most well known juggernauts of the blogosphere!

#3 – Problogger (Darren Rowse), has a pagerank of 6, 829,841 links, Alexa rating of 3,040, text link value of $491, and a total estimated site value of $8,753,920.

#5 – John Chow, has a pagerank of 4, 286,052 links, Alexa rating of 3,572, text link value of $491, and a total estimated site value of $343,140.

Looking at those stats alone I would immediantly say there’s no way I could justify spending that many credits for an ad on any one of these three blogs (if you were wondering where I got all these figures – I just did a quick lookup on dnScoop.com for some quick stats – and aguably take these with a grain of salt). But you have to also think about the Entrecard community and what it’s intrinsic value is to you. The exposure you get within the Entrecard community alone may be well worth that spending that many entrecard credits. Toni Turner drops 300 cards per day every day – for sure. I get one in my box almost every day. But because of her persistence in my Entrecard Inbox – I know her name now, her site’s name, and I’ll not soon forget it. She’s build her own little brand within the Entrecard community. And because of all the card drops, people drop cards on her. People pay the high EC rate to advertise on her site because they figure with all activity people are going to see their advert quite a bit. So maybe it is worth saving up some credits. What little ‘A large percentage of’ traffic some of these sites are getting (like mine) is coming from Entrecard itself. Is that a bad thing? I guess it depends on your niche. I certainly wouldn’t spend enough time to drop 300 card per day myself. *Update*: However, you can see from the comments below that those dropping 300 cards a day say it can take less than an hour per day – and it’s well worth it to them!.

I blog about making money, and learning from blogging mistakes, and most of my posts are about blog tips, blog help, earning more money online, or WordPress hacks and what-not. If I get 30-40 visits a day from Entrecard card droppers I consider that valuable, and quite a few of those visitors have signed up for my RSS feed and commented on my posts. I have found at least a dozen new blogs through Entrecard, and even formed a new blogging network “Content Exchange” through my Entrecard contacts. I have greatly benefited from my Entrecard network of new-found blogging friends. Would a blog about “dog training” be able to the same? Why not – there are currently 23 other blogs in the “Pets” category on Entrecard they could network with.

The Bottom Line of Entrecard

Entrecard stats from my dashboard I say that if you’re going to bother to sign up with Entrecard, you should at least become involved in the community enough to benefit. With just minimal effort (like 10-15 minutes or less per day) you can have an ad price of 20-40 entrecard credits. *update*: (you’ll have that ad price because when you raise your visibility from participation more people will drop their card on you, hence raise your ad price 2 credits for every card drop you receive). Why? Why not – you are also going to be “building a brand” by dropping your card on a half-dozen new sites per day. Place ads on other sites, and accepts ads on yours. You will not only raise your ad price – but also find great articles on others sites to help you make more money on your blog. After a few weeks, drop messages to the sites you like best – do a few “recommendations”. Participate in a few contests, maybe put on a contest of your own. You aren’t just becoming part of the Entrecard community – you are starting to build up your own little community around your blog. A good blog with dedicated readers isn’t just about good content. You also need to network, talk to people, help people, do some marketing, build some links – participate, collaborate, and communicate!! I have tried to advertise twice with my friend Marco Richter, and he hasn’t approved or rejected my ads – I don’t think he’s participating much right now with Entrecard. But he doesn’t seem to have posted at all in the last month (I hope he’s ok), and he’s still #101 on that top 100 making money online list of blogs!

Pay attention to your stats! After you advertise with some sites, click on the “more stats” link in the bottom right of the quick stats in your dashboard. At the very bottom of the page, pay attention to the “Widgets Shown on” section, because these are stats where you have paid to advertise. You get top 10 stats for “clicks”, meaning the sites you advertised on that got the most clicks back to you. The #1 site I advertised on got 33 clicks – I should probably advertise on them again. If all your sites are <10 clicks or very low, maybe you should rethink the types of sites you are advertising on – are they even in your niche?

Oh, and one last thing. The reason I included my EC dashboard stats from today was to also show you, your ad price can go way up and down. I had an ad price of 80 credits a week ago because I messaged a hundred or so blogs about my new Content Exchange. I’ve been soooooo busy since then I haven’t dropped more than a handful of cards in a week, but people dropping on me kept the rate high for 6 days. Now that’s starting to drop of so my price is back to normal. I stay active in Entrecard, but not to the point where I don’t get anything else done on my blogs and web sites. You can see that I only drop about 1/2 the amount of cards that are dropped on me. And I haven’t bought a lot of ads (or had a lot purchased) from me recently either. And yet my ad price is pretty good because of my participation. Did I mention that most of the people I get cards from also seem to belong to blogCatalog and myBlogLog too? Building a little “community of bloggers” within your site can go a long way!

I’m going to message a few of the blogs I like best on Entrecard and ask them to comment on this post with their EC experiences as well!! I wonder if others feel the same way about Entrecard that I do? What do you think? Comment now!

**FINAL UPDATE**:
My goal with this post was show you the perceived value of Entrecard can be what you yourself make of it. Much like a blog itself, you get out of EC what you put into it. So now that you’ve read my post, going back to my title – I ask you, in your experience – has Entrecard been “worth it” or “worthless” to you, and why do you think that is? Have you participated enough? Do you think it’s worth it? Have you been getting traffic from it, new comments and rss subs? Have you networked with and met new bloggers?

Other posts around the web about Entrecard:

Entrecard Sucks: post outlining the reasons they think EC sucks, but in the end the post is summarized with reasons that EC networking is good and they’re going to keep it for now.

Entrecard Sucks?: a linkbait title, but post about how EC can bring bursts of traffic. I don’t think he realizes that if he participated more, he’d have new (and sustainable) traffic.

Sir Jorge says Entrecard Sucks because his blog about videos has nothing to do with “making money online”. I don’t think he gets the fact that you can use Entrecard in any niche.

Dot Sauce says ‘Entrecard blog network delivers traffic’ blogs about being happy with the networking and traffic EC has provided.

Raymond blogs about his ‘Month Long Orgy with Entrecard’, and says it took him over 6 hours to drop 300 cards. He says EC has been a tremendous benefit to him.

Reward Rebel writes ‘Entrecard Rides Again’ and wonders why the stats aren’t more detailed, or we at least can’t get access to the raw data that’s collected.

If you were looking to get more out of Entrecard – here’s a great post from Technet News Entrecard Tips for Success!

Sam Freedom’s Internet Marketing blog has all kinds of quality posts on Entrecard.
Let’s start with: 10 Simple ways to squeeze the most out of Entrecard, but it doesn’t stop there. Sam has a massive amount of quality Entrecard posts, help, tips, contests and more. He is prolific about blogging his Entrecard experiences, be sure to check him out.