BlogCatalog :: First Impressions

by derek on June 27, 2007 · 19 comments

A few weeks ago I had posted about my efforts to be more active on the social networking sites, with a goal to make new contacts at some of the more popular sites such as MyBlogLog, StumbleUpon and Technorati.
Derrich left a comment that BlogCatalog should be next on my list of social networking sites. Tonight I decided to take his advice and sign up for an account to get started.

BlogCatalog

First Impressions
Right off the bat I was a little disappointed as I registered for my account and used this blog during the registration process but was informed that my account would have to be reviewed. While I can understand why they are doing this review process, I had been hoping to jump right in and get started.
With my account information submitted, I decided to poke around and create my first widget – which you can see in the right sidebar below the MyBlogLog widget. This process was easy enough, although I didn’t really see an explanation for the difference between the Recent Viewers and My Neighborhood widget at first.
Once I completed the widget and added that to my site (with a few tweaks to the colors and width), I took a few minutes to update my profile with a little bit more information about me and added a few of the username’s for my other online communities or tools. One thing that I did find interesting was that there was a listing for your MyBlogLog username, which I would have expected BlogCatalog to try and ignore given that they are competitors in this arena.
Ads, Ads and More Ads
As I completed the widget and updated my profile, I noticed that BlogCatalog is plastered with Google AdSense ads in quite a few places. This is quite different than MyBlogLog where you do not see any Google AdSense ads throughout the site. As much as I can appreciate their need to make some money, I was a bit put off by the ads all over the site.
In addition to the ads, BlogCatalog has a feature where you can *sponsor* a category. Essentially this means that you have the opportunity to purchase a premium position in BlogCatalog’s category specific search results.
While I can see a little bit of appeal to sponsor a category as it will likely put your blog in front of more people and may increase the traffic to your site, I have to admit that this disappointed me a little bit. The commercialization of BlogCatalog seems to be a little out of place with what I think a social networking site should provide to its members. I’d prefer to see the top search results in a category be listed by the popularity of the blog versus who decided to fork over some cash.
Cool Features
While I was poking around the site, there were a few things that caught my eye as interesting features. One is the concept of Discussions, which is basically a list of discussions that have been started by other members, much like a forum but here it is just one big list.
You do have the option to filter down the discussions by category, such as BlogCatalog Questions or Making Money. In addition, it appears that you can limit the list of discussions to only your discussions (which I am not sure if this means you started the discussion or participated in the discussion), friend’s discussions, favorite discussions or unread discussions. Unfortunately, I cannot participate in the discussions yet because only members with an approved blog have the ability to create and/or reply to discussions.
Another cool feature is the list of Popular Post/Directory Searches and Popular Post/Blog Tags on the search tab. This is a standard *cloud* type of display that gives you an idea of the type of information that other BlogCatalog members are looking for on the site. This has the potential to be a powerful resource as you can focus on the tags and searches that are popular to increase the traffic to your blog. I’m looking forward to experimenting with popular tags and searches.
Verdict
I’ll be completely honest with you, I am a creature of habit and it will be hard for BlogCatalog to pull my attention away from MyBlogLog because I am more familiar with MBL. However, I do see the potential with some of these features at BlogCatalog and am looking forward to exploring the site more once my account is approved.
There are a few things that I am not particularly fond of as I mentioned earlier but I do not think those things are terrible enough to keep me from using the service.
If you haven’t signed up with BlogCatalog yet, I would recommend that you give it a try and see what you think. Be sure to stop by and join my neighborhood – I’d provide you a link but since my account is pending approval I don’t exist yet (you can find me with the username of dsemmler).
*UPDATE* :: I’ve been approved and I would like to invite everyone to join my neighborhood!

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{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Derrich June 27, 2007 at 11:46 pm

Agree with the “Creature of Habit”…I’m the same way (must be the name). 😉 But BlogCatalog has grown on me.

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derek June 27, 2007 at 11:59 pm

Hopefully my account gets approved soon and I can spend some more time on their site. I’m sure I’ll warm up to it as I use it a little more.
BTW, I joined your neighborhood but I am not sure if I show up or not given my account status.

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Daniel June 28, 2007 at 9:52 am

Thanks for the great feedback Derek, We are always looking for ways to improve the user experience. Hopefully, now that your account has been approved, you will really see the value that BlogCatalog can provide to bloggers.

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derek June 28, 2007 at 10:21 am

Daniel, thanks for taking the time to stop by and share your thoughts.
I received the notice that my account has been approved and I am looking forward to exploring the features that BlogCatalog has to offer and trying to get the most out of your service.

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Robb June 28, 2007 at 11:34 am

I wholeheartedly agree with the observation about ‘being plastered with ads’. While it MAY drive some revenue, it surely must be driving many readers away. There are too many alternatives in the market these days to get away with smothering a bit of content with adverts.

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Layouts June 28, 2007 at 2:23 pm

Yeah i hate those “wait for verification” things too, but ultimately it’s worth it–keeps the bots down!

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ExtraordinaryGirl June 28, 2007 at 5:40 pm

Hi Derek! 🙂 Yeah, blogcatalog was a little confusing for me at first, but I THINK I have the hang of it –MOSTLY– now. In fact, I had wondered about rank, too, and happened to see the discussion about it, so since you had been starting out with “0” as you said, I thought I’d come help you out. 😉 Nice blog, by the way!! 🙂

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derek June 28, 2007 at 5:48 pm

Hey EG, thanks for stopping by and helping me out! I have to admit that I have been addicted to the Discussions today and am having a blast.
I’ll have to find you on BC and return the favor. 😉

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Jonathan-C. Phillips June 28, 2007 at 8:38 pm

Hi Derek, thank you for adding me as a friend on blogcatalog! 🙂
I agree with the adsense thing you mention in your post, at first I was a little put off by this too, but honestly after giving BC a shot and getting involved I really saw it ws worth it, the discussion boards are pretty active, and the community is great. I really like MBL too, and get quite a good amount of traffic from there, but I also get spammed a lot, which doesn’t happen too much on BC, reason why I like them, and why they screen the blogs before approving them.
Well, anyway welcome to blogcatalog! 🙂

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PrettyLady June 28, 2007 at 10:55 pm

I do believe I already joined. 🙂

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derek June 29, 2007 at 12:32 am

@Jonathon :: You make a good point about the spam on MBL which I have yet to see on BC, although it is still early. I’m hooked on the discussions already and have been having a good time exploring. Thanks for the welcome and for adding me back and joining my neighborhood. 🙂
@PrettyLady :: Yep, you’ve already joined and thanks for stopping by to say hello! 🙂

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ouch June 29, 2007 at 11:19 am

i am too waiting for my account to be approve, when i will get a response I’ll comment again

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derek June 29, 2007 at 11:29 am

My first account was approved the next morning, although I am still waiting for my 2nd blog to be approved. It seems like they are pretty quick about reviewing the applications so hopefully you will be approved soon.
Look forward to hearing your thoughts once you are up and running.

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Leo June 29, 2007 at 11:56 am

I was denied because I refuse to put up the widget on my site. But I see that I still still show up on your widget, cool!

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derek June 29, 2007 at 12:04 pm

I forgot about that requirement and that is likely why my personal finance site has yet to be approved, as I haven’t added their widget or any other link on that site.

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fruityoaty June 29, 2007 at 5:45 pm

I have to agree… all those Google ads put me off.

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Damien Riley June 29, 2007 at 5:51 pm

I haven’t spent the time over there I should networking.
Honestly though, I feel it’s just another hub of so many out there. Nothing truly stands out at blog catalog as having improved my traffic. The discussion feature is cool, but it take the place of comments on the actual blogs which gets traffic away from the blogs and onto BC.
Somebody out there needs to really innovate the marketplace. There’s nothing new at BC I can see. To sound like David Spade: “I liked BC the first time when it was MyBlogLog.”

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derek June 29, 2007 at 10:59 pm

You make a good point about the discussions potentially taking away from people actually visiting your blog. So far I have been trying to answer any questions that I can in hopes of people appreciating the assistance and taking the time to visit my blog.
But other than the discussions feature, which may be good or bad depending on your view, they really don’t seem to do anything different than MBL. Further, there is one drawback that I will mention in a post in just a bit.

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