Entrecard is one of the most unusual ideas in site promotion around. A kind of free advertising, you gain credits to advertise by visiting sites and dropping your card on their Entrecard widget, as well as from other people’s drops on your own widget.
But after a while, for some the Entrecard experience becomes hollow. Some see visiting sites as a chore, while others see Entrecard as advertising that doesn’t pay them hard cash.
I used to feel that way, until I realized that there was another way to look at Entrecard. For me, that made all the difference in the world.
So here’s my Entrecard journey and five benefits I continue to reap from it—and which you can, too.
My Way of Entrecard
All of these are based off of one maxim:
Entrecard is a social networking system.
For me, this was the key to understanding everything else: how Entrecard works on a philosophical level, why it works, and what it does for its participants.
Benefit #1: A sampling of sites in my niche.
Sd’s broad category is “Writing and Literature”. I am a writer, after all, even if it’s currently of technical specs and non-fiction blog articles; I also think deep thoughts about fiction, one of my lofty goals in life.
Did you know there are over 100 sites in this category alone on Entrecard, and 40 million writing sites that Google turns up? It’s a huge niche, and easy to get lost in.
So how do I make Sd unique? I asked myself.
In order to answer that question, I had to see for myself what those other sites were. What are they like? What do they talk about?
Entrecard provides a mere sampling of writing sites out of the 40 million others out there, but it’s a sampling nonetheless—and more importantly, a sampling of active blogs.
Benefit #2: Viewing sites in my niche regularly.
To get credits to advertise, I had to visit other sites on Entrecard. At first I only visited sites in my own category. And like any other beginning Entrecarder, I engaged in “stop, drop and go”—being efficient, rather than thorough.
After a while, I got bored of doing this, like many Entrecarders do.
When I get bored, I start to read.
And so I began to read the first entry of the sites I visited. Sometimes I found entries I ended up reading in more depth, thinking about them and even commenting. These were anything from personal entries of glee or despair to musings on writing and/or fiction.
And so my learning about my niche went deeper. Strange results sometimes came of my new reading; for instance, I learned about Clarkesworld Magazine, one of the last reserves of truly weird and distinguished short fiction. And my opinion on one person changed nearly completely, which I had never expected.
Benefit #3: Exploring sites outside my niche.
When I started getting ad requests from other Entrecarders, sometimes they came from bizarre categories, or so I thought at the time: marketing, art, personal diaries, gaming. Who are these people? I wondered.
At long last, I began to find out, stretching my definition of “interesting” as I read their sites.
As a writer, it behooves one to familiarize oneself with as many different subjects as possible. I suppose this applies to any art, but I think to writing especially; we rely on words and atmosphere so much, even in fiction, even in non-fiction. Learning about people is most important of all.
On my explorations outside my niche, I reaped even odder rewards. Sometimes I discovered music I really liked that I never heard of before. I became interested in reading about mothers struggling with raising kids (something I know very little about, from either the mother or the kid side). I read travelogues, both from people visiting other places, and from people visiting the US.
I also found a site that photoshopped cats onto movie posters. How weird is that?
Benefit #4: Familiarizing myself with other sites.
After a couple months of Entrecard, and especially once I started to become more active, I began to recognize sites by their card alone.
When you’re just browsing the web, you usually become attached to only a few sites. Most of the time, it’s like visiting strangers; maybe you do it a couple times, at most. But with Entrecard, it was more like seeing people you meet on the street regularly.
I got to know these sites: their ways, their looks, about the bloggers behind them. My regular visits, encouraged by Entrecard credits, meant that I didn’t have to add them to my ever-growing monster list of RSS feeds—I simply visited everyday, sometimes commenting, sometimes content to just see how they were doing.
For someone who is as shy in real life as myself, this is a blessing.
I only began to engage in other networking sites, like StumbleUpon or Twitter, after I had experienced Entrecard. In other words, Entrecard taught me about networking and encouraged me to do it more often.
In return, people became familiar with me, stopping by regularly—and, as I learned from comments on particularly good articles, actually reading.
After all, networking is composed of reciprocal actions.
Benefit #5: Learning to blog with confidence.
Once I became a regular Entrecarder, I got many return drops. I knew from my own experience that some would be simply stop-drop-and-go folks. I hold no grudge against that; sometimes that’s just the way things are.
But now I had an audience I knew and could target, even if it was one that might not have that much time on their hands every visit. So often when you’re blogging, you know—there are so many site metrics scripts these days to let you know—you know that there’s no one there. You just see a trickle of random IPs and the occasional Google hit.
With Entrecard, you can have people everyday—and you aren’t forcing them to come.
Now I knew better how to be relevant and unique, or at least different, and with this extra encouragement, my own writing on Sd started to loosen up, yet at the same time become more well-formed.
I now had a vision for what I wanted this site to become, and started working towards it.
I got Stumbled several times last week. And it was awesome; something like 700 extra hits flowed through. I’m grateful to each and every Stumbler, and especially grateful for those who discovered my pages.
I don’t know if such great Stumbling will ever happen again, but I can but hope—and in the meantime, I’ll just blog the best I can.
You may have noticed…
That I’ve so far said nothing about getting my own ads out there. In fact, I haven’t submitted one advertisement for months, and not due to a lack of credits nor a lack of value. I simply pledged to not buy an ad until I figured out Sd’s vision. Now that I have, I’ll probably start buying them again.
Notice also that when I mentioned more hits to my site, I didn’t just think about the numbers, but also about who was coming over.
One last item: I’m not a power-dropper. These days I visit sites manually and intentionally. When I see an Entrecard ad, I’m more likely to click through it to see who’s on the other end, and find more sites to drop cards on. If anything, I’m a networking-dropper.
In the end
Entrecard has done a lot for me. And yes, this did mean that I had to do certain things that take a bite out of my time, and time is precious, blah blah. But these were things I needed to do, things that made me a better blogger.
Of course, this is just my way. Other people have their own ways, and have been as satisfied—in some ways, more successful. And success is, as always, in the eye of the beholder.
Yet I am content.