My first thought when I received a ReviewMe review request from bla.st was, “dot st?” The .st domain comes from the small island nation of São Tomé & Principe. However, you don’t have to be a resident in order to get a .st domain – anyone can apply – and that is what New Zealander, Tim Bromhead did. You can create a lot of useful name that ends in .st, like coole.st, boo.st, or in Tim’s case, bla.st.
What is bla.st?
bla.st is a free visual card directory. The concept is unique and has the potential be a viral marketer’s dream (like the Million Dollar Homepage). In a nutshell, bla.st is like the Million Dollar Homepage but with unlimited potential. Instead of selling a limited amount of pixels, bla.st lets you display a free advertising card to promote you site or blog. bla.st cards can be online from 1 day to 10 years and can be placed into any categories. Payment is optional, and how much you choose to pay per day decides your card position.
Except for the card at the number 1 position, all other cards are displayed as a thumbnail (view settings can be changed). Hovering over the thumbnail will reveal the full size card. Information includes the name and tag line of the site and how much was paid to secure that position. Clicking on the card will take you to the card owner’s website. I’m paying 45 cents per day to secure the number 3 spot on the bla.st front page. I had the number 2 spot but then I told Stephen Fung about the service and he uploaded his card and bid 46 cents to take over my spot (bastard!). The number 1 spot is paying $1.40 per day, so anyone wishing to take over the top spot will need to pay $1.41.
Because bla.st is a new site, only 699 cards have been uploaded (I’m sure that will change after this review). Right now it’s possible to get on the front page by paying only 2 cents per day, and you don’t really have to pay it (more on that later).
bla.st is very flexible, allowing anyone to promote a company, business, event, sale or promotion, product, website, blog, non-profit organization or club. Almost anyone can advertise on bla.st (just don’t upload prohibited content), and it’s easy to do so. Each ad features:
- Optional main link to a website
- Map link to an address on Google Maps
- Statistics, including view count, click count, and detail page views.
- Keywords and 1 line of detail text
Uploading a bla.st card
Adding a card to bla.st is almost as simple as uploading an image to WordPress. The only requirements are the card must be exactly 270 x 165 pixels in size @ 72dpi and less than 30KB in file size. Once uploaded, you can decide what categories or tags to place the card under. You can choose from all the popular categories or make your own.
bla.st will tell you what position your card will show up in based on how much you want to pay. Because bla.st is new, you’ll show up on page 1 for most of the categories without having to pay anything. As bla.st grows and more cards are added, you may be bumped to page two unless you pay.
At my current bid of 45 cents per day, I show up #2 in Advertising, blog, business, internet and most every other categories. However, I’m number 1 in restaurant because Stephen didn’t place his card there. However, I’m sure he’ll do it after reading this!
Stats are listed in the details page and available for anyone to view. You can see I created my card two days ago and so far it has been viewed 700 times on the bla.st main site and 364 times on the bla.st network (bla.st network is bla.st cards on a few other sites including pear.co.nz and the bla.st blog).
My card has been clicked 11 times in two days (5.5 clicks per day). I’m paying 45 cents per day so that works out to just 8.2 cents per click. My friend WesleyTech has received 4 clicks since uploading his card last night and he is paying zero. The CPC rate should go down as more people discover the site, or it could go up as more cards are added.
Blatant bla.st bribery
Right now, it takes 2 cents per day to get on the bla.st front page. Here is how to get it free.
As a way to say ‘thanks for your effort’ we’re offering anyone the following deal: link to bla.st and we’ll add 1c/day for a year to your card OR Write a blog entry or review (positive or negative) about bla.st and we’ll add 2c/day to your card.
Once bla.st sees this blog post, they will add 2 cents to my account and I’ll take back my spot from Stephen Fung (of course, if he blogs about it, he’ll bump me again). bla.st will be an interesting site to watch for the next few months. It has tremendous potential if marketed correctly and it provides another free/low cost adverting medium for sites and blogs to promote themselves.
If you upload a card, make sure you add yourself to the John Chow Network category. I’m the only card there and I’m feeling kinda lonely.