February 11, 2007 |
A while back, I covered Tim Bromhead's new startup, bla.st , which I dubbed a revolutionary 'step forward in advertising'. A few months on, I could not have said it better, as Tim continues to offer his 'bla.st Cards' for free! For those of you who are new, or who want a memory jog, here's the link to my original brief look at the website. Lucky as I am, I'm glad to say that I managed to catch Tim on his way into the bla.st office this morning, and I got to have a little discussion with him, about bla.st and its future.
So Tim, it's great to have you with us today at Profy.com – Can you give a simple rundown on what bla.st is for those who've not checked it out for themselves yet?
Hi David, thanks for the opportunity to talk about bla.st. Bla.st is a free online visual directory, that lets anyone advertise almost anything. Unlike most online directories each listing is a visual image rather than a text listing, so it's a lot quicker and more interesting to browse through. bla.st can handle long and short term cards, so people can find or promote events, sales, specials and other promotions along side businesses, products, non-profits, websites, blogs and more. The best part payment is completely optional. Did I mention it's free?
That's great. Can you tell me what has changed since last time we looked at bla.st?
We've given bla.st a complete redesign since then, moving the site from a white theme to a black theme, which makes the cards really stand out. There's also heaps of new features including:
- "small" and "tiny" card views, so you can see heaps of cards at once (kind of like the pixel advertising sites)
- a "popular cards" category, so users can see which cards people really like
- categories down the side of the page
We've also recently started a promotion where if you blog about bla.st, we upgrade your card for free, which is a great way to get your card on the front page for free.
Are there any notable websites using bla.st at the moment to promote their services? On the frontpage, I can already see TechCrunch, Skype & 9rules. Any others?
TechCrunch is probably the highest traffic blog on bla.st so far, it's pretty nerve wracking to know Michael Arrington is testing your web app! A number of the cards such as Skype, and FireFox I put on myself when I started the site to help kick it off. What I find really exciting are the smaller sites, artists, software developers and bloggers from around the world that are on bla.st. Awesome sites like blund.eu, lightondark.com, asmithillustration.com, neilduerden.co.uk I might have never discovered if they didn't put cards on bla.st.
Does bla.st have any plans for the near future? If so, how will they effect the user experience of the website?
You're in luck! I've been working on a new bla.st header design, and have attached a sneak preview for your lucky readers. The primary new feature is the tabs that allow users to browse cards by type, for example, "blogs & websites", "events", or "competitions". We also want to improve the categories and sub categories so they are easier to browse.
One of our main goals at the moment is to promote the site, to increase the number of cards listed. We're off to a great start with about 650 cards so far, but for it to become a really useful directory, we need thousands. The more relevant cards in a particular category, the more useful it becomes. The mac software section is a good example of this http://bla.st/mac-software/
Nice. I'm sure our readers will love it! So who runs and operates bla.st? Is it just you, or is there a team behind it?
Pear Software is the name of my company, and consists of just myself. We (My company and I) have been working on bla.st part time around other web development work for clients here in New Zealand.
What framework is the website constructed of, and how long did it take to create? Have the benefits, both monetary and socially been worth it?
bla.st has been built in PHP and MySQL. It's been running 5 and a half months now since the first version launched. I love working on the site, It's been a huge amount of fun. I'm constantly learning heaps about marketing, online payment systems, search engine optimisation, online advertising and more. It's been really fantastic to discover and meet all the exciting sites and people that are using bla.st.
bla.st hasn't made a huge amount of money so far, which is to be expected initially as payment is completely optional. Luckily it has made enough to cover hosting costs, and we expect revenue to increase as competition for the front page and traffic increases.
Tim, it's been a pleasure to have you here at Profy. With any luck, you'll get a few extra cards submitted to your directory today. Perhaps Profy will even make their own card? I know that I'm going to splash out and get myself a paid card sometime soon… TechCrunch think it's worth it anyhow.
I was just thinking the Profy logo really would look great on bla.st A big thanks to all those who have put cards on or blogged about bla.st, it would be nothing without you. And thanks David for the cool interview.
Well, I certainly hope that was beneficial to you all… Be sure to check out the website, and add your own card, whether free or paid!