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November 1st: Torsten Jacobi, CEO of Creative Weblogging, joins host Anita Campbell. Sponsored by Six Disciplines. Show details.
Sunday, April 24, 2005
PowerBlog Review: Brindi's Bargains
Editor's note: I am delighted to present another in our weekly PowerBlog Reviews of business weblogs. This is the sixty-second in the series.

This is a first for the PowerBlog Reviews: we are reviewing a blog by a dog.

Brindi's Bargains has a tag line saying "Our dog sniffs out the best deals on the net." There is even a picture of Brindi, the dog.

Brindi's Bargains is an affiliate marketing site. For those who don't know, "affiliate marketing" is when one website sells products of another website, and earns a sum of money for leads, sales, etc.

Essentially the site operates as a place to collect affiliate specials and coupons. The blog format makes it easy to follow the offers.

Brindi the dog operates as a sort of alter-ego. Brindi's owners are Kenn and Erica Kerper of Toledo, Ohio, USA. Kenn tells me that it was a little hard at first teaching Brindi how to blog: "She was quite reluctant to do anything with a computer at first. You can't teach an old dog new tricks. But after she dug her paws into it, it was like she'd been doing it her whole life."

In addition to having fun with the blog, the Kerpers use it to generate revenue. Kenn is a full-time MBA student. The site is his entire income right now. He says he's made more than he expected. He says about affiliate programs in general:
"Most online retailers want to make it as easy as possible for their affiliates to promote their sites, so they are usually very good about emailing them coupons and promotions an a regular basis. That is where I get A LOT of content for my blog from, directly from the affiliate emails. I'll usually wake up and find between 20 and 40 affiliate emails. If anything looks good, I blog it."
One of the useful features of this site is the long blogroll linking -- not to blogs -- but to affiliate sellers' sites. The list is huge. Best of all, it is divided into categories.

If you are looking for traditional blog reading, then Brindi's Bargains is not it. You won't find any lengthy posts examining issues from all sides. Nor will you find personal observations, news items, rants, or other typical blog writing.

But we thought affiliate marketing was a creative and unusual use for a blog, and for that reason worth profiling.

Kenn is very objective about the pros and cons of the blog format. He points out one of the major advantages, which is that he has spent zero for the blog site. So his affiliate sales are all profit.

On the other hand, he is also running up against one of the glaring limitations of the blog format: poor searching capabilities for large amounts of data. As he says:
"A blog with an RSS feed drives more traffic to my website than anything else. The convenience that RSS offers my readers is unparalleled. But I have been bothered for some time with what I can do for my readers once they are at my site. Certainly a long list of retailers that require a reader to scroll so far down a page in order to find what he or she wants is not the answer. So I'm working on a model in which the blog will be the main feature, but it will be supported by an active database of coupons, deals, and products on sale."

The Power: The Power of Brindi's Bargains is how it pushes the envelope for ways that a blog can be used. It's a creative use of the blog format. In the process of pushing the envelope, it points out one of the greatest benefits (low cost) and one of the most glaring deficiencies (not scalable for searching when data volumes grow).
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