Tag Archives: Advertisers

BenSpark’s 2009 Christmas Wish List

Christmas AvatarSeems like some of my favorite people are giving their suggestions for Christmas gifts. I like stuff and I have some cool fun ideas to share. The items in this list are either ones I own outright, got from advertisers and sponsors or really really want. Also please know that all links that go to places where you can buy stuff are affiliate ones.

Little Elf
Eva from Christmas is for Kids from last year.

Stuff I Own.

1. – Okay, the Canon Powershot Camera I own is not available right now. I love my Canon SD800is but if I was to upgrade to a new Canon Powershot I’d go with Canon PowerShot SD980IS 12.1MP. This camera has a 3 inch screen so I can use one of the items I got from sponsors called the Flipbac. I’d love to be able to finally use that. Why there was no 2.5 version made first is anyone’s guess. 2.5 inch is pretty much the standard size of the LCD that many cameras have right now. But 3.0 inch is the new standard that I see coming.

2. – iPod Touch – Before I bought my Droid I used my iPod Touch everywhere for checking e-mail updating twitter and games on wi-fi. I still enjoy using it very much to watch movies and podcasts. I am loving me some Gary Vaynerchuk Wine Library Tv, Cali Lewis on GeekBrief.tv, Help my Business Sucks and Aalgar’s Loving Reviews of Transformers. These help me get through my morning workouts.

3 – Flip Mino HD – I have 4 of these and have paid for one. After I bought my first one I won 2 more and was given one by my friend Dina Riccobono. I gave one to Allison and kept one for myself and put a custom SkinIt on this one which I broke going down a children’s slide. I gave another one to my sister and I kept the one from Dina to replace my one that broke. (Well, the screen broke but it still records fine so I carry both with me.

4. – An iFrogz Custom iPod Skin – I own a half dozen iFrogz products from silicone covers for my iPod Touch to a sweet cover for my Dad’s iPod nano that protects, covers and yet displays the Harley-Davidson symbol on it. And Eva’s earpods. That is what she calls her iFrogz Tadpole which is so great for her. Check out those products through the link below.

5. – My DaVinci – If you are looking for a very heartfelt gift for a loved one then this is a fantastic one. Allison got me one of these of our first family photo taken the day after Eva was born. Yeah, we didn’t get a family photo till the day after she was born. Score one for the “photographer” in the family.

Items I was given by friends, Sponsors or advertisers, also stuff I won.

6. – An Amazon Kindle – I received an Amazon Kindle from Dina Riccobono at the Wings and Pings TweetUp and it has completely changed the way I read books. I bought Chris Brogan’s Book Trust Agents as well as Crush It from Gary Vaynerchuk.

7. – Poken – I received a Poken from Pokengirl (Vanessa and Juliet sisters who run the business and who are awesome.) I really like the relationship that we’ve formed from a simple tweet of me asking if Pokens were worth it. A Poken is a digital business card, I use it at all my conventions.

8. – Phototrackr – I have an original one of these. I just received 5 of the newest edition, the mini photo trackr. So some of you might be getting one of these soon. Be on the lookout for a great contest on the way.

9. – XShot – I’ve gotten so many of these and given so many away. I love this product and it goes with me everywhere. If you haven’t gotten one of these yet, you are missing out big time, missing being part of the photo.

10. – HP Pavilion DM3-1040US 13.3-Inch Laptop – I just bought one of these but I used a $100 card that I received from Tony Welch (@frostola) at Blog World Expo. It is a perfect size computer for travel and doing simple tasks for blogging, it is fantastic.

Stuff I Want

11. – LEGO – Sure I’m nearing 36 years old but I completely love LEGO. For a while back in 1997-199 I was ordering sets from the LEGO online shop almost daily. I have all of the first sets that LEGO did for Star Wars, tons of them. They are awaiting the day when Eva is ready to sit down and play with them and not scatter them across the room like leaves on the wind.

LEGO has even gone digital with tons of video games like LEGO Rock Band. I learned that there are many great songs on that disc that I’d love to play.


12 – Funky Belt Buckles – I’m enjoying showing off my inner nerd with my Autobot Belt Buckle but I would also like the Decepticon one as well as the Thundercats one. Then the more I look around I see that there are other ones that I’d like. I see a Cookie Monster one and an Oscar the Grouch one, my two favorite Sesame Street Character. Then you get into superheores and I like this Superman one.

13. – Rock Band for WiiGuitar Hero is a fun time but then you add Drums and singing to the mix and you have a party. But then there is also Band Hero so how do you decide?

14. – Transformers: 25th Anniversary Matrix of Leadership Edition. This is a Box Set of the complete US run of the Transformers Generation 1 cartoon. This remains to this day my absolute favorite all time cartoon series. I also would love the G.I. Joe Box set. I really wish that I started collecting those comics at the same time I was collecting Transformers. I’d love to have the whole set of those, the comic books were really good. And like my Belt Buckle above I’d like to have the complete set of Thundercats episodes, Seasons 1 and Season 2. I really thought that was on much longer.

15. – Nikon D90 – I’d love an upgrade to my DSLR. I love my D80 but come one it is 10 more numbers higher. 🙂

Actually, what I really wish for:

I wish that people would join Team Eva’s Farm. This is the charity that we as a family are really getting behind. Team Eva’s Farm is a Heifer International Team and you can join to help us raise $1000 to stock Eva’s Farm. Just click the sidebar thermometer to help donate and to join the team.

Sponsored Conversations Work

In 2006 I began writing paid posts for PayPerPost. At that time I wrote posts about anything and everything because I was able to get paid to do so. I had already been blogging for a while at that point and the thought of making some money writing was really appealing to me. Starting out I didn’t give it much thought about how my voice could be one of influence for others. I’ll admit that in those early days I occasionally wrote about things I didn’t believe in very much just to earn more money. Over the past three years I’ve become a much more sophisticated blogger with a growing and intelligent reader community. I choose very wisely about what I want to share with my readers with regards to paid posts. I’ve also cultivated relationships with some amazing advertisers in those years. Relationships that have helped me improve as a blogger and have helped the advertisers get their products and services in front of people who want to hear about them.

I realized quickly that I was not writing just a paid post, I was participating in sponsored conversations. Conversations around brands that I trusted and I wanted other people to be familiar with. One time I blogged about a product that I had purchased because I had heard about it from a podcast. An advertiser that made a better product contacted me and asked me if I would compare his product against the other and let him know what I thought. I liked that product so much that we started a relationship where I would blog about the product in return for more of the products for contests on my blog.

In 2008 I was still working on my little blog contests with the same advertiser. We had gotten the word out about the product a little and had converted a few people to start using it. I was going to be going to IZEAFest that year as well as to Blog World Expo. I asked the advertiser if I could get some of the products to take with me and to give to other bloggers when I met them face to face. That product was the XShot and I had twelve of them to give away. I gave one to Ted Murphy CEO of IZEA because he saw me using it and asked where his was. I gave him the last one and showed him how it worked. Ted now uses that XShot everywhere he goes. Also IZEA recruited XShot as an advertiser and the network of bloggers on SocialSpark (another IZEA product) propelled the conversation about the XShot into the minds of many other people across the Web. Sponsored Conversations about the XShot were taking place everywhere all because as an advertiser they saw the potential in one blogger to use their product and start a conversation. The XShot is now a staple item for bloggers to carry with them at events because they can use it to take group photos and quick snapshots with the people that they meet. Google “”XShot”, Google “Camera Extender”. You’re going to see this product come up again and again because bloggers are talking about it.

Creating brand recognition through a sponsored conversation should be a part of any advertiser’s set of tools. As an advertiser who is looking to connect with bloggers you really should be looking to IZEA to help you with any sponsored conversation campaigns. IZEA has a network of over 250,000 bloggers who are ready to discuss your products and brands through a conversation on their blogs. And I do mean conversations, not just a link dropped into a post because they are getting paid, I mean bloggers who engage their audiences and ask questions, respond to their readers and become advocates for your brand.

Some of my best friendships online have been with advertisers who had enough faith in me to let me have one of their products to try out and to blog about. Other advertisers paid me to write a post about their product. I can’t even begin to tell you how many advertisers I’ve promoted in the past few years but I can tell you about the ones that I love working with like Ten Bills, Mad Gringo, XShot and IZEA as well. I love talking about these folks because they get it. They understand that a sponsored conversation is an important thing if it is done correctly.

To participate in a sponsored conversation correctly an advertiser and blogger must be transparent. I’m being paid to write 200 words by IZEA on the topic of Sponsored conversations. I’m also an IZEA Insider and have met many people from the IZEA Team personally. I threw in the 700 additional words because I feel passionately about the service IZEA provides to bloggers and to advertisers. As an advertiser you can also cultivate that passion from bloggers through a sponsored conversation campaign. There are other people who can talk in more technical and numbers based terms about why sponsored conversations are a good thing. One of them is Forrester Research. There is a .pdf available through IZEA that discusses the importance of sponsored conversations. There is also a very interesting article on groundswell by Josh Bernoff on why sponsored conversations work. Me, I just know that they work because of what I have seen from my experiences. I’m a passion guy, not a numbers guy.