Bla.st is your free visual card directory and international advertising network. So it's open to advertisers and webmasters who are looking for an alternative way to publicize their sites.
What is a Bla.st card?
It's a card that looks like the real world business card which you have to create yourself using some graphic programs like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop. The size must be exact as required by Bla.st - 270 pixels wide by 165 pixels high. You save your card and upload it to the Bla.st site. Select a category like blogging or web design, etc., and you're ready to go!
There's one snag here. If you're not good at designing, you might have a problem coming out with a nice looking card. But worry not. Get a friend who's good with Photoshop to help you out.
One more thing, the Bla.st widget allows you to configure how it's going to look on your site. You have the option of making it horizontal, showing up to 10 cards, or run them vertically down the sidebar of your page. The size of the cards can be configured as small or large.
I guess most people will go for the small size taking into account shortage of prime estate space on their blogs. The large size is really not favourable to most webmasters. They have a tiny size but it dosn't seem to work or has been de-activated. I'm not sure why.
Yes, there's a Bla.st referral program
Other than getting more exposure for your sites by using the cards, Bla.st have sweetened the deal with a referral program whereby website owners can earn up to 20% on referral sales and advertising on the network. They pay via PayPal.
I just received an email notification the other day that Bla.st have paid my first commission of $5.10 USD for a sale via this blog. To some people, this looks like small change, but you don't need to do anything, just leave your widget on and, carry on with your usual business.
My Bla.st widget is placed at the end of the last post on this page. Some kind visitor must have clicked on my card The NextPost which could be on anyone's blog, not necessary mine. Just think of this as residual income. Unlike a sponsored post where you have to bash out a post to earn $5!
Your ads are free, or pay any amount you want
According to Bla.st, all cards on their site are free. But if you want to promote your card by getting it listed higher, you can pay from as little as 1cent/day or more. It's up to you! The 24 highest paying cards are listed on their front page. Free cards come last. Bla.st use a simple "cost per day" system, so you don't need to worry about cost per click, cost per view, click fraud or unexpected bills.
Just for your information, I only paid 1cent/day for The NextPost for a whole year. Hey, that's only $3.65 for a year's listing! For my other blog CommonSense With Markk, I paid slightly higher for a year just to see how things go. Now you can see that the more you pay the higher the listing you get. It's your call.
You can target your card at a particular category and subcategory. Of course, you'll want to pick a category that's relevant to your site, unless you have other plans.
For now, Bla.st is still fairly new and I expect it to continue its growth as more and more bloggers come on board. I think this is one good method to promote your site by getting into the Bla.st marketplace, and targetted traffic will increase as you gain more exposure with your card appearing on other sites.
Finally, one observation that comes to mind is that some blogs that are Bla.st members don't seem to have the widgets on their sites. Maybe they had them on earlier but took them off for some reasons. My guess is that some feel that the cards take up too much space or clutter their blog. That's why I'd like to see that a "tiny" version of the card is made available for those who prefer that size. Yes, I would use the "tiny" version.