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Discovery Engines

Discovery Engines are incredible places to find new information about topics that you enjoy.  Stumbleupon and Pinterest are generally known to be websites that people go on to waste time, which could be true in some circumstances, but they also have a tremendous draw.  People no longer have to leave their homes to learn about their interests, and while you probably couldn’t write a term paper with research purely from Pinterest, it is a great place to go for information simply for your own interest.

These websites are so innovative because they don’t need to create much content themselves, yet they are chock full of content to meet anyone’s desire.  As for Pinterest, their content is almost all user created, making it easy to aggregate websites and provide “pins” for almost any interest.  Stumbleupon simply brings you to a seemingly random website that lines up with the topics that you told Stumbleupon you were interested in.

Both of these discovery engines found a need and filled it.  People had ways to research for academic purposes, but it was difficult to find information in a relaxed setting.  Now it’s possible for someone to find articles and websites in broad subject areas and expand their knowledge without even realizing that’s what they’re doing.

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Back to Blogging: Host-Sites

My previous set of blog-centered posts were focused on the benefits of blogging, and how to write a successful blog post or series of blog posts.  I neglected, however, to discuss one of the very first steps to starting a blog: Choosing a host site.

The two major players in blog hosting are currently WordPress (the host of this blog) and Blogger (the host I use for my personal blog).  There are several other options, such as Tumblr or SquareSpace, but these are not as popular as the previously stated two.  Both WordPress and Blogger host an innumerable amount of blogs, and both have benefits and costs that have to be weighed.

Blogger is great for first time bloggers, with a relatively simple, easy to use design.  It is owned by Google, and it’s easy to create a blog for free using your Google (Gmail) account.  While it is possible to edit your blog using HTML and CSS it offers only very simple design elements for those of us who have little to no coding background.  As Blogger is a Google site, it is very easy to use Google AdSense with, which makes it pretty simple to monetize.  The major con with Blogger, though, is that once your blog begins to grow it can be difficult to continue to use blogger, and many people find new hosts at this point.

This leads us to our next blog host, WordPress.  WordPress is also easy to use, but does offer a bit more complexity and customization than Blogger.  WordPress has both a .com and a .org component to their hosting, each offers slightly different benefits. is completely free, while is free except that you need to purchase a domain name and web hosting elsewhere first.  I am not as familiar with WordPress, so for more information on WordPress, as well as many other blogging hosts, check out this link:

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Pandora is nothing new to most people, it’s been around for years, and it’s widely used.  While I am still somewhat unfamiliar with Spotify, it seems that Spotify has taken Pandora’s place for a lot of people, but Pandora is still worth talking about.  Pandora was one of the first websites of its kind, allowing people to listen to music for free with little to no restriction.  It created the market for music websites.

If anyone is unfamiliar with Pandora, it is a website where you can make radio stations based on your musical preferences.  You can add artists or songs that you like to the radio stations, and Pandora chooses and plays songs that are aesthetically similar to the ones that you’ve chosen.  You can give songs thumbs up or down, and Pandora will learn from that and change the station based on those responses, never again playing a song that you’ve given a thumb down to on that station.

Pandora is monetized through ads and through a freemium model, now, but its monetization strategy when it first began is unclear.  The revenue model is nothing unique, but I do think that the business is worth commending for being one of the first in the market.  It may not be as customizable as its competitors, such as Spotify, but it still has a huge customer base, largely thanks to it being first on the market.

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Modcloth is an online clothing retailer which offers unique, stylish clothing.  Their dresses are particularly popular, as is their model for choosing stock, which, while not entirely unique, is very effective.  Modcloth only stocks so many of each item, generally guessing on the lower end of how many they think people will buy.  Once they sell out of the product it remains on the website for a period of time as out of stock, but people can use their “I need it!” feature and tell them what size they want it in.  The company then restocks based on community feedback, and if the item that you said you wanted comes back they’ll send you an email to let you know.  This no only creates urgency to purchase items that one likes, but it also creates a high traffic through their website, as customers come back regularly to see if they’ve restocked items or gotten new ones in.

Perhaps the most commendable aspect of their business model is their returns and exchanges policy.  It’s incredibly easy to return or exchange an article of clothing, they pay for shipping and you can send it via whichever service is most convenient for you.  This is smart, and, in my opinion, companies that don’t have similar policies are throwing away money.  Very few people are willing to make online purchases of clothing that they haven’t tried on yet if they think that they’ll be stuck with it if they don’t like it or if it doesn’t fit.  Businesses may lose small amounts of money on shipping costs of returns and exchanges, but ultimately they’ll make more money total because people will be willing to make more purchases.

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Fabulous Fabletics

Fabletics is an online women’s sportswear and active wear retailer.  They sell your every day compression capris and workout tops, but their business model is what sets them (and their other two brands, Just Fab and Fab Kids) apart.

They have a VIP program which is free to join, all you have to do is take a short quiz about your style, and they’ll suggest outfits at discounted prices to you.  Or so it appears.  You also give them your credit card number, which they store, and each month they send you a group of outfits that they’ve picked out for you.  You can then pick one of these outfits, or purchase other clothing, for a minimum of $49.95.  If none of the outfits that month are your cup of tea, you can opt out for that month, but if you forget to opt out within that first week, or else they charge your account $49.95, anyway.

This business model is both clever and sneaky.  On one hand, it could lead to incredible profitability from monthly purchases or possibly people forgetting to opt out for that month.  On the other hand, though, it could discourage customers from making purchases in the first place, as it seems almost scheming.  Either way, it is an interesting way to do business.  If you want to see more, this is their website:

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