Sometimes you just know when you’re about to enter someplace magical. That is how I felt when I came across Xomba. I had been writing blogs on Blogger and WordPress and posting articles on Associated Content when I discovered the enchanted world of Xomba.
Xomba is a writing site that allows me to repost my articles and my blogs and write new content as well. So enamored of Xomba am I that I felt compelled to interview Xomba CEO Nick Veneris to find out more about Xomba’s origins. I couldn’t believe I’d found a site that allowed its writers to link from other writing sites, so that even if I had given exclusive rights to one site, I could provide a link on Xomba to refer people back to that article. I considered it to be a win-win-win for Xomba, for the linked site, and for the writer!
I had stumbled upon a writer’s playground, my own personal promotional site that costs me NOTHING. As a matter of fact, Xomba shares 50% of its adsense revenue with its writers. But why should I continue singing its praises when I can let Nick Veneris do it for you.
Here is the interview (BW stands for BlogWriter, the name by which I’m known on Xomba):
BW: What inspired you to begin Xomba?
Nick: Well I’ve always wanted to start my own business. I graduated college in Dec. 2004 and took a day job in advertising. In 2006, bored to death with my current job, while surfing the internet I came up with the idea for Xomba. Well, at that point it was for revenue sharing using Google Adsense. I contacted an old employer and together on St. Patrick’s Day 2006 we formally agreed to start Xomba.
What truly inspired me was the fact that I could start a business and sleep at night. Since Xomba gives away half of its Adsense Revenue, I feel like I am helping people.
Ultimately, I wanted to be a writer. I think Xomba is a good first step to becoming a successful writer and a wonderful platform for experienced writers.
BW: From where did the name Xomba come?
Nick: We get asked this all the time. Unfortunately, the story isn’t very exciting. My business partner owned the name since the mid to late 90’s. Totally fictional and I am not sure how he got it.
BW: What was it about Kristen Malmed, Online Communications Specialist, and Jeremy Nettles, Community Relations Manager, that prompted you to make them part of your team?
Nick: Jeremy and I go way back. We met in college probably around 2002-2003. He was one of a few friends who really supported me when it came to Xomba. He can recall stories of poster board being laid out all over my apartment. My girlfriend, him and myself staying up late and editing text on the website. We’re talking Xomba 1.0. Before the launch Jeremy was the first alpha tester. He volunteered his time through the first year of Xomba. No one got a pay check during that first year. In Dec. 2007, he came to me and wanted the job. Now, keep in mind he was taking a risk. He had a stable job and Xomba was just starting to generate revenue. I worried about hiring a friend, but ultimately knew that Jeremy was a harder worker than anyone I know. Without Jeremy, Xomba would not be where it is today.
Let’s fast forward to 2009. Xomba began to grow at a rate that we could not keep up with it and it was time to bring on a 3rd person for an entry level opening. We decided to take on interns from our old college in May 2009. All three interns were fantastic, but in the end Kristen fit the position. Kristen came to us with a positive attitude and the determination to learn more. She started in August 2009 and has helped us tremendously.
BW: What were you, Kristin, and Jeremy doing before Xomba?
Nick: Well, I was only out of college for 2 years and working for a direct mail advertiser. Nothing too exciting, but it paid the bills. Jeremy managed a video game store, a job much more exciting than mine. Kristen attended college.
BW: Xombytes are articles made up of new content not published anywhere else, right? While Xomblurbs are posts that link to previously written articles and blogs? How did you come up with the idea for generating both Xombytes and Xomblurbs?
Nick: Xombytes are articles or fiction that must be at least 150 words. They can be published elsewhere, but must be written by the author. You cannot purchase articles and post them on Xomba. Xomblurbs are social bookmarks that require at least a 50 word summary. These blurbs then link to websites, blogs, pictures, videos or anything else found on the internet.
Xombytes came in existence first. However, Xomblurbs were my best idea in regards to Xomba. Social bookmarks are a fun way of saying “Hey, check this out”. I believe blurbs came out around 6 months after Xomba launched.
BW: How exciting that people can post links to already written content! Some people are afraid that content they’ve written on other sites cannot be linked here. Can you explain to writers who have given exclusive rights to other websites that by posting a Xomblurb they are not breaking their contract with the originating site?
Nick: I’m not a lawyer, but my academic understanding is that you can link to anything you want because it is protected under the 1st Amendment of the Constitution. If you have given exclusive rights to an article then I don’t see how linking to it would cause a problem. If we had exclusive rights to an article we would want you to link to it from other websites. Hyperlinking is the foundation of free speech on the internet. If you do not want people hyper-linking to your content then you better make it password protected or not visible on the internet at all.
BW: Xomba is more generous than most sites. You share 50% of your ad revenue. Why were you willing to give up so much when you could easily have kept 80% to yourself?
Nick: Honestly, 50% sounded like a fair number. I would love to give away 100%. However, Xomba costs money and so does its employees. For us to keep growing we must make revenue. You would be surprised at the costs of programming and hosting. The bigger a website gets the more problems and pressure to expand it. If we gave away 80% then we would have gone out of business or couldn’t grow and expand like we are now.
However, 50% is fair, after all you are doing half the work so why should we only give 20%?
We are looking for other ways to give our writers more money. Stay tuned…
BW: You accept anybody to Xomba. Do you think accepting all levels of writers in any way detracts from the overall magic of Xomba or do you consider it a benefit?
Nick: Excellent question. This one has been debated more than once. I will say this, writing or sharing one’s opinions is a fundamental right that should be extended to every living person on the face of this Earth. Currently, we only allow English and if you can write in English then you are welcomed to use Xomba. That’s part of our foundation. A writer is a person who writes. If you have written something then you are a writer.
BW: Do you have any advice for new – what are writers called – Xombees?
Nick: He he he, we have never officially named our writers, but our community calls themselves Xombies.
My advice depends on why you use Xomba. For those looking to make money I would say to make sure you read our Make Money Guide. Set a small goal of reaching $5 and then $1 a day. Stick with it for 3 months. Our old interns use Xomba and make money. The system works. Now whether you make $100 or $1,000 a month, that depends on you.
For aspiring writers Xomba is a fantastic place to start out. We have a wonderful community and you’ll be impressed by the number of reads you’ll receive. Leave comments and participate in our contests. We’ve had writers who given credit to Xomba for being published.
To both groups, Xomba prides itself on our customer service. Email us. I promise you’ll get an answer.
BW: Xomba’s contests are a fun way for writers to hone their skills. They are great incentives for making more money. But while most writer web sites offer prizes of less than $100, you consistently offer prizes in excess of $100, the latest offering $500. How can you offer so much prize money?
Nick: Ha, ha, ha. Our new goal is to have at least one contest at all times. Who wants to get first place and only win $75? Currently, we’re looking for sponsors for our contests, in hopes of offering even better prizes.
I’ll let you in on a secret. Our next big contest after the Dream Job one involves a New York best-selling author, your book synopsis and first prize getting to have a 30-minute phone conversation with the author about your book idea! That’s all I can say, but please feel free to spread the word. I think we formally announce it Nov. 17th.
I love contests. Our users love them and it helps us grow as a writing community.
BW: Rumors have spread around Xomba that Google is considering purchasing it? Xomba writers love the site, love the community, and don’t want anything to sabotage the site. Do Xomba writers have anything to fear?
Nick: Really? News to me. Well, let me put that to rest.
I have not spoken to Google or been contacted by Google about being purchased.
There are no offers on the table to purchase Xomba from anyone.
To make you feel even better at the end of this month or beginning of December we should have our 4th full-time employee (including me) starting. I can’t release names, but it appears we’ve filled our Sr. Developer position. Very excited about that. New changes should be happening soon.
BW: Some Xomba writers are discouraged about their inability to locate adsense earnings. Can you help us maneuver our way through Google adsense so we can find our earnings?
Nick: Do you mean going to Google Adsense and just logging in or are you talking about creating channels?
BW: What route do Xomba writers follow to see their adsense reports? You mention channels, but how do writers get there and how can they tell how much money they are making?
Nick: Xomba writers must enter their articles URL’s individually to see results from each of their articles. On our Make Money Guide there is a section that gives a step-by-step guide that informs you of how to enter each article into Google Adsense. Once these URL’s are entered the writers can then see how much each individual article has made each day.
BW: That was helpful. Thank you!
Nick, I’m sure I speak for all Xomba writers when I say that I wish all of us continued success with Xomba. Thank you for allowing me to interview you. And if you would like to add anything else before we close, please mention it now.
Nick: Well, thank you for taking the time to interview me.
The two big things we’re going to announce soon (no, not that we’re being purchased by anyone) are a contest and to introduce our new Sr. Developer. I’ve given you the scoop on both things.
I am ecstatic about having a full-time developer join our team. I think it is safe to say there will be some changes you’ll see over the next few months and then onward. Changes that everyone will love.
Well, to be honest, I like Xomba just the way it is, but I’m all for improvements, and if Xomba is going to provide even more opportunities for writers, I’m sure we’ll love them all.
If you would like to write for Xomba, please click Xomba, then click the “Get Started Today” button and sign up. Don’t forget to tell them that BlogWriter (referral number 777d7f91) sent you.
And Nick, thanks again for creating Xomba and for agreeing to the interview.