New Ventures Without Capital Blog

I just received a note from Bruce Judson about his new blog Ventures Without Capital

The goal of this blog is to find the best, low-cost Web services that will assist individuals in building successful, large businesses. In general, this means I am looking for services that increase productivity and leverage people’s time and talents.

Judging from the notes I received, many found Bruce’s book Go It Alone a real kick in the pants and a beneficial read. Bruce has a good eye for leveraging time, I’m interested in seeing what he comes up with on his new blog.

Check it out here: Ventures Without Capital

I’m Just Not That Into You

Blog Swag Approach: Hi, I’m following your blog and I just love it! I think your readers would be very interested in my product BlahBlahBlah, here’s a link to the website for more information. I’d be happy to send you a free sample if you’d like.

Me: Hey alright, I can dig freebies!! But I checked out the website and see that the freebies are offered and available to anyone who fills in a form. And the sample is single use. So sheeeyeah, although you’re right and my blog readers probably would be interested in your product (along with a kajillion other products)–I’m going to blog about your commercial product because, because, why again? :roll:.

Link Exchange Approach #1: Hi I’m Spectacular Person and I’d like to introduce you to my Spectacular Website. I notice your blog ranks for keywords “super spectacular” and that’s just what I’m trying to rank for! Would you link to my Spectacular Blog, and when you do I’ll add your site to my sidebar?

Me: Beat it.

Link Exchange Approach #2: Hi there, I love your blog about office furniture! My blog is about fuzzy bunnies and I’d love to exchange links with you! If you add a link to me, I’ll add a link to you!!!! Here, look at me, I’m even dropping links in your blog comments because I’m so motivated to working something out with you!

Me: Where’s my delete button.

Product Promo Request: Love your blog! I wrote an ebook about Spectacular People, and I noticed that your blog is highly targeted for the same audience as my ebook. I offer an affiliate program paying 50% commissions to affiliates. If you’re interested in promoting my ebook, here’s my affiliate signup page.

Me: You’re right, I do have a crowd of perfectly targeted readers for your product…but…how do I know your ebook is any good? I’d have to buy it first and I wasn’t planning on it. Move along pal. Next.

And then…ever so occasionally…you do happen to get a winner:

Permission to Publish: Hello, I read your blog post “Super Spectacular People” and I’d like to include it in a book I’m writing titled “Spectacular Things”. Please advise what your stipulations would be to use the information and your fee scale. I look forward to hearing back from you.

Me: OMG ARE YOU KIDDING ME–I’M BEING PUBLISHED!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

How I Took Back My Time From Information Overload

Dave left a comment on an earlier post and he pointed to a cartoon Empress uploaded (how cool is that cartoon!) and he asked for my top 10 blog picks.

I’m really tempted to point them out, but I won’t, only because what’s worthwhile to me isn’t necessarily the best choice for others. What I will do though is talk about how I cut back my blog reading to focus that time on cranking out content of my own (for my web properties).

First thing I did was allow myself 5 blogs per topic. Yup. Five blogs max. Category examples:

Earning Online (affiliate marketing, marketing & sales, etc.)
SEO
Blogging

Next I determined what I needed the blogs to provide. For me there are three things:

1 – News and updates
2 – Tools such as plugins, scripts, software, themes, etc., or regularly provides hacks and tips
3 – Consistently makes me think or teaches me something

There are plenty of great blogs, some more popular than others, but when I judged the 400 or so blogs in my feed reader, I discovered that it wouldn’t be so hard to whittle my list down to 5 per category after all. For example:

News & Updates: Many of the top industry blogs that cover news aren’t what I’m looking for at all. My personal taste is grassroots. What’s going on in the forums. What’s going on in the blogosphere. That kind of thing. Only a small number actually do that, some are just too limited and are friend/network focused, the rest are geared for suits.

Tools & Hacks: Surprisingly, I found that many blogs provide a lot of chatter, but not a whole lot of consistent workable knowledge or make-my-life-easier tools & hacks. Lots of theory. Lots of general How To. Lots of repeat, regurgitated info. Whittling down to 5 was a breeze for this area as well.

Think & Learn: Again, lots of fuzzy, basic knowledge and regurgitated info. And not a whole lot of original or get-the-brain-juices-flowing or inspiration to be found. For me and my tastes.

In a nutshell: The blogs I now read and follow regularly have to produce more than hype, more than dry industry news, and actually ADD SOMETHING to my tool box–whether that be keeping me updated in areas I want to keep tabs on, or make my online life easier in some way, or keeps my brain juices flowing.

Here is my blog count for earning online/affiliate marketing/blogging/seo stuff:

Earning Online (4)
SEO (4)
Blogging (3)

For general interest, I have the following categories:

Organize (3) Think “Getting Things Done”
Gossip (5) My guilty pleasure, but soon to be cut
Internet (5) BoingBoing, Slashdot, and a couple personal faves
Politics (2)
Religion (1)

The rest I subscribe to are for research and tracking competition or ideas. Total feeds: I’m down to 62 now. How crazy is that! And nope, I’m not a forum stalker myself and rarely visit any.

In the meantime, I’ve cranked up my own content production for my own blogs and websites by close to 1000% I’m sure. I blog several posts daily as well as continue to improve and develop my websites that are performing on some level.

That’s another thing I’m in the midst of doing – pruning my websites that aren’t fitting or benefitting my overall map. And even though I’m cutting some money sites, my income is a steady trend up. Sweet :).

And even Sweeter: I find myself more focused, less distracted, and generating more results.

ETA: I also found that the blogs I am most drawn to and find most use from are those that are steady & consistent free linkers (not all, but most). So although I may only subscribe to a handful of blogs covering the industry, they’re continuously pointing me to information that’s out there and not locking me in their own little world. That serves my needs perfectly!

Capturing The Attention Of The Masses

You don’t have to be Puff Daddy or Britney Spears or Paris Hilton to get massive amounts of consumer attention, check out this commercial. I laughed til I cried. But I’m tellin ya, I love this dude–and the net’s spreading the word like it’s on fire. This commercial has hit more eyeballs than the Superbowl ones, or will soon I’m sure!

Growing up I’ll never forget this corny tv commercial we’d always see on cable (pulled from the states) for a car sales lot down south (I’m in Canada). North Dakota I think was the location. Anyhow. The CHEESIEST commercials you ever did see. The car lot owner was wearing tights and superman costumes and fake fly through the air with his cape flowing and all that jazz.

Years later as an adult I came across mentions of him in an article (or maybe a book) on sales and marketing. That cheesy car salesman made serious coin and a big wack of car sales due to those commercials ;).

BTW, the dude above and his ‘mini-mall’ hit the Ellen DeGeneres show a few months ago.

Thanks to BoingBoing for the scoop, they’ve got their own mad skillz goin on over there!

Freakonomics – Loved It!

Another book I finished reading recently was Freakonomics, A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of Everything, by Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner. For anyone who loves pushing away the spoon (from spoon feeding attempts or you’re pro-Critical Thinking, whatever term you wish), this book was written just for us! But there is great brain food offered for webmasters too if you wish to apply the info to your online world.

Data. Stats. Demographics. Numbers. All these things can be massaged into giving you clues or answers to questions you have.

Some chapters:

The Klu Klux Klan and Real Estate Agents
What Makes A Perfect Parent?
Drug Dealers Living With Their Moms
Where Have All The Criminals Gone? (Suggests Roe vs. Wade and legalized abortion is the answer)

Freakonomics – page 11

Morality, it could be argued, represents the way that people would like the world to work–whereas economics represents how it actually does work. Economics is above all a science of measurement. It comprises an extraordinarily powerful and flexible set of tools that can reliably assess a thicket of information to determine the effect of any one factor, or even the whole effect. That’s what “the economy” is, after all: a thicket of information about jobs and real estate and banking and investment. But the tools of economics can be just as easily applied to subjects that are more–well, more interesting.

Ultimately, the message of the book is this:

Economics is, at root, the study of incentives: how people get what they want, or need, especially when other people want or need the same thing […and…] An incentive is a bullet, a lever, a key: an often tiny object with astonishing power to change a situation.

A book on economics? B-oring? Not at all, it is so interesting and I found myself zipping through the book–captivated to the core.

How on earth can this be a worthwhile read for a webmaster? Well understanding incentives and how people react to them (in a way you hope or in the opposite direction), and why they react the way they do–that can be pretty mighty information.

At the very least you’ll probably never look at data and stats the same way again. You can check out the blog here: Freakonomics – Blog

BTW, Here’s a hint if you find yourself at a creative standstill…I was struggling for quite awhile a few months ago. Not feeling very inspired, creatively starving, not finding much information that satisfied me or filling that hole that wants real, workable, knock your socks off knowledge. I dropped from approximately 400 blogs I was subscribed to down to 78 (and that includes a good number of blogs I’m tracking for research/clues) then dove into my pile of books waiting to be read.

I’m on fire again ;).

And another hint: Read enough of the right books and you’ll see where some of the pro and maybe not so pro bloggers and big boy gurus are ripping their content ideas from–without book mentions, those sonofaguns lol. But hey, if you’re looking for content ideas, pick up a book and see what happens.

Money for Content And Your Clicks For Free

I brushed off another book from my To Read book pile:

Money for Content and Your Clicks for Free
Turning Web Sites, Blogs, and Podcasts Into Cash
Author: JD Frazer

I think many of you will be interested in it and find it a worthwhile read.

The book isn’t a ‘Get Rich Quick Online’ guru net marketing kinda book, it’s actually quite useful I thought. It’s more for content creators rather than net marketing or affiliate marketing type sites. JD talks a lot about serving ads, being tuned into your site visitors and being aware of what methods will fit them best.

He discusses various things like working with ad agencies and agents, copyrights and protecting your work, dealing with fame, dealing with feedback (both positive and negative), paid memberships, developing online communities (forums) and what to look for and be aware of. It isn’t rocket science and you probably won’t have any big ‘Ah Ha’ moments if you’ve been a web developer for more than a couple years, but the information provided is a solid reference package IMO. I’m glad I bought it and spent the time reading it (it’s a quick and easy read as well).

One of the biggest takeaways I got from the book was looking at the content you create and freely provide as a trade between you and your visitors. You create, you freely provide, they need to give back a bit if they want to continue benefiting from or enjoying the information you crank out. Even if everything was free (the domain, the hosting), the time you spend creating content to be consumed has value to it.

That’s a concept I embraced last year for myself. If you have good visitor counts and the time you spend on a domain isn’t generating a level of response from those visitors (comments, links, ad support, etc.), you have two choices as I see it. Figure out what your visitors are responding to (look at the success stories in your niche) and decide if that’s a direction you want to go in, or move the bulk of your efforts to the domain(s) that are succeeding in generating a visitor response.

If your market is responding to boobies, beers, and rock & roll–are you willing to go down that road? Can you come up with an environment that will trump that with the readership you’re going after? Do you have good reason to (ie. is it a worthwhile focus for your overall goals)?

Here’s JD’s ‘contract’, he’s a cartoonist and his website provides an original daily cartoon:
*(found on page 150)

  • I will provide one cartoon a day, every day, 365 days a year (366 on leap years).
  • I will always be the author of the daily cartoon. I will not feature guest cartoonists to fill in for an absence.
  • I will not use the daily cartoon as a promotion vehicle for $CORPORATION. What goes in the daily cartoon is limited to the story I wish to tell. Any products or services within the daily cartoon exist solely for the sake of the story.
  • I understand that making a living from this is a privilege, not a right.
  • I will strive only to run ads that are relevant to the audience.
  • I will not gate off the cartoon to paying members only. I understand that not everyone has money to spend and that they can contribute in ways other than with cash.
  • I will always remain within the boundaries of ethical behavior and will let my conscience be my guide.

In return, I hope:

  • You will respect my intellectual property and acknowledge my sole right to determine how it will be used and distributed.
  • You understand that content is not actually “free”; someone has to put their time, money, and/or effort into creating and distributing it.
  • You will support me and the other independent creators whose work you enjoy through the purchase of memberships, visiting our advertisers, or even just by spreading the word and letting us now you like what we do.
  • You will not use an ad blocker, particularly when you can turn the ads off by buying a membership.
  • You will not consume content by Web-scraping or any other unsanctioned means that denies me or any other primary content creator pageviews and, therefore, ad impressions and, therefore, money to help keep their efforts afloat.
  • You understand that you don’t have a right to free content on the Net.
  • You will always remain within the boundaries of ethical behavior and will let your conscience be your guide.

A few things I see here, one is that JD is committed to his visitors. He’s going to give them all he’s got, a steady stream of original work, not bring in hired guns or volunteers to fill slots. He’s going to provide them with steady content (in this case cartoons). He’s not going to rape them for financial gain (sell them out to the highest bidder or whoever waves a buck), he will be considerate with his monetization. He acknowledges that cash support isn’t everything, word of mouth support, feedback, it’s all good and appreciated. And also: he’s not obligated to his visitors to provide a continuous stream of original content if they don’t support it. He’s not entitled, but neither are the visitors.

One of the best, best, BEST things I did for myself online was last fall in my decision (and action) to be cutthroat, ruthless and slice back time spent on web properties that weren’t connecting well with visitors. For whatever reason. Maybe the content sucked. Maybe the content was ‘meh, ok’. Maybe the content had some value, had something to offer–but nothing to dig in and support (in the visitors opinion). Whatever the reason, I learned what I could from that experience, then sliced that time down and re-focused it on creating content in places that were working and that are making a connection.

When you have made a solid connection with visitors, keep feeding and nurturing that success, and it keeps growing. More energy/content creation => More response => More success. If the content production isn’t producing growing response and growing success, there’s a reason (assuming that you do have a visitor base in place).

How do you know you’re connecting with your visitors? Feedback, comments, they’re sharing your site with others, inbound links, ad support, social media encouragement. If they’re not doing those things, your content is probably just ‘meh’. When something’s worthwhile to you or holds value, you respond, give support and maybe have an emotional attachment in some way. You’re happy to share it and respond in a natural way.

One thing I was surprised by: he was the first web success story I’ve come across (at least that I remember) that says Adsense is filler only. There are much better returns found elsewhere.

Overall, I enjoyed the book and am glad I bought it :).