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Meme Racking

Meme Rack

Yep, the memes have been racking up for a bit.

It seems I get tagged for one every week. Since I write 5 posts a week, participating in all of them would take up about 20% of my content. That’s a little much. I like participating in them. I also like efficiency.

So I thought I’d save up a few and do them all at once …

1. Being Productive Online

I was tagged by Charity over at Design Adaptions for this one. I think I answered this somewhat with my last post on Getting Things Done. Online … same deal.

2. Eight Random Facts About Me

Robin from Fortune Watch tagged me for the “8 random facts about me” meme. Here’s four:

  • I’m the only person I know that doesn’t own a cell phone. Seriously.
  • The most comfortable shoes I ever bought were a pair of Hawk skate shoes. I bought two pairs. I miss all four of them deeply.
  • When I was 9, our Siamese cat saved me from the Rottweiller down the lane when it got loose one day. Never mess with a Siamese when she’s decided she’s not going to run.
  • The Diving Bell spider lives underwater in a pocket of air that it brings down and traps beneath the web it weaves in the water flora. It’s not a fact about me, but it’s a fact. And it’s pretty cool.

3. If I Could Only Read 5 Blogs

Nate tagged me for this one. This one is really hard. Not because I don’t have 5 favorite blogs but because I really don’t want to leave a lot of other blogs out. Blogging can be amazingly rewarding. Done right, a blog is full of blood, sweat and tears. And if I drop by your blog even occasionally, it’s because you made it worth my time. And well worth it.

  • Smart Wealthy Rich. Jon makes me think. He makes me need to comment on what he writes. He’s also been a huge supporter of Zoomstart. Which compels me to write on the odd day when I don’t want to.
  • Nate Whitehill. Nate’s been another huge supporter of this blog. The beauty of his blog is that he’s a true up-and-coming entrepreneur. He’s not going to tell you how to do stuff that doesn’t work. It’s tried. It’s tested. It’s true.
  • Copyblogger. I don’t read Brian Clark’s blog everyday. But when I need to … I really, really need to.
  • Freelance Switch. Cyan, Jack and Collis have put together a blog of immeasurable success in literally a matter of weeks. And not without good reason. Just read it.
  • Jane May Blogs. This girl is gonna take over the whole freakin’ internet. Watch and see. And learn.

If you’re reading this sentence, you’ve been tagged. It’s now your sworn duty to carry on one of these memes. Or all of them.

Or start one of your own.

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Lost In January. No.

Lost

I’m in a jam. A big, big jam. And as I sit here thinking about it, I realize that nothing short of a full-scale riot can get me out of it.

I guess I better start at the beginning …

I watch about 5 or 6 hours of tv a week (manic, I know). Mostly news, and a little Leno. But one of those hours every week is dedicated to watching Lost. Well, a few days ago Mark Robinson picked up a story that was reported by Kristin Veitch on E! Online. Kristin got the news from her partner Marc Malkin who got it from sources inside ABC.

Still with me?

The news is this: Lost will not be returning in the fall. Instead, after this season concludes, it’s slated to not return again until January 2008.

Now I can deal with this. But the problem is, there’s a certain somebody around here and I’m directly responsible for getting her hooked on Lost. Yes, she’s a Lost junkie. And it’s all my fault.

It’s already been 3 or 4 days since I heard the news and I haven’t told her. And I can hear it now; “How long have you known about this?!!”. You know the answer. Too long. The only thing that’s gonna get me out of this is if Lost is ready to rock and roll come fall.

Here’s What You Can Do

I threw a few ideas together …

  • You can contact ABC and just tell them no. Lost in January. No.
  • Write your own blog post with a link to the Lost website. Maybe a couple million pings will get their attention. Make sure that somewhere in your post you make it clear; Lost in January. No.
  • Tell Shoemoney. Hey, he’s a big dog in the blogging world and an avid Lost fan. Maybe he can pull some strings and get me out of this mess.
  • I found a fan site where you can express some discourse. Check out lost-tv.
  • And last, well, we all know that Kevin Rose loves a good riot. Come on Kevin. Lost in January. No.

I know I got myself into this mess …

Maybe I should just tell her and get it over with.

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Internet Marketing … Go Ahead … Experiment

Experiment

I like to try different things and see what sticks.

Most marketing tactics don’t give you rapid viral results. Those little gems are always found sparingly, and a lot of times “going viral” just happens by chance … you reach a few key influencers and everything rockets up from there. Zoom!

The only way to force a campaign to go viral is to target key influencers with it. That’s easily done if you know them already. If they’re part of your network. Otherwise, like I said, you throw it out there, and hopefully a couple of influencers come across it.

But as long as your costs are not exhorbitant, lots of experimenting is always good. The more you do, the more you see what sticks, and the more influential people you add to your network along the way.

Stumbling

I did a little marketing experiment this week after reading Collis’ Internet marketing post on North x East. I picked 3 of my best posts and threw 50 bucks at them via StumbleUpon.

StumbleUpon has a really nice and easy advertising model. For 5 cents a click, 50 bucks will bring you 1000 people. And maybe more … I’ve had over 1200 of you swing by from Stumble Upon so far, and although the results didn’t match the “viralosity” that Collis achieved, I’m very happy with them.

The Results Of The Stumble

Increased daily traffic. Up about a 20% since the beginning of the week.
Increased RSS subscribers. Up 10% and growing.

It’s also given Zoomstart some exposure to a wider audience. I think the benefits of that are longer term which is what I like to see; strong, steady growth.

The Technorati Faves Train

What a crazy, brilliant idea.

Dosh Dosh built the train. Mr. Gary Lee fired up his own engine with coal and sent her on her way. And Nate Whitehill was kind enough to buy me a ticket.

I didn’t jump on board because I wasn’t sure it was my thing. And I was pretty busy writing other posts because my main focus is to write stuff that’s fit to be a Post of the Week.

The Results Of Missing The Train

Technorati Faves. It took me for a ride anyway. Faves have Jumped from 5 to over 50 and still climbing. This is something I’m going to pay regular attention to in the future. Want to get my attention? Add Zoomstart to your Technorati Faves.

Although Gary reports that he hasn’t seen a huge increase in traffic, I see this as something that adds more long term value as well. Potentially a lot of value. It’s just a matter of some key influencers coming across his status on the Technorati top faves list and loving his content.

Always Experiment With Your Marketing

One of the things I’ve wanted to do is add some free downloadables to Zoomstart. It’s something that I know works. So my first Ebook is something I’ll be working on over the next few weeks and I thank all of you for your input. It’s been invaluable.

Whether the Ebook goes viral or not, is not a concern. It’s one of many fronts to wage a campaign on and a diverse investment in different marketing strategies always works the best.

Experiment. Try something tried. And try something not yet tried.

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An Ebook Marketing Study

Survey

Since I first started Zoomstart I’ve thought of a number of things I’d like to do to add some value to the site.

I’ve had some great success in the past with free downloadable resources. A flash measurement converter I put together was picked up by an Italian PC magazine. And I recently got an email from someone at the Fermilab National Accelerator Laboratory regarding it.

I hope my converter calculations are all in line. Wouldn’t want to be known as the guy who was responsible for blowing up the Galaxy!

The Ebook Marketing Study

As a free downloadable, I’ve decided to put together a short little free Ebook over the next few weeks. Now, I know I can’t write 100 pages, but I can write 1. And I can even write 10 or 20.

But on what?

A key part of every business plan is asking the market (that’s you guys) what people want. Find a need or a desire and fill it. Simple. A lot of companies don’t do this. They simply have an idea that THEY think is brilliant and unleash it on the rest of the world.

If the rest of the world doesn’t think it’s brilliant, the company packs up its tent and goes home. So, even though I have a few ideas on what the Ebook should be about, it only makes sense to ask all of you, “what do you think?”

So, What Do You Think?

First off, I have to rule out a few topics. I’m not going to write an Ebook on Afrcian body art. It’s kinda cool. It’s just not my strong suit. It has to be on business or money, and for now I’m staying away from the old “make money online” stuff that a lot of people are writing about.

Here are some of my ideas:

  • Branding
  • How to manage your money
  • Property staging
  • Beginning swing trading
  • Sex, drugs and fear. And how they sell

If you like one of these ideas, leave a comment. Make a case for your pick. And of course, I welcome all your ideas on other subjects that fit in with the mix I’ve listed.

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5 Steps To Becoming A Blogging Warrior

Warrior

I thought I’d do some blogging about blogging.

I sat staring at the screen for a few minutes. And nothing happened. Zip. Zilch. Nada. I got nothing. The problem: I really didn’t know what to write about. I needed an angle. Maybe I needed to appreciate my readers? Maybe I needed to talk about my WordPress plugins?

I pondered a few things. Maybe my body needs Carbs. Maybe I’m not a Renaissance blogger. Maybe I need to increase automation and just upload a thesaurus.

Maybe I just needed to write. Something. Anything.

And then I realized I was.

Step 1: Write

But don’t just write, write what you know. Write what you have a passion for. If you can talk endlessly about Star Trek’s “The Trouble with Tribbles” episode, then that’s what you write about. You might not have a huge audience, but you’re writing. And that’s the key. Practice makes you better.

David Usher gets up with the birds every morning and writes. He’s brilliant. That’s why. Frank Miller … same thing. He writes. And writes and writes.

Write.

I get some amazing accolades from people for what I’ve been writing here on Zoomstart. And you guys have no idea how much that means to me. Somewhere around here are 2 or 3 half finished screenplays, and a binder full of comics ideas. A lot of the business stuff that I write about comes from ideas I jotted down for a business book that I wanted to write, titled oddly enough, Zoomstart.

I came to the realization that I can’t write 100 or 200 pages. Of anything. Can’t do it. But I can write one page at a time. I love it. This fits. It’s me. If all you can do is write a word or a paragraph, then that’s what you write.

And when the time is right, you’ll be read (red).

Step 2: Network

I’ve been writing Zoomstart for about 3 months. And I’ve been doing it with no search engine traffic (google just indexed the site last week) and no previous online network to kick things off. All my traffic has come from going out and leaving my 2 cents on other peoples blogs. Sometimes I leave 3 cents.

In the last 3 weeks, my RSS subscribers and daily unique visitors have both doubled. People are linking here and dropping by to comment regularly. And some amazing things have happened; Conversation. And inspiration.

To talk effectively, you have to listen. To write, you have to read. To build a network, you have to do both. People won’t come just because you built it. But if you go out and take the time to just say “hey”, or you contribute to the conversation without asking for anything in return, they will.

And if you’ve put some effort into step one, they’ll come back. And they’ll bring other people with them.

Step 3: There Is No Step 3

You’re probably on to me by now … there is no step 4 or 5 either.

Sure, there are other things that are important if you want to be a blogging warrior. Things like SEO, branding your blog, ad optimization. All sorts of things.

As long as you write and network, all that stuff will fall into place along the way. If you don’t write, and you don’t network, then none of that other stuff really matters.

Write. Network. It’s tried and tested. It works.

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Getting Creative Fuel

Creative GalleryExercise your brain.

It’s easy to get burned out if you do the same thing the same way at the same time every same day of the week. But that’s the beauty of the internet. It’s endless. And it’s full of endless ideas, large and small, that can all throw a little fuel on your creative fire when you need it.

And even if you don’t need it, it’s good to exercise your brain anyway. So here are a few things to go check out:

Rob Watts over at Yack Yack wants you to ask yourself “What’s my tumbleweed ratio?“. He’s even going to put together a WordPress plugin that figures it out for you. For now, exercise your brain and do the math.

Everybody has dropped something in the toilet at one point or another. It’s at that moment you have decide; flush or fish? But what if it’s your iPod? Mark Robinson explores the science of iPod retrieval. I don’t know why this wasn’t in the Worst-Case-Scenario survival guide.

Ever just want to punk somebody? How about punking everybody? It happened, and Dave Zatz reveals all. Now zatz funny!

If all else fails you can step into the world of Q. No, not the weird guy from Star Trek. I’m talking about Ms Q (miscue?). Take a ride through her fantasy world and then remember … even though you’re not 10 anymore, you still have a brain.

Exercise it.

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Branding Your Blog. Does Your Blog Have A Greeter?

Smiley GreeterWhether you’re blogging for love or money, ultimately you want people to read what you write and you want your readership to grow. To help build your readership you need to be memorable. You have to build a brand.

And that brand is you. Yes, you.

There are a number of elements that go into building your blog brand. Here are a few:

  • Your blog theme. If you can’t code or afford a custom theme for your blog, try to choose a theme that’s maybe a little less used than some of the ones that you see everywhere. You can’t stand out if you look like everybody else. Another thing you can do is change the color scheme of the theme you’re using and use your own custom picture in the header which is a good start. Then you can work on changing the whole look of the theme over time.
  • Your topics. What are you writing about? This is a critical component of your blog brand. Content is king if you want readers to come and to come back. You can write about whatever is popular or you can write about what you know and are interested in. Go with the latter. Blog writing takes time and effort. If you’re jazzed about the things you’re writing about and you know something about the topic, that time and effort is reduced drastically. It’s easier. And your readers are going to pick up on your enthusiasm and enjoy reading the stuff you write.
  • You. The first thing that people want to know when they read something they really like is ‘Who is this? Who wrote this? What’s this person all about?’ Put some time and effort into your ‘About’ page. And put up a picture. When people can attach a face and a personality to a brand, it helps cement the bond and makes a more human connection. You need to greet the people that come to your blog, and since they can’t just walk up and say hello, your bio and your picture has to do that for you.

The Zoomstart Greeter

I finally got around to putting my ugly mug on the about page. It might be stronger branding to put yourself in the header or the sidebar of your blog, but the about page works. Some people are shy and they don’t want to be known or seen. They just want to write their blog in anonymity. That’s fine, but it doesn’t help your brand. You have to be bold to build something big.

Feel free to rip my pic off the site and give me a Photoshop mohawk or whatever. Post it on your blog with a link to Zoomstart and if I’m amused enough, I just might link back to you!

Some Good About Pages

Here are some good about pages to check out to help you build your own:

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Smart Topics Around The Web

ClickOn business, the net and whatever, here are some posts around the web I enjoyed in the last couple days. They’re worth checking out …

Garr Reynolds has a post with great tips for increasing the signal and reducing the noise of your powerpoint presentations at Presentation Zen. The before and after pics really illustrate the difference between a great pp slide and noise.

Steve Roesler talks about turning your weaknesses into strengths by asking yourself “What is it you can’t not do”? The next question you should be asking is “How can I not make money if I do what I can’t not do”?

Mitchell Harper presents some tips for adding a forum to your blog. I got an email a couple weeks ago that sparked a big idea for future development. In the meantime I need to learn everything I can about forums.

Mark Shead provides some helpful links to help you deal with email overload. I always love it when people have to “deal” with a technology that’s supposed to make life easier. Fight back! Don’t be a slave to your email.

Bes Zain helps you with your verbal judo. Go. Become wise grasshopper.

Scrivs weighs in on blogging by the second with Twitter. A blog post or three a day just isn’t enough if you want to be famous for being famous.

And Jonathan Phillips at Smart Wealthy Rich will help you rediscover communication. Real communication. Just in case you don’t want to be famous for being famous.

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Floating Through Cyberspace

Canon Pixma ip1700 Photo PrinterThe last few weeks I’ve been floating through cyberspace and visiting many different blogs. It’s amazing how much great stuff people are writing and how many new insights I’ve gotten on a lot of things.

So I started compiling a list of bookmarks of blogs that I want to check in on regularly. At the rate I’m finding great stuff, I’m going to have to pick an RSS system soon so I can subscribe to some of these sites.

Since I enjoy finding blogs though other blogs I thought I’d share some links to posts from people who have come across Zoomstart and taken the time to leave a comment. Yep, all five of them! (plus an email)

Network, And Get A Chance To Win A Color Photo Printer

I got an email from Broc at Existential Ventures. He’s holding a contest to give away a Canon Pixma iP1700 Photo Printer. All you have to do to enter the draw is join his MyBlogLog community. Check it out, join, and do some networking. It’s a win-win situation.

Great Pages From Zoomstart Commenters

I’d say check out Willy Rocker, but Willy didn’t leave a URL. I’m starting to get the sneaking suspicion that Willy Rocker is not even his real name … dya’ think? Thanks for commenting WR. I’m glad you liked the post.

Need career help? The must-check-out site is Career Ramblings. Jane and John will help you get on the right track with experienced advice and discussion. I’ve got a couple of posts planned on business negotiation in the near future. To help you negotiate with your employer, check out Career Ramblings.

Okay, Aniela’s Style Tips 101 isn’t on my must-read list. But it should be if you’re a girl. And come to think of it, if you’re looking for a great gift for your girl … hmm, maybe I should get edumacated on yummy fragrances.

Derrich recently finished holding the 2007 Bloggers Tournament. He pitted some top bloggers against smaller bloggers with a reader voting system. It was a great idea for promoting his blog. Go see who won. Was it the mighty and powerful, or was it the underdog?

I really liked Gregg’s post about The World. The World is a world class artificial island development currently under construction off the coast of Dubai. Very cool. You have to see it to believe it. Check it out.

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How Search Engines Implode; The Portal Trap

Search Engine Portal TrapBlame it on Wall Street. Blame it on evolution. Popularity. Blame it on whatever you want. Sooner or later every search engine stops being a search engine and becomes a portal. And then it dies.

Remember when Yahoo was THE search engine on the internet? No longer. Remember Infoseek? Gone. Could the same thing happen to Google? Sure.

Search Engine Supernova

Here’s how search engines implode:

Step 1: Be a great search engine. Get popular. Make lots of money.

Step 2: Give more to the world. Develop all sorts of great new features. Cut deals with the biggest players out there to provide news, weather, sports, politics, finance, on and on and on.

Step 3: Take step 2 and put it all on your homepage.

Search Engines Vs Portals

Check this Alexa snapshot:

Search Engine Stats

Question: Now we all know that Alexa data is not perfect but how could all three of these major search engines have similar traffic levels, and yet Google can drive 10 times the amount of traffic to your website as the other two?

Answer: Yahoo and MSN are portals first and search engines second. Their homepages are full of links that help drive traffic to themselves and to the people they have deals with. Not to the rest of the web.

Go to Google. What do you see? A search engine. With one purpose; to help you find me or whatever it is you need to find on the whole entire web. But Google is growing and when Matt Cutts talks about the next generation of search, part of me thinks “cool”. And part of me thinks “Supernova”.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s for love or money. The need and the want to continue to develop cool new stuff for your users is so overwhelmingly powerful that every great SE eventually becomes a portal. And then people move on to go find a search engine.

In the Alexa graph, you can see the rise of Live. When you do a search on MSN, Microsoft takes you to Live. Hey, it’s a search engine! Sort of. Live gives you the ability to customize your own home page. They offer you a bunch of THEIR stuff, and they let you put on feeds and stuff from elsewhere on the net. Yahoo and Google both do this too. But Yahoo starts as a portal as soon as you get there. The search bar has become increasingly obscured and their stuff is more in the forefront.

The Portal Trap

When a search engine starts becoming a portal they make a lot of money and they retain traffic. When people just want an SE, they leave. The portal starts making less money and they scramble to put more and more crap on the homepage and highlight it over the search bar. Which is why people are leaving in the first place. It becomes a downward spiral.

This happens because all the little guys who want traffic will talk about whoever sends them traffic and get the buzz going grass roots style.

Search engines have to make it easier for people to find the rest of the web, not just a few select players. Will the “build your own portal” model be better than the “ready-made portal” one?

Probably. But other temptations lie in the road.

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