Archive for promoting yourself

30 Jun 2009

Hooked on Phonics– errr… I mean profits

8 Comments promoting yourself

L11048286Do a search for “hooked on phonics” and you’ll see 869,000 results on Google.  If you’re an affiliate pushing this program, you know how much it costs per click on paid search, plus what the payouts are if you promote via Commission Junction or Amazon.com (if you’re not in certain states)– generally 15% or around $20 a sale.  As an affiliate, you’re not allowed to bid on the term “hooked on phonics”, “hooked on fonics”, “hooked on phonix” or related terms– they’re branded terms reserved for the advertiser. So the most popular search is off limits to you if you are just a PPC affiliate.

Incidentally, I think it’s hilarious that so many people who want to learn how to read are misspelling the brand like crazy.  It’s like those people who bought time management books, but never had the time to get around to reading them.

Now consider my friend Keith Wilcox who bought Hooked on Phonics for his kids.  He’s been blogging for 3 weeks now– never blogged before– and his site is now Google PR2 and is starting to rank for commercial terms. The site gets only a few hundred hits a day– but not bad for a site only a month old and with less than 50 posts.

The key point here is that he’s blogging about what he likes and knows a lot about– how to home school kids.  You can see his video, where his 5 year old is reading at the 2nd grade level and is a month away from starting 3rd grade.  The post has 923 words and doesn’t use any formulas for keyword density, page title stuffing, hidden divs, cloaking, or any SEO tricks to get traffic.  Rather, he’s just writing passionately about homeschooling his two children.  I’ll bet you could come up with some ways that he could get more traffic and make more money here.  I’ll list a couple:

  • keithreadingTitle his youtube video: “hooked on phonics: teaching my kids instead of “reading 06292009″.  Also add a description that says something like “Actual lesson with Hooked on Phonics. My 5 year old is reading at the second grade level. I am proud to home school my two boys.”  YouTube is the 4th largest search engine on the planet, based on a recent Google seminar we attended, but there are only 320 videos competing on “hooked on phonics”.
  • Link to the Hooked on Phonics site with your affiliate code: No tracking code, no commission earned.  Name a product you like– odds are there’s an affiliate program for it.
  • Mix up the keywords: Jam in too many reading related terms and it won’t sound natural. googlesuggest_phonics Use Google Suggest and Wonder Wheel to see what the popular terms are.

All this to show that a person who is not an affiliate by any stretch can get traffic from just writing good content and getting a couple good links here and there.

//

Update: He now has a top Daddy Bloggers list, with 115 sites carefully chosen and reviewed.  Already, he is building links from sites that are topically relevant and already trusted by Google.

14 Jun 2009

Facebook Vanity Urls– get yours!

1 Comment facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself, social media

facebook3 million users took their names last Friday in Facebook’s vanity url rush.

But even bigger than that is grabbing the vanity urls for your fan page(s), which opens up June 28th. If you have at least 1,000 fans by May 31st, then you can grab them now.  Likewise, if you’re a journalist or a name brand, you can request their team to do it for you.  We took that liberty for a few of our casual dining clients. It might even help us rank on pest control eventually.

For example, if you’re looking for Send Out Cards, you don’t have to go to some crazy url anymore.  And the Facebook team has smartly 301 redirected the old url to this new one.  The new url is only on the 3rd page of Google organic results, but will climb over time.

Want to SEO your Facebook fan page? I was chatting with one of the Facebook executives, who described how anything you do in traditional SEO applies towards SEO for your Facebook page.

  • Get more friends to fan your page– the link juice will flow. Put up a ton of good content to attract links from inside Facebook and from external sites. Facebook will likely already rank for your name as well as your organization’s name– so link to it from other sites you control.
  • Create a ton of content– Facebook has widgets for music, videos, WordPress blogging, twitter, and everything else imaginable. Tie all these social sites together– not just for SEO reasons, but so that users can connect with you via their favorite method. I don’t use FriendFeed and Plaxo, but there are enough friends that do that I automatically update status there anyway.

Even if you’re not interested in being a social media expert, at least you can have a placeholder to avoid reputation management problems such as that of North Dakota State University Admissions. And don’t just grab your Facebook url, tie it in with stuff like your FriendFeed for Dennis Yu.

19 May 2009

How to ensure your resume goes immediately in the trash

8 Comments people management, promoting yourself

6ac07840-2651-4fb0-80cd-9f65bab9a36fWe get several unsolicited resumes a day. Most go straight into the round file (the trash). I got one today that was so bad that I just had to blog about it, as it has all the classic no-hire reasons:

  • serves as interface between executive management and engineering
  • resume has every technology and language listed you can think of, thus, no skills
  • background in data warehousing and web, a vast wasteland of failed implementations
  • tons marketing speak, “solutions”, “executives”, “synergies”, etc…
  • demonstrates zero understanding of our business, typical of the mass “pray and spray approach”

Here’s his cover letter, which I have left verbatim….

“I am capable of playing a great variety of roles; however my areas of greatest strength lie in guiding technical teams to deliver solutions that truly meet users’ expectations. My experience addresses all aspects of these efforts ranging from working with executive management on strategy and approach to helping developers resolve challenging technical issues and everything in-between.”


Do you remember that scene from “Office Space” where the Bobs ask Tom Smykowski, “So, what would you say you do here?” And the most that the useless Initech employee can come up with is that he brings the requirements to the engineers. When you look at this guy’s resume, it lists this…

Technical proficient with:
PHP, Microsoft IIS & ASP, XML, WebSphere, Java, JSP, JavaScript,
Apache, HTML/DHTML, AJAX, MySQL, Oracle, Teradata, SQL*Server, Oracle
Business Intelligence Suite, Cognos, Business Objects, Brio, Informatica,UNIX and Windows.

…along with every technology and language in the book. That’s called “buzzword bingo”. Yet, he’s not a programmer, based on this:

Senior technical leader, Manager/Consultant/Architect.
Extensive experience leading global teams composed of both technical and functional members of up to forty people working on multiple, concurrent efforts.
16 years of professional experience.

The economy is in the toilet, and so is the quality of candidates that come streaming in. But every once in a while, you find a star, and those folks are especially hard to find among the folks that are likely let go for good reason. The outlook for internet marketing is as hot as ever, and it’s still as hard to find folks, no matter what the economy. What’s your experience in finding good people?

28 Feb 2009

The secret to being liked

2 Comments outdoor activities, promoting yourself

social_network There was once a study where psychologists shown subjects a series of pictures, asking them to rate how attractive the people in the pictures were. Unknown to the subjects, they sometimes saw two of the same person– the difference being that one picture would be digitally manipulated to increase pupil dilation.  The impact?  The picture with the increased pupil dilation would on average receive one point higher in ratings– say, a 7, instead of a 6, out of 10.  The ancient Egyptians knew this two thousand years ago.  Before going out, girls would put eyedropper solution in their eyes to dilate their pupils.

But why does this work?

When you are attracted to someone, your brain instructs your eyes to let in more light– to collect more information on the object you are interested in.  Thus– the law of reciprocity, which is the old Dale Carnegie trick of “How to Lose Friends and Alienate People”.  How can you take the old techniques of remembering people’s names, asking people to talk about themselves, and giving compliments (instead of criticism)– and update that to the year 2009?

I like you

Do I?  Who knows, but there was once a car salesman in the Pacific Northwest who mass mailed prospects and handed out zillions of business cards.  He is allegedly the top car salesman in the US.  The secret?  (No, not “The Secret”, which is a book and movie).  He printed “I like you” on the backs of these cards.  Completely obvious, yes– but effective, nonetheless.  Facebook just released a feature where you can click “I like it” against any activity in your feed.  There is almost no downside to hitting “I like it” to anything that is in your feed as well as anything that a friend posts (within reason).  At the extreme, perhaps you can be accused of a nodding bobblehead or a “yes man”– perhaps a risk if you were to create a script that automatically hit “I like this” for anything you and your friends do on Facebook.  Hint: who wants to write the script and sell it to people on Linkedin?  Insurance and real estate agents would love it, by the way.

Your baby is beautiful and what a delicious meal you made!

Not all babies are beautiful– sorry.  And not every dinner at a friend’s house was the best [insert name of food] that you’ve ever had. But back to the rule of reciprocity, people like folks who like them. So in the world of LinkedIn, you can write a glowing recommendation of someone who you’d actually like to have a recommendation from.   There is a good chance they will reciprocate– provided that your recommendation is authentic and thoughtful.

I’ll invite my 10,000 of my best friends

Yeah, right. Remember the days of MySpace trains, where you could join the train and auto-friend everyone else– then get a million friends overnight?  The same is true with LinkedIn and Facebook– there are people who think that the quantity of friends makes up for lack of any depth with a few key close friends.  “So how many followers do you have on Twitter?”, was a question that came up in last night’s Tweetup in San Francisco.  I happen to have almost a thousand. There are folks who have 30 times that.  Yet the ratio of how many folks you have followed, divided by my how many friends you have is a more accurate measure of your influence. There are guys who have followed 10,000 people, and naturally got 3,000 folks to friend back.  Then they unfollow most of those original people and have a great looking ratio.  It goes back to developing relationships, which can only be done one person at a time.

Too much of any good thing is bad…

There is abuse in any of these tactics– but it doesn’t mean the tactic is not valid.  Overdo it and people will wonder if anything you say is just a veiled attempt at self-promotion.  But as Mark Twain said, “The key to success is to be genuine. Fake that and you’ve got it made!”

25 Jan 2009

The secret to making more money in less time

8 Comments affiliate marketing, finance and economics, local advertising, outdoor activities, people management, promoting yourself, Stand Up for the Little Guy

Another BlitzLocal colleague and I were discussing “leadership” and what that truly meant.  We came up with this analogy, which I hope you’ll enjoy.

Moving rocks for a living? Imagine you move rocks for a living.  The more rocks you move, the more you’re paid.  You don’t move rocks, you don’t get paid.  Thus, you understand the direct linkage between putting in time and compensation.  This is the hourly wage model– some rock movers get paid more than others, whether flipping burgers, working in a big corporation, or drilling teeth. The more teeth you can drill, the more you’re paid.  Are you a corporate wage slave or someone who is paid piecemeal?  This was me for twenty years of my life– a prostitute selling my time for money. Whether I billed $5 per hour or $250– it was the same thing. One day in the proverbial quarry, you decide that moving more rocks to get paid more was not the right answer.  At best, you might move 20% more rocks than the other guy in a particular day, but it wasn’t sustainable.  So you leave the quarry for 7 days, much to the surprise of your fellow laborers. In that time you move no rocks and make no income.

THE SHIFT

But when you come back, you are driving a bulldozer.  Now, in one day you are able to move 100 times what a single laborer can do. But to get that bulldozer, you had to temporarily earn nothing– plus spend money to buy the vehicle and spend time learning how to drive the thing.  Your fellow laborers, noses down, continue to keep moving rocks– they don’t look up to see you in the bulldozer. They have heard about bulldozers in the magazines, but never thought it was something possible for them.

You hang out with the other guys driving bulldozers.  You have newfound wealth, which is fleeting, since the crowd you run with also enjoys the same standard of living.  You’re right back in the middle of your peers.  It feels great to be 100 times more productive than you were before, but you’re not quite fulfilled.

ANOTHER SHIFT

So you leave the quarry again and disappear for 7 days.  In that time you move no rocks and make no income.  And when you return, you are back with 100 bulldozers and 100 other eager new bulldozer operators. You’ve opened a bulldozer training school!  Flocks of manual laborers who used to move rocks now come to be trained by you.  And you make a commission on the rocks they move, since these laborers didn’t have enough money to buy their own bulldozers.  These laborers are now moving 100 times what they did before, but given the costs of training, equipment, and your profit, they only make 10 times what they did before.  Still, they are happy.

And you are temporarily happy.  With 100 bulldozer operators moving 100 times as many rocks as a single man can do, you’re at 10,000 times your earlier productivity.  Your lifestyle has changed, too.  You have have a Granite Card by American Express and have a new mansion in Boulder. People admire you–you’re a ROCK star. They think that the secret to your success is getting stoned.

But it’s not enough– something inside you is not quite satisfied.  You can only train so many new bulldozer operators per day.  You’re still moving rocks in a sense, just mass quantities. Growth in your bulldozer school is directly related to the amount of time you’ve put in.  So one day you close the bulldozer school.  The press thinks you’ve gone mad– that you’ve lost your marble.

SCALE UP AGAIN

You disappear for 7 days.  And when you return, you’re holding a brochure in your hand– “How to Open Your Own Bulldozer Training School”.  You’re created a franchise model, where you are training up other school owners. You have first hand experience in training new bulldozer operators, so new school owners can rely on your experience.  You now have sold 100 franchises, each one with a happy owner training 100 bulldozer operators, who in turn do the work of 100 laborers.  That’s 1 million times leverage.

THE LESSON

You would not have been able to pull this off unless you had personal experience moving rocks, driving bulldozers, training bulldozer operators, and running a franchised business.  You were able to take your knowledge and multiply it.   If you didn’t intimately understand each aspect of the business, scaling up would have just multiplied losses.

Now examine your life and what you do.  Are you moving rocks or are you multiplying? Writing software is a multiplication process.  You can write one copy and sell it an infinite number of times.  You could hand-build a single PPC campaign for a client or perhaps write a campaign management tool that can do it over and over in an automated fashion.  But just like the rock moving analogy, if you aren’t a practitioner with hands-on experience in managing campaigns, your automation won’t be effective.  There are lots of guys selling software that builds websites, manages PPC campaigns, creates SEO reports, sends out emails, and any variety of tasks.

If you want to create massive value, consider the rocks that you are moving. Can you write software or processes that can make life easier for others– or perhaps do some task faster, more effectively, or at lower cost?  Everyone has something they know exceedingly well.  What is that skill for you?  You don’t have to be able to write code.  Software is nothing more than rules for machines, just like processes are rules for humans.

living the McLife? McDonalds is a software company that just happens to make burgers.  People go to McDonalds not because it has the most delicious burgers, but for the consistency of the food and the experience. You can take pimply-faced teens all over the world, minds distracted with their latest relationship dramas, speaking different languages, skilled or not– and still turn out that same value meal each time. That’s process for you.

NOW IT’S YOUR TURN

BlitzLocal is about empowering individuals to become entrepreneurs– we provide the tools and process to allow folks who know little about internet marketing, but are eager and willing to learn, to perform like experts. Our analysts are trained to help small business owners grow their practices.  We’re about the little guy helping the little guy.  Do you want to be a part of our team?  Contact me to find out more.

27 Dec 2008

Confessions of an Affiliate Marketer

15 Comments affiliate marketing, outdoor activities, promoting yourself, social media, Stand Up for the Little Guy

I have to admit– the restaurants, hotel suites, and first class flights are nice.  It’s even nicer to be able to tell folks about it, since you’re getting twice the benefit (enjoying plus telling).  Is there anything wrong with wanting to enjoy the good life?  Does that make me evil or greedy?  Hey, you only live once.

pimp1 And as for showing off, isn’t that part of the game?  Just look at the food pictures that JohnChow.com takes or the lifestyles that other affiliates openly broadcast to the world.  In fact, I think it’s a legitimate business expense. My business as an affiliate marketer and ability to broker deals is largely based on my reputation.  Thus, when folks gossip about my lifestyle, I consider it to be free PR.  And it’s better than paid advertising– it’s more believable.   And why not take friends out to nice places?   You’re building relationships, plus they’ll return the favor to you.

But now that I’ve created a “baller” reputation, I’ve had to strive hard to maintain it, even when I’m broke.  The reason I fly first class now is that I’m afraid of someone seeing me fly coach.  Yeah, the seat is bigger and the food is much better.  But really, if someone who knows me happens to see me in coach, my reputation will be ruined.  They will go and tell everyone.  Plus, I’ll have less to talk about when I’m hanging around other affiliates that I’m trying to impress.  I might even be made fun of or folks might not think that I’m a serious player in business.  They’ll think that I’m just fronting.

The nice thing about affiliate marketing is that I can avoid discussion of what I actually do.  Obviously, because of my lifestyle, I “must” be successful.  But what offers am I running, how do I get that traffic, what’s my payout, do I actually have any true expertise– those questions will remain unanswered.  Of course, I’m not going to tell you– that’s how I make money and I’m not about to broadcast my secrets to the world, you understand?  If I was doing agency-level work, such as had clients, then you could look at the clients I have and evaluate my work and that of my “team”.

But I am a one-man promotional vehicle.  My “team” consists of loose relationships with other affiliate marketers and some contract Indians I once hired on a job board.  I actually have no operating or project management expertise.  In fact, I don’t understand the basic differences between personal and corporate finance– I run them all under my personal bank account, which gets me into trouble with the IRS.  But if you ask me, I will deny any problems.  My ego and image is priority #1.  Everyone else is boasting about their earnings that don’t exist, so this is just part of the game. And was with any game, you do whatever it takes to win.  All is fair in love and war and affiliate marketing.

Maintaining my front is getting increasingly difficult. Bernard Madoff was able to keep it going for 4 years before being found out a couple weeks ago.  Reed Slatkin, one of the other larger Ponzi frauds in history, was able to keep it going for 15 years.  But what you don’t know won’t hurt you.  Like they say– if you got it, flaunt it.  Or as Mark Twain would say, “The secret to success is to be genuine– fake that, and you’ve got it made.”

People, this is the American dream.  We know that Hollywood actors are just pretending and nobody has a problem with that. And nobody thinks twice about how most marketing is just thinly veiled lies about whether that attractive young lady will actually have sex with you holding that particular brand of beer, or whether a certain diet supplement will really make you attractive or increase/decrease a particular body part’s size. Hey– want to lose weight quickly, by the way?

There’s a sucker born every minute, so if it isn’t me selling you those items, it will be someone else. Caveat emptor (or “buyer beware” for those of you who don’t know Latin).  If you’re dumb enough to fall for these marketing tricks, then you deserve to have your money taken from you.  I don’t have time to discuss the difference between ethical and legal.  I follow the Golden Rule– whoever has the gold, makes the rules. Did I mention–there’s money to be made!  I’ll steal from you, too, if you’re dumb enough to be taken.  And what do you call a dumb criminal?  One that gets caught.

Do you know me? Is this you?

21 Oct 2008

technorati

No Comments promoting yourself

I decided to join Technorati today to see how my blog stacks up against the zillion other blogs out there.  I’m not a public figure, nor do I blog much, so I don’t expect much of anything here.  Part of what’s required to join is to verify that you own your blog.  Thus, I am pasting in this code:

Add to Technorati Favorites

I’m competing against my friend, Larby Amirouche, to see who can get a higher ranking in the blogosphere.

18 Aug 2008

When people take Facebook too seriously….

10 Comments facebook marketing and advertising, promoting yourself, social media, Stand Up for the Little Guy

Today I received two “urgent” messages from a Facebook user named Brian Zisk. They are both similar in content and tone, so I’ll just post one of them below.   There is a game on Facebook called “Friends For Sale“.  You buy and sell friends, and in the process are able to give them nicknames, send them virtual gifts, and write on their walls.

For fun, I bought a number of folks and promoted the company that I work at.  I even promoted the affiliate marketing blog of a friend, who was promoted on TechCrunch.  Turns out, this Brian Zisk fellow carried out his threat.  My current status message in this game is now ”I’m the ShitzLocal.com Spammer. Boycott my company!“

For a proponent of the arts and self-expression, it’s surprising to see someone get his panties in a wad over a silly Facebook game.

  

Facebook

to Dennis

show details 11:19 PM (48 minutes ago)
 
Reply
 

Brian sent you a message.

——————–
Subject: Please… Time sensitive…

Dear Dennis Yu,

Please change the message under my name on friends for sale  to something like it was before, or anything non-offensive, but please remove the reference to your company from my listing the next time you log in so I do not have to see the association, or I will buy you on friends for sale and you will most likely not be happy with the text I associate with your name and company.

I am sure this is but a misunderstanding, but do not find it amusing, and would appreciate you removing this irritation ASAP.

Thank you for your attention to this matter.

Brian Zisk

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