May 4, 2010

April 25, 2010
Tumblweed

Tumblweed is a desktop client for the wonderful Tumblr service which allows users to view posts and create new ones from their desktop. Tumblweed supports most features on Tumblr as well as allowing photos posts from webcams, clipboards, or drag-and-dropping. It works on both Windows and Mac.

April 25, 2010
When Tumblr Is Down

When Tumblr Is Down ………………..

April 20, 2010
Creative Imagination

Creative imagination is more than just active imagination. To be able to actively imagine things, to see and hear things in one’s mind, is an important ability. It doesn’t have to involve much creativity, though, does it? Daydreaming, for example, is a process of imagination. It can consist of an elaborate fantasy world, but one full of all the things that many people think about.

Creative imagination, then, has to include the ability not just to imagine things, but to imagine original things. It is seeing things that others don’t see, and coming up with new ideas. So how do you cultivate this?

Creative Imagination 101

First, exercise your basic imagination. It can be as simple as thinking in pictures more, or listening to music in your mind. Play little “movies” in your mind, until you can watch them on command. This is a simple process, but for those of us that can’t easily do it naturally, it can take a lot of practice. Fortunately, it is not an unpleasant activity.

The second part of developing your creative imagination is to get more creative in your thinking and imagining. Start by paying attention to your creativity. Our subconscious minds give us more of what we pay attention to. Ignore creative aspects of your life, and you’re telling your subconscious they are unimportant. On the other hand, if you note when you’re creative, your subconscious mind will start feeding you more creative ideas.

Different surroundings can also encourage your creativity. Want more creativity in your love life? Hike up a mountain with your partner. Do you write? Try sitting on a roof to write. Want new ideas for your business? Take a notebook to the park and sit by the duck pond. A change of environment can get your thinking out of it’s ruts.

You can play games that exercise your creative imagination. One such game uses a technique called “concept combination.” Alone or with other players, you combine random concepts or things in new ways, to see who has the best idea. A thermometer and a billboard, for example, could generate an idea for a sign that checks the weather and adjusts the message accordingly (“Come in out of the heat for a cold beverage,” or “Come in out of the rain and warm up with our gourmet coffee.”).

Don’t Wait For Creative Imagination

Creative inspiration certainly can strike at any time, but it strikes more often when there is work instead of waiting. So if you want to come up with creative inventions, start mentally redesigning everything you see. Imagine a better bicycle, a faster mail service, or a better chair. Continue this for three weeks, and it will become a habit.

Of course, creative imagination goes beyond solving specific problems or inventing things. Truly creative minds are always coming up with the questions too, not just the solutions. If you want to be more creative all the time, focus on three things:

1. Changing your perspective. A child might think that working just to not work (to retire) is silly. Thinking from that perspective might give you ideas for how to make money doing things you enjoy. Seeing the world as a bear sees it might give a painter imaginative new ideas. Looking at things from a customer’s perspective is a sure way to find creative improvements for a business. See everything from several perspectives.

2. Challenging your assumptions. What if restaurants didn’t have employees? Visitors pay a machine as they enter, feed themselves at a buffet, and everything is as automated as possible, so one owner-operator could run a large restaurant alone. Challenge all your assumptions for practice. Do you really have to pay rent? Do swimming pools need water? Can exercise be a bad thing?

3. Let your ideas run wild. Does a flying bed seem silly? It could lead to the concept of a helium mattress. When you get off it in the morning, it floats out of the way, up to the ceiling. Perfect for small apartments. Don’t stifle your creativity. Relax, and let ideas come. You can always discard them later.

For these techniques to be a habitual part of your thinking, use them regularly. Since it takes several weeks to develop a habit, remind yourself to use them each day. Jot a few of your favorite techniques on a card and carry it with you. Look it over throughout the day and apply the techniques to anything. Soon, you’ll have a more creative imagination.

April 20, 2010
The Business of Publishing

Congratulations, you’re published! But what exactly does it mean to be “published”? Besides the fact that your work is finally in print and your college alumni has asked to interview you for their newsletter it also means fame and fortune, right? Well, ok, maybe not on the level of J. K. Rowling, but at the very least you can expect a call from Oprah, right? I hate to be the one to break it to you but you’re probably not even on her radar screen. The truth about publishing is really stranger than fiction and the truth is: getting published is only half the battle. The other half is to keep your reality check in balance so it doesn’t bounce.

While publishing is all about creative expression, it’s also about business and it’s those business savvy authors who will succeed in the end. Now you don’t have to be an MBA to be a keen business person, you simply have to understand that the choices you make relative to your books future should be based on strategies that will enhance sales not just drain your pocketbook. So, how do you do this? First, take a long, hard look at your reader.

At Author Marketing Experts, we always create a reader profile for each book we promote. This reader profile will tell us where to find buyers for the books we represent. Taking this first step helps us sort through our choices when it comes to book promotion and make decisions on behalf of our authors that are sound and will help leverage sales.
There are times when it’s a waste of resources to do a nationwide radio or TV promotion. In fact, some of our programs don’t include any outreach to broadcast media. Why? Because as alluring as it might seem to appear on the Today Show, what’s the point if your audience doesn’t watch morning TV? And, if your audience isn’t watching this show, the chances are slim they’ll even consider you anyway. What? More rejection? Who needs it!

As you embark on or continue your campaign, ask yourself a few tough questions. First, what’s your ultimate goal for this book? If it’s just to give away at family reunions, that’s great! But then you’ll probably want to nix any marketing. If your book is an arm of your business and you have speaking engagements lined up through the end of the year. You probably don’t need to spend a lot on marketing since most of your sales will come from your speaking engagements (i.e. back of the room sales). On the other hand, if you wrote this book to grow your business or to leverage your credibility then you will probably want to dial yourself into your industry through enhanced media exposure.

For fiction authors this area becomes a little tricky. First, you need to determine your long term goals. By long term we mean: do you want to stay in this business or was this book just “something you wanted to do.” If it’s a hobby, then treat it as such but if this is going to be your career, then you need to keep your message out there on a continual basis, through venues such as author events, talks, signings, print and broadcast media.

Make sure the choices you make, make sense for your book and aren’t just made because you’ve always dreamt of being on Oprah. I’ve known authors lured into inappropriate marketing plans by big, flashy names and promises of stardom, wasting thousands of valuable marketing dollars and heading in a direction that wasn’t right for them. If you’re serious about your work, ready to let go of your muse and face the task at hand with some business savvy, then you’re really ready to get published. Below are some guidelines that will help further your success!

1) Reader profile: create one of these at the beginning of your marketing campaign and keep refining it as you move through the process. Refine and redefine who and where your audience is and how to get to them.

2) Time commitment: determine what you can and can’t reasonably do. If you have a full time job it probably doesn’t make a lot of sense to commit yourself to forty hours of marketing a week unless your boss is on vacation.

3) Investment: how much are you willing to invest in your future? Are you willing to invest money without seeing much in return knowing that you are building a foundation or do you want to see immediate monetary results? Most authors don’t see a return on their investment for a year or more. Are you committed enough to yourself or your project to keep this investment going?

4) Reality check: what’s realistic for the industry you’re in? Are you latching onto a fad or something with more longevity? Are you getting into a brand new market that will require lots of reader education? Or are you trying to go mainstream with a non-mainstream topic? While this is an admirable goal, it can be like swimming upstream.

5) Budget: while we encourage authors to invest in their future, we’ve also seen a number of people go into heavy debt, quit their jobs and even sell their homes just to promote their book. While that kind of dedication is certainly admirable, remember that although you have the potential to make a great deal of money it’s not going to be overnight. The lure here is of course that “If I stick with it, this next sale will make me famous.” Well, maybe or maybe not. If you’ve been plugging away for a while without any significant success get a professional to give you some honest, constructive feedback about your plan, your market, and your book. It might be that a poorly designed cover is the reason you’re not making sales, or a topic that’s fallen off of the public’s radar screen. In the meantime as you’re waiting to hit the big time you’ll still need a place to sleep and Uncle Vinnie’s couch will get old real quick.

6) Burnout: we hear this term often, even to the point of being overused. What we’re really talking about here is author burnout. We’ve found that the average author only markets their book for ninety days. That means ninety days of day and night marketing, radio interviews at 3am and a book signing every weekend. On day ninety-one they are so tired, so discouraged and so broke they quit. You can avoid this by giving yourself realistic goals and a realistic timeframe in which to complete them. There’s nothing in the world like seeing your book in print. If approached realistically, objectively and with sound business sense, it can be one of the most exciting times in your life.

April 20, 2010
Search Engine Optimization And Why You need It

The web is a cut throat business. You have to arm yourself with the proper know-how and the tools to make your site a cut above the rest. Each day, more and more sites are clambering to optimize their rankings in websites and if you lose your guard, you may just get trampled on and be left in the abyss filled with so many failed e-commerce sites.

Search Engine Optimization or SEO is a term widely used today by many websites. For the past few years and the next ten years or so, search engines would be the most widely used internet tool to find the sites that they need to go to or the product or information they need.

Most people that use search engines use only the ten top search results in the first page. Making it to the first page, more so to the top three is a barometer of a sites success in search engine optimization. You will get a higher ratio of probability in being clicked on when you rank high. The more traffic for your site, the more business you rake in.

But, it is essential to grab a hold of that spot or make your ranking even better. As I aforementioned, each day is a new day for all e-commerce sites to make them selves rank higher using search engine optimization. It is imperative to make your site better and better everyday.

So just what is search engine optimization and do you have to use it? The answer to why you have to use it is an easy one. You need search engine optimization to be number one, or maybe at least make your site income generating.

With search engine optimization you can get the benefit of generating a high traffic volume. Let’s just say you get only a turn out of successful sales with 10 to 20 percent of your traffic. If you get a hundred hits or more a day, you get a good turn out of sales already. If you get only twenty to ten hits a day, you only get one or two if not any at all.

So once again, what is search engine optimization? Search engine optimization is utilizing tools and methods in making your site top ranking in the results of search engines. Getting yourself in the first page and better yet in the top half of the page will ensure that your site will generate public awareness of your site’s existence and subsequently generate more traffic, traffic that could lead to potential income and business.

Search engine optimization requires a lot of work to be fully realized. There are many aspects you have to change in your site or add as well to get search engine optimization. These will include getting lots of information about the keyword phrases that are popular in regards to your sites niche or theme.

You may also need to rewrite your sites contents so that you could get the right keyword phrases in your site without making it too commercial but light and informative. There are certain rules and guidelines to be followed with making your site’s content applicable and conducive to search engine optimization.

You will also need to collaborate with many other sites so that you could get link exchanges and page transfers. The more inbound and outbound traffics generated by sites among others are one of the components search engines uses to rank sites.

Try to search the internet for many useful help. Tips, guidelines and methods for search engine optimization are plenty to be found. Read many articles that can help you optimize your site in search engine results. The more knowledge and information you gather the better. This will all help you in getting those high rankings. This may require a little time and effort in your part but the benefits will be astounding.

If you can part with some money, there are many sites in the internet that can help you in search engine optimization. There are many sites that help in tracking keyword phrases that can help your site. There are also some content writers that have lots of experience in making good keyword laden content for your sites that have good quality.

April 20, 2010
Social Bookmark Traffic - Is It Useful?

In the very recent past, a friend of mine [Kate] was lucky enough to get her website listed (bookmarked) on Digg, a very popular social bookmark site. With her permission, I was given an excellent chance to overlook and analyze the traffic generated from these types of sites. Read on to discover the pro’s and con’s of social media site traffic, and how it could be utilised in your own website or online marketing efforts.

Firstly, it should be said that any sort of internet traffic, should not be considered useless. Visitors to your site should all be welcomed, as any visitor is a good thing. In saying that, however, it should be noted that traffic in all its greatness, is not created equally. Great differences become apparent when you start to analyze its source. The purpose of this article, is to take a much closer look at the traffic generated from social bookmarking, from the perspective of internet marketing.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past 2 years, you’d notice a very big trend on the web—social bookmark and media websites have become “all that” on the web. Slashdot, Stumbleupon, Digg; any of these popular sites sound familiar?

This is where a lot of social bookmark traffic will originate from. In essence, these sites are driven and “controlled” by the users. Users or members choose which content they want to bookmark, and this will lead into viewing and discussing of said bookmarked content. Sites such as these are immensely popular, and flow traffic that the average website owner can only ever imagine having. Thats a lot of traffic, isn’t it? But is it really useful?

All this traffic and hype must be a good thing, right? But is it really worth your time? Should you integrate active promotion to these types of social media websites? What about concentrating all your online marketing strategies on these types of sites? The question more at point is, what are the real pro’s and con’s of getting your website listed on the front page of sites like Stumbleupon or Digg?

As a website owner myself, I wanted answers, and I wanted them quickly. In addition, I wondered if utilising these sites could benefit me; i.e, could they help me generate more income online?

Recently, my friends listing on Digg enabled me to have a upclose look at these sites, and the effects they brought to a website owner. This was a chance for a first-hand, upclose study; I was not about to pass this up.

However, this didn’t happen by chance. Kate took the action of placing the free “Addthis.com” bookmark to all her pages. You can also do this quite easily. Using this simple bookmark “button”, you can start to attract these sites. However, be warned; a site featured on the front page of social media sites can almost instantly generate 100,000’s of visitors to your website; this in essence is enough traffic that it may overload your server. Not good!

So be careful; active promotion to these social bookmark sites should only be taken upon if your servers or web hosting company can withstand the sudden influx of traffic.

With Kate’s permission, I utilised Google Analytics and started to analyze these types of visitors and social bookmark traffic generated. Interestingly enough, some very important factors were realised. The Majority of this traffic will:

- Simply bounce back.
- Very few visitors will stay on your site; even for a short period of time.
- Very few visitors will actually go into the depths of your site.
- If you have a newsletter or similar, you’ll notice that very few sign-up for these.
- If you utilise any type of marketing follow-ups, etc, very few will enter.

(In saying this, an unknown variable is the content of your site. Is it well written? Does it perform well? Is it useful or attractive to the visitor?)

Traffic from these sites does pose a very common problem, however; its temporary traffic, to say the least. The mass amount of traffic generated will usually only last a few days at most, that is, until your listing or bookmark is removed from the front page. Most of these visitors will rarely remain on your website for long, and the majority leave within seconds. In saying that, you may have a few sign-up’s to your newsletter or Ezine, or visitors that explore your site. But keep in mind, this number will not be very high.

Social media site traffic can be likened to customers in the drive-thru sections of fast food restaurants; they come and go as quick as they came. The visitors will basically view your content, and before you know it, have already left, surfing back to the main site to venture onto the next item or listing. Social bookmark traffic will always behave differently, to a large extent, when compared to organic search engine traffic, or your newsletter traffic, for instance. Very differently.

Visitors from Kate’s article posts will generally add up to 50 to a 100 new sign-ups a day; much different when compared to social bookmark traffic. In addition, readers and visitors to her articles are actually interested in her content, and therefore have been previously exposed to similiar content upon reaching her website. So in this case, there was no comparison.

The choice of traffic will always lay in the visitors generated from search engines, atleast when comparing to the traffic from social bookmarking sites. A question still remains, however— is social bookmark traffic really all that useless?

Firstly, as previously mentioned, you need to remember that no traffic should be considered useless. Any type of visitor to your website should be counted as a good thing. Any website owner should realise that getting traffic and visitors to your website is a must; otherwise its game over.

When someone searches for a particular term in a search engine, and they end up at your website, this means that your visitor is there because you have what they’re looking for. This type of traffic is essential to your website. Visitors like these are considered to be “targeted traffic”; that is, they’re more likely to read your pitch-page, overlook your information, sign-up to a newsletter, or even buy a product. Additionally, they may also become repeat visitors. Traffic like this is ideal. These are the types of visitors you really want.

However, its not all bad news. Social media or bookmark sites do have a bright side.

How would you like the possibility of your website gaining exposure to millions of people? Sounds good, doesn’t it? Even though you may not get sales, for instance, this traffic can assist in getting your websites name out there; branding it, creating a buzz.

If your website appeals to a more mass market, then you are even more in luck. Social bookmark traffic in this case can be an excellent source of traffic and visitors.

Social sites such as these also have another added bonus; gaining a link on high PR7 and PR8 websites, with high traffic flow, can’t hurt your search engine rankings. After your website is featured on a social media site such as Digg, your link can also appear on a large number of secondary websites on the web, as much as 1000 or more. Much of this traffic will also be using the Firefox web browser, which is embedded with the Alexa toolbar— what does this do for you? Your Alexa traffic rank will be improved. As much as 50% of the visitors hitting Kate’s website we’re running the Firefox browser.

Something worth pointing out, is that the traffic generated from Stumbleupon was much different. Longer stay durations were the common thing in this traffic, that is, this traffic behaved more like organic traffic. This could possibly be attributed to the fact that Stumbleupon is a higher quality site, and this was reflected from the higher quality of the visitors originating from there. This also made me come to the realisation that not all social media/bookmark traffic can be measured with the same stick. This experience also pointed me out to something important; the content featured on Kate’s website is geared towards targeted visitors from search engines and articles, and is generally not suited to the mainstream net-surfer.

An idea to better take advantage of this type of traffic, is to gear your website and its content to more mainstream internet users. Whether or not this enables you to achieve a greater level of success, is largely dependant on what you offer and how it is offered. Another unknown variable, unfortunately.

In the near future, I hope to gain the chance to further study social bookmark traffic, and its long-term effects on websites. In specific, the effect it would have on keyword rankings and link popularity rankings in search engines; only then can I come to any type of real judgements. However, for now, my mind is being kept open, and the idea is being tossed up as to whether social media and bookmark traffic is actually worth the time or the effort. Is the time taken away from your usual day-to-day marketing efforts worth it?

Guess there is only one way to find out, really.

February 20, 2010