Showing posts with label Strategy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Strategy. Show all posts

Monday, January 23, 2012

If not you, who will force publishing companies to change?

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="LOUD speaker by woodleywonderworks"]LOUD speaker by woodleywonderworks[/caption]

It's been about 10 hours since I wrote this steaming post regarding Audible1. Read it if you want the full details, but I want to talk about something else here.

The establishment fears change.

No, I'm not going to strap on a black arm band and suggest we stage a sit-in with our MP3 players. But that simple fact hit me today, and I urge all digital authors to take note. It's the rare publishing company that willingly embraces change. Yet at the same time, the publishing industry is going through changes it hasn't seen in... ever!

That makes for a difficult environment for you, the digital author.

Chances are, you are willing to try different things. To step beyond the boundaries of what worked in the past. To try and emulate other trailblazing authors who are re-defining the space.

And chances are, you'll be beset on all sides with publishers, agents, editors and others from the establishment who will try and convince you to abandon your wild and reckless ways.

Sorry. I'm back to wearing the black armband. Next up, I'll sport a goatee and sponsor a poetry slam? Maybe I should just get to the point...

Learn from history. Don't be a slave to it.

There's wisdom in standing on the shoulders of giants. But you're a fool to do so when the giant is standing on the edge of a crumbling cliff. Smarter giants are stepping away from the precipice and seeking more solid ground. And they are finding that ground is always shifting. Thing is; it always has been shifting. It's just that the shifts are happening with more regularity, and with fewer rest periods in between.

Your choice is simple: stick with your giant, and hope it stays standing for a little longer. Or you can seek out a giant who's taking steps to find more solid ground. There's plenty of it out there.

Cripes. Now I'm taking metaphors way, way too far.

What you can do.

If you don't get how free and for-fee work together, educate yourself. If you're still waiting for that six-figure deal for your first book so you finally have time to write, stop with the delusions. And if you think that the marketplace selling your wares should make more than you... well I'm not sure there's much hope for you.

Don't be the change you want to see in the world; force it. Settle for nothing less. If that means making a stink when necessary -- do it. Be unapologetic about it. Just try not to burn your bridges along the way. Some (read: The Establishment) will eventually come around to reality. You want to be remembered as the person who got them off their collective asses and moving toward a solution. Not the jerk who called them out and pointed fingers at their idiocy.2

1 - Truth is, I wrote the post last week, with the anticipation that my call with them would be bad. Hey, at least I was right!

2 - Still not sure how I did there...

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Monday, August 9, 2010

Google Webmaster Tools and Your Site. Do It Now!

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="240" caption="Infection by KayVee.INC, on Flickr"]Infection by KayVee.INC, on Flickr[/caption]A few days ago, the fine folks at Google sent me a note. It seems that they -- Google -- had detected malware on one of the websites I manage. Anyone visiting that site ran a risk of having their computer infected with malicious code. That's bad. Muy mal.

Luckily the fix was easy. Google even pointed me to the exact place where the problem was happening. Google. The giant company. They could have removed my site from their index. But they didn't. Instead, they contacted me. I fixed it. The warning went away. And all is right with the world.

I'm not special. I'm smart. I added my site -- as I do all of my sites -- to Google Webmaster Tools. Yeah, it's a crappy name that brings up memories of 1998 when there was as single person who "mastered" the website. Those days are long gone, but the name has stuck.

Google Webmaster tools gives you a ton of insight to how users are interacting with your site. And also how Google sees your site. It's specifically because I had added the site to Webmaster Tools that this notice was sent to me. If I had not, Google would not known who to notify about the problem. And eventually, my site would have been removed from Google's index. And once that happens, it's a royal pain in the ass to get it back in. Without being in Google's index, your site might as well not exist at all.

Have you signed up for Google Webmaster and added all of your sites? No? It's free and just takes a minute to get going. What are you waiting on?

Friday, August 6, 2010

When to charge for advice you give away for free

"When you ask me to consider your specific business challenges, the meter is running."1

[caption id="" align="alignleft" width="160" caption="Please Pay Here 3-14-09 19 by stevendepolo, on Flickr"]Please Pay Here 3-14-09 19 by stevendepolo, on Flickr[/caption]Figuring that out was one of the hardest things I've ever done. Not that I don't like to get paid, you understand. I'm a huge fan of making money. For me, the challenge was coming to grips with the fact that my opinion was worth something, sometimes.

I'm a problem solver by nature. I'm not talking about logic puzzles or those infernal Rubik's Cubes. But give me a business challenge to overcome, and my mind can't help but start turning it over and over. Eventually, a solution comes tumbling out. Most of the time, I'll spot challenges before others, even business owners. I was at a local eatery recently chatting with the owner, and innocently offered up a two solutions to help reinforce his brand and increase traffic to his location. His comment: "Do you ever stop thinking?"


Which brings me back to the aforementioned hardship: figuring out sometimes.

If you catch me at an event or a social engagement, free advice from me is there for the taking. That may sit strange with other consultants, but not with me. I'm there, and am quite capable of making sure one person doesn't monopolize my time and finding something else to do when someone whips out a business plan.

If you want to take me to breakfast, lunch or dinner; the situation is similar. Again, others who make their living delivering business strategies may squirm here. Even if you take me to a fancy restaurant, I'm likely not to eat and drink my way through $225 in an hour. But I eat fast, and complex business problems likely won't be solved over a meal.

For everything else, we need to work out a business relationship. That's hard for a lot of people to understand and perhaps even more to afford. Sorry. But the advice and counsel I give is valuable. And outside of the times mentioned above and perhaps a few others, my time is precious. Sometimes that time is spent in ways that enable me to earn my rate. Sometimes it's spent on things I want to do, learn about or see. I'm a huge fan of free, but in the absence of fee, I get to decide where my time is spent. Your worthy project has to compete with my worthy projects. Which do you think will win?

While I'm on the subject: I'm not really interested in taking equity in lieu of fees. Can it work? Yes. Have I done it before? Sure. Will I do it again? Probably. But the chance is pretty slim. I'd have to really love the idea. Not just like it. And just like with my time before, there are a lot of things I already love. I probably don't have room for one more unless I have to give up a current love.

And keep this in mind: skills and talent are important. But only marketable skills and talent are worth money.

1 - Those words of wisdom were uttered... or at least typed, by Jason Falls. He's a social media educator and strategist. And very smart. Start reading Social Media Explorer. You'll thank me.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Effective SEO: The ONLY 5 Things That Matter

Buring Money
Image by purpleslog via Flickr
Don't run away just yet. I promise not to turn this blog into one more place where some SEO1 expert moron spews out stuff they know nothing about. In fact, this will probably be one of the few times I talk about SEO. I promise.

But it's an important topic: The SEO "industry" has convinced everyone that this stuff is hard. Sorry, but it's not. I'm a firm believer that the most effective approach is to teach your designers and developers the basic and fundamental concepts behind good website design, architecture and implementation. Done properly, your web pages will get the rank they deserve. And you can worry about running your business instead of wasting money trying to find ways to subvert Google. Because you're never going to win that game.

Below is a talk I gave at Social Media Club Phoenix last week. I typically lead a "social media 101" discussion prior to the meeting. My class was about double the size from months prior. I have to assume that at least some of it was the topic: Dispelling SEO Myths -- something you wouldn't typically hear spoken about at Social Media Club. And because of that swell in attendance, I decided to post it here. Seems like lots of businesses are struggling with this. As usual, I have a simpler way to handle it.

Yes, just those five things. No, I'm not kidding. You could go deeper, but you're wasting your time if you haven't done those five things. You're also wasting your time if you can't do those things so are considering hiring an outside firm to do something else for you. That's wasting your money, because "something else" won't work. Do the things I tell you. If you can't, spend your money trying to get that changed so that you can do those things. Or if you want, give half of that money to me. I'll at least be upfront with you and tell you nothing will happen. Your expectations will be properly set and you'll know you're wasting money, rather than finding out what a waste it was six months from now. I'm kidding, obviously. Save your money until you can spend it on something that will work.

Preemptive strike for you SEO-types -- Don't bother. You may have examples upon examples of how your trick or technique works. I don't care. You and I both know the tricks you try have limited chances of working and only work for a limited time. You and I also know that every time it doesn't work, you blame it on the client's inability to implement your plan. I get that. See above. I'm trying to fix that. But no, I don't think you should be able to charge stupid amounts of money each and every month to unsuspecting clients who haven't the foggiest how your efforts actually help them sell more stuff. Because they probably don't. You can't argue me out of my position. I can't argue you out of yours. Let's just agree to disagree on this, OK?

Preemptive strike for those who want to hire me for SEO work -- If you want me to help you come up with a strategy to dump your outsourced SEO firm and bring it in-house, I can help. But if you're looking for someone to "just do the work", that's not me. I know plenty of very nice, very smart and very fair people who do SEO work and am happy to make a referral. That is, if any of them are still talking to me after reading this post.

1 - Search Engine Optimization. I hate the term and much prefer "SEF", or making your pages Search Engine Friendly.

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