Archive for 'free'

Feel like a manic juggler?

Animation of 3 ball cascade , also known as a ...Image via WikipediaI don’t know about you but sometimes it can be a little overwhelming.  Okay…that’s a lie.  It can be incredibly overwhelming.

We’re all juggling as fast as we can and no matter how many balls we have in the air, there’s always another one being tossed into the rotation.

There’s a new project (or three) at work, a new book to read, 5,000 new blog posts in your RSS feed reader, six fresh social media tools to explore and 200+ e-mails.  Daily.

That doesn’t even take into account your family, friends and just carving out some down time.  Have a hobby?  Like to travel? Well, sleep’s optional, right?

Never before in my career have I seen a more turbulent time.  Turbulent is not necessarily a bad thing.  There’s just so much swirling around us, our customers and the work we do.  And it’s exciting.  Intoxicating.  And important to continuing to be relevant in our jobs.

So…how do you juggle it all? How do you stay sane AND productive?

Here’s my plan.  Help me spread the word that we’re looking for Sanity/Productivity tips.  Once we get a good collection here, I’ll create an free e-book that we can offer to others suffering from the same manic juggling that we are.

Come on…share a tip, idea or solution that works for you.

 

Related articles by Zemanta
Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

I am sure most of you guys take the freedom on the Internet for given. If you live in a western country, this is a consequence of being able to access any website and to publish anything you feel compelled to.

That is not the situation on all parts of the world, however. On some countries people can’t access basic websites like Hotmail or Wikipedia. On others, they can’t have blogs or create websites. On others yet, they can’t even own a computer with Internet access!

Over at DailyBits we did a compilation with the Top 10 Countries Censoring the Web.

Here is a quote from the 10th position, Pakistan:

The rundown

Pakistan started censoring the web in 2000, when the main target was anti-Islamic content. Over the time, it seems, they liked the possibility to control the Internet traffic, and have been increasing the scope of their censorship system ever since.

How does the censorship work?

There are only three international gateways on the country, and all of them are controlled by the Pakistan Telecommunication Company. The government, therefore, is able to monitor and block most unwanted traffic using filtering software (although their technical apparatus is not sophisticated).

Internet service providers are also required by law to monitor the activity of their clients to make sure that they are not accessing prohibited websites.

What kind of content is blocked?

In the first years of the web censorship in Pakistan, the main target was anti-Islamic content and websites that were related to political autonomy movements (e.g., the Balochi one). In 2003, however, the Pakistan Telecommunication Company declared that they would also officially block all pornographic websites.

In 2006 mainstream western websites, including Wikipedia and several newspapers, got blocked as well. The intensification of the censorship was propelled by the episode of the Danish cartoons that contained images of the Prophet Muhammad.

Check the link above to read the full article and see the other 9 countries.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

Web Censorship: The 10 Worst Countries To Blog From

3 Newsletters You Should Definitely Subscribe To

When I first started using the Internet, I was a bit afraid of subscribing to email newsletters. Why? Because I thought that people would just spam the heck out of me with offers and sales pitches.

Lately, however, I started subscribing to a few of them, and I must confess that some provide a real value for the subscribers. The trick is to identify people that genuinely want to build a community and help their readers (as opposed to helping their own pockets…).

There are 3 particularly that I think you guys would benefit from.

The first one is the WordPress Newsletter from my friend Joost de Valk. Joost is a Jedi Master when it comes to WordPress, and he shares all his tips on the newsletter and on his blog. He is also always looking for the coolest plugins, making it a must read if you use WordPress.

The second one is the email list from Jason Calacanis. Sure, the guy is a bit controversial, but he sure knows the online publishing and startup environment. His emails are always packed with information and opinions. If you consider yourself a web entrepreneur, go check it out.

Finally, Darren Rowse also launched his Problogger Newsletter a while back. It is basically a complement to the blog, but it brings some insider information, and access to some of his stuff before it goes live on the blog.

Now what about you, what newsletters are you subscribed to that you would recommend to other people? Let me know and I will check them out.


Copyright by Daily Blog Tips.

3 Newsletters You Should Definitely Subscribe To

The Winner’s Curse is a term used to describe auctions whereby the winner will overpay because he/she overestimates the item’s actual market value. This tendency to overbid is due to factors like incomplete information or other market participants. Recent research show that people also overbid because of the fear of losing in a social competition. 

A team of NYU neuroscientists and economists conducted brain imaging studies and discovered that the striatum, a part of the brain’s reward circuitry showed an exaggerated response to losses during an auction game. When a group was told that they would lose $15 if they failed to win an auction, they consistently bid higher than others who were told they would win $15.

The difference lies in way the auction was framed. When simply reminded of what they had to lose instead of what they stand to gain, participants responded with higher bids.

While there have been investigations of overbidding which have attributed the phenomenon to either risk aversion or the ‘joy of winning,’ it was the use of imaging data which allowed us to distinguish between these conflicting explanations and actually arrive at a new and different one, the ‘fear of losing.’…We were able to use neuroimaging results to highlight the importance of framing, and specifically the contemplated loss, as an explanation for overbidding during experimental auctions.”

This ‘fear of losing’ seems to be triggered by competition with others and perhaps, attachment to the value of the item. A interesting takeaway point: instead of only highlighting the benefits or promise for a product/service, it would be beneficial to indicate what the buyer might potentially lose by not making a purchase or taking action.

People implicitly understand that they’re  dealing with other consumers because of factors like exclusivity and scarcity. The one who acts swiftly will get to purchase and enjoy the benefits of the product, while others may not. The call-to-action is much intense in an auction, because the actions of others occur in noticeable real-time. Competition is in the forefront of the mind.

This study reminds me of how much competition is almost intrinsic to human society. You see competition between individuals, groups and countries in business or sports. It is perhaps, both an evolutionary necessity and a learned behavior that one develops in order to survive or thrive within a social environment.

We are all familiar with the pleasure of competition. Many of you have bought items from Ebay, an online auction marketplace.  Often, your decision to make or abandon a purchase is rushed along on a subtle but tangible undercurrent of excitement during the process and a feeling of minor elation for having won an item at a favorable price.

Could there be a way to transplant the fear of losing and the pleasure of winning into a non-auction scenario? Perhaps the use of a competition as a backdrop where each consumer’s individual drive can play out against others. Make them interact and challenge one another within a superstructure that helps YOU fulfill specific end goals.

Let the Competitive Instinct Flourish Within a Social Environment

CompetitionImage Credit: Swamibu

Businesses or marketers should think about how to create a social environment which encourages the natural competitive instincts of their audience. Interaction within this sphere motivates each individual consumer/participant. This helps to increase the level of audience engagement and automatically enhances the value of the product/service/site.

Social news sites like Mixx.com proudly highlight their top users by displaying them on a leaderboard or giving them specific awards/badges. This symbolic segregation of a group of users from others and the conferring of exclusive emblems of acknowledgment enhances the visibility/reputation of these individuals. This becomes something others can strive towards.

Not everyone will lust after awards or a higher user ranking. In fact, most casual users won’t care or bother to go after greater recognition. But owners of these communities know that there will always be a segment of hardcore users (the more competitive or goal-oriented ones) that will work extra hard so they can improve their score or rank higher on the leaderboard.

This addicted 1% of users enjoy a sense of achievement and are often enough to generate enough activity to make your site grow. This effect is even more prominent when the community itself is the main attraction. Take the example of video games with online features: players will gladly pay for a monthly Xbox Live subscription or WOW account so they virtually cooperate or compete with other individuals. Inter-user competition becomes an value add-on.

Such a social environment is not very difficult to create: there are a few fundamental elements involved. For starters, users should be able to interact freely with one another, through the site’s main features or separately in an standalone environment. Also, bind user profiles and on-site activity to awards, rankings, points, recognition, rewards and achievements.

Allow people to form sub-groups to pursue a diverse level of interests. Facilitate inter-user contact and interaction by organizing open competitions or one-off events that everyone can join. These special events can be plotted on an established calendar of regular activities which involve the community or its sub-groups.

The general theory is simple enough: Think about creating social environments that are conducive for your overall business objectives. Apart from simply marketing your site, we should look at giving our audience the ability to connect (and compete) with each other.

To receive updates on new articles, subscribe to Dosh Dosh today.

a

Fear of Losing: Using Competitive Instincts to Your Advantage

Social Bookmark

Search engines are an excellent source of high quality web traffic. They don’t send visitors who ’stumble upon’ your website or accidently clicked on an ad banner. Instead, they send you interested visitors who type in a query while fully expecting to find what they need. They are engaged right from the start and ready to buy, browse or read.

If their desire is well fulfilled by your webpage, you may end up getting a bookmark, customer or repeat reader. Added bonus: search engine traffic is consistent and usually cost-free. Ranking well for several relevant keywords or phrases could get you a steady stream of visitors everyday. That’s why some businesses choose to hire SEO firms/consultants.

There are many factors involved in the actual ranking of a site on a search engine results page, one of them being the use of keywords in the domain name. While the use of a keyword or key phrase does not alone promise a high ranking, it does seem to be a factor to some extent, partially because the domain name is often used as the anchor text for links.

Why do I talk about this? Because one way to get more search engine traffic is to build many of what I call ‘mini-funnel’ websites for specific keyword phrase/search queries. All of these slave websites could be designed as pointers to funnel traffic to your master site. Alternatively, they could be used as a stand-alone site to build exposure/accumulate leads.

Let’s do an example. I recently came across ’Is Barack Obama a Muslim‘ a one-page website created by someone to answer that one specific search query. The domain name and title tag consists of the keyword phrase (isbarackobamaamuslim) and the word ‘No’ links to the U.S democratic presidential nominee, Barack Obama’s campaign website. Screenshot:

is barack obama a muslim

Just in case the user misspells his/her query there’s also ‘Is Barack Obama Muslin‘, a one-page website created specifically for possible incorrect search terms (the usefulness of this is offset by search engine auto-correction). In any case, this page contains 3 links, one to the Wikipedia page for ‘Muslin’, one to Obama’s campaign site and the other to the site mentioned above.

is barack obama muslin

And then there’s the ‘Is Barack Obama Muslim‘ version of the site with the ‘a’ alphabet dropped. This particular one ranks the highest on both Yahoo and Google for the ‘is barack obama muslim‘ phrase, taking the no. 1 spot and even outranking Obama’s own official website. This appears to be the most established version of the three; Yahoo site explorer shows that it has 10,762 incoming links compared to the hundreds for the two other sites.

is barack obama muslim

These mini-sites were created to provide answers to a specific question, one that is rather popular because rumors of Barack Obama being a Muslim have been circulating through viral emails or blogs. The goal of these two sites is to debunk the rumors by funneling traffic to Obama’s official site, which provides a clear explanation on the topic.

So the strategy is pretty clear-cut here. Create websites to answer specific search queries or deal with specific topics. Then use them to generate leads or send traffic to your home base.

Here are some elements which I think would really make these mini-sites work:

  1. Single-issue. Deal with too many topics or questions and your webpage will lose its immediacy. It also makes sense, especially if you’re using a keyphrase domain name.

  2. Reference-friendly. People link to Wikipedia pages because they provide an overview or in-depth info on a specific topic. A way to make your site more linkable is to make sure that it covers the issue in full, through original content and external links.

  3. Novelty/Simplicity. A single-page website is easily digestible. Two or three more pages may be fine. Use up too many pages and you’ll end up losing the novelty factor and becoming a full site. You don’t have to just use black text on a white background. Clean, unique and topically relevant site designs will always help.

  4. Viral components. To make people spread the word, encourage them by providing sharing options like an email-a-friend feature or link-to-me banners. Favorite tools that marketers have used include quizzes, videos and polls. Anything interactive.

  5. Sell elsewhere. The funnel-site is not the place to make money. The injection of a commercial motive might make it less linkable, novel and appealing. Remove or obscure commercial intent by not putting up ads and selling elsewhere (email list or master site).

The Obama examples given above use the exact keyword search query as the domain name/title tag, which encourages people to link using the same words. You don’t have to stick to keyphrases; brandable non-keyword domain names are OK too, although I think its best to at least have some keywords in the title tag, since you’re going after visitors from search.

But then again, search engine algorithms can be unpredictable. Such a site might fall out of favor for some reason and lose its rankings. That’s why its important to give it a good push at the start by promoting it on social media channels to make sure that it serves its purpose as a lead generator/traffic funnel. The resulting links might also help your site develop trust.

So, what do you think of these mini-funnel websites?

To easily receive updates on new articles, subscribe to Dosh Dosh today.

a

How ‘Mini-Funnel’ Websites Can Help You Increase Traffic, Generate Leads and Build Exposure

Social Bookmark

 Page 4 of 21  « First  ... « 2  3  4  5  6 » ...  Last »