Thursday, March 27, 2008

High-Five Fridays #11

High-Five Fridays
1) My dear friend, Libby, has started Red Light District Chicago, "Sex workers making media so the media doesn't make us." (In case you don't understand the need for this, here's some background: The Importance Of Sex Worker Made Media.) (NWS)

2) Dee Stewart has tips on How to Breathe Life Back into Your Blog.

3) Amber Rhea quit writing at Download Squad; can't say I blame her one bit. I high-five the self-awareness to realize what your limits are, and the self-respect it takes to stay on that side of the line.

4) In Oh, The Irony, Slip of a Girl mocks misuse of the word in hipster fashion advertising.

5) Thoman B. Edsall's Huffington Post piece, Interview With Walter Pincus On The State Of The Press.

I found myself saying a big amen to lots of things; particularly this:
EDSALL: But are you saying in this new generation of reporters, there is much more a sense of the need for personal comfort and less interest in expressing outrage or whatever --

[Less interest in what is now called "crusading"?]

PINCUS: Well, there's more interest in expressing outrage on personal matters, you know -- Clinton's activities with Monica, Spitzer and call girls. Everybody's against that [kind of behavior.] That's easy. But those aren't policy issues. And I think it's just not the Post, I think it's everybody. I also think -- I mean, the Post and the Times to give them credit, do some good work. That's why I go back to Walter Reed. Nobody else did it.
Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

I'm Just Sayin'...

Clearing off my desk (finally) after the weeks of being held hostage by the flu, I discovered these promotional pieces grabbed from my trip to vote in the local Democratic caucus back in February. While I won't go on about my political beliefs (or what candidate I voted for), I have a few comments to make about the candidates' political literature.

These were the only two take-away pieces either candidate had, which were sitting with the "I voted" stickers and obligatory party volunteer sign-up sheets.

While it's rather clear that Barack Obama's was intended to get people to the caucus sites, it says absolutely nothing about himself, his platform, or anything about his candidacy other than "Our Moment Is NOW". And the back side has so much 'white space' that I consider it a waste; it may as well not have a back side. Or a front side, really.

Whatever your opinions about Hillary Clinton's stands, at least she put them on her promo piece ~ along with the caucus info. It's pretty clear she wanted the people who went to the caucus to at least know her, to be able to vote for her.

Overall, were I grading such pieces, I'd flunk Obama.

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Star Light, Star Bright, Should I Give Away First Rights?

In Bad ways to use your rights (and the links therein) Val Gryphin discusses what happens when authors publish their stories and original written works at their blogs. She cautions:
There is no such thing as "pre-publishing," and posting your work online gives up your first rights. You do not have to be paid to give up your first rights! All that has to happen is your work be printed in a periodical, or put online where anyone can access it. Do either one of those and you loose your first rights, which are the most valuable in almost all cases.
But too, she offers many examples where publishing online has generated book deals for the actual works published as blog content. The trick is to calculate a plan and execute it well.

In her post, Val also mentions Dana K. Cassell's Writing Contest Cautions, sharing this tip for spotting a bad contest:
No entry fees - Writing contests cost money to run. If they aren't charging, how are they paying prizes and judges?
I'd say the contest should be paid by selling copies, or with sponsorships; not a lottery based on the fees of submitting authors. But that's just me.

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"You give a group of romance writers a couple of drinks and they'll admit it is pornography"

Roxanne Rhoads tells us how Erotica was insulted in Writer's Digest (NWS):
Mr. Vaughn interviewed a romance agent for information about the romance genre, a Steven Axelrod who supposedly has been a romance agent for over 30 years. (Obviously not a very good one if he knows nothing of the hot, hot, hot market of erotica). Axelrod is quoted as saying "You give a group of romance writers a couple of drinks and they'll admit it is pornography," he says. "It's hard to see it as true romance, and it has a very limited audience- they can't seem to grow it. Very few good storytellers seem to be staking their careers there."

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Paid Writers, Or Paid Posts For SEO?

This post from CNN Money, Firms that actually pay bloggers (a bit) focuses mainly on Associated Content, one of Google's babies.
One of the more intriguing approaches to this model is Associated Content, a site backed by Google's (GOOG, Fortune 500) North American advertising chief Tim Armstrong and hatched by his former college roommate, Luke Beatty. What sets three-year-old Associated apart is that in addition to promising to share revenues with its contributor community, it gives writers an up-front payment based on a nifty Google-like algorithm to assess the potential popularity of submission.

Once an article is run through Associated's "yield management system," the company then sends the writer a one-time up-front fee that typically ranges from $4 to $20.00 (although most of the payments are closer to the low end). Additionally, Associated pays contributors $1.50 for every 1,000 page views their article, which usually run in the 600-word-count range, generates.
To many this will seem less than the amounts garnered via advertising revenues, donations, affiliate sales, &/or direct product sales; but at least they are paying ~ even if the math is as complicated as Google's own algorithm.
Indeed, among the attributes Associated's software analyzes are popular key words that entice search engines, and whether the author already has a track record within the system. If the system deems an article unsuitable for print, a content editor will send it back with some thought on how it can be made ready for distribution. This happens with about 30% of submissions, Reiss said, noting that nothing is "spiked" in the traditional media sense, but rather held until the system says it is ready.
If this sounds like articles are edited, that's not exactly true... It's more about SEO than the craft of writing:
In a sense, Associated automates the front-end story-generation process in publishing the same way that Google, Yahoo and other online giants have attempted to automate the back-end process of advertising online. Traditionally, publications spend a lot of effort vetting potential contributions and setting editorial budgets to attract the appropriate level of talent to write for them.

Reiss is quick to caution, however, that Associated's business is geared toward giving casual bloggers or first-time writers a way to get paid and have their work more widely read - but it's not (yet) seen as a replacement for mainstream media. Being a big-name writer already gets you no points, nor does Associated's computer give marks for good writing.
I also found this intriguing...
One of Associated's rivals told me that the rub against them is that they are filling the Internet with sub-par material that is geared toward gaming search engines - a claim that Reiss rejects.
Who was that unnamed rival, anyway? Inquiring minds want to know...

As a Google baby, it should be no surprise to read the following:
As far as [Ashley] Sinatra is concerned, Associated's system does have its quirks and perks. She has written on everything from the benefits of raw pet food to makeup tips and advice for aspiring writers, all for "basically minimum wage". But, she says, her most widely-read article was one she submitted last May -about celebrities baring their breasts in public. Apparently Associated did not offer her an advance payment for that piece, but it was her most lucrative work to date, yielding around $30. "They usually don't pay up front for celebrity things but those get the most page views," Sinatra, 18, told me over the phone. "It's weird, their system: You can write an article about something really boring but somebody will want it."
Once again, even though Google knows sex sells, they won't properly acknowledge it up front.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Online Sex Tricks & Treats

In Compartmentalize, or you'll get 20 lashes! (unless you're into that sort of thing) the always wonderful Amber Rhea talks about why 'sex' is really a dirty word online, exposing (some of the many) tricks deployed against any honest discourse regarding intercourse. Especially if you are a woman.

I know I've talked about this before ~ and no doubt shall again & again; but now you get to hear about it from someone else (that's your treat).

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Feminist Porn Awards

Annual Good For Her Feminist Porn Awards:

Why do the Feminist Porn Awards exist?

As Annie Sprinkle famously said, "the answer to bad porn isn't no porn. It's more porn!" Good For Her couldn't agree more. We all know that the world is inundated with cheesy, cliche, degrading, no-budget, patronizing and stupid porn. But we also believe that erotic fantasy is powerful stuff, and that women and marginalized communities deserve to put their dreams and desires on film too. As feminists and sex-positive people, we want to showcase and honour those who are doing it right, like filmmakers who understand that people of colour are sexual beings - not sexual objects. Like performers who want to see body diversity, so they shake their ample butts in front of the camera. Like everyone who ever said "why aren't my fantasies and realities ever reflected in porn?" so they picked up a camcorder and recorded their friends getting it on.

Good For Her wants porn to be held to a higher standard. We all deserve to see artistic expressions that celebrate who we are in all our glory, and artists deserve to have there work recognized. We think these are pretty good reasons to hold the Annual Good For Her Feminist Porn Awards.

See what's up for 2008.

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Ford Commercials Not In Sync

In the Ford Sync ads people are so use to giving commands to the Microsoft Auto software that they forget that not everything works that way, with comical results:

I have to wonder if this campaign isn't backwards... Like the old rule of showing positives and benefits, avoiding the negatives, this ad campaign is unsettling to me.

Wouldn't it make more sense to show the harried parent, the harassed worker, people who are not used to having those they told to do something do it, who, upon using Sync, are pleasantly surprised at having a command followed? It leaves a much more positive message ~ is sure sells me a dream. *wink*

I know the ad is supposed to be funny (my man laughs whenever that poor lady hits the door), but it doesn't sell me. It only leaves me with the impression that people are too lazy, self-centered, and absurd to function in the real world. Whereas the version I suggest leaves me wistful for something which does as I say ~ even if it's a car I had no previous interest in or intentions to purchase... Until such sugar-plums of demands met danced in my head.

I know "absurd" is the new black in advertising; but is it effective?

Does Ford want my man's laugh, or my purchase?

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Let's Make News With A Not New Affiliate Internet Widget

We've heard before that Social networkers turn into social sellers ~ at least that's the dream; that word of mouth, from friend to friend, one trusted person to another, will promote your product or service for you. But this story is specifically about a new Facebook application:
BSocial Networks Inc. has launched Market Lodge, a system designed for Facebook that enables the social network's users to create miniature e-commerce stores on their Facebook pages. Market Lodge allows Facebook users to select from 1,100 products from 50 retailers items to sell in their own shops.

Facebook users get a 10% commission for every product they sell (deposited in personal PayPal accounts), bSocial Networks gets a 35% to 50% commission, and retailers get an outlet to sell products to the 50 million consumers on Facebook without having to advertise, says Sue Spielman, bSocial Networks co-founder.
Sounds nifty, but really it's just another affiliate widget. Nothing against widgets; making it ultra easy for folks to promote means there's more likelihood they'll actually insert the affiliate code, especially if the interface is easy to use and automatically updates. But fundamentally, this isn't anything new. Right now any user at Facebook or other social network site can insert affiliate links as they wish.

And you'll note that unless you are the manufacturer or otherwise a direct seller of the product you'll not be able to afford commissions of up to 60%.
BSocial Networks plans to expand its initial offering of 1,100 products to thousands of products. Current retailers include Aurora Nova Skin Care, Holistic Pet, Inner Waves Organics, Oona Sara Designs and White Swan. The company also plans to expand its Market Lodge offering, initially created using the Facebook application program interface, to other social networks.
At least half of these products can be found at Amazon; which as most of you know, welcomes affiliates with adult business. The Amazon affiliate program not only offers many widgets, has a great history of making payments to affiliates, but with the wide range of products you often find additional monies earned with sales in categories you've never imagined.
"This is a consumer-to-consumer business platform that lets anyone in the social network create a personalized marketplace that reflects their hobbies and interests," Spielman says.
Not to become The Amazon Marketing Whore, but Amazon allows this with their affiliate stores, which can be designed to match your own brand &/or personal style.
"And when social networkers share their Market Lodge, they share with all of their friends in a setting of social trust, a social bond."
Or social annoyance; as the case may be.

While no one really minds if a friend or family member makes 50 cents off your purchase of naughty lingerie (especially if they never know what it is you bought), affiliate marketing in social networks can be about as much fun as that forced Avon purchase you make from the neighbor lady once a week ~ or the wrapping paper, oranges & scouting cookies you feel forced to buy at work.

Trusted or not, the push of 'buy this' all the time can get really tiresome. Even if it's not done by a marketing professional.

While the new application doesn't appear to be adult-friendly, you can find out more about bSocial's Market Lodge here.

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Saturday, March 22, 2008

For The Love Of Gawd, Don't Be An Adult Marketer

I don't know why I do this to myself, but occasionally I look in at message boards/forums where folks ask questions, hoping pros will appear and help them make money with their businesses.

Right now I'm not too clear on why I do it... It's not like I've ever read anything from a pro there that seemed anything other than superficial. And what's worse (and likely the reason why no serious advice exists), are the pleas for if not 'get rich quick' then 'sit on my ass lazy' by people who really have no idea what they are doing.

Like this 'dude' over in the BlackHatWorld forum ~ who, though he has a username I will now call "BlackAssHat", and who I will now, mercilessly, pick-apart.
I'm addicted to the "xxx" or "adult" marketing niche, for two reasons. Just about everyone loves it and it's something I can enjoy marketing.
The second part, about enjoying what you do, is fine; even if the term "addicted" suggests, at least to The Marketing Whore, a personal issue lurking about...

But who in this day and age (and this country ~ which according to his user profile he is from) thinks "everyone" loves it?

He has an Internet connection; he's posting. So how on earth can he be oblivious to the current attitudes, filled with hate and censorship, which prevail here?
I'm no guru or rich from it yet, but just a few ideas of mine and I'd like to hear yours too.
Should really read, "I'm no guru and I won't get rich from it because of the following."
Idea #1: It's been said in other posts about exploiting youtube, but I have had quite some trouble with accounts/videos being deleted quite quickly.
The basic concept of the method is to find a hot video, download it, watermark it, and re-upload it giving proper tags and a nice attracting label. Well, what if instead of directly marketing in the video, you market in the user channel instead? Would this help crack down on the video removals at all?
Market in the user channel? Are you serious? YouTube doesn't want adult content there, so why on earth do you think the membership will welcome your, "Psst, look under my raincoat" message?

You clearly know nothing of target marketing, or even have the decency to respect the rules of the house (YouTube) which you are visiting.

Sure, there's overlap; some users at YouTube enjoy porn. I myself have an account there. But it's also the kind of site where mom has the membership and her kids use it. Can you do the math on that BlackAssHat?
Idea #2: I think Social networks can be wildfire if used correctly.
A list of a bunch of social networking sites
Making fake profiles and gathering up a huge quantity of friends and marketing through bulletins rather than on the front page. I've never actually massed profiles before on social network sites or messed much with them though, can't say how well they work or not.

Make fake profiles: Hours of time.
"Gathering up a huge quantity of friends": Double the hours of time.
Market to random people you don't know: Triple the hours of time.
Getting kicked out for spamming? Priceless.

Even if he doesn't get kicked out, he'll be ignored/deleted at best; dropped from his "huge quantity of friends" asap. Nice use of your time, BlackAssHat.

Oh, he's never actually done it... So I guess we should excuse him then, huh.

I'm about as ready to excuse his stupidity as I am to let him apply this "stellar reasoning" to the flying machine he's built, strapped onto his back, and let him jump off my roof; either way I have a frickin' bloody mess to clean up.

I really, really, Really don't need another jerk doing these things in the name of "marketing" or, worse yet, "adult marketing."
Idea #3: Google Groups. Directly linking to the program or your website. You'd have to use several accounts though, it will only let you post so many times per account per day.
Have you noticed yet that his "three ideas" are really the same stupid one with different names or locations?

I hope you did.

Or I may have to call you "BlackAssHat" too.
Just looking for some ideas/thoughts on how to market the adult niche. I can't use PPC traffic because I have no spending money, hopefully soon I can get a domain to refer traffic to rather than a tinyurl or blog.
Umm, you don't have $8 for a domain and you don't think a blog has any power or purpose?

Jeesh, BlackAssHat, are you certain you are able to work on the Internet in any capacity?
Anyone else have thoughts or ideas on how to get traffic to an adult affiliate program?
Ooh-ooh! Pick me BlackAssHat, pick me! I have an idea!

Offer a real website, with real content that real people want to see, read, visit.

Stop thinking like a con artist. Stop looking for ways to swindle.

And stop thinking of yourself as a marketing or sales professional; get some education first.

We have enough trouble without people like you.

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Bad Pimp, Diane Sawyer, Bad Pimp

I don't often rant enough about sex work in the media. Here or anywhere. But Friday night's 20/20 two-hour nightmare, Prostitution in America: Working Girls Speak, has me foaming at the mouth.

(That link is NWS; but this one is, should you need a safer site to read at.)

I urge you to read it ~ and not just because I wrote it. Even if you do not consider yourself a sex-worker, you should abso-freakin'-lutely care about horrid journalism. Honestly, what Diane Sawyer et all did with this is completely unethical and exploitative.

I also urge you to contact ABC about the program & to see Bound Not Gagged's call to action.

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Friday, March 21, 2008

Scheduling Drafts In Blogger

A few weeks ago, Sara Winters (who dared to call me disappearing!) mentioned the ability to schedule posts using Blogger:
4. For the lazy blogger in all of us: Why am I highlighting this (since I'm posting on blogger and, presumably, so are most of the people who would respond to this)? 1. Because Google doesn't feel it necessary to tell people about things they're changing/working on in relation to the site and 2. when signed in through this version of the site, it allows for bloggers to schedule posts. What does that mean? If you set a post to appear at a future time/date, instead of automatically posting it when you hit publish, the software will save the post until the time you've set. So, if you're like me (someone who doesn't post for a month and then suddenly gets ideas for 6 blog entries in one day), or if you go on vacation, you can make it appear as if your blog is getting updated regularly. This might come in handy for certain Blushing Ladies or a disappearing Whore of the Marketing variety. ;-) That is, if it'll work on their respective sites.

The tricky business is, and I've noted it both at blogs hosted at Blogger as well as this blogs hosted 'elsewhere' (like this one), that once the posts are posted they do not have their own individual URL. Any links created which would generally be to the individual post are credited only to the blog's main URL. This means is makes it difficult for another blogger to link directly to the post.

I'm hoping that the reasons we've not officially heard of is that this is in Beta ~ and thus there'd be hope that this particular peccadillo will soon be corrected.

Because, as noted, other blogging platforms offer post scheduling and it is useful.

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Arguing A Bit

Taking issue with's Your Websites: Age-Old Problems; New Age Solutions...

I'll just simply say that numbers 1 & 3 are those good old-fashioned (in web terms) 'sticky' tactics; and unless they are related to your product or service you've got little reason to employ them rather than written content which addresses questions & interests which move them to purchasing. I'd bet that the increase in sales the company noted in the first had more to do with information given (via the avatar or other site info) rather than a chatty-Cathy device. In the latter, I wonder if the widget actually detracted from sales.

And number 2 is cost prohibitive for most; although those with small product lists can do this manually (both in terms of creating links and awareness of what customers buy or are likely to buy).

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High-Five Fridays #10

High-Five Fridays
1) Copyright & legal issues for zines ~ including webzines ~ at ZineBook.

2) 50 Social Sites That Every Business Needs a Presence on: Naturally, I disagree that every business needs a presence on these sites ~ nor is is possible/polite to be there if you run an adult business; but it's another country heard from.

3) No wonder you're confused: Every Piece of Startup Advice is a Lie (including mine).

4) Preaching to the choir: Blogging: More Than Idle Chatter.

5) As if we didn't know this day was coming: Ron Jeremy Takes on Porn Pirates.

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).

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Friday, March 14, 2008

High-Five Fridays #9

High-Five Fridays
1) Violet Blue with coverage of sexual privacy and SXSWi.

2) Three Wise Guys on those strange outside bathtubs in erectile-dysfunction ads.

3) Just what is the big deal about sex?

4) Bombshell Betty starts a series on getting paid to perform ~ keep an eye on it for more.

5) One of my favorite perfumes is Shalimar. Reformulated, re-released, but never the same.

Want to give your own high-fives? Find out how to give your High-Five Fridays here!

The purpose of this meme is to give high-fives to 5 people, posts, blogs and/or websites you've admired during the week. I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 5 high-fives on Friday. Trackbacks, pings, linky widgets, comment links accepted!

Visiting fellow High-Fivers is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your High-Fives in others comments (please note if NWS).

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