Monday, October 20, 2008

When Content Isn't King

Last week on Cult of Gracie, Callie & I were joined by Pearly Writes and Rebecca Deos for a long conversation about SEO and content.

For the most part, we all agree: content is the best organic SEO. You'll have to listen to the show for where we split hairs regarding SEO and social network sites, etc., but worthy of noting here today was our discussion regarding use of content.

Callie and I began the conversation by stating that before you blog (or your business, really) you have to know your mission. How else are you going to measure your success? Part of this business of your mission relates to content, how to use it, and the matter of "should you give it away for free?"

While we all agreed there are times to withhold content for money, deciding 'when' is the tricky part. Callie, who does consulting & writes conceptual articles & "how to" posts, discussed how some of her most thoughtful "free stuff" was often either not understood & therefore misapplied, or read too quickly (a kind way of saying that folks didn't really get it) and the information was not used correctly. She's decided that she won't be giving such things away, but rather saving most of her "goodies" for clients ~ not just to be paid, but to ensure that the advice or concept is applied as intended. Rebecca, an escort, uses her blog to write about things that interest her purely as a way for prospective clients to know more about her. And certainly an author has to decide what stories/columns should be sold versus what can be given away for free, as 'exposure.'

In any case, this "to be paid or not to be paid" is a rather subjective decision ~ one which can only effectively be decided once you know your goals/mission.

But this lead to a conversation about the worth of writing ~ again, partially based upon all the recent loss of so many "sex columnists". (It's a conversation I appreciate being kept alive by grande folks such as Amber, Dacia, & Callie.)

My thoughts wandered to the matter of value ~ value beyond paid or not, or how much per word, etc., but the matter of the value of adult writing on human sexuality.

We know that sex is deemed a less legitimate conversation than say politics, finance, or technology. Everyone knows I find that both a stupid ideology (everybody literally has a reason to both know about & explore sexuality) and a dumb argument in light of the fact that sex does in fact sell ~ and I'm talking actually selling sex, be it porn, toys, or sex worker services ~ to the tune of millions, billions of dollars annually. But the value of sex writing, fiction and non-fiction, cannot be discussed only in terms of its relation to non sexual writing ~ if only for the fact that we're missing the definition of the value of writing in general. Time for some conceptual algebra.

What value does writing have? And perhaps, more pointedly, just what is of value on the Internet?

Lately I'm more and more struck by the freakish facts which point to the fact that technology & its tools (the code, widgets, etc. known as Web 2.0) garner more money, attention and credit than content.

Name a site, strip it of its content and what do you have? Just a bunch of code. Yet people are buying code and concepts of code & tools rather than putting money into what it is that people really come to, return to, and love sites for: content.

All websites are publications/productions, so this monetary focus on the tools of the publication/production is akin to gushing over the pencil, the typewriter, the lush yet blank pages of a magazine. I'm focusing on writing here (and perhaps it's warranted because words are still the way things are found on the Internet), but this applies to images too. For example, Flickr without photos and images is nothing but a a potentially cool tool that's not being used; it only becomes popular when the tool is used to deliver content.

But the money seems to be going to the folks who create the tools, while content creators, adult or otherwise, are slighted. It's too lopsided.

So perhaps the question we should all be asking isn't, "Should I give it away for free?" or even "When should I give it away for free?" but rather "When are the big sites with budgets going to realize how damn important content is?"

For the flip-side of this argument, please read Rebecca's thoughts from after the radio show.

And then, please do tell us all what you think about the use of content and the value of writing.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cult Of Gracie Radio: The Marketing Whore Edition

Both Callie Simms & I will be back on Cult of Gracie Radio tonight, from 9-10 PM (Central), discussing mainstream & mature marketing from more of a 'how to' aspect. Tonight's agenda includes the following discussion:

* SEO: application tips (how) & definitions of purpose (why)

* The purpose behind & use of blogs (when to use, what they are for; when blogging doesn't make sense)

* Content: What is, and isn't, content with a purpose, and the issue of "giving it away for free". (somewhat related to both of the above)

* Ethics & 'feelings' about blogging & online user IDs. (When using a pen name feels icky, but is necessary; are there situations to 'out' yourself?)

(Of course, I'm sure we'll still have plenty of lively debate as we defend our reasoning!)

You can join the conversation by calling 646.200.3136

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Wednesday, October 8, 2008

The Technorati Family Feud: Survey Says!

Technorati released its State of the Blogosphere for 2008. Being a survey of 1000 bloggers, a rather small sample, it poses more questions than 'facts' for me.

Let's start with gender.

The survey says more males are blogging.


And more men describe their blogs as professional, "about your industry and profession but not in an official capacity for your company"; while more women describe their blogs as personal, "about topics of personal interest not associated with your work."

As this matter of definition is purely subjective, I can't help but wonder about each gender's own bias here.

I did not see any information regarding the gender split in corporate blogging.

While women are more likely to seek to monetize their blogs, it seems they invest 50% less money in their blogs and make 50% less money in return.

Global Bloggers by Gender

Demographics Female
(N=438)
Male
(N=852)
Personal Blog 83% 76%
Professional Blog 38% 50%
Median Annual Investment $30 $60
Median Annual Revenue $100 $200
% Blogs with advertising 53% 54%
Sell Through a Blog ad Network* 16% 7%
Have Affiliate ads* 41% 32%
Have Contextual ads* 61% 73%
That ROI is something to think of when keeping things on-the-cheap ~ and far more informative than most of what is discussed in Slate's coverage of this Technorati survey, Blogging for Dollars: How do bloggers make money?. (That article is really a more theoretical conversation on popularity ~ which does affect ad revenues, but we'll get back to that later.)

However, women also stated they had benefited in other ways from blogging, with 9% more saying they had converted business leads from their blog.



Interestingly, women are said to have participated in more traditional blog networking (blogrolls, linking to other blogs, etc.) than men ~ including producing more content for other blogs. No number was given, but it makes me wonder about this in terms of blog investment...

Writing may be "free", but the sweat equity isn't noted in the discussion & in fact seems to have little payoff in terms of annual revenue. However, this sort of promotional writing could account for the conversion of business leads. I'd love more information on that area.

As far as topics go, Technorati calls them "diverse."
Blogging topics are diverse

Both personal and professional topics are equally popular. Forty percent of bloggers consider their blogging topics outside of these categories. “Other” blog topics include: 2008 election, alternative energy, art, beauty, blogging, comics, communication, cooking/food, crafts, design, environment, internet/Web 2.0, Jamaica, and media/journalism.

Three-quarters of bloggers cover three or more topics. The average number of topics blogged about is five.

There were some global differences. Music is more popular and politics is less popular in Asia, while personal, lifestyle, and religious topics are less popular in Europe.

You probably see what I see ~ an absence of "sex" as a topic.


It appears that Technorati did not include "sex" (or "adult" or "mature") as a topic in their survey; I'd gather that with those choices many sex bloggers would identify their blogs as "Personal/Lifestyle" blogs ~ or use the "other" category.

"Sex" is still not listed as a response in the "other" category. I have no idea if Technorati opted not to include "sex bloggers", if they edited/censored such responses when they published their findings, or if there were too few "sex" responses to qualify for a mention. Those surveyed may consider their blogging part of another category. For example, sex workers may state "business", authors "books", and sex positive feminists who discuss sex regularly might classify their blogs as "political" or "media/journalism" just as others who are not sex positive might (may also include "religion" as well).

Or perhaps survey respondents with sex blogs who noticed the "sex" option missing felt stating "sex" would mean they'd be excluded from the survey data.

The omitted options for "sex" and the lack of stated identification as "a sex blogger" does make me question the survey responses. As sexuality is just part of a human being's existence, I wouldn't throw the survey out completely; just keep the omissions in mind when reading & digesting.

Which poses more questions...

For instance, as the most popular sex bloggers are, collectively, female (no doubt due to photos, descriptions of personal actions etc., which draw many male readers), what does the possibility of censoring/ignoring sex bloggers mean for the simple "more men are blogging" data? Does this account for the "more females have personal blogs" finding?

I don't know; I'm still mulling it all over.

In terms of privacy, only 1/3 stated a concern for their privacy; I believe this would likely be much higher among sex bloggers.:
The majority of bloggers openly expose their identities on their blogs and recognize the positive impact that blogging has on their personal and professional lives. More than half are now better known in their industry and one in five have been on TV or the radio because of their blog. Blogging has brought many unique opportunities to these bloggers that would not have been available in the pre-blog era.
And, I find the connection between "openly exposing identities" and "better known" murky. I'm certainly better known in both my personal and professional life; but the name on my birth certificate, my legal name, is neither Gracie Passette nor The Marketing Whore.


Of those concerned about exposing their identities on their blogs, 36% said "other" ~ which included, "I've chosen to blog as a character." Maybe those with pen names, online identities, whathaveyou, answered the privacy/popularity questions from the point of view of being a character?

Now onto popularity...
Technorati 100, Next 500, and Next 5000 comparisons

We analyzed the Technorati index data to see whether higher-authority bloggers behaved differently from other bloggers.

Posting by Technorati Authority
Group Average Authority Avg Days Posting
(June 2008)
Avg Monthly Posts
(June 2008)
Top 100 6,084 23 310
Next 500 1,551 20 125
Next 5000 439 13 25

Blogs with higher authority are typically updated more frequently than blogs with lower authority. The Technorati Top 100 blogs had more than twice as many postings in June 2008 as the next 500, and more than 12 times as many postings as the next 5000.

What's missing from the discussion here are contextual issues such as monetization &/or business conversions and intent of the blog. Without knowing those variables, how can we call a blog successful?



There sure seems to be a connection between a blog's popularity and ad dollars, but this begs several questions...

1) If a Technorati Top 100 blogger is posting 10 or more times a day, with all the research & writing that implies, are the ad sales fair compensation for the number of hours a blogger works?

2) Are readers satisfied with such a saturation of posts? Lots of eyeballs do not automatically grant things such as loyalty & trust, nor translate into company endorsements & branding.

3) Are advertisers happy with their conversion &/or branding at these sites? Customer & potential customer impressions of the company /product/service are more important than number of ad impressions.

If all three are not satisfied the old "blog bubble" (at least as far as a business model) bursts.

For more anecdotal & theoretical conversations about this, I again refer you to Slate's piece.

Other tips included in Technorati's survey results: Technorati Top 100 bloggers are twice as likely to use tags in their posts, and they use the "news" tag more than two times as much as the next 500, and 19 times as much as the next 5000. (And, of course, their list of top tags for June does not include anything sexual.)

As for the results regarding branding in the blogosphere, there's a lot of chatter about how important bloggers think blogs and other bloggers are. I'm not saying I disagree with these findings, just that business might want to keep in mind that people within the group often are rather high on the group; your results may vary.

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Both Callie Simms & The Marketing Whore?

Yup, both Callie & I will be on Cult of Gracie Radio tonight, from 9-10 PM (Central), discussing mainstream & mature marketing ~ and whatever else pops into our heads & comes out of our mouths.

You can join the conversation, maybe even dictate the course of it by asking questions ~ call 646.200.3136

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Sunday, October 5, 2008

The Clash Of The Sex Writers: Should We Stay Or Should We Go Now?

A further, even lengthier, response to Audacia Ray's The End of the Sex Writer?

Like myself, Audacia says she sees herself as an activist, an advocate; and that writing is the medium for her message. In that sense we have to accept that there will not be paid writing gigs ~ in fact, there really are no paid activist positions.

No, not because getting paid is becoming "a sell-out to da man," but because no one pays a person directly for their activism. (Unless you count lobbyists; but so far, I've found no one willing to back sex as an issue. Let me know if you have any leads and I'll give you my packet.)

You could start a non-profit; but in order to become paid you'll need to be the executive director (at the beginning, you'll be lucky if you can afford to pay for even that position). But then, because staff members are usually not allowed to be on the organization's board, you will lose ability to control the organization. (After several years in the nonprofit sector, I've seen how the, "Oh, but I've selected the board to maintain my vision," works out. That varies between "poorly" and "horrific," by the way.)

I've written before about having to decide if you're in business or an activist, so I'll refer you to that post.

Now, if you've opted for "business" (with or without a dose of "activism" or "cultural mission" to your branding) and refuse to monetize your own site(s), looking elsewhere for a paycheck, let's look at what's happening in the business of sex writing.

Sex is still a taboo. Those of us who work with/in/under/behind/through any issues of sexuality, legal or not, face discrimination (and I mean real discrimination, not the made up kind). There are less options in general and they come with higher fees we must pay, further scrutiny for services, and even bigger prices in terms of employment and social relationships. Audaica (who I swear I am not picking on!) has been running into these issues head-on recently, as noted by Chris in The Shrinking Public Square.

I don't mean to sound bitchy or condescending here and I'm certainly not trying to alienate myself from anyone, let alone anyone in the business of taking sex out of the closet and having it be a recognized & respected part of the human experience; but I've been talking about all of this stuff here, and here, and here, and ~ hell, pick a site, a post, as you'd like. It's been a decade of writing online, folks.

It's not that I'm whining that no one's listening to me (although, who doesn't like to be noticed?), but it seems that there's a huge gap in understanding. Maybe it's due to age & experience (I'm likely at least a decade older than most of these folks). Or maybe it's a failure to understand how publishing works ~ especially when it comes to mainstream publications and sex.

The fact is that these publications which were paying sex columnists were not in the business of sex education nor with a mission of sex positivity.

Be honest, dear readers, if you weren't following the authors involved here because you knew them, would you ever turn to Valleywag or Wired for your sex info?

Does anyone read Fleshbot? It's no literary journal; it's a smorgasbord of tits & ass for 20-somethings who don't know better (and for older folks who should know better). This is due, in no small part, to cranking out way-too-much content ~ as Audacia mentioned. That's not only a shame, but a failure on the part of the writer &/or activist who expects to be read at a site that pushes more pink bits than the eraser factories do.

Naked City ~ that blog was so clunky I heard things fall off when the page loaded. And don't even get me started on what's wrong with the Village Voice.

So, times get tough, advertising shrinks, and these publications decide to axe writers. It happens; in print, on the web, everywhere. It's tough for smart writers who know they had done nothing wrong, had nothing to do with the decision (nor any of the decisions prior on how to run their business), but that's the way it goes.

For all the "newness" of these Internets, business still has the same old model to follow: make profit. (And more than a few of them are missing the boat by applying the same practices that they mock print for; but that's for another time.)

Do I think sex writers were likely viewed as the first to go in these economic cuts? You bet I do. In fact, if I were sitting there, making the decisions, I'd likely have done the same thing. A) Sex is not representational of the companies' core missions, and 2) having sex on pages can will deter advertisers.

If these companies had committed more to the issue sexuality as a right and therefore an integral part of their publications, rather than posing as sex positive hipsters exploiting sex columnists & titillating titular to garner some eyeballs and a wink-wink-nudge-nudge mentality, then my call ~ and likely the publishers' ~ would have been different.

On one hand I am frustrated by a world which refuses to have sexuality be a part of legitimate conversation; I'd love to see sex included as an important, fundamental human issue for grown-ups period.

On the other hand, these places were only using sex as a loss-leader and they could no longer absorb the loss.

That was their bottom line talking.

And they had no sex positive mission to adhere to, remember?

Now, when it comes to "sex writers," we all have our choices to make. Not just, "stay or go?" but if we stay, how? Are we in business? Are we activists? Both? And if both, how will we blend the two?

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Friday, September 12, 2008

About Those New Seinfeld & Gates Ads

My boyfriend, CR/LF (NWS), and I are having a running feud about the new Microsoft commercials. He, like many techies, insists they are stupid; I adore them. Every geek has her weird weaknesses & right now you could say that the Microsoft ads are among mine.

Our debate often swirls around the Mac vs. PC commercials. In those commercials, PC is likable ~ but Mac reigns as the uber cool kid. The Mac ads make me feel like I should be pitied like the campaign's PC character. Sure, that Mac guy's nice. We'll be lab partners in science class or maybe share a table at lunch; but I'll never be invited to parties at his house. CR/LF agrees with me on this, but he still doesn't see what I favor in the new Microsoft commercials.

The new commercials with Jerry Seinfeld & Bill Gates amuse me ~ and it's not because some people think the ads are kinky either. I think they are hysterical. I love seeing them in the cheap shoe store ~ and the family in the window is awe-struck not by their celeb status, but by the shoes! (That just kills me!)



It's not just that they are funny ~ it's the way they are funny.

In the Mac ads, Mac is like those bratty rich kids in high school & the posse of posers who did whatever they did to be cool. Then as now I know that no matter how cool I am, no matter how stellar my works are, I'll never be seen by them as their equal in cool. Then it was because my platform's were the knock-off designer shoes; today it's because my platform isn't the designer Mac. And I've never been one to pay more to appear cool or to please others.

As a PC user (on Linux, yet) I might want a Mac... But even if I could afford a Mac, I don't think I could justify the excess price tag to my practical-nerd-self. Who does that sound like? Gates, Seinfeld & that family of window shoppers! We're all bonding! (Branding, that is.)

Unlike the Mac ads, Microsoft celebrates the real geeks, weirdness and all.

Does this ad campaign overcome every Microsoft issue? No. But Microsoft has likability issues. Most people's awareness of Microsoft as 'evil' or 'less than cool' is effectively addressed by these commercials. I'm no longer the uncool person who has a PC by default ~ I have one because I want one. I've decided with my purshase(s). And I am as happy with my PC-self as I am with all my other choices which may seem "less than" to those hipsters.

As a more 'average' user/buyer of computers and software am more likely to be Microsoft's target audience (which means CR/LF's opinion should be of little consequence to Microsoft's campaign) and me and my posse of weird brainiacs am moving closer to the brand because of them.

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Friday, August 15, 2008

The Assumptions About Links & Comments

With all due respect to Jonathan Morrow at Copyblogger, his Why No One Links to Your Best Posts (And What to Do About It) is more than misleading, it's based on assumptions that could cost you.

In the article, he discusses the reason why your "best post" has no links &/or comments ~ even when you've emailed "all of the top bloggers in your niche, pointing them to the post". He states that content is not king and that the problem, your problem, is one of cronyism. “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know”; and you don't know enough of the cool kids. His solution, then, is to give you a short list of ways to butter-up popular, powerful, bloggers.

But I'm not buying it ~ at least not completely. And neither should you.

It's not just because the things he suggests on his How to Make Friends with Popular Bloggers list are rather Internet circa 1999, with its "guest post" idea (very "free article service"). It's not just that a majority of the list's actions are down-right bribe-tastic, with its "Volunteer to 'vote' for any posts that they’re pushing on social media sites like Digg, Del.icio.us and StumbleUpon" and "Join their private membership program (like Teaching Sells) and make lots of smart posts in the forums". (Both of which set my teeth on edge.) It's because I take issue with his whole take on what is important in blogging and writing in general.

If you are blogging to connect to & communicate with Big Name Bloggers, then perhaps the 'desperation suck-up to appease the popularity gods' Morrow suggests will work. ("The key is finding ways that you can be genuinely useful to them. Make yourself relevant and then use that opportunity to start building a relationship." Arg! I hate such insincerity, myself. And it's too much like those high school games of trying to make the cheerleading squad or just to get to hang with them; I never did that. There's an entirely long post on this whole subject.)

But blogging is done for many other reasons than to be a "cool blogger" or a pundit. Some of us, many of us, blog for those other reasons.

We blog to connect with current customers/clients &/or potential customers/clients. We blog to connect to readers & researchers who have an interest in our topic. We blog to increase conversation about an issue ~ even if that conversation occurs around the dinner table or as pillow talk. We blog to take reader interest and turn it into a concern and then an action via voting & activism, and supporting organizations and issues with memberships and donations (which is rather like connection with customers &/or potential customers, really; but still bears mentioning).

While getting linkage at cool kid sites is welcome, such linkage, as noted (second part of post), may not not really mean anything for those goals. But the absence of such linkage &/or commenting does not mean failure or that no one is reading your "best post".

Morrow's post forgets about such valuable things as The Long Tail & the silent visitor (reader).

I am a huge fan of quality information being available for the if & when of a searcher, no matter how long after that post has been published. It may not make you cool to anyone other than that searcher, but I think that searcher is important. That's you reaching your audience. The value of such a "long tail" has been discussed over and over again by many people, so I'll let you check that out for yourself & move on to the often overlooked importance of the silent visitor.

Contrary to what people will tell you, not everyone has a blog. And yet the blogless have incredible power of their own. They do have purchasing power & potential for other action (activism, word of mouth influence on others, etc.) Getting caught up in who is powerful &/or basing it on popularity (links in, page views, comments) isn't necessarily reflective of

Case in point: My mom.
She doesn't blog. Not having a blog, she's no user ID and that can (& does) intimidate her even more from the technical point of view; but really, she is too polite to even consider posting a comment at a "weblog of a person she doesn't know." However, this doesn't mean my mom is irrelevant in any sense to the blogger, large or small.

She talks everyday, on the phone, chatting with friends, mentioning who & what she was reading and passing along blog names like she once gossiped about the neighbors across the street who kept weird hours and never spoke to anyone in the neighborhood. And she emails. Yes, she is the one who forwards all those goofy & annoying email jokes and stuff (in her circle, she's cool for passing them along!); but she also sends links to those in her circle. And because she is respected by her peers & family (not to mention cool from the aforementioned email forwards), we all read what she has taken the time to send us. Mostly. (Or suffer the guilt of ignoring her.)

My mom & others like her may not cause your site stats to increase wildly; but she probably has brought you a few new fans &/or sales ~ and without her regular visits and emails, your traffic & sales could decrease.
Case in point: My dad.
He still has his homepage set to Yahoo! for news and has RSS feeds plugged in from "everywhere". But he has no blog and doesn't post comments.

He says that if it's a good article, he feels no need to post a comment. It's complete, addresses his questions & concerns, and as far as the author goes, he thinks it's 'nuff said and won't bother with a comment or email. He does, however, relay the information to family & friends, including recommending sites & stories for others to follow.

If it's a bad article or post...

He'll get good and worked up. But like yesterday's Letter To The Editor, he finds himself not making the effort to write his full argument in light of other more pressing and practical things. (And he won't bother with a partial, lame argument.) He does, however, perform more than the occasional live heated debate with the paraphrased, and not present, author.

Would you dismiss his passion & interest simply because he's blogless & therefore cannot link to you & has not commented?

Case in point: My sister.
She's a high powered corporate attorney at a huge world-wide corp ~ the names of which I cannot drop because of implications she'd not wish. This precisely illustrates why she cannot, will not, blog or comment. As for making a user ID, she finds that "silly & time consuming". However, she reads quite a bit of news online. And she does a huge amount of shopping online.

That's not only for convenience, but due to her wide circle of similarly financially endowed, privacy requiring, friends, who, for the same reasons, email one another about the latest sale, best baby find, and coolest scrap memory book making sites & tools en route to China, London, and Ohio. She, and her friends, read and buy online quite a bit; but no one is publicly talking.

You'd be a fool to ignore their buying power & influence.
Case in point: adult content visitors.
When it comes to the mature side of things, those of us in the adult industry know we are blogging for and to a huge population which will not out itself. For every comment posted I receive at least double the emails (more like five-to-one, but I've never really calculated the numbers); but still, most people do not declare their private desires in public places. Don't let the number of sex bloggers fool you; far more of we humans are having sex (& even talking about it) than are blogging & commenting. The interest in and popularity of sex blogs alone doesn't prove that; increase in population itself does.

Would you dismiss such silent traffic? If you do, you dismiss the majority of your visitors.
Dismissing silent readers such as these are a mistake. Hell, just as not everyone clicks links on blog sidebars or in blog posts, there are those who don't even read blogs or online at all. Yet the silent visitors who do may be the very people carrying on your organization's name, your product, your service, your mission, via word of mouth. Real mouths to real ears.

Silent readers may be your vital connection to real world people, purchases, votes and other actions which help your bottom line, no matter how you define the success or action taken.

And they have to matter just as much as those cool kids, the Big Bloggers.

Sometimes we spend too much time focused on the statistics, rankings, links in, comments and other things we can see ~ simply because we can see them. I'm not saying these things are meaningless; but neither are the actions we cannot track, like the silent reader.

Sometimes we have to operate without such stats & tracking ~ not driving blind, but using our common sense. Throughout the history of communication, there have been undocumented, untrackable, unseen & not heard, results of communication. People who listened & said nothing but then went to others and gossiped and whispered behind backs, carrying on the news. People who listened & said nothing, but then directed another based on that information. Just because we cannot count them, doesn't mean they don't matter.

Morrow's entire article on courting big name bloggers does not consider, for even a moment, the worth of all the silent visitors.

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Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Should You Really Make Fun Of Your Customer?

Just caught another one of those Domino's pizza commercials ~ from the "what are you gonna do in 30 minutes?" campaign. In this one, a guy makes a poster of the delivery guy with a unicorn, to which the delivery guy says, "Nice unicorn." In another, a trio of guys practices lame Brooklyn accents ~ which the delivery guy even pronounces are lame accents. In another, a guy has burned off his eyebrows and draws them in with magic markers... Huh? How? But mostly...

Why?

Domino's, are you really going to continue to mock your customers? Do you think potential customers want to become the lame, the stupid and the mocked?

There are so many versions of these attacks that it's getting very difficult to believe that there's any affection left in the mocking ~ if there ever really was any affection to begin with.

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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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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.
h||p://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites
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.
OMG.

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: Draft.blogger.com. 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 Draft.blogger.com 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 Inc.com'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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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

The Marketing Whore Q & A

I invited Marketing Whore newsletter subscribers to ask me questions (with caveats, guidelines and restrictions, of course), and this is some of what I received that was worthy of response...

You've seemed anti-Digg, so what gives with all the Digg talk? Why follow it if you don't like it?

I'm not anti-Digg; it's just not a huge part of my life ~ professionally or personally. However, it has to be recognized as a 'player' and even a 'shaper' of the game, especially when there are lessons to be learned as a site like Digg grapples with what it is, what it will be... To that end, David Binkowski's got a Digg update.

Why do you use/recommend Blogger and not WordPress etc.?


Honestly, now it's familiarity; I've been using it so long, why switch? And while I have used a few other blogging platforms, there are X reasons why I likely won't switch.

The number one reason is images. Images are a huge part of adult blogging, and, because images make any blog more interesting, I even try to find images for this blog from time to time. I've used Wordpress and what a nightmare images are! You have to size images for conformity; if you want a decent sized image in your post yet have it 'clickable' to a larger image, you have to upload more than one image and monkey greatly with code ~ oh, and don't get me started on how unfortunate Wordpress is with even paragraph formating! :Blech: Anyway, my point is that Blogger makes decent sized images for posts and automatically gives links to the larger images.

Plus, and let's not underestimate the value of this, Blogger doesn't require additional plugins for things like video.

There are also additional small things which could be all in my head... But if Google owns it, won't it be spidered well? And that Blogger bar at the top is used for surfing, random blogs etc, so it offers at least the potential for more visitors.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008

Uh-oh, The Villagers Have Pitchforks & They Want Digg's Secret Editor List

OK, so maybe that title's a bit 'too much' in terms of link bait ~ becoming more like flame bait. But it seems to match the mood of Internet villagers upon hearing that Digg employs invisible editors.

I concede that nameless, icon-less, user-name-free persons (who are empowered to do more than dump the spam and protect kiddies from porn, but who can also edit submitted links/stories) could should be less invisible; folks should not only that someone has the access to edit, but know who it is, even if it's Monster814, so that users can take the issue up with them in the event they feel some censorship was at work. That would be 'transparency' vs. 'invisibility'. But is anyone honestly surprised by this?

Anyone who has ever moderated a forum, or their own blog comments, knows there must be some human involvement here. And if folks don't know by now that humans are biased creatures, with their own points of view, if not out-right agendas, well, that person doesn't understand how communities work, and, fundamentally, how Digg works. I'm not just talking about Internet communities, but real communities of actual lifeforms.

However, it seems to me the real danger or upset here is not that Digg uses editors, nor even that users cannot see/communicate with them, but that Digg doesn't seem to even understand it's own purported purpose.

If Digg is to be a democracy, where The Public of users, or members of the Digg nation if you will, determine the success and failure of Digg's gross national product, why don't the citizens have any control in the elections or evaluations of the public officers who over-see such things? Shouldn't the citizens have the right to know, address, challenge, or at least report on those who are in charge of citizen security (protecting them from public enemies #1 & #2, porn and spam, respectively), and who, due to access, shape public policies (editing for outcomes to suit own beliefs)? Where's the public accountability in the democracy that is Digg?

Some of you will likely counter with facts declaring that Digg is not a nation, but a business; &/or pick at some flaw in my (very brief & greatly simplified) civics comparison. But spare us all; the former because Digg compares itself to a great democracy, the latter because I've not been hired as your Civics 101 instructor.

What matters here is that in Digg's growth the mission has been somewhat lost, and as such it stands on shaky gound. It's not that it cannot adjust; it certainly could...

But while they are busy defending their need for invisible editors, the public sees shadowy figures in the dark. That's a PR problem. Domestic and foreign. When your GNP is based on user created content, you'd better be taking the matter of public perception to heart; those villagers with pitchfolks matter.

Meanwhile, as Digg founders are busy rationalizing, others are ready to exploit. If secret editors were intended to keep the country safe, the borders are now in danger.


I found this story at Scott's blog, along with the above image, and that's what I'll leave you with today.

You may now sort our your feelings, & write a response.

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Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Heated Rants & Cool Kids: Social Bookmarking

In this most recent episode of, "Waaa, it's hard to be an adult webmaster or blogger..."

Sara alerted me to Fleshbot's Why Does Digg Hate Porn (which, by the way, finally made me get off my figurative ass and audition for ability to post comments at Fleshbot), and so the saga continues.

Actually, there are two sagas here; one is the dealio with adult sites and the old censorship condom, and the other is the matter of social networking. Heck, there's a few more, but I'll start with these two and, driving my former English profs to rend their clothing and pull their hair, I'll not include them in the opening summary but just get to the others when I do.

Get a beverage and settle in; this is going to be a long post.

It's easy to take it personally when content is not accepted by sites like Digg; our sites/companies are like our babies and we don't like the other kids rejecting them. But let's look at things from their point of view: Somebody is gonna scream bloody hell and they don't want the trouble.
Case Study: Fark once had categories called "Boobies" and "Weeners" which was, as you imagine, links to softcore naked boobs and dicks (respectively, if not respectfully) and adult conversations or links. But advertisers would complain, prompting Fark to make changes.

First they went with the sneaky approach. When they got a new advertiser, they stopped publishing "Boobies" & "Weeners" for a few weeks, then figuring the advertisers had tired of watching their ad on Fark, they resumed the "Boobies" & "Weeners" postings. But eventually, either they tired of such monitoring or continued to get flack at Fark HQ, and they stopped.

Both "Boobies" and "Weeners" have been moved to Foobies.com, leaving Fark more acceptable to advertisers. (Interestingly, "Boobies" always out-number "Weeners" ~ and I'm not talking 2-1 as anatomy suggests. Is this proof that porn pics are still more a man-thing than some media would tell you? I'll get to those myths later; remind me.)

Fark went where the money was. Can you blame other social sites for doing the same?
Now, before you start yelping how other sites ~ sites even 'worse' than yours ~ get to sit at the cool kids' table, let me remind you that these are social sites and, as noted in the Fleshbot comments, you're in if one of the cool kids lets you in. Which all goes back to doing your research to discover who the quarterbacks and prom queens are (the marketing term for these people are 'influencers').

Remember, the Internet isn't much different than the real world; you just can't invite yourself to the cool kids' table, you must be asked.

Now, many folks will tell you that you just need to become a member and submit your link yourself. You join the social network, you post the link, and let others bump it up and help you drive the traffic. That's part of the 'poo' in Web Poo Point Doh.

Members know if you are really a member or if you're a user, a poser, a plant, a shill ~ a fake. To be a member, you have to be a member. You have to have actual, real conversations & make friends. In social networks this means leaving comments, ranking other links, messaging and using all the frills that said network provides to members. Over time, you'll learn what all the cool kids are into, what the lingo is, what the insider jokes and nicknames are, and assimilate in a myriad of ways. But even then, you may not get your link liked.

Why?

Because it's just like the real world, kiddos. You can join the new school, go to all the football games, but that won't make you prom king or queen.

So maybe you are really likable. Maybe you do fit in at this new school. But this is going to cost you a huge investment in time ~ so I hope you really like this place because you're going to have to show up at a lot of parties.

***

Recently (just hours before I made this post) my site, Sex-kitten.Net, had a link listed at Reddit ~ actually, at NSFW Reddit (which means it's Not Safe For Work). Nice, yes; but not just for me. This proves that some social bookmarking sites are open to adult linkage, but you may have to hunt for where they are allowed.

In some sort of twisted fate, the link the Reddit user put in was not the correct link and so it was taking people not to Shame, Shame, Shame; Shame of Fools (NWS) but to The Doctor (NWS). I have no idea how that happened and as tech was sleeping, I did a quick dirty fix by posting a note at the top of The Doctor, telling Reddit folks where to find the correct article. I mention this so you know that being slightly obsessive about your stats and refers can in fact be time well-spent.

Also in this Reddit experience was a reaffirmation that your link traffic may not benefit your site as you might think.

While (at the time of this post) no one has slammed or mocked the piece at Sex Kitten (which believe-you-me does happen), the increase in numbers is a quick thing. As soon as that little link of mine moves down the page, the light will cease to shine on my site.

In fact, that little light doesn't shine as brightly as you may imagine.

Instead of all those new readers scampering like kittens all over Sex Kitten, they came, read and left. As I write this there are no new comments (and don't say it's about registering there, I've seen this across platforms), and very few visit any additional pages on the site. Well, in this case, they may be seeing two pages; the bad link to The Doctor and then move on to the Shame piece as intended. But in general, you are darn lucky if 10% look at any other page of your site or post on your blog.

And the numbers are even less for any links off site.

This I know, 'cuz my refer logs tell me so.

(In this example, I also asked Secondhand Rose, who wrote Shame, to give me the numbers of refers coming to her blog from that piece; less than 2% at the time I wrote this.)

So why do so many people pray for such linkage? How do 'they' say that getting picked up by sites like Fleshbot, Reddit, Digg, Boing Boing etc., is the holy grail?

Well, links at such popular sites are good things. But moving from a one-hit-wonder to a popular site in your own right is rather like potato chips... Just one isn't enough.

Like traditional advertising, getting links at popular sites is a matter of awareness. See one ad for a movie and even if you were intrigued by it, you may forget about it and not go to see it; but see a number of them, and while you may not drop everything to line-up outside the theater, you're more likely to make plans to see it. That's how being featured at other sites is; the more often you are featured, the more links you get, the more people remember you and decide to adopt you somehow... buying your product or buying into your site (brand).

After seeing you a number of times, the big influencers may like you so much that they get your RSS and rush to be the first to post you themselves. (Cross your fingers!)

And if your content has broad enough appeal, enough of factor X for site 1, enough Y for site 2, etc., then your site, either that very same link or another page/post, will likely pass to another site as users troll sites for good stuff to pass onto their buddies. (Just like jokes or party invites travel from the cool kids' table to the locker room to the pompom squad.)

But all of this requires that you have content worthy of that influencer, that community, that site.

So stop reading here and get back to work creating your content. *wink*

Note: The Marketing Whore Newsletter, after a hiatus, will be sent tomorrow. So if you have not yet subscribed, please do so!

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Friday, January 4, 2008

A Different Kind Of Authority For Sex Bloggers

Dear friend, Amanda Brooks, has an excellent post at Bound, Not Gagged (NWS). In it she discusses a certain big blogging kahuna...

A couple months ago a very popular “self-improvement” blogger wrote a post that mentioned prostitutes in Vegas. Although he knows it’s illegal in Vegas, he was under the impression (like most people) that the laws weren’t enforced much. He toyed with the idea of interviewing a prostitute and posting the interview on his blog. He was sure it would get a lot of Digg hits. And that’s the important thing.

I’m sure he wouldn’t have offered to pay for her time (What? Pay for anything with a sex worker? Doesn’t that incriminate you?), but would happily pick her brain for as long as it took him to run through his questions (most of which she’s probably tired of answering), just so he could get a lot of Digg hits and bring lots of traffic to his blog. Hopefully some of that traffic would click on his AdSense ads and affiliate links and bring him some money. That’s the really important thing.

...I don’t think we get on Digg much, if at all. I don’t know how many blogs (beyond sex blogs) link in. Or how many non-sex sites link in. I don’t live and die by Digg or Stumbleupon (because I’d already be dead); I feel there is a huge knowledge/awareness gap because we haven’t achieved the Web saturation and “authority” that a single navel-gazing blogger has.

Most adult blogs do not fare well on Digg, and the other social bookmarking tools. While some are clearly focused on technology or other subjects which are not predisposed to our topics, others just feel the need for social safety and apply a censorship condom. There are those which do not, but excluding us is more often by design than not.

But back to Amanda's story...
I e-mailed him privately and he was surprised to learn there are sex work blogs out there. He wasn’t personally aware of any and he attributed that to the lack of blog marketing skills of sex workers. That may be true, or it may be that he has never curiously searched Blogger or WordPress for call girl, escort, courtesan or sex worker. But still, the Internet masses have granted him “authority” on any topic and sex workers apparently lack it – even if blogging about sex work.
Wow. "The lack of blog marketing skills of sex worker"; that would hurt if it weren't so ludicrous.

The point is that this big kahuna is big in his own pond and forgets there are other ponds. I don't mind admitting I don't have the slightest clue who this guy is, and in fact, it illustrates my point. I don't ponder or search for "self-improvement", so I don't know him; he doesn't search for "sex workers", so he doesn't know us. Clearly he mistakes his too-lazy-to-search curiosity for an absence of information, sources or authorities on the subject. In short, he thinks his own micro-universe is The Universe.

But of course it's not.

I exist, Amanda exists, and there many more of us ~ some could argue too many of us. *wink*

Within our community, there are many big kahunas. Each with PageRank, Technorati "authority" and interviews to prove it. But this is not the type of authority Amanda is getting at.
I don’t know if a mass community considers BnG to be an “authority” or a “voice.” Where were the mainstream op-ed pieces from sex workers? (Not to imply that BnG is the only Internet outlet for sex workers, simply that it’s The Huffington Post for sex worker activists.)

Nor do I worship mainstream media. But to change minds, we need access to mainstream media. We need them to listen to us and allow various voices to be heard. What credentials are we lacking to be considered authorities on our own experiences? Once we target our media deficiencies, how can they be overcome?

I don’t have any answers. I’m only beginning to work through the questions. But I think it’s a vital issue because positive change will not happen for sex workers until mainstream America hears us.

Comments on Bound, Not Gagged (NWS) aside (I have no ill feelings for it as I'm obviously reading it; but I don't want to discuss how big it is in terms of ponds or micro universes), I feel the anguish in Amanda's questioning.

It's akin to the matter of your mission. At least part of it is.

Another part, or line of questioning, is about the situation all adult marketers face: We just aren't accepted &/or recognized by mainstream society.

We can't get press releases distributed, our ad purchasing power is limited, and we are thwarted on the Internet too (directory listings, social networks, link swaps, blog awards, etc.) because the censorship condom exists. We can't reach the masses to show we're OK unless they let us in; and they won't let us in because they fear us. I've been at this for a decade now, and believe me I know this chicken v. egg problem. (If only that censorship condom didn't exist ~ then we could fertilize that egg!)

But meanwhile, as we sex workers, sex bloggers, and adult business folks swim in our ponds or spin in our micro universes & connect with others, we continue to build authority.

And it's my hope that eventually our numbers, our issues, will force water to flow towards us, into their ponds, or orbits to be shared ~ whatever it takes for conversations to take place.

Meanwhile, we'll keep on keepin' on.

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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

The Changing Signs Of The Times Charm & Disarm



I didn't just post this because we had such a giggle spotting it on the road that we turned the car around to snap the pic, but rather to illustrate that there is something very charming and in fact disarming when we see the people in business.

I've noticed this in my business too. When sites are too corporate, too serious ~laced-up & polished to the point that personality and humanity are absent ~ the interest wanes. I do believe that in the age of the Internet, with its user driven content and blogging, that credibility suffers too.

The formality that once translated to 'good business sense' and trust has shifted to a transparency that not only lets consumers see inside, but like Michael Keaton in Gung Ho, lets consumers know it's fun too. We want to have some sense that the culture is less rigid and more able to deal with and reflect our own cultural 'Casual Friday' changes.

A sign like this reminds us that there are folks employed there, just doing their job, and maybe even having some fun while they do it too. And that means more to folks driving down the street than some ad in the Yellow Pages, or even a slick skyscraper ad at the big boy websites. And what do they see or sense when they do arrive there?

What sort of things can you do to charm and disarm, to let folks know that there are real people working to create/sell/deliver your product &/or services?

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Someone Has To Say It...

Working At Home Mom posted 13 Ideas For Creating Finding Your Niche; it wouldn't be a bad list if she knew what a niche was, or at least knew a niche from a USP. This is clearly a list of USPs.

I'm sorry to sound rude about it, but I hate it when people spout about yet don't know what they are talking about ~ worse yet when they are 'educating' others. :snort:

But perhaps Working At Home Mom has unwittingly provided the real answer to the question, "Why do so many home businesses fail?"

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Today's Spam: Divert 1000's Of New Visitors

How would You like to divert 1000s of fresh new visitors daily?

Diverting visitors? Forget for a moment that as a piece of spam, I'm skeptical, at best, that you can deliver on anything... Forget that 'diverting visitors' sounds like dirty pool, like I'm a rancher stealing water from another rancher... Forget for a moment that some of the visitors I divert may scream bloody murder at being diverted to an adult site... But I won't forget that thousands, even millions, of "fresh new visitors daily" is meaningless if it's not targeted traffic.

Why would I want to divert a bunch of visitors who don't want to find me, my site, my product or service?

Playing a numbers game is one way to go about your business ~ I know of many 'successful' people (I've never seen their bank books) who claim they've used that model, and I've seen plenty of folks who clearly use that model ~ but for me it's not just lame, it's bad business.

Playing the numbers game is like the old saying, "Throw it at the wall and see what sticks," only this time the 'it' you are throwing isn't a business idea or product, but potential customers. I don't think I'll find prosperity throwing potential customers against a wall. Do you? You must if you think a numbers game is good business.

Those are people you're tossing about as if they don't matter. Diverting visitors, blasting folks with pop-ups & spam, this is annoying people and treating them as if they & their time just doesn't matter. Is that your message ~ that you just don't care about people, as long as they stick to your wall?

If you're not invested enough to cultivate the relationships, or the business itself, then don't go into business; just stay home and toss underwear against the wall.

I'm sure you'll find some that stick (and I wouldn't be surprised if it were at the same percentage too). But without any target, all you've got is some panties stuck against the walls.

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Thursday, December 13, 2007

Your Mission, Should You Choose To Accept It

Over at Waking Vixen, Audacia posted Seeing straight ahead: the porn industry’s sexuality blinders, a discussion of the reluctance in the porn industry to make real bisexual flicks. Reading it, and all the comments, especially those of Tony Comstock, I am again reminded of the fine lines between types of missions.

While activism certainly employs marketing (or at least good, effective activism does), and business certainly has a mission, mixing activism and business can be tricky.

Sure the business papers like to play up Anita Roddick and Ben & Jerry's as models of business models with activism mentalities, but the truth is both companies are more models for ethics than activism. Both made tough value-centered choices, and both spoke out for other companies to do the same, but neither went up in arms or published tirades against the people and organizations which they needed to use to peddle their wares.

Activism isn't (typically) about being quiet; it's about making some noise. And while that can be good for your business, when you attack (or are seen as attacking) de rigeur, 'the man' with the hand that feeds you, you can burn some bridges which then cut-off your main avenue to move product.

AVN's publications are considered (by many) to be porn industry bibles; the organization itself rather like a god. They are The Powers That Be. And The Powers That Be are, despite the 'great equalizer, the Internet, control your service or product by refusing to cover (or panning) your product or service (or refusing to finance/invest in it).

Sometimes, these powers mull over your ideas & claim them as their own, using their power and clout to broadcast, sell and profit from them. In the case of true activism, this is change and it is good; in the case of business, this cuts you out of the profits & may be the end of your business.

I know because I've been in situations like these.

This doesn't mean your business can't or shouldn't be trying to activate change; quite often there is good money there. But you'll either need very deep pockets to ride out the cold shoulder of the establishment, of you'll need to speak softly and hope your fans are the ones to carry the big stick (and yell loudly).

Your marketing, done right, can do that. And if you don't believe me, look at non-profits.

However, today's environment is more hostile towards sex activists. We in adult businesses know that even though our market share or customer base isn't shrinking (shifting about, certainly; but not shrinking), our avenues of distribution and sales are. It's simply a reflection of the non-profits and organizations which (marketing fear) have placed their mission squarely on the shoulders of their fans (followers) who have happily grabbed clubs and are willing to speak loudly.

Here again are lessons for us.

You remember how Momma used to say, "You have to pick you battles"? Well, sometimes you have to pick a side or a method of battle: Business or Activism. And if you choose business, then be prepared to either play ball with The Powers That Be, accept the consequences when you don't, or be careful in the construction & actions of your mission.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Feeling Like A Mad Hatter

Recently Mike Lynch was asked, "Can anyone make a living as a gag cartoonist?", and he thoughtfully replied with a blog post. Many of his points are applicable to anyone selling their wares, so gag cartoonist ~ any type of artist ~ or not, you can learn something.

Here are a few of my favorite points:
There is also the shark aspect. The idea that you keep moving your cartoons, keep seeking out new markets, carry your business cards with you at all times. And sometimes calling editors to ask where your cartoons are. Promotion, persistence, production! But this is something that is inside of you and something you have to decide to do every day, you know? It's easier just to have a "real job" and dream about it. Much easier.
Our dream jobs are often more work than any other job we've held. Hopefully we are motivated because we love what we do and we want to live the dream, but it's still more work than most realize. "Promotion, persistence, production!" Isn't that the damn truth.

Whenever I meet enthusiastic entrepreneurs, I do try to caution them ~ not dampen their enthusiasm, but alert them to the realities. But if my words dampen enthusiasm, or scare them off, well, perhaps that's just as well.

"Promotion, persistence, production!" is our battle cry, our workload, and without passion we'd barely make it to those pay days (however small and far between they are). You take a sick day, and since no one is there to do anything while you're away, you stumble back to work still less than par and with double or triple the workload. It can be daunting.

Lynch continues:
I was at a business function full of NYC business-types. This was to be expected since it was held on the fashionable edge of SoHo in a huge converted loft. One of the guys came up to me and asked what I did. I told him that I was the guy that did the cartoons for their Web site. He was intrigued, especially when I told him that that was the way I made my living. He told me, "It must be great to be creative all the time."

I smiled as pleasantly as I could. I told him that cartooning was a job. Cartoons don't flow out my hand like water from a faucet. They are work. But, like I always add, this is also a job I love.

Cartoonists can't just draw when inspired if hey want to make money. As for me, I have to produce marketable, salable work at a regular pace. I'm an assembly line, putting out good cartoons at a regular pace. I'm a marketer, aiming my product at clients large and small. I'm the R&D department, finding new ways to get my material out there. You wear a lot of hats, including that Mad Hatter one.

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Monday, November 12, 2007

Relationships With Bloggers

Brian Solis' Blogworld Expo: Building Relationships with Bloggers is excellent.

However, I do take issue with this point:
You don't have the "right" to pitch bloggers, so really think about it before you approach anyone.
As noted later in his post, "The pitch is dead," so I'm going to address this from the point of view of the right to start conversations.

I do think you have the right to start conversations with bloggers ~ with anyone ~ just as in the real world you have the right to start a conversation with anyone. But starting that conversation from a defensive stance, one of justification, &/or with the cocky notion that people will or must give a crap isn't going to work. Unless, of course, your goal is to alienate. But you can start Internet conversations, using the same common sense you would walking about on earth.

Link found via Spin Thicket.

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Beware Branding Marks

The New Deal: Band as Brand:
Though [Paramore's] success is in large part due to smart pop songwriting and a fashion-forward frontwoman, music executives and talent managers also cite Paramore as a promising example of a rising new model for developing talent, one in which artists share not just revenue from their album sales but concert, merchandise and other earnings with their label in exchange for more comprehensive career support.

If the concept takes hold, it will alter not only the way music companies make money but the way new talent is groomed, and perhaps even the kind of acts that are offered contracts in the first place.

Commonly known as “multiple rights” or “360” deals, the new pacts emerged in an early iteration with the deal that Robbie Williams, the British pop singer signed with EMI in 2002. They are now used by all the major record labels and even a few independents.
While I post this as a bit of marketing news, I also can't help but wonder what this really means for the word 'artist'. Music is an industry, a business, and certainly celeb status helps push product (both their own product, music, and the products of others), I wonder what this means for those of us who want music. Real music, not 'a brand'.

It wasn't that long ago that 'world music' had appeal for some of these very reasons ~ we wanted music for music's sake, not some commercialized glut.

Admittedly, the panache of posh persons has always been a regular in the marketing and making of damn near anything and everything; but this open move towards acts signing these 360 deals seems to be counter-productive to the current age of transparency... Now we the consumers know what companies, acts and performers are the least artistic. For it's not about the music, getting it out there, but some sort of success measuring stick which must include marketability beyond the main product. In other words, bands are not to be signed unless they are great cash-cows ~ selling more than CDs to music lovers, but shoes, shampoo and heaven knows what else.

In the case of established artists, like Madonna, this is not so shocking. But what of the new artists? Who won't be signed because they either have no track record of being able to push other (non-musical) products at us or are viewed as not being able to reach such commercial status. Shouldn't recording artists be judged solely for their ability to sell records?

In an age of cynical consumers, such transparency could bite the hand that pretends to feed. I know when I see its be-jeweled fingers pushing, I'll certainly be suspicious.

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Thursday, November 1, 2007

Website Marketing Tips, Anyone?

Kelly at Extreme Restraints has an excellent post in her blog: Tips on a good site and it doesn't have to be an adult site.

Her number one is my number one, and most of it is sage advice. However, I do, as usual, take issue with a few points...
3. Copyright Statements

Everything you create and write on your web site warrants copyright declarations. So include it on every page AND keep it up to date.
Copyright is granted with everything you write or create, so copyright statements aren't necessary. And, stated or not, the rights only have teeth if and when you police and seek protection under the law.
9. Typos and Grammer Mistakes

Typographic mistakes will be noticed immediately. Typos are considered either due to a very novice or uncaring website owner. Typos are not made by professionals in business trying to make a living. Thus when you have typos and grammer errors on your website, visitors won’t think you take your site seriously, and they won’t either. They’ll think you’ll make all kinds of other mistakes too. Like shipping to an incorrect or mistyped address… not shipping at all, or… maybe you don’t even look at your website so …

Geez.. use a spell checker.. don’t rely on it… but use it and reread things before you post them on your site. Have someone else verify anything you put out there for the world to see.
Ironically, Kelly spelled "grammar" and 'jeez' wrong (along with a few other spelling errors in her post), and yet I'm not only still reading, but I'm posting the link and recommending it be read. If that's not taking her seriously, then what is?

But seriously, in a perfect world we'd like to be error-free ~ both in terms of creating and using/reading ~ but none of us lives in a perfect world. I can grab a book by Random House and find typos; so I'm not shocked when I find one in a website or blog.

So what I'm trying to say is, do try to avoid as many mistakes as you can; but don't sweat them too badly either. Sloppy shows, but so do the best intentions. To most people. Your mileage, as they say, may vary.

6. Long Pages

There are so many example around you. Look at a new paper.. most articles are very short. Look at ads.. they’re short. Look at the most sucessful websites out there… they’re short. Most pages should be one screen with no scrolling down. I’ve done surveys and statistical analysis and read books on web usability that prove … drum roll … Of all the people who visit your web page.. only 20% of them will bother to scroll down to see the next screen full of information. Of that 20% only about 5% will scroll down for another chuck of screen. That means if you’ve got a page that is 3 screens long… then only 1 out of 100 visitors will ever see that. You are better off having a couple of pages that link together. Most successful stores do this. You’ll see an overview of a product that is 1 screen in length and a more details link (that goes to a long page of DUH! more details). Most site visitors don’t bother. But a buyer may want those more details.

So don’t waste your precious time and effort on carefully crafting really long pages. Keep it short and simple. Get your message out fast. Entice them to do something fas

Let me K.I.S.S. you… put your buy buttons at the top instead of only at the bottom.
First, I'd like to see where Kelly got those stats. Second, what were these stats for? The actions of whom do they supposedly depict? What of the stats which conclude that getting people to make the second click for more details is an aggravation, a sales turn-off? The problem with any such stats is the number of variables involved. Are these stats based on news sites? Commerce sites? What's the sampling? Demographics of the sampling? How did these people find 'you' to read 'you'? Do any of these things relate to your business? The fact is, the number of people reading 'you' is a matter of many things, such as SEO, site ranking, consumer faith, how well you've targeted your ads etc., etc., etc.

But I'm not going to refute them with stats of my own or anyone else's ~ and not because I'm lazy. It's because such stats are damn near irrelevant in my book.

Who is or isn't reading is based on many things, most important of which is why they are there reading.

In the case of Extreme Restraints, you hope it is because they are looking to purchase a bondage item. No one else really matters.

Turn it around, putting this in your control, who are you are writing for?

You are not writing for everyone, but specific someones ~ individual people, one by one. Essentially, you are writing for one person, but publishing it publicly so that they, or another like them, can read it over and over again when needed. That's your target market. Your page, your text, must meet each of their needs. Who is this person? What do they need? Are those stats about them or 'anyone'?

Going again with Extreme Restraints, the writing must fit the needs of each person shopping for bondage gear. Whether they know what they need or are researching for a future purchase; whether they have the money now or are bookmarking the item for when they do have the money; the text needs to answer all of their questions and concerns.

And if that means a 'long page', so be it.

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