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

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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Friday, August 15, 2008

This Week's Links

This week's marketing links from my Delicious Bookmarks:

MarketingProfs Knowledge Exchange : Ethics of blogging

My company just started a blog, and I found some issues to write about that I think are important to the industry. However, when I visited my competitor's websites to find more ideas I noticed some of their blogs aren't really what I think a blog would be. They are more like FAQ's pasted onto a blog. This got me thinking are there really any ethics or guidelines to blogging?

Hey Blogger, Are You Ready for the Lawsuit? | Marketing Profs Daily Fix Blog

When a journalist takes on a company, brand, individual or other entity -- they are protected by the big media companies that employ them. Bloggers, not so much

Feature Focus: The New Face of Amateur Porn - XBIZ.com

While some folks might find this increased level of public acceptance of adult material to be a good thing, it planted the seeds for what this observer sees as potentially being the worst thing to hit adult entertainment since the Meese Commission.

Catalina Loves » Blog Archive » Catalina loves Her Daughter - Buy a Raffle Ticket to Win one of Many Great Prizes!

I’ve never discussed this on my blog before, but recent developments have prompted me to discuss the reason why I’m no longer a teacher. Being Catalina isn’t always a good thing. I separated early this year with my school as a peaceful way to avoid a public scandal that would ultimately affect my teenage daughter, who attended said school.

Writing sex and parenting - dangerous but essential | Sex In The Public Square

There are few places where our public and private lives become blended into such ugly displays as they do in custody and divorce proceedings. The current controversy surrounding Jefferson's appeal for support because of a custody challenge that is, at least partly, based on his blogging about his sex life demonstrates that better than almost anything could.

Who Made Publishers the Morality Police? | BlogHer

"Let the books speak for themselves. If you don't want your kid to read a book because of the author's post-publication actions then don't buy it, but you should get to decide what is suitable for your child, not the publisher."

XXBN: The Monolith Of Alternative Media: Thoughts On Blogs & Blogging

Blog definitions; something I find both interesting and irrelevant.

Techno @ VirtualCrux: How to enable del.icio.us daily blog posting to Blogger using FeedBurner

del.icio.us daily blog posting is not compatible with Blogger. Here's a solution to this problem using FeedBurner.

A Slip of a Girl: Claims Of Big Britches Make Me Post Big Bitches

recent Violet Blue "blog-troversy" in which BoingBoing removed/unpublished/deleted posts of Ms Blue's

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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, May 28, 2008

Amanda Brooks On Marketing On XXBN

Amanda Brooks, a retired escort and author of The Internet Escort's Handbook series, will be on Cult of Gracie radio at 9 pm (central). Since Amanda's second book, Advertising and Marketing: Successfully Creating and Selling Your Image Online, is due out in June, this is an excellent time for you Marketing Whore readers to listen ~ and call in.

If it's anything like her first book (NWS), it will be brilliant ~ and useful for more than escorts and PSOs etc. So don't miss it.

For more on Amanda, see the show details.

As most (?) of you know by now, I work with Amanda Brooks at SWOP-East. But before you go thinking that's why Amanda's book got such a rave review, you should know it's quite the opposite: Amanda's brilliance convinced Gracie that she'd like to work with the brilliant Amanda Brooks and SWOP-East.

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Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Adult Marketer, Can You Use Blog Talk Radio?

I was recently interviewed on XBN (NWS), a radio program run by SWOP East, which is powered by Blog Talk Radio. Not only was it fun, prompting me to schedule another interview (perhaps even host a show), but the experience resurrected talk of Sex-Kitten.Net radio.

For a few years we've been discussing starting a radio show, but along with the investment costs (equipment, time and additional marketing efforts), we were skeptical of the feasibility of such a project. While we know that discussion of sexuality is both needed and desired, we worried if the uphill battle of selling the program would result in a watered-down, wet-blanket version of the show & programming we envisioned. The other option, of course, was to run our own Internet radio station ~ which led back to the additional costs of equipment and bandwidth on top of all the other issues. The bottom line was if we had less tech and marketing efforts, it would be worth the old college try; but without that support, it was a bit too much to bite-off. So the the project was shelved, occasionally resurrected when something, like the XBN interview, reignited the spark of passion.

Back in the early days of discussion, our research included the newborn baby BlogTalkRadio.com. And we've investigated, as they've popped up, other options. But none seemed as simple as easy, with the most options, as Blog Talk Radio. All you need is a computer, an Internet connection, and a phone. And yes, kids, Blog Talk Radio is free.

It's free for listeners, and even free for callers if they use VoIP.

The past few years have shown not only Blog Talk Radio's stability in the reliable sense, but a real growth in terms of listener audience and increased options.

Along with the opportunity to increase your connection with readers via audio (listening to live shows, downloading podcasts, and offering additional real-time conversations with your blog &/or website readers), you have the opportunity to recruit new fans via regular users of BlogTalkRadio.

BlogTalkRadio isn't just a technology platform, allowing you to create shows and store them; it's a social network where members can find and hook-up with & befriend other members ~ which includes show hosts as well as other listeners. They also offer a number of widgets, which allows fans to literally help you broadcast your shows by posting your show on their blogs and in their profiles at other social networking sites.

In January of this year, Blog Talk Radio also started a RevShare Program. When you opt in, show hosts can receive 35% of ad sales/sponsors for their shows ~ and if you find a show sponsor who is not currently using Blog Talk Radio, you'll get a 50% share of the ads they place on your shows. (All paid show sponsorship & advertising must be run-through Blog Talk Radio.)

This also means that if you have an adult product, your ad money is welcome at Blog Talk Radio. Starting at $100, you can buy ad space at targeted radio shows where the listening audience is your market audience, willing and ready to buy. You can see more information and find the full rate info here.

There have been a lot of changes at BlogTalkRadio, and with renewed interest I began to investigate if now was the time...

I found the FAQs (both the public list and the additional FA available for registered users) a bit confusing, and being one of those polite marketers, I wanted to see just how welcome adult content would be. So I got in touch with John Sweet, Director of Customer Relations for BlogTalkRadio.com.

Are we adult folks welcome at Blog Talk Radio?

Yes. And you'll see when you fill out the information for hosting a show that there are several options ~ there's both a "Mature" and an "Adults Only".

What are the standards?

It's self-regulating; but basically "Mature" would be an "R" or "NC-17" and "Adults Only" would be for more risque talk ~ but again, we're still not talking X-rated or pornographic talk. The rule of thumb here is the entertainment aspect: discussion about sex is OK, but reading an erotic story is not. In other words, you can move the listeners to actions such as "buy this book", "attend this conference", or "show up at the rally"; but if you're trying to move them into ah, well, lifting their hand for some other self-entertainment purpose, then that's a no-no.

John was clear to also tell me what would happen if someone were to complain or contact BlogTalkRadio regarding a show's content. You won't get the boot instantly. He'll review the show and if there's a concern, he'll contact the show's host to discuss what can be done to make corrections to avoid potential problems in the future. So you have some breathing room; self-regulation is not a trick question, setting you up to fail.

One thing you must know about adult shows is that they will not be visible to the average visitor to BlogTalkRadio.com. This does not mean your show is buried. Registered users may opt to see & search for listings in the mature & adult only shows simply by correctly setting permissions in their profile. Just toggle "Disabled" in the safe search setting, located in the "My Options" section of your "Settings" page.



And, registered user or not, any links directly to your show's page will be seen and heard. So, like any good marketer would do, when you link to your show from your website &/or blog (or fans do), folks will properly arrive there; no fancy settings or permissions needed.

Other info you may want clarified:

Show Length:

Show length is listed as up to 60 minutes, but it is now up to 120 minutes ~ plus you can have up to one additional hour in which the show is being taped for the archives, but is not streaming live. So if your guest has created quite a crowd of questioners, you, the guest and callers may still continue the show. New listeners arriving at the page will not hear it, but anyone playing back the archived show will hear it all, up to 180 minutes.

Remember, you need not have a show or shows that long; you may select show length to be as little as 15 minutes. But once the stated length of the show ends, you have up to 60 additional minutes of recording time. Which brings up the matter of what happens post show, if/when you and your guest are doing wrap-up chatter. It is being recorded and you should let the guest know that it is still being taped &/or edit this out of the recording so it is not included in the show's archive.

Newbie Restrictions

When you are a new host of a show on Blog Talk Radio, you are limited to three shows per month, and you may not have a show during prime time hours (without special permission ~ more on that in a bit).

It doesn't sound like a lot to an eager new radio personality, but John assures me it's not such a problem. As your show increases in popularity (number of live listeners and number of downloaded archived shows), a magical algorithm calculates your worthiness of more shows. In other words, by the time you've got a few under your belt, you'll be ready for more. (And if not, well, then increase your marketing efforts.)

Radio, is a lot like blogging. It takes time to build your blog, your audience and pacing is a huge part of it. (How many times have we seen a new blogger post like crazy, with dozens of posts a day or a week, only to find they've abandoned the blog a few weeks later... Having a low start limit prevents enthusiastic burnout rates.)

Prime Time Slots

Prime time slots, as defined by Blog Talk Radio, are 7:00 PM EST to 12:00 AM EST, Monday through Friday.

The issue of limiting prime time show spots is obviously based on the desirability of such time slots. As these are the most popular hours for listening, BlogTalk Radio naturally wants to play fair with them, and overall limits them to one prime time slot per week. Newbies have to pay their dues, build an audience, to earn that time. Again, John says that it's not too difficult to get in. And in fact, we adult folks may have an inside track...

It only makes sense that adult programming would be more popular in the evening, as adults can't listen to such shows at work or while the kiddies are awake and about. So if you have an "Adults Only" or "Mature" show, contact John (johnsweet+at+blogtalkradio.com) and ask him to help give you the clearance to schedule during prime time.

Fine Print

Registering at BlogTalkRadio.com requires a user agreement. This user agreement indicates that you do not own the copyright to your show.

This means that you may not sell rights to your show, but Blog Talk Radio may.

It's a scary thing for a content creator to contemplate... I asked John about that, and it's pretty simple. They have the right to sell your shows or excerpts of your shows. You don't get paid, but you should get your name out there.

So, for a hypothetical example, if NPR wants seven minutes of an interview on your show, they need to negotiate that with Blog Talk Radio. You don't get a cut; but you will be mentioned. John agrees that not mentioning the specific show and host would be a disservice to both the host/creator and the listener. (Plus, John said Blog Talk Radio would want to talk that up themselves as well.) But if you want to retain rights and control of your radio show or podcast, then this isn't an option for you.

Other Blot Talk Radio Options

As I mentioned, Blog Talk Radio has grown quite a bit in the past few years. They are continually increasing options and features. One of the most intriguing to me was BlogTalkRadio stations.

Station are a means by which you can broadcast multiple shows & further brand yourself. Prior to stations, if you wanted multiple shows, you had to create multiple user ids. While that allows you the option of more than one show, it doesn't allow for them all to be under the same umbrella. The rates for stations are a tidy sum, starting at $5,000 a month. I'm not one of those marketers who says you can't put a price on branding (Because if you can't, well, what's the point? It's a business after all.), but I wouldn't readily dismiss such a fee.

Along with tech assistance, show producers (help with calls etc.), you have to consider the practical matter of Internet hosting. There's both the software to run the shows, streaming of live shows (including chat & callers), and the storing of archived shows. That's a lot of data, a lot of bandwidth. Also, to off-set the cost of a station, you are able to keep 100% of ad & sponsorship payments you gather. And, as a station owner, you do own the copyright to your shows.

John mentioned a few other new features that Blog Talk Radio will be launching soon ~ but I've agreed to be mum until he gives me permission to mention them. So keep an eye out here ~ or I'll poke your eye out there. :p

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

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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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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Sunday, March 23, 2008

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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Friday, March 21, 2008

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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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, February 1, 2008

High-Five Fridays #3 (Givin' Props Where I Can)

High-Five Fridays
Props to my girl Pop Tart (aka DeeDee at SK ~ and endless others) for two things:

#1 Creating a cool award. The Get Out! Kitschy Kitschy Coo Award isn't just another random "I like you" blogging award; this one is for excellence amusement in comments. What a great way to increase participation at your blog! (May Will have to 'borrow' this idea.)

#2 For said award, Pop Tart used PikiStrips to make the award image or badge. I know lots of you can use PhotoShop (and excel at it); but I'm not like you. I'm also on Linux which can greatly limit the number of other online image editing sites (due to flash) & downloads (Windows or Apple only) ~ but PikiStrips I can use! (Yeah, look forward to lots of my works to appear here ~ I've got some free time this weekend lol)

#3 Slip of a Girl has a great post on the changing size of the fashion market and how smart manufacturers can profit from it.

#4 Greg dishes on the new era in media ~ which poses some chewy questions I'll likely masticate at length later.

#5 Mister Linky That's the widget you see at the bottom of these (and other) meme posts. I love that it allows participants to add their linkage to the post (rather than me having to do it, or having them only seen by those who read the comments).

Today, however, their server had a issue and it caused any site with Mister Linky code to be unloadable ~ it was a short time (though a sneeze seems eternal in length while waiting), but those of us scrambling to find contact were thwarted by the use of contactprivacy.com (used to cloak WhoIs etc.). Since the bugs I note tend to get beaucoup search results, I will list a contact addy here for those who need to find/note it: super dot linky at gmail dot com. (And note the gmail addy ~ that means even if the site servers itch again, the email can still be received!)

Mister Linky still gets a high-five because when I thought of what I'd have to do without it, I about puked :p Oh, and pay for the Gold membership. At $10 a year, you can use it across multiple sites with just a few tweaks.

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, January 18, 2008

High-Five Fridays: The Virgin Issue


Today's Five High-Fives go to...

#1 Scott Baradell of Idea Grove, for starting Spin Thicket ~ and keeping it alive. I don't get there as often as I like; but I'm glad it's there when I am looking for (and forward to) it.

#2 To Sara Winters for keeping the adult marketer's street cred alive at Spin Thicket. *wink*

#3 Courtney Tuttle's post on the realities of link exchanges.

#4 Blogger Jobs for posting both jobs and blogger's resume blurbs ~ including for those who don't only write mainstream topics.

#5 Barney Davey's post commenting on the David Byrne interview in Wired ~ Barney's post is about art, but I think many of us, including book peddlers, can learn a trick or two.

***

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, January 16, 2008

PageRank & User Data

SEO by the Sea writes that Yahoo Replaces PageRank Assumptions with User Data. I find the post interesting, mainly because I, like most of those who commented, was under the assumption that Google was already doing something like this already.

If Yahoo gets the patent (they've only just applied for it), this would mean that it is somehow different from what Google is using (or, very unlikely, that Google 'forgot' to patent it themselves). But in any case, the conversation at SEO by the Sea is quite interesting; if only to further prove that quantifying human behavior and constructing an equation to take in all the factors discussed is more math than I want to do.

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Of Splogs and Scrapers

The definitions of 'splog' and 'scraper' are not really important here ~ we all know them when we see them. Here ShoeMoney writes of scrapers:
How annoying is it when you make a post and 5 other posts rank above yours in the search engines all that have your content wrapped around huge Adsense units. When you goto the site not only is it copied word for word but there is zero attribution to the source.
And can't we all relate to that one?

I quite often find these blogs have little Technorati Authority due to few links in, but these blogs do work some SEO trickery and get themselves high in search placement.

As a writer, I'm quite aware of copyright and normally take the blogger to task (and if I can't find contact info, I go straight to the blog/site host). But policing your content takes time and at the end of a Monday I am already wishing for the extra eighth day of the week. So, as ShoeMoney asks, what can you do?

Well, ShoeMoney answers his own question ~ and more:
I came up with this idea a while back to put a link back to my site in my blog feed. This works because if search engines think a blog is worthy enough to outrank yours then it should pass you juice as the authority of the article. If the site doesnt rank (lets face it 100% of the traffic to these scrapers is search engine generated) then its a wash because the search engine has already identified and the site never had any link juice (page rank) to pass in the first place.

I talked to Joost De Valk about the idea and he has made a plugin for it.

The 'and more' comes in as ShoeMoney asks for thoughts on this solution in terms of affecting your site's rank in bad way and gets a response:

UPDATE:

Matt Cutts - Googles lead spam engineer has responded in the comments:

Comment by Matt Cutts
2008-01-10 14:41:09

Don’t cloak the link or make the anchortext spammy, but otherwise: sure. See the interview I did with Stephan here: http://www.stephanspencer.com/search-engines/matt-cutts-interview where I said that syndicating articles with a link to the original article was smart:

As a writer, I'm not saying this should replace the policing & protecting of your copyrighted works; but it is a little bit of insurance.

The plugin or tool Joost De Valk created works for WordPress, so those using other blogging software will need to play if they want to go this route. And, as also discussed having the info in the feed footer may make it easy for the cut & pasting scraper to ignore it.

I'm no techie, but I have an idea and I'm going to see if I can play with the code here to see if it works. (Keep your fingers crossed ~ I'll be needing all of mine. *wink*)

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Scratch My Back?

ScratchBack is an online "tipping" system, which can be seen (as well as used Heh Heh!) in my sidebar, and it promises a more fun, conversational way to accept donations than Amazon or PayPal standard donation systems as it allows those who tip to get a link to their own site as they pass on public praise.

It's a neat idea not just for the link, should you have a blog (if you don't, I guess you could just put a link into the very site you're donating to?); but it also allows public praise with a donation. Very few people make a donation and then post a comment saying, "I just made a donation because I love you!" so this is a neat idea. Plus, it allows such praise to act as testimonials and be very visible on the site.

And yes, you have the right to reject/refuse comments which are not so nice (see the FAQ).

The program links do not increase page rank, Technorati authority, or otherwise upset or offend Google with paid linkage as all links use the "nofollow" command:
Do My Links Pass Page Rank?

They do not. Every single link, including the link back to Scratchback, in the TopSpot widget has a "nofollow" hard encoded in them. The code is delivered in Javascript format as well. That means that Google and other search engine spiders "won't follow" the link. It doesn't mean your link isn't clickable, it is.

You cannot remove that code, nor should you attempt to as per the user agreement every publisher and advertiser agree to upon registration. Google has made it perfectly clear that "selling page rank" is not something they believe in. We don't believe in it either. This system is built for fun. There are plenty of other solutions out there you can use if you want to "pass Google juice", just not this one. Did you hear that Google? :)
I'm not certain ScratchBack is very adult friendly, and their directory offerings seem to be quite limited too; but the Marketing Whore is willing to give it a try. (If she can't pass, likely most of you won't either; and should she pass, it may only mean those who step to the line will have a chance.) But the concept is worthy of noting and giving a whirl. (I can be quite the whirly girl!) And I do recommend that those of you who are interested and aren't too explicit in your sites give it a try.

Of course, it could simply turn into a "I'll scratch your back if you scratch mine" situation in which no one actually makes any money too... Which isn't the worst thing ~ unless some expect that and those who don't end up offending others... Which of course the sort of thing you can run into with placing a simple link on your site... All of this just means that unless you and another actually agree to scratch each other's backs, don't expect it; you'll only get your feelings hurt.

I would imagine this type of tip jar is worthy of replication in the adult community. Naturally I wish these things would be inclusive, but the Internet is so fractured it makes sense it would be replicated and a version sent to the red-light side of the web.

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

Thirteen Tips For Better Marketing



Thirteen Tips For Better Marketing


Do:


1 Find one community you enjoy, one where your target market is, and participate in it. Natural enthusiasm and interest go much further than anything else. And if you can't find a community which provides both your audience and interest for you, then why bother anyway? (Or, perhaps consider the need for such a community ~ if there truly is a need, perhaps you and your company should be providing it.)

Community defined as: Social Network (i.e. myspace, tribe, facebook), forum/message board, newslists (i.e. Yahoo groups, Google alt lists), social bookmarking (i.e. stubmleupon, reddit, etc.)

2 Get & read one marketing book or publication a month.

Do not avoid books which seem to be written 'not for you,' If you're a 'company of one' don't dismiss books which seem to be 'too corporate giant' in scheme and projection; you may have to twist what they are saying to suit your budget and other constraints, but hell, that's part of the point in critical reading.

Yes, I mean print. Reading from paper allows you to do the following:
a) unplug from sound-byte mentality and short attention span problems

b) research & study, make notes & resource lists (You aren't only reading to learn and agree; read critically and even you disagree, you'll at least have learned how to better take your stand.)

c) change in physical position and space creates changes in mental space signals 'this is new, pay attention!'
3 Get & read one industry publication per month. (Ditto details of #2.)

What are the trends? What's your competition up to? Any news in legal?

4 Get & read one non-industry publication per month. (Ditto details of #2.)

Example One: If you're an author or a product manufacturer, consider books on retailing so you can understand their point of view; you can really sell them on carrying your book/product when you know their concerns.

Example Two: What issues are other industries facing, and how might that affect you? How are are they addressing the issues?

5 Blog damnit. Blogging is a publishing format which converses (you talk, others may easily reply); don't resist it.

If your blog is separate from your main website (hosted on blogger, wordpress, etc.), make sure that your blog is part of your website's main navigation so folks can find your latest info as quickly and easily as possible.

6 Pay attention to the presidential candidates, and vote when it's time. Don't kid yourself that it doesn't matter; who ever is elected will affect you and your business.

7 When tired, take a nap. Not only does a 90 minute nap help speed up the process of long term memory consolidation, but when sleepy, productivity suffers. Not to mention you're more likely to be a grump ~ and that's poor customer service.

8 Get interviewed &/or get your product reviewed.

9 Check your stats (refer logs, Technorati Authority, PageRank etc.) daily. Not only do you need to see if marketing efforts are effective, but find out what others are saying about you -- and join the conversation.

10 Go one new place, eat one new food, drive a different way home, do one new thing. It not only is fun, but it keeps your mind alert ~ and who knows, maybe you'll stumble upon something or someone useful.

Don't:

11 Don't join a bunch of communities that do not fit, or which you cannot keep up with.

12 Do not waste time by checking stats or email more often than necessary.

13 Do not replicate your website/blog in 100's of places, it dilutes your brand by making 'home' less special.

Have tips of your own, be sure to post them!

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Be sure to update your Thirteen with links that are left for you, as well! I will link to everyone who participates and leaves a link to their 13 things. Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!



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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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Friday, December 28, 2007

Oogle vs. Google

I don't think Google is horrible, but I do chafe over it's increasingly anti-adult stance. No AdSense for adult bloggers or advertisers seems silly for a tech giant which surely could arrange an algorithm to screen & match smutty product with smutty publisher. And now, as part of this 'kinder, gentler' Google, they've even blocked lingerie ads as being too racy. :sigh:

You sighing too? I thought so. Then y'all might enjoy this bit: Before Larry and Sergey named Google after a typo, Larry Page called his Stanford project BackRub.

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The Modern Social Networking Version Of "It's All About Me"



Behold David Armano's brilliance:

When we think about social networks—we tend to focus on the connecting nodes. The links that bind us and what makes a network, a network. But the less frequently told story is the one where we spend countless hours building and maintaining our own little "social solar systems". In these "social systems" we have multiple planetary ecosystems revolving around us.

We are the center of our own micro-universe.

The trick is to get others to agree that your micro-universe is cool enough to visit & connect with, which is pretty hard to do when everyone is the center of their own, however micro, universe.

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Help, I'm Following, But I Can't Comment!

In Why Are They Bloggering Everything Up?, Nicholas discusses the problems with comment posting.

Blogging platforms obviously want us to join their platform, even if only to post comments, because that means we are officially part of their community. LiveJournal, WordPress, Blogger, and of course the McNasty MySpace which won't even allow modification for sidebar links in their free blog (with tons of ads you help them sell), all want to count you as one of their minions millions of users. The registered user is a number, a number which they can leverage into monetary gain, and while that's just business, it's short-sighted. But that short-sightedness is sadly the current business & political view, where long-term and the future are things we need not worry about. :snort:

I fear a long rant a-comin'. I'll side step that for today (not so much for your sake, but due to time limits ~ but you're welcome to thank me anyway *wink*).

Anyway, back to Nicholas' post.

In it he mainly points out the flaws in this member-only-posting-privilege which grants the ease of including a URL/link, especially as it was recently orchestrated by Blogger. That little blurp was fixed, and now the 'other' which replaces 'anonymous' does allow for a URL. However, should you run into this problem with LiveJournal etc., there is one easy way around it all.

No, you need not join each community (unless it is McNasty MySpace or other places where you're forced to be a user to comment at all); all you need to do is include your URL in your comment itself.

When posting a comment at a blog which does not provide a place for your URL, paste it in as part of your comments. Many blogging platforms will convert it to html, thus making it a link, but if not, just make your own link. Or, if you think that's too darn pushy (and it may be if your link isn't relevant to the actual post/conversation), paste the URL at the end of your post, like a good-old-fashioned signature line.

Of course, all of this is assuming that you have something to add to the conversation in the first place. So don't 'make an ass of u and me' by spamming and then saying The Marketing Whore said to do so.

As for communities such as McNasty MySpace which force you to be member, you'll have to decide if the conversations there are worth your time in the first place. It's not just the extra login, the emails & messages, but the quality of the conversations, the potential of actually reaching your target market &/or consumers. Time is a resource, invest wisely.

However, as always, if there is a conversation you read but cannot participate in by leaving a comment, you can make your own blog post linking to that original conversation.

Most good (and powerful) bloggers not only check their own stats and so will see referrals , but they will search for news on their topics (and themselves too). This is so they can follow the continuing conversations, like yours.

The matter of referrals is made more difficult at McNasty sites like MySpace as they don't make it easy for the average user to get stats with refers; but let's just hope they know other tricks to find who is linking to them.

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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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Year End Advertising Info

The International Herald Tribune announces Ad money begins to trickle in for bloggers:
It is no longer unusual for blogs with just a couple thousand daily readers to earn nearly as many dollars a month. Helping fill the pockets of such bloggers are programs like Google's AdSense and many others that let individuals - not just major publications - tap into the rapidly growing pot of advertising dollars with a click of the mouse.
Here we all frown that we adult folks are blocked from using AdSense. But I didn't just post this to bitch... Here's some useful info:
In 2006, advertisers spent $16.9 billion online, up steadily each year from $6 billion in 2002, according to the Internet Advertising Bureau. In the first half of 2007, online advertising reached nearly $10 billion, a nearly 27 percent increase over the first half of 2006.
And more:
According to a 2006 survey by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 39 percent of Internet users, or about 57 million American adults, said they read blogs, up from 27 percent in 2004, or 32 million.

That does not mean bloggers are suddenly flush with money. For every blogger earning a decent side income like Brooks, countless others will never earn a cent.

But with the right mix of compelling content and exposure, a blog can draw a dedicated following, increasing advertising prospects.

"This is really a continuation of how the Web in general has enabled smaller businesses and individuals to compete if not at a level playing field, at least a more equitable level," said David Hallerman, a senior analyst with the research group eMarketer.
Here's some info on BlogAds (which I use ~ both to generate ad income and for placing ads ~ and openly state is a great platform):
About a third of BlogAds's 1,500 sites earn between $200 and $2,000 a month, Copeland said. Those sites get anywhere from 3,000 to 50,000 daily impressions.
Overall, the wrap-up is:
Malone Scott at Google said access to advertising online was more democratic, since an ad click from a tiny site is just as valuable as a click from a site with a million readers.

Some advertisers have even found better response from smaller sites with more passionate, engaged audiences.
And here's another reminder about the power of niches:
Getting paid might even help validate what may otherwise seem like a silly or obscure obsession.

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Saturday, December 22, 2007

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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Friday, December 21, 2007

The Girl In The Know To Know Is Chloe Jo

My pal Chloe Jo is in this month's issue of Glamour Magazine (January, 2008, with Carrie Underwood on the cover). She says she's on page 27, "behiving it up Amy Winehouse style!"

I don't mention this because I adore Chloe Jo (which I do!), or to get a little of her cool-factor for myself by mentioning I know her (but, hey, it wouldn't hurt!); I mention this because Chloe Jo is an excellent resource to know.

She has a weekly newsletter, Girlie Girl Army, which is full of all sorts of glamorous goodies (and non-glam stuff, such as animal welfare) and I honestly open it up & read it every week. Check out a copy here and see what I mean.

GirlieGirl Army As I mentioned before, Chloe Jo & her Girlie Girl Army cover adult products, sites and stories, so it only makes sense that you need to know Chloe ~ and get her to know you. *wink*

Find out more about Chloe Jo & her newsletters by reading one of my interviews with her and then sign up for her newsletters here.

When you are ready to spread the word about your product or service to her Girlie Girl Army, contact Chloe Jo at her website, Chloejo.com.

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