Categories
Technology

Gangster & Innovator – Mark Burnett @ Blogworld

One of the more interesting events that happened during the day at Blogworld was a keynote by Mark Burnett and his following publicity stunt.

If you don’t know, who Mark Burnett is, here is a Wikipedia excerpt:

Mark Burnett (born 17 July 1960) is a British television producer, known for creating and/or producing competition-based reality television shows such as the American edition of Survivor, The Apprentice and Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

Mark Burnett’s international productions include: Amne$ia Are you Smarter than a 5th Grader?, which has been produced in over 55 foreign countries, The Contender-Asia (a Thai kick-boxing version of the American Boxing-Competition show), and The Apprentice which has been produced in over 21 foreign countries.

Mark Burnett is pacting with casino and resorts giant Genting Intl. to launch a $20 million joint production venture. Mark Burnett Prods. Asia will produce original content for Asian broadcasters and license those formats in markets around the world, including the U.S. The TV venture, the first for Genting, marks the latest overseas expansion for Burnett.

For a guy who use to be in the military and worked as a nanny, his talk sounded awfully familiar to a Tony Robins presentation. Which is not a bad thing in any way as Tony Robins is a gangster (the cool kind) and I’m a self help junkie.

The interesting portion of the talk was at the end when he launched his new TV show: Sarah Palin’s Alaska.

While I am no fan of Sarah Palin, I am a fan of Mark Burnett. For his TV shows, his marketing skillz and most recently his gangster Tony Robins like jargon.

During his keynote at Blogworld, he announced this TV show for the first time by having stevegarfield whom I don’t who, but seems to have a decent sized Youtube channel, upload the first copy of the TV Trailer to his Youtube channel, tweet it out then asked everyone in the room to also tweet it out.

This is the video that was uploaded to Youtube.

The official first tweet
The official first tweet

At the time of writing this video is currently on ~82,000 views. Not bad for 10 days.

Who knows if this tactic will work or not but I like his innovation and guts for giving it a shot. Plus its Sarah Palin so no one really gives a sh!t if it works anyway…

Categories
Business

Designing a Squeeze Page – Niche Site Duel 03

Welcome to post number 3 of my niche site challenge. As you may know from posts one and two I am participating in the niche site duel being run by Pat Flyn.

My strategy has been a little different from the traditional strategies that most of the other guys have been using. And I am not sure if I have picked the correct strategy or not, but at the very least I am learning lots which is the most important thing. Including picking up some awesome linking strategies from makemoneybuzz.

The main reason I chose this route was to experiment with video. With screen casting, driving traffic to and from videos as I am working on another project which is due to launch in a couple of weeks. I knew this and figured I should get some practice in before going full force on a project that I am more comfortable with and that has much larger potential.

The site that I have chosen is http://www.sleepapneastop.com

This was actually the first squeeze page I have ever designed right after going through some training on how to build them.

Here is what I did.

1. Installed WordPress and downloaded a free squeeze page theme from wordpresssqueezepage.com. I’m not going to show you how to install WordPress, there are plenty of guides out there including guides written up by the other participants of this competition. But if you have any questions, just ask.

2. Registered with Aweber to give me pretty email sign up (opt in) boxes and to track and manage my email campaign. Aweber is an amazing piece of software. You can build all sorts of sign up boxes, set up automated email responses, split test emails, track clicks. Basically do anything. If you are thinking of doing any sort of email marketing, get Aweber.

2. Crafted a story around my product. Taking this angle can seem a little on the morally grey side. Again, this is just an experiement. And we all know that stories sell. So I crafted a story about a guy named Peter Evans who used to suffer from sleep apnea but managed to fix it and now he has the secrets to show you how.

4. Created a small, relevant ebook that I give away for free by rewriting some content I found on the web. I think its only about 1000 words and took me a couple of hours including formatting. This gives people incentive to sign up and get the free report. People like free stuff.

5. Built the squeeze page. A few things I have picked up before and after I built the squeeze page:

  • Don’t have big flashy header images. Just have a simple, red title.
  • Make sure that your op-tin box is above the first line. The line refers to the first thing you see when the site loads up. You shouldn’t have to scroll down to see the sign up box.
  • Also, above the line should be short, punchy and with a strong call to action towards the sign up box. The aim here is to get people to enter their email addresses. Nothing else. Your headline should sell the majority of the people.
  • If a reader isn’t sold on your headline, start going down into benefits of the product, then into your story.
  • Finally try to capture with another sign up box.
  • Use a light background (which I am not doing!)
  • Split test your squeeze page using Google Website Optimiser (which I am not doing!)

As I said, this was my first squeeze page so its probably not the most awesomest thing ever. It was an interesting process and so far I have learned a lot. More experimenting to come and soon I will start to show results. Between Blogworld and my other new and exciting project, this site has been about 2% of my time so its definitely not where it should be but I still think it has potential so will keep slugging away at it slowly.

Categories
Business

Abstract Income: How to Support an Abstract Lifestyle

Recently I have been participating in the Niche Site Duel, more as an experiment than anything else. But the reason I have been playing around with things like this is I am trying to build myself a strong income stream. A stream that comes from multiple sources and ideally that can be eared from any country in the world.

To do this, I have been setting up income businesses. An income business (versus a value business) is a business that you can set up for relatively low costs, that will bring in consistent income. While many income businesses are now forming online, they dont have to be online. An example of an income business would be a cafe, restaurant or convenience store. They are never going to turn you into a billionaire, but they allow you to earn your income yet still have more control over your life (at least that’s the idea, doesn’t always work out that way as im sure many restaurant owners would argue).

Currently here in Vancouver, I am exploring the possibility of a value business. A business that has the potential to make lots of money but comes with high risk, more stress, less flexibility etc…

While I have been travelling though, I have built one online income business that has managed to make me a decent profit and is continuing to grow. This business has been an ecommerce business. The model I followed was the same as the one given in the 4 hour work week by Tim Ferris, and truly does work. While it can be a bit of work initially, it does pay off in the long run.

I am launching a new site in the next couple of weeks that will be a free course to show people exactly how to build an online store. Its going to be AMAZING!

No seriously, I already have 4 hours of video content, with loads more coming. It will show you how to go from absolutely nothing, not even an idea (although if you already have a product or idea that will help) to owning your own ecommerce store.

It will include product research and selection, domain research and selection. Build the back end of your store (don’t worry, you don’t need to be a techie!) including setting up tracking and payment processing. Designing your store. Building the content. Plus building a marketing and customer retention strategy.

So make sure you subscribe over to the top right as this site is going to kick ass and be totally free!

Categories
People Technology

Blogworld 2010 #bwe – My Review

I was a lucky SOB and managed to win myself a full access pass to Blogoworld last week. It was an awesome experience. I have been to many trade shows in the past but nothing like this. And none since I set out on my own last year. I used to go representing my company which is a little different.

I had also never been to a multi-day event, which had parties too.

One thing I have learned about myself over the last year, is that I suck at networking online. I just don’t have the patience for it. I know this may be a bit of a negative being in the online space as there is no better place to meet people who work online than online… But I just don’t like doing it. I don’t like hanging out on Facebook, I don’t like tweeting stuff, I think its weird meeting and connecting with people online.

But hey, that’s just my opinion and personally, I think its a pretty stupid one. I should do more of it. I just feel that the computer is a place of work and learning. When I am on my computer, I am almost always doing one of those things. If I am not doing one of those things, I quickly start to feel uncomfortable and need to get outside, meet some people, do some exercise, do something!

I also know this challenge I have is the opposite of many other bloggers / internet markets who find it awkward to meet and connect with people in person but have no troubles online. I guess its the salesman in me.

So when Blogworld came about, I was like a kid in a candy store. Admittedly, I only went to the full first day, then the clubs afterwards. Even though I didn’t make it to too many events the next couple of days (partly due to the seductive beckoning of the pool, partly due to my hangover), I made it to every party – and after party. I know this was almost the reverse schedule of lots of the attendees who made it to Blogworld. Whichever way you prefer to use your time, you need to make sure you use your time.

I didn’t feel there were too many advanced content courses being taught during the days, but lots of great stuff if you are just getting into new and social media.

The nights were where it was at. I met so many interesting people. Had so much fun. Spammed business cards, collected business cards, pumped my LinkedIn account oh and did I mention the fun?

Whatever the type of person you are, if you work in the internet space I think Blogworld is worth checking out. I will definitely be back there next year if I am on this side of the planet.

So what did I get out of Blogworld (besides the ability to party for a few nights in Vegas?) – contacts. I met people. Lots of interesting people. And its all about who you know right?

Here are some photos including some great content slides from Blogworld:

Categories
Business

Selecting a Niche – Niche Site 02

This is part of the building a niche site from scratch series. See the first post here.

I have already done all of this so I will try to think back to exactly the process I went through, plus chuck in some new stuff I learned after I already selected my niche.

The first thing I wanted to do was select a niche that I know pays. This niche site is not supposed to be a passion site, it’s supposed to be a site that is going to make money both medium and long term.

So I did a few searches around the web for sites that talked about what niches are high paying. One of the consistent messages was that to choose a niche where people are desperate for a cure, they want to fix a problem that is impacting their life and they are willing to pay for it. The other high level profitable type of niche is to help people make money, bring on the “make money online” niche which is probably the most crowded niche out there.

So I decided to go with the former, and started looking into Health Niches. My criteria for selection was a high paying niche, with high search volume, low amounts of video content and plenty of PLR content.

Some of the niches I looked at were:

  • Weight Loss
  • Stop Smoking
  • Stop Snoring / Cure Sleep Apnea
  • Teeth Whitening

I ended up going with Stop Snoring / Cure Sleep Apnea.

I chose this for a few reasons.

High Paying

The analysis I did on how much the niche was paying was a combination of PLR content, reviews on other sites of high paying niches, number of products on click bank and the Google Competition ranking. You can see this below in the competition bars. The higher the green bar, the more people are paying for adwords advertisements. And both bars are close to full meaning there is money being made in this industry. Plus on my basic assumption that people would be willing to pay to cure their snoring and sleep apnea and get a good night’s sleep.

High Traffic

Here are the basic search volumes on the niche chosen. There are of course many long tail keywords also searched to follow with this.

Sleep Apnea Traffic

As you can see, there is a high volume of searches for both topics.

Relatively Low Video Content

There is also a very large amount of competition in Google in terms of web content.

Sleep Apnea results

But, there wasn’t very much video content relative to the search volumes.

Sleep Apnea video results

My Domain

I ended up choosing the domain www.sleepapneastop.com

With the strategy I am taking the domain is not overly important. I don’t plan to spend the time building links and ranking this site in the normal manner, because it’s a highly competitive industry and it will be very difficult to rank for the target key words. I don’t have a team of V.A.s to help me so I am moving forward with the video marketing strategy and am going to try to build a mailing list.

I have already built an opt-in sales page which I will discuss in a later post. I also want to make a few different versions and split test them to figure out which one converts the best.

Categories
Business

Niche Site Duel – Let the Games Begin

There has been lots of buzz on the web about Pat Flynn and Tyrone Shum’s Niche Site Duel – where they are basically going through the process of building a niche site and documenting the whole process. As someone who is looking into this space and currently running a couple of niche sites, I thought I would join along in the fun.

A niche site is a small website targeted around a certain ‘niche’ or small topic which is designed to bring in revenue. The revenue will either come from advertising, affiliate marketing (selling someone else’s product), building your own product and selling it or selling services off the site.

Pat and Tyrone are already more than a month into their challenge and are doing really well. Patt has already made $20! So if you are interested in this kind of thing, I definitely recommend checking them out.

My Niche Site

I already have a couple of niche sites up and running that are starting to gain some traction in the search engines and I will continue to work on them. But this niche site is going to have a slightly different flavour to the ones that Patt and Tyrone are working on (I thought it would be worth contributing something a little different than just rehashing what has already been said). They are building sites that they want to rank well in the search engines and are driving traffic by building micro sites and writing articles to build back links and drive traffic to the sites. This is the same technique that I use on some of my other sites. But for the purpose of this experiment, I will be trying something a little different.

Here’s what I plan to do.

  1. Find a niche that pays
  2. Register a domain and build an email opt-in sales letter
  3. Make 50 videos and post them up on the internet
  4. Build an auto posting network to market my videos and potentially further market the site in the future
  5. Try to build a list of 300-500 people
  6. Either build a product to sell to the list or push an affiliate product in a launch manner
  7. Continue to market affiliate products to the list

I have already done points 1, 2, 3 (20 of 50 videos) and 4. I will write them up over the coming weeks and report on my progress.

The main reason I have chosen this route is to experiment with video marketing. There are a few benefits of taking this route. Firstly, after some research and testing, making content for videos is lots quicker than writing content (in my case anyway). Secondly, video is a less competitive space. There is just less content out there, especially for weird, obscure niches. Thirdly, and this is a big-un, you can use PLR (Private Label Rights) content and it is not picked up as duplicate content because it is video marketed. This is huge if you are trying to create content for a niche you have no interest or prior knowledge in. There are also some downsides, such as not having control over the sites that push traffic to you (such as Youtube etc) meaning it can be a bit more hit or miss on how well you rank and how much traffic you receive.

Either way, this is more of an experiment than anything else so we will see how it goes.

Let the games begin!

Categories
Technology

My $1195 Blog Comment

Last week Mashable had a competition to promote their up coming event Blog World Expo in Las Vegas. The competition was to leave a comment in response to the question “What is the future of blogging?” and they picked 5 winners from their favourite responses.

So I entered my comment, as you do, and what do you know – I was selected as a winner. Yay!

Below is my winning comment:

The future of blogging will be a continual movement away from the one sided, board of director selected, opinion led information flow. A continual pressure against traditional media outlets as bloggers become the main sources of influence across all mediums including written, audio and video. Media moguls will no longer influence elections and wars, bloggers will. Bloggers will replace newspapers, radio and TV stations as truly enlightened individuals have two way conversations with their readers and deliver exactly the kind of content that they want.

Blogging will continue to remove the barriers to entry in becoming a global influential force, allowing people from all around the world – including third world countries – to step up and be heard by everyone. Something that was almost impossible in the world of media control.

I believe blogging will help create an equal distribution of information, where the people who are heard are the people who deserve to be heard because they have the strongest message. This in turn will help to enlighten the global population and eventually increase the equality of living across the world.

Now I’ve just got to get to Vegas…

Categories
People

Bobby Chang from Incase on Socially Responsible Businesses

I got a chance to work with the guys from PathPacific.com in Dublin a while back. We were shooting a video for a product launching in Asia (weird I know). Path Pacific had recently recorded the Dublin Web Summit where Bobby Chang was among one of the many impressive speakers attending. I had never heard of Bobby before, but he is one of the founders of Incase, the company that makes the official cases for Apple products.

He did a great speech on the background of his business, collaboration and building socially responsible businesses. Check it out:

Categories
People

What Drives People? Money? Passion? Purpose?

Great speech from Dan Pink on what drives people.

Click here if you cant see the video.

Dan Pink – Drive

Takeaways:

– Money is a great driver for repetitive quantifiable activities
– Money is not the best driver for creativity
– People are more inclined to do things because of purpose, mastery and a sense of contribution

It’s interesting to see how many of the successful companies like Google have integrated this work philosophy into their cultures.

Categories
People

Working while Travelling: Distractions and the Zone

I’m on the train out of Edinburgh, a very impressive city to say the least. The medieval town is blessed with exceptional geography making it the perfect location for a castle and line of defence. The history is deep and the streets so charming you can wander for hours and not get bored. I leave this historical town after an interesting morning, very relevant to my personality type which according to the Myers Briggs Type Indicator is ENTP.  For those that don’t know, Myers Briggs is the oldest and most used personality type classification index available today. It was developed in WW2 and is used by the military, banks and universities to help determine if people are the right fit for certain tasks and positions. ENTP is the strategist personality type.

One interesting characteristic of my personality type is we are innately disorganised. It’s not that we can’t be organised when needed, it’s just we tend to not be bothered. Instead of spending time organising stuff, we’d prefer to spend it doing stuff. We also have the ability to ignore mess. If something is messy but not directly affecting the task we’re trying to achieve, it won’t affect us emotionally. We don’t notice messy papers lying around our desk but if someone were to come with a bucket of tar and throw it all over our desk and chair that would affect us. When some travel, they travel on a strict itinerary – every stop booked, every sight planned and guide book in hand as they power through their destination of choice. I kinda do the opposite.

Take today for example. I checked out of my hostel at 10am, spent two hours deciding where to go then jumped on a train at 13:06. I missed the bus to London due to a Windows 7 update so decided on Whitby – the home of Captain James Cook (the guy who found Australia). I felt like going somewhere that wasn’t so commercial and a little off the beaten path. I also wanted somewhere I could get some work done.

Working while travelling is seriously hard, it’s hard for a number of reasons but I find the most difficult part is switching your mind between work and play. Everyone is having a good time talking about their adventures it’s difficult to get into the mindset of work. I think you’d be hard pressed to find a ‘digital nomad’ who is just as efficient on the move as when stationary. One of the downfalls of my ENTP personality type is I tend to get wrapped up in having fun. This leads to lots of fun and good times for all but also means some stupid shit happening from time to time, a pushing aside of other responsibilities and inevitable spending a little more cash.  Like yesterday I was supposed to go on a highlands tour at 8am to see the Lochness and Scottish Highlands. I had my alarm set for 7am like a good boy, but after finding myself on a pub crawl, ending with me crawling back into bed at 5am, it didn’t happen… I had an awesome night probably more fun than I would have had on the tour but I lost my deposit and missed out on the experience of the highlands.

This comes back to the working while travelling. It’s not that it’s hard to find a cafe and do some work. It’s hard to get into the mindset of “ok, its work time”. When travelling you find yourself with a few hours here or there. Yes you could pump out the work needed in those little breaks, but with constant interferences getting in the headspace to work is hard.

There is a lot of talk going around the productivity blogsphere about single tasking, removing interferences and total immersion. These topics focus on how you are more efficient when focused on a single task without disruptions. The concept is if you are working on something, say writing and you get distracted from your task, it takes your mind about 15 minutes to get back into that state of focus. This is why multi-tasking is not advised. This happens if your wife knocks on the door and asks you what you want for dinner, an email pops up which you decide to reply to or you go on a pub crawl. Travel is full of distractions like this making it much harder to get into a zone of work. Even if you find yourself with a few hours free here or there. This is where I am jealous of the J’s (the polarity to P on the Myers Briggs). They have everything so ordered and planned. They will plan when things are going to happen and will be mentally prepared to execute them when the time comes. They may miss out on 5am Edinburgh benders and trip changes due to Windows 7 updates, but they probably get more work done and save money in the process.

One of the key elements for me being productive is controlling my environment. Your environment can help to influence emotional state. And creating a productive, single task minded state (let’s call it a zone) will result in high levels of productivity. It also helps you to eliminate distractions and focus on a single task. There are 3 elements important to creating a productive zone:

Physical Location: Put yourself in a location that is conducive to productivity. If you work in sales, working in a sales office with energy around you will help. Internet marketers: A quiet room with access to your computers. Fiction writer: maybe a writer’s cottage in Greece or the Elephant Cafe in Edinburgh (Harry Potter fans?).

Physical Distractions: Set yourself a work schedule and let your distractions know about it. Tell the people in your life that this is your work time and you need it free and free means free. Let them know that a 2 minute disturbance equals more than that in lost productivity. Turn off your internet (or at least disable email if you need the net) for periods of creativity.

Emotional Distractions: These are harder to control. If you could control these on tap, you wouldn’t need the other two above. A simple method to help control emotional distractions is to schedule them for later. Having a fight with a loved one? Got bills you need to sort through? Annoying neighbour keeps throwing rubbish in your yard? Make an entry into your calendar for things like this you need to do.  Even an entry that says “emotional distractions” is enough. This helps if you find yourself thinking about them while trying to work. Instead you can say – its fine, I will think about it tomorrow at 10am in my allotted time.

These are some basic tips to help keep you in a zone of productivity and manage any distractions that life my throw at you.  I’m on my way to create myself a little zone for a few days. I hope you find yours.