Archive for January, 2010

Installing Android development environment on Ubuntu 9.04

January 31, 2010

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/OBQt4)

I wanted to play with writing Android apps on my home Linux computer, which is currently running Ubuntu 9.04 (Jaunty Jackalope). These are mostly notes for myself, so don’t feel guilty if you skip this post. :)

– Make sure your system is up-to-date:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

– Install Java

sudo apt-get install sun-java6-jdk

– Switch Sun to be the default version of Java. It’s much faster than the built-in version, at least when I tried it.

sudo update-java-alternatives -s java-6-sun

– Make a directory, e.g. mkdir ~/android

– Download Eclipse from http://ping.fm/QLjBr (I chose the “Eclipse Classic 3.5.1″ version). Move the code into that directory, then unpack it. Unpacking is enough–the software runs in place and doesn’t have to be installed onto the system other than unpacking it.

mv eclipse-SDK-3.5.1-linux-gtk.tar.gz ~/android
cd ~/android
tar xzvf eclipse-SDK-3.5.1-linux-gtk.tar.gz

– Download the latest Android SDK from http://ping.fm/BMaLT and move it into that directory, then unpack it. I believe unpacking is enough–the software runs in place and doesn’t have to be installed onto the system other than unpacking it.

mv android-sdk_r04-linux_86.tgz ~/android/
cd ~/android/
tar xzvf android-sdk_r04-linux_86.tgz

– Edit your ~/.bashrc file and add a line to the bottom:

export PATH=${PATH}:/home/matt/android/android-sdk-linux_86/tools

Okay, now Java, Eclipse, and the Android SDK are installed. Now you need to install the Android Development Tools (ADT) for Eclipse.

– Run Eclipse. If you installed Eclipse in ~/android/eclipse then you can cd to that directory and run ./eclipse to start the program.

– Install the Android Development Tools (ADT) for Eclipse. Follow the excellent instructions at http://ping.fm/f1Z89 to get and install the ADT. Don’t forget the “Window > Preferences” step to tell Eclipse where the Android SDK is, so when you click “Browse…” you might navigate to /home/matt/android/android-sdk-linux_86 for example.

– Next, I installed a bunch of packages. In Eclipse, click “Window->Android SDK and AVD Manager.” In the resulting window, on the left-hand side will be an “Available Packages” option. I clicked on that, then clicked the checkbox beside the “repository.xml” package to select all available packages and then clicked “Install Selected.” 12 out of the 14 packages installed for me.

– Now you’re ready to create your first Android program . You’ll discover how to make an Android virtual device (AVD) along the way.

– If you want, you can get custom skins, e.g. a Nexus One skin for Android. You can unpack the .zip file in <your-sdk-directory>/platforms/android-x.y/skins/nexusone for example. Then create a new Android virtual device (AVD) and select the Nexus One as the skin.

– If you want to run your Android program on your own Android device, you’re pretty close. Follow step 10 of this walkthrough. When you’re done and the phone is disconnected from your Ubuntu machine, you’ll still have the executable, called an “android package” or .apk file on your phone. So you can show your friends your “Hello, World!” program. :)

Some resources that I found helpful (other than the official Android developer site) are below:
http://ping.fm/jcN0i
http://ping.fm/jRWcI
http://ping.fm/ULW4A
http://ping.fm/nyo0o
– You might also want to watch this O’Reilly video or some of the official videos.

If you found this post at all interesting, you might also be interested in Google I/O too. Google I/O happens on May 19-20, 2010 in San Francisco.

Who Do You Trust With Your Online Business?

January 29, 2010

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/CdpsN)

image of scorpion

Do you know this story?

A scorpion needs to cross the river. He asks a friendly-looking frog to carry him across.

“Do you think I’m stupid?” asks the frog. “You’re a scorpion. You’ll sting and kill me.”

“No I won’t,” says the scorpion. “That would be completely against my self interest. If I sting you, I’ll fall in the river and drown.”

The frog sees the sense in this and agrees to carry the scorpion across the river. Halfway across, the scorpion stings him.

“Why did you do that?” asks the dying frog.

“I’m a scorpion,” answers the drowning scorpion. “It’s my nature.”

Who are you asking to take you across the river?

This painful little story illustrates something we’ve all seen, but sometimes forget.

Lie down with dogs and you’ll get fleas. Do business with scorpions, and you’ll get stung.

For some reason, until recently, most practical information about how to succeed in online business has come from scorpions.

People who see prospective customers as prey to be hunted. People who teach unethical shortcuts. People who preach games and systems, not value and relationships.

Some of the scorpions have interesting things to say. Some of them are even brilliant. And many of them can teach you good techniques.

But they’re scorpions. And you don’t want to find yourself at their mercy when you’re halfway across the river.

Things are changing . . . fast

Have you noticed? Something fascinating is happening in the world of Internet marketing.

Maybe it’s the widespread adoption of social media that’s made the difference. When everyone can Facebook, Twitter, and blog, all of a sudden it’s very hard for the scorpions to pretend to be good guys. The shortcuts get revealed. The light gets turned on to show the little (and large) deceptions.

The flip side is, now it’s easier than ever for great stuff to get found. If you’re glorious, people start talking about you. Word of mouth becomes “word of click.” And the good guys start finishing first.

Copyblogger was an outlier from the beginning. Brian taught his readers how to combine direct response marketing (a tool that was too good to leave to the scorpions) with content and social media to deliver amazing value to potential customers.

And there were certainly others. Chris Brogan devoting himself to his audience for 11 years to create his “overnight success,” built on integrity and connection. Darren Rowse, unofficial Nicest Fellow in the Blogosphere, showing up tirelessly to create value for his readers and help them become “probloggers” in their own right.

The ranks started to swell. We’ve been lucky enough to have many of them write for us in the past year or two. Naomi Dunford. Dave Navarro. Chris Garrett. Johnny B. Truant. Laura Roeder. James Chartrand.

These are people who don’t choose to be (or hang out with) scorpions. People who went back to just offering real solutions, developing fantastic relationships with their customers, and building solid businesses around that.

The Third Tribe is coming

Almost a year ago, this “new” (actually old) way of doing business started to be known as the Third Tribe. We had no use for the scorpions, but we didn’t want to be the clueless frog, either. We wanted to make a good living and be decent people. And we rejected (ok, I’ll be honest, mocked) anyone who tried to tell us we couldn’t.

We knew better. We were doing it. And it was working.

Brian and I instantly saw that this intersection was the future of Copyblogger. And, in fact, that it was the future for the smartest online entrepreneurs — the ones who wanted to build the most interesting, most profitable businesses.

So for the past few months, Brian and I, along with some clever co-conspirators, have been building something for you. A place for the Third Tribe to come together. To share ideas and inspiration. To educate ourselves about marketing and business techniques — effective techniques that respect our audiences and preserve our relationships. To grow farther and faster than any of us could alone.

If you’re already subscribed to the free Copyblogger newsletter, Internet Marketing for Smart People, you can relax. You’re going to be getting all of the details in the next few days.

If not, you may want to fix that now. Our newsletter readers will be the very first to hear about the new project, and have a chance to take advantage of a ludicrous sweet offer.

If you’re curious about it (or frankly, if you’d just like to take advantage of a free 20-lesson course on what smart Internet marketers are doing in 2010), click here to sign up for the newsletter. It’s free, it’s got good stuff, and it’s where you’ll be able to find out all about the new Third Tribe project.

About the Author: Sonia Simone is Senior Editor of Copyblogger and a co-founder of Inside the Third Tribe.


Thesis Theme for WordPress

Could Your Blog be Ruining Your Business?

January 28, 2010

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/Mun4G)

image of sign saying Business Closed

Many of you began blogging to get more business. I’m sorry to tell you that many of you are doing the exact opposite.

Your blog isn’t getting you more business — it’s actually sending business away.

How did that happen?

A blog is supposed to create more interest in what you do or what you sell. It’s supposed to bring you more credibility, more readers. It’s supposed to show off your expertise. All that should be great for business. Where did it all go wrong?

You forgot that you have a business first and a blog second.

What do you do for business?

You’d be shocked at how many blogs don’t have an answer to the question, “What do you do?” readily available. The blog itself has a clearly defined subject, lots of rockin’ content, and plenty of people commenting on posts.

That’s all great, but the whole point of having a business blog was to get people interested in the product or service you sell. And that information often isn’t easy to find. Sometimes, it isn’t anywhere to be seen.

It’s not in your tagline. It’s not in your About section. It’s not in a big shiny button where site visitors can’t possibly miss it.

You may have fifty million visitors a day. But if very few of them have any idea that your blog is there for more than providing them with free information and entertainment, your blog is ruining your business.

Let me restate the obvious: you are business blogging. That means your awesome content must be delivered in the context of your business goals.

Remind me again: what do you do?

Let’s say that some new guy shows up on your blog. Maybe he got the link from a friend on Twitter, or maybe he was just goofing around on Google. He reads your post. He likes it.

He leaves.

It’s simple: he got what he came for. He found your post and read it. He may also need the services you provide. In fact, there’s a very good chance he does, because he was looking for information within your expertise. If he showed up wanting to know about 10 ways to prevent a bad stain job, and you provide wood staining services, he may very well want to chuck the idea of doing it himself and hire you instead.

But he didn’t arrive at your blog looking for someone to hire. He came for the information. And he got it.

Very often, people don’t see what’s obvious to you. You know you’re blogging for business. You know that you’re for hire. But that site visitor? He doesn’t think of that at all. You have to put the idea in his head.

And a very, very good place to do that is at the end of that useful post he just read. Finish every single post with a little nudge toward hiring you. “If you’ve got a project too delicate for you to screw up, contact me today. I’ll quote you on a perfect, professional job — no screw-ups, guaranteed.”

Your readers come around for your advice and your insight, and that’s great for your blog. But if you don’t remind them regularly that you have something more to offer than just information, they won’t think of hiring or buying from you.

And that is really, really lousy for your business.

Go make sure your blog readers know what you do for business. Three times over.

About the Author: For more great tips and an insightful blog on freelancing, head on over to Men with Pens, where you’ll get all the success advice you need. And guess what? You can even hire the team to help you rock your business to success.


Thesis Theme for WordPress

How to Do 500 Times Better than AdSense

January 27, 2010

(My Original Blog Post: http://www.dysontech.com/1588/how-to-do-500-times-better-than-adsense/)

image of U.S. penny coin

Right around a year ago now, I made my first cent online. It was literally a cent — $0.01 — and it showed up in my Google AdSense account after a certain number of people had viewed an ad for dog food or a shiatsu massager or whatever on my old humor blog.

That first cent was exciting, because it proved that you really could make money online in the way it seemed that everyone said you could — by creating sites populated with ads, and then sitting back and letting the earnings pile up. Then, if the gurus were to be believed, it was only a matter of time before I would be living in Hawaii, while bikini girls used the Mona Lisa to wax my Lamborghini.

So I read a ton about how to use AdSense, took a few courses, and built a bunch of little search-engine-optimized niche websites. I worked and worked and built and built, and eventually I amassed a couple dozen of these little moneymakers.

Slowly, visitors began to come to my sites, click on the expensive Google ads for lawyers and insurance, and make me some money. Then, reasonably content with my Google army, I put those sites on “set it and forget it” mode (like a Ronco Rotisserie) and started something new.

A different way to do it

Specifically, in April of last year, I started the Johnny B. Truant biz. The business model basically consisted of trying to write funny blog posts and generally just hanging out online, and then parlaying that good will into its logical succession, which is, of course, technology services.

I worked very hard, but it didn’t feel like work — especially compared to what I had been doing on the niche sites. It felt like being an amiable jackass in the right places, and meeting people, and kind of screwing around. Eventually it also started to feel like building a business, but that happened slowly and by degrees.

Nine months passed, with both venues making me money in their own unique way.

At the end of 2009, I recorded my second five-figure month in the JBT technology biz, after building between eighty and a hundred blogs for clients in December.

And at around the same time, I got my first ever AdSense check from Google. It was for $111.

The best way to “make money online” is probably not what you think.

Spend a few minutes Googling around for ways to make money online. Go ahead; I’ll wait.

If you didn’t do that search just now, it’s probably because you’ve tried it before and already knew what you would find. Almost every site, course, and guru out there will tell you that to make money online, you should sign up for AdSense (or maybe for a large advertiser’s affiliate program), rustle up some long-tail keywords, and start gaming Google traffic.

I’m not going to tell you that doesn’t work . . . but I am going to tell you that it didn’t work for me, and that it’s unlikely to work for you if you’re even one iota like me.

Here’s why I don’t like the AdSense strategy as a business model:

  1. It’s not a business model. Any time you can talk about “monetization,” you’re probably not talking about a real business because “monetizing” a business is redundant. “Monetizing” is slapping a moneymaker on top of something that doesn’t naturally produce income. The way that 99.99% of people dive into AdSense, they’re simply putting something out there and waiting for the dollars to roll in. There is no real planning, no accounting forecasts, no intention down the road to improve workflow or expand offerings or enlarge the sales funnel, no exploiting the best abilities of yourself and partners to create benefit for others.
  2. It doesn’t add value. Technicalities aside, there is no real product or service in the way most AdSense “make money online” campaigns are run. There is simply arbitrage. You’re not increasing widget sales; you’re trying to make sure more of the existing sales will occur through your ads. I learned my lesson trying to play the stock market (and failing) and then investing in real estate (and failing at an epic level): Sustainable incomes come from using your talents to create value for others, not from gambling and playing the numbers.
  3. It contradicts the way the Net is supposed to work. Yes, yes, I know . . . some people blog in a heartfelt manner about cabinetry and run cabinetry ads, and visitors click them to buy cabinets and the site owner makes money. But most AdSense strategies are all about gaming the system. When I was creating insurance niche sites, I couldn’t have cared less about insurance. I was simply trying to draw traffic away from the legit insurance sites so that people would click on my ads instead of finding an insurance company a different way. That’s not the way that the Web is supposed to work . . . which is to efficiently connect the searcher and what she’s searching for.
  4. It’s anonymous. Few “make money online” strategies will tell you to blog under your own name, include your own picture, and make a big deal about being the guy or gal who created this site. In fact, I spent a lot of my time trying to obscure who I was. Many courses even tell you to use hosting that will generate random, non-sequential IP addresses for each site, so that even Google won’t know that one person owns them all. Anonymity conflicts directly with what I consider to be the most important reasons for my success, which are honesty, authenticity, trust-building, and transparency.
  5. You can do better, no matter who you are

    I worked really, really, really hard on those AdSense sites. I worked 15-hour days; I wrote keyword-laced post after keyword-laced post; I entered them in article directories and put them through social media bulk submitters; I launched site after site, tweaked, customized, and researched.

    And by doing that, I made $111 in a year.

    Maybe I didn’t work hard enough. Maybe I used the wrong system. Maybe, if someone else had done it, they might have done it twice as well. And maybe that same person would have done it for three times as long as I did, building sites for the whole year instead of only doing it for four months.

    So yeah, maybe that super-ambitious person might have made $888.

    Now, stop and think about that for a second.

    Anyone who doesn’t believe that they could start a business today, being themselves, playing to their own strengths, and creating value for others, and not make more than $888 in a year should . . . well, those people should really just stop reading about business right now.

    Am I saying that you can’t use AdSense to make money online? No. Am I saying that every “system” for striking it rich on the Net — like creating anonymous niche sites that use AdWords ads to draw traffic to affiliate products — is an impossible scam? No.

    I’m just saying that the average person is probably going to have better luck building a real business. Meaning:

    • One that you can stand behind publicly.
    • One that’s based on helping others in exchange for pay.
    • One that benefits from being a real, authentic person.
    • One that matches your best abilities to the needs of others.

    This Third Tribe thing? This new internet era of being real and honest and open in business and marketing rather than relying on tricks, games, yellow-highlighted text, and the hard sell? It’s real, folks. And at least for me, using that approach turned my Google earnings into an afterthought.

    If the “Third Tribe” style of doing business appeals to you, subscribe to the free Copyblogger newsletter, Internet Marketing for Smart People. We’re within a few days of announcing a brand-new tribe for online entrepreneurs. And our newsletter subscribers will be the very first to learn about it.

    About the Author: Johnny B. Truant is an amiable jackass who may or may not have invented Post-It Notes. You can hire him to tell you how to do better than AdSense, or, failing that, you should at least follow him on Twitter because sometimes he tweets about zombies.


    Thesis Theme for WordPress

How to Become an A-List Blogger

January 26, 2010

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/dFfM9)

image of four ace playing cards

If I asked you to define what an A-list blogger actually is, what would you say?

I’m sure the usual thoughts like “thousands of subscribers,” “lots of comments,” and “large influence” come to mind.

While these may be things that many of us agree on, they aren’t really about the blogger, they’re about the blog.

Yet it’s the writers behind the blog that position it at the top of an industry and gain so-called “A-list” status.

Now, of course, if you’re sitting on a feed count of 400 subscribers today, there’s no magic bullet that’s going to get you 4,000 subscribers tomorrow. But the key to building those numbers is to be the kind of blogger who attracts plenty of subscribers and links.

Today I want to offer the suggestion that instead of focusing on all the factors that define an A-list blog, let’s look at the factors that define an A-list blogger. The characteristics behind the men and women who build massively popular websites.

While I don’t personally think of myself as anything special, I have managed to build two blogs to a combined audience of 10,000 subscribers, and I call a few A-list bloggers my friends. Four years of blogging and interacting with thousands of people have helped me to see what it is about the “big guys” that makes them successful.

Now I’m going to share those findings so that you really can have the qualities of an A-list blogger, today.

Make content your # 1 focus

When it comes to blogging, there are plenty of important factors. Having a unique and professional design, a viable topic, a brandable logo, and clear options for subscribing are all important.

But without one factor, none of the rest of them matter.

All A-list bloggers recognize content as the biggest factor to their growth. As a quick scenario, let’s imagine that Brian Clark owned your website. Do you think if he wrote the high-quality content he did for Copyblogger and applied the same marketing strategies, that blog would go nowhere? Of course not. Copyblogger’s excellent content would do well on any relevant website and is what has kept people coming back here for more than four years.

I’m someone who gets obsessed with designing and tweaking sites for maximum conversion, so it took me a while to really implement this. In fact, I would say that I was blogging for almost two years without giving writing the focus it deserved.

It was only after I eventually took my head out of stats programs like Crazy Egg and BLVD Status (which are both fantastic, by the way) and put my effort into writing that I managed to build a 4,000-subscriber blog in 12 months.

Content is your main way to shine in an increasingly competitive field. Make sure that it’s getting your full attention.

Stick to your own guidelines

I believe that most bloggers reading this could eliminate all blog reading from your life and still do well online.

Sure, it’s great to read the stories of people doing well and gain nuggets of knowledge that will help to improve your current offering.

But this knowledge-seeking becomes a problem when you allow your search for great information to change how you operate.

In the social media space, I am always changing, because it’s my job to be active on the latest service and see how it can best be used to connect with others in my niche.

My blogging strategy, though, rarely changes.

If you look carefully around your niche, different bloggers write very differently. You’ll find variations in things like:

  • Posting frequency
  • Writing style, tone, and voice
  • Article length
  • Use of images

In the internet marketing niche, the common length for most blog posts tends to be around 500-800 words. If you look at my own articles though, you will see that I regularly surpass 2,000 words. This is completely different from anyone else in the niche, but because I provide a lot of value in one place, it’s working well for me.

Just like you’ll probably never see Brian start publishing two or three posts every day, I’ll rarely write less than 1,000 words on my own website. You lose your winning difference the moment you do something because someone else is doing it.

Set your own guidelines and you’ll build an audience that will not only love what you have to say, but stick around because they expect more great things from you in the future.

Recognize your own influence

Everyone has some influence online, even if some have more than others. Growing that influence involves a lot of effort and a lot of time, but losing it can happen overnight.

Even if you only have 10 twitter followers and your blog hasn’t yet received its first comment, you still have influence. And that means you have a responsibility to give people the best advice and value that you can.

If you care about your audience and put value first, your influence will grow more quickly than you might think.

Look at “who,” not “what”

Looking at who is behind a blog and trying to model how they achieved what they did, rather than focusing on the end result as we usually do, has been a big game-changer for me.

I hope I’ve helped you see that most of you are A-list bloggers already — you just need to leverage that talent. Focus on your content, stick to your own guidelines, and use the influence you have today to help your audience.

Those thousands of subscribers are waiting for you. You’ve just got to be ready for them.

About the Author: Glen Allsopp is a 20-year-old who travels the world and makes his living online. If you like what he has to say, check out more of his work at ViperChill.


Thesis Theme for WordPress

How to Become an A-List Blogger

January 26, 2010

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/fWYdX)

image of four ace playing cards

If I asked you to define what an A-list blogger actually is, what would you say?

I’m sure the usual thoughts like “thousands of subscribers,” “lots of comments,” and “large influence” come to mind.

While these may be things that many of us agree on, they aren’t really about the blogger, they’re about the blog.

Yet it’s the writers behind the blog that position it at the top of an industry and gain so-called “A-list” status.

Now, of course, if you’re sitting on a feed count of 400 subscribers today, there’s no magic bullet that’s going to get you 4,000 subscribers tomorrow. But the key to building those numbers is to be the kind of blogger who attracts plenty of subscribers and links.

Today I want to offer the suggestion that instead of focusing on all the factors that define an A-list blog, let’s look at the factors that define an A-list blogger. The characteristics behind the men and women who build massively popular websites.

While I don’t personally think of myself as anything special, I have managed to build two blogs to a combined audience of 10,000 subscribers, and I call a few A-list bloggers my friends. Four years of blogging and interacting with thousands of people have helped me to see what it is about the “big guys” that makes them successful.

Now I’m going to share those findings so that you really can have the qualities of an A-list blogger, today.

Make content your # 1 focus

When it comes to blogging, there are plenty of important factors. Having a unique and professional design, a viable topic, a brandable logo, and clear options for subscribing are all important.

But without one factor, none of the rest of them matter.

All A-list bloggers recognize content as the biggest factor to their growth. As a quick scenario, let’s imagine that Brian Clark owned your website. Do you think if he wrote the high-quality content he did for Copyblogger and applied the same marketing strategies, that blog would go nowhere? Of course not. Copyblogger’s excellent content would do well on any relevant website and is what has kept people coming back here for more than four years.

I’m someone who gets obsessed with designing and tweaking sites for maximum conversion, so it took me a while to really implement this. In fact, I would say that I was blogging for almost two years without giving writing the focus it deserved.

It was only after I eventually took my head out of stats programs like Crazy Egg and BLVD Status (which are both fantastic, by the way) and put my effort into writing that I managed to build a 4,000-subscriber blog in 12 months.

Content is your main way to shine in an increasingly competitive field. Make sure that it’s getting your full attention.

Stick to your own guidelines

I believe that most bloggers reading this could eliminate all blog reading from your life and still do well online.

Sure, it’s great to read the stories of people doing well and gain nuggets of knowledge that will help to improve your current offering.

But this knowledge-seeking becomes a problem when you allow your search for great information to change how you operate.

In the social media space, I am always changing, because it’s my job to be active on the latest service and see how it can best be used to connect with others in my niche.

My blogging strategy, though, rarely changes.

If you look carefully around your niche, different bloggers write very differently. You’ll find variations in things like:

  • Posting frequency
  • Writing style, tone, and voice
  • Article length
  • Use of images

In the internet marketing niche, the common length for most blog posts tends to be around 500-800 words. If you look at my own articles though, you will see that I regularly surpass 2,000 words. This is completely different from anyone else in the niche, but because I provide a lot of value in one place, it’s working well for me.

Just like you’ll probably never see Brian start publishing two or three posts every day, I’ll rarely write less than 1,000 words on my own website. You lose your winning difference the moment you do something because someone else is doing it.

Set your own guidelines and you’ll build an audience that will not only love what you have to say, but stick around because they expect more great things from you in the future.

Recognize your own influence

Everyone has some influence online, even if some have more than others. Growing that influence involves a lot of effort and a lot of time, but losing it can happen overnight.

Even if you only have 10 twitter followers and your blog hasn’t yet received its first comment, you still have influence. And that means you have a responsibility to give people the best advice and value that you can.

If you care about your audience and put value first, your influence will grow more quickly than you might think.

Look at “who,” not “what”

Looking at who is behind a blog and trying to model how they achieved what they did, rather than focusing on the end result as we usually do, has been a big game-changer for me.

I hope I’ve helped you see that most of you are A-list bloggers already — you just need to leverage that talent. Focus on your content, stick to your own guidelines, and use the influence you have today to help your audience.

Those thousands of subscribers are waiting for you. You’ve just got to be ready for them.

About the Author: Glen Allsopp is a 20-year-old who travels the world and makes his living online. If you like what he has to say, check out more of his work at ViperChill.


Thesis Theme for WordPress

Keep an eye on changing pages

January 26, 2010

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/KxZvS)

Google just launched a nice feature on Google Reader: the ability to keep an eye on pages for changes. This works even if the page doesn’t have its own RSS feed. This sort of thing is very handy. You could use it to spot new things on a privacy policy page or watch for changes in the executives page at another search engine.

Check out the blog post, but it’s easy to use: just add any url to Google Reader.

Want to be a Better Writer? Get Your Ego Out of the Way

January 25, 2010

(My Original Blog Post: http://ping.fm/DlMiZ)

image of vain man

Raise your hand if you’re a writer.

Now, raise your hand if you have a nice-sized ego.

And now, raise your hand if you lied on that last one and kept your hand down.

The thing is, writing and a big ego kind of go hand in hand. And if you haven’t quit, gone crazy, or offed yourself yet — which I know you haven’t because you were just raising your hand — then like it or not, you have a big ego.

How do I know this? Well:

  • On some level (even if you moan and whine about how you aren’t a famous writer yet or how no one is paying for your brilliance yet or you don’t have your blog to book deal yet), you believe that your words are worth something and that other people should be reading them. It’s okay to admit this; it’s a good thing.
  • You want people to read your writing. Because you know it’s good and it makes an impact and it feels divine to share it.
  • Positive feedback doesn’t just feel good, it’s the ultimate validation of something that you already know: that you’re a writer (dammit).

The Talk

When it comes to writing copy for clients, however, you and your big ego are going to have to have “the talk.” It’s the same talk you had with your kid brother when you were 13.

Yes, you can walk with me to the park, but no, you can’t play basketball with me and my friends.

The fact is, we need our ego to walk us to the park. We need it there when we pitch a client, design a product, write our proposal, name our fee. It gives us confidence, makes us feel like there’s someone (albeit ourselves) on our side that thinks we’re the coolest. It holds our enemies (fear, insecurity and hopelessness) far away.

But when we get on the court — when the contract is signed, the marching orders are given, and we’re sitting down in front of the blank screen — it has to leave, vamoose, go away.

Because . . .

Because it isn’t for you or about you, this writing that you’re doing. It’s for your client. (Or if you’re building a business with your blog, it’s about your audience and prospective customers.)

It’s about them. Always. They really don’t care about you. They only care about what you can do for them.

If you want to be a better writer, you have to get the hell out of the way. Listen to them. Hear them. Make it about them.

We all know that you are wonderful. And it’s great to have creative outlets where we can let our writing personalities shine with enough watts to light up New York City.

Just don’t do it when you’re on the clock, or you won’t get the results you’re looking for. Your client will say your copy just didn’t hit the mark. Your audience will say that there was something missing.

And something was missing . . . they were. They couldn’t see their forest because of your trees.

Some people might rise up in protest at this point and say that each writer has a certain special, creative something . . . something that makes her work so successful.

I agree — it’s called skill. No one would deny the fact that we writers can wordsmith with the best of them, create concepts that defy gravity, know our way around a thesaurus, and can make it all look easy. That’s what makes us writers.

You still have to get out of the way and let your clients or audience shine through.

Yes, even shine all the way through your rock-hard ego. The one that we can’t live without, but sometimes need to put away.

About the Author: Lover of butter, wordplayer, marketing writer, ghostwriter, Julie Roads is the owner/founder of Writing Roads. Follow her on Twitter @writingroads.


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