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Hachette, Amazon, and the Indie Author part 3

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typewriter and crumpled paper 0001Over the last two articles, I’ve examined the writing industry and the positions of both Hachette and Amazon. In this article, I’m going to explain my opinion of what authors should be doing. I’ve broken this article into three parts, default, tradionally published, and indie published.

To summarize up to this point:

  1. Publishers and distributors own the printing, and shipping of books to booksellers
  2. Publishers no longer market or edit instead they focus on printing and shipping
  3. (Traditional) Authors are underpaid
  4. eBooks do not require printing and shipping
  5. eBooks have a lower value to customers
  6. Prices are inelastic; the lower the price, the more sales in a disproportionate relationship (meaning there are price sweet spots where prices either side earn less total dollars).
  7. Traditional publishers have a reluctance to adapt to new technology
  8. Hachette wants to own the ability to set prices
  9. Hachette is afraid of the new technology
  10. Hachette wants to maintain its prices
  11. Hachette hates authors (okay that might be harsh but is basically true)
  12. Amazon owns the customer (and wants to own more of the customer)
  13. Amazon wants the ability to change prices to maximize profit
  14. Amazon tolerates authors (and currently pays well in comparison
  15. Both parties are attempting to involve authors in their fight
  16. Both parties are fighting this battle in the media (rather than the boardroom)

Default

So what position should the author really be taking? The simplistic answer is that it doesn’t matter to us. This is a battle between two large beasts (a dinosaur and an elephant) that is taking place above us while we mice hide in the grass. The analogy is far more accurate than I originally intended. When I thought it up, I was referring to relative sizes but elephants also avoid stepping on mice. Elephants being afraid of mice isn’t the myth everyone thinks it is.

No matter who wins, we as authors lose. Or win. One party actively abuses us, the other blindly abuses us.

Not a lot to choose from. It really doesn’t matter to us who wins. These are two gargantuans fighting it out to see which one is the meanest in the block.

In short we should stay out of the fight and let them figure it out.

Traditionally published authors

So you’ve decided you don’t want to sit on the sidelines. When I wrote the heading the first time, I used the term Hachette author. But this really applies to all authors published by the big publishers. What do you want? You want Hachette to lose.

Why?

Because Hachette is trying to stem the tide. It’s trying to prevent a future that is already here from occurring. If you are a mid-list or new author, you need to sell books. As long as Hachette tries to artificially inflate the prices, the quantities will not be maximized. That means your books won’t sell as much as they are able to. Amazon is not all about selling for less. They’re about setting a price that maximizes the return. They are closest to the customer and they are best placed to set the price. And they can adjust the price on an hourly basis if necessary.

Indie authors

Just as the traditionally published authors should be acting against the obvious, so should indie authors. We want Hachette to win.

Why?

Because, whether we like it or not there are three groups of writers: the marketer, the indie author, and the HQ author.

The marketers are perceived as indie author but in fact they aren’t. These books are generally crap. Often the marketer outsources to other countries and then fixes and publishes the book. Of course, they pretend that the books are locally written but in fact these are bottom feeding publishers. Typically these books cost the publisher less than $100 to produce. And they price their books appropriately.

The HQ author includes most traditionally published authors. It also includes some high quality indie authors. The books are highly edited and of very high quality. Cover artists are high end and the books are usually available in all three formats. In short, they cost in the $2000 range to produce.

In between is the indie author. Quality can vary. Often the indie author can’t afford the best editors, cover artists, or marketing. At the low end of the quality scale these authors are trying to produce the best they can. At the high end, these are highly talented writers who could easily jump the quality fence if they could afford the editors, artists, and marketing.

Unfortunately, the reader can’t easily tell the difference between the different types. Until they read the books. To overcome this they use the price in a series of steps as an indicator of quality. This is both good and bad. Good because the better the quality the higher price you can command. Bad because there is no way to convince the reader of value before hand so the quantities are much lower.

This is why many authors price an introductory book at 99 cents (or less) and the remainder of their books at 3.99, 6.99, or 8.99/9.99.  Build a following with the 99 cent book and then follow it with a properly priced book.

The problem of course, is that readers can’t tell the difference between a marketer and an indie author before purchase so there is a downward pressure on prices. Simply put, books are underpriced (and undervalued). Add to this, the marketers are destroying our reputation at the low end which makes it difficult for us to compete with people with an established reputation for quality (i.e. the traditonally published author).

Self-publsihed HQ authors are currently largely protected from competing with traditionally published authors. Their books are priced below the $9.99 threshold while a large portion of traditionally published authors are priced above the $10 threshold. If Hachette loses, traditionally published HQ authors will find their books priced at $8.99-$9.99. That means that the indie authors and self-published HQ authors will be forced to compete head on with authors who are supported by large companies like Hachette.

While we can compete under the current situation, a head-on battle is unlikely to be in their favour. Hachette and company can bring too many resources to the fight.  We’ll be forced to reduce our prices. Putting pressure on indie authors to lower their prices.

So the last thing we want is to have Amazon win.

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Hachette, Amazon, and the Indie Author part 2

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typewriter and crumpled paper 0001In the previous installment I discussed the background information you need to be aware of in order to understand the discussion.

To summarize:

  • Booksellers own the customer
  • Publishers and distributors own the printing, and shipping of books to booksellers
  • Publishers no longer market or edit instead they focus on printing and shipping
  • (Traditional) Authors are underpaid
  • eBooks do not require printing and shipping
  • eBooks have a lower value to customers
  • Prices are inelastic; the lower the price, the more sales in a disproportionate relationship (meaning there are price sweet spots where prices either side earn less total dollars).
  • Traditional publishers have a reluctance to adapt to new technology

- See more at: http://www.learningcreators.com/blog/hachette-amazon-and-the-indie-author-2413.htm#sthash.mtYF6bum.dpuf

So to summize the current state so far:

  1. Booksellers own the customer
  2. Publishers and distributors own the printing, and shipping of books to booksellers
  3. Publishers no longer market or edit instead they focus on printing and shipping
  4. (Traditional) Authors are underpaid
  5. eBooks do not require printing and shipping
  6. eBooks have a lower value to customers
  7. Prices are inelastic; the lower the price, the more sales in a disproportionate relationship (meaning there are price sweet spots where prices either side earn less total dollars).
  8. Traditional publishers have a reluctance to adapt to new technology

The next article

- See more at: http://www.learningcreators.com/blog/hachette-amazon-and-the-indie-author-2413.htm#sthash.mtYF6bum.dpuf

  1. Booksellers own the customer
  2. Publishers and distributors own the printing, and shipping of books to booksellers
  3. Publishers no longer market or edit instead they focus on printing and shipping
  4. (Traditional) Authors are underpaid
  5. eBooks do not require printing and shipping
  6. eBooks have a lower value to customers
  7. Prices are inelastic; the lower the price, the more sales in a disproportionate relationship (meaning there are price sweet spots where prices either side earn less total dollars).
  8. Traditional publishers have a reluctance to adapt to new technology

Most of the arguments are happening in the media. And I should mention that I have no inside knowledge beyond my knowledge of business in general, and this industry.  So take what I say with an appropriate grain of salt.

Hachette’s stance

Hachette has used the media quite effectively to state its position. They’ve used many of their authors well to support them. Most of these authors are rich and have been able to exploit their access to the media.

Hachette is a subsiduary of a multi-billion dollar French conglomerate. Which makes it about 1000 times larger than Amazon. Despite this they have tried to position themselves as the underdog in the fight with the big mean Amazon. Sort of like a grown adult being afraid of a daddy-long-legs (a harmless spider).

Hachette’s profits have steadily increased during a period of recession. They have also absorbed other publishers who couldn’t make it through the recession.

Its position is that Amazon is trying to force it to lower prices for eBooks and that high prices are necessary to subsidize unprofitable lines such as literary books.

They have also stated that they as publishers should be setting the selling price for books.

To this end, Hachette has engaged their bestseller (aka rich) authors to advertise and engage the media on their behalf. These businesses (owned by a former author rather than a current author in most cases), depend on Hachette and the big publishers.  Approximately 1000 authors have signed the pro-Hachette letters.

My analysis:

  • Hachette makes more money with less work at higher prices (key phrase is less work)
  • Hachette is afraid that eBooks represent a massive reduction in profits
  • eBooks eliminate the distributor from the mix (they own the distributor) thus reducing their profit
  • Hachette wants to control pricing (and eliminate discounting)
  • Hachette is aware that their only contribution doesn’t exist with eBooks (i.e. print & distribution)
  • Major authors depend on the existing status quo to ensure their earnings
  • Hachette is actively anti-author (if they could eliminate authors from the content they would)

Amazon’s position

Amazon’s whole strategy is based on owning the customer.  Ultimately they are a purchasing platform. They really don’t care what the customer is buying as long as it goes through them.

This attitude filters through their whole supply chain. They are as happy dealing with a large number of small suppliers as they are dealing with a major supplier. This does not mean they are pro-author. They are still a very large company and often function in beaurocratic ways.

This attitude (and their ownership of the customer) allows them insights into the customer that is not available to the publishers or authors (indie or otherwise).

They are not as media savvy as the large publishers (who often own the media).

They have no fear of disruptive technology. It’s part of their culture to sit on the bleeding edge. It’s what they exploit to expand.

My analysis:

  • Amazon wants lower prices so that it will sell more (i.e. I would believe their price sensitivity analysis)
  • Amazon wants happy customers. Lower price = happy customers
  • Amazon knows that ebooks are the future (just as paperbacks were 70 years ago)
  • Amazon recognizes that all three formats (hard, paper, electronic) will continue
  • Amazon wants more control of prices in order to adjust based on demand
  • Amazon wants more profit in its pocket (closer to indie rates)
  • Amazon doesn’t really care about the authors but in the short term is promoting their interests

What should authors do?

In the next installment I’m going to bring everything together and look at what position the author should take on all of this nonsense.

  • Booksellers own the customer
  • Publishers and distributors own the printing, and shipping of books to booksellers
  • Publishers no longer market or edit instead they focus on printing and shipping
  • (Traditional) Authors are underpaid
  • eBooks do not require printing and shipping
  • eBooks have a lower value to customers
  • Prices are inelastic; the lower the price, the more sales in a disproportionate relationship (meaning there are price sweet spots where prices either side earn less total dollars).
  • Traditional publishers have a reluctance to adapt to new technology

- See more at: http://www.learningcreators.com/blog/hachette-amazon-and-the-indie-author-2413.htm#sthash.mtYF6bum.dpuf

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Hachette, Amazon, and the Indie Author part 1

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typewriter and crumpled paper 0001It should be no surprise that most of my training lately has been in the form of books. And for that matter a large percentage takes the form of  ‘How to apply training techniques to speed up your writing books’ or ‘how to write and publish better’. The information business changed with the recession and focused on writing for the Kindle.

So if you have any level of interest in building a business publishing — and why would you be here if you didn’t? — then you’ve heard about the on-going, very public, very messy battle between Hachette and Amazon.

Today, I received 3 (count e’m three) emails from Amazon. And it set me off to writing a blog post on Saturday. Which I don’t normally do. There’s been so much c**p thrown about from both sides that I figured I’d throw some of my own on the fire.

Now, as you read this please keep an open mind. It is definitely going to sound as though I’m being hard on the Hachette’s of the world. I’m not but I am trying to avoid pussyfooting around their mistakes.

The Background

The process of bookselling has been fixed for a long time. The author writes the book, the publisher manages the process of printing the book, the distributor ships the book, and the bookseller sells the book to the customer.  The customer is owned by the bookseller and the bookseller is owned by the distributor.

The way book prices have worked traditionally is that the publisher sets the list price. The bookseller gets a discount from that list price. We’ll discuss what happens with that in a minute. The publisher and distributer each take about a half of the remainder. The author and agent then get about a half of the publisher’s portion (we’re down to roughly 10% by this point).  Now back to the bookseller’s half. They then use that amount to cover their costs and also to discount the books. That’s why large companies such as B&N and Amazon can discount the price of books.

All these numbers of course are negotiated by the publisher and bookseller. The author and agent get what the publisher decides in its infinite wisdom they are worthy of. (In theory its negotiated but reality is somewhat different). And the amounts are percentages of the end selling price. So the more expensive the book, the more each of the parties gets.

Okay so far?

Next bit of information is that the paper book market isn’t sustainable. The costs are too high. And the price is inelastic (meaning every dollar increase drops the number sold by an inordinate amount).  However, the price is neither linear nor proportional, meaning a straight line increase as the price goes down nor a curved line where quantities go up faster the lower the price. Instead it goes through sweet spots. While the quantities increase generally as the price decreases there are price points where the quantity is higher than either side of that point.

The result of this has been that traditional publishers have done a combination of four things. First, they’ve gone bankrupt. The lucky ones have merged or been bought out. Definitely a red ocean strategy here. Second, they’ve removed some of their traditional services to cut costs. They no longer provide marketing or editorial services (beyond what they must do to protect themselves). Instead they have focused on what they had a lock on — printing and distribution. And third, they’ve cut the amounts paid to authors to an absolute minimum.

Now along comes eBook technology. eBooks do not require a distributor. Nor do they require paper, printing, or shipping. They could be sold by many different companies but they aren’t. They’re tied to the hardware manufacturer. Access to independent booksellers is irrelevant. All of which is how traditional publishers (including vanity presses and small presses) have justified their existance. They’ve gotten rid of the rest of their justification — marketing and editing.  Which is the only part which could justifiy their existance in the eBook market.

eBooks also cannot be resold, lent (except under controlled conditions), or transferred. They aren’t really sold to the customer as traditional books were. And they have no residual value. They are effectively only licensed to the customer for an indefinite period. Similar to software. They can’t be held or touched or collected. In short, they have less value in the customer’s eyes than even paperbacks.

So eBooks represent a very disruptive technology.

Traditionally, publishers do not do well with disruptive technology. When paperbacks appeared on the scene they represented a disruptive technology to the publishers of hard cover books. Most of the publishers fought the conversion. And many of them still fight the conversion.

Summary of the current state

So to summize the current state so far:

  1. Booksellers own the customer
  2. Publishers and distributors own the printing, and shipping of books to booksellers
  3. Publishers no longer market or edit instead they focus on printing and shipping
  4. (Traditional) Authors are underpaid
  5. eBooks do not require printing and shipping
  6. eBooks have a lower value to customers
  7. Prices are inelastic; the lower the price, the more sales in a disproportionate relationship (meaning there are price sweet spots where prices either side earn less total dollars).
  8. Traditional publishers have a reluctance to adapt to new technology

The next article

Now that we know what the market base is we’re ready to go on and talk about Hachette’s position and Amazon’s position before we talk about what a good author position should be.

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How to Blog Money: – 5 Easy Ways to make money by blogging

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Blogging can be a great deal of work. And no one wants to work for free. So being able to make money with your blog can be a great incentive to keep your blog going.

But how to blog for money?

In this blog entry, I’m going to share five of the easiest or at least most straightforward ways to make money from blogging. Of course, easy is a relative term. Blogging itself needs to be done in a disciplined manner if you want to be successful with it. And that does involve work.

There are actually a number of ways to make money with blogging. Some are direct and some are indirect. However, five easiest ways are:

1. Freelancing
2. Advertising
3. Selling Someone Else’s Product
4. Selling Your Own Product
5. Memberships

While not all of these are direct with respect to the blog. They are all ways to use your blogging to make money.

1. Freelance Blogging

This is probably the most frustrating and the easiest method. Frustrating because most blogging work pays very, very little. Unfortunately, many internet marketers and entrepreneurs treat their blogging in a very cavalier fashion. They simply haven’t realized how powerful a blog can be. However, other groups cannot afford to have unprofessional blogs. And they are willing to pay a reasonable amount for freelancers to write their blogs.

2. Advertising

This is probably the most common method of making money by blogging. It is passive. Doesn’t require much to arrange. And depending on the amount of traffic you gather, can be quite lucrative. Generally speaking, most advertising is sold through a third party. The most obvious version is Google AdSense. Google arranges with marketers to deliver ads through its AdWords service. Google is  paid every time someone clicks on the ad. Bloggers and other content producers arrange to display those ads for which they are paid a portion of the click fee. However, there are a number of services other than Google which do the same thing. Some pay based on clicks and some pay based on displays and size. Some services, Google amongst them, also sell ad space to other advertising networks. This allows one network to serve more ads to their publishers. Ultimately, this should produce more income for you the blog publisher.

3. Selling Someone Else’s Product

Often the next step after advertising is to sell other peoples’ products. There are a number of variations on this technique. For example, you can sell physical products. The manufacturer often ships these directly to the customer. You can also sell affiliate products. These are usually virtual products but they can be physical.

4. Selling Your Own Product

If you are able to sell someone else’s product with your blog, what is to stop you from selling your own? Sometimes these are your own physical products. However, the most common and easiest product is the virtual product. For example, blogging is a common technique to sell training courses in audio or video format. EBooks are also sold this way.

5. Memberships

Selling your own product often involves selling information in the form of books or courses. But there is another form of information. Your blog itself. The most obvious technique is simply to sell access to the blog itself. This has an advantage of being a recurring income. Unfortunately, it can be quite difficult to carry off without irritating the potential reader of your blog.

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How do you Blog: – Why you should run your blog like a business

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How do you blog?

I know that when I first started blogging, I thought that I could just sit down and let the words flow. Somehow, magically, the words would appear on the blog. And the traffic would just flow from out of the blog ether. People would read my wonderful ideas and be suitably impressed. They’d fall at my feet and shower money on me. Cake, parties and big houses, oh my!

Boy did I have it wrong!

How wrong I was has been the subject of many of my blog entries in the past. Whenever I’m short of a subject I know I have a quick “Oops, I blew it again” story for my blog.  What is really scary is that every once in a while I’ll get lazy. I’ll try to blog that way again. Guess what? For some strange reason I end up in the same place. Strange, how that happens.

The truth is that you need to run your blog as if you were running a business. Because that is what you are doing. Even if it is a not-for-profit, it’s still a business.

I repeat, why?

There are many reasons that you need to approach your blog with the same level of discipline you would approach a business. Or perhaps the word is should. I’m sure there are people out there setting up their business in a slipshod manner. In any case, I’m going to give you six main reasons.

1. Blogging can get away with you.

Unrealistic goals are one of the most common problems with blogging. It’s inevitable. The desire to write about your subject blinds you to what is possible. You’ll want to have millions of readers. And that won’t happen. At least, not without throwing money at it. You’ll want to write everyday on it. But of course, that isn’t realistic. You’ll end up finding that you’ve bitten off a feast rather than a mouthful. You’ll find out that your blog is taking up more time than you expected and can maintain.

2. it’s lonely to write without feedback.

The main reason anyone blogs is because they want others to read what they’ve written. That’s cool, there’s nothing wrong with that. And it’s inevitable. Now, it could be just one step in selling products or it could be the sole reason. However, it will always be part of the explanation. And unfortunately, it’s lonely and unfulfilling to write and never be read. Without a reader, there really isn’t much fun to write. And unfortunately, traffic doesn’t just happen. Like any business, you need to plan, prepare and coerce it.

3. If you don’t get feedback, you’ll eventually stop

Think of this as the inevitable result of not having readers. Without feedback to sustain you, you will eventually get frustrated and quit. There won’t be anything to keep you going when the writing gets tough. At some point, you’ll find you need to do something else and you’ll just never return.

4. You’re likely to forget something

Whenever you do anything by a seat-of-your-pants method, you are bound to forget to do something. One of the characteristics of a well-run business is its ability to create processes or standardized ways of doing things. By standardizing how you work within your blog, you are less likely to forget an important step. This is especially true with the market strategy investigation. Many ego-bloggers forget to verify that there is a market before they start blogging. The result is that they also forget readers.

5. You’re likely to stop

One of the worst things you can do to a blog is to be erratic. Your blog needs to be consistent if it is to gain a consistent readership. Stopping even for a few days can cost you readers. They return expecting a new blog entry and find nothing. After a few false starts, they stop returning. A consistent schedule is the mark of a business. It’s seldom the mark of a hobby.

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How do you Blog: – Why blogging should be part of your marketing plan

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How do you blog? Or more properly, why?

Social marketing is at the top of everyone’s radar at the moment. Twittering, facebooking, digging and other social marketing methods are advertised as the only way to market on the internet. The rush to drive customers to your business is on. And that’s cool.

But if you’ve left blogging off your marketing plan, you’ve made a big mistake. Blogging needs to be at the core of your marketing through the internet.

But why?

Why is blogging so important to a comprehensive and well-balanced marketing strategy? Why should it be the first thing you do? Why should it be in place before you get involved in social marketing, local marketing, pay-per-click or any of the other marketing techniques?

In this article, I’m going to give you four reasons that you will want to make blogging the core of your internet marketing strategy. How you blog will affect everything you do.

1. Other techniques need a place to go
I could probably (okay, make that certainly) write an article just by listing all the other marketing techniques. However, almost all of them — social, article, advertisement — work by gaining customer attention and then driving it somewhere. The problem is where? And what happens when they get there? Yes, you could simply drive them to an opt-in page or a static website. But what happens when the potential customer doesn’t love your ethical bribe? They leave. A blog gives your lead a reason to return. In essence, it becomes sticky.

2. It educates your customer
One of the realities of marketing is that many customers and potential customers really have no clue how your product or service should be used. They need help to understand and know when and where to apply your solution. They need someone to educate them in what your product or service does. A blog can be a great way to educate your customers.

2. Proves that you can do what you say
A blog is (or should be) a small, tasty sample of your product and your expertise. One of the biggest hurdles that you will have when selling your service or products is buyer disbelief and fear of loss. The copywriter and salesperson’s biggest hurdle is to convince the buyer that it is safe and that you can deliver exactly what you promise. If they can’t do that, then you won’t have a sale. So anything that can improve the odds of convincing the buyer is worthwhile. Having a blog can help you to not only convince the buyer but literally remove any trace of doubt.

3. Invokes the law of reciprocity
Favours must be returned. If you get something, you must give something. Given our penchant for free — it’s rather surprising that we feel that way. But we really do.  If a buyer is given a gift — without saying it’s a gift — then they will feel obligated to buy from you. Returning the favour as it were. This is why hospitals and charities have taken to putting a nickel in their cries for money. A well-written blog will help customers, provide them with education and generally provide good value to readers. In return, readers will feel obligated and will seek to return the favour to the blogger. Which translates as a much easier sale.

4. Google search likes it.
It may seem funny to go from active marketing techniques to a passive source of traffic. But in fact, everything cycles through the search engines eventually. And Google loves blogging. Not only does it provide information but it does so on a frequent basis. The information is both available and timely. And it typically is comprehensive and exclusive. All of which are characteristics the searcher (and thus the search engine) loves. Blogs therefore have an advantage over other types of content marketing as a result.

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How do you Blog: – Why every business should blog

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You may have been told that having a blog is a luxury that most companies should avoid. Or perhaps that letting employees participate on a blog is dangerous. Or that only the marketing department should be trusted with a blog. Or worse, that it should be turned over to webmaster — internal or outsourced — and ignored .

They’re wrong.

Blogging is a key tool for your business’s internet strategy. Like social marketing, your business needs to have and maintain a blog.  And it needs to involve everyone in your company who has something to contribute. It should fairly represent your company, its beliefs and its principles.

But why?

Why should every business blog? Why should your business blog? There are other reasons. In fact, one of the reasons is a whole set of articles all on its own.  But here are five that I feel are the most important.

Blogging is a core tool for content marketing. There are only four overall methods to drive traffic. Content marketing is one of the four. While there are several forms of content marketing, Google loves blogging. More importantly, Google has little choice. After all, search is all about finding information and blogging is all about providing information. Unlike articles and other content methods that are frequently repeated, a blog does have an original source. Of course, blogs entries are stolen like much of the intellectual property on the internet. But since you’ve been registered first, it really doesn’t matter.

But there are other more direct reasons for your company to blog.

Blogging is a way for you to keep in touch with your clients. One of the problems with the internet is that most customers never return to sites they find. A blog will give your visitors a reason to bookmark your site. And more importantly, a reason to return.

Blogging also gives your clients a taste of what you provide. Think of it as a sample counter at your local grocery store. Like a book or an article, it can educate your clients. It can prepare them to deal with you. And it can convince them that you are the proper organization to call. All without selling.

Your blog can also be a method to obtain your visitors email address. Two of the ways to build a relationship with your visitors is by email marketing and by newsletter marketing. Your blog can be one way to convince your visitors that you are worthy of using their email.

The concept of the ethical bribe makes it even more important for you to blog. If you give someone something, they will feel obligated to give you something in return. This is sometimes called the theory of Reciprocity.  And it’s the basis of the squeeze page where you give someone an eBook or similar small item in return for them opting into your email list. Using a squeeze page is in many ways, a simple exchange. However, using a blog — without asking for enlistment –is very definitely a case of reciprocity.

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How do you Blog: – Why people blog

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Blogging is one of the fastest growing activities on the internet today. A situation that has been true for many years now. And, unlike many web activities, it is both active and social. Until the advent of Facebook and Twitter, one of the few ways to interact on the web was through a blog.

So why do people blog?

What is it about blogging that attracts people?

Everyone has their own specific reasons for blogging. However, when we look at their reasons they come down to three major groups and five minor groups of reasons. Each has benefits. And disadvantages. Each has ethical examples and each has rather sleazy side.

Of course, most blog writers do so for a mix of all three reasons. In fact, a focus on a single reason is one of the characteristics of individuals who overstep the bounds of propriety. People driven by a single reason often leave even historic web ethics out of the equation.

One reason for blogging is related to the writer’s ego. Basically, the writer is driven  to blog by the subject. Being heard is secondary. Being heard or not really doesn’t matter. Although having readers is nice. The point rather is to express their opinion on the subject. This may be because the writer believes strongly in the topic. Or it may be because the writer needs to express their opinions. On the other hand, it may be to boost a weak ego. Ultimately, the reason for blogging is internal. It has more to do with the writer than it does with the reader.

The second reason is to make money directly with one’s writing.  You can usually tell this type of writer from the amount of advertising on their site. These blogs often try to get you to buy products. In some cases, they become quite insistent — not letting you leave until you buy or not letting you read the blog until you buy. A variation on this is the membership site. A large portion of the site is restricted to people who have paid a fee to read the most desirable articles.

The third reason for blogging is to make money indirectly. In this case, the blog is not intended to create an income. Rather the intent is to help the individual make money from another source. The blog exists to drive traffic to their income source.  This may sound like making money from the blog. However, in this version, the blog’s focus is on providing information. Selling is more or less restricted to the product pages. This is unlike the direct version. In the direct version, the separation between sales and information doesn’t exist.

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How do You Blog? What is Content Marketing and Why Should You Care?

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How do you blog?

Do you just start typing whatever pounds its way into your mind? Are you satisfied with your traffic? No? Are you surprised?

Or are you trying to blog in a disciplined way and can’t seem to get the traffic needed to support your blog?

The solution could be content marketing.

Content marketing?  Why should I care about one more fancy marketing term? I’m not looking to sell a product. I just want to write a blog.

Who cares?

Well, you need to.  Notice that I didn’t say should. I said need to.  Whether you like it or not you need to concern yourself with content marketing. Why? Simple, without traffic your blog will never have readers. Without readers, you may as well not be blogging. In fact, it’s highly unlikely that you will continue to blog. And if you really have something to say, that would be a shame.

Okay, so you’ve spent some time and you’ve learned all about the search engines and SEO. And maybe you’ve even picked a good keyword. And maybe you’re even prepared to slip the keyword in every 30 odd words. (Which reminds me — How do you blog? Are you looking to learn how to blog money? — okay back to our regularly scheduled blog entry :D)

But that’s just not enough.

So what is content marketing? And why should I care?

Well, as I’ve said the whole point of blogging is to be read. You need to draw readers to your site. However, traffic for the sake of traffic isn’t exactly what you need. After all, your blog is going to be read by a whole mess load of spammers no matter what you do.  Or at least by their robots. What you really need is to be read by a number of readers who actually are interested in your topic. Content marketing is perfect for drawing truly interested readers. Think of it as pre-screening your readers.

Content marketing is, simply put, providing content for the purposes of drawing traffic. There are many different forms of content marketing.  Blogging is in fact, a form of content marketing. So is posting a helpful video to YouTube. Or preparing and sending out a podcast on iTunes. Or writing an article for an e-zine like EZineArticles. It can be argued that, even the traditional eBook given out for an opt-in is a form of content marketing.

The one overriding characteristic is that content marketing is all about giving information away in order to gain the interest of potential readers. Once a person has absorbed the information, the hope is that they will visit your site in the search of more information. Or will perform some form of action in order to obtain more information.

Content marketing works on several levels. First, it provides a filtering mechanism. If a person is visiting your site, they are far more likely to be interested in what you have to say. Tire kickers won’t chew up your traffic allowance. Second, it acts as an ethical bribe. A free eBook is really more of an exchange for one’s email. However, by giving your potential customer or reader free information you are invoking the law of reciprocity. People don’t like to be obligated so they will try to return the favour you’ve given them. Finally, it helps to convince people that you really do know what you are talking about. After all, you just told them something important. How much more do you know? They will want to find out.

If you are blogging, then you are already engaged in a form of content marketing. Even if you aren’t selling anything beyond the blog. Reusing that content to drive traffic to the blog makes sense. After all, it’s just a matter of changing the media or the form. In essence, you’ll be selling people on exactly what you’ll deliver. And that just makes sense.

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Did you miss us?

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Did you even notice we were gone?

One of the joys of trying to run a business over the internet is dealing with domain registrars. Sometimes it is a major pain in the ***.

Earlier this year we lost a domain because the registrar (name withheld but it’s sometimes referred to as Nomore Solutions) decided to fillibuster us when we tried to transfer the domain. Eventually we gave up and let the domain lapse.

Same thing happened  this time but to LearningCreators. The difference is that it probably had more to do with poor systems than intent (unlike the Nomore Solutions mess which clearly was intent).

Eventually we connected with the right person and the problem was resolved. Unfortunately, not by transferring the domain as we wished but still it was resolved.

So now we’re back … until the next time we need to renew.

And I’ve got no excuse not to start posting again. Other than the fact I’ve got a mess load of books to crank out.

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