Thursday, November 20, 2014

Social Media

I just discovered a new tool for helping you get to fame and fortune . . . well, fame, anyway.

Tired of having to post (and remember) to click the button every time you want to share something, and what happens when you're sick, on vacation, otherwise occupied, or just plain forget?

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"I'm sorry, Paige, but grades are bas...
Matthew Diffee

Now there's a new free social media tool to the rescue—Buffer. Available both on a web page and as a browser extension, Buffer allows you to schedule posts to a single facebook page, twitter account, and google+ account simply and easily. You set the schedule for when the posts go out, and every time you run across something you want to share while you're on the web, simply add it to your queue with a few clicks.

See something that is more important than what you already have scheduled? No worries, just rearrange the queue. Easy, fast, and takes all the work out of scheduling posts for your content (you'll still have to find what you want to post, though).

I'm all for making my life easier with good, free tools, and Buffer manages to do that. Sign up today!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Increase Your Productivity!

Here's what I notice about successful entrepreneurs: they maximize their productive time. It's incredibly difficult for some people to do, but for those who can, it's definitely worth the effort because of the increase in productive activities over unproductive ones.

The first step in increasing your production is to look at your daily behavior and figure out whether it is productive or unproductive. Here are some great examples, some taken from the world of online writing:

Productive Activities:
Researching a site's rules and Terms of Service
Researching topic information
Keyword research
Writing articles
Doing A/B tests on earnings, after a suitable aging process (six months to one year) for articles, and a sufficient sample size
Researching affiliate opportunities
Cleaning house (unless it's already spotless)
Making dinner
Tidying your workspace (if mess is a problem)

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"The X9400 is guaranteed to increase ...
Ted Goff
Non-Productive activities:
Micromanaging earnings from day one
Obsessing about earnings updates
Worrying about publication approval
Wondering if anyone is reading your forum posts
Checking email
Blowing off steam in a forum because someone said something that offended you
Ranting in a forum about unfairness
Deleting your work (unless it's to move it from an unproductive site to a more likely productive one)

May or may not be productive:
Staring out of the window
Reading/watching news

Now that you've identified your non-productive behaviors, every time you are tempted to do one of them, do one of your productive activities instead!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Intellectual Property Theft

As my readers know, I've been writing content for the internet since 2007. In that time, I, like every other writer who publishes on the internet, have had my content copied without my permission hundreds of times.

This falls under theft of intellectual property, and as all content writers know, the process is to find the copies, file a Notice of Infringement under the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, follow up, and so on. This routine is tedious at best, and overwhelming at worst.
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"I'm afraid, Inspector, this means th...
Charles Barsotti

While automated filing of these notices is illegal, I have been experimenting with various methods of automatically finding the copies, as well as eliminating steps to make the filing easier. My results have been published on InfoBarrel, and I am experimenting with even more automation to make the filing of DMCA Takedown Notices easier (without paying for it!). Try it out, and if you have more ideas for automation, be sure to leave a comment and let me know!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Blind Spots

Years ago, a very, very nice woman took a chance on me when I was unemployed, and hired me to work in her business. I liked her, and she was a very reasonable employer. I was happy with my working conditions, salary, and benefits, and because she was willing to employ me when no one else would, I felt an enormous amount of obligation to her, and so I worked very hard in several of her retail locations, until I was finally offered the chance to manage one of her stores.

Unfortunately, that was my downfall. The previous manager at that location was one of the owner's friends. When I took over, I did what any responsible manager would do: I inventoried everything, and found discrepancies of hundreds of dollars. I immediately reported the discrepancy to the owner, and was reprimanded. She had two possible reasons to offer for the discrepancy, either I was taking the opportunity of the new position to arrange a massive one-time theft, or I was accusing the former manager of stealing, because she had been promoted.

Neither of these were true. I simply reported a discrepancy and asked what I should do. But from then on, my reputation in the company was tainted. I'd already had one run-in in a previous location, because another employee on the same shift asked me to complete a sale he had started to ring up on his register, and I offered to restart the sale on my register, but the customer refused, and the other employee left his register to use the bathroom, and the customer did not want to wait. That evening, his register was short (mine had always been exactly on). The owner took half the shortage out of my check, and half out of the other employee's check, because I had touched the register.
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But back to the new location: I spent hundreds of hours cleaning, both in the retail area and the stock area. I kept meticulous records of everything, spent weeks cleaning out expired stock, and developing relationships with vendors. But there was one thing I could not do; I could not keep one other employee from using my register. And then, consistently, my register came up short. However, it came up short only when I shared the shift with that particular employee. So I meekly accepted the deductions from my paycheck, and asked the owner what I should do to keep this employee from using my register. She then told me that he was a long-time employee and would never think of stealing from her. (Well, I didn't think of it either, but that's another story.) I had to shrug and say, "Well, anyone can make a mistake." I realized at that moment that the situation would never get any better, stuck it out for another month, and then gave my notice.

I don't bear the owner any ill-will, but it was clear to me that she was allowing her friendship with these two employees to affect her business. And there's a powerful lesson to be learned from this experience; you cannot let a blind spot interfere with your business operations. It is possible for your friends to do a bad job. It's possible for your friends to make mistakes. It's possible that an employee you suspect is actually scrupulously honest. And it's possible that your preconceived notions about your business are damaging your bottom line.

So when you are dealing with some situation in your business, it's important to keep an unbiased viewpoint. If you are not able to do this yourself, then you need to hire a third party to investigate. Whether that third party is a forensic accountant, or someone to review security videos, or someone else, you'll be doing yourself, your business, and all your employees, including your friends, a favor.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

InfoBarrel Again

After the debacle at eHow, the next site I started with was InfoBarrel. While I did well there with 111 articles (a few were outmoded and deleted along the way), I decided that my New Year's resolution would be to update and review all 111 articles. InfoBarrel has changed their rules since 2009, when I first started publishing there, so I also wanted to make sure I included at least one Amazon module in each article.

As of today, I have added Amazon modules to all but three of my articles (one I'm waiting for an ebook to be formatted; one I can't find anything for, and one I just haven't done yet).

Another thing that InfoBarrel introduced was article scoring. When they first introduced it, I had some article scores below 41, and many below 55. Articles scoring below 41 were going to be de-indexed, and I quickly fixed those just enough to get their scores up to 41. In January I decided to get all my article scores above 55 this year, and I have done it on all but three articles. Those three have scores of 50 or above, but I just can't figure out how to get them any higher.

The other InfoBarrel improvement I am working on is on adding long descriptions to my media pages. InfoBarrel is unique among sites in that opportunity, as you have the ability to earn from pictures uploaded to your article. Not only do ads show on those pages, but in addition, you can have a link going to one or more of your InfoBarrel articles in the description. I'm also adding one outgoing link to an Amazon search page, where appropriate. I've just started this process, so I imagine it will be the end of March before I have finished.
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Dollar Question Mark

And will all this translate into improved earnings? It's too soon to tell, and likely I won't see the results for several months. On the other hand, I know that I've done something positive to attempt to improve my passive income from InfoBarrel, and that's what I knew how to do.

I have other goals for this year, too, and so far I'm keeping up with all my New Year resolutions. Unfortunately, in this passive income game, everything is delayed gratification, so one reason for this blog is to keep track of what I did, so that when I start to see results, I can go back and see what worked!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Go For It!

It's amazing to me how many people have an idea and never follow through on it. I've always been the type to try something and not be afraid of failure. After all, if you don't try, you won't succeed, right?

So it's with a great deal of excitement that I am proud to announce that my software company's first app, myGraph, is now live in the App Store. Six months ago, this was just an idea, and now I have a real company with a real product to sell.

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Goals: Dolphins
Craig Tuttle

And as a lesson to all dreamers everywhere, you never know if you don't try. So get out of your head, head down to your local SCORE office, and get going, because right now all your money-making ideas are locked in your head instead of funneling money into your bank account.

Remember, the total expenses for this company were less than $300. That includes web hosting, the developer access, the domain name registration, the assumed name certificate, etc. If this is too expensive for you to start out with, check out some of the ways you can earn money online for free!