Monthly Archives: September 2009

There Must Be a Pony

We’ve all heard the story. “With all this manure, there must be a pony in here somewhere!”

I think that a lot of people blog or write articles with the same mentality. Not particularly caring about quality, but believing that if they produce enough manure, that somehow it will materialize into a pony.

Good writers try to write good quality every time. They understand that you write four or five articles, or maybe a dozen or two, for every one that someone else proclaims as “good”. Good article marketers and bloggers also realize that the really popular articles can’t always be predicted. So you write the best that is in you, try to make it good quality every time, and know that if you do that, you greatly enhance the odds that one of them will pay you back.

There are many “SEO” companies, a good many that are located in countries where English is not the native language, that produce “marketing articles” in something akin to an article mill. What boggles my mind is that anyone will actually PAY for these articles, but they do. And the writers are a plague on every article directory out there, the reason why you have a harder time submitting GOOD stuff.

The average article produced by them ranges from downright awful, to technically accurate and correct, but entirely colorless. Either one is purely a waste of time, money, and effort – and in some instances, we’ve even seen such companies create legal liability issues for their clients, because they wrote things that the FTC would consider to be misleading or dangerous statements. These articles do no good at all, search engines don’t really bother to COUNT most articles that are not linked outside the article directory itself.

A large number of business owners also crank out article after article, little caring about the quality, on the belief that if they wrote it, it MUST be good. They never check to see if their articles are linked, or even indexed in the search engines.

Article marketing works when it does, because people LIKE what is written. So the primary goal of a good article marketer is to create stuff that people WANT to read. Stuff that they enjoy, and then want to SHARE. Because the real power is in the sharing, not in the posting to the article directory.

In fact, posting articles to an article directory is a COMPLETE waste of time if they do not get picked up and linked, or reprinted. Seriously.

Blogging has similar requirements. Blogging works when people READ the blog. There are a gazillion blogs out there filled with nothing of value. If yours is just another of those, then people will forget it so fast that you’d get more mileage out of getting arrested and making the news. There is no distinction in owning a bad blog. 95% of blog posts are not read by more than one person – the person who wrote it. If you want others to read what you write, they’ve gotta LIKE it enough to take time out of their busy day to see what you have to say today.

An amazing number of people will pay for writing services though, without ever checking to see if the writing is even good! They think that somehow if they fertilize the web with enough manure, that something good will grow of it? There’s already enough manure on the web, and people universally ignore it. If people ignore it, search engines do too.

Quality, and enjoyability are the factors that make an article worth writing.

The Parable of the Donkey

A traveler bought a donkey to haul his belongings. He had a long way to go, and could not carry all of his belongings himself. He chose a fine, strong donkey, from a breeder who was known for breeding sturdy pack animals.

The man loaded his belongings onto the donkey, and set out upon his journey. After a number of days, he reached a city. He entered the marketplace, and there he saw many merchants, selling all sorts of wares. One merchant caught his eye. He sold hats, for donkeys. The traveler thought the hat so interesting he just had to have it. He bought it and put it upon his donkey. It covered the donkey’s ears, and made it harder for the donkey to hear, but the man liked the hat so much, he hardly considered it. He did wonder why his donkey was less responsive to his commands, but blamed it on the animal.

He traveled on. In the next city, his attention was taken by a merchant selling leg decorations for donkeys. This he had to have! He quickly bought a set of four and fastened them onto the donkey. He thought they looked very fetching. His donkey adopted a funny walk to keep from bashing the leggings into each other, and the man found himself criticizing the donkey for being awkward.

In the next city on his route, he discovered a decorative pack saddle. It was far heavier than the plain one he had been using, and it did not accommodate the burden as easily. But he liked it so well, he strapped it to his donkey, and loaded his goods onto the pack saddle. The load was somewhat unbalanced, and some items had to be tied to the side with ropes, where they dangled and beat upon the donkey’s legs. At the end of the day, some goods were damaged, and the man was angry with the donkey.

A city later, he found a full body blanket for his donkey. It was meant for night use, but he liked it so well that he unloaded the donkey, put the blanket on, and reloaded the animal. During the hot day, the poor beast overheated, and had to rest more frequently than usual. The man cursed his donkey for being slow and lazy.

Traveling on, the man found a merchant selling shoes for his donkey. Not the typical iron shoes, but full covering, lace up shoes. He thought them so clever that he immediately put them on his donkey and happily paid a high price for them. The donkey could no longer feel the earth beneath it’s feet. It stumbled and plodded instead of stepping lightly. The man found he needed to hit his donkey to keep him moving fast enough.

The man was angry that his donkey was no longer the sturdy and sure animal he had bought. It frustrated him. He beat the animal to make it go faster, and to punish it when it stumbled, and hollered and cursed it when it did not obey his commands.

Finally, he could take it no longer. Arriving in a small desert town, he determined to sell his donkey for what he could get, and purchase a new one. In a hurry, and frustrated with his animal, he sold it and only removed his original traveling packs, leaving the animal to the new owner with all the trappings in place, and set off with his new donkey (a quick and responsive beast), with his eye out for new accessories to bestow on this new and “better” animal.

The new owner of his old donkey patiently removed the blanket, the pack saddle, the hat, the shoes and leggings, and rubbed down the tired animal. He fed it a good meal and rested it for several days. Then he placed a plain and simple pack saddle on it, loaded it with a sizeable burden, and marveled at the strength and sure-footedness of this donkey that had been described as a weak and clumsy thing. He set out on the road, soon passing the first traveler, who was making his way with his new donkey, slower and slower, as he again loaded it with unnecessary trappings.

It seems so clear when it is choices someone else is making regarding a donkey. But when it is our own website, and we think the next new gadget is “really cool”, we have a harder time making wise choices.

The rule is simple… If it does not help achieve the primary goal, don’t do it.

If you want your website to SELL, then don’t put things on that get in the way of that. Otherwise, your website will be less responsive, slower, and will stumble and fail to perform effectively.

If You Don’t Actually Know Me, I Don’t Want to Be Your Fan

The whole FaceBook Fan page thing has me really wearied. I get fan invites from everybody and their dog. Most of them don’t know me. Not really. If they have never bothered to make any kind of personal contact, why in the world do I want to be their fan?

Lately though, if you allow a Friend connection with anyone you do not personally know, the first thing you get from them is a fan invite.

I think that the whole fan page thing is sort of run wild. When fan pages were not so well known, you had a chance that people might want to subscribe. But now, since everyone has one, the competition and lameness factor has risen to such a fever pitch that it is now far more difficult to create an effective one that actually serves a purpose, or to get it noticed.

Now let me assure my clients that I don’t mind when they send me an invite. After all, I KNOW them, and I have a vested interest in their business. But I don’t subscribe to all of those either – some cover topics I am not highly interested in.

And I don’t mind when my real friends send an invite either. I KNOW them, and they KNOW me. There is a relationship there.

But I’m selective about which pages I subscribe to. There is only so much time in the day, only so much room for STUFF in my life. If I subscribe to a page, it has to MEAN something to me. If I don’t, it isn’t an insult. I don’t like lime green, I dislike jazz music, I’m death on get rich quick scams or anything that even comes close. Lots of other personal quirks… I choose based on my likes and dislikes.

Right up there with Fan pages, are Causes. I don’t do FaceBook Causes. They are pretty much a useless gesture. A bunch of people sitting around commenting on a problem, but nobody really doing anything other than joining. It doesn’t change a thing. If I want to change the world, I am going to get busy doing something effective, not just gathering a group of people to notice that there is a problem. And then I’m selective about what I take on also – there’s only so much of me to go around.

I don’t live my life on FaceBook. I don’t play games there, and I don’t expect life to revolve around it. I live out here, and drop in for newsbites once or twice a day, and drop a little info of my own. Beyond that, it isn’t even real.

Most fan and cause notices I receive are deleted without further investigation. If I do not recognize a name behind it, it doesn’t even show on my radar. I don’t think I’m unusual in that… at least in final outcome.

Maybe a lot of people DO subscribe without really paying attention to what they are doing. Those people aren’t valuable contacts. They subscribe with the same degree of attention they pay to your announcements.

The key to effective networking is relationships. You can’t build relationships unless you get to know people. A fan invite is an assumption of an existing relationship – smart people just don’t respond unless the relationship is already there. And if you KEEP sending them (I get them from some people several times a week, even though I consistently ignore them), you just annoy people. Annoying people you want to reach is NOT a good idea!

Spend less time broadcasting, and more time making meaningful contact. It will get you further.

Grow a Garden!

Gardening doesn't have to be that hard! No matter where you live, no matter how difficult your circumstances, you CAN grow a successful garden.

Life from the Garden: Grow Your Own Food Anywhere Practical and low cost options for container gardening, sprouting, small yards, edible landscaping, winter gardening, shady yards, and help for people who are getting started too late. Plenty of tips to simplify, save on work and expense.