Sunday, 6 November 2011

10 steps to blogging heaven: 2. Know your audience (and be sure you have one)

 I recently gave a talk to a great bunch of journalism students at the London College of Communications.  I promised I would do them some notes on the presentation I gave them: 10 steps to blogging heaven. Here is the second of them.  Also check out the first.

Step 2: Know your audience (and be sure you have one)

It's easy to get carried away writing a blog which only you are passionate about (or perhaps a few others). My first website covering Doctor Who filming locations was a great example of this. I was hugely interested in it but only a few hundred people a month were equally keen.

I would never discourage anyone from pursuing their passion in blogging but if you want to make a living out of it, you'll generally need thousands of people to visit your blog every month.

This is because the vast majority of people who visit your site will not buy anything or interact with the other ways you have making money (eg by clicking on adverts). 

How to work out if there's a big enough audience

Google's keyword tool will tell you if there is an audience. It is easy to use. Type in a few words relating to your topic, then search.  After a few moments it should display a list of results which show keyword ideas (and how many times a month they were searched for).

Ideally, you are looking for thousands of people doing searches on your topic.

Follow this up with a browse of's magazine area.  The existence of a dedicated magazine means there is potentially enough money in the audience to support you.  You can also repeat the search in their books area too. Ideally, the books should be in the top 500,000 sales rank.

Both of these should also give you an idea of the kind of content your audience is interested in and what tone of voice to use.

Finally, create a description of your audience and try to picture what they look like in your mind.  Then bring that picture back into your mind when writing each blog post. It is a lot easier to write for someone than the void.

Making a living from your fans

I will go into detail later about how exactly to turn blog visitors into a living later but the following is a useful principle to understand.

If you are going to make a living from blogging - you will need people to like you. These are fans.

1000 true fans is an interesting idea which says if you can get one thousand truly dedicated fans, you can make a living.  Dedicated means each of those fans is willing to buy everything you offer e.g. T-shirts, books, CDs, tickets to gigs etc.

The nice thing is that one thousand fans doesn't sound too difficult.  Basically, if you manage to convert one person each day for three years, you'll have enough fans.

Don't get hung up on the idea that you need to get exactly one thousand fans buying tickets, CDs etc.  It is the principle of having fans regularly buying your products which is important.  Don't think you have a product - don't worry we'll look at that later too.

You want more? Of course, you do. Check out Malcolm Gladwell's The Tipping Point. In this bestselling book, he talks about how to generate word of mouth and create true fans (he calls them mavens).

10 steps to blogging heaven: 1. Do one thing well

I recently gave a talk to a great bunch of journalism students at the London College of Communications.  I promised I would do them some notes on the presentation I gave them: 10 steps to blogging heaven. Here is the first of them.

Step 1: Do one thing well

I admit I like to experiment. My philosophy is: why do one thing when you can try out a bunch of things all at the same time and see what works? For blogging this can be a mistake. Read on to find out why.

The advice in this step is: Make like a hedgehog.  The hedgehog is fantastically good at one thing - protecting itself by curling into a ball.

Your blog should also concentrate on being good at one thing. If you spread your efforts or try to cater for multiple tastes - then you'll end up pleasing no-one.

Your blog might cover Sherlock Holmes books or Beyonce's bump but never both. It is very unlikely that people fascinated by one of those topics will be interested in both.  So while one set of readers is going "That's great!" - the other is like "WTF?"

If you really want to blog about both of these - set up two blogs.

You want more? Of course, you do. Check out the Hedgehog Concept chapter in Good to Great by Jim Collins.

Tuesday, 25 October 2011

Review: The Education of Millionaires

The Education of Millionaires contains a damning analysis of the US higher education system (and likely soon-to-follow in the UK given recent rises in tuition fees).  Basically, it concludes that it is no longer fit for purpose (and actually in something of bubble). 

Ellsberg argues that the cost of higher education ($100K+ to get a degree and then a Masters)  makes it an increasingly risky proposition in today's economic environment ie a quality formal education no longer entitles you to a job paying enough to even clear your debts (never mind profit from the investment).  Further he charges the skills developed within the higher education system are of limited use in the real world (and hence the high numbers of graduates struggling to find even low paid jobs).  And this applies even to the business schools.

Lastly, he suggests that reliance on a single burst of higher education in a person's life isn't enough to guarantee job security.  In other words, the old adage, beloved of middle class parents everywhere, of get a good (ie university) education in order to secure a good job no longer holds water.  The education ain't what it used to be, and the jobs are often not good or secure.

As someone who has both studied (and worked) in higher education I have a lot of sympathy with Ellsberg's point of view.  Most courses are designed to teach a limited set of skills which are mostly of use to students wanting a career in academia.   In fairness, quite a few tenured academics will freely confess this if asked (and often bemoan the floods of students washing up to their lectures who have neither the ability or interest to follow a career path in academia).   Many students, in turn, appear to sense something is wrong (especially once they start looking for work) but cannot put their finger on the problem.   Note, this isn't a complete slamming of higher education (on my part at least), for some careers it is still a hugely valuable path to take.

Fortunately, Ellsberg has a solution. He suggests young people model their development on that of successful self-made non-conventionally educated business people even if their ultimate goal is to be a employee.   He boils this down to 7 key skills (accompanied by case studies from the self-made rich):
  • Work out what a meaningful life is for you
  • Find great mentors
  • Learn marketing
  • Learn sales
  • Continuously re-invest in your own self education
  • Build your personal brand
  • Develop an entrepreneurial mindset (rather than an employee one)
Again, as a self-confessed autodidact who enjoys bootstrapping small internet experiments in my spare time and coming up with/implementing unsolicited stuff in my day job this approach (and the effect) mirrors much of my own experience. Usefully, I found plenty to chew on myself (sales, marketing, personal branding and networking chiefly)

There is some fantastic practical advice here - and I would have happily read a lot more of it although the case studies add a great human dimension.  Even if you don't end up agreeing with the book - I think it's an eye opening look at a different way to be successful. Highly recommended.

Saturday, 22 October 2011

3 reasons why Steve Jobs is right (and wrong) about Google

The Register has a few choice quotes from Steve Jobs' new biography which is out on Monday. He has some particularly incendiary stuff to say about Google and Android.

Android is "grand theft"

I have some sympathy with this. The iPhone was the first smartphone to get it 'right' in my experience - i.e. produce a smartphone for ordinary humans that was quick and easy to use.

I had a smartphone (the O2 XDA exec) and while it did everything it said on the box, it wasn't particularly nice to use. You needed a stylus to make it have a chance of hitting the icons on the screen and it was darn slow.  Sometimes, due to button placement and the time it took to get it out of its case - you either accidentally disconnected the incoming call or it went to voice mail because you couldn't open it up in time.

If you were going to pick a phone to copy...ahem...improve on - the iPhone was definitely it.

So Android definitely learnt a lot from iOS.  But who doesn't stand on the shoulders of giants in the tech world nowadays?  And it's clear that Apple is not adverse to learning from Android from time to time either (notifications anyone?)

"I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go thermonuclear war on this."

Never going to happen, Steve. Here's why. There will always be a market for Android while Apple's phone offerings are either 2+ year old tech (3Gs) or £400+.

I had the first generation of iPhone because I needed a new MP3 player and  I managed to buy it new for £150 and unlock/jailbreak it.  That seemed like decent value. It was fifty quid more than an iPod touch and the extra cash bought a camera and a phone. 

Fast forward a few years and my latest smartphone is an Orange San Francisco. Under a hundred quid and better specs in most respects. Similarly, the Android OS has quite a few more features than iOS and they aren't locked down (e.g. tethering).  But it's real clunky compared to iOS.  Settings are often buried deep.  There's plenty of interface clutter and Marketplace...

Sure I'd like to have upgraded to the iPhone 4 earlier in the year but it's not 4-5x as good as my San Francisco.  Siri may yet help tip the balance back again though. Android's voice stuff is an embarrassment (at least in the UK).

The caveat to all of this, of course, are all of the patent battles going on between Apple and practically everyone else.  I suspect no-one, except the lawyers, will come out smiling after those.

Google is making products "that are adequate but not great. They're turning [Google] into Microsoft"

Steve is absolutely right on this. Outside of search (and perhaps Gmail), including Android, Google's recent offerings lack a certain polish or even vision. 

For all of the hoopla around Google Plus it isn't yet a place I'd go to instead of Facebook (or even as well as if I'm honest). Circles is a considerable step forward in managing your contacts and the uploading of pics from my Android phone is great but Plus seems like a collection of bits and pieces rather than a proper destination at the moment.

So like Buzz and Wave before it - I don't quite get it. Now that was true of Twitter to start with but within a few minutes it just clicked.   I'd love to be wrong about Plus. Perhaps there is a simple profound vision for Plus - but I'm not seeing it yet.

There's no excuse for it either - Google have some of the best techs in the world and must have reams of useability/market data.  I'm not sure the approach of letting a thousand flowers bloom is entirely working right now.

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

Review: The Fear Index

The Fear Index is thriller writer, Robert Harris' latest and this time he tackles the murky world of automated trading, hedge funds and artificial intelligence.

Alex Hoffman,  the billionaire owner of a algorithmic hedge fund is having a very bad day.  Normally, such a person wouldn't be deserving of anyone's sympathy but Alex is an unworldly physics geek turned super-quant and he's not really in it for the money (honest). 

As is normal with many of these kinds of books (Crichton I'm looking at you) all of the author's research is lovingly woven into a fairly sparse plot, punctuated by blasts of financial exposition and populated by thinly but sometimes amusingly drawn characters.   Thankfully the flashes of wry humour lift it slightly above most airport novel fodder.

I found it a fairly compulsive fun read (and showing a little more restraint than the average Clive Cussler who I normally rely on to provide this kind of guilty pleasure). As a result I happily devoured most of it while the missus was at her evening class.

Whether you will enjoy it - depends a lot on your interest in the subject matter. Personally, the geeky finance and automated trading stuff ticked all of the boxes for me - even if I didn't really warm to any of the characters or their plight.   And the central conceit has been done much more interestingly before eg Neuromancer.

Buy it from >

Saturday, 20 August 2011

E-myth revisited review

    E-myth Revisited: Why Most Small Businesses Don't Work and What to Do About It [Paperback]   The E-myth revisited is a book I've been meaning to read for a while now. The E in E-myth stands for entrepreneur rather than electronic as you might guessed.

The author - Michael Gerber - starts with with some grim facts. Rather than being the way to the American dream - most small businesses fail or turn into a job ie the business ends up owning you rather than vice versa.  It's hard to dispute these - the small businessman who works all hours in a corner shop or launderette is almost an archetype.

But does he offer any real solutions? The answer is yes - but only at a fairly superficial level. Basically, you can sum up his philosophy like so: professionalise your business from the outset. It's great advice but not something unknown to me although perhaps very useful for a new business owner or one trapped in the archetypical corner shop desperate to get out.

He pays particular attention to the franchise model and suggests you follow their model of operation. So do to this you should describe all of the various roles in the company before you start up (even if you are the only one filling them!) and create documented systems incorporating as much automation as possible.  There is also some good advice around handling your first employees (delegation rather than abdication). All - perhaps uncommon - commonsense but very short on specifics.

One last thing, the book is mostly related as a conversation between Michael and a local baker he is helping out.  This adds a great deal of charm and makes it easy to take in the learning. It's a fairy tale for small but struggling business peeps everywhere.

Free books for Kindle gets a mention in the London Evening Standard

A friend of mine excitedly texted me a pic of page 43 of the yesterday's London Evening Standard.

It turns out that my book had been mentioned on their Letters page. It was a lovely surprise to finish the week on.

If you'd like to get a copy of my Free books for Kindle book yourself, check out the following links:

Buy it now at >
Buy it now at >

Saturday, 6 August 2011

The Millionaire Fastlane review

The Millionaire Fastlane: Crack the Code to Wealth and Live Rich for a Lifetime.I'm a compulsive reader.  The missus will often call up the stairs and ask what I'm what I'm up to and then sigh at the answer: "I'm reading". 

 The trouble is that after a while some of the books blur into one.  Was that killer quote in that book or this one?  And that brilliant idea - where exactly was it again?

Perhaps I am just getting old and forgetful. 

Anyhow I recently read something very useful. If you want to remember, you need to take action on the thing you read. And right next to it was another cool piece of advice - blogging about the key ideas in the book is a great way of installing (yep another computer analogy) the key ideas into your mind. 

This is all just a roundabout way of explaining the reason for writing this blog post.  The other reason is that MJ DeMarco has written an excellent book which deserves your reading consideration. 

The Millionaire Fastlane

The author is obsessed with fast cars - Lamborghinis in particular. Not the obvious choice for a diehard cyclist like myself but I'd heard a lot of good things so thought I'd persevere.  He uses this enthusiasm for fast cars and driving to tell the choices you can make in life about becoming wealthy:

  • Sidewalk
    Basically credit junkies who spend everything they earn (and more). They hope the lottery will make them rich.

  •  Slowlane
    Save 10% of your paycheck, take up a pension, be an employee. If you are lucky, you'll retire somewhat wealthy.

  • Fastlane
    Create a business but make sure it has a large potential market (or a small one willing to pay a lot), isn't dependent on you (or ideally any other human resource).  Then look to sell for a mint and live off the invested income.

MJ spends quite a bit of time blasting some of the get rich quick competition (suggesting most of them either focus on the slowlane or actually made their fortune through telling others how to become rich ie the old selling wheelbarrows to prospectors in a gold rush trick).

Finally, he spends a bit of time giving Tim Ferris of the Four Hour Work Week some friendly cuffing. He slams Tim on customer service in particular.  This is a shame and not entirely justified. The Four hour work week is actually good on this as Tim gets his customer care team to work to particular rules and says they can spend several times the cost of the product to resolve unforeseen problems using their own initiative. I suspect in real life, Tim and MJ would actually get on like a house on fire - their style and material is highly complementary.

The book is quite a slow burner but a compellingly enthusiastic and fairly fluff-free read. You really do get the impression he has actually lived this (which is not that surprising as he did have a very successful internet based limo business which he started from scratch).

He is very mathematically minded and the book is sprinkled with formula so beware if maths is a weakness. If shouldn't stop you reading, but you could find your attention that interesting piece of wall right over there.

But it's not until the later half that he starts to tell you the things he thinks you should focus on:
  • Superb customer service.
  • Working out what you can excel at (ie a USP).
  • Meeting people's needs with your product or service.
  • Creating a brand rather than a business.
  • Focusing on benefits rather than features.
  • One business - not many.
  • Time. You can always earn more money, you can't get more time. 
  • The income you need. Very similar to dreamlining in Four Hour Work Week - but much more in-depth.
  • Repeating or replicating success.
His technique for turning features into benefits was pretty useful to me. Basically, put yourself in the mind of the consumer and ask yourself what are the advantages of each feature.

The internet side was very appealing to me because it mirrors what I've learned through experience.  An internet based business lends itself to automation (or systematizing), can be low on human resource, can scale fairly easily and has a global market.

 More challenging was hearing I should focus more. I am the archetypal business butterfly - I think perhaps because I treat them as hobbies rather than a source of income.  I like to experiment - see what works (and how it can be applied to my day job), automate or dump it and move onto the next thing. This is perhaps fine if I want them to stay that way.  

Secondly, I should move away from being an affiliate or a publisher dependent on one source of income. This makes a huge amount of sense. I have been shafted by the dreaded overnight change in T&Cs before.  It's contributed a lot to my treating the whole thing as a hobby rather than a serious activity. 

In summary, I got an awful lot of this book. It came at exactly the right time for me. Sure, it is quite pricey (perhaps try the US for a secondhand copy rather than the UK) but worth it in my opinion.  It is really refreshing to read someone who has actually done it and offers more than just inspiration.

Friday, 5 August 2011

Are the conspiracy theorists right?

With all of the financial and political turmoil going on in the world - it's tempting to wonder is this all planned? Could it have been prevented? Why does history seem to be repeating itself again?

One of my hobbies is hanging out on what might be regarded as the more lunatic fringe of some economic discussion forums.   Amidst all of the lizards, hopes and dreams - a consensus kind of emerged a few years ago that was surprisingly prescient.  From around 2005-6 (some even earlier) some were saying - a big crash is coming. The credit bubble is the biggest the world has ever seen and it's going to end horribly. The really out there posters suggested it was going to be bad enough to take down entire countries.

Now I come a position of complete ignorance of the economic system but it seemed that what many on the boards were saying was a darn sight more helpful and insightful than the economic mantras perpetuated by the media and repeated by people I know.  I'm a natural contrarian so that probably also helped.

But the nuttier posters turned out to be right. 

The crash has come to pass and we appear to be lurching from crisis to crisis of generally increasing magnitude.  So to return to my earlier question - is it all part of some massive matrix like scheme?

I would really like to think so but I doubt it. In my limited experience, the powers that be are often not much different to you and I.  They are driven by many of the same things:
  • Greed
  • Fear
  • Desire to maintain/improve position in world
  • Short termist thinking
Let's pick just one of these. Short term thinking.

Despite our ability to reproduce - we think short term. Do we really care what happens to our children and their children? History suggests not as we always vote for Governments which look after us at the moment rather than our children.  Few will vote for something that will make their lives much less comfortable but their children's or grandchildren's far richer.

Short term thinking is rife. Many are really just living from paycheck to paycheck with nothing more than dreams rather than concrete plans to guide them. Public companies work from quarter to quarter or perhaps yearly results. Politicians work to the next election.

Perhaps a few - like the families which have been rich/powerful for generations - are guiding things over a longer term.  It would make sense. They have more to lose, have the time to have properly observe how things happen and the influence to make meaningful change.

But one has to ask that if this is the case - why do the bad economic things in history appear to repeat or at least rhyme so much?  It's either:
  • Accidental ie the rich and powerful forget the mistakes of the past as well.
  • Deliberate ie there is a grand plan.
  • Baked into the systems we create, the environment we live in and our DNA.
Personally, I think it comes down to a bit of planning to maintain their position, plenty of incompetence (or forgetfulness) and quite a bit is due to the systems and ourselves.

Basically, even the rich and powerful are bit sh*t when you look at it. And when things go wrong it is often down to cock-up rather than conspiracy.

What do you think?

Sunday, 31 July 2011

13 inch Macbook Air 4GB 128GB MC965ZP/A review

On Friday my lovely new 13 inch Macbook Air arrived. So much has been written about this already that I'll try and steer clear of the usual descriptions of how light or fast it is (well, mostly).

A short history of netbooks and laptops I have known (and occasionally hated)

I've been thinking about getting a Mac laptop for a while after a succession of cheap (and ultimately nasty) secondhand or new laptops over the last few years. I do a fair bit of travelling and have a small pile of laptops sitting in my study bedroom in varying states of disrepair.
First there was was the Eee PC 701 - the first of the netbook generation. Although a great little machine - it was a compromise too far. With its tiny and grainy screen I persevered in the spirit of portability. That lasted about a year before battery and keyboard started to fail.

I 'upgraded' to the Acer Aspire One. Finally, as touch typist I could stretch out a little and it was just the right size for the tiny table trays that East Coast trains are so fond of.  It was great computer with one fatal problem. Every so often the bios would spontaneously corrupt, making it completely unusable and you'd have to restore it from a USB stick.

Then came another Acer in the form of a monster 17 inch Blu-ray equipped beast.  Small children would openly weep when I sat down at a table seat next to them as it sucked up all of the space (and air) in the room.  A problem with charging circuit meant that one was relegated to the bench. I still regularly use it but its days as a traveling companion are over.

Finally, frustrated by the rotten state of laptopdom, I opted for a secondhand IBM Thinkpad X60s.   Although very long in the tooth as laptops go, it was an immediate step up in almost every respect.  Decent sized screen, speedy(ish) processor, fantastic keyboard and sturdy build. It wasn't the most inspiring of computers looks wise. You either love or hate the 2001 mysterious black monolith inspired styling.  But since a similar model has survived my missus' attentions for almost a year - I figured it must be near indestructible.  It almost was. Annoyingly a couple of black blotches appeared on the screen (again just the wrong side of its warranty).  They'd change in shape and size and move around.  It's still useable, of course, but highly annoying for design work.   When you spend as much time on a computer as I do - annoying gets to be mildly intolerable after a while.

It was time, as the missus had been telling me to do for the last couple of laptops at least, to be less stingy and buy something a bit more robust and with some staying power.  I thought back to my previous Macs - they had lasted an awfully long time, hadn't they? Plus, I have vague ambitions to program an iPhone app one of these days.

The decision: Macbook Air v Macbook Pro

I almost had the decision made - I'd try and pick up a tasty little 13 inch 2011 Macbook Pro -  ideally secondhand. But then Apple decided to release the new Airs with the same processor.

Like many of you, perhaps, I'd dismissed the Airs as a nice but ultimately rather slow, expensive and compromised toy computer that only Chief Execs with long suffering IT departments or aspiring Starbucks based authors would want.

Now, in the portentous words of Tron's Kevin Flynn, the game had changed.   After poring over Apple's specs for what seemed several hours trying to determine every nuance, I settled on giving the 13 inch Macbook Pro and maybe the 11 inch Air a test run in my not-so-local Apple store. 

The first impressions of both were akin to mild shock and only small amounts of awe. The Pro's screen resolution was awful - it was like traveling back in time to 2008. With its huge icons and chrome - it is a computer for those  who refuse to wear reading glasses. I could imagine my longsighted missus holding it out at arm's length while watching the latest subtitled animal clip on YouTube.

The 11 inch Air, however, seemed speedy for it's diminutive size.  The screen wasn't bad - but being widescreen, the vertical height lacked a little something. And while I could imagine it doing the job, I wanted more.

The 15 inch Pro was better - but had a price tag and heft to match. So I tried the 13 inch Air. Now I know how Goldilocks must have felt when illicitly scoffing someone's breakfast. First there's the thrill of someone else discovering the same and possibly taking it away from you, then the oh-so-tasty slop of temperate liquidified oats as they drip down your porridge starved throat.

OK, so it wasn't breakfast or particularly warm. But. It. Was. Just. Right. I mentally hugged the Macbook Air.

The combination of speedy, light and decent screen resolution was perfect for me. I settled on and ordered the 4GB/128GB version the next evening.

Back to the Macbook Air: Second impressions

Over the last couple of days, as my long suffering missus can testify, I've spent a goodly amount of time with my new Air.

It is sturdy for one so thin and light.  There's no flex or creaks at all in the main body.  With a bit of effort you can flex the screen a tad - but since I don't plan to type on that I think it should be OK.

The keyboard is decent. It's not quite up there with the Thinkpad in terms of feedback and useability but the size gives you plenty of room to spread out and there's a decent amount of travel on the keys.

The glossy screen.  My next train journey will give this the ultimate test. There's nothing like morning sunshine pouring in through East Coast Trains' filth streaked windows for testing the mettle of a laptop screen. Early signs are good though.

The power connector. Every laptop should have a magnetic connector like this.

It is terrifically fast. And to illustrate this, let's talk about Windows XP.  Inevitably, if you've been a PC user for a while and you're considering moving - you'll want to run a few Windows applications.  For me it's Internet Explorer and some creaky old versions of Adobe's software which are the jokers in the Windows pack.

So it was disappointing not to be able to run Bootcamp with XP anymore (if anyone knows how, please let me know in the comments). Sorry, Windows 7 - I do like you (a little) but you aren't quite as quick as my old friend XP.  A quick download of VirtualBox later and shortly afterwards I had an ISO of XP I'd made earlier installing.  Perhaps I'm easily pleased but I have never seen XP install so quickly. At one point, I was laughing as the installer was reducing the number of minutes left to complete every few seconds.  30 minutes to go. Wait 3 seconds. 25 minutes to go. Two seconds later. 18 minutes to go. I think the install was under 10 minutes from start to finish.

The final installation is no less impressive.  For an emulation to run snappier than my PC laptop is quite something.  Boot time is around 12 seconds, stopwatch fans.

I'm not quite convinced by the App Store. There is nothing to beat physical media when you're in a jam.  But the prices for some software look very good.

Gestures and Desktops.  Now I get the rationale behind the enormous trackpad.  The two and three fingered swipes are fast becoming my new best friend. It's not quite there yet though - it would be nice to have most apps launch in a new desktop (VirtualBox has no option for assigning it to a particular desktop).  Similarly, not every app will respond to pinching/spreading to zoom. Safari does, Firefox doesn't, for example.  I haven't quite got to grips with the 'natural' scrolling. I can kind of see what it's about but muscle memory keeps flipping it backwards.

USB mouse. Unfortunately, while the lights on are and the control panel appears to think its there - there's no movement from the mouse cursor with my no-name but perfect size for my paw USB mouse.

Sleep.  This is first computer that I've used that comes close to the iPad (and perhaps the Psions - remember those?) in terms of instant on ability.

Mail. No dice with work's implementation of Exchange.  Utterly daft as my iPad works beautifully with it. 

There's still plenty to get to grips with. I'll post an update if I think of anything new.

Monday, 18 July 2011

Apprentice autotuned

One for those of you jonesing for a just a little extra Apprentice:

Sunday, 17 July 2011

A quote I liked

Nothing in the world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: Nothing is more common than unrewarded talent. Education alone will not: the world is full of educated failures. Persistence alone is omnipotent.

Calvin Coolidge.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

I like this quote

If you could give the person who is  responsible for most of you troubles a kick in the caboose, you wouldn't be able to sit down for a month.

For those of you who are unsure of the meaning of caboose - apparently it comes from the name given to the rear end of a train ie slang for your backside.

Discovered in Self Discipline in 10 days.

My Dad's latest mini-opus - Sherlock's Missing Files

 My dad has published his first collection of very short Sherlock Holmes' stories - which some of you may want to check out.

Sherlock's Missing Files

Sherlock's Missing Files

by Stan Graham
A collection of five short stories concerning Mr Sherlock Holmes, the famous consulting detective of 221b Baker Street, and his assistant Doctor John Watson.
1. The Young Sherlock. Mycroft's musings on his younger brother..
2. The Missing Shilling. A mystery close to the heart of Holmes.
3. Sherlock Holmes and the Politician, the Lighthouse, and The Trained Cormorant
4. The Very Slow Time Machine.
5. Sherlock Holmes and the Elixir of Life. May explain why Holmes is still around today.
Approx 5500 words and so an ideal lunchtime read.

A simple route map for making money from a blog

A few months ago, I gave a talk to a bunch of journalism students on blogging. At the end, we got to chatting and it turns out they were extremely interested in how you could make money from your blog.

For most people, it is going to be very difficult to make serious cash. But for those of you that want to attempt it - here is the process that successful bloggers seem to take.

  • Create niche blog.
    By niche, I mean one that is highly specialised and ideally without too much competition.
  • Build popularity
    Write interesting/controversial/useful/SEO optimised posts. 
  • Do basic monetisation
    eg advertising, affiliate links.
  • Syndicate your blog
    Make sure your posts can be found on facebook, twitter, etc and even Kindle. Anywhere people can be found - syndicate your blog there.
  • Build an email list
    Use giveaways, great offers, team ups, swaps etc. 
  • Guest post
    on other people's blogs or get them to guest post on yours.
  • Create an ebook
    After a few hundred blog posts - create a book based on the blog content.
  • Market the ebook through your list.
    If your blog is really influential - at least some of the press will do features on it/you.
  • Speak out
    Use your by now influential blog/ebook to get speaking gigs (unpaid to start, paid later on).
  • Keep blogging
    and turning out the ebooks to your peeps. Start selling specialist seminars. Consider making parts of your blog premium content for paid subscribers only.