Abusing ProBlogger Job Board to Look for Clients

Is this abuse or just stupidity/ carelessness? On the part of the “job” poster, I mean.

I’m not sure about ProBlogger itself. It is possible no one verifies, checks, or cares what gets posted there. I have seen others posting “jobs” which are not jobs at all. Keep in mind, these job postings are paid posts for ProBlogger. Do they just take the money and have no interest in creating a resource for job seekers? ProBlogger is very marketing friendly. User/ reader/ job searcher beware, right?

This isn’t the first fake job post I have seen come up on the boards. I’ve also seen jobs which don’t pay, jobs which are pretty scammy and jobs which ask writers to contribute (work for free) or accept pennies from affiliate links.

Don’t rely on the ProBlogger job boards. Try somewhere else first. Eventually, when the spammers and scammers stop paying for listings, it will just close down and sink like another old shipwreck of the Australian coast.

Discover Which Of Your Products Attract Customers

This idea (quoted below from Society6) is smarter than it appears on the surface. I would not suggest Facebook as the only (or best) option to place the survey. I would not pay for boosting the post or using Facebook services to create the poll either. You can do it yourself, without spending anything but some of your time.

    • Create this as an image file with a few of your art creations displayed. (Come up with a few unique, different from each other creations).
    • Write up the information about this being a survey to measure the saleability of your artwork. Keep the explanation simple, short and readable.
    • Play with the image sizes for your artwork. Not too small and yet not so big people will be happily making copies rather than spending something to buy your original images or product.
    • Combine the explanation text and your images into one web graphic which you can post to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, the sidebar of your website, anywhere…

You get to promote your work, your site and get information from the survey itself. Promotion without feeling like you’re selling anything is brilliant and works much better than straight sales promotion people are trained to ignore due to overkill.

What other ways can you create a promotion like this? Contests and giveaways, but those require more organizing and a prize to be sent. Simple is better.

2. Run a very simple survey on Facebook

A quick and easy way to survey is to setup a 4-design block of artwork and ask people to rank them in order of favorite to least favorite. Repeat as many times as necessary and narrow down to the most purchasable artwork. While a quick test of likes & comments is a good indicator of interest, you may discover differences between something people love and something people would actually hang in their homes. You want to lead with compelling work that is also likely to be purchased.

 

Fixing The Open Directory Project?

People who think they know how to fix something should make sure they have the experience to understand how it worked before they judge it. I was annoyed to read a post about how to fix the problems with dmoz, The Open Directory Project on DirPopulus today. Here is what I wrote:

I read your Problems & Solutions. Some of what you have written about dmoz is incorrect and based on the viewpoint of someone who did not see how the directory worked in reality. Although I understand your biased point of view, it is annoying to read someone making incorrect assumptions and judging the directory I spent over ten years working on.

Looks like you are using the dmoz software, or something based on it. So, that won’t help me really. I don’t want to deal with that. We had volunteer editors trying to fix that, not staff. AOL decided to dump dmoz because no one there was interested in supporting it. For the last few years dmoz was run entirely by volunteers while the AOL staff forgot the directory existed. In the end they did not find any value in keeping it on their servers but they did feel the domain and the dmoz/ Open Directory name were worth holding onto.

The main directory, with some active editors, is being set up on Curlie. Other projects were started and discussed but that is the one which has the best chance of becoming active again. Most of the volunteers who worked on the old dmoz software went to Curlie and have been working on the updating the software.

As volunteers we did not send out notifications every time we reviewed, edited, or added a site to the directory. We were already running with few active editors so trying to send out notices for every submission would have meant the end of getting any reviews done. Waiting for three editors to approve (while good in some ways) would also mean submitted sites would take ages to be listed.

We did have bots checking links and moving them into unreviewed for volunteers to check the links. Some bots were able to check for things like the new http:// versus https:// so an editor just needed to verify the change and re-list the site. We also had bots which checked for general link rot and expired domains. These doubled the amount of links to be reviewed leaving editors which huge amounts of links waiting for attention. Also, dmoz had a feature giving people a chance to leave a note about their link, letting us know if a correction was needed. This was a very seldom used feature and yet the first thing I would check when I began reviewing links in a category. Often this was abused and suggested changes were about spam, deleting another site’s listing, or some other junk.

Also, we were able to check links with the Wayback Machine and Google’s archived version of the domain/ link. This was a good help in tracking down an old submission/ broken link. I often found broken links, one way or another. It was one of my favourite things to do.

Reviewing submitted links took hours, especially in categories involving businesses and, of those, anything involving marketing became so flooded with junk submissions it was too much for a volunteer editor to want to deal with. When I tried to work on these categories my computer slowed down to a crawl just trying to load the page with all the sites to be reviewed. It was aggravating to work there when most of the submissions were junk – the link was already listed and descriptions were full of keywords, CAPITAL LETTERS and so on. Of course, these are the very people who complained about dmoz and dmoz editors the most. They did not understand we were running as a directory for the public to search, not for businesses to be listed. The priority was not listing every business or service but to have resources for people searching for a business, service or information (with the Regional listings to help people find local resources).

There are duplicate listings for some sites because they fit into more than one place. Also, sites could be double listed in Regional and the topic or business. Once you get into organizing and deciding where sites (you call them resources) should go you will see it is a much more complicated project than it seems from the outside looking in. We had a forum just for ontology issues. Due to many opinions from active and inactive volunteers, making category changes was time consuming and tended to get lost along the way.

I wish you best of luck with your directory. But, you have a lot of years to go before you should judge how another directory was run.

Create an Intersection of Ideas

I especially like the CopyBlogger Content Excellence Challenge, August Prompt:

This month, bring some of your “off topic” passions into your content.

Now, you still need to make it relevant to your audience. This isn’t a permission slip to create content they don’t care about.

Your job is to look for unexpected connections. How can you bring your passion for Marvel comics into your fitness business? Where are the points of intersection between your love of Mark Twain and your personal finance blog?

Nearly 10 years ago, Brian called this the “content crossroads” — the point at which seemingly unrelated ideas connect. And there are always interesting things to be found at the crossroads.

The following is quoted from the post linked above, by Brian Clark. I reposted the points because they are all great points and I know they have worked well for me most of my life. I especially believe in listening to people I don’t agree with. Not an easy thing to do. Some people you don’t agree with just because of who they are. or who you think they are. Listen anyway. You don’t have to spend the day listening, just enough to know you heard them. Listening does not require you to change your mind, just hear what someone else thinks, believes and has experienced.

1. Learn for life.

To me, this is the most important and essential trait for any creative person. You’ve got to go well beyond learning everything in your niche and try to simply learn everything. Naturally curious people seem to come up with ideas easier than most, so kick your curiosity up a notch and investigate any topic that interests you. Then, learn about things that don’t interest you—you might be surprised by what you end up enjoying. You’ll also see more connections between things you thought were unrelated.

2. Change perspective.

Leonardo da Vinci believed that to truly understand something, you need to look at it from at least three perspectives. Leo did alright for himself, so maybe his advice is solid. The ability to look at something that everyone else is looking at and see it differently is the hallmark of creative thinking, and practice makes perfect. Train yourself to dispense with the commodity of opinion and examine things from multiple perspectives. You’ll be amazed at what you find when you play Devil’s Advocate.

3. Free your mind.

Many people think that creativity is something to schedule, like a staff meeting or a luncheon. While setting aside time for “brainstorming” and “thinking outside the box” can be helpful, you’re still perpetuating an illusion. The truth is, there is no box, and you have the ability to be creative at any moment. Allow yourself to recognize your own delusions and social constructs, and start questioning your assumptions at every opportunity. Better yet, reverse your assumptions and see where you end up.

4. Travel.

One of the great benefits of online business is freedom from the tyranny of geography. And the more we see of the world and different cultures, the more our minds open up and see limitless connections and possibilities. One of the worst things we do to ourselves in terms of creativity is to stay within the realm of the familiar. So make it a point to get out, do new things, and travel to new places. You’ll have to check with your accountant to see if a trip to Prague counts as a business expense, but there’s no doubt it can seriously help your business.

5. Listen.

Are you a talker or a listener? This is something I’ve really tried to work on, because I learn so much when I shut up and listen. Every person you meet has a perspective that differs from yours, and you can learn amazing things from simply listening. Just like the Medici family brought all sorts of different people together and sparked something phenomenal, you too can create a content renaissance by interacting with as many different people as possible. Don’t hang out with people who reflect your existing beliefs, hang out with people who challenge you.

How Honest is your Review?

I don’t especially like writing reviews. They are tricky. I don’t like to be negative or critical, it makes me feel petty. But, a review needs honesty – otherwise it isn’t worth much at all.

Amazon’s lawyers are willing to go after anyone making money from writing reviews, no matter how small that “business” may be. In earlier lawsuits, Amazon targeted businesses that were selling packages of dozens or even hundreds of fake reviews. Fiverr is a site where people offer to do small jobs for $5 or more (hence the site’s name). Judging by the nature of the accused Fiverr ads, these mini-Internet scams are about as small-time as they come.

“Unfortunately, a very small minority of sellers and manufacturers tries to gain unfair competitive advantage for their products,” write Amazon lawyers. “One such method is creating false, misleading, and inauthentic customer reviews. While small in number, these reviews can significantly undermine the trust that consumers… place in Amazon, which in turn tarnishes Amazon’s brand.”

“Amazon is bringing this action to protect its customers from this misconduct, by stopping defendants and uprooting the ecosystem in which they participate,” the complaint concludes.

Source: Amazon sues 1,114 reviewers, some selling their opinions for $5 | Ars Technica

Write a fake, glowing review for something. Pick something in front of you right now: coffee mug, pen, batteries, skin cream, computer mouse, vitamins, etc.

Has WordPress Jumped the Shark?

I think WordPress is in danger of “jumping the shark”, becoming too complicated and loaded with too many features. Google has mostly forgotten all about Blogger, but it may become a better alternative for a lot of people who just want a simple business site. WordPress seems to be something for people who want to spend time and money on a fancy site with a lot of features. How many businesses really need all of that? Not many.

As someone who has kept sites for many years and used WordPress most of the time, I’m not planning to use a lot of customized posts. I don’t need them. I want to focus on content, not spend a lot of time on formatting.

I will add that if people are building a site to function as a web directory, job board, or any of a hundred other things – WordPress isn’t an essential element. It may even be a hindrance. WordPress is still a customized blog at heart.

Note: I posted this as a comment on WPTavern. The post there was about new custom formatting for WordPress posts. It got me thinking about how WordPress is used, who uses it and whether it is really still sustainable for the general blog user – people who are not web developers and may not want to spend that kind of time or money on a site for their business, or hobby, etc. Most of us have a limited budget. How important is it to have a fancy site with a lot of features versus just having a site up and functioning?

Is WordPress still a good option for putting up a site? Or, do you need to be (or pay) a web designer/ developer to work with WordPress?

Has WordPress Jumped the Shark?

I think WordPress is in danger of “jumping the shark”, becoming too complicated and loaded with too many features. Google has mostly forgotten all about Blogger, but it may become a better alternative for a lot of people who just want a simple business site. WordPress seems to be something for people who want to spend time and money on a fancy site with a lot of features. How many businesses really need all of that? Not many.
As someone who has kept sites for many years and used WordPress most of the time, I’m not planning to use a lot of customized posts. I don’t need them. I want to focus on content, not spend a lot of time on formatting.
I will add that if people are building a site to function as a web directory, job board, or any of a hundred other things – WordPress isn’t an essential element. It may even be a hindrance. WordPress is still a customized blog at heart.
Note: I posted this as a comment on WPTavern. The post there was about new custom formatting for WordPress posts. It got me thinking about how WordPress is used, who uses it and whether it is really still sustainable for the general blog user – people who are not web developers and may not want to spend that kind of time or money on a site for their business, or hobby, etc. Most of us have a limited budget. How important is it to have a fancy site with a lot of features versus just having a site up and functioning?
Is WordPress still a good option for putting up a site? Or, do you need to be (or pay) a web designer/ developer to work with WordPress?

Start an Online Advertising Agency?

There are times when idea people get in their own way. Or, they at least need to take a step back and see what it is they really are thinking. Pulling it all together, from a distance. This happens to me. This has happened to me, today.

I’ve been making a web directory. But, I keep changing my mind about details, adjusting for new ideas and just generally fumbling around – knowing what I want but not getting it done.

Then, while looking at another site, I understood that I’ve been misleading myself. I don’t want a web directory, I want an online advertising agency. I want to be my own public relations business, online.

The funny thing is… although I feel like a fraud, I actually do have the background for it. Corporate Communications (my college education) included PR, writing and publishing. In actual experience I have been online since 1996 building my own sites, maintaining, managing, promoting, writing and publishing other sites. I’ve been doing it all, all along. But, mostly for myself or as a contracted employee (contributor) for others.

Am I rushing into this? Quite likely, I tend to jump in when I think I have a good idea, before I have the plan all sorted out.

But, it does feel right. It is what I’ve been trying to build without really putting a label on it.

From Entrepreneur:

Online Advertising Agency

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Part Time: Can be operated part-time.
Franchises Available? No
Online Operation? Yes

Not only will you be providing a valuable service for site visitors, but you will also be establishing your own potentially successful business. The business concept is very straightforward. Start by designing a website that features information about various advertising mediums including rates, contact information and any special promotions or discounts in terms of advertising rates. Business owners who visit the site simply locate the type of advertising that suits their marketing program and budgets. Income is earned by charging the advertising companies a fee to be listed on the site, as well as by selling advertising space featured on the site.

I think I have start up costs covered, one way or another. I know how to put things together, free, online. I’ve been working that way for twenty years.

Resources for Starting an Online Advertising Agency:

I’d start with an ad exchange. I already have all the links saved to become a directory. This would be a simple way to build the directory, see which sites want to be part of exchanging ads (which would help me eliminate those who are not active, don’t want to mess with code to make ads for themselves, etc.). The sites which want to exchange ads would have a fancier spot in the directory of links. I can give them an image, a larger description, and so on. All of that I can do with what I have now.

The next step would be finding outside advertisers from related businesses which would pay for ads (without being part of the ad exchange network). I’m not really confident/ bold when it comes to approaching people to ask for anything, but it could be done. I might even find someone to help me at that point.

That’s how I see it, for myself.

I do have the niche – urban exploration.

I have found a few ad exchange software possibilities, for free, just having a quick look this afternoon. I may be missing something but I am wondering where the people at Entrepreneur found a need for $2,000 start up costs? I guess I will find out along the way.

Software (RTB – Real-Time Bidder):

Blog Content When You Don’t Feel Like Writing

Not every post needs to be text based content.

If you have a camera, take photos and illustrate rather than explain.

Let the image speak for you. You may not be ready to jump into video posts but these days it isn’t difficult to edit an image online to create something unique. Add text to the image and create a quote post. Turn an image into a background your readers could use on their own sites and devices. A calendar doesn’t have to be the year, take it one month at a time and that gives you something to post each month.

List posts are popular.

Consider a list of the best sites/ resources in your topic/ niche. Or, take it to Amazon and find products people would be interested in. Write up a review (an idea not on the list below).  Use a list post to highlight your own best posts of the month or year or all time. A playlist may not interest you. I don’t have one myself. Music choices can be personal, more than you want to post on a business site. An alternative is a reading list, the books you have found useful in your business, or for building/ keeping your web presence.

So, there are quite a few options for the days you feel less than brilliantly creative and can’t make yourself write a post.

VIDEO
1 | YOUTUBE VIDEOS
2 | PERISCOPE VIDEOS
GRAPHICS
3 | PRINTABLE INSPIRATIONAL QUOTE
4 | BACKGROUND IMAGE
5 | PRINTABLE CALENDAR OR ORGANIZER
PHOTOS
6 | INSTAGRAM POSTS
7 | BEHIND THE SCENES
LISTS
8 | ROUND UPS
9 | PLAYLIST

List source: 9 Ideas for Blog Content (When You Don’t Feel Like Writing)

What do you Think About Gratuity Free?

gratuityfreeestablishment

The image comes from a restaurant owner in Brooklyn, NY, US.  The idea is older. Tips for service aren’t a new idea but the feeling that a tip is owed for service is still fairly new. I don’t like a tip being expected and I really don’t like (and won’t return to) places which automatically include the tip on the bill. Tips began as appreciation for good service. A way to show gratitude. When tips become expected they lose that meaning. I strongly feel I am not offering to pay anyone’s wages each time I use a service. The business owner is responsible for the wages for their employees, not me as the customer or client.

How do you feel about tipping and a restaurant which bans tipping?

In Canada, a restaurant tried to go gratuity free but customers did not like it. The restaurant went back to the old way of paying staff less due to expected gratuities/ tips from customers.

Would you tip for poor service? I know people will do so. Tipping is so expected that people fear a backlash if they don’t tip and tip well, no matter what kind of service they get. Gratuities has become a very socialist thing – everyone gets paid whether they work or not. Funny how turned around the concept of leaving a gratuity has gotten.

I worked as a cashier for years and did not get tipped. The only difference was in the wages paid to a cashier versus a waitress/ waiter. The job itself is quite similar. If wages were paid – which was the idea of having a minimum wage – the service people would be making the same money. Tips extra. Would you tip all the service people, cashiers included? Or do you tip out of obligation to pay wages to restaurant staff?

If you haven’t guessed… I only leave a small tip. I used to leave none, unless I really wanted to. Peer pressure about tipping got to me though and now I almost always leave a tip. I begrudge leaving a tip for average, standard service. As a customer and someone who has worked in the service industry it feels very unfair for restaurant staff to expect customers to pay them and for businesses to be not pay them the minimum wage due to expected tips.

I do not tip for poor service. I may or may not complain about poor service but I will not thank them for it.