The New Newsletters are sent in Boxes

I’ve been saying newsletters are not worth anyone’s time for awhile. When did you last really read a newsletter from your email inbox? I’ve nearly given up on email itself, so newsletters tend to go right to the outbox.

Speaking of boxes… have you noticed the trend to getting themed boxes of stuff sent through the mail? Snail mail, not email.

I’ve found a few so far, without really looking hard:

Today I found something bigger, smarter and very interesting, Quarterly.

quarterlycurators
Source: Online Quarterly Subscription and Gifting Services from Quarterly Co.

Quarterly is the new newsletter, vastly improved. The idea of getting people to pay for a box of things (themed but not predetermined) sent out every three months is going to catch on. How could it fail? Who hasn’t become at least slightly addicted to shopping online, getting a present delivered to your door? Now it can be a real surprise, created for you, every month (every 3 months on Quarterly). Are you curious enough to look at the site? You can see what has been sent in past boxes from the curators (as they are called) on the site.

I think it’s brilliant. People will subscribe and look forward to getting your newsletter and other goodies. They won’t just read your newsletter, they will pay to get it. Just considering it from a marketing point of view… it is pretty amazing.

But, I’m not so cynical. I love the idea of being a curator of mailed out boxes. I’ve already thought about what I could send and how I could get things to send. It’s like Christmas and birthday shopping to plan a surprise for others.

Of course it’s not so simple. There are plans to make, angles to consider and I need a theme that works. I’m not sure about working through Quarterly. I’m not a household name in any household but my own. Also, I’m not sure Quarterly (as a service) would help me in any way I couldn’t figure out to help myself. But, I loved seeing it today. It’s not the first to mail out gifts and presents, but it seems to be the first to collect them in a group – like an online catalog of people who want to give you unique gifts, and a newsletter.

Since 2000… Can you Tell

This is a screen capture from a therapy clinic in Ontario. I’ve never seen anyone put a happy couple photo up like this. I think it’s a great idea for a small business, especially something intimate like a therapist. I’m posting about it for the people who work in web publishing and for the writers…

since2000

What story could you tell about this couple from their photos? Are they a happy couple? What does the body language look like to you? How have the years since 2000 been for them? What hardships and great events have they come through, together still?
Source: Newmarket Massage Therapy Clinic – Newmarket

Just Born Yesterday (About a Week Ago)

Dream of the life you want to live…

It’s your life.

Honour and celebrate your individuality. 

Surround yourself with people whose company you truly enjoy, people who not only support you but empower you to be your very best.

Reach for your deepest dream, the ones that tug at your heart. 

The dreams that just can’t sit on the back burner, no matter what else is going on around you.

And never forget that it’s your life… all yours.

So make it the life you love.

Happy Birthday to my new niece, born on St. Patrick’s Day. This is the card I’m taking with me when I visit my sister and her family.

The SeaMonkey Project is Alive

I had read SeaMonkey was retired in 2005. Mozilla wanted to focus on Firefox. But… here it is! Updated and alive as of this month (in the current year)! SeaMonkey was like the last breath of life from Netscape to the world. I hope it’s still good. It was able to do quite a lot more than the average web browser. I wonder how much of the features from the suite are still here (and working).
seamonkeySource: The SeaMonkey® Project

Why I’m Starting My Own Article Directory on My Own Site

The old blog was formatted with posts by date, that was when the freshness of the post mattered. The most recent data was most important. It still works for some sites, like a news feed.

Now, more sites are about content, content curation specifically. The date is still part of that, but not the focus. (Note: I’m not for removing dates from posts because I want to know the post I’m reading isn’t years old or no longer relevant).

It’s time sites were content focused, not date focused.

Put your content first and show your posts in the format of an article directory. Sort them by topic and subtopic. Show them that way on your main site. Save people from searching your site for relevant content, bring it to the top for them instead.

Not every site still adds search and this is a mistake if your posts are organized by date first and category in the sidebar, maybe. You are leaving people to find information from your site in a hit and miss way. Why? Isn’t the point of your site to provide information and resources? Every site should have a claim to fame, tell people who you are and why you are a resource in your niche or topic. Then comes the actual information, or the product you are selling. Make it easy for people to get there. Article directories were on the right track but it’s not about syndicating your content to other sites or bringing in other people to speak for you. Speak up for yourself.

Source: Article Marketing: Why I’m Starting My Own Article Directory . . . and You Should Too | Inkwell Editorial : Inkwell Editorial

There are good points in here, things I have been thinking myself. But, not for an article directory of content from other people but my own.

The best two points from this post (link above) are controlling your own content and how it is shown (if it is shown at all) and showcasing your content to build your own authority in the topic.

Of the two I think building your own authority in your niche is the most important. Share links but stop giving your content away for free.

Make your site content focused by curating your own content.

Content Curation Makes a Better Web Directory

The first two points are the best, I think.

A niche has a better chance these days. Think content curation. Actually, think content curation for the second point too. You should build more than a bundle of links. Content curation is about showcasing great links and adding more to them. Create a whole package presentation around the niche. Don’t stop at listing sites.

Write about the niche. This could be interviews with the very people who run the sites you want to list in the directory. How smart is that? Not only are you building your authority, learning more about the niche but you are far more likely to sell links (or make money from ads) if you have something people actually want and can’t find elsewhere.

  1. Start with a Niche – Find a topic you’re seriously passionate about, from birds to routers to online clothing merchants.
  2. Don’t Just Make a Directory – Put great content about your subject on the site: blog posts, articles, tools, resource lists, charts, diagrams, investigative journalism, etc.
  3. Offer to Review Sites in Your Niche – But, for goodness sake, only include them if you’d really, honestly endorse them.
  4. Provide a Reason Why They’re Listed – Imagine a fellow hobbyist or researcher in your topic of interest in real life – if you couldn’t sit down with that person at a table and show them on your laptop why you included a particular site, DON’T include it.
  5. Don’t Offer Gimmicks or Link Juice – Offer listings on a site that real people who are really interested in your topic read and use and enjoy. If you start down the path of selling links for search engine value, you’ve lost your way. It can always be a secret side benefit, and plenty of folks who’ll come to you for links will be thinking about it, but if you want to be truly immune to any future penalties or devaluations, you can’t make it a focus.

Source: What Makes a Good Web Directory, and Why Google Penalized Dozens of Bad Ones – Moz

Saving the Open Web?

Source: Can we save the open web? | Dries Buytaert

My comment:

I remember pre-Google. The Internet began shrinking when business became involved. Personal and hobby sites, especially those on Blogger or GeoCities were sneered at. Web mail for email became a reason to block or ban people. Funny how that attitude never seemed to touch GMail.

AOL began the filtered Internet. If AOL was your ISP you didn’t get on the Internet and see everything as everyone else did. AOL blocked and filtered the user experience to suit themselves. Now AOL is seldom heard of. I assume they were swallowed up by some other company.

I miss the Internet before social media. Though I do like Twitter, most of the rest are clutter, popularity contests and marketing extravaganzas where no one is really listening any more. Fifteen years ago we had blocks for pop up ads and frames. Now pop ups are back and almost no one gets into a ranting fit about them. Ironically, I wasn’t bothered much by them the first time around. But they really do bug me now. Especially those which descend as soon as you move your mouse to your browser bar.

There are far less personal or hobby sites now. People want to use information to make a buck. That’s not terrible but it does make everything less trustworthy. I review sites with dmoz, still. I see a lot of garbage. The interesting thing is noting how the garbage has changed over the years. There are always new schemes cropping up. Some good sites get drowned out just because they are personal sites, don’t look sleek and professional.

Marketing, content selling and so on isn’t a bad thing, so much. I think it’s more an issue of intentions. Too many sites are focused on SEO, keywords, marketing and they have forgotten people. Not so different with business, retail, commercial offline. Customer service is something they promote but don’t really care about. (I worked as a department store cashier, I heard all the pep talks in between being told how to sell/ market and smile). Meanwhile customer service people are paid minimum wage, like a lot of sales people. The Internet could hardly avoid this same phoniness.

I hope they can find a balance, but I don’t think we will ever get there. Twenty years ago people came online for different reasons. It really was social then. The Internet was about communication with IRC, BBS, etc. How many of those are still active – spam doesn’t count as activity. Now we have social media but it is flooded with marketing. Facebook is full of meaningless games built to scam people in small cash amounts over time, addicting, like gambling but legal.

I don’t think we can get back what the Internet was, it doesn’t even have the atmosphere of being friendly any more. It’s a business, impersonal but with a smile.

The Ultimate No-Bake Cupcake Challenge

No baking involved, unless you can’t resist trying. Create the cupcake of your dreams. The chocolate, vanilla, caramel or whatever flavour you like. The cake itself delicious, light and yet perfect. Then decorate it. There is the clash with reality. As much as I like looking at all that icing, the idea of eating it is a bit of a sugar shock. Still, there are no calories in any cupcake of my imagining. I found this one (image below) and it is pretty close to my ultimate cupcake. I can only assume it would taste as good as it looks.

Of course, the best thing about imagining a perfect cupcake is thinking of something else and changing your mind completely. Maybe a perfect chocolate cake instead… (see the other image below). Source: Chocolate Flower Cupcake – Cupcakes Gallery

ChocolateModelingDaisyCake_1 ChocolateModelingDaisyCake_2

 

Photos via thechocolateaddict.com