No More Stock Photography

Recently I’ve noticed from social media experts like Jason Cobb and from Pinterest boards like No More Boring Stock Photos, there is a growing revolt against the use of stock photography.

Now, I’ve used my share of stock photography in the past from sites like iStockPhoto, but now I’ve got a [quiet] goal of not using any stock photography in my posts going forward. I’d encourage you to think about what strategy you’ll use going forward this year.

As a general rule, every blog post needs at least one picture.

Why do blog posts need pictures?

1) It’s sure dull when you go to post it on Facebook, Digg, Google+, or LinkedIn without it.
2) It’s another avenue for search engine traffic from Google Image search.
3) People don’t tend to read articles without them (if it’s not important enough for you to add one, why should they read it?)
4) It allows other people to pin your work on sites like Pinterest.

How do you propose getting your images then?

Take them or make them.

I’ve been taking photographs with a camera and my phone. I’ve also been sketching things in paint programs. I’ve also been creating things in Visio. It’s harder so if it hinders you from accomplishing other goals or diminishes your brand, don’t do it. It’s just something I’m doing. My thought process is that eventually what I produce will get better over time due to practice and I don’t mind a little egg on my face in the mean time.

20 Serial Entrepreneurs: An Analysis

Serial entrepreneurs want to change the world and “make meaning” but successful ones also make money, and lots of it.

Here is a list of 20 serial entrepreneurs and the companies they helped create:

  1. Andy Bechtolsheim: Sun Microsystems, Granite Systems, Arista Networks
  2. Biz Stone: Twitter, Xanga, Blogger
  3. David Duffield: PeopleSoft, Workday
  4. Dennis Crowley: Dodgeball, Foursquare
  5. Elon Musk: PayPal, SpaceX, Tesla Motors
  6. Evan Williams: Blogger, Twitter
  7. Jack Dorsey: Twitter, Square
  8. Jason Calacanis: Silicon Alley Reporter, Weblogs Inc., Mahalo, Launch, OAF/TWI
  9. Jim Clark: Silicon Graphics, Netscape, Healtheon, MyCFO, Neoteris
  10. Kevin Rose: Digg, Pownce
  11. Marc Andreessen: Netscape, Opsware, Ning
  12. Mark Cuban: MicroSolutions, Broadcast.com, 2929 Entertainment, HDNet, Magnolia Pictures, Landmark Theatres
  13. Mark Pincus: Tribe.net, SupportSoft, Zynga
  14. Max Levchin: PayPal, Slide, WePay
  15. Nick Grouf: Firefly, PeoplePC, SpotRunner
  16. Niklas Zennström and Janus Friis: Kazaa, Skype, Joost, Atomico, Rdio
  17. Scott Jones: Boston Technology, ChaCha
  18. Sean Parker: Plaxo, Napster, Facebook, Causes, Founders Fund
  19. Steve Jobs: Apple, NeXT, Pixar
  20. Wayne Huizenga: Blockbuster, Waste Management, Auto Nation

Birds of a feather flock together

Of the companies listed, you may have noticed some repeated names. When we sort the list by the companies with at least two serial entrepreneurs from our list, we get three companies:

  1. Twitter: Biz Stone, Evan Williams, Jack Dorsey
  2. PayPal: Elon Musk, Max Levchin
  3. Blogger: Biz Stone, Evan Williams

Similar Industries

And of the companies listed, another trend emerges, which is the similarities in industries.  The companies can be narrowed down into a surprisingly small number of groups, which could be categorized as ‘Technology’ and ‘Other’, but broken we see a large amount of Web 2.0 and Entertainment companies as well as Transportation:

  1. Software: Twitter, Blogger, Xanga, PeopleSoft, Workday, Dodgeball, Foursquare, Netscape, Ning, Plaxo, Napster, Facebook, Digg, Paypal, Slide, WePay
  2. Hardware: Sun Microsystems, Arista Networks, Granite Systems, PeoplePC, Apple, NeXT
  3. Entertainment: Pixar, 2929 Entertainment, HDNet, Blockbuster, Zynga, Magnolia Pictures, Landmark Theatres
  4. Transportation: SpaceX, Tesla Motors, Auto Nation

This follows a pattern in economics called ‘barriers to entry’ of which software has the lowest barriers in terms of cost and transportation, the highest.  Hardware and entertainment, it seems, falls in the middle, which is what you would expect.  So in the future, we can probably expect more serial entrepreneurs in the software arena, probably culminating up through app makers, which has the lowest barrier of entry and the highest audience: a combination ripe for the next round of serial entrepreneurs.

How to Identify a Micro-Niche

How to find a profitable niche to start blogging about on your new mini-site

In a previous post I wrote about how to monetize your blog, but I didn’t mention how to find a niche market to promote. There are many ‘rules’ about this, but while I may point out some, not all are going to apply. One rule you can keep in mind though is that 7 out of 8 attempts may fail. If you’re willing to seek against those kinds of odds, keep reading.

When choosing a new micro-niche, there are three things to keep in mind:

1. Competition for the keyword – when you do a Google search for your keywords, how many root, top-level domains show up in the top ten search results? It’s very hard to break into the pack when competing directly with a home page of an aged domain, but if the search results show deep page listings instead you’ve got a shot.

2. The product – First of all, is there a product to promote? Goods are easier to sell, but some service industries like lawyers and business consultants can make more – much more. Second, what are the commissions on the product? You have to be comfortable with the commission level, which varies greatly between products, to Make sure it is worth your while.

3. Traffic (Visitors) – Even if you have low competition and a great product, if no one is looking for it then you’re dead in the water. You want to have enough traffic to sustain your business and make it profitable, but to not be in competition with the bigger niche market. The sweet spot seems to be around 20,000 daily searches for a given set of keywords. You can find this info out using Google’s External Keyword Tool or Market Samurai.

You want some competition. This is a sign that the micro-niche is profitable. You just don’t want TOO much competition.

How to Start

Knowing how to do the research is one thing, but what if you can’t think of anything to start with? What if you can’t think of any ideas to search for? Some advice I heard once was to browse a magazine aisle and look at the ads in the back. If vendors can afford to advertise there they must be making money and so you can too. Be careful not to chase a niche just because you like it. Do the research and be willing to say ‘no’ to yourself if it doesn’t pan out.