Facebook: The Journal of Our Times

Before Facebook, unless you kept a diary or wrote a blog, there was little recording of day-to-day events in most people’s lives. Some people made baby books for their children, but mostly just for their first or second child. But now, the combination of smartphone cameras and mobile apps, documenting our lives has never been easier and never before have more people done it.

Enough time has passed since the mass adoption of Facebook in 2009 for us to see how people are using it long-term. We know what people like and what they hate. We know who their friends are. We know when they start relationships and when they end them. We know what they looked like when they were younger and what they look like now. We know everything someone is willing to share.

Suzanne's Blog

Before Facebook, my wife used to blog about what was going on in the house, about her pregnancies, and about milestones with the kids. Now that’s all on Facebook. If I wanted to create a story of our last 5 years together, that’s where I’d look. And our baby books are on there, too. We still have real-life baby books, but we certainly aren’t printing any of our pictures.

What will become of this information?

As a society we’ve all invested so much into this platform. While Facebook’s Timeline feature helps to sort through it all and services that help you print Facebook help, there is still a general anxiety I feel about how we will overcome the White Album Problem. Most people don’t remember Collegeclub.com, but that was a platform like Facebook that one day just disappeared.

And the other side of the coin is that this information will never be deleted and we will always have a perfectly searchable memory of everything that’s ever happened. Nothing will ever be forgotten. No friend is ever left behind. That’s not how the mind works. That’s not how life used to work. We used to forget, move on, and get on with life. Now it’s all just a click away.

Why do I still blog in a post-Facebook world?

I own this domain. I pay for this hosting account. I control what the website looks like and when it changes. I control my own backups. I am not subject to Facebook’s rules. I can download my data whenever I want. I can make my content look like whatever I want. In short – it’s my own platform where I can tell my own story over time regardless of what Facebook is or does, but that’s not the only reason I blog.

I know there is some benefit to me in the short term to be able to flesh out ideas and some value in the long term to be able to look back on what I was thinking or working on, but I didn’t know if it was actually of value to other people. I considered my blog a ‘failure’ because it doesn’t get that many visitors for the posts I care about, there are little to no comments, and little to no email newsletter sign-ups.
It turns out that those metrics aren’t the only ones that matter as people have reached out to me in other ways to let me know they’re reading. You don’t always know what effect you’re going to have on people and you may never know, but if you don’t put yourself out there, you’re reducing that chance. This small bit of encouragement helps. I’m glad you also read my blog.

Top 5 Quick and Dirty Hosted Blog Publishing Services

Whether or not you have your own domain, sooner or later you’re going to have the need for a hosted blog platform to create more backlinks.

Webories, the web directories web site, has two articles on hosted blog publishing services* (“Top 5 Hosted Blog Publishing Services” and “Top 5 Hosted Micro-Blogging Publishing Services”) that I would like to add to with my top 5 ‘quick and dirty’ hosted blog publishing services. Some of these are new to me, but they come recommended by The Challenge, which I also recommend for anyone starting out making money online.

  1. LiveJournal – a free blog publishing service centered around it’s users. There are paid options to make it more secure. “Discover global communities of friends who share your unique passions and interests.”
  2. Xanga – “The Blogging Community” is a free blog publishing service. It’s ad based, but paid options reduce the number of ads. You can also get a personalized URL (domain name). If you do, make sure it contains your primary keywords.
  3. Blogger – Blogger is an easy way to share your thoughts about anything. There are a host of features to make blogging as simple and effective as possible and integrating with Google Adsense is a snap.
  4. Identi.ca – Identi.ca is a micro-blogging service. Join for free to share short (140 character) notices which are broadcast to their friends and fans using the Web, RSS, or instant messages.
  5. Posterous – Posterous lets you post things online fast using email. You email us at post@posterous.com and we reply instantly with your new posterous site. If you can use email, you can have your own website to share thoughts and media with friends, family and the world. And they don’t care what anyone says, “Posterous is NOT a micro blog!”

*A blog publishing service is inherently hosted by someone else who manages the server, its software, and its settings. It’s a kind of software-as-a-service, or SAAS thing. Blog platforms, on the other hand, is blogging software that you host on your own server or hosting company’s server. You manage the software and its settings. A good example is the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. WordPress.com is a blog publishing service while WordPress.org is a blog platform. They both use the same software – the difference is in who maintains it: you or them.

Blogging for Profit

How to Find a Profitable Micro-Niche to Market Online

This is an article based on a similar article I wrote about traffic conversion in 2009. Using proven, repeatable techniques there is little risk and great rewards involved in blogging for profit. Peter Drucker in Innovation and Entrepreneurship: Practice and Principles writes, “Entrepreneurship, it is commonly believed, is enourmously risky…[but]…entrepreneurship should be the least risky rather than the most risky course,” because of how entrepreneurship, “by definition, shifts resources from areas of low productivity and yield to areas of higher productivity and yield.” Much work has already been done for us in the form of innovating processes and software tools, which eliminates risk. There are two key phases to the process:

  1. Research and Analysis – Identify a micro-niche inside a penetrable market that has profitable products that people are already selling.
  2. Marketing and Testing – Promote the products and test the results. If the traffic and/or conversions do not meet thresholds in a given time, start over.

The rate of success with this method is anywhere between 1 in 6 to 1 in 10 and marketing and testing can take anywhere from 1 to 30 days. Success is defined as more money coming in than is going out each month and that includes all opportunity costs (time that could have been spent making money in other activities). Tracking is critical not only with the data of the results, but with the finances and time spent.

Rules and Metrics of Phase 1 – Research and Analysis

According to The Thirty Day Challenge (now called simply, “The Challenge“) micro-niches are identified as the #1 keyword receiving at least 80 clicks per day and websites containing that keyword being less than 30,000 globally. At least 3 keywords other keywords within the micro-niche with similar criteria must also be identified, if not, start over.

The top 10 search results for the top 4 keywords has to be penetrable within the time allowed. Metrics to consider are:

Test 1: If the competition has a young domain age, a low number of back-links, and does not exist in any of these directories, then the market is penetrable. If the opposite is true, stop and start over.

Test 2: Check to see that related products are both available to be sold and are being sold by others. If either is not true, stop and start over.

If both of those tests pass, then make sure the products are giving a referral amount that you deem acceptable. If not, stop and start over. You now have products in a penetrable micro-niche that are profitable to sell. Move on to Phase II – Marketing and Testing.

Phase II – Marketing and Testing

Begin by setting up a place to place your products. This is where your marketing efforts will point back to. It can be a Squidoo page, a Blogspot Blog, or WordPress running on your own domain.  If you are using Blogspot or WordPress, install Google Analytics to track traffic. If using Squidoo, there are tracking mechanisms built into the site. Once you have a place to put your products, begin writing copy (content) for the site. You will need to write the following:

  • ‘About’ and ‘Privacy’ pages – use keywords and talk about the product. A privacy policy is required by many advertisers and affiliate programs including Google Adsense.
  • Ad copy for the products – if using Market Samurai, there are built-in features for helping with this, but you can do it manually too.
  • Create posts (or pages) about the keyword subject matter within the micro-niche.
  • Next, begin to create backlinks to your site by placing links to the domain, the blog posts, and the the product pages on social bookmarking, social media, and in blog comments in your related market. Be sure to add links from .edu and .gov domains. You can search Google specifically for blogs on those domains manually, but you can do this semi-automatically with Market Samurai too.

Track the incoming page hits on Google Analytics. Testing for viability can begin only after your product’s page is receiving at least 200 hits per day. If you are not getting 200 hits per day, then try these things first:

  • Increase the number of blog posts on and off the site using other services like hubpages and squidoo – then promote all of the new posts again.
  • Make sure you are promoting on at least 30 different sites for each post – you can use services like ping.fm or trafficbug to assist with this task.
  • Pay to have your site listed in the Yahoo! Directory.
  • Pay for Google Adwords or Bing (Microsoft) AdCenter.
  • Add pictures with descriptive text to get hits from search engine’s image searches like Google Image search.
  • Add video to Youtube with links and comment on other videos in your micro-niche.
  • Make sure you are posting to Twitter and Facebook regularly and engaging in conversation, not just promoting.

If after 30 days or at your own set threshold, you are still not receiving 200 hits or more per day, your product is not viable. Quit and start over. You have just found one of your 6 to 10 failures. If you do have over 200 hits per day, but are not getting conversions, first try changing out your ad copy, images of the products, and/or placement of the two on the page. Refer to Dan Kennedy’s sales letter technique. If after changing all three of these variables and still your revenue is below your expenses, then start over. If not, you have a profitable business. Consider selling it for ten times it’s worth and starting over using Flippa.