Entrepreneur homework

Entrepreneur

 

Everyone wants to be an entrepreneur!

The word sounds sexy, inviting, welcoming, life-changing. Those are the dreams that are sold.

I’m Jim Duggen, Donkey Butler

Sounds better as:

I’m Jim Duggen, Entrepreneur

In the same way that:

 I’m Karen Cage, Boil Lancer Extraordinaire

Is improved to:

I’m Karen Cage, Entrepreneur

 

Deciding on the type of entrepreneur you want to be

You can be an ‘Entrepreneur’ just by calling yourself one. I’m an entrepreneur!

There are 4 states of Entrepreneur:

  • Self proclaimed – A person who called them self an Entrepreneur.
  • Actual – A person who has succeeded to the level we perceive to be an Entrepreneur through certain criteria (see below).
  • Celebrated – A person who has been heralded as an Entrepreneur, who has a reputation as one and uses this reputation to extend beyond.
  • Failed – That Entrepreneur who had it but gave up on striving, had a bad run and retired.

 

How to assess whether you are the Entrepreneur

It’s all about perspective.

There is no stated guideline on the amount of money you had to earn to be a successful Entrepreneur. You don’t even have to earn money if that is not what is valuable to your business.

Potentially everyone is an Entrepreneur because Human nature is to seek to fit in to the community we are surrounded by. We capitalise on enterprises, we seek out jobs to be filled, we undertake business.

We do something for value. We work. We pursue.

 

The dictionary determines that…

Entrepreneur is a noun and means the following:

  • a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit. – Oxford Dictionary

So a successful entrepreneur in this case is one who has a business and assumes the financial risk with a slim hope that they get more than what they spent.

  • a person who organizes and manages any enterprise, especially a business, usually with considerable initiative and risk. – Dictionary.com

Similar to the above only this time not limited to a business per sé. It mentions that Risk word again. Initiative is mentioned, a key attribute of an entrepreneur.

  • a person who organizes, operates, and assumes the risk for a business venture – www.thefreedictionary.com

An approximation of the the two above. The mention of the “venture” makes an entrepreneur sound like an adventurer.

  • a person who starts a business and is willing to risk loss in order to make money – www.merriam-wesbster.com

In this case the Entrepreneur is the “Initiator”.

  • someone who starts their own business, especially when this involves seeing a new opportunity – dictionary.cambridge.org

Cambridge mention nothing of risk and are the only ones to mention opportunity.

 

Criteria for an Entrepreneur

  • A business owner
  • Someone capable of dealing with risk, especially financial
  • Someone with initiative
  • A motivated individual
  • Opportunistic
  • Adventurous

What is not defined but is passively implied:

  • Being successful
  • Earning money

 

Quickest and easiest way to be an Entrepreneur

Sell something on eBay.

eBay is really the quickest way. You essentially become a second hand goods vendor. That is a business, the risk is that your item doesn’t sell, your profit is making more than the postage cost. Yes, you are selling your item for less than you bought it (in most cases) but you are making a second income. You are an Entrepreneur.

So remember, the next time you sell something on eBay, you are an entrepreneur!

Blog Post Comments: A by the numbers rant

I’ve spoken at length about commenting and about the fear associated in my previous article Fear of going first. This is an article that charts a few rants on how comments are implemented on Blogs and how blog post comments can be flawed.

 

Blog Post Comments

 

What are blog post comments useful for?

Commenting on blog posts helps with the social fabric of blogging.

That’s very easy for me to write. First answer in a pub quiz. Shout it loud (Actually don’t! Whisper it to your neighbour!).

Comments gives the reader a chance for reply if they strongly agree or disagree. It allows the reader to share an alternative viewpoint, something missed or expands a point already covered to a deeper level. It allows a fellow blogger to insert a link, if appropriate, and gain a small trickle of like-minded traffic.

For the author it gives some pride that someone has read and wants to leave feedback on the topic. It may lead to valuable insight into how to improve the article if there is something flawed with the conclusion or the argument.

To all those who have commented on my blog so far, thank you very much. I find each comment highly valuable!

There are some problems with blog post commenting though….

 

1 Encouraging people to enter their details

This is like asking a heavily pregnant woman to undertake a triathlon in a hessian sack in the middle of winter. Picture that if you will!

I’m of the opinion that there is a little bit more scrutiny about personal data security in the now with a lot of identify fraud occurring. Drawing someone over the line has become that much harder.

It is actually just better to do your best and let the person come to you. Many successful businesses don’t go on the hunt because their product speaks for them.

2 Lack of time

I believe that the majority of people are short of time in life. I never have enough myself so finding time to comment actively is something I have difficulty with. If I have difficulty with it then how many others do?

The more emotion filled the comment is, the more time it takes to craft it so the less time you have to make other comments.

The added drawbacks of a lack of time are Sloppy Joe responses.

3 Sloppy Joe responses

These are the responses where a person didn’t have time to frame their thoughts. They are likely to be one liners or a short paragraph, that whilst being complimentary or accusatory, are of low quality overall.

I love you Jackson, your posts are the shiznit, gush, gush, gush, link, gush!

4 Johnny No Face

Whether it is a John Doe or a Jane Doe we are all tired of the anonymous. Finding out how to put an avatar on your social or commenting profile is an extract of urine. The “bone idle” no faced social populace claim ignorance. Mr No Face is not valuable, not as valuable as a splash of colour, a real face or a logo. It doesn’t even matter if you change the default avatar from a blank face to a funny monster or an abstract art motif. These people are still No Facers.

Sort it out people!

For point of reference I have a special kind of place for the No Faced community on my Google+. It is a bit like a leper colony but in contrast, some people actually recover and I let them back into my general populace. It’s akin to returning a zombie back into the life of servitude after it lost its taste for brain and instead showed a sign of life. If you don’t want to get “Kettled” in my No Facer group learn how to make a profile picture!

5 Buried Comment Zones

Occasionally someone decides on their web design to bury the comments deep. That adds time to tracking them down and an extra click to dig them out. The message that the blog owner advertises is that they don’t give a rubber chicken about comments. If they feel that way, why make the effort?

I don’t want to dig for your comments section. I don’t want to go beneath a massive page footer!

Place it in sight.

6 Complex and undecipherable Captcha

Captcha is often used to prevent spammers by placing a small hurdle that requires a manual entry. I use Sweet Captcha because I like the cheeky little graphics. Often people may use simple tick boxes which are also quite acceptable.

There are some Captchas that are crappy. Such examples include the undecipherable captcha which comes out as a bunch of odd words that have been put together by a serial killer.

The other forms of crappy captcha are those that don’t work or are so complex it defeats the object. Time is bleeding out, let’s not forget.

The other problems with captcha are that on some responsive themes (those that reduce or expand in size to accommodate all sizes of screen) cannot handle their dimensions which distorts them yet further.

7 Failures after comment

This is not so common but still a pain. I commented on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income and after validation was hit by an error. I had no idea at this point if my comment had been submitted for approval or not. Fortunately it did.

8 Deactivated comments

People who don’t take comments are anti-social. Why are you putting up what you are writing about if you aren’t capable of taking some feedback. Can’t take the heat? Commonly corporations and big hitters deactivate commentary but they must realise that giving their audience a voice could save them some pain and also gives back a right of reply. Deactivated comments it the ultimate way to be unsociable.

Now, this is a contradiction to a post I wrote about how to conduct yourself socially. There are some topics that will encourage idiots and for those topics the veto of no comments is mandatory because you are going to make a moderator’s job hard otherwise. The flip side of that coin is that once in the social domain, an audience expects to carry this content in a socially expedient way with rights to comment and share.

Step back and think: Social Engagement – a guide on how to act responsibly on the internet.

 

Other problems with blog post comments

  • Barriers to entry

I’ve run across Disqus and Livefyre on my travels through cyberspace. Disqus and LiveFyre are more like commenting portals than anything else. I find myself turned off almost instantly when I get to the bottom of the blog post that I’ve been reading and I see the D or the flame symbol. If I don’t have the option to use Google+ or the standard comment I’ll pass.

What are my justifications behind my distaste?

This is another faceless corporation who owns my writing contribution. Their websites might try and convince me that they are brilliant and that I should embrace them but it is yet another wall of password orientation, another club I have to be a part of, another place my details can get leaked, another user pocket.

Disqus and Livefyre are not the biggest turnoff however.

 

FACEBOOK COMMENTS

Facebook comments are the biggest turn off for me. I’m not really sure why. There is something about Facebook that I don’t like.

 

It all started with www.planetF1.com

 

PlanetF1

 

I’m a Formula 1 fan. I support McLaren even though they’ve had a poor run in the last few years. I also love crashes and in Formula 1, there are some great crashes. (Incidentally, I also like the crashes they have in IndyCar and Nascar, mmmmm!)

Planet F1 provides news with a blog element that has a nifty set of stats that run throughout the race calendar. It was always the hilarious comments from various differently aligned race fans that drew me to the articles.

Facebook CommentsPlanet F1 went downhill when they suddenly decided to ditch the old commenting system for Facebook comments. Previously to make comment on the site you had to have a login ID. This was because some fans got so bent out of shape by other people’s points of view that they got into royal punch ups and had to be moderated. Moderation was quite lenient because often there were some valid points among the fiery comments. I loved that part, reading those anorak fans laying punches into each other. The arguments often boiled up over stupid press releases from team managers, drivers or has-beens, technical diversions, biased viewpoints and more besides. It was fun, trust me!

When the Facebook comments came along all the old guard of commentators disappeared. The characters were gone. They were replaced with randoms instead. Now you could argue that Facebook eliminates trolls and is great, ra, ra! But no, actually it sends true commentators away.

The problem with Facebook is that more than likely you have friends and family on your profile and you become more reserved in what you write. It’s great for sensitive topics, like dying, children and knitting but a disaster for true debate. Expanding on the debate crush, self moderation by those peers you don’t want to upset (colleagues, bosses, parents & friends) means you are far less likely to be a fool. Once that Facebook comment is on that site, it is also on your Facebook page. You own that comment. Regardless of how foolhardy it might be.

The Facebook Comment implementation renders a movement in tone.

With partly this 1 simple change and partly Sebastian Vettel dominating for a long time, I switched off PlanetF1. I don’t think I was alone when I decided to vote with my feet. I would have been more loyal had the old comment system remained firmly in place. It was definitely not a change for the better.

Whilst I am sure that Facebook opened up the comments even further it destroyed the exclusivity of that site. The way it was rolled out really sucked.

I never received an email to inform me of the change in advance. It was just a middle finger to those loyal commentators who made reading the comments fun.

It all harks back to this original sin:

Greed

The Final Gripe with Post Comments

It’s the common thing that to only say a good thing is preferred over saying a bad thing. When we are starting out as writers with blogging, negative comments can actually be far more constructive to our development.

My mother said: if you don’t have anything good to say, don’t say anything at all!

What I’m getting at is that we would take private criticism from a consultant, teacher, client or friend but not from strangers, and yet, those strangers might be right.

I term some of this positive reinforcement movement being down to social media sites such as Google+ and Facebook. They both only accept positives. For example you can only +1 an article or ignore it on Google+. You can’t -1 it. On Facebook, you can’t thumbs down an article. This approach differs on StumbleUpon, YouTube and Reddit. They support positive and negative. In order to promote a sense of balance you must have negatives. You must have that occasional thumbs down.

  • So the first issue is people feeling brave enough to disagree or point out flaws.

You may not be inclined to do this because you are at odds on whether you know the author may simply decline your point of view or field it with a counter view. This pause for thought may make you less inclined to help.

  • Allowing these negative comments to be viewed by others.

We know this as censorship. This extends from the first point but is a moral choice by the administrator. Do they allow criticism in a democratic standpoint or do they bury this discussion and only let warm words shine through.

I have read a lot of articles over my time. Some of them have been flawed but because their author has a high pull of social support, articles of question pass by without query. They have only glowing support. That surely looks suspect?!

My final thought on this subject asks the question; when everything is good, why bother striving to do things better? The reality is that everything will, at some point, need a revised way of thinking so embrace opposing opinion. It might save embarrassment if you are just flat wrong.

Over to you:

Do you have a bugbear about Article comments, by the commentators or by the systems that allow comments? Do you have any qualms over the Social Media agencies who are trying to muscle in on the comments? What are your thoughts?

 

 

Considering Guest Posts for Blogging

Guest Blogging

Talk about guest posting for blogging has been rife in recent times. I’ve seen a lot of articles on the subject. It seems to be a topic that occupies a lot of blogger’s thoughts.

The most common topics I’ve been seeing are whether guest posts are really worth it in terms of driving traffic to your site and whether those offering guest spots for bloggers are treating them well enough.

I’m in the unique position where I haven’t given it a try yet. I feel that my writing is coming up to a level where I should give it a go and see where it takes me. There are many beginners who are of a similar frame of mind; do I, don’t I? In this article I hope to cover some areas of interest in making the important decision.

 

Considering Guest Posts for Blogging

The established purpose for this activity is to share your work and gain some traffic from the site.

  • Guest posting is a blogging activity with agenda.
  • It is a showcase for your work.

It is subject to the owner’s moderation. You may be required to follow direction and rules that you are not bound to on your own blog. You can guarantee that your finished article will be scrutinised further than your own standards. It may actually improve your future writing capability as a result of this editorial work.

  • It provides a back link with a higher potential traffic circulation than your own site dependent on the authority of the blog you are guest posting on.

Large blogs that need content on a regular basis really depend on guest posters where they cannot fill the gaps. It’s akin to a hospital that doesn’t have enough nurses.

 

Negatives with Guest Posts

If you struggle with time management you may find the task of putting a guest post together actually damages your writing schedule. The counter argument that I have seen for this is that it doesn’t truly matter where you produce your posts because you can always link to them. Tom Ewer, a seasoned paid blogger, uses this strategy extensively and for him it has been very successful.

In some cases the owner’s site could be taking advantage of you. They may either not provide you with attribution and may damage your work by aggressive editing. The counter argument to this is to do your research and demand more. Go to the places that treat guest bloggers well. Go to the places that are right for your writing.

As an owner to a site you might have to employ more time into editing content and making sure that what has been provided isn’t a straight copy of another writer’s hard work. The counter argument to this is lay out your stall. Tell your guest blogger what you will and won’t accept. Keep them updated of your edits, nurture them and reward them for good service. If they don’t make the improvements, can them!

 

Guest work for free versus guest work for cash

One thing should be obvious if you are guest blogging for free, you are not going to be under the same pressure as you might be for getting paid.

Why?

If there is no pay for incentive the blog owner is not as motivated to push you for the articles. This is a more casual relationship (or it should be) and as a result you have slightly more freedom. This is important if you have a day job and can’t commit to a heavy schedule. As a negative output to this, don’t expect as many visits. The other drawback is that something you may have poured some love into has not been paid for so in that time that you spent, you failed to capture a monetary potential for that work. Writing has always been a difficult area to make serious money on. Even for great writers, they had some struggles to get there but that doesn’t mean you should accept less!

Don’t accept less!

On the other side of the coin, getting paid for your work infers some form of schedule for you to keep. You are getting paid per post to fill a schedule. Your client is investing in your slot more than just your posts. That displays a  form of loyalty and trust which both sides should maintain.

You can guarantee that you will have to write to a narrower field of agenda, you’ll be targeting a niche to generate traffic so that your client can generate leads. You’ll have to go about this in a professional fashion. Your client will expect more from you.

  • Writing quality
  • Attention to detail
  • More engaging reading

You will have to be mindful of the titles and content you use, these may even be chosen for you, and you’ll have to do it by the book. You can expect more people making their way back to you but you can also expect the client to clamp down further on links away from their site.

You will be performing under a dictatorship. Your client is royalty, what they say goes. You will take the negatives that go with that form of relationship.

Expect for your material to receive plenty of red marks if you are new. Prepare to answer to criticism (constructive and not so). Most importantly ask for feedback if you haven’t received any. This is a learning experience after all.

The Important Question

How highly do you value your writing?

Answer that simple question my friends. Very few people would say it was of low value. Your writing is important because it is your form of expression in this digital world. Your footprint in the digital sand. It is unique and valuable. Of course, you start out raw and green when you first start, you don’t understand the best ways of reaching out to people. With time and experience those lessons are learnt and with that you will start to rise in value even further. You will be able to demand more because you carry more respect.

 

Where does SEO feature in the grand scheme?

Even though many say that Social Media is now the forerunner to getting people to your site, if your Social Media is weak or you don’t perform well in it, Guest Blogging is still a good avenue. Yes, you may have restrictions imposed, but you should make your good works do the talking for you.

I can prove that commenting on a person’s blog can drive that occasional person back to your site. You have to comment in a thoughtful way and write something that a moderator will approve. It’s not hard if you are thoughtful, insightful and complimentary.

Be thoughtful, insightful and complimentary when commenting!

Guest blogging is the same, but actually, better. You take one audience that is not your own and a great deal higher in volume. You show them something of interest and you have a new audience. Yes, you are borrowing this audience from the owner, but they still have the capability of following you back to your source and connect with what you are about. It’s a win win.

  • The blog owner gets views and with enough of them conversions with regular and new visitors off the back of your content.
  • The blog owner gets your views when you research what other posts exist on the blog to get a bearing of how you should be writing.
  • You get some traffic exposure (numbers beyond what you might normally get)
  • You get potential for social signals (people commenting on your jazz, plussing you, liking you, sharing you)
  • You get new followers (quite possibly even some of your own conversions)
  • You get some assistance with SEO and a step up on the Domain Authority ladder which in turn pimps you out even further to Google with a bump in your authorship.
  • You get feedback and development tips from an editor which you don’t get by yourself. You can always ask for feedback on how you did and how you could improve.

 

It’s all based on digital sand

There is an element of uncertainty seeing how your numbers turn out. You don’t know how effective that guest post will be until it gets published.

Should that prevent you?

No. We all have fear about something but the proof is in the pudding. You might miss out on something you later come to love but the worst that happens is that you waste one writing gig on something that didn’t pan out. At least you learnt something. Life is a journey after all.

My Journey

I haven’t dipped my toe into guest posting. I’m not sure on it myself. I hold on to a valiant notion that my blog can hold all the important work I do and survive on that. I will have to follow some harder paths to do better in future. My traffic reports show that my efforts don’t go unrewarded but I could do a lot better. I simply need to be seen by more people and help more people with my words.

You may be in the midst of your own journey with Guest Blogging. Care to share?

 

Related Articles:

 

The Evergreen Myth – Articles with that special something

There is no such thing as Evergreen when it comes to blogging.

 

You should dispel the Evergreen myth!

It is simply a bad term. I will try to justify why through the course of this short article.

The Evergreen Myth

Where does it stem from?

In nature we have deciduous trees which shed their leaves on a yearly basis come Autumn (the Fall). Deciduous trees are like this by nature’s design. They are required to deal with greater variants in yearly weather patterns and need to shed them when the frost comes. Deciduous trees are more common in places where the weather moves seasonally. They are less common in climates that remain the same throughout the year. Examples include:

  • Oaks, Silver Birch, Maple

We have Evergreens that maintain their green leaves all year long. They live in static climates such as the deserts, rain forests and lofty mountainous regions. Examples include:

  • Pines, Eucalyptus, Sequoia, most rain forest trees

The fact is that even Evergreen trees die eventually. The great Sequoia can quite easily be burnt to the ground in one flash fire or be bored out by pulp and bark eating beetles. Nothing is eternal!

 

Reasons behind using nature in blogging

Blogging and building traffic to support that function are often looked at in an “Organic” framework. Organic Human Beings read blogs rather than computers.

Why nature? Because Google’s algorithm dictates that people go about things in a non forced way, a socially responsible way, a snake oil free way, and most importantly a non artificial way.

Dodgy sites get ironed out pretty quickly, those that provide useful content rise to the top (with the exception of those who pay for sponsored ads).

So using this “Evergreen” term fits with that nature organic terminology that blog marketers like to use but is it really appropriate?

 

Why you can’t compare Apples to Grapefruit

You Can't compare apples to grapefruit

They have different textures, different skin, higher differences in water content, different in colour, different circumference, and the list goes on.

Depending on what your blog is about will determine how you write each article. Writing a so-called “Evergreen” article for a blog that reports on trending articles is inappropriate. If you base your blogging niche on trends expect for those posts to have a short half life, a deciduous post. There is nothing wrong with that and no real point in writing supposed “Evergreen” content. That’s not what your blog is for.

You should be writing what is appropriate so be prepared to be in a subject that doesn’t support long life articles.

Some posts no matter what you put into them will not become an “Evergreen” because the content doesn’t have the longevity that will support it. Professional bloggers may argue that you should seek out topics that do have a longer lasting thread but many news blogs make a fortune providing detail that has a very short shelf life.

Blogging isn’t always about providing a four poster bed to your public, often it is just about that extra comfy pillow.

In terms of strategy, perspective is the important factor. Should you be writing long lasting articles when your audience wants bite size?

It’s more about Radiation

What you need to think of as an alternative analogy to Evergreen is a radioactive half life.

There are two popular flavours of radioactive material:

  • Plutonium
  • Uranium

Big atoms decay over time, the bigger they are, the slower they decay. That decay rate produces energy which can be used to power things.

You should see your blog as the centre of a nuclear reactor. Your articles are your fissile material. Depending on how valuable they are determines how long a half life they have.

Your goal is trying to achieve a big atom. The big atom of blogging is an article that has a significant half life or afterglow. Yes, it will decay, but it will stay in the thoughts of others for a long time.

 

How about the Classic analogy?

A lot of people:

  • Like classic cars.
  • Are envious of classic car owners.
  • Have fond memories of classic cars.
  • Are able to identify certain makes of classic cars quicker than new ones.

Your goal as a blogger is to construct that classic car. You’ll know you got it right if nobody else can match it. It was a premium production at the time and its quality will last far beyond its original reach.

The Classic

I have distorted this image on purpose. Do you know what it is? The thing you do know is that it is a classic. That’s the important point.

That classic car will have value as long as you can keep it from rusting, make sure it ticks over and keep air in its tyres.

Those articles you update and rewrite the least are more likely to be the ones that remain a classic. They have a simple elegance.

Eventually the classic will end up in a museum because the world moved on and made more comfortable, more economic cars that handle better on the road. The fact is you’ll never forget it as the “classic“. Making an article that runs along this route should be your goal.

As a side, classic cars are often missing modern day comforts, the elements that bloggers now have to employ to keep up with the competition. Classic cars had enough value at the time to make them the “Classic” and you can tweak under the hood to an extent but eventually it won’t be the classic you remember. If you put a Honda Prius engine in a Rolls Royce Silver Ghost it wouldn’t be the same. With a lot of the posts written in the past, they are stamped to that time, tweaking with them beyond makes them less valuable.

 

In Conclusion

I hope this has helped you dispel the evergreen myth in your mind’s eye. It is important to understand what is appropriate and take on board that nothing shines bright forever. You don’t live forever so don’t break your soul chasing the evergreen myth! Longevity comes with time and practice but there is no substitute for continuous posting.