Category Archives: Web Stuff

Empire Avenue – Social Media Or A Game?

After kind of being cajoled into taking a look at this thing, I finally decided to join Empire Avenue so I could get a sense of what it was all about.

What I was told was that it was a system that would help you measure your social media status because it would allow people to buy “stock” in your online performance. What it’s turned out to be is more along the lines of BlogShares, something I signed up for years ago, where people would buy stock on the progress of your blogs, with the intention of helping you get people to visit your blog and thus increase your visits and, ergo, your blog’s worth.

BlogShares seems to have fallen on hard times somewhat. I say that because it says I’m worth $146 billion (yup, you read that right) and I really haven’t done much over the years, and somehow when I went there a couple of months ago I didn’t even own any stock, including in my own blogs. It may or may not still be viable, and thus it’s probably how something like Empire Avenue jumped in and has taken off… to an extent.

Why do I say that? Well, I’ll say this; there are some fairly active people on the site. However, there aren’t as many people there that I thought I’d know. As a matter of fact, overwhelming people are buying stock into my site that I have no idea who they are. And when I try to find out more about them, I notice that many of them don’t even have websites, let alone blogs. That’s kind of freaky, but it’s not needed.

That’s because as long as a person has an account on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook, they’re good. They can also have an account on YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr and a couple other sites and still be considered as legitimately taking part in social media.

I’ve been a part of it for two weeks now, and I’ll say this; it could probably be addicting for many people, and I know by reading some of the messages in the Facebook group for EA, as some of the folks call it (that makes me think of Electronic Arts so I probably won’t use it again) that some folks are taking it way too seriously. See, you buy shares in people whose stock price seems to be rising, just like the real stock market. But the other side of it is that some people will sell stocks if someone seems to be falling, and some of those folks are losing their minds thinking other people aren’t being, well, loyal. Y’all know how I am about loyalty, but it’s a game. And let’s face this fact; if you don’t know those people, then when was loyalty ever built?

To this end my stock price has risen pretty quickly, and it says I have a pretty good net worth. I think where I’m benefiting is that it lets you list up to 5 blogs and I have 5 blogs, 4 of which I write something fairly regularly. You earn a certain amount of points for every blog post; rather, they call them “eaves”, though truthfully I have no idea what this means.

For that part there’s a lot of things said on the site that I have no idea what they mean. And I guess it doesn’t matter. I’ll tell you this much. The site will give you a chance to get backlinks to your sites, including your blogs. You can check people’s About page to see if they have blogs, as some people will check yours, and if you’re lucky they’ll endorse your blog. If they actually visit your blog after that, it’s all good; I don’t endorse any blog I don’t look at first.

The site has what it calls “community pages”, which is more like lots of forum pages where you can join one for things that interest you. I’ve only joined two, one for Syracuse and one for books, and for now that’s all I’m joining because it’s hard following conversations; I don’t like that part, and wish it was more like a true forum where, if you click on the link that tells you someone responded to you or wrote on a topic you wrote on that it took you directly to that topic; nope.

I’ve also found that it’s hard to engage a person on the site. They have kind of an email system but I don’t want to use their email since I have my own. They also have what they call the “shareholder’s email”, which I think you have to pay for in either real money or eaves; I’m not really sure what that’s all about either but I turned that off.

In any case I’m hoping it might turn into something that actually becomes more social as much as a game, but I’m doubting it. I can tell you this; the site hasn’t cracked the top 25 for any of my blogs as far as referral traffic coming my way, which tells me that many people are endorsing my blogs but not visiting them. Hey, whatever floats their boat, right? If you go to the site think of it as a stock market game and nothing else, at least for now; then you might enjoy it for awhile.
 

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Stop Falling For Scams

Last week a TV pitchman that I’ve seen from time to time was indicted on charges of mail fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud, promotional money-laundering, and transactional money-laundering; nice laundry list, eh? His name is Donald Lapre, and he sold and franchised online what he called “The Best Vitamin in the World”.

major league creep

I see this stuff on TV all the time, all these commercials telling us how great something is that frankly looks pretty ridiculous. It seems to take time for law enforcement to decide how to handle these folks, and often their commercials disappear and they’ve moved on before criminal prosecutions are made. Still, I always wonder how people get scammed by this stuff so often.

I’ve talked about certain scams on this blog. I mentioned secret shopper scams, survey scams, website money making scams, internet marketing scams, domain name scams, Craigslist scams, SEO scams, and affiliate marketing scams. Frankly, I assume that most of the folks that read things I’ve said about scams can count themselves among the educated and aren’t falling for scams anymore; can I get a witness?

Yet, it’s not always so clear. Man, some stuff just starts sounding really good at times, doesn’t it? I’ll go on record and talk about MLM, most of it, as being some of the biggest scams on record. Some of you might not see it this way but in my mind, the Mary Kay model is a scam, and if you do the math you’ll see what I’m talking about. It’s just a scam with an air of legitimacy, and most women that sell Mary Kay will come to that realization in an epiphany one night as they’re getting ready to put in their next mandatory monthly order, even though they still have lots of inventory on hand, and feel, well, what’s the woman’s word for emasculated?

Most of us get scammed because we want to be trusting of others. We really think that most people are out there to help us. Yes, there are a lot of people ready to help us, but sometimes we need to be more circumspect in who we trust. Goodness, we have the internet; we have Google! Everything imaginable can be looked up online. The internet is replete with websites telling you about scams, just as it is with websites proclaiming that these scams aren’t scams at all, at the same time they’re trying to sell you something from that company.

The thing is that one has to do a few things not to be scammed. First, you have to take the effort to look stuff up. Second, you have to take the effort to sort out who’s trying to make money off something and who’s actually telling you the truth. Although this was a rant about hamburgers, it’s something that happened to myself and a friend of mine, it has pictures, yet there are a number of people that say “I love that place” or “that didn’t happen to me”. Yet, as I described in that post, the majority of people writing online had the same view I had. Who’s right and who’s wrong? Well, in this instance we’re probably both correct, yet a reader will still gain pretty good perspectives and know what to expect by reading both good and bad things about it if neither of us has an agenda.

And that’s how you avoid a scam; you have to determine the writer’s agenda. If there’s an affiliate link read with a bit of doubt if you don’t know the writer. If the person hates on a product or company but doesn’t give any specifics, don’t get all absorbed. But if you see multiple people in multiple places ranting about the same thing over the over, stay clear, run away fast, and go wash your eyes and your brain. Forget you ever had the thought about purchasing or joining whatever that was and go back to enjoying your life.

Heck; now I have to go wash as well. 😉

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2015 Mitch Mitchell

Puppy Cams

Twelve days ago there was a litter of six puppies that were born. That’s nothing new. It was the third litter of Shiba Inu puppies from the mother, also nothing new. And it was immediately set up on streaming video; also not really new, but new to me.

I found out about it via NBC News, of all things, where it was mentioned 4 days after they were born, and I tracked it back to this streaming video link I’ve been obsessively watching the live link except for this past weekend, when the live feed was taken down for a short period of time and instead we had a few videos to keep us entertained. Of course, once you’re gotten used to watching them live the videos just aren’t quite the same, even though the puppies are still cute as sin.

On the site are other feeds of litters of puppies and probably some kittens somewhere on the site; I’m a puppies guy. It’s been a lot of fun and really interesting to watch. They’re so cute you just want to bite them… lightly of course. I learned that puppies don’t open their eyes from anywhere between 9 days and two weeks; as I’m writing this a day ahead they still haven’t opened their eyes. They didn’t start making any noise until six days later, and it was the cutest thing as well, though I could never figure out which one was making the noise.

They sleep a lot, but never fully restful sleep; my wife and I aren’t quite sure why they keep twitching but they don’t seem overly troubled by it. Of course it must be difficult for any family to deal with multiples and hope they all stay asleep at the same time, and it’s the same here. One will eventually move and start crawling all over the rest of them, looking for warmth I believe as they always seem to be trying to find their way into the middle. At this point it seems one mainly sleeps on its back while one has finally learned how to sit. I just can’t tell any of them apart.

And every few hours the mother pops into the picture, cleans them in some fashion (after seeing that I put away the notion about wanting to bite one lol) and then feeds them.

I have to mention that this UStream site seems to be pretty interesting for anyone who wants to go live with a feed. If you have a camera it looks like all you have to do is create an account, pick a category, and then go for it. I think it’s a family friendly site, so none of those shower people need apply. 🙂

Anyway, I hope you check out the puppies; it’s a lot of fun.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell

A Question About Free

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend of mine about the concept of free. He was saying that offering free items these days, which almost everyone recommends as a way to drive people to one’s blog, website, or newsletter, is passe and just doesn’t work anymore. He used as his example the free food given out at places like BJ’s Wholesale Club on a weekend and how he always passes all that stuff by.


by Derek Hatfield

Of course, his mentioning something like that to someone like me doesn’t quite work out. When I go to BJ’s on a Saturday, one of my pleasures is making sure I get to scarf up many of the free goodies, There’s no way I’d ever just up and buy anything I didn’t get to taste first, and I love sampling foods… at least foods I’ll eat.

However, his overall point seems to be one to consider. Let me ask you the question outright: how many of you really notice increases in visitors, increases in subscribers or increases in anything else when you offer something free? I have to say that my friend (okay, it’s Mitch) isn’t far off base.

For instance, how many of you have noticed the freebie there to the left, the book download of The Synergy of Business and Blogging? How many of you who saw the original post when I wrote it in January actually went ahead and downloaded it? Unfortunately for me, 1&1, my hosting company, has changed their start up page so I no longer have access to seeing how many times it was downloaded, and Google Analytics doesn’t tell me that either, but I’m betting it’s been a rare thing for me or the people who created it.

Eliminating myself from the mix, how do most of the rest of you feel about downloading free stuff? Are you wary that you’ll get viruses? Do you think you won’t get anything out of it? Have you just gone blind to the concept of free stuff posted on a blog or website? Or do you have other reasons if you don’t download, as well as reasons you do? Inquiring minds would like to know.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011-2019 Mitch Mitchell

ARRHH! How Can I Work With These Creative Graphic Designers? – Guest Post

Some of you might recognize Wes’ name. He’s a regular commenter on this blog, and some of his articles are on topics that are pretty cool to comment on as well. I don’t take a lot of guest articles on this blog, but he’s earned his way here and thus I’m pleased to offer him some time here. I’m even allowing the Australian spelling of words instead of changing them to the American version. 🙂 Please check out his blog as well.

It is not easy to start or run a business. You may have a long list of suppliers and customers you need to build relationships with. Among the people you will inevitably need to work with when starting a business is graphic designers. How on earth can you work with these creative, arty-farty types.

Your experience with graphic designers does not need to be as harrowing as you may think. In fact, not all graphic designers are ‘arty-farty’. However, I do understand the perception out there and have a few suggestions to make it easier and more enjoyable to deal with graphic designers. These include:

Create a rock-solid vision

Before approaching or hiring a graphic designer, it is best if you are clear in your own mind what your intended outcome is for any given project. It is a colossal waste of time to kick-off a graphic design project then change your mind when it’s almost complete. This can be quite costly as graphic designers will charge for modifications and authors corrections. I’m not suggesting you need to have a clear vision for the actual design or the look and feel but you need to be rock-solid in what your intended result is.

Communicate your vision clearly

Knowing exactly what you want and being able to convey this to your graphic designer can be difficult. It will help to write the vision down so you can communicate the brief clearly. It’s great to talk through the brief so it can be discussed however this can cause problems for graphic designers if that’s all you give them. It can be difficult determining what is clear direction and what is a passing thought or idea if you don’t write it down.
To make sure there is no communication gap, give your graphic designer samples of designs you like and dislike. This is a sure-fire way of speeding up the design process and being clear about what you are wanting. It can be difficult to describe in words what you are looking for visually. For example, if a colour was important to you, provide colour swatches or samples so you can communicate precisely what you are looking for.
If there are certain logos, graphics or images you want to be included in your project, prepare them before meeting with your graphic designer. This will save you both time and make the briefing easier.

Knowing your budget

You should know your budget limitations before starting a graphic design project. You may need to have an initial discussion with your graphic designer to get an idea of costings before you define your budget. If your graphic designers understand your budget restraints, they may be able to make recommendations so you get the best bang for your buck. For example if you wanted to produce a flyer that included photography, your graphic designer could suggest stock photography. Stock photography could save you quite a bit of money so you could then afford to print more flyers with the same budget. If you are not transparent and upfront with your graphic designer, you may miss these kind of opportunities.

Knowing your time-frame

This boils down to being clear in the communication process even during the primary stages of your project. Be honest, if it’s needed in a weeks time, don’t say you only have three days to give yourself ‘breathing room’. Your graphic designer may not be able to invest the time and energy into your short time frame that he/she would have with a little more time. If the deadline is critical, be really clear about that and trust your graphic designer to meet the deadline.

With the pace of business these days, we always tend to want things yesterday. For this reason we want our projects to be worked on immediately however, if this is going to impact on the quality of work being produced maybe you should reconsider your time-frame.


Wes Towers invites you to learn more about marketing, branding, graphic design and web design and how they can help in your business. Check out www.omnificdesign.com.au for more resources and free ebooks.

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2011 Mitch Mitchell