Archive for the ‘writers’ Category

In case you haven’t heard, I have a new article site going, called Marcana.com. Well, it’s not exactly new, but the barrage of daily articles and most of the fantastic new authors in this new incarnation certainly are. I’m talking about people like Will Reichard, JC Hewitt, Justin McCullough and others yet to have made their debut.

You’re going to like Marcana.com for social media articles, marketing articles, strategy guides, startup advice and a heck of a lot more, besides. You should really subscribe now, so you can say you were hip when hip wasn’t cool, or whatever people say at such times. Follow @MarcanaGuides for the latest updates sent right to your hot little hands. Hurry on over. I posted a special how-to article there on Google Analytics today, and you know you’ll want it while it’s good and fresh!

Thanks to everyone who has supported this blog. I will continue to post my more personal reflections on social media, marketing and what have you here, but please plugin to Marcana.com for the bulk of my marketing how-to’s, strategy pieces and reviews, not to mention a whole bonanza of other great articles by an entourage of superb topic experts I’ve thankfully bumped into along the way. This blog is not going fallow, it just got too cramped to house this (very recent) flurry of ideas and ambitions, so now it has the help that it deserves.

As they say in the Chengdu dialect…gumbei!

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Who are you fishing for?

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I realize that my own blogging is still relatively young in blog years. And no, I’m not engaged in a competitive attempt to get the goat of bloggers here–it’s something else. A very tricky “something else” (I can be kind of a tricky guy).   

Marketers often aim for a non-existent target reader. It shows in how they address their as-yet-to-be-defined audience. Instead of shooting for a tin can in their backyard in the well-lit daylight, they’re aiming for an abstract moon at dusk. Why we do this is sometimes a mystery upon closer examination. And then it hits you: “I haven’t even thought through who my audience actually is yet!”   

This is a frightening thing for a content writer who blogs or writes copy for their own sites. It’s even more scary for those who write for a client. Not knowing exactly who you are writing TO is a problem more writers have then they themselves would like to admit. The reasons are mainly of one sort: time.   

The feeling is that we don’t have time to focus enough to fully penetrate who this reader really is and thus we we’re really writing this content in the first place. Copy is a misleading term, because it’s not about copying anybody or being unoriginal, in fact copy writers are expected to be original and startling, to unnerve and shake the reader’s expectations up in the blender of creative expression.   

So how is it that we become unclear whom a piece  is for? Because the illusion of time. Time is not hindering you from putting your best effort forward, a lack of focus is doing that. That just means you aren’t focusing because your environment or your mood is off, not tuned in to the creative process. It’s not that other people are hindering you so much as your lack of ability to focus.   

I’m always taken aback by people and “experts” who claim that creativity is hindered by influence…really? Really think you can create without influence? Try it some time and see just how full of influences everything you do really is! There is no creation without influence. Even your own creations of 1-2-3 influence your next creations of 4-5-6.   

A writer is ultimately doomed to be influenced in all “original” creations. Deal with that and you’re going to be able to see that it’s not what you are handed, but what you’re doing with what you’ve been handed that matters. That’s what the reader inherently knows to look for. As a writer, however, we can get lost from this realization about the creative process.   

When you think you’re writing for social marketers specifically for a particular piece, you may in fact be writing for all marketers. This piece, for example, is for all content writers, but if it were just for social marketers, I should probably want to address items in detail that they are confronted with, like say, how to writer with a hook title, how to include the best possible excerpt teaser, or how to have a burning red-hot focus on the point of the piece throughout. Since it’s not about any of those, I’m more all over the place on this one, but that’s more to the point of my purpose here.   

In hindsight, this entire post is a kind of throat-clearing as a writer. I think (I hope) it may help others in the congregation to feel it’s okay now to clear theirs, as well. At least that’s how it always seems to go the few times I found myself in a pew. Want to cough? Go ahead! Cough up a comment or two while you’re at it! [tweetmeme source=”MarkBrimm”]

[tweetmeme source=”MarkBrimm”] If you already know everything there is to know about social media, then please move along.

…Still here? Great! Me, too!

While I don’t claim to be a foremost authority on social media (or much of anything else, I’ve decided in later life), I’ve learned a  thing or two while learning that fact: pay attention, watch, read, learn. This small list is not a “new books” list by any means, it’s a “you should have already probably read these” list for people newer to social media or who, like me, may not feel comfortable in casting aside the classic standards of the social media resource genre just because their time is valuable. Some of these authors do not entirely agree, which sis actually valuable in that you get some not-quite in-sinc takes on some social networking issues.

If you’re anything like me, you consider a good read on worthwhile subject matter from a durable voice a worthwhile use of your time. And for the record, these links on the titles below are referral links. If you click them and buy the books, I’ll get a tiny little commission to legitimate investing more time in this blog while I pursue less profitable posts, and which I think is pretty fair, and not only gets a great author a new sale and reader, but provides the visitor with a valuable new proven resource to study and refer to (hard copy, no less, which can be great for impromptu inspired notes as we all love to make). That said, hope you find this little list useful. And now (in case you’re still reading this blur at the top of the screen) the drumroll please…

1. Trust Agents: Using the Web to Build Influence, Improve Reputation, and Earn Trust by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith

The low down :

Twitter and Facebook are shaped as much by a noteworthy book as they are by its readers, admirers and practitioners of any insights they hold. And this one has lots of insight, as well as kudos from the social media community. Brogan and New Labs Marketing continue to be a driving force in demonstrating community and the principle of “trust” for social media marketing and networking. There is a good reason this book is first. Where it may not be a how-to in some respects, it is an absolute eye-opener about what the authors and a few others have long ago realized about the importance and nature of trust and transparency in social networking and social media marketing. For this reason, I would seriously recommend starting here, only because it’s the most insightful reading of key issues in social media and social networking at large.

2. Tribes: We Need You to Lead Us by Seth Godin

Here’s why :

Seth Godin is a prolific writer of books on what could be called “social media theory” and while I don’t own (and haven’t read) most of his other books, this one inspired the world to get on social networks and use them for things they really care about. If you want to understand the “twibes” phenomenon, or the possibilities of social media, you should start here.

3. Socialnomics: How social media transforms the way we live and do business by Erik Qualman

Why I picked this:

As some have pointed out, the book is short of documentation, and long on examples (remember “Dancing Matt” on YouTube?), but it is intended to show corporate decision-makers why social media is important to their brands today, and that it does brilliantly. While not a handbook on “how-to” for what it sets out to do, it certainly succeeds. It is a starter course, along with the previous two books on our list here, on why your company should consider going social with a brand.

4. Inbound Marketing: Get Found Using Google, Social Media, and Blogs (The New Rules of Social Media) By Brian Halligan, Dharmesh Shah, and David Meerman Scott

My reasons:

Low-budget marketing forces one to become smarter than the big guys. This is the unlikely advantage of having little or no venture capital in the hands of a survivor. Inbound Marketing shows how to apply the older branding principles of Al Ries and company to new levels in the age of social networking where PR can be a matter of viral phenomenon hits and misses.

5. Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion By Gary Vaynerchuk

A powerful book:

Gary Vaynerchuk is a marketing coach on steroids, with energy and drive that most us will never quite have. That’s his drive, to find a better way, to see deep into what the problem is quickly and put a solution into the fray. As Gary cogently explains, advertising dollars are what’s ultimately at stake for a blogger with a keen eye or a topic expert with a visionary outlook. And best of all, Gary practically tells you how to do it by giving you sample strategies that can inspire you to find your own model. Not to be missed.

6. Duct Tape Marketing: The World’s Most Practical Small Business Marketing Guide

By John Jantsch

A book full of tested insights:

John Jantsch has been doing and thinking about guerrilla marketing for a long time now. He’s all about low-budget marketing tactics that actually are proven and work. So this book is somewhat of a toolbox of such tried and true strategies for those who may have missed the dialogue in recent years. Consider Jantsch the knowledgeable uncle in marketing you could have seriously learned a thing or two from when you first started out. If you’re like many of us, you find that he has a few tricks up his sleeve that are always well-worth the purchase price. Also, it’s a great way to see how guerrilla marketing has evolved before and since this book, and a great way to see the value in defiant marketing voices who speak their mind (agreeing with them is not really the point, right?). After all, this is how social media was basically born, out of the grit of tenacious guerrilla marketers fighting expensive tanks with grenades and banana peels–and actually winning market share. [tweetmeme source=”MarkBrimm”]

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You may be wondering how to reach the best audience  if you have a downloadable ebook for sale. Gone are the days of a wide-open eReader market. With the older standby PDFs still a viable format, and more recently the iPad, and of course the market-share-king, Kindle for PC and iPhone (as well as the more expensive Kindle), the competition is fierce. So which ebook format is the one you should invest your limited time and budget on as an author and publisher?  

Let’s look at some of the newest first:  

iPad gets kudos for flash and style, but plugging back in for a download of purchases pales next to Kindle’s free worldwide satellite-powered Whispernet service. Sure the iPad may be more of a personal accessory like the iPhone and the iPod before that, but for now it seems less likely to get critical acclaim from readers and current Kindle users. Perhaps its more salient selling point is going to be in terms of style. Who knows, this gadget may evolve into the excuse that makes reading actually cool again with those who previously only played video games and read micro-works via blogs and rapid-fire Tweets. But how soon will the iPad had significant market share or overcome the negative press coverage it has rather unexpectedly garnered?  

The uber-sleek iPad, from Apple

 

Mobipocket(.com) is another less known ebook vendor and format out there. Partnered early on with Amazon (it is actually an Amazon company), you’d think they would have had more sizzle, but the site just never really took off in terms of branding and polished image. Mobipocket works on just about any smartphone or PDA in existence, but as just noted, their marketing is less than forceful. Consequently, your book may not sell on that format for quite a long time if you start “small”. It’s better to go straight for a bigger outlet like Amazon that has already long been engaged with smaller authors and publishers.  

ClickBank(.com) is another such outlet with small overall reach and a somewhat poorly managed affiliate program with too little visibility and energy to effectively create meaningful sales. After selling hundreds of copies in the first 3 months on Amazon Kindle, while trying to figure out the system, ClickBank sells zilch in the same period. Mobipocket didn’t fare that significantly better.  

Kindle DX

The pragmatic Kindle DX

 

After surveying a great many out there, Kindle is the dream format in many respects (especially read from the Kindle DX).  Not only is the site more popular and thus more heavily converting than any other out there, but it works with other vendors to provide more reach. So you can usually find not only your ebook of choice for whatever format you need (Kindle, PC and iPhone or same format smartphone), but you can also take advantage of Amazon’s customer service policies. As a publisher, customer service is handled for you. As an author, you can rest knowing that your readers (the people supporting you) are being taken care of. Everyone is cozy and happy. And best of all, there is room for the competition to rise. Rumor has it that iPad is actually going to pay their publishers a larger take on their works, but is no small thing for a publisher or the self-published author.  

Amazon(.com) is the most visible player in this market, no question. And the reasons are many: books, daily/weekly/monthly newspapers and magazines, specialty blogs and other special online content abound. No matter what you write or publish, Amazon has figured out a way to make it easy to consume and become a fan of, and that’s great news for those who compete with much bigger authors and publishers. While there are numerous other fledgling sites out there trying to become viable, none ultimately compare to the visibility and trust-worthiness of Amazon(.com), or for the reasonableness of their payment terms. While the Amazon cut is considerably high (two thirds!), the sales and visibility are infinitely better. Moreover, the book you purchase on Kindle is selected, purchased and downloaded right from your Kindle at the touch of one button. How can you compete with that? Clearly newer players will arise who will figure out how to add value to that proposition, but for now the playing field is not so level. How can you sell a book that isn’t visible, or on a site that you don’t trust? Some things are about trust. Social media. Who to call your sweetie. Your lunch-break buddy. And, of course, the activity which comes to define the person more than the person: shopping for worthwhile reads.  

But watch out Kindle, iPad is coming on strong with the come on. They may just clean your clock if you let them get a running start. Afterall, a beautiful iPad will attract the attention of the tragically hip and the aesthetically-inclined. A pretty Apple gadget is often the next big conquest for young tech-savvy consumers. And after all, these are the people who brought us the virus-free Mac, the trend-setting iPod, the Mac Air, and the wildly ubiquitous iPhone.  

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