Friday, February 19, 2010

On writing...

A new friend and contact has been helping me with some creative choices regarding getting back to what we'll call "writing" versus writing. Not writing for web, press releases, PR and marketing strategy documents or business plans, but "writing" something that hopefully gets bound in book form, or digitized for kindle, iPad or (insert latest-and-greatest digital reader here) consumption.

At the end of the day this is, of course, a very personal, as well as practical choice, but this overview/article she sent me from The Rumpus provided an interesting take on a career as a working writer (in the US):

"First, you write three books. Write them in the mornings and on days off.
Publish the first one for free and sell the other two to a small press for
$36,000, or $18,000 each. After that, or really at about the same
time, get a fellowship to Stanford. This is crucial because it's
probably when you quit your job. That gives you two more years at
$27,000 a year, and the time to write a fourth book. You don't get
anything for the fourth book, at least not right away, in fact they
keep the first $2,000 in royalties. But a year later you make about
$20,000 in foreign rights. Your biggest score is the $50,000 you'll
get for the political book you'll write in less than ten months. This
is your fifth book. Every working writer does this. The only problem
is the hotel rooms and the flights, so you only make about $20,000 on
that and it really sells poorly. Then you get $30,000 for a year of
teaching and $10,000 the next year running a political action
committee + $2,000 for a short collection of erotica. Then comes the
year every writer has where they don't make anything. It's like an
unpaid sabbatical. It's possible to make $10,000 during that time
editing an anthology, if you can get out of bed. Then you can work on
a memoir or seek a position teaching writing in a University."

Damn. It sounded so good in my head...

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

SEO in 2010

Why do you need an SEO strategy? Seems pretty simple, these days, but it's not just high rankings and sales, it's reputation/credibility, marketing and PR (which, yes, relate to sales, but not in a typical or strict advertising model or sense).

Even with the best business model, an incredible team backing you up, and the ‘best’ website, people still need to find you. Once you get them to your site, you need to make sure they convert into... whatever your goal or objective is. Lead, sales, member, user, fan, contributor, etc.

What is it? It is a well-defined action plan that is based on clear, reasonable objectives. The best SEO strategy is the one you can execute and deliver on.

Now this is all pretty generic. Getting more specific and timely, I had a good read from Smartcompany in Australia:

SEO experts say the process of getting a website known will become even harder in 2010 with the rise of personalised and real-time search.

Social network Twitter sparked a trend when it designed the first popular real-time search engine. When users search for a term, the site would update that search with new “tweets” as they were being made.

Google has recently introduced a real-time search function of its own, complete with indexed tweets, while Microsoft Bing has made a deal to show tweets in search results. But Thomas says while 2010 will see a rise in real-time search traffic, businesses shouldn’t be too keen to pursue a dedicated real-time search strategy.

“I think people are still trying to figure out what to do with it. Perhaps if there’s a trending topic, such as Copenhagen or climate change, that’s where we could see real-time do some work because there’s an opportunity for someone selling solar panels to come in, using a message like “stop climate change” via solar panels or something. There is some real potential there.”

“This is where it could go, but it’s such an active industry, with optimisation and SEO changing. But I always say to our clients, stick to your knitting and don’t do anything silly.”

Jim Stewart, chief executive of Stewart Media, says real-time search will continue to grow but businesses need to be aware of the more subtle changes Google is making to its search algorithms.

“All of the normal SEO things still apply, even though Google is going forward with things like personalised search. That will surely play a part, but you still have to get on the front page at all before you get into someone’s personal search results.”

Stewart warns Google will be updating its speed-check feature, through which the engine checks how fast it takes for a user to connect to a website. If a business has any downtime, it could affect search rankings.

But Stewart also says Google could potentially lose its place as the top search engine, as users could migrate to other offerings or be wary of the company’s search power.

“I don’t believe the search engine is providing as relevant results as it did this time last year. I’m sure they know it, but it doesn’t seem to be working as well. I’d also love to think that people will begin to start using Bing more and more, but it has to become a better search engine before that happens.”

“The other thing is privacy. A lot of people already are pretty wary of Google and privacy issues, even to the point where Eric Schmidt said if you’re doing something on the web you don’t want people to know, then maybe you shouldn’t be doing it.”

Just some food for thought, and as I digest I'll provide some more insight, for what it's worth.

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