If you’re a reader of Free Tech 4 Teachers you’ll see that quite frequently that people leaving comments are those that are trying to spread the word about their product which competes with the one I just reviewed. It happens like this, I review website “Z” and say what it does and how I think it could be used in education. Then someone leaves a comment to the effet of “have you seen my website? It does the same thing only better.” Since I leave comments open and unmoderated accept for profanity, I’m kind of inviting that type of comment to appear occasionally. But, even if your service is awesome, I’m probably not going to review it anytime soon, because it makes me look like I’ll write about any website I hear about.
Here’s a better way to get your website reviewed on Free Tech 4 Teachers or any blog for that matter. Send me a personalized email about your website. Use a subject line that I’ll notice among the 100+ emails I get every day. Use my first name, Richard, because that shows that you’ve actually taken a little time to scroll down to my profile. Usually that alone is enough to get my attention. If your website is still in Beta, please include a beta invite. Those two things will usually get your website a serious look, although I’m not promising it will appear on my blog. Finally, a short video demonstration can make all the difference.
Here’s a great example of a company that I consistently publish updates about. Zoho has sent me personalized emails every time I write a review of their service or mention their service. In fact they even commented on a blog post I wrote about cloud computing in which I only casually mentioned Zoho.
Allen Stern is a blogger I’ve never met, but I’d like to some day. Today he shared a story of a woman in Minnesotta who saved her cookie business through blogging. Read Allen’s article here.
The end of Allen’s article is about building a company blog for more than just having another PR outlet. Allen advocates for building trust and loyalty through offering real, honest thoughts to current customer, but more importantly to those people who aren’t customers. Why offer something of value to non-customers? Because they could become your most valuable customers.
My favorite outdoors gear outfitter is Aardvark Outfitters in Farmington, Maine. Aardvark’s my favorite not because they have great gear, but because every person walking in and, more importantly, out the door is thanked for stopping in regardless of whether or not they bought anything. When I was broke in college, I’d stop in there and they’d offer all kinds of free advice and information knowing full-well that I probably wouldn’t be buying anything more than a couple of fishing flies at best. Ten years later, I have some disposable income to spend on outdoors gear and I go out of my way to purchase things at Aardvark.
I just read a great list of do’s and don’ts for start-up companies. The blog post was focused on web start-ups, but many of the ideas apply to brick and mortar businesses too. The theme of the blog post was that the masses will not adopt your new service/product if it costs them money. The problem is people won’t pay for something later on that they previously used for free. Case in point, I had a beta key for a great screencasting product that I used for months. Once the service left beta they wanted everyone, including the early beta testers, to pay for the service. Needless to say, I wasn’t willing to pay and moved on to an alternative free product.
If you’re starting a business on the web and your revenue model is based on users paying for your service, go with that from your first public day. If you’re revenue model is based on advertising you better hope for a lot of adopters and market the heck out of your service by giving away free things like badges and widgets or even stickers to your end users in addition to the service. Why should you do this? Because it makes your early adopters and users feel like they’re a part of something new and exciting.
Very few bloggers make money from blogging. Most make their money from something else related to their blog. My uncle is a very successful marketer who blogs and hosts a website not to make money, but to promote his services and his clients. His money is made offline in part because he gives away so much great information online.
If I was really serious about making my blog to grow, I’d spend more time generating a widget, a badge, or perhaps a visitor map to distribute. The target audience for my blog is small to begin with so from a time v. benefit perspective it’s not something I’m rushing to do. I’m also not trying to sell anything or make money directly or indirectly from blogging. I blog because I enjoy it and it provides a service to other teachers.
This micro blog grew out of my blogging on Free Tech 4 Teachers. Blogging and reading about new media and marketing sparks a lot of thoughts that don’t exactly fit with the mission and purpose of Free Tech 4 Teachers. This micro blog is where I plan to share the ideas and thoughts I have regarding new media, marketing, and blogging.
If you’re interested in my other day-to-day or hour-to-hour thoughts then please follow me on Twitter.