Sunday, 25 November 2012

It's not easy to find time to read everything

There is a huge amount published every week on the internet on the subject of internet marketing, affiliate marketing, using social networks, blogging . . . and the all the paraphernalia of making money online.  Some of what's written is interesting, some is informative, some is both interesting and informative. 

I read a lot of it and, as you'll know if you read this blog regularly, I like to share things that I find helpful.  So about three months ago, I started to compile a weekly newsletter containing twenty of so of the stories and articles that had caught my eye during the past seven days.  I offered it to the people who were already on my list and, three months on, more people are reading it each week.

I haven't advertised it at all but the response I've had to it has now prompted me to mention it here in case any of the readers of this blog would like to subscribe to it.  It's free and all you need to do is click here and then fill in your name and email address on the form and click 'sign up'.

Recent articles have included:
  • 5 easy ideas for increasing blog traffic
  • 7 reasons to join Pinterest for Business
  • A report on the new Facebook purchase tracking tool
  • The secrets behind great business websites
  • Best practices for SEO content writing
  • Making money with social media
  • 6 Insider Secrets to a Winning Affiliate Marketing Program
  • How to Build an Online Business From Scratch
  • 10 reasons for using videos for marketing
  • How to Get Started with Affiliate Marketing on Pinterest
  • 10 ecommerce turn-offs to avoid
  • Why businesses fail online
  • How to make your online branding brilliant
The Sphinx House Newsletter comes out every Monday.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Does Anyone Here Understand the Rules of Twitter?

My Twitter account was just suspended.  Fortunately it's not a big hoo-ha to get it back . . . you just have to tick some boxes saying you'll be a good girl (or boy) in future.  But it's the reason I was suspended that puzzles me.

The page . . . and yes, it is a 'one size fits all' page . . . said I had been suspended because I'd been following aggressively and there had been a large number of reports of my spamming.

Now first of all, I'd like to say I abhore spam.  However, it seems that Twitter's definition of spam is very different from what most of us might understand by that term.  According to Twitter, you are spamming:
  • If you have followed a large amount of users in a short amount of time;
  • If you have followed and unfollowed people in a short time period, particularly by automated means (aggressive follower churn);
  • If you repeatedly follow and unfollow people, whether to build followers or to garner more attention for your profile;
all of which sounds, to me, identical to their definition of 'aggressive following'.  But spamming covers other actions as well - in fact, there's a long list - and one of these is:
  • If your updates consist mainly of links, and not personal updates;
which is also troubling because I do post links in almost all my posts - they're to articles and news items that I think may be interesting or helpful and which, I believe, my followers are following me in order to see.  I hope that what Twitter means is just links without some text saying what it is . . . but it's not clear.

As far as the 'aggressive following is concerned',  my following habits have remained exactly the same for at least the past six or eight months and I've never been suspended before.  I always follow roughly the same number of people each time . . . and only every other day, never ever two days running.  So why now?

And what also puzzles me is who these large number of people who reported me are.  Because a very large proportion of those who I follow, follow me back - usually around 70 to 80 per cent.  And, although I guess quite a number will automatically follow back anyone who follows them, I'd like to think that a lot of those who follow me do so because I post links to interesting articles and news items.

So, yes, I'm quite offended to have had my account suspended for aggressive following and spamming.  Of course, one of the problems is that no one outside Twitter actually knows what aggressive following consists of.  The guidelines say  "if you don’t follow or un-follow hundreds of users in a single day, and you aren’t using automated methods of following users, you should be fine."  (Notice it says 'should' . . . not 'will be'.)  But how many hundreds is 'hundreds'?

One Twitter expert I know used to teach that you could follow up to three hundred a day for three days in a row.  And some bigwig at Twitter had assured him personally that it was OK to do this.  But I know someone who was suspended for following 200 two days in a row and then, once she was reinstated, two days later for following ten!

I find it difficult to understand what Twitter hopes to gain by being so vague.  It would, after all, be quite easy to say "You may not follow more than 200 people once every two days" or something of the sort.  Then we'd all know where we stood.  But, sadly, this seems to be the way things go online these days (if you've read the posts I wrote in January about Google adwords, you'll know what I'm referring to).  And I wonder whether ultimately it's just about power . . . knowing that they have a hold over so many people who are anxiously pussy-footing around, trying not to break rules that haven't been fully explained.  Sadly, we'll never know.

Monday, 12 November 2012

The Value of Stepping Back

I've been away for a week.  During that week I've had some thoughts about the new business I've been working on.  Not that I've been consciously sitting down and thinking about it . . . I was, after all, on holiday . . . but just odd thoughts that came into my mind.

From the physical distance of 100 miles and the much greater mental distance, I was able to take stock of what I was doing.  For the past few months I have been focusing mainly on building up - and maintaining - my list in this new niche.  Using the same techniques over and over again, this has been working well.  But other aspects of the business have been slower to take shape.  For example, I've had very little time to design my website and that's holding up some of the other things I want to do.

From a distance it became quite clear how I can re-assign my time so that the list building continues but I can also start on other aspects of the business.  Having become aware of this, I also became aware of how easy it is to get bogged down in just one part of building a business.  And I could see that it would have been much harder to realise this from within the work, so to speak.

So I have learned a lesson and now, from time to time, I shall allow myself to step back and see how what I have been doing looks from the outside.  Perhaps this is the real secret of successful business - to be able to see the whole picture and to maintain a balance within one's work.  We shall see!