How to pick Plugins to enhance your blog

After about one month it’s time for me to think this whole blog through and how I can improve it during the next months. I really like the simplicity of this design and I went for a very small sidebar by choice. I was so sick of everyone having a huge sidebar saying nothing at all, but somehow I think a wider sidebar could be useful, or a bigger header. I haven’t decided on this one yet. Anyways sidebar blindness is one of those things that I hate, don’t make your sidebar a trashcan, make it useful for the visitor!

Determine what I need

Actually there is not a lot that I want to add right now, which was a big surprise when I thought about writing this post. Let’s first start off with things I am not going to incorporate into my site and why!

  • At the moment I am not looking to get a lot of advertisement spots, but maybe I should plan ahead and leave myself the possibility to add some of those mighty funny 125*125 buttons, which I think are pretty useless. There are better forms of advertisement, that will probably work better for both sides. Let’s be honest, who clicks on those ads?
  • A top commentators widget won’t appear on my sidebar as well. To be honest, this site has a pagerank of 0, happens to all of us when we start out. Yes that’s right, so far the pagerank strikes at that amazing figure that my income was last monthZERO. The more annoying part with a top commentators widget is that you have to fight spam comments like no good once you hit a pagerank of 2. There are far better ways reward people for comments, and to be honest, do you really want to make people comment for that? I prefere unique and useful comments over some useless guys hunting comments to up their own pagerank.
  • Follow comments via mail & comment luv, I am not sure if I want to integrated those, and as I am not sure I will stay away from them until I made up my mind if I really like those things or not.

Those two things were on my mind when I started out, but I am glad I did not ad both of them.

After a few weeks of writing, there are things that I’d like to add.

  • First of all I really want to put my best content forward. There are great post, for example when I compared word of mouth with viral marketing, but then there are simple posts telling people to join twitter and adding me. So I really would love to add some sort of featured posts with a short extract on the front page or in the sidebar.
  • After writing quite a few articles it might be smart to add some more stuff at the end of every single page. For example an invitation to subscribe to my feed, similar posts that might be of interest and stuff like that. Besides the actual usefulness for the readers it would be beneficial from a SEO point of view as it would be good for the interlinking of my page.
  • Some sort of advertisement that is a direct fit for this page. I have no idea how to do that yet, but I’d really like to add some space on this blog that offers an unique advertisement space to sponsors. As I am a firm believer that 125*125 ads don’t offer a lot value, I really think there are better ways of visual advertisements. This is something that can’t be fixed with a plug-in that easy though.

Making it happen

Actually those points are just tiny tweaks, and once I have a bit of time at my hands I will just fix it this weekend. Adding a few plug-ins to increase the usability might take some time, but it’s one of those investments that will show instant gratification.

Staying away from clutter

My main point of improving a blog is that I don’t want it to be cluttered. It should be easy to find everything you are looking for, neither do I want a sidebar that loads longer than the rest of my content. The nice part is that I am really happy with my design right now. It is exactly what I want right now and I will work on it within the next months. Sometimes it’s far better to just start out and get something going than to wait for that perfect spot. So, don’t wait to create that perfect design, blog or whatever and just get going. You will get there along the way.

Viral Marketing vs Word of Mouth

Viral Marketing, a brief history

Viral Marketing is pretty cool, it pretty much started with the web and fake advertisements where people thought that something was cool, even though it was more or less just a way to put out the word. Sure there have been campaigns like the campaign of the united colors, that were really controversial and spread like a virus, but it’s nothing compared to a real viral marketing campaign that takes off online. Simple said, you are spreading an idea to a massive community, but what is it worth after all? I think Viral Marketing is a great way to kick-start your business, you will get plenty of viewers and a lot of those will stick to your site, you will even make people aware of your brand, but what do you do after the initial start? There is so much Viral Marketing these days that the people seem to be immunized to it. Look at it, send it to friends and forget it, unless it’s a real killer.

Word of Mouth, a brief history

Word of Mouth exists for ages. Just think of Romans recommending that public bath to someone else. It’s marketing and selling made easy, as it spreads the word within a smaller, but far more targeted group. You deliver a service or product that is helpful and people start talkin to it to their friends. People might even ask for such a service, as it is far more helpful than some random Virus you might catch. Usually the circles of this are far smaller, but sustain.
These thoughts open the stage for an interesting fight…

What do you have to offer?

What do you have to offer? Are you someone like me, who is just starting out in the bitter need of any advertisement he can get? Or are you a settled brand that wants to revive the company. Do you want more sales or brand recognition over someone else? Let’s think of viral marketing first, you really want a spike of traffic, you want to get the word out as you are relatively new to this whole game of the online world.
Here are some ways to viral market your website:

  • Writing popular lists that people send their friends.
  • Creating a test where the results can be copied and pasted into a blog easily with a link to your site.
  • Hitting the front page of Digg.
  • Creating a really cool graphic that illustrates a popular topic.
  • Create video that loads of people watch and connect it with your franchise.

There are a few things that will help you to make your campaign a success, make it easy to share, make sure that you have a few people who help you to jump-start it and pick a service that will be available in case you really make it big.

Word of Mouth is actually a lot simpler. Here are a few tips that will help you to get people started recommending your website and service. It’s a longer process and will usually build momentum over time.

  • Write tutorials on things people need. Graphics, programming, web-design… whatever fits your profession.
  • Offer small things for free, such as a wordpress theme, some graphics, desktop wallpaper, a few texture photos…
  • Write an ebook and give it away for free when people sign up for your service.
  • Build a forum where people can share their experiences concerning the niche you are in.
  • Build a small community to connect with people in the same niche.
  • Write a guide on how you are making your living in case you have a fun way to earn your money. Loads of people hate their jobs and look for a way out.

Case Studies & examples

Actually it is pretty easy with the Internet available, just think of something like the Hamster on a Piano, it’s irresistible for people to watch it. The best viral marketing campaigns are a result of an online and offline effort. When you create something that people can talk about with their real life friends, you have won the whole game. The greatest campaign of the last years from my point of view has been Improv Everywhere, a group of performance artist “causing scenes”. Don’t know them yet? Here is one of their video’s.

Now this is what I call successful Viral Marketing, this group of artists got people from all around the globe to form their own Flash Mob groups and create events similar to their concept, causing scenes all over the world. How did they succeed with this?

  • Viral Marketing Online, they could easily publish their idea’s that were loved by a large audience.
  • People talked about it to their friends, spreading the word, thinking about ways to do this at home.
  • The oldschool media picked it up, and it even hit the television screens.
  • The people who talked about it with their friends created groups of their own and started events on the whole wide world.

Another great example for primary word of mouth advertisement is the whole franchise of envato. Those guys really pulled one great stunt from going with psd tuts all the way to where they are now. Those guys did not pull off one of those great viral marketing stunts, at least not that I know, and managed to build their whole empire around word of mouth strategy. Sure they will probably make some sort of advertisement, but that’s the nature of the beast. Just watch the traffic charts in Collis great breakdown of the traffic to psdtuts and be amazed how giving will result in a growing traffic.
Psdtuts is about:

  • Photoshop
  • Great Tutorials about Photoshop that people try themselves.
  • Interviews with Photoshop Artists, so it’s related to their community and gives insight to professionals.
  • They help the help people within every skill range.
  • They offer a monthly roundup of the best of the web sharing other great tutorials, interviews and free stuff with their community.
  • There is a membership system that will allow you to access a few more features making it something like a magazine.

You can see how their marketing strategy of delivering useful content lead to a constant stream of traffic growing over the time. There might be spikes, but those spikes are what happens when there is the occasional viral marketing when a site hits digg, and guess what, those spikes back down, they don’t last forever. Their goal, as with the membership system, is a constant growth. They don’t need to pull of marketing stunts as most of their tutorials and articles turn out to be tiny viral marketing themselves.
The more content they created, the more popular the whole site became through recommendations within the community, people sharing great tutorial and writing round ups of the web that people care about. As you can see in his article this strategy will lead to some serious, sustainable traffic.


What can you learn from this? The Internet is powerful. But compare the viral marketing efforts of improv everywhere with the hamster on a piano, which efforts do you think will last longer? Not to speak of the extremely useful Psdtuts. Success comes from sharing, investing and moreover people wanting to become a part of what you are doing. People who think that viral marketing and simple advertisement still works best are utterly wrong, if you want to build your brand make sure people want to be part of it. The more they can related to what you are doing, the more they will be willing to share with you.

Why should you use twitter?

I have absolutly no clue why, as it is pretty much a real time killer and a waste of time, but in case you use some handy twitter client such as twirl, it feels like one of those sexy instant messangers from back in the days. Just public. So kinda stripped and naked, and even though I am no nudist, twitter can be pretty cool.

Overall I recommend it, even though I thought I’d never say that, as I just tested it through, which is boring and annoying. But twirl, yeah that’s cool and you can follow some interesting people everywhere! Just follow me and listen to my nonsense. Come on let’s have some fun, twitterin in the morning sun. Damn I soooo need the ocean…

The Soundtrack to Creativity

Music is extremely important to me, no matter where I go I always carry something to listen to music, ever since the days when I had a Walkman.
I always hated listening to the radio, as it forced me to listen to music that I did not handpick myself, and most often simply hated. This habit stayed with me all the years since my childhood. My taste in music might have changed every now and then, still there is different music for different occasions.

Finding inspiration through Music

I guess we all listen to music, but some people use it just for entertainment, others use it as a supplement for their work-flow. Music is a source of inspiration and power, you just have to watch Rocky, how his training is underlined by the music, and how you want to hit the gym yourself. Now let’s take this to our desk! Music touches our emotions, makes us happy or sad, energizes, takes pain away, moves your hips, makes you want to dance, relaxes strained nerves. It’s such a powerful tool and so many people just treat it as something in the background that is running all the time. Elevator music is greeting.

My Soundtrack to Inspiration

For different occasions I prefer different kind of music, I am not one of those I only listen to one single genre, my taste varies from Jazz to Hiphop, Rock, Soul, Metal, Reggae or ska and sometimes even classic. Even though I like a lot of different stuff, there is plenty of music I dislike, even hate! The question is not what I like, it’s what is working for me when I am working?

  • First of all, no lyrics! Lyrics are a pain in the ass when you want to concentrate on a something.
  • High on energy, smooth music.
  • Low on energy, I need fast music.

Thinking about this, actually my mood drives my music completely. I know a few people who can only work when they listen to speed or death metal, that’s not working for me. Sometimes I am plain irritated by the music or the music drives me away from my work and I don’t even recognize it. It’s always great to monitor yourself and see what is working. Right now, after hitting the weights pretty hard and having an intense workout I really need some music that drives my energy, so I am listening to good old power metal, which is usually a no go for working as it contains lyrics and can be very distracting, but it is working for me right now!

What’s your soundtrack of life?

Do you have music you listen to special music when you are working? Did you ever monitor yourself, or do you just turn on the radio? Do you have other rituals to increase your work-flow that involve your senses such as sound or smell? Working and productivity is not only about a clean and uncluttered workspace, there are far more subtle things that can increase your creative output. I even watched an interview with a popular writer, whose name I forgot :D, but who is listening to some sort of white noise to shut of the world surrounding him.

13 ways to a popular blog

A blog is an outlet for your voice, want to be popular? Go for a blog. A few examples what you can write about…

  1. Tell other people how to blog, even if your blog is just 5 hours old.

  2. Write Tutorials about photoshop, or even better get people to write for you for 50$.

  3. Write about politics, the Internet is no pub.

  4. Write about celebrities, as you are none yet and no one wants to read about you.

  5. Write how you make money online, even if you don’t.

  6. Tell others how great affiliate marketing is, even if you don’t know how to sell

  7. Give others the chance to showcase their skills when you don’t have skills yourself.

  8. Write about how you can write better with an F in creative writing.

  9. Write about cars, even if you don’t have your drivers license.

  10. Write cute and nifty lists with at least 25 items so you turn into a social media rockstar.

  11. Create a blog where you list everything for free, most people are cheapstakes nowadays.

  12. Create a blog where people can list their contests, people love to talk about themselves.

  13. Create a cool application where you can upload your picture and alter it, people love to change and show it to their friends.

The Conclusion

This list shows one thing, it does not matter what you know, it’s all about what people want and what you can give them. Don’t be intimidated to write about something you care about, in case you don’t have the uber skillz yet, you can develop them on the way. Just get something started, thinking about it won’t bring you any further.

You have to shave your head to be creative!

Seriously, shaving your head will give you a whole new perspective on life. Back in the days going bald was a curse for most people; nobody wanted to lose his hair. Actually losing your hear can fuel your creative spirits; it’s all a matter of perspective. Transfer your weakness into strength

Shaving your head will save you time that you can invest into your projects.
Shaving your head will save you cost and is the uber green haircut you can get. Less water, shampoo and you don’t need a hairdryer. Being cost effective is very important for a freelancer.
Shaving your head will make you aerodynamic… you will be faster than your competition.
Shaving your head shows you have style. You don’t need to be fancy; you know the power of simplicity.
Shaving your head is a classic since Yul Brunner and Kojak.
Shaving your head will make you look sharper and edgier, everyone think that you have a lot more potential.

This post is not just for everybody who is losing his hair, it’s a simple example how you can learn to transform your weakness into strength! This is especially important for someone working in the creative industry. There will always be people who are different, can do stuff better, have a cooler style or whatever our wicked mind can make up to make us feel bad.

You don’t have to care about others! Just learn to accept your set of skills and as long as you make your weakness your strength the sky is the limit.

100 Things I did not earn a fortune with – Affiliate marketing

This is probably my fault; affiliate marketing is one of the highest paying jobs you can have online, besides creating your own multi million dollar empire with a social media platform or gadget blog. I can only blame me that I did not jump onto this wagon, but actually I think it is one of the worst jobs around in case you do this fulltime. At least from my point of view.

Personally I hate to endorse or sell products that I don’t believe in, and that’s where a lot of people make the money. Ringtones for kids, some fad diet pill or promoting some whack financial products. Loads of niches are saturated, and other niches are just not profitable.
There are a lot of other things to promote as well, but to be honest it’s pretty much like online poker, a numbers game and mundane. Besides you always have to ask yourself if you are making the right decision in promoting other items when you are a creative, at the end of the day there are the people who create and sell the product and make even more than the affiliate.

False Promises

I don’t get all the bloggers who want to jump on the affiliate wagon just right now. Somehow people were told that they can make money blogging, but now they understand that it takes more than a blog to earn a living. It seems like they just jump on another wagon where someone promises them the golden cash cow. Affiliate marketing is no easy road to take, neither is it the most fun way to earn money. Create a landing page, write a text that creates leads and try to get people to buy/sign up for something. I guess it can be fun, but more as an add on. You do something and have the opportunity to sell something that fits your business. Creating something around the products of someone else is nothing that I aspire to do.

The creative way to affiliate marketing

In case you want to be a real winner you should create your own affiliate products that sell like mad. Gomedia is a good example of creative and good ways to use affiliate marketing for their vector packs. They create useful items for designer and sell them, yes it is that simple. In case you promote these products you get a share of the sale. It’s a win-win situation for both sides.
There are dozens of ways to create your own affiliate product eBooks, membership systems, software… whatever, and use other people to promote it. That’s the power. Affiliate marketers think they are making a lot money, but actually it’s the company selling their product that saves a lot money. Back in the days you had to spend loads of cash on advertisement where you could not be sure that people buy your product. Now you have other people taking care of promoting your product for free AND you are lucky enough that those people ONLY get money when you actually sell something.

The advantages of affiliate marketing

  • It’s easy
  • You can make a lot money
  • Everyone can do it
  • You don’t need a lot of money for SEO marketing
  • You don’t need a lot of time for PPC marketing
  • There are so many affiliate networks you just have to pick one
  • There are a lot of resources about it for people who just start out
  • *irony on* All bloggers do it so it has to be cool *irony off*
  • You can create a blog about affiliate marketing and get people to sign up for affiliate networks even if you suck at affiliate marketing

The disadvantages of affiliate marketing

  • You need money to get traffic for PPC
  • You need time to get traffic through SEO
  • You can waste a lot of time with offers that don’t convert
  • You can be ripped off your leads
  • You might lose your credibility in case you promote “shady” products
  • You have to find affiliate networks where you have a) a good affiliate agent and b) who you can trust that they track your leads correctly
  • It’s boring if you do it fulltime (at least for me)

Money making potential

The sky is the limit. People can make a real good living with selling other people’s products. So this is one of the few money making opportunities where I give a money making potential of 10/10. If you do this right, it can be a lot fun, but you should not do it like everybody advertises these days.
Don’t be someone who sells other peoples stuff, be a big guys who creates his own products being sold by other people. In case you have a killer product you put time into that and when you are finished there will be a few hundred other people who will promote your product.
You might make a few thousand $ per month with affiliate marketing, but imagine you mange to get a few other people to sell your products for a few thousand $ winnings each month. Just for a share of your profit! Your goal is to make someone else a winner. Create a few hundred winners and you will be pretty well off.