Posts Tagged ‘Web 2.0’

"You should write about this on your blog"

Tuesday, June 3rd, 2008

One of the best ways that I get new ideas for businesses is to listen to what people suggest I should write about on my blog.

The following scene happens all the time. 

wine glassI’m out with friends, having dinner, a couple of glasses of wine. We start talking about something, which leads to something else, which leads to a topic of interest that everyone at the table knows a little bit about – but not enough to be a real authority on the topic. Once that happens, someone usually pulls out an iPhone to look some stuff up. We either find out the answer to the question and it’s incredibly interesting, or we don’t. Either way, someone turns to me and says: ”You should write about this on your blog.”

Sometimes I manage to figure out a way to work the topic into my blog – such as when I wrote about avatars, Web 2.0 and Twitter. But most of the time I don’t because the topics are so random that I can’t immediately figure out a good way to incorporate them – or I don’t have the time to do the research to write an adequate blog post.

And sometimes, when everything comes together perfectly, the topics get turned into ideas for businesses.

Think about it – the ideas that are coming from your friends and family and acquaintances are ideas that are coming straight from your future target audience. And one of the best ways to come up with an idea for a new business is to discover a need and work to fill it. Or to determine an area of widespread interest, and attempt to provide information or a tool or a service to fill in the gap.

Of course, the kernel of the idea isn’t enough substance around which to start a business. And I am certainly not suggesting that anyone should quit their job and start a company after a night out on the town with friends, based on a harebrained scheme cooked up over cocktails. My only point is that if you listen, and filter, you might be able to glean some really good ideas – not only for your blog, but also for your business.

<<As a side note, here is one random thing that someone suggested I write about on my blog, which came up recently during a discussion about the outrageous price of gas. If you look at your dashboard, where the gas gauge is located, there is a small arrow that points to the side of the car that the gas tank is on. No more straining to look in your side mirrors as you pull up to the gas station. Anyone see a business idea here? I didn’t, which is why I picked this one to share. >>

Gas gauge

 Gas gauge 2

Wine glass photo by emdot

Don't sacrifice your blog in the name of productivity

Tuesday, May 20th, 2008

I have been working more than ever lately, but my blog posts have been scarce. This is no accident. But it is a mistake.

A couple of weeks back I wrote this post about productivity on Tuesdays. That realy got me thinking about my own productivity and what days of the week I am able to get work done. The initial inspiration for the post was this one by Penelope Trunk, which suggested, among other things, that if Tuesdays are the most productive day of the week, we should focus more on Wednesdays and Thursdays to try to make those days equally productive.

So I’ve been trying to consciously think about my productivity. And I have hit upon a great way to make myself productive. The past two weeks I have been picking one major (or difficult) item on my to-do list, and working on it the entire day until it’s done. That way, at the end of the week I will be able to cross five major items off my list. Any time that I have left in a given day, I work on the odds-and-ends that are left. Including my blog.

This strategy has worked great for getting those major projects done. (I finished four last week, one was so big that it took two days.) But the problem is, the other stuff – the everyday work – isn’t getting done. As evidenced by the sparse posts to this blog.

GrowingSo this week I am going to try a new tactic. I’m going to schedule only 3 major things to get done this week and see if I can get caught up on the rest of my stuff. Because sacrificing my blog in the name of productivity is a bad idea.

This blog may be fairly insignificant in the scheme of things, but as far as my business goes, it has been essential in ways that I couldn’t imagine.

1. I have gotten consulting jobs because of my blog. Multiple jobs. When I hand out my business card, it has my company Website and my blog URL. People usually go to both. When they read the Pure Incubation site, the first question is usually “What do you do?” Followed by the statement “I don’t get it.” This is understandable because what I’m trying to do is uncommon and unusual, and I am trying to be vague on my site until I launch some products. But people get my blog. And my blog gets me jobs.

2. I am more engaged with the business community because of my blog. I don’t live in Silicon Valley, arguably the heart of the Internet Web 2.0 world that I’m trying to play in. But by blogging, and commenting on other people’s blogs (and have them commenting on mine), I am able to get involved in the conversation in a way that I wouldn’t be able to be involved if I wasn’t saying something. This recent post about women technology start-up founders sparked conversation from lots of interesting folks, including two who I really admire: Sarah Lacy, who released her first book last week: Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0; and Penelope Trunk, who I mention all the time in this blog and who is really my blogging idol, if there is such a thing.

3. My family and friends read my blog. Not everyone I know reads my blog, but the people who do have a better understanding of what I’m doing. I talked to my dad last night, and he told me that he follows what I’m up to with my business through the blog. And my Aunt Mary told me that she feels like she is more connected to me because she reads what I’m up to and thinking about at work. I’m glad that my dad and aunt are reading. When I go home to visit this weekend, they won’t look at me with blank stares when I talk about my business and how things are going. I like that.

4. Blogging helps me be more creative. I love writing, I always have, so the process of coming up with a topic and writing about it helps to get all of my creativity churning. I find that the process of writing a blog post often helps me think of new things to work on for my business, and often helps me discover new business models and stuff that’s out there that I wouldn’t otherwise have found – like Gary Vaynerchuk and Wine Library TV. If you’re not watching, you should be.

5. When I write a blog post, things happen. I’ve noticed this past week that my email from random people has slowed down, my traffic stats are a bit stagnant and I feel generally down about my business. This is a normal feeling for entrepreneurs to have on occassion, but I realize now that posting to my blog helps to lessen this. Because when I blog, I reconnect with my community, get support from the other entrepreneurs out there, and things happen. And it’s that thrill of activity that keeps me going when things get hard with the business, which happens all the time.

It turns out that I learned a bigger lesson this week than just the one on productivity – I realized just how important my blog is to my business. So if you have a blog, keep writing! If you don’t have a blog, go get one today. And then check back in three months to let me know how it changed your business (or life). I know it will.

Photo by Editor B

Social networking in the enterprise will be tough to pull off

Tuesday, April 22nd, 2008

I am a couple of days behind on this story; I am just reading about Forrester Research’s report on the growth of enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies. According to the report:

“Enterprise spending on Web 2.0 technologies will grow strongly over the next five years, reaching $4.6 billion globally by 2013, with social networking, mashups, and RSS capturing the greatest share.”

2.0It’s interesting that social networking is going to be the area of biggest spending for enterprises in the next five years. But this raises a red flag for me. Having worked at big media companies that have the largest technology companies as their clients, I have watched a lot of enterprises (at least in the technology space) try to implement the latest and greatest technologies somewhat unsuccessfully. And I am incredibly skeptical that enterprises are going to be able to successfully implement social networking into their sites.

One of the main factors for social networking to be successful is a big community and affinity – and I’m not sure that the majority of enterprises have the audience to foster a strong social network.

But with that skepticism said, I think that it’s really great that enterprises are going to be trying to implement this stuff. Some of them will undoubtedly be wildly successful, pushing Web 2.0 technologies to get better and bigger and more scalable.

Photo by fffriendly

Rubel's ramblings on Web 2.0 are getting old – and more dramatic (if possible)

Wednesday, November 14th, 2007

I don’t personally know Steve Rubel, but I do read his blog, and enjoy his perspective on things. As a former technology editor, I realize the fine line that PR folks (or people who are senior vice presidents at the world’s largest PR companies) have to walk with journalists, as Rubel experienced first hand when he pissed off Jim Louderback by posting a negative comment about PC Magazine on Twitter earlier this year.

However, I have to say that the recent over-the-top posting by Rubel about the death of Web 2.0 – all stemming from his post that featured the image of a drunk kool-aid guy – is getting out of hand. Not because of the point he is making, but because of the terrible turns of phrase that he is using to stir up drama. Here is a small sampling:

-The Web 2.0 World is Skunk Drunk on Its Own Kool-Aid (10/29)

-Advertisers, Only You Can Save Web 2.0 (10/31)

-Five Simple Sobriety Steps for Web 2.0 Kool Aid Boozers (11/5)

-Help Wanted: Warm Bodies That Can Spell Web 2.0 (11/13)

It was this last post that pushed me over the edge. Not because of the point he was making or even the title. But because of this quote:

“I will leave this to you to decide if this is a sign of a bubble or not. However, on the surface, it all looks very reminiscent of a bygone era. To quote Prince, ‘Tonight we’re going to party like it’s 1999.’ “

I can’t believe he pulled out Prince.

One thing I do have to say, though – hire Rubel to do your company’s PR. He’s clearly demonstrated a talent for finding a successful angle and going with it. These posts have been incredibly popular.

The death of domain name speculation

Thursday, September 20th, 2007

There will be a point when domain name speculation as we know it will end. In its wake will remain a number of big guys – the folks like Kevin Ham and Frank Schilling who today own multi-million dollar domain portfolios and are growing their inventory daily. These guys and those like them have the money, development resources, years of experience and flexibility to adapt and change and bend with the changes of the search market and the Internet, so they will be the survivors.

Right now, much of the money with domain name speculation is made by hosting a “parked” page on every domain in the inventory – the speculators then make money on all the traffic that goes to those pages through pay-per click (PPC) advertising. Some of that traffic is accidental, some of it because people utilized “direct navigation,” typing URLs directly into the search bar. But what happens down the road when the search engines get even smarter? What happens when Google and Yahoo are able to correct misspellings on the fly? Or when consumers get savvier and learn to not click on the ads that clutter the parked pages? What happens if Google discontinues its AdSense for domains program ?  Or if a new search engine emerges that completely changes the way that search happens?

What will the new world look like? New business models are already emerging, but most of what is “new” is based on the tried-and-true media/publishing model. Richard Rosenblatt is taking his vast network of domains and turning each of them into a Web 2.0 site with user-generated “how to” contentHam’s company, Reinvent Technology, has a mission “to transform our direct navigation business into a cutting edge media company by leveraging new technology, innovative ideas, and intellectual capital.” In 2005, venture company Highland Capital Partners bought YesDirect, a holding company with 600,000 domain names. It has since launched turned that company into NameMedia, which features a product called Direct Search that turns domain names such as www.photography.com into an online community, employing an “editorial model” to create a “compelling user experience.” They also hired Kelly Conlin, former president and CEO of IDG – a media company.

As John Andrews put it in his blog, “The next wave of the competitive Internet has arrrived, and it’s driven by the Domainers. No, not parked pages, and no, not typo squatters. Domainers as publishers.”

And in case you don’t believe him, Schilling points to this post and agrees. But instead of considering this a commentary on how the domain name industry is changing, he calls the trend the “potential/catalyst to change publishing.”

 

~ Today’s view:  http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1412989830/

The difficulty of finding a good domain name

Monday, September 17th, 2007

It wasn’t long ago that registering a domain name was relatively easy. In 2002, I helped found a start-up company that built a network of B2B Web sites focused on niche IT topics. At the time, we registered approximately 100 domain names with the letters “IQ” at the end – GraphicsIQ, DocumentIQ, etc. – and it was a straightforward process to buy and compile the entire network of domain names. Very rarely would I do a DNS lookup and find that one of the domains was not available.

Things have changed. I’m in the process of launching another new company, and in trying to name the different pieces (the company, my blog) it’s been difficult to find domain names to match. MSNBC has an article that provides some good background on why the current domain name market is so tough for someone who wants to register a domain name. For instance, at the end of first quarter 2007, at least 128 million domain names had been registered worldwide, a 31% increase over the previous year. The buying and selling of domain names is currently a $2 billion industry, and it’s predicted to hit $4 billion by 2010. This is a market that’s growing quickly. And it’s making a lot of people money.

In fact, the Internet domain name business has proven to be incredibly profitable. I loved this article about Kevin Ham. Especially interesting was the story of how he made a deal with the government of Cameroon to reap a profit from all the domain names that end in .cm, the country code for Cameroon. The result of his deal is that anytime someone mistypes a Web address and omits the letter o, Kevin Ham makes money. (This domain name glitch has reportedly been resolved, but I’m not so sure – I just typed in a .cm domain name using IE, it appeared that I was taken to one of the Ham sites.)

The growth of the domain name market and the ability to make significant amounts of money trading in domain names is only one factor that has made it difficult to find a domain name. But one result of the struggle is the Web 2.0 company name phenomena, where, as one blog writer put it, You’ve got to be hip, trendy, cutting-edge. In short, you’ve got to come up with a word that makes no sense to anybody, anywhere. Like Jookster, Meebo, or Squidoo.” Just take a look at the company directory on TechCrunch to see this in action. In one small section of “companies that begin with the letter s” the following companies are listed, all in a row: Scanr, scanscout, sclipo, scooplive, scoopt, Scouta.

And this brings me back around to my dilemma – trying to come up with a company name that also had a domain name that wasn’t yet registered. I got lucky – PureIncubation.com was available. And after quite a bit of deliberation, I hit upon 16thletter.com for my blog. Another stroke of luck – sixteenthletter.com was also available.

 

~  View from today’s blog post:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/13799608@N08/1398574773/