Saturday, April 19, 2008

Getting 100 True Followers, Fans, Members

Kevin Kelly talked about creators (authors, artists, performers, among others) needing to have 1,000 True Fans in order to make a living. That made me think a lot from the aspect of manageability especially for "creators".

Quality versus quantity
In my case, instead of 1000, I always strive to have 100 members goal in everything I get into. This includes my e-commerce community, blog network, students, among others Programs evolved because of changing needs of that 100. Perhaps that figure was also influenced by the Long Tail.

I guess my conviction with that small number is being able to give time and reply to concerns as necessary. I've joined paid membership programs and whenever I don't get a response to an inquiry or concern, I eventually give up. The feeling of being ignored is something I learned a paid member doesn't like. This reminds me of a topic in Malcolm Gladwell's Blink where patients who sued their doctors were more for the reason of being disregarded or the lack of empathy, rather than incompetence.

How to get 100 True Followers, Fans, Members?
There are several ways I've approached this such as:
  • Deliberately plugging and invite people to join through a mailing list, social media, or those who opted-in at the club site.
  • Time has to be invested in terms of continuously developing what you have to offer. If the product or service that you came up with is needed and of value, prospective new members naturally comes. Constantly finding out what people need is important.
  • Campaigns are only step-up when there is something new or of value being offered. Otherwise, time is spent on product development.
Can having 100 True Followers, Fans, Members be profitable?
It depends on your business model. In my case:
  • Earning from membership fees.
  • Referral of new members and clients.
  • Short-term consulting work to fulfill a need.
  • Outsource within the community to avail of reasonable pricing.
The combination of the above was enough to make the whole community well worth it where there is a give-and-take relationship combined. This is the path where I have settled.


Related post:

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

When Edward De Bono Contradicts De Bono


With its restricted dissemination, I somehow feel that Edward De Bono contradicted himself with the book The De Bono Code. (01/6) The book is all about using number or codes to impart a thought or intention to avoid misinterpretation. I agree with the premise that language, although it has allowed us to communicate with each other, has also become a barrier as there are situations where we have different understanding. Hence, description is not perception.

I feel that with the emergence of 140 character message services, like Twitter, using the De Bono Code can help us in communicating with each other. But alas, despite what I know, I can't share the code and promote its use as license is required.

I hope that if Edward De Bono really wants the code to grow, it should be opened and shared (02/2). With that, it may spark further interest to the code and lead to widespread use. Else, there's no incentive for avid followers like me to remember and use when it can hardly be used to communicate with others as there's not much would know. Else, it will just become an elitist language.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

FOCUS is needed to Influence

B. Kim Barnes, author of the book "Exercising Influence," said that to become an effective influencer, one must have FOCUS.
  • Flexible
    • Be open to alternative means for as long as the outcome goal shall be achieved.
    • For example, this may include working with other groups, foster shared ownership, in order to achieve the goal.

  • Observable
    • Design in a way that you can see whether you are nearly achieving the goal or not, then adjust.
    • Have a clear target that you can control like achieving a revenue target or target number of members.

  • Courageous
    • It must be optimistic, with a degree of success or failure risk, to make the effort worthwhile.
    • Be ambitious in order to make it worthwhile, whether you succeed or fail.

  • Useful
    • Achieve longer term important results, not short term ego needs.

  • Supportive
    • Influence activities must be aligned with big picture goals.
Related post:

Friday, April 11, 2008

13 Tactics to Influence People

B. Kim Barnes, author of the book "Exercising Influence," said that there are thirteen tactics to influence people: tell, sell, negotiate, enlist, inquire, listen, attune, and facilitate. When our authority to do such is not established, we can also influence indirectly through other individuals, being part of a group, debate, disengaging, and humor.

However, influence is a two-way street and one must be both expressive and receptive at the same time. A one-sided influence is not sustainable. Those who fail to give back will lose their influence in the long run.

The first four are under expressive influence. This is when we voice out our ideas and energy to others. This includes:

1. Tell
- "Let's review every Friday until we complete the sponsors line-up." (suggest)

- "I need your outline for the book by Monday." (express needs)

2. Sell
- "That way, we can meet the sponsors cut-off date." (offer reasons)

- "With both of us working on it, we should be able to get the book concept reviewed by the publisher for approval." (refer to shared values or goals)

3. Negotiate
- "If you extend the deadline for another month, I could get 5 case studies that we can use as a bonus material." (offer incentives)

- "If you don't finish that by Sunday, the book won't be released on April 26." (describe consequences)

4. Enlist
- "I can see this election blogging project as a demonstration of citizen journalism." (envision)

- "You are the kind of person who can make government officials take bloggers seriously. You have the authority to make them listen to you." (encourage)

The next four are under receptive influence. This is when we invite ideas and stimulate action. This includes:

5. Inquire
- "What kind of online training programs will interest you?" (asking open-ended questions)

- "You said that charter change is an important issue in the next election. Tell me more about that." (draw out)

6. Listen
- "So from your point of view, the trainer has no experience in running a paid membership site that makes you uncomfortable with the whole thing." (check understanding)

- "I'm getting the impression that you detest the idea." (test implications)

7. Attune
- "If I were you, I will be concerned on how will this affect your business." (identify with other)

- "I did not take this seriously the last time we discussed this." (disclose)

8. Facilitate
- "It seems you are just continuing that project out of concern as no one else will pick up the ball." (clarify issues)

- "What would it take for you to sponsor this bill?" (pose challenging questions)

When our authority or personality to influence is not yet established, there are still means to do it indirectly such as:

9. Through other individuals
- Get a person who is in a better position to influence. They may not be as knowledgeable but they have the authority to bring the issue forward.

- "The industry needs a trusted champion who can lead this effort. We'll do the necessary back staff work to get you covered until the end."

10. Be part of a group
- Make a personal cause to a group cause especially if it has a widespread impact. This could be by joining an existing group or by forming one.

11. Debate
- Intended to influence the audience of an issue more rather than the person who pushes a specific position. For example, an unchallenged group is pushing for charter change. With no direct influence, you can put out a position to spark a debate. The audience will be the one to judge the winners of the debate.

12. Disengage
- Rather than go head-on about a particular issue, use time to further understand the concerns at hand and not immediately come to a position. Influence can still be exerted through other individuals and to the party directly.

13. Humor (joke, art, stories)
- Directed at a force or third party, but not sarcastic. There are cartoonists, artist, and authors who have done well in this field.

Related post:

Challenges in running a paid membership site

Running a paid membership site can be quite challenging as you have to regularly produce good content, worthwhile programs, and keep your members happy. There is also the concern of expanding into new markets where your brand identity can limit your potential.


Last December 2004, I wrote a column piece sharing my thoughts on building and breaking brands based on personal experience.

Now, almost four years later, I am in this situation again with the DigitalFilipino.com Club. The above image is what the club is all about today. Some areas are not fully formed yet.
  • Research - when the club was first marketed in December 2003, I was gradually giving one research report per month as an incentive to join.



(Interviewed Reggie Bundang of RegaloService about online Christmas sales in 2007)
  • Training
    • Online Training
      • Podcast / Video - whenever I get the chance to meet with members, I explore having a video interviewing them (example above and blogger series). This in addition to my experiments in coming up with video/audio lectures.

      • Training pages - most of the literature I created are in e-book format for download and will explore putting its entire content online. Perhaps this will also spark more active participation in the forum section.

    • Face-to-face training
  • Networking - this ranges from forum discussion, to eyeball or meet-ups, and creating groups within social networks. The purpose is to keep a strong presence of the group within these sites. (e.g. LinkedIn)

  • Promotion - this includes disseminating updates on what they are up to, directory listing, banner ads, low-cost sponsorship and advertising opportunities.

  • Publishing / Mentors program - Offer an incentive for members who joined way back when we started by developing a book/training program with them.
The community has become bigger compared to what it was initially intended. The new additions were also a response to growing needs by current and request by new members. Keep it together or break it apart? Or maybe I'll just form a new site while keeping this community grow as is, we'll see.

Related post:

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Review of the Teaching Sells Program

Teaching Sells is a program ideal for established authorities in their field and apply what they learn right away by offering programs where one capitalizes on knowledge. Otherwise, it is a helpful program to understand the business of paid membership sites and grow from there, either through capitalizing on existing skill or tap other resources.

That is my observation after signing up for the 7-day trial of Teaching Sells yesterday. I spent the whole day, up to this morning checking out the site's content.

(Note that I tried this program for two months, May to June 2008, and already unsubscribe from it.)

I was skeptic when I first heard of the program last December. I've been operating a paid club membership site, that started in December 2003. I capitalize on personal connections and knowledge in building it. It is challenging to sustain a community especially as some members will outgrow you, sooner or later.

When Teaching Sells came out, I partly got worried as those who'll be taking the program might assume that it is an easy thing to do, "just like that", and offer it at a price like $97 per month which I find to be expensive.

However, after checking out the Teaching Sells program yesterday, I finally realize where its value is and learned a lot from it.
  1. The program presents the necessary components in order to build a training program on the Web. It utilized a combination of audio, presentations, and text to discuss this.

  2. The site has a library where around 300 e-books are available for download. The said resource can be used by members to understand the business of paid content and pick up materials that can be useful for their own endeavors.

  3. The site also has an affiliate program where a minimum referral of 3 members may already be sufficient to sustain your monthly membership in the site. It also plans to have a private label program soon.
The challenges I find in the program includes:
  1. I partly believe that the subject "online teaching" is limited looking at the materials available at the site. By the time I reached the advanced courses, I felt a sense of repetition and the content approach begins to sound like an "academic" paper. I'm sure that the pressure for content developers are high.

  2. Will the subscribers stay long in the site? The only incentive I see for staying long is if there are new upcoming exciting programs and/or the affiliate program started working for the member - where the monthly fees required are already met by the affiliate commission.

  3. Program for advance members. I think there'll be folks who'll be joining the program that have started their own paid membership programs already. Our concerns may already be different and e-books on private label rights offered by some of the known Internet marketing gurus are not enough.
I'm sure the founders have a lot of plans in the site that are not being announced to members yet. It will be interesting to see if the following are offered:
  • A community badge.
    Something that can attest that a paid membership site program has been reviewed and recognized in the Teaching Sells community. As the badge points to an affiliate link, those who are curious to build one of their own may take the program. I haven't seen a body that reviews paid membership-based sites at this time.

  • Marketing opportunities.
    Promote members and help them grow like having member sites who joined the program be listed in a page or have their banners appear in rotation to the founders' high profile sites. I think that will be beneficial and helpful for members.
I have many more to add but I think the above two will already make the program a big deal to encourage member retention.

As to the ideas I picked up, I got inspired to start updating my club membership site this weekend to add the following sections:
  • e-commerce glossary
  • E-Commerce for Entrepreneurs book chapters and make them as actual training pages (with links to the forum for Q&A)
  • Blogging from Home book chapters and make them as actual training pages (with links to the forum for Q&A)
  • offer a one-month, three-months, six-months membership fee choices as I will increase the fees after posting the materials above.
Related post:

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Ten Criteria for Moonlighting Online (and earn extra income)

Digitally delivered information products, eBay, affiliate marketing, e-commerce stores, and blogging are five areas Yanik Silver and Robert Olic talked about in their book, Moonlighting on the Internet, and showed ways how one can make extra money from it. As Yanik had sold more than $10 million worth of information products, it made him an exciting author to read, page by page.

This book reminded me of Ed Dale’s Thirty Day Challenge where participants get exposed to various areas above and earn online. It is one of the best online activities I participated in 2007 and will join again this year. I also got its trial subscription but when my inquiry e-mails were not answered, I decided to put it on hold.

Yanik’s book is most useful to those who are creative, adventurous, bold to explore these avenues to earn online, and grow slowly. His criteria for finding potential moonlighting online business, that sets the tone for the rest of the book, include:

#1. Huge demand
The product must be something that there is demand for it - from various locations. This is something that have struck me when I started publishing books and create an online community. Gradually, it began attracting overseas members that created the need to come up with an international version of it. (still under development)

Exploring a demand includes doing:
  • Keyword research
    • Check out the ads that appears in search engine results.
      Not seeing any ads is an indication that there is no demand for it.
    • Check out the forums.
    • Top sellers in Amazon.com (products that rank 5,000 to 150,000) and develop product that can compliment it. For instance, Yanik's book is rank #6308 in Amazon.

  • Sell your own or find products online to sell based on popular topics to sites like ClickBank.
#2. No need to bother your friends
Not all will agree, this is one angle that makes the book unique interesting. Most of us don’t want to rely on our friends to sign-up to various programs so we could just earn some commission.

#3. No inventory
Product gets delivered digitally or has a fast turn-around time.

#4. No employees
Most of the work can be outsourced and sold through affiliate marketing. Although targeted affiliates may work better if you’ll find other players who are in the field that compliments what you do.

I tried affiliate marketing with some of the loyal members in the DigitalFilipino.com Club although that did not click. I realized that they must also have something to give on top of my product in order to make it an irresistible offer.

#5. Residual income
Explore products that can be done one time and earn continuously from it.

#6. Low cost and risk
Investment does not have to be high and therefore risk is minimal. One way is to have bonuses by partnering with software providers and e-book developers who are giving their materials for free or for a low fee (and possibly re-brand it).

#7. Low maintenance
Explore business that can run on auto-pilot. If these are learning programs, this can be done through the use of auto-responders where messages are pre-filled or the lessons are posted online and will appear based on a particular schedule.

#8. Don’t have to be super-technical
One does not have to be an expert in programming and the likes to get started. Take advantage of available online tools that are user-friendly.

#9. Real business
It must have potential to become a good source of income.

#10. Fun
It must be enjoyable for you to do it.

For those who are serious in earning income online, Moonlighting on the Internet is definitely worth the read.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

PayPerDigg and PayPerStumble: Get Paid to Stumble and Digg

I just found out from Susan Gunelius that there are now programs that provide compensation to Internet users who submit sites and news articles to the likes of Digg and StumbleUpon. Subvert and Profit, pays around $1 for every assignment that contains a list of links. There is also Stumbleudon that gives free 15 stumbles in exchange for your account to be used in an automated manner to stumble other sites.

I believe that as content sharing sites mature, there will always be a way to monetize them, similar to how advertising has evolved in websites and blogs. The challenge with blogs is that if the readers opt to use an RSS reader, they hardly get exposed to the outside-of-the-blog-post ads. Being linked becomes more of a targeted campaign to increase your Technorati authority, search engine visibility, and traffic (depending on blog popularity).

From an advertiser point of view, spending 100 dollars may be used to do any of the following:
  • Run a Google AdWords campaign with a budget of 3 dollars a day.
  • 10 to 15 text link ads appearing in various blogs (PayPerTextLink)
  • 5 to 10 reviews (PayPerReview)
  • On a social news or content site submission/vote campaign, that would be good for 50 to 100 votes or submissions. (PayPerSubmission, PayPerVote, PayPerDigg, PayPerStumble)
  • On micro-blogging sites like Twitter, that would be good for 5 to 20 Twits reaching to no less than 5000 followers. (PayPerTwit, PayPerTweet, PayPerTwitter)
The ideal members of the above are active users of the tool and can use the revenue generation fees as income on the side. Users who opt to participate in such programs should take effort to ensure that their blogs and accounts will not be used for commercial purposes only. Else, they might harm their online status in the long run.

I still believe that each blogger is responsible for their own blog. Their blog is their own business and can do whatever with it. They are bound by their own rules, or the platforms, or of the blog networks, or the revenue programs they joined. If readers don't like what they see, they can easily tune out by not visiting your blog anymore or unsubscribe to your blog feed. The same may be applicable to social news site and micro blogging tools like Twitter.

The growth of ad networks, whether small/informal or big/formal, shall continue to thrive. It will seize on opportunities that shall promote their client's interest. We can either become consumers, critics, contractor, or creator of these networks.

Related post:

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Friendster still number 1 social network in Asia

Despite the growing number of social networks, pioneer Friendster.com thrives with 80,000 registrants signing up everyday according to its March 2008 at-a-glance brief.

The younger generation, especially in Asia, flocks Friendster.com that makes the site still leading today. While the grown ups got hook to what they consider to be their social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Multiply, Friendster.com still has its own clique especially among the young.

Some interesting facts to know about Friendster.com (based on its March 2008 brief):
  • 65 million registered users.
    • Number 1 social network in Asia with 49 million registered users.
      • Asia users are at the age 16 to 30 years old. (or even younger than 16)
      • 55% female, 45% male
    • 26 million registered in 2007

  • Received 37 million unique visitors in February 2008 worldwide.
    • 32 million monthly unique visitors from Asia.
    • 17 million monthly unique visitors in 2007

  • 8th largest website in terms of traffic
  • 3rd largest social network, serving over 16.1 billion pages
  • 1st in user engagement among the top global social networks
    • average of 206 minutes per visitor per month
      • YouTube (97 minutes)
      • Google (46 minutes)

  • Top 15 countries accessing Friendster are:
  • Friendster is available in 6 languages
    • 66% or three quarters of a billion can now use the site.
Despite everything that has been written on the politics and competition that had threatened Friendster.com's standing in the social network arena, the site still has much to offer and with a loyal community who puts value in it. And if Asia will truly drive the growth of the Internet, as said by Vint Cerf, then Friendster has a limited or unlimited, depending on perspective, window of opportunity in its hands.

On another note, David Jones, VP-Marketing of Friendster.com will deliver the keynote message in the forthcoming Social Networking and eBusiness Conference Philippines 2008 this May 20. His colleague, marketing director Jeff Roberto, will also be giving an overview of the site's application development program on May 21. Friendster.com is one of the exhibitors and will be speaking for the first time in a Philippines social networking conference event.