Wednesday, September 26, 2007

The Evaluator / Game Indstry Jobs

I've talked shop with dozens of startups in Israel, and researched thousands of companies, and I've begun to see myself as a bit of an evaluator.

Everyone thinks they're idea is the next cool thing. The next Monopoly. The next Youtube. Business plans now begin with the ultimate goal of selling the company for $1.5 billion dollars to Google.

In truth, the overwhelming majority of what I see is incremental. Good products, but only layers in the groundwork necessary for someone else to make it big. That doesn't mean that a good product can't have a successful story. It just means that a lot of people are bound to be disappointed when they don't turn into Youtube.

If you're only willing to talk to people who "drink the Kool-Aid", you're never going to find this our. You have to hear and accept critical impressions.

Better products don't spiral into public consciousness. Social paradigm breakers do. If your product isn't a social paradigm breaker which can spread without any involvement from you, it's not going viral.

I think you need a business plan that doesn't involve "being bought out for lots of money". How about one about making good products or providing a service that people need, being easy to deal with, being adaptable, and providing income for your employees. Gold-rush mentality is for suckers.

As far as my own abilities to evaluate, I'm still not 100% sure that they're entirely accurate, so I'm not about to start selling myself this way.

Game Industry Jobs

Working full time for a company has slowed down my personal Web 2.0 research, so I'm late in my next post of Web 2.0 jobs. In the meantime, I just posted 3500+ Game Industry jobs for your pleasure, instead.


Sunday, September 23, 2007

Blogging For Hire Posts Coming Out of the Woodwork

Performancing just ran a basic post on blogging for a company. So did Randa Clay Design.

Blogging for hire is emerging as a new profession. And baby, you don't know what you're getting into.

People keep writing these "pros and cons of blogging for hire" posts as if all it means is writing blog posts about someone else's topics on someone else's site. If only it were that simple!

Sure, there's a small chance that a great blogger might be hired to just blog with the hope that traffic to his or her blog will increase exposure to the company. But more likely than not, blogging for hire means being hired by a company to do whatever the company needs, including blogging.

That means working on marketing plans, integrating plans into the business, cultivating blogging relationships, learning the ins and outs of your company, marketing research, writing press releases, editing copy, storyboarding videos, and I don't even know what else since I'm only starting the process, myself.

But it is not, repeat NOT, simply writing blog posts for a company. Unless you want to be paid $5 a post plus traffic, which is no way to make a living.

I just got a copy of Debbie Weil's Corporate Blogging book, which I hope to review asap.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

Customer Engagement Preparation Work

The new company's blog won't be up for some time yet, about a month. So what am I doing with my time?

- Thoroughly learning what the product can do, can't do, and will do.

- Researching companies in the field. I'm tracking around 100 feeds of relevant news, competing or complimentary companies, and customers who use these companies.

- Alerts. For many of these companies, as well as key phrases related to the field, I set up Google news alerts. Google news alerts are ok, but not very thorough. It's worth a trip to the Google News site once in a while to see what the alert might have missed.

- Creating a landing page. Before the web site is up, I want there to be a landing page with a subscription to the company newsletter and information about what we'll be doing. That way I can start commenting on related blogs in my field, and hopefully arousing some interest if anyone clicks back on my user name to the company's site.

- Web site design. I'm contributing to the design and components that will be making up the new web site. I want the benefit to be readily apparent and easy to access, and I want people to be interested in following the blog or company newsletter.

- Editing. Here's where my skills as a blogger and a technical writer intersect. I'm rewriting emails, web content, instructions, and all sorts of stuff. Taking my cue from Creating Passionate Users, even the user guides are going to be marketing quality material (if I have my way).

- Wracking my brains to come up with viral material that doesn't require months to create or an expensive artist to perform.

And other items, more technical and sundry (such as setting up Wordpress, and so on).


Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Five Easy Steps to Double Your Blog Readership in Just Ten Minutes!

Rosh Hashanah is coming, so I won't be posting again until at least Sunday. My Rosh Hashanah message is on my main blog.

In the meantime, I'll leave you with this list of how to double your readership in just ten minutes.

Step 1: Begin with a blog that has only one reader. This step is critical. Without it, doubling your readership will be hard work that takes more than ten minutes.

Step 2: Write a nice catchy headline for a post that contains recycled information you picked up from a lot of other sites and is well known. In this way, your readers will like it because they'll agree with all of it, just like when they saw the same advice on that big guy's blog. You certainly don't want to come up with original ideas that challenge conventional wisdom.

Step 3: Take no more than seven minutes to write the post. If you take any more time than that, you won't be able to double your readership in only ten minutes! You certainly don't want to spend all day working on a real post that actually has value, says something new, provides real and useful information or entertainment, and is edited correctly. All that matters are the keywords required to bring in the Google searches and make your Ad-words profits sing.

Step 4: Digg,, and stumble the results. You're sure to get at least two people curious enough to check out your headline. It will take more than three minutes to contact other bloggers in your field who might actually enjoy the post and with whom you've built relationships. You can't do that in ten minutes!

Step 5: Congratulations! You've now doubled your readership in only ten minutes! Pop open that champagne. Don't worry about having to go back to work again the next day to make more posts and continue building relationships. That takes too long! Besides, do you want to risk tripling, or even quadrupling your readership all at once?

Shana Tova,
Yehuda Berlinger

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Old School vs New School Marketing

My boss is a traditional marketer. We talk a lot about setting goals, but the differences between our schools of thought are constantly coming up. My problem is I don't know when I'm supposed to be learning from him and when I'm supposed to be teaching him.

One of the tasks he wanted me to do was to prepare the letter of introduction I will be sending to all the bloggers I will have made contacts with in order to introduce them to our new site once it rolls out.

OK, I thought, letters. Uh, wait.

"What letters?"

"Well, you simply expect them to know about your site by clicking on your user name in your blog comments?"

"Actually, yes. But if not, I won't be sending them all letters. I will talk to them one by one, when appropriate, and in the correct context. I won't be sending out marketing letters to them like they're my customers."

Blog marketing doesn't work like this. It's not: define goal, execute action, measure results. Blog marketing is relationships: build product, build relationships, trade information.

I think that last part is one of the most important parts: trade. I will be giving out as much as I'm getting, maybe more. Yeah, my goal is to get: coverage, visits, adopters. But my methodology is to give in ways that have nothing to do with our product.

Where on the time sheet do I put down: had a conversation about how to fix a program on a competitor's blog?


Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Should Your Corporate and Private Blogging Identities Intersect?

In my first customer engagement position, I chose to have my identity with the company unrelated to my public blogging identity.

I didn't try to hide it, per se. I simply didn't advertise it and I didn't use the Hebrew name by which I'm generally known. In my public blogging identity I use the name Yehuda. My name at the company was simply my English first name. I never mentioned on my public blog what company I was working for on the side.


One, I didn't want what I wrote on the company blog to reflect on my public blogging identity. This one is a little strange, I admit. But the company had absolutely nothing to do with my usual blogging subjects. And I really didn't like the direction and content I was asked to produce; I had to write only about the company itself or the company's site, every day.

I hope to never find myself in this position again.

Two, should I ever stop working for the company, as I in fact did, I didn't want searches for my name to be confused.

Three, the company didn't want to be responsible for anything I wrote about on my personal blog.

As to this, the decision as to whether you link identities may be up to you, or the company, or a joint agreement.

As Gavin pointed out in the comments on the last post, you may simply be writing a blog which is supposed to be popular but not necessarily directly related to the company or product. In which case, hiding your identity doesn't seem to make much sense. It's just another blog you write.

On the other hand, if you're representing the company and blogging about company things, it might make sense to hide your identity. Programmers and managers may go through more than one company in their work life, but they usually don't work publicly in two locations at once, I think. Marketers might, but their name isn't usually public anyway, only the name of the ad agency they work for.

My new company is in the game industry, which overlaps with my public blogging identity. When the company publicizes, I will probably declare my identity by my public name (Yehuda). I will have to disclose my new company relationship on my own blog so that people know this if I promote the company's service or product, or speak about other companies or products in the same field.

The benefit to blogging under my public name is that I can build on the relationships I have established. Of course, these relationships were established before I joined this company, so any such building will have to be delicately done indeed. I have to really believe in the new company and their product. And I don't want my friendly relationships to turn sour. It's a delicate line to walk.

One more issue about two blogging identities is the issue of leaving comments on blogs. This affects you even if you have a single identity, but run more than one blog.

When I was working for my first company, when I left a comment in the capacity of my work I left it in my work's identity and with my name linked to my work blog. Since there was no overlap between the places I would normally leave comments, and the places I left comments in the capacity of working for the company, there wasn't any conflict.

In my new job I will have to decide when I am leaving a comment if it's on behalf of myself or my new company. Though both my public blog and the company are in the game industry, they encompass slightly different niches within the industry, so I may get off without too much difficulty.

If you have two blogs, you have to decide the same thing. If you sometimes leave back links to one blog and sometimes to another, this results in splitting the effectiveness of your commenting by splitting the resulting back traffic to more than one location.


Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Don't Try to Blog for Any Old Company

If you're a freelance corporate blogger, you're a marketer. If you're a marketer, that means you're going to be selling what the company that hired you produces.

You're probably used to writing about things that you're already knowledgeable and passionate about. That means that you not only have lots to write, but enthusiasm to say it.

Moving to a corporate blogging position isn't simply picking up your own blog and moving it to their company. When the ACME toaster company asks you to blog for them, it means blogging about toasters or the toaster field.

That means you have to become an expert in the toaster field. It means you have to become an expert in ACME's toasters. And it means you have to write about toasters and toaster things for a long time. Indefinitely, even.

Can you do that? Passionately? They hired you to blog because you're a passionate writer who can show results. You can't do it if you're just churning out posts about something you don't really care about, or if you're going to run out of something to say in a year. Or six months. Or two weeks.

So here's some advice: don't just agree to work for any old company that offers you a position as a corporate blogger. I know it's tempting, because not many companies are offering them at all. Only take a position in a company whose product or service you really care about. In other words, one which you would blog about even if you weren't being paid.

Update: Gavin rightly points out in the comments that blogs for a company can have more or less to do with the company itself. Check out the comments.