Some might recall that I started a podcast back in January. I recorded only one episode. It kind of sucked. Then I recorded another episode last week. It also kind of sucked. This is the third episode of the newly renamed Digital Publishing Podcast (DPP), and I think I’ve finally hit on a great format.
The podcast is me talking about a bunch of different ideas related to digital publishing, internet business, social media, and online marketing. They’re things that I see and things that I’d like to see. Ignore the previous two episodes of the podcast, which were just me reading blog posts. This is the first REAL episode of the podcast, and you can expect one a week (either on Thursdays or Fridays; I haven’t decided which).
The podcast is on iTunes here. It would be awesome if you rated the podcast in iTunes. Pretty please. If you’re using something other than iTunes, the podcast’s feed is http://blog.osmosio.com/feed/podcast/. You can also listen to the episode online by clicking the play button on the player right below this. (If you don’t see the player, click here.) It’s a little over 23 minutes long.
Below is the transcription of the podcast. It’s nearly 4,000 words in length, so I highly recommend listening to the podcast.
DPP003: Story Podcasting, Facebook Page SEO, A Unique Product Idea, and 15 More Topics
Welcome to the Digital Publishing Podcast, which you can find online at digitalpublishingpodcast.com. I’m Tristan Higbee, recording today in beautiful San Miguel de Allende, Mexico.
This show is all about things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, from blogging to ebook creation to software development. Also covered are things related to Internet business and online marketing. I’ve got 18 topics to talk about today, so let’s get started.
Topic #1: Story podcasting
I listen to a lot of podcasts and am always on the lookout for more good ones. I recently found one called Jim Harold’s Campire. It’s a show that consists of “chilling stories of everyday people who have encountered paranormal phenomena of all types.” That sounded pretty darn interesting, so I subscribed to the podcast and listened to a couple episodes.
I immediately noticed how different the podcast’s format was from the other podcasts I listen to. So the way it works is that people email their stories to Jim and he selects the best ones. He then talks to them on the phone or over Skype and records the people telling their stories to him.
I think that this could work great for so many different niches. For example, I’m an avid rock climber and think that a great podcast could be climbers calling in with stories of epic adventures they’ve had in the mountains. So it’s essentially audio guest posting. I do think that recording the conversation between the host and the storyteller is more interesting than having the storyteller record him- or herself telling the story and then sending it in.
Topic #2: Apparently people still email links
The other day I was reading an article on the AdSense Flippers blog at AdSenseFlippers.com (it was their October 2012 income report) and saw that at the bottom of the blog post is the usual array of social media sharing buttons. But then I noticed that there was an “Email This” button down there, too. And even more surprising was that the article had been emailed over 170 times. That’s amazing to me. I never email links to anyone anymore; all of my link sharing is done either on Twitter or Facebook. But I definitely think that this is something worth trying out if you have a blog.
Topic #3: A way to share audio content socially
One downside to podcasting as a publishing platform is that there are no social sharing options for the audio. You can’t tweet about or like a podcast episode in iTunes. Something I heard on an episode of Social Media Examiner’s Social Media Marketing Podcast takes a step toward overcoming this problem. The host gave a URL for people to go to (http://socialmediaexaminer.com/love), and that URL then redirects to a pre-populated (or already-filled-out) tweet that you just have to click to send out. This particular URL and tweet are for the whole podcast, but you could also do the same thing for each individual podcast episode. If you’re recording podcast episode #21, for example, you could tell people to go to yoursite.com/21, which you could have redirect to an already-filled-out-and-ready-to-send tweet about that episode.
Topic #4: Your main job
TechDirt (which you can find at http://techdirt.com) is a popular blog about freedom of information. It covers things like copyright and intellectual property. One recent blog post included this passage:
“For years, we’ve pointed out that some in the music industry get so obsessed with “stopping piracy” that they miss the fact that their main job should be to increase revenue. They make the huge mistake of assuming that the two things are the same — and that “stopping piracy” automatically leads to “increased revenue.”
Many of us who are digital publishers in one form or another are or are trying to make money at it. We need to remember that our main job is to increase revenue, not blog or tweet or socialize or read. I’ve been falling into the trap recently of writing so much content for my blogs that I forget about actually creating new products that will help pay the bills. Sure, blogging is an important part of my marketing, but I need to remember that the fact is that the more products I have out there, the more products I sell. You exact situation will be different, but the idea of having a “main job” will still hold true. Try not to get sidetracked by all of the other shiny objects you want to play with.
Topic #5: Diminishing returns on self-education
I think that the concept of diminishing returns is a really important one to keep in mind when it comes to learning things. There comes a point where another handful of books read and another month of time spent online learning about something just isn’t worth it. The time spent consuming that information outweighs the value of any knowledge gained. Most things we want to do really aren’t that complicated, but we spend a lot of time looking for a magic bullet or nugget of wisdom. The problem is that the basics that usually don’t take too long to learn are more than enough to get us through whatever it is we want to do, whether it be learning how to sail or learning how to create your first Kindle book. There comes a point relatively quickly where you have to stop learning and just start working.
I wish there existed a way to quantify this. I wish I could say, “OK, I’ve NOW reached the point where I know enough to do what I want to do,” or “I haven’t learned anything statistically significant in the last two hours, so I need to stop reading and take action.” But I guess the best I can do now for myself is just realize that I’m not an idiot and that I can figure most things out as I go and learn how to overcome the problems I’ll face when I actually face them. If you’re listening to this, you’re probably in the same boat.
Topic #6: The power of a Facebook page for SEO purposes
One of my websites is fkb.me (at http://fkb.me). It’s a site that lists the best free Kindle books every day, and “free Kindle books” is what the “fkb” stands for. “Free Kindle books” is a relatively competitive term to rank for in Google. Today I typed the phrase into Google to see if my site appeared anywhere close to the first page and to my surprise, fkb.me’s Facebook page is currently on the second page of the Google search results for the phrase. The main site itself was nowhere in the first ten pages.
If you don’t have a Facebook page for your site/product/business, consider creating one for SEO purposes. Just making one isn’t enough to help you rank well, though. I think my page ranks well because it contains the phrase “free Kindle books” in its title, it is updated with new content daily, it has a lot of likes, and there is good user activity on the page.
Topic #7: Low-hanging fruit
If you’re looking to get more traffic to your blog or website or make more sales of a product, ask yourself if there is any low-hanging fruit that you can pick. What I mean by that is are there any simple, basic things you can do that will help you get more traffic to your site or increase engagement? Last week I added Pinterest share buttons to one of my blogs and immediately saw an increase in Pinterest referral traffic. I added a large, full-width newsletter signup form to another blog and saw an increase in signups right away.
So ask yourself if there a social network you’re not on that you can join or be more active on? Is there some plugin you can install? Can you make certain important links or ads more prominent? Can you make a buy now button bigger? Can you change the layout of something on your website? These are all examples of low-hanging fruit things that don’t take too much time to change but can have pretty significant payoffs.
Topic #8: A business idea for those interested in the hardware side of digital publishing
So Amazon has a free software program that authors and publishers can download called Kindle Previewer. It lets you see what your Kindle book file would look like on the Kindle, Kindle Paperwhite, Kindle Fire, Kindle app for iPhone, and so on. There is also a simpler web version that you have access to when you upload your book to Amazon through the KDP (or Kindle Digital Publishing) program.
The problem, though, is that these do not exactly reproduce the experience that you’d get with a real Kindle. I’ve uploaded books that looked fine in Kindle Previewer but had issues when I looked at them on my Kindle Fire.
I’d willingly pay someone to test the book file for me on the devices that I don’t own. I don’t have a Kindle Paperwhite, but I’d pay someone to load my book file on their Paperwhite and record a video showing how it looked. They could send me a report back telling me whether the links worked, the table of contents showed up in the menu, the formatting looked good, and stuff like that.
I think that a great business idea would be for someone to get a bunch of these devices (Kindles, Nooks, iPads, etc.) and then charge for checking to see how people’s books look on the devices. You wouldn’t even need to own the devices yourself; you could outsource it to people who do own the devices.
Topic #9: You are spamming and it’s not OK
If you ask just about anyone, they’ll say that spam is horrible (and I’m talking about the digital kind of spam, not the canned kind). Nobody likes it. So how is it that so many people who market online think it’s OK? It’s not OK. Spamming is never OK.
It’s not OK when you (who are someone I’ve never heard of or had any interactions with) send me multiple emails asking me to share your content. It’s not OK when you send me what appears to be a newsletter email and there’s no unsubscribe link. It’s not OK to automatically tweet links to articles you haven’t even read. It’s not OK to leave a generic comment on my blog. It’s not OK to create niche sites that provide zero value and do nothing but screw up Google searches for those of us trying to find information that’s actually useful.
Not one of these things is OK, and I consider each one to be spam, but every day I see otherwise normal people doing them. Stop it. You are spamming. Stop justifying whatever it is you’re doing and look at it from a normal person’s perspective, not a marketer’s.
Topic #10: Blog and product differentiation through an unorthodox medium
For all of the internet marketing talk you hear about creating videos and podcasts for your content, very few people actually go all the way with these and use them as their primary content delivery method. I think that creating a platform around a topic but doing so using mediums that others aren’t using is a great way to differentiate your stuff from everyone else’s.
For example, I would love to read a travel blog that had no photos or videos. How often have you seen a travel blog without photos? I don’t know if I ever have. But I think a writing-centric travel blog would be amazing.
Or instead of seeing yet another blog about minimalism, I’d love to listen to a podcast about minimalism.
Instead of a lifestyle business blog or podcast, create lifestyle business infographics.
Write a daily newsletter instead of a daily blog.
The whole differentiation thing can be so hard if you’re putting out the same content in the same way as everyone else. But as soon as you put out even the same content in a different format, it becomes interesting again.
This concept of medium differentiation holds true for digital products, too. How many of the million business blogs that are out there, for example, offer audio courses? I haven’t seen any.
Topic #11: Curating blogs, not blog posts
You know what I’d love? I’d love a blog that found and reported on new and upcoming blogs in niches I cared about. I love to rock climb, but it’s hard to find good climbing blogs. It’s hard to find climbing blogs, period! But I’d definitely subscribe to a blog that went out and found those blogs for me. And apart from just blogging about other blogs on the niche, this type of blog could offer roundups of the best content from those other blogs for the past week or month or whatever.
Topic #12: Buffer vs. HootSuite (with some TweetDeck thrown in)
Buffer is a service that makes it easy to schedule and post your Twitter and Facebook updates. I like Buffer, but I don’t like that I can have only one Twitter account on their free plan. Since I have multiple Twitter profiles for my various sites, it’s a problem.
I like that HootSuite (which is a social media dashboard) lets me have five Twitter accounts for free, but I hate their new trying-to-be-like-Buffer AutoScheduling feature that you can’t customize. HootSuite doesn’t tell you how they figure out when to send your auto-scheduled tweets. The other day I added four tweets to the HootSuite AutoSchedule queue and they were all sent out within an hour and a half of each other. Not good.
So my solution is that I use Buffer for the Twitter account that I’m most active on (@TristanHigbee) and I use HootSuite for everything else. I can still schedule tweets for specific times with HootSuite, and that works well enough for me.
Oh, and when I’m dealing with more than six Twitter accounts (that’s the five on HootSuite and the one on Buffer), I use TweetDeck, which is like a less good version of HootSuite. TweetDeck’s tweet bookmarklet is essentially unusable, so it’s my least favorite Twitter client by far.
And while still somewhat on the subject of Buffer, I recently figured out that you can highlight text on a page online, press the Buffer button in your browser (if you have the extension or bookmarklet installed), and Buffer will bring up the tweet box with that quote—not the page or blog post title, as is usual—as the text of the tweet.
Topic #13: Augmenting the web with browser extensions
I recently saw an interesting extension for Google Chrome. It adds a tl;dr link next to every article headline on Hacker News, which is kind of a crowdsourced news site for geeks. For those who don’t know, tl;dr stands for “too long; didn’t read,” and is internet slang for a brief summary. When you click on the tl;dr link next to the article title, a brief summary that someone has written of that article appears in a little popup box. [Link to the extension.]
This is a pretty neat idea and it got me thinking about what else this concept could be applied to. As I said before, I’m an avid rock climber, so climbing-related uses were the first ones that came to mind. You could create an extension that put a link next to the names of famous climbers. Then when you click on someone’s name, a little box listing their most significant climbs and a short biography would pop up. Another extension could show you the closest climbing areas to a city that you highlight.
Anyway, I think the whole idea of web-augmenting browser extensions or plugins is pretty darn interesting, and I think it’s something we’ll see more of in the future.
[EDIT 11/23] So this exists: This Chrome extension tells you more about key people in articles as you read the news @ The Next Web
Topic #14: Twitter sniping
Not too long ago, Nokia’s map app for iOS (called HERE) was released. I installed it on my phone and tweeted about it, saying that my first impressions weren’t too bad. About a minute later, someone @mentioned me on Twitter and said something like yup, it’s definitely better than Apple’s Maps app, and he linked to a blog post he wrote that compared the two apps.
Now, this wasn’t an automated tweet. I’m the only person he tweeted something like that to. He doesn’t follow me on Twitter. He must have just searched on Twitter for “Nokia HERE” and mine was the first tweet he saw.
So if you were to replicate what this guy did, you’d search for people tweeting about a keyword and then tweet them a link relating to what they tweeted about. From a purely objective standpoint, this is borderline spammy behavior. And as I just talked about, I’m not a fan of spammy behavior. But this actually didn’t bother me. I clicked to read his article because I wanted to see what his thoughts on the subject were.
I definitely don’t think this is a tactic you can or should use multiple times a day. But hey, why not tweet relavent links to people? As long as you’re not doing it automatically or spraying your links all over Twitter ten times a day, I think it’s kind of a neat idea.
Topic #15: How to manage multiple Pinterest accounts
For those who don’t know, the Digital Publishing Podcast is part of my blog at TheBacklight.com. I have a free magazine called Digital Publishing Lab that I send out to The Backlight’s newsletter subscribers once a month. In the most recent issue (which I admit was also the first issue), I mentioned a Pinterest tool called Pingraphy. It makes it easy to schedule your pins for a future date and time. It’s not the best looking tool in the world, but it does work.
Well, I realized today that you can actually use Pingraphy to help you manage multiple Pinterest accounts. I have two Pinterest accounts. One is my personal account and the other is for fkb.me, which is my blog about free Kindle books. I hate logging in and out of services, so I usually just end up staying logged in to one of the accounts while I totally ignore the other. But with Pingraphy, you can be logged in with one account in your browser, and then you can be logged in with a second account on Pingraphy. I’ve been pinning to both accounts throughout the day today and it worked great. So check it out at Pingraphy.com.
Topic #16: The niche trap
I listen to a TON of podcasts, and one that I’ve really enjoyed since I found it a couple months ago is called Build and Analyze. It’s the show of Marco Arment, who is the developer of popular iOS app Instapaper and the new digital magazine called The Magazine (yes, it’s called The Magazine). Among other things, his podcast is about mobile app development. Well, he recently announced that he’d be ending the show next month. One of his reasons is that he doesn’t really have much more to say about mobile app development. He said that he might do another podcast in the future (and he somewhat jokingly said it would be called The Marco Show) where he could talk about cars and coffee and really whatever else he wanted.
Now, as I said before, the Digital Publishing Podcast is part of my blog called The Backlight, but the blog has been known as The Backlight for only the past year or so. Before that it was called Blogging Bookshelf, so named because the plan was to review books for bloggers.
So what do Marco’s podcast and the first iteration of my blog have to do with each other? We were both hampered by the names and announced niches of our respective projects. Marco wants to talk about more than just app development. I wanted to talk about more than just blogging.
The takeaway here is to not choose a name for your blog or whatever else you’re working on that will keep you backed into a corner. I used to have a blog called Daily Climbing Tips, and it got to the point where I didn’t want to update it daily anymore. With a name like Daily Climbing Tips, though, I couldn’t post just once a week, so I stopped blogging there altogether.
The moral of the story here is to choose a name that you can grow and pivot with. That’s why I chose TheBacklight.com as the domain for my blog. I can write about whatever I want and it will still fit in with a name like The Backlight.
Topic #17: The weekly feature
I really like it when a blog (or newsletter or podcast or YouTube channel or whatever your preferred medium is) has a weekly feature. The popular SEO blog SEOmoz, for example, has what it calls Whiteboard Fridays. Every Friday, someone at SEOmoz records a video of him- or herself talking about some SEO concept and using a whiteboard to illustrate the concept.
And there’s a web app called Informly (and that’s at inform.ly), and there’s a blog on the website there. Every Friday, Dan, the guy behind Inform.ly, has a feature on the blog called 5 Minute Friday. He records a video of himself talking about something for 5 minutes or less.
I think these weekly features are awesome, and of course they don’t have to be a video. You could have Interview Mondays or Infographic Sundays. I think it’s a great way to get people to come back to your site on a regular basis. And beyond that, I’ve found that when I’ve done features like this in the past, I’m not super stressed out about trying to come up with content ideas. I know that I need to talk about rock climbing gear, for example, every Wednesday.
Topic #18: A unique product idea
I came across an interesting idea for an ebook recently. You may have seen websites and businesses use the .io domain name instead of the .com or .net. Well, this product was a list of the 70 remaining .io domain names that consist of three-letter English words.
Because this is just a list of 70 domain names, I don’t know if you can really call this an ebook, but I still think it’s a neat idea. The value in a product like this comes from the fact that it’s giving you access to a limited resource. So think about whether there is anything like that in the niches you’re interested in. Is there a limited resource that you can give people access to or knowledge about?
And if you want to check out the product, head on over to and.io.
Well, that’s all for this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out digitalpublishingpodcast.com for show notes and additional blog posts there at TheBacklight.com that go beyond what I talk about on the podcast. Thanks for listening.
As always, I’m on Twitter.