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BLOGGING: I’m doing it—should you?

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image001I confess that I’m now 30 installments into blogging, with many years to go! Where are those thirty short missives hiding? Right here!

Why am I doing it, and should you?

I’m blogging because it lets me immediately share even more empire-building-related information with potentially more people, in a general way, than I can through newsletters–but in my monthly newsletter I delve deeper and focus more fully on the best products I can find. for you. I also repeat some of the core newsletter items as blogs, like this, updated from its earlier appearance in February, 2009.

I’m doing both because blogging is a public venue that lets me reach and help the greatest number of people fastest, and it’s a natural complement to newslettering.

And in the blogs I can have a bit of fast fun, as I did a few days back curing swine flu.

My thoughts, now several months in? (1) It’s a lot of work to do it right. (2) The host, WordPress is free, fast, and a bit confusing. If you make mistakes, its helpers are fast to tell you what you did wrong but slow to tell you how to correct it (like five e-mails slow). Still, it is the site of preference. (3) Unless you scare your kin into looking at your blog, nobody reads it in the beginning. You really have to be in it for the long haul to make it work. (4) It quickly improves your positioning at Google.com. (5) If you’re doing it for vanity, do almost anything else instead. (6) And, unless you say something, who cares?

The best guide about blogging that I’ve read is Yaro Starak’s free, first-rate Blog Profits Blueprint. Download and read his 54-page e-book. Ignore the Aussie’s mane and youth; he’s right on the button. Better yet, his straightforward, no-nonsense approach will help you answer whether blogging is for you. (If it is, tell me where your blog is hiding!)

Incidentally, see how well Yaro’s free e-book positions him in the blogging world. Once your empire structure is up and working, you may want to do the very same thing about a core topic that your beneficiaries need to know.

There’s also a first-rate, free report about free e-books as ideal tools to position you in the electronic world: download Bob Bly’s The “Internet Loss Leader” Strategy.

Good luck!

Gordon Burgett

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A cure for swine flu?

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It’s so obvious why haven’t others seen it?

Use snout masks!

In fact, I think, while my wife is out working, I’ll just start cutting up her bed sheets and attaching gut string. Later, I’ll create a quick website and start blasting the cure for all to hear/read–while there are still have so many survivers to benefit (and buy)!

I’d better get busy…

Probably other pandemics to solve too.

Gordon Burgett

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Two things to avoid when you’re writing for print

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Want to know two of the most common errors writers make when submitting articles (and books)? Both irk editors and are dead giveaways that the writer is an amateur.

(1) Overusing the semicolon. One semicolon in an article may be once too often, mostly because it is used incorrectly in place of a comma. My first rewrite editor said it best: “If you’re writing for The New York Times, use it once. Otherwise, keep it for your novel.” (But there is a necessary exception: when you are including a list that includes commas in the items or phrases listed. Each item [except the penultimate, which uses a comma] must be separated by a semi-colon. A short example: The championship teams all had height, one with a center 7’1” tall; speed, and reliable floor generalship.)

(2) Then there’s the hyphen, as in sisters-in-law. When needed, use it—but not as a dash (like you just saw after “it”). A dash should be an “em” dash (see insert/symbol/special characters). Sometimes it appears when you hit two hyphens (without a space in between). Sometimes you have to hit the enter key after the two hyphens for it to convert. (And sometimes in blogs you have to use two consecutive hyphens to make a dash.) Use dashes sparingly, but when you do, you usually need a pair of them, before and after the parenthetical phrase it offsets. And when you use an “em” dash you do not put a space before or after it. (I know, you will see the spaces in some books, some newspapers, and always in England, but it is disappearing in the U.S.) See this example: The boy went to the park—the one next to the train station—to see the elephants help set up the main circus tent.
Is misusing them fatal? Not if the prose is stupendous; the editor will just change them in the final text. But you will still look like a beginner, and all of the facts and writing will be combed with a harder eye. Yet if you continue to misuse them after the editor has made the corrections…

(One more, at no charge: only use the ampersand (&) when it appears in the original reference, like in an English firm name such as Higgins & Bascom. It’s not a substitute for the word “and.”)

[This blog is a modified excerpt from my 1/09 newsletter called “Writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers: How to Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire!” Please check here for more information about the free monthly newsletter, plus the three free writing- and publishing-related reports that are immediately available with the no-charge subscription.]

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Do this before you write the first word of your self-published book or create your product…

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Publishers or product developers, before you write a book or create a web-related product, save the URL (the address page for a website on the Internet) in .com.

In fact, save several URLs, if possible, pretty much in this order: (1) the book title, like www.mybooktitle.com; (2) your name, like mine at www.gordonburgett.com; (3) a subject title, like www.TreasureandScavengerHunts.com, and (4) misspellings of the book title or your name, to pick up eager buyers but poor spelers.

The same if you have a specific product name. Do that NOW, or before you write the first word or draw the first design.

Grab them while they are available. You can get them for under $9 a year (try www.ultracheapdomains.com), and if you change your mind, change the book or product title, or a year passes and they are still unwritten projects, you needn’t renew them. Just compose a list of 20-30 different sites and see what’s already up and claimed.

I wouldn’t use .net, .org, or others—there is simply too little commerce there. OK, I have www.nichepublishing.org. It was a weak moment, .com was snagged—and a huge exception.

If the URL isn’t available, you might add a word, like “the,” before your key words (i.e., www.thecatcombercatalog.com), or “my”…, “a”…, “TomSmiths”…; or an adjective like “best” or “newest”; the word “finally” or something similar—or something to follow like “ishere” to www.bobsbook, before the .com. Don’t use hyphens. I did once and it was the loneliest website around.

You can try to buy the URL from its current user, but that usually is very expensive even if they are willing to sell it. You can find the site owners at www.whois.net. Or, if you believe in miracles, wait around until somebody lets it lapse after a year or two.

Why do this? Because tons of people will go to your URLs to get more information. For books, they will want to see the covers, table of contents, benefits, testimonials, credentials, and a free sample chapter or two, plus—alarmingly—your photo and why you wrote it.

Become web-centric. Make it the target of your promotion, write good sales copy, and be ready to take orders. If you have four or five URLs, you can have the same copy at each. And even if you don’t send anybody there, lots of hopeful readers will go there first anyway. Better they see your book or product than something else!

[This blog is a modified excerpt from my 1/09 newsletter called “Writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers: How to Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire!” Please check here for more information about the free monthly newsletter, plus the three free writing- and publishing-related reports that are immediately available with the no-charge subscription.]

Gordon Burgett

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What not to tell the editor whose pocket you want to pick…

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In a few words, don’t tell the editor what readers want to read on her or his pages.

I did it too, until early on (thank God) one irked editor said, “If you know what my readers need, why aren’t you the editor?”

Then when I became an editor several times it irked me almost as much. Particularly if the supplicant was right! Even more if the person was right and that idea had never even dawned on me!

So how does the freelancer get the same results without sounding persumptuous or like a know-it-all?

“I wonder if (skiers, travelers, whatever–your readers) would be interested in _____” works.

Or use numbers. “In a recent poll, 5,887 (drivers) said that they…”

Or build on in-print interest, using another article on the editor’s pages. “Wouldn’t a natural question from readers of Peggy Jones’ article two months back be…?” With your query proposing the in-depth, step-by-step answer to that question.

Another angle: “I wonder how many of your (kite-building) readers, like me, would appreciate knowing…”

I found that simply exploring my curiosity with an editor worked a lot better than announcing, however kindly, that some special information that I had was precisely what the readers were desperate to read (had that editor not been too dimwitted or senile to have thought of it).

This only occurs to me because the other day a person told me, by e-mail, that if I had just developed more fully one minor point in a book I have in print it would have been a huge seller (instead, I guess, a stupendous dud)! Then he wanted me to answer about 200 questions…

That brought back this point. I don’t think lecturing editors whose pockets you want to pick makes any sense either.

Gordon Burgett

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Speaking: Let others hear you at your website.

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If you’re a speaker, why not use about the freest tool around, a short spoken blurb on your website, either on the opening index page (though that might slow down the unfolding of that text) or, surely, at the speaking link page where you extol your declamatory talents?

There are two straightforward formats: one, a quick podcast (which needn’t be more than five sentences followed by a link that sells what you offer) or a short video where we can see and hear, again a pitch to something of greater length following—which may be a much longer video or podcast.

The logic here is so obvious I will summarize it: they want to see if you can speak, how you sound, and if your voice is painfully irritating or disconnected? (The same with your live image: can they endure looking at you for all that time?)

So, if it’s such a great idea and so obvious why don’t I have it at my website? I did, often, but I’m in the process of revamping my entire web structure—including sound and visuals. Check back in a couple of months! In the meantime, check my NSA buddies’ videos at www.wmitchell.com or www.terrypaulson.com. Then ask yourself, if a programmer was planning to spend many thousands of dollars booking one of two choices, and one had a live voice (and a speaking image) and the other had only a still photo plus promises, which is most likely to be getting the moolah?

In the meantime, if you want more details about online video and improving your product selling ratio, let me suggest a dandy e-book that can be downloaded in a couple of minutes, and put in practice quickly. It’s John Moreau’s “Improving Conversion Rates on Landing Pages and Websites with Online Video: A Step-by-Step Guide” It’s hiding here.

[This blog is a modified excerpt from my 1/09 newsletter called “Writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers: How to Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire!” Please check here for more information about the free monthly newsletter, plus the three free writing- and publishing-related reports that are immediately available with the no-charge subscription.]

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Could or should you franchise your idea or book?

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Let me share a true story of ingenuity that took place some 20 years ago in, I think, Chico, California (or maybe Santa Rosa or Sacramento).

In a book publishing seminar I was giving a lad asked me why I had recommended that children’s books not be self-published. I’d said that the primary reason was that kids’ books needed color in the illustrations, the process was very expensive, and it was almost impossible to re-coup enough, or any, profit from publishing from just one or two books.

Several months later—it could have been a year—I received a nice note from, I presume, the same fellow who told me he had solved the problem. He had created his books in black and white so the users could color them in with their own crayons! Even better, he had developed a template for producing similar books and had franchised it all, telling others with like projects how they could do the same…

I’ve checked all the current franchise references I can find and that company has either folded or it has remained below the digital radar. Still, I wanted you to see a couple of things that may apply to you from that clever solution:

(1) If you’ve got a great idea (like a grade school black/white book with your drawings of local history scenes), just figure out a way to make it work. The book needed color and it was uneconomical to print beyond black and white? Produce a coloring book!

(2) And if you can make it work once, why not the same solution (with different drawings) many times? How much easier was it for the publisher to sell a series of books than just one?

(3) If your idea is easily repeatable by others (they provide their own text and artwork about their own local or county history), why not sell them the process, guidance, and some easily modifi-able sales tools? (Franchising itself is labyrinthine and expensive, and may not be advisable. A contract with stipulations as part of the sale may be enough.)

(4) There may be another way, too. As long as you have mastered the preparation and production components, why not provide those (plus printing) to others with like products, and either let the clients do their own promotion or you sell that plus the selling know-how and needed tools? A combo publisher-broker program.

Make yourself cleverly indispensable, and make that indispensability widely known, reliable, and affordable.

Gordon Burgett

[This blog is a modified excerpt from my 12/08 newsletter called “Writers, speakers, publishers, and product developers: How to Create Your Own Highly Profitable Empire!” Please check here for more information about the free monthly newsletter, plus the three free writing- and publishing-related reports that are immediately available with the no-charge subscription.]

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How to publish an ideal book

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In response to a question I get several times a month: It seems to me that there are at least two ways to get close to publishing perfection.

One, you can just keep working on the current book you are publishing until you get it right.

Or you might first make a list of what, combined, might result in an ideal published book.

So some years ago I tried the second.

Here are the six things I listed.

An ideal book is one that

* is highly and quickly profitable
* is quick to produce and market
* gives you total control of its content, appearance, and marketing
* penetrates your market 100% for expertise display and optimal strategic positioning
* offers minimal financial risk
* leaves no unsold copies

Then I made a list of the six ways that ideal book might be achieved. The ways don’t match an ideal book’s requirements item for item, although cumulatively they do achieve that goal.

To create an ideal book

* find a critical need for a qualifying niche market
* promise to meet that need in promotional material
* test that need and the market’s desire to meet it through a book
* thoroughly research that need
* write and produce a book that directly and honestly meets that need
* sell the book’s need-meeting information by all other, appropriate means to the niche market

Very rarely can any of the ideal book’s requirements be met by publishing your book through other publishing houses. But they can all be met by niche self-publishing.

So I wrote a book that explains the niche self-publishing process. It is called Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time!

I apologize if this sounds self-promoting, but it is the only answer I have to that question. And it’s easier to say once and share by blog than to have to repeat the same thing many, many times.

If it helps others new to the publishing world, great!

———

Publishers might be particularly interested in my free monthly newsletter. New subscribers also receive three free, well-received reports.

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When you speak in public must you use humor?

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In response to a question I get several times a month: It seems to me that there are at least two ways to get close to publishing perfection.

One, you can just keep working on the current book you are publishing until you get it right.

Or you might first make a list of what, combined, might result in an ideal published book.

So some years ago I tried the second.

Here are the six things I listed.

An ideal book is one that

* is highly and quickly profitable
* is quick to produce and market
* gives you total control of its content, appearance, and marketing
* penetrates your market 100% for expertise display and optimal strategic positioning
* offers minimal financial risk
* leaves no unsold copies

Then I made a list of the six ways that ideal book might be achieved. The ways don’t match an ideal book’s requirements item for item, although cumulatively they do achieve that goal.

To create an ideal book

* find a critical need for a qualifying niche market
* promise to meet that need in promotional material
* test that need and the market’s desire to meet it through a book
* thoroughly research that need
* write and produce a book that directly and honestly meets that need
* sell the book’s need-meeting information by all other, appropriate means to the niche market

Very rarely can any of the ideal book’s requirements be met by publishing your book through other publishing houses. But they can all be met by niche self-publishing.

So I wrote a book that explains the niche self-publishing process. It is called Niche Publishing: Publish Profitably Every Time!

I apologize if this sounds self-promoting, but it is the only answer I have to that question. And it’s easier to say once and share by blog than to have to repeat the same thing many, many times.

If it helps others new to the publishing world, great!

———

Publishers might be particularly interested in my free monthly newsletter. New subscribers also receive three free, well-received reports.

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