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Archive for the ‘Business’ Category

Branding – Russell Brand Style

Russell Brand is a very good example of how to build a brand. In Russell’s case, his brand is being a lothario. In the last year I’ve seen countless articles in the Australian media referring to Russell Brand as a lothario. Lothario Russell Brand blah blah blah… you get the picture. I thought only Shakespeare used the term lothario but Russell has brought it back to 2009.

There was even talk that the way Russ wooed a girl while waiting for a ferry in Australia was staged. I wouldn’t be surprised if it was. I wouldn’t be surprised if Russ has marketing people pushing his lothario image.

Search for lothario in Google News or Goolgle Image search and you’ll no doubt see several Russell entries on the first page of each.

So what does all this have to do with this site? Well, if you’re developing a web app, an iPhone app or some other bit of software you can do yourself a world of favours by establishing your brand.

When you’re Russell Brand you can get the media to push your brand fairly easily. When you’re Joe Schmoe software developer you have to do things a little differently. Media outlets will generally be more than happy to publish articles about your product of service provided your article has a unique and newsworthy spin to it (and isn’t a clear promotional article).

As an example, let’s keep with the lothario theme. Say you have a dating web site you want to get press coverage for. Instead of writing an article saying “here’s my great dating web site and you can join for free”, you might write an article on celebrities that have tried internet dating. Or maybe write about how the number of people getting married who met on the net has jumped X% in the last 5 years.

Whatever your angle, make it interesting, make it memorable.

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Very Motivating Talk for Entrepreneurs

I’m pretty sure not many coders would be familiar with Gary Vaynerchuck. At first I thought the guy was a bit up himself but after watching this video I have to say I’m impressed. His product (Wine Library) doesn’t interest me much but his enthusiasm and ability to grow a brand does.

It starts off a bit slow with Loic Lemeur (founder of Seesmic) introducing him but it isn’t long before Gary is spitting out gems like “loving your audience is how you build a business. PERIOD!” (2:36 in the vid).

All up this video should hopefully re-energise, re-motivate and help you focus on your customers and grow your business :)

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Blogs That Solve Problems Make More Money

In her article Why You Can’t Make Money Blogging, Sonia Simone argues that you can in fact make money from blogging. The article is a response to a recent New York Times article about Fake Steve Jobs and how he hasn’t made any decent money from his blog.

Fake Steve Jobs Solves No Problems

According to Sonia, the main reason he isn’t making any money despite huge traffic is because his blog solves no real problems (other than to waste time – ie. entertainment). I have to agree with her that entertainment sites, in general, don’t make as much money as more technical, problem-solving sites per visitor.

In the case of Fake Steve Jobs, it’s not just a case of the blog not solving a problem. I think it’s more a case of the ads being served don’t match what the audience wants.

If you land on a site like that, what relevance are the ads going to have? If you’re running Adsense, it might show an ad for some Apple products as soon as it sees the keywords “Steve Jobs” or an ad for Verizon on the “iPhone” keyword, but is a visitor at the site ready to purchase a new Macbook or are they just there to have a laugh?

A Better Way to Market

Perhaps if the ads were related to comedy, or video or even at a stretch, other Apple news sites, they might do better? But the problem then is that the value of each click plummets because the advertiser doesn’t directly sell products/services.

On the flip-side, if you had a site that tells you how to upgrade your Macbook hard drive to a 500GB monster, with step-by-step instructions and video and then have an affiliate link or ad pointing to some great deals on hard drives, you could be pretty sure your audience is interested in what’s being advertised.

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Mac vs PC, Mac vs Sumo Salad

I came across an ad for Sumo Salad the other day (a “healthy fast food” chain here in Australia):

It’s a good play on words making Mac a Big Mac, but overall very unoriginal and rather boring after the first “hello” lines. How can they blatantly copy the Mac ads so much (especially the music) – I know it’s a parody but you have to draw the line somewhere.

I don’t know if Apple would be happy having “Mac” in this ad as the bloated, fat, slow kid… they wouldn’t want people to associate actual Macs with bloat and slowness would they? :)

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Cost, Quality or Speed – You Can Have 2

Came across a nice little statement which I believe is generally quite true in business on Swish Design’s blog:

Cost – Quality – Speed … Pick two


  • If you want something fast AND high quality – you can’t expect it to be cheap.
  • If you want something cheap AND high quality – you can’t expect to get it quickly.
  • And if you want something to be cheap AND you want it done quickly … you’re going to sacrifice quality.

Of course, if you work with Fred or myself you get all 3… ;)

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Don’t Ever Undervalue Your Development Skills

When you’re starting your own web development business or just starting out freelancing, there’s a tendency to take on any and every job that comes your way. After all, there’s not much to show in your personal portfolio so you could do with beefing that up even if it means slaving away for not much $$.

As soon as you’ve got your portfolio to a reasonable size and you have built up your experience and professionalism, do yourself a favour and charge clients the appropriate rate for the professional web development services you provide.

There’s no quicker way to get bitter about your work than to give someone a cheap quote and then realise the work you took on is going to take 3 times as long as you expected.

Some reasons why you might have given a cheap quote include:

  • Underestimating how long it will take you to do something. More often than not a task, no matter how simple, will take you longer than you think. The good old rule of “work out how many hours it will take, then double that” rings true. Personally I quote on a project basis so if I quote 8 hours and the job takes me longer, I wear the extra hours and write that time off as a learning experience.
  • Sympathy. When a client mentions they don’t have a large budget, or they’re a small business, or a new business, or a family business or whatever, it’s only natural to want to give them the best rate possible. That works ok when the job goes smoothly, but if the sympathy plea of a client causes you to under-quote and things go south, you won’t be a happy camper and everyone will suffer.
  • You don’t feel experienced enough. Sure, you may only be 20 and still at uni, but that’s no reason to under-quote if you’re delivering a professional service. At the end of the day, if you provide the same service or end product (web site) as an agency, why should you be working at half the rate?
  • Competing with your client’s nephew. Everybody knows someone who thinks they can create a site just like Facebook or eBay for $200, whether it be their nephew or their aunts-husbands-neighbours-grandparents-dog. Then there’s always the people who can’t understand why they have to pay so much for a site that uses an Open Source (in their mind, “free”) CMS, despite the fact you had to write a custom module to fit their needs or spent 10 hours designing and xHTMLing their template.

By all means, give clients the best deal you can – just make sure you don’t sell yourself short. If you sell yourself short all you’ll do is make life harder for yourself and you’ll devalue the entire web development market.

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