Posts

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How To Build A WordPress Website In About An Hour

Learn how to install and configuring a custom theme, install plugins, build pages, create menus, and make your first blog post.

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WPCampus Showcases Growth of WordPress Community

The first annual WP Campus was focused on WordPress in higher education, but also showed off the power of digital communities, and the growth of the WordPress platform as a whole.

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6 Ways You Can Use Game Mechanics To Mesmerize A Crowd

Steve Shenbaum from “game on” shares some time tested tips for how to mesmerize a crowd and take control of a live audience.

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How Dealers United Is Using WordPress to Run A Multi-Million Dollar Online Business

In this episode we interview Pete Petersen, the CEO of Dealers United, and dive deep into the details of how they use WordPress to manage their multi-million dollar web based business.

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Mason James on Making Money With WordPress

WordPress Wednesday is sponsored by zoing.ly


Last week I interviewed Mason James, the founder of Valet.io (formerly WordPress Valet) as part of our WordPress Wednesday Interview Series.

The interview explores his personal WordPress journey, and is filled with insights on how to run a successful WordPress based business.


Valet.io works with brands like Etsy, TimeInc, Nvidia, Harvard University, Mixergy, and more, and is well respected in the WordPress community for top tier development and support services.

If you are looking to start a WordPress business, or want to learn more about how to grow and scale your WordPress business then this might be a good place to start.

If you are in Sarasota, you can attend these MeetUps in person. Learn more on our MeetUp page.


Show Notes

1:45 – Starting out as a freelancer

We start out by talking about the path from freelancer to entrepreneur.

4:15 – Picking WordPress as a platform

I asked Mason how he decided to pick WordPress as the platform for him to build his online business.

6:10 – Getting involved in the WordPress community 

Mason and I dive into the importance of the WordPress community, and talk about how people can get involved in the WordPress community, and why it is such a large part of WordPress success.

13:30 – Breaking the freelancer gap

I asked Mason how he made the jump from freelancer to full fledge business owner. We dive into how he landed his first clients, how he hired his first employees and more.

15:30 – Getting your first customer

We dive deeper into prospecting, networking and getting started as a small business owner.

17:25 – Biting off more than you can chew

Sometimes you have to get a little ambitious when you are trying to build your own business, but that can definitely backfire on you in the online world. Get advice on staying within your core competencies, and how to learn as you grow.

20:18 – To pick a niche or not

Some people swear by the idea that you have to specialize in order to be successful, so I wanted to know what Mason thought about being a generalist, or picking a specific niche.

20:54 – The main goal of any website

If there is one part of this interview which you should listen to, it is this section. In it Mason goes over his process for assessing websites, and outlines the order in which they approach website optimization.

24:29 – I hire people to do the things I suck at

Mason explains how he hires employees, and more specifically, how he hired his first employee. He also dives into his philosophy on how he hires people, and how he vets candidates.

28:48 – Internet freeing people to become their own boss

Mason and I discuss the power of the internet, and how it is empowering more people than ever to go out and become their own boss.

30:07 – You have to fail a lot

It wouldn’t be a proper interview if we didn’t spend some time talking about failure. Listen as Mason explains why failure is such an important part of starting and running a successful business.

34:49 – Creative processes deserve their own brain cycles

Towards the end of the interview, we dive into the creative side of running the business, and talk about the importance of spending time creating quality content, and connecting with a social audience in order to grow your online business.

44:55 – Quantifying the value and getting the money

We end the show by talking about how to stand up for what you are worth, how to set your rates, and discuss how to make sure people understand the value you are providing.

8 SketchNotes From Expert Presentations at WordCamp Miami

Get an inside look at my thought process by exploring a few of the hand drawn sketch notes I took at WordCamp Miami 2015.

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9 Reasons Why You Should Quit Your Job & Become Your Own Boss

I just talked to the boss. He said your raise is effective just as soon as you are.

Is Medium Trying to Steal Your Blog?

Is Medium Trying to Steal Your Blog?

Because it kind of feels like it to me.

 This post originally appeared on Medium

Medium-trying-to-steal-our-blogsContent, content, content…

It’s probably one of the most overused marketing buzzword of the last few years. And as far as I can tell, it will continue on that trajectory into the foreseeable future. Especially as businesses, marketers, writers and other individuals look for ways to stand out among the noise, and rush to claim their piece of online pie.

The online new media machine is devouring old media at an alarming pace. It seems that everyone is in a hurry to share their deepest, darkest thoughts online. Over the last 10 years it has become increasingly easy for individuals to build an online presence, but it has also become increasingly difficult for them to actually stand out from the crowd.

In this epic race for online space, businesses are building platforms with the intention of easily aggregating high-quality, user-generated content. Content that provides value for the reader and engagement (think advertising opportunities) for the site owner. Something Facebook seems to have perfected, even if their recent profits come at the cost of their credibility. However, no one has been able to replicate that process for long form content. That is, until Medium.

Businesses and online entrepreneurs have understood the value of blogging for a while now, but the average individual is discovering that it is also a great way for them to build their personal brand. As the freelance economy gains traction and remote workplaces grow in popularity, the importance of setting yourself apart online continues to increase. A robust website is no longer optional, and will soon be the ultimate 21st century living resume.

This is where Medium comes in, at least from a bloggers perspective.

Medium has built (in my opinion) one of the simplest, most user friendly, publishing platforms in existence. They have made it easy for anyone to get online and share their story. No need for any of the other trouble associated with building a website, just “here’s your digital notebook, hit publish whenever you have an idea worth sharing!”

However, what many do not realize is that the importance of building your presence online revolves around your ability to control not only the message, but the platform as well.

The purpose of having your own website is so that you can control how it looks and feels. You do it so that you can have control over how the user interacts with your story and hopefully to take them from one action to another.

Another reason for managing your online presence independently is that there is a growing need to own the search results for your name. You want to build your own individual presence because in a world where Google is the arbiter of information, you want them to know that your website is the bastion for everything you. Not your profile page on Medium.

Additionally, what if you want to monetize your presence? What if you decide to start selling a book or other product? What happens when your presence is on Medium and there is nowhere for you to insert a form, build a landing page or otherwise engage the audience you are working so hard to build?

You are after all trying to build YOUR presence aren’t you? I hate to imagine the thought of you working so diligently, only to end up helping some guys in silicon valley build their website instead of yours. And when you focus solely on a single social outlet as the hub of your online presence you are doing just that.

Now, I am not saying that publishing on Medium is a bad thing. Quite the contrary, I think it’s a great tool to use as you grow your presence, and considering I have had great success with Medium, it would be hypocritical of me to do so.

What I am trying to say, is that you should not (exclusively that is) build your brand around Medium or any other social publishing platform for that matter. You should build your presence around your own website and then use outlets like Medium as channels through which you drive traffic, grow engagement and build influence.

You need to build a content engine for yourself as opposed to feeding their future advertising machine. A machine they will eventually attempt to monetize and potentially leave you looking from the outside in at an audience you worked so hard to build.

They will use your content as the foundation from which fund their revenue model, drive advertising dollars or otherwise modify the platform in a way that will be beyond your control. (Facebook pages anyone?) What happens when it cost you money to publish or when they start letting people pay to get to the top of those subscriber emails?

I am not certain this is the direction they are taking the platform, but they have already made fundamental shifts in the way they share and allow you to curate content, and they continue to make changes that lead me to believe that they are moving towards a platform that might leave your wallet a little lighter if you wish to continue using it to share your message in the not too distant future.

Sure their subscription tool is great and their interface is clean but watch out, they might just be trying to back door their way into stealing your blog.

Wouldn’t it be a beautiful thing if I was wrong about all of this. Only time will reveal their true intentions, but I cant help but think that they are making their way towards a viable revenue model. Even if those movements are subtle.

I’m not certain about any of this, And I won’t tell you to stop using Medium, but I can tell you that if you are serious about building your blog, or any substantial online presence, you should be doing it with the fundamental understanding that it needs to be yours.

Medium should definitely be a part of your strategy but honestly, your website needs to be a platform which you can control. Something that you own. Not something that leaves you as a tenant to the fruits of your own labor.

So what do you think? Is Medium trying to steal our blogs? Or do I have it all wrong?

P.s. My entire argument presumes that you are using the web as a means to an end. If you just like writing for writings sake and just want a simple platform from which to publish your miscellaneous thoughts then Medium might be the perfect place for you.

3 Proven Techniques To Build Online Trust And Drive Social Engagement!

Alfredo Lopez explains why all businesses are now media companies and how to effectively use that advice to drive your online social engagement strategy.

“All Businesses Are Now Media Companies”

Alfredo Lopez – Cofounder Social Chrome

Today’s generation of youngsters , the twenty and thirty-somethings (and all future generations for that matter), are hard-wired to seek out online content before doing business with anyone. Indeed, according to Marketing Land, 91% of people have visited a store after an online experience.

Promotions and discounts are no longer enough to drive new business. Think about it, do you ever see flyers any more ? What about that ancient book of golden scrolls we used to call the Yellow Pages? Exactly.

Business paradigms have shifted to include more parity and transparency for the consumer. Customers want to be engaged by your business. They want to experience your personality, and they want to see what other people are saying about you. In short, they want to be fascinated, not finagled. Fascination is magnetic, and is a key to attracting new business.

So, how exactly how do you attract new business with social media? Scratch your head no more, here are three proven techniques to do just that!

1: Transparency

Transparency results in trust and a deep sense of security towards your business which should be the main goals of any social media strategy. In today’s business world, transparency is absolutely vital. You simply cannot do without it.

Not too long ago, business folk, salespeople, and marketers had a big advantage: more often than not, they had more information than consumers. If you walked into a car dealership, the salesman knew more than you. If you went to the doctor, he or she knew more than you too. This eventually led to consumer mistrust.

With the advent of the internet, and sundry other modern communication tools and devices, there is now a surplus of information. This means that consumers often have as much, if not more, information than the salesperson. Transparency breaks down barriers because you are effectively letting people learn more about you, the way you work, and how you service customer needs.

Another important motivation for transparency is what bestselling author Daniel Pink calls non-sales selling. Let’s be clear. Being transparent, and setting up the systems and operations with which to be transparent, is an action. Specifically, we can qualify this type of action as non-sales selling.

Pink estimates that we spend around 40% of our time engaged in non-sales selling: influencing, persuading, and convincing others in ways that have nothing to do with anyone buying anything. So what is the ROI of non-sales selling? Trust. And there’s simply no substitute for that as we move towards a more transparent future.

2: Micro-Content

One of the keys to social media is microcontent; the smaller the better. Think of microcontent as a bunch of snapshots you take with your camera, or as small conversations that you have with your neighbor. There are two critical components that make microcontent successful: quality and regularity. Let’s unpack these concepts.

Several ingredients go into producing quality content. First of all, your content must be personable. There’s no point in producing content and sounding like an answering machine. That approach is going to make people feel like they are sitting in line at the DMV (why would you do that).

Take a look at your current content strategy: do you sound human, or do you sound like a bot? It makes a big difference.

High quality content evokes a human response in the audience. When you pair that response with a call to action, then you are well on your way to building a relationship and adding value for the consumer.

That’s the real power of social media: creating connections!

Consider what Coca-Cola has done recently with their “Share a Coke” campaign. They have been printing people’s names on their classic Coca-Cola cans. An example might say, “Share a Coke with your BFF” or “Share a Coke with Family” or “Share a Coke with Susie.” See that there? The Coca-Cola can is already a classic, but they figured out a way to use the space on the can to produce a piece of personalized content alongside the branding.

The result? Sales catapulted to the highest they have been in a decade, and I’m pretty sure there are a lot of happy Susies out there.

Another thing to consider is relevance. Remember: your content should not necessarily be about you, it should be about your audience. How relevant is your content? Is it tailored to your particular audience?  Much of the challenge in generating great content comes from identifying your audience’s personality and tailoring your message to their liking.

The first thing you should be doing is creating a buyer persona that outlines as much detail as possible about your target audience.

What do they eat? What music do they listen to? Are they creative? Rational? Educated? Affluent? Edgy? Conservative? Introverted? Extroverted?

After you have pinpointed your buyers personality, you can start playing matchmaker. That is, you can say, “Hey Mr. Audience Member, I’d like to introduce you to this content that is tailored specifically for you, wink wink.” Now you’re a matchmaker, and everyone loves the person who introduces them to cool stuff.

3: Fascination/Innovation

There are a lot things in the world that are not fascinating. Things like the post office, filing your taxes, washing your dishes multiple times a day, jury duty, getting a cramp on your calf while you’re running or just sitting on the couch. Your business, as its own media company, should not be on that list. Ever.

More and more, marketers are privy to the fact that we are in a post-information age. It used to be that information was scarce, and whoever had access to information had a distinct advantage. But that is no longer the case. Information is abundant, and available at the touch of a button.

So how do you stand out from the noise and guffaw when information is all too prominent? You have to be fascinating.

Businesses are adopting social media marketing at accelerated rates. In fairness, not everyone loves social media, but an astute business owner must at least concede that it is invaluable to the well being of his or her business. As we move into a future where all businesses are exercising some form of social saes strategy, the most successful businesses will not be those with  the same old social media strategies, but those who utilize social media in such a way as to be evoke fascination.

According to bestselling author Sally Hogshead, there are 7 triggers that evoke fascination. These are:

  1. Power
  2. Trust
  3. Mystique
  4. Lust
  5. Prestige
  6. Vice
  7. Alarm

I call them the 7 friendly wins and they should be your new best friends. Each one of them is a key ingredient in the recipe for your social media cake. Realistically, employing all of them would be excessive, but it’s important to at least be familiar with all of them. Try to employ them strategically and contextually whenever possible.  Your use of these concepts will make your business irresistible to consumers.

Ultimately, fascination is an instinct. In other words, we are not rationally drawn to fascination, we’re magnetically drawn to it for reasons that reason does not grasp. Nevertheless, this instinct serves as a catalyst for action and behavior, including the decision to buy.

It’s time to harness your most fascinating self. Now go fascinate.

Master the A.R.T. of Online Sales in 3 Simple Steps

A.R.T. = Attract. Retain. Transcend

Sales & Marketing as an ART? That’s SMART!

In this article I’ll walk you through the basics of inbound marketing while explaining a few keys principles that will help you take full advantage of your online sales and marketing efforts.

Let’s Get Started

The process of attracting an audience online and converting them into customers is evolving faster today than ever before and keeping up can quickly become a full time job.

When it comes to the web, you either learn how to do it yourself, or hire a pro. It has become so easy to build a website that everyone is doing it and honestly, I see no problem with that.

However, many of those people now want to sell you something and the internet is quickly becoming a flea market of monotonous content and online stores with lots of things to sell but no real value to deliver.

Sure, you can go build a website and install a store, but when it comes down to actually selling something then I think you will find that there is more to the process than meets the eye.

New School vs Old School Sales

So many people are stuck in the old school thought process of how sales and marketing should work. They have not taken the time to watch and study its evolution. A process which is speeding up daily.

They still focus on the grind of cold calling, door knocking and sales stalking. Not that these methods don’t work, but as times and technology changes, so should your approach to sales.

Related: Follow These 5 Steps to Design the Perfect Sales Process

Beware of False Social Success

It seems like everyone is a marketer these days, or at least claims to be. I find it funny when someone tells me that they are a marketer and then gives me a blank stare when I ask them what they think about companies like HubSpot, MOZ or CopyBlogger. So many people have jumped into the industry to become “social media managers” that I can’t help but roll my eyes when someone starts to tell me about how good they are at getting “likes” for their clients on Facebook.

Considering that Facebook has lost most of it’s value to marketers over the last couple years, I find it insulting that so many people want you to pay them to artificially supplement your social credibility. If numbers are all you’re after then there are a million places where you can buy fake traffic, but if you are really trying to set yourself apart, then forget about padding your vanity stats and instead focus your efforts on the the actual ART of online sales.

Your website, not social media should be the base of operations for everything you do online. Sure, social media is a good tool for engaging your audience but think of the networks as just that. Tools.

You should think of social media as the air conditioner in your sales car. Sure it’s great to have, but if it goes out, the car should still drive. So roll down your windows and learn how to survive on the open web. It’s easier than you think and it is considerably more effective for your online sales presence in the long term.

By relying on social media as the sole driver for your online business, you are really just building business for the network itself. Not to mention that a single change in the way those social networks work could leave you stripped of you of your ability to access that network or dramatically diminish your engagement in the blink of an eye. Don’t believe me, just watch the video below.

Instead of building your business on social media, your focus should be on making your website more social. Incorporate some of the stuff that makes social media so great into the website itself, and then focus on using social media as a distribution channel for your awesome content.

This way you are in charge of the platform, you control the data (subscribers, emails, platform, etc) and no one can get in your way.

Is it a little more difficult? Yes.

Can you do it? I think so.

Heck, look at what I’ve built and I can’t even type properly. Seriously. I use an advanced chicken peck technique. But hey, the words still read the same way.

So with no further delay, here they are. Three simple steps to master the ART of online sales. Think of it as the master key to your online sales lock! #YoureWelcome

Step 1 – Attract

Because you must earn trust from an audience before you can sell them anything.

The first step to selling online is to attract eyeballs. Sure you can do this with paid search and media buys, but these are all ad based marketing efforts. Yes, they can deliver an instant return, but only as long as you keep spending money to get it.

If we are going to progress as marketers then we need to start building long term online sales assets that drive traffic organically. Inbound marketing is the process by which you do just that, and learning how to blend original content with your paid advertising should be the first step in building your online sales monster.

You should be using your paid advertising as a tool to find out what is working and to hone in on keywords that are relevant to your conversion process. From there you should start to put together a plan that revolves around creating a library of relevant content for your ideal buyer. A resource for them to fully understand you, your product and how buying it will benefit them.

Don’t be afraid to let your story shine through when you start to work on a plan for your content marketing. Some businesses get so caught up in industry lingo and technical jargon, that they forget that their prospects are also human. They forget that most people just like a good story.

If you can find ways to combine your great products with some compelling online storytelling, then you are well on your way to online sales success. Just remember to jab a couple times before throwing that hook!

Step 2 – Retain

Because keeping customers is easier than getting new ones.

We all know that it’s less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to gain new ones so how come so few businesses are spending time marketing to their existing customer base?

70% of companies say it’s cheaper to retain a customer than acquire one

If you truly want to perfect the art of online sales, then it comes down to leveraging existing relationships and developing a plan for your current clients that is just as robust as your efforts to acquire new ones.

Most sales organizations work so hard to drive new sales, that they often leave their buyers on the edge of a cliff after they make a purchase. They give their buyers little direction after the sale and miss out on one of the most opportunistic times to bring that customer back around for a relationship building experience.

The customer has just expressed the ultimate faith in you as a business by buying your product. Their trust and emotion for the things you do are not likely to reach this level again without more work from the sales team. This is why it’s important to close your sales loop and have a defined plan to transition your buyer into the next phase of your sales process.

By inviting your customers into a more personal side of your business you make them feel comfortable with their choice and reassure them that they did in fact, make the right decision. You can then set them up for cross sell/up-sell opportunities, repeat sales, and more importantly, referrals. The holy grail of any sales organization.

You don’t have to look further than companies like Evernote, Apple, Amazon, etc. to see how they have created cults of customers who then become an extension of their marketing departments.

The only way to build this level of relationship with your buyer is to open up. To connect emotionally with them and to make them feel like they are part of your business family as opposed to just another revenue opportunity. It is up to you to create that connection and buyers are hungry for that type of sales experience.

Just think about how much you hate a crappy sales process and then put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. Would they be happy with your post purchase procedures? If not then you might want to spend a little more time working on retaining your existing customers before going out and spending all their money trying to get new ones.

Step 3 – Transcend

Because f#@k the competition!

So many businesses spend all their time worrying about and copying what the competition is doing that they forget why they got into business in the first place. They forget that innovation is the real driver in any business and that focusing on the competition too much can cause them to stagnate.

That is why you are in business isn’t it? To deliver value to your customers? To grow and build on your vision for how the things you do can make the world you live in a better place?

Why then would you spend so much time copying the competition as opposed to setting yourself apart from them. Why not try something new? Why not go out on a limb and share a portion of yourself that makes it immediately apparent to your prospect that you are different from everyone else they are considering for this purchase.

I’m not telling you to ignore the competition completely, just that you need to elevate yourself above them in order to stand out. This is something you can only do by being different as well as being better than the competition.

Throw some personality into your sales copy, tell me a joke now and again and make me think that there are actual humans working for you. Make me feel like your goal is to do more than just sell me something and I’ll be infinitely more likely to buy from you.

We live in a world where everyone is always trying to sell us something so when you actually make me feel like you care then you win. When you give me value before I buy from you, then you win again. And when you give me the resources I need to make an informed buying decision with no sleazy sales pressure, then you will most likely win me over as a customer.

In Conclusion

Just don’t suck. Seriously, we live in a world where we are constantly under attack from some sales pitch, so why not tell me a story instead? Why not tell me why you got into business in the first place? Why not tell me about your amazing employees and how they help you do what you do better? Anything other than just trying to cram your product down my throat.

All of these things can go a long way in the process of taking me from a shopper to a buyer, and they are definitely things you should be thinking about right now. Because whether you want to admit it or not, the social sales revolution is upon us, and if you aren’t careful, you might just get left in the dust.

 

Life’s A Pitch: Exposing The Truth About Sales

Learn more about how life and sales are interconnected and discover how learning a few simple sales tips can change your life.

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How I Drove Millions of Page Views & Got 10K+ Subscribers In One Year With $0 Ad Spend

The history of Raymmar.com and why I am uniquely qualified to help you grow your online presence.

 Executive Summary:

Let me save you some time here.

There is no secret to building a brand online.

  1. It takes time and a lot of great content.
  2. It takes a good story and a willingness to open up and make yourself and yes, your product vulnerable to the world.
  3. It means sharing the story of why you do the things you do as opposed to trying to trick people into helping you do them.

Once you break that barrier, you can begin to build trust with your audience and turn your online presence into a revenue generating machine that can help you spread your message across the world.

If you are interested in learning more about how to do just that, click here and let’s talk about how I can help you optimize and grow your online business.

It Begins

Raymmar.com started out as just a simple online portfolio…

I was just starting out as a marketing consultant and trying to build a name for myself online. I bought a cheap hosting plan on GoDaddy, installed WordPress and bought my first theme. I had no development skills, and zero dollars to spend on any of it, but I was going to take over the world.

The site was pretty gross. At the time I thought it looked good, but a few friends told me they wouldn’t come back until I changed how it looked.

I was bombing my Facebook feed with requests for people to “Like” my page and to “check out my new website”. That is, until a friend sent me an article from The Oatmeal about how to get more Facebook likes.

To make a long story short, the article said to quit begging friends for Facebook likes and start creating content that they would actually like.

I had been so focused on trying to get people to my website, that I forgot to give them a reason to come in the first place. There was no reason for them to stay when they got there or come back if they did decide to visit. And even the few people who came had little to see, and even less that was worth sharing.

I set out to find a better theme, and then learn as much about blogging, search engine optimization and inbound marketing as I could. I wanted to learn everything I could about how the internet worked and I still had quite a few things to learn about writing words that people would actually want to read.

Starting to tell a story

I started trying to express more of my personality online. I started playing around with online memes and Infographics. I began writing more in depth articles (like this one about email marketing) and tried to understand the best marketing practices by actually practicing them.

I started writing articles about the town I lived in and wrote a couple stories about the incubator I was working in at the time. I was testing my writing abilities and trying to find ways to use local events to boost views and engagement.

I started sharing stories about being a broke entrepreneur, and the emotional struggles of giving up everything you love to go chase a dream.

I started sharing part of my personal struggle but not in an attempt to gain sympathy or pity from my audience. I did it in an attempt to inspire them. To show that determination, hard work and the willingness to fail fast are things anyone can learn and use to accomplish their goals in life.

I was able to convert my story into something people cared about. Something someone looking to find a place online would do well to learn quickly. My audience finally had a reason to come back. Now they were rooting for me.

But how to get to that next level? How would I shake things up or separate myself from the millions of other online bloggers?

“I know, I’ll start making videos!”

Said the guy who had never shot, or edited a video in his life.

I was watching some Vsauce videos and decided that I could do something similar and started to produce videos about politics and life.

My first video did pretty well online and I was happy with the couple thousand views it got but I wasn’t prepared for what would happen when I released my next video.

I published the rant on a Friday afternoon. By midnight it had 5,000 views.

Friends immediately started messaging me, telling me that I was crazy. Even some of my fellow content creators told me I had just ruined my career. They said I was stupid to put something like that out to the world. That even though I made good points, I had also made a big mistake.

The next day that video did more than 80,000 views. That Sunday it did 221,505 page views and another 77,007 the day after that. Then Facebook shut down the link. This was the first, but not the last time, that Facebook throttled my content.

my-first-viral-moment-online-nigga-please

Nigga Please video stats from WordPress

 

Not only did they block the post, but since my commenting system was connected to Facebook at the time, I lost the ability for people to comment on the post as well as losing the 900+ comments that had already been made.

Although the video got blocked from Facebook, I still got a big viral bump from it and it helped me build an early subscriber base. I now had a small group of people to update with new posts, and I had an article that was giving me some credibility with Google.

Over the next few months I kept writing and made a few more videos. Nothing took off like that first video, but I wasn’t worried. I now understood that the path to building a strong online presence would be slow and steady. It would be about testing and trying, tweaking and breaking, constantly evolving until the site gets to the point where people can’t help but spend time interacting with it.

In my mind, the goal was to build a library of evergreen content. I was telling beautiful stories and stocking the digital shelves of my website with arrangements of words that people liked to read. Available to anyone, at any time. This is the real key. Sticking with it. Sure the viral posts help but those will come eventually if you just focus on telling great stories and putting your best work out to the world.

Over the next few months, I set out to refine the website and prepare it for the next traffic explosion. In the process I connected with a group of people that asked me to come out to CPAC with them and be their on-air personality on Radio Row

broadcasting on Radio Row

From left to right, Benjamin Doherty, Raymmar Tirado and Lisa Mei! Broadcasting live from Radio Row at CPAC 2014

Raymmar On-radio-row-2

Raymmar on set with David Webb on the SiriusXM set at CPAC

Keep in mind, I have no formal training as a journalist, reporter or anything that even resembles either of those things. What about my radio experience? That hadn’t happened yet so I was a total rookie! But what kind of blogger would turn down an opportunity for that kind of exposure on a national level?

While preparing to head out for CPAC, I wrote and published an article titled 7 Reasons You’ll Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life. It was not until a couple of weeks later when I looked at my web stats and saw that I was getting a thousand views a day, two thousand, three thousand and then one day 26,000 page views. Turns out that the article was going viral on Medium.

Million Views on medium

7 reasons article going viral on Medium

That month (February 2014) we did 1 million views on Medium alone and another 1.5 million in the following four months. We still do 20-50K views a month on Medium and while that traffic might not be directly tracked on my site, the hundreds of thousands of people who did come to my site from Medium were already highly engaged with my work. This means they subscribe at a much higher rate which is definitely one of the perks of being a top publisher on Medium.

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The traffic from Medium fluctuated dramatically for the next few months

There have been other articles that performed well online. Namely this one, and this one. The exposure I got from these articles lead to being asked to become a contributor at the Huffington PostElite Daily, and a number of other notable online publications. All of which have gone a long way towards helping me gain credibility as a writer, but for me, the focus has always been on turning my website into the center of operations. The rest of these things are just part of the distribution mechanism but any aspiring web mogul would do well to make sure their website is the hub for all of their online interactions.

All of this exposure was giving the site a boost in search rankings which is one of the things that young blogs can struggle with. This past July, the website was showing up in Google search results hundreds of thousands of times per day. It seemed that we were not only gaining credibility with readers but with the search engines as well. And remember, this is all organic. There is no paid advertising behind any of this growth at all.

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Showing up in Google search results millions of times,

All in all, over the last year (not including the Medium traffic) we did just under a million views on my personal website and gained more than 10,000 email subscribers. Sure the web traffic is still erratic and I am sure it will continue to be that way as it grows, but I drive regular engagement, have a steady base of repeat visitors and am regularly getting leads from all around the internet. All of which has allowed me to work from home and be my own boss.

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Raymmar.com, year over year web growth by page view.

Making a confession

I do not have magical marketing powers or any secret tricks to teach you about how to be a better blogger. I can only tell you that the moment I started sharing bits of my personal story with the world is the moment that the world started actually listening.

There is so much noise online and so many people are always trying to sell you something, that most people enjoy it when someone is honest and open with them. They appreciate it when you share your goals and struggles with them, and I think that businesses can learn a lesson from all of this as well.

I think that businesses can learn a little something about lowering their shields, and letting their customers see the people that actually make them a great company.

Tell me the story of the immigrant CEO or the mom who created the product to help her kids. Tell me why you make the product, not why you think I should buy it. Let’s start making better products so that we can restore some level of faith in a sales process that has become completely perverted over time.

These last few years have been an interesting journey. They have taught me how to be a one man media mogul and showed me how to broadcast my message to the world. My web presence is now bigger than most of the media companies in my local market and I will continue to hone these skills until I pass each of them up alltogether. I will continue to publish high quality content and keep helping creative entrepreneurs and small businesses do the same thing along the way.

So if you have a business, product, or website that you are looking to build an online presence for, then I’d love to hear from you. Whether we do business or not, I love to connect with other people who are doing cool things online.

Anyway. Hopefully you have enjoyed this story and maybe you’ll even come back for another one sometime soon.


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RayDO #33: On Starting A Startup. #HomelessInParadise.

In this episode of RayDO, Raymmar is joined by Bryan Saxon and Joel Fenton, co-founders of FeedMe app for iPhone which is currently in early development.

In this Episode:

We discuss the decision to become your own boss and the process of going out and starting your own company. We try to decide what defines a startup,  and then break into our individual stories and events that lead us to do what we are doing. We also dive into the concept of design thinking, simplifying your value proposition and debate whether or not the process of “selling” has become obsolete.

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Unlock the ROI of Social. Can You Put A Price Tag on Trust?

In this article, Alfredo Lopez takes us through the misconceptions about social exposure and helps us see the true value of social ROI.

Don’t Ask: What is the ROI of Social?

While sales and numbers are important, I’ve come to understand that this may be the wrong question. We can get an insight into the flaws of this question if we ask it in a different way.

Instead Ask: What Is the ROI of Trust?

What is the ROI of trust? What is the ROI of establishing rapport with your customers? As Ted Rubin pointed out as far back as 2011, “If you want to continue to reach your market in this social media age, the marketing focus needs to be on building relationships, and metrics need to expand beyond ROI (Return on Investment) to include ROR: Return on Relationship™.”

When you’re talking social you’re not necessarily talking dollars and cents, though of course that’s included in any bottom line. Instead, the language of social is the language of relationships, and that cannot always be quantified. What metrics would you use to measure trust? What analytics would be sound enough to illuminate the returns on successful customer relationships? These questions are worth asking, but the answers are not easily revealed.

Any social media strategy must calibrate itself not simply to drive sales and increase earnings (though it includes these), but also to build and maintain relationships. This is social media in a nutshell: building and maintaining relationships that originate online, which in turn translate into real world value. Any other understanding of social media misses the point. So how do you get a return on relationship?

Three ways to drive ROR

1. Shut Your Mouth, Open Your Ears: The Art of Listening

You may have heard of this. It’s what you should be doing when you are not too busy talking all the time Mr. Talker. The real art of listening takes place on two different levels, and they are very different.

On one hand, there is the listening to what was literally, physically, said. That is to say, the actual sequence of words that were put together and communicated directly.

For example, a client who runs an upscale restaurant in Manhattan might ask, “How’s the social media campaign coming along?” It’s easy enough to understand the outer meaning of this: it’s a fairly direct question.

On the other hand, there is the subtext, or reading between the lines of what was physically said. To take our earlier example, the client has asked about the social media campaign, but might secretly be concerned about something else, or might have another question which he is hesitant to ask.

It’s important to be sensitive not merely to what is physically said, but also to what is said between the lines. You may consider: How did they say it? What was their tone like? What was their posture and attitude like when they asked? What was their emotional state? All of these are important considerations and are also part of communication and listening.

So why is listening so difficult? Here’s a partial answer: we’re too caught up in our own subjective thoughts, feelings, and daydreams. Sound familiar?

When you truly listen to someone, you have to get rid of your own preconceptions and all the thoughts that you have bouncing around on pogo sticks in your skull. All the subjective thoughts in your head are just extra noise that drowns out what is being said. Try listening to your favorite song while at the same time running the blender. Our listening is usually like that.

 

If you’re preparing an answer while someone is talking, you’re not listening to them. You’re listening to yourself.

Just listen. Don’t prepare an answer while the person is talking. Just listen. Don’t think of how you spilled your drink at last weekend’s cocktail party because the speaker said something that reminded you of that. Just listen. You have to be empty. You can’t take in what someone is saying if you are full of responses, ideas, rebuttals, and thoughts.

Social is almost all about listening. In the past, advertising and marketing had a ‘me’ mentality. It was all about my product, my service, or my personal brand. In the social age, it’s now about others. It’s a conversation, not a lecture.

2. Ask More Questions

Asking more questions is a powerful way to build relationships because it is fundamentally an act of humility and openness. It says that you’re looking to connect, and that is at the heart of all things social. This is the exact opposite of the “know it all” who stifles all conversation because he “already knows.” That is being closed, not open. Don’t be that person. Nobody likes that person.

Asking more questions helps build relationships with your clients because it shows that you are curious about them. There’s an idea! Other people exist! Shocking, I know. I spent some time in sales, and there was one very powerful question that, more often than not, allowed me to establish trust and rapport with clients. This is because questions open doors and further the conversation. The question was this: “What else?”

Try it.

Notice what happens when you ask this question. Rather than having listened to someone, and then preparing a response or rebuttal, you are actually requesting more from that person. This surprises people (in a good way) because they feel that they are being heard and valued. It’s a way of saying, “I’m listening. Is there more? What else do you have for me? What else do you need? What else can I help with?”

Asking more questions is the difference between buying something and being sold. If you’re being talked at, you’re being sold. If you’re being listened to, you’re more inclined to buy and thus enter into a relationship.

3. Quality Trumps Quantity: Less is More

Quick, would you rather have thousands of followers on Twitter or a dozen trustworthy clients? Would you rather have four quarters or a hundred pennies? In social media marketing, it’s best to go with quality over quantity. Appearances can be great, and I don’t think anyone would reject thousands of followers on Twitter, or thousands of ‘Likes’ on Facebook. After all, popularity breeds popularity. But behind appearances, there are often latent conflicts, and it’s best to go with quality.

Quality clients and quality engagement on social media will grow your brand and ensure your reputation into the future. You might not be as flashy as you’d like, and you may not go viral anytime soon; but step by step, as you lay down the foundation for a sterling reputation, you’ll be glad you went with quality. This is an art more than a science. As Robert Pirsig put it, “Art is anything you can do well. Anything you can do with Quality.” Focus on tailoring your content to those that already love you (your dozen clients) rather than expending needless energy chasing numbers and ghosts.

Why?

Quantity, mere numbers, can be fool’s gold. Gary Vaynerchuk has echoed this thought when he says that too many companies are looking for the knockout punch (going viral, or any version of that) when instead they should be throwing consistent jabs to set up the right hook. So much time and effort is lost looking for the social media version of ‘El Dorado,’ when instead, strengthening your ability to listen, asking more questions, and valuing quality clients, sets you on the path towards social media success. And that is the true ROI of social.

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5 Stupid Questions Sales People Should Stop Asking Immediately

Brian Geery explains why the structure of your question is as important as the question itself. Whether you are in sales or not, I think we can agree, sales professionals should stop asking these 5 questions immediately.

Asking questions is an important part of the sales process.

And contrary to the popular saying, when it comes to being a sales professional, there is such a thing as a stupid question.

As a sales consultant, I interview salespeople and observe them on sales calls in order to write sales playbooks. For the “sales questions” section of the playbook, I prioritize and categorize the best sales questions for that specific sales process.

Along the way, I have identified these five questions as some of the stupidest, and surprisingly, most common. So without further adue here is a list of five stupid sales questions you should never ask again.

1. What will it take to earn your business today?

First of all, it will take you not asking this question because it automatically makes you sound “salesy.” You are a sales professional; it is your job to do the selling. If the prospect were going to tell you what it took to earn their business then they wouldn’t need you, would they?

Besides, you should know: to earn a prospect’s business your product or service has to be a cost-justified solution to a problem the prospect is currently facing. Oh, and it has to solve that problem better than the competition.

Instead, you should ask questions that elicit information regarding their problems and the consequences of the status quo. For example: explore the problem’s impact on time, money, personal aggravation, or the growth of the business. Then ask about the decision making criteria, cost justification data, and the competitive landscape.

2. What do you guys do? How long have you worked there?

First of all, have you met my friends Google and Social Media? You can easily answer these and other questions with proper pre-sale research. You are doing pre-sale research on your prospects aren’t you? While these are two different questions, they are both in the same category of stupid.

I often take inbound sales calls because it gives me an opportunity to do some reverse prospecting. I listen to the salesperson’s approach, take notes, and then reach out to the company’s VP of Sales with some ideas for enhancement.

I am continually amazed at how many sales calls I receive where it’s obvious the salesperson hasn’t even glanced at my firm’s website, LinkedIn profile, Facebook page, etc. Even before impromptu sales meetings, a quick search can give you insight on the person or company you are about to meet with.

3. Who else is involved in the decision making process?

Maybe I’m splitting hairs here, but a prospect may hear this question as, “Since you’re just an underling, who should I really be talking to?”

Why not flip the question like this, “Who, including yourself, should be involved in the decision making process?” This way you still get the information you need without potentially offending your prospect.

The structure of your sales questions is very important and underestimating the value of a properly placed question can cost you dearly in a sales setting.

4. Are you familiar with _________?

There are a couple problems with this question. First of all it is a closed-ended question. This means you are making it easy for the buyer to give you a yes or no answer. But, is that question giving you any new information or is it even necessary for you to make the sale?

This question can also put someone on the spot unnecessarily.

For example: someone recently asked me if I’m familiar with Drupal. I happen to have a basic understanding that Drupal is software used in website development, but that’s pretty much it. If I answer “yes,” I’m overstating my knowledge of the technology, and if I answer “no,” I feel like a dummy.

I suppose I could say “a little,” but why would you leave it up to me to answer your question in the exact way you want it. This is a perfect way to lose all of your sales momentum if you get the wrong answer.

Asking questions during the sales process is important but sometimes it is more important to skip a question and just explain what you are referencing as opposed to placing a hurdle or possible objection in your path.

5. What’s your budget?

First of all, what should their budget have to do with your pricing. By asking this question, you instantly make the buyer feel like your pricing is dependent on their answer. You also have to remember that buyers are often liars. They feel you are trying to game them when you ask this question so they will often use it as an opportunity to game you.

They may feel that answering the question puts them at a disadvantage when negotiating. What if they have not yet set a budget and then you force them to give you a ceiling? Again, be careful about when and where your questions come up. Asking a question like this at the wrong time of the sales process can be a sure fire way to end up with a dead lead.

Instead, when the time is right, ask how they intend on paying for your services. Phrasing your question this way assumes the sale, puts the ball in their court to ask you about your pricing or financing options and otherwise leads you closer to the close.

It also opens the door to start talking about their overall budget and what part of it they might be willing to allocate towards your services.

Executive summary

Questions are an important part of the sales process, but stupid questions are a sure fire way to trip yourself up on that path to making that sale. Think about the way you structure and format your questions before your next meeting so that they are second nature to you when sitting in front of your next prospect.

What do you think? Did we miss any stupid sales questions? Got one that really bothers you? Leave it in the comments below!

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The New Economics of Demand; Convenience Over Cash

 Movement over money.

Sean Smith explains why connecting with your consumer is important in a digital economy and why customer convenience is more important than price.

Read the original article on Medium

It used to be an age old solution in business to build a bidding war with your competition.

The lowest price would win, because convenience was on a level playing field.

Price is not necessarily obsolete now, but it matters far less to our inter-connected society than it used to.

Businesses like Amazon are putting others out of business left and right. Most people point at their prices, but that’s not really the case. When you look at the ease of convenience their services like Prime bring — giving next day or same day delivery for any of their products while also being cheaper than most of their competition — the competition doesn’t stand a chance.

People don’t have to leave their house to shop. Think about that. That’s an insane notion that only became possible in the last 5 years.

People care more about their time now more than ever, because now we see the possibilities of the things we can do with our day. Our days are getting longer, because things are getting easier due to technology.

Businesses that understand this will thrive, those who don’t adapt or find their niche in this new age of convenience and demand will dwindle.

No longer does price dictate the outcome of our pocket, we decide based off of our time.

“People don’t buy products, people buy better versions of themselves.”

As Belle Beth Cooper said best,

Ev Williams even mentioned that the best way to build a billion dollar business now is to “find a business vertical that hasn’t changed in 50-100 years and find a way to make it easier using technology.” This could be applied to hundreds of verticals, even online publishing, which is far from an ancient medium. Take Medium for example, this lovely online publishing tool you’re reading right now. I write here because it’s incredibly easy, it’s beautiful, it’s interesting, and the exposure makes it easier to reach my audience.

Uber took the cab industry and turned it on its head, starting with a simple app and some part-time cabbies running on their system. Now it’s worth billions of dollars with no signs of slowing down. SpaceX obviously didn’t choose an easy vertical, but they were able to achieve what only government associations were able to do to date, to dock a cargo ship to the international space station. This gave SpaceX billion dollar contracts from NASA to keep their astronauts supplied on the ISS.

There are “disruptions” to be made in thousands of verticals, you need only find that unique approach, take out the steps for the customer, and innovate.

In an environment where people are trying to “optimize” and automate as much of their life, and success as they can, those who help them succeed in this ambition will succeed in business.

This doesn’t bode well for business reluctant to change, but for entrepreneurs ready to build better services, this is a ground breaking time to live in.

“We help take the pain away” — this may be one of the best selling lines I’ve heard in a pitch for content marketing. It’s honestly what people want, whether you’re doing marketing for a business, or easing the pain of people dealing with a cable company to cancel their service.

People want their pain to go away.

The supply and demand curve has warped, it’s been turned on its head.

We’re all better for it too, because when people stop thinking about money, and instead think about what they can do with their time, we all move forward.

Movement over money.

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Why Medium Might Have Messed Up Big Time

Trying to understand Medium’s recent reshuffle and breaking down what I think are 2 major mistakes.

Disclaimer: I am writing this story with a conflicted conscience.

You see, I’m the same guy who wrote this  — “7 Reasons Why You’ll Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life.” An article that went viral on Medium.

It has more than 2.3 million views and been shared all over the world. It landed me access as a contributor to the Huffington post, Elite Daily, a CBS radio interview, and exposure on a number of other national publications.

The article hit #5 on the Medium top 100 list in March, #1 in April and #9 in May . It still gets thousands of reads each day, on Medium, as well as my personal website.

What I am trying to say is that my work on Medium has brought me national attention as a writer, I am a top contributor and a huge fan. Let’s not get carried away though, Medium did not write the article, I did.

I’m not listing these things to brag about my accomplishments, only to say that I think the recent changes to collections and article submissions on Medium were major mistakes.

Let me explain…

Up until these recent changes, Medium had done a great job of democratizing the creation and consumption of written online content.

Before the changes, Medium was a platform that allowed the content creator to stand solely on the credibility of their contributions. Something I admired and appreciated, especially considering I’m a budding blogger myself.

I loved the thought of a publishing platform where a person’s social standing was not a prerequisite for success. I was instantly addicted to the simplicity of the platform. I honestly saw it as a great “medium” by which to build my online influence and stand out online.

Medium’s publishing platform provided a solution that so many online authors are desperately seeking. In a world flooded with crappy online content, it was a place where words were king; a place where the sway of social swagger was secondary to actual substance.

Medium was a bloggers-blog! A place where content was curated and sorted in collections of categories as well as segmented by the individual creator. A duality of content categorization that is not presented in any other new-media model.

Medium was not just another stepson social network, wanna-be. This was the real deal. They had taken the best parts about blogging (the stories) and made them the centerpiece of their business model.

They stripped down all of the unnecessary elements, made it easy to use and then, they made it beautiful. On every device. No ads. No crap. Just content. Great content at that. It was on its way to becoming the holy grail of internet existence.

They were getting it all, so very, right…

But then they went and changed everything

They changed the way people contribute to collections and reconsidered the way collections work as a whole. They must have thought that their new solution would be better than before but this is where I think they made their first major mistake.

In my eyes, and the eyes of many others, these recent changes are a dramatic deviation from everything that made Medium so great in the first place.

I know no one asked me, and Medium is a free platform, so what right do I have to openly criticize it, but hey, I thought they needed to know that many of us, think they messed up. Even though I do still think they got most of it right.

You can read Medium’s explanation for making the changes here but I wasn’t sold. That being said, here are the two biggest mistakes and why they could have a big impact on Medium’s future as a publishing platform. 

Mistake #1

Removing the ability for articles to be included inside of multiple collections

Medium presented a unique value proposition to consumers of content as well as the creators. They provided something that was not available on any other social platform before it.

Readers could come and collect their favorite articles and present them in the form of a curated collection.

Other readers could then follow a collection based on its particular topic of interest or philosophy. Additionally, authors would submit their work to the collection’s curator for approval.

In my eyes, the ability to have an article in multiple collections was essential to Mediums ability to entice people to participate, not only as content creators but as curators of the individual collections.

Their model not only drew in the best writers online, but it also drew in the best readers along the way.

It allowed people who wanted to moderate a collection the ability to do so without necessarily having to write in it regularly. It also allowed writers to shop their words to different collections based on the relevancy of each article and the focus of any particular collection.

Some people just want to write & some people just want to read. Pretty simple really.

Limiting the ability for an article to appear in multiple collections is like telling a blogger that they cannot syndicate a post or contribute their content to another website.

It is a selfish social mechanism of content control that hurts the authors ability to share their work. It also limits the readers ability to consume the content from a source other than the author themselves or an affiliated collection.

Think about it like this. 

What if Facebook said you could not share an interesting post. What if instead they told you that the only place you could go to see that particular post was on the person’s profile page or on whatever business page they originally made the post. Odds are that people wouldn’t find your post, not as often at least, because it is only available in one location online.

Why wouldn’t you want the article to appear in multiple collections (think feed here)? Medium is essentially limiting the social sharability of each post by restricting where it will appear for users that are not already associated or connected to that post author or collection.

It’s either that, or collection owners now have to actively collect authors and somehow entice them to contribute to their collection.

Either way, it adds a hurdle to the submission process and removes part of the original social structure that made Medium so unique.

The new system might be working, but personally, I know I have been publishing my articles inside of my own collection. I even took my most popular posts away from other collections when I found out about these changes. I wanted to make sure that my top performing posts were pointing traffic back to my own collection. Something I am sure many others have done since the changes went live.

It used to be, that after I finished an article, I would go submit it to relevant collections. I would submit my article for review and the collection curator would either approve or reject it. It was a logical process and forced the author to seek out relevant audiences for their newly created content while not placing the requirement of being a regular contributor or even being connected as an author to that collection.

It allowed for a diversity of content inside of each collection that became a big part of what made Medium cool, or so I thought.

Don’t get me wrong, I like the thought of having multiple authors inside of a single collection, and the collaborative features that they have added are great, but why not let people submit either articles or themselves from the front end of each collection?

Read more about the submission process in Mistake #2 below

With these recent changes, Medium expects new authors to reach out and find a place inside of an existing collection in order to contribute any content to it.

It turned a system that was beautifully democratic and turned it into a system of clique based collections that are closed off to the average creator. It’s like content communism.

I can understand their desire to experiment with the social structure of their new online audience, but some of that social exploration was already happening organically. There was already a neat dynamic forming between the creators and curators and that dynamic social element was just plucked from the entire equation.

The question then becomes, “What long term effect does the removal of that social variable become to the progress of Medium as a whole?”

The new search for social collaboration is definitely something that an avid writer might set out to master but what about the average user?

What is a new user going to do when they find out that the only place they can publish on arrival is inside of a new collection? One that they must also build a readership for on their own. A problem they are probably already facing on their personal website.

At least if you (the author) build an audience on your website, you become the sole beneficiary of the audience you create. With the shift in recent strategy, Medium actually undercut the value they were providing you as the individual creator. Again, their product, their prerogative, but I really think they gave up on a huge value proposition here.

The ability to easily have your content shared among many different collections, was a huge differentiator from other blogging platforms. It is hard to think that such a large differentiator could be removed from the equation and not have some form of noticeable effect on their overall user base, sign ups, user activity and more.

I do not have any inside sources at Medium, but I have to wonder whether these changes will ultimately be revealed to revolve around some sort of monetization strategy.

There is, I am sure, some greater plan to turn this thing into a product, and I have to imagine that the guys who are pulling the strings know what they are doing. I just couldn’t help but ask some of these questions out loud and I am sure that other Medium users are wondering the same things.

I know that for me, part of the appeal when I first came to Medium was the way that collections worked. They were like mini magazines. Edited and curated by individuals who often happened to be great authors.

I think Medium might have underestimated the importance of the balance of power they created between the content creators and content consumers.

Which brings me to another question I’d like to ask the management team at Medium…

Why would you want content authors to curate their own collections? Why abandon such a unique social structure where authors had to compete at a certain level for relevancy inside of popular collections? Why remove the ability for curators to manage collections of other peoples work if that all they wanted to do?

By removing this feature, Medium minimized the role of the content consumer, potentially alienating a large portion of the people (readers), who attracted all the great writers in the first place.

I have to believe that many other people were fans of the original collections and how they worked because they were just that. Collections of great content. Submitted and screened as each individual saw fit. Every bit as much a creative expression of the individual who was curating the collection as it was the contributors inside of it.

Whether done with that as an understanding or not, that level of social interaction has been removed as a function of the Medium platform. A move that pushes Medium more towards mediocrity in my eyes.

If an authors only chance at getting published in a popular collection is to connect with the other authors of that particular collection, then new authors are immediately put at a distinct disadvantage over established authors on Medium. Something that is counterproductive to what Medium did by democratizing the content model in the first place.

It allows the authors who got in early and are part of established collections to gain credibility, while making it ever more difficult for new authors to do the same.

In the long run, I think this means that many new authors will end up starting their own collections and self publishing their work in those collections and then abandoning them over time as it becomes difficult to find collections in which to contribute and find readers.

We will watch Medium devolve from a platform where high-level, quality content, was a requisite for distribution inside of any collection, to a place where the established collections control the conversation and the majority of contributors will once again be left on the outside looking in.

If you ask me, (and I know no one did) this move creates a redundancy in the Medium article submission system (specifically by forcing new authors to publish in their own collections as a default) and by removing the incentive (by making it difficult and unintuitive) for anyone other than established authors, and people who got in during the early days, to see any real results from the platform.

Mistake #2

Removing the ability to submit a story to a collection in which you are not already an author

Another one of Medium’s value propositions, especially early on, was the social structure that began to form between the different creators and the curated collections.

Their efforts to democratize content was effective in the sense that it allowed everyone to become an independent arm in their own media machine.

And it was simple. Write awesome words, search for relevant collections and submit the article for consideration.

If you wanted to control a collection then you could, but if you just wanted to write then you could do that too.

Individual collections were just that. Collections of work that the individual curator found interesting. Things that they wanted to share with their growing community of content consumers.

Medium allowed people to separate themselves not only by weaving words into popular posts, but by collecting the words they consumed for themselves into sharable collections.

Medium was as much a social platform for readers as it was for writers and I think they lost sight of that with some of these changes. 

Each collection was a representation of the individual who was collecting its content. Each with a persona in and of itself. One that should have remained independent of their persona as an author.

The curator could choose to publish their own contributions inside of their collection or not. The author was not forced to have the content in one place and the reader was able to find the best stories in the collections that made sense.

If Medium is intending to become the arbiter of all its content, then I guess these changes would make more sense to me. Since they claim to be all about the story, you think they’d have kept it as easy as possible for people to find the stories they want. Logically this would be more likely with as many curators as possible.

All the authors care about is getting people to read their words, so you can see how these changes upset might have upset a delicate balance of power that was present early in Medium’s development.

I for one liked having to submit my work to individual collections. I liked having that real world buffer of relevance before someone actually read what I wrote.

As much as I appreciate the emails that Medium sends out on my behalf, it is not a service that I am unable to easily do on my own. Actually, it is something I do on my own. I do it because I like to build value in that subscriber list and because I get to build relationships with my readers. It’s pretty simple, I build a subscription base and in turn, I own those relationships.

In Medium’s new model, I become a collector of actionable data for them as opposed to myself. Sure the simplicity of their subscriber system is great, but what is the actual value of them managing my subscribers in the way that they have.

The first thought that comes to my mind is a monetization model that will eventually charge power-users for access to the audience they create on Medium. Much like Facebook has done recently with their pages and advertising model, medium could make it so that the audience you worked so hard to build is now out of your reach unless you pay them what they ask. Good for them, not for you.

So what is next? 

It is still early in the development game for Medium, as a social tool as well as a publishing platform. None of these changes are final or cast in stone, but their potential negative impact cannot be ignored.

I am sure this is not the last change we will see and I look forward to watching their progress along the way.

I guess they’ll either get it right or they won’t. As information becomes the currency of the future, the battle to control as much of that information exchange as possible will rage on. And by that measure, Medium is still quite powerful and well positioned to do something big.

I have to end this article by saying again, that I do appreciate what Medium has done up to this point, even considering these recent changes.

All I can do at this point is wait, and watch.

Oh, and write, but not submit, articles to any collection other than my own.

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Why You Should Avoid “Fitting-In” At All Costs

Why fitting in is not what it seems and why you should avoid it at all costs.

You see them all the time.

The cool people.

The person you wish you could be.

The people we all wish we could be.

We look up to them, want to be them, wish we could grow up to be… “Just Like Mike!”

The people who convince you that you can only be cool if you look, act and do what they do. Eat, drive and play like they do. Fuck, slut and strut, exactly like they do.

More and more in society we deify these individuals and prop them up on pedestals, in place of ourselves and our peers.

Instead of promoting the exploration of a deeper inner-consciousness (one where we might actually find ourselves) we promote a collective unconsciousness. One that that has infected our entire society.

We find ourselves entertained by our lack of education and enthralled by our erotic inclinations.

We exalt the men who make us think that in order to fit-in we must give-in. They make us feel like we should relinquish our thoughts and accept theirs instead. I mean, everyone else is already doing it. You want to be like the rest of the class don’t you?

You know who I am talking about: The politicians, corporations, large religious organizations etc. Basically anyone who’s agenda it is to manage the masses. The ones who hide their message in plain sight. The ones who tell us we’re wrong any time we try to fight.

They lurk all around us. Tempting us to give up our hopes in exchange for theirs. Convincing us that individual endeavors are arbitrarily inappropriate. That if you really want to “be cool” you’ll think about the collective. Sacrifice yourself for the greater good. Fit-in to get-in. You know the rules.

The basic concepts behind the game haven’t changed since you were in elementary school. The stakes however, those have changed. Dramatically.

Now we’re playing for keeps. We are playing for souls, and life-savings. For products and for professions. We are allowing our whole lives to be played like pawns in a game. Small steps forward, always at the command of someone else.

The cool people have always liked to collect other cool people. The “elites” always entice the masses with the simplest of notions. But it is the independent thinkers that live on the outside of their influence that make them worry. The ones who stand free from the restriction of their opinions. The few who think for themselves.

We make them feel uneasy about their intentions, even if their intentions are good. But take note, it is rarely the well intentioned who plead for you to “understand.” It is often those who would lead you astray that would have you change your way.

The cool kids are always worried about what brand of clothes you are wearing and the make and model of the car you drive. They want you to worry about possessions because things are beautiful distractions. But us? We ask you to convince yourself. We pass on our information and then suggest you look more than skin deep. That you make an effort to find the answers on your own.

We must not label ourselves on the premise of “have” and “have-not,” but instead on the concept of “does” and “does-not.” We must base our interactions on what each of us as individuals are contributing to society as a whole. Forgetting about how we can fit in and focusing instead on how we can bend the world around us.

In what way can you make a mark? How can you make the world want to fit in with you? In what way can you move the masses? How can you turn the tables on the establishment?

Because the truth is that the majority of people in this world will never lose a minute of sleep thinking about you. They will not care whether you are depressed and want to kill yourself, can’t get laid or can’t get paid.

Whatever it is that is holding you back is your own puzzle to solve. It is up to you to go out there and make the best of whatever circumstances life has dealt you. It is up to you to look at life and the world as something more to explore. It is up to you to make yourself impossible to ignore.

So if you ask me, (and I know you didn’t) I say “Fuck the cool kids,” those assholes always run away when things gets hard. Forget about fitting in and go find yourself instead. I bet we’d all like that version of you a lot more anyway.

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Tell Me I Suck, Please

Otherwise I Won’t Grow

Why hearing the the harsh truth might be hard but it will help you grow. If you let it.

Originally posted by Sean Smith on medium.com

I thrive on negative feedback.

Sugar-coating never helped anyone, it only prolonged the inevitable.

The only road to change is through the trenches of truth — objective, hard-to-handle feedback.

I was blessed that both of my parents were incredibly empathetic, they made me stay humble, and still help me to this day. But they’re not afraid to give it to me straight.

One thing their empathy taught me was how to objectively understand the information I consumed, and take it for what it was, feedback.

“There is no failure, only feedback”

– Highlight any text in this article to tweet it directly –

If I was messing around and I got hurt, I understood that I shouldn’t be angry that I got hurt, I should have been more careful while messing around. If I missed a game-winning shot in Basketball, I wouldn’t be mad as if I was entitled to the win, I would reflect on what I did wrong and out-do myself the next time I had the opportunity.

This made me a hyper-critic of myself, but it has helped me more entrepreneurially than any other trait I have.

There is a beauty about objective feedback. Sometimes it hurts, but it’s objective, and it means something. If you can take negative feedback, even when you want to emotionally retaliate, it will do eons for what you can achieve.

If Gordon Ramsey came into your restaurant today and snatched the food out of your fridge, ripped up your tiles and exposed the mold, threw it in your face and called you a “french pig” would you want to punch him in the face?

Sure, I probably would too. But would you listen? You fucking better.

When you’re given blunt-trauma feedback, it stings. You will instinctively want to resist, because we are wired to take the path of least resistance. If you can get a hold of that though, not resist, analyze instead, think, meditate, then plan to make it better, that’s innovation.

Sure, Steve Jobs got pissed when everybody was up-in-arms over the antennas in the iPhone 4 not working when you try to make a call. He even tried to play it off like there was no problem, “No you’re holding it wrong” then giving out free cases to help the problem that apparently didn’t exist.

You know what he ultimately did though? He fucking fixed it.

First he got pissed, then he tried to find an easy solution, then he thought about it harder, then he ultimately took the overwhelming negative feedback and pushed out a better model. Everyone called it innovation, but ultimately it was him overcoming his own ego, taking the feedback right in the face, and making a change.

You have to seek out negative feedback. When you do find it, you have to accept it, and react to it, or you’re just being an idiot.

Elon Musk says when he is talking to friends or customers about any of his products at Tesla Motors, he seeks out negative feedback.

It’s a ritual for him.

“Don’t tell me what you like about it, tell me what you don’t like about it.”

So his friends give him the truth.

“That handle is a bit odd”, or “that switch is a bit off.”

He listens to feedback and makes a substantial effort to make it right. That’s one reason he is so successful.

When the Model S’s batteries were being criticized in the media as if they were fiery cauldrons of death and destruction, Elon instantly got his engineers to add a titanium hull to the Model S to ensure no more batteries would be punctured and catch fire (even though only 2 did, compared to the 200,000 car fires a year on gas powered cars).

The point is to seek out negative feedback, empathize with that feedback, be honest with yourself, then make a change.

So, tell me I suck.

But more than that, tell me why I suck, please.

Otherwise, I won’t grow.

Your Life is a lie master


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Struggling With The Sales Process?

In this episode of RayDO: Brian and I talk about the sales process, discuss the benefits of LinkedIn and how to make sales personal again.

I am trying a new format to publishing the podcasts. The first number is a time stamp followed by a headline of what we are discussing at this point in the podcast and then the text is a further discription or explination of what is happening in the podcast.

1:40 – Leveraging Linked In

I hate LinkedIn and Brian tells me he has had some recent success with it. What do you think about LinkedIn as a social tool?

2:40 – Internet Marketing Is Secondary

Raymmar.com is really just a passion project. It is really just a playground for me to explore my ideas and test my theories about life and sales online.

It is less about selling anything in particular and more about exploring the ideas behind sales and how it interacts with the world around you. However, as we dins out later in this podcast, there is a bigger strategy at play here and eventually you will see the whole picture of what I am trying to do.

3:30 – Are Corporations Evil

Is evil exclusive to corporations? Or are they just groups of people making decision on your behalf?

Why the games being played in the media and elsewhere are just disingenuous and focused on manipulating people to fit an agenda. Whatever the agenda may be, we all have one and we all walk around trying to force it on the people around us. Whether we like to admit it or not.

5:20 – Change Something

Not happy with where life is headed? Then do something about it. Pretty simple really.

7:00 – Selling Business to Consumer (B2C)

We start talking about my experience in sales and how I ended up in Florida and how I came to be who I am and my quest to find enlightenment.

Car sales can be dirty so we talk about and dive into how some people might be taken advantage of in that type of buying situation. I also reveal a little bit about my evil side with relations to sales and why it is important to be an informed buyer.

11:40 – Is There A Road Map To Making Sales?

Breaking down a bit of sales theory and dissecting the myth that you can follow a certain number of steps and somehow arrive at a sale.

The truth is there is no magical number of steps to a sale but there are certain things that must happen in each situation before a sale can be made. Learn about creating a closed loop sales strategy as opposed to living inside of an up-then-down sales cycle.

14:00 – Making Sales Personal Again

It is ok to let a little personality shine through online. How to get creative as a small business with a small marketing/advertising budget.

15:03 – Is Anyone Actually Listening

Please let me know what you think about the podcasts in the comments below. Be sure to grab us on Stitcher and be sure to leave us a show review.

We are trying to build a community of like minded thinkers so this is all an adventure. I cannot know what you think if you do not share your thoughts so please take a moment to let me know what you think (even if you hate it) so we can keep making it better.

16:10 – What Do I Do With This Website

What do I do with all of this. What do I do with a website that started out as a place for me to share a few ideas to the world and has turned into a viral content engine online? How do I deal with the increase in traffic and the strategy behind that transition.

Correction – During the podcast I said we publish 4-5 articles a day but I meant a week and that obviously varies based on our schedule. 

17:15 – It Really Is just Me Building All Of This

Everything you see on Raymamr.com (for the most part) was built by your truly. I have really just been laying the foundation for what is yet to come. There are many things yet to come and we are really just getting started.

18:40 – An Organic Sales Engine

I give you a taste of my master plan for what is to come on Raymmar.com. You may want to go back to the 17 minute mark here so you can get the context of what I am doing with the website and how you can get involved in the circle of influence.

20:49 – Separating Sales From Serivce

Have we detached people from the buying process? When corporations focus on people instead of products then we might see a change in the way the world thinks about the corporate structure that seems to be getting such a bad reputation right now.

22:08 – An Introduction To SMART Marketing

Sales and Marketing as an ART – Attract new business, Retain existing customers and Transcend the competition. An introduction to the sales model we are working on.

23:40 – Are Some Companies Too Big To Succeed?

Understanding your customers. Why are some companies better at understanding their buyers and how some companies can get it and others don’t.

Why you should understand your buyers persona long before you start selling anything. Take a look at this guide to building a buyer persona and then listen to this podcast to get a deeper look into the personality of the people who buy your products.

28:30 – Creating Influence

A deeper taste of the master plan in world domination. How I plan on leveraging my Circles of Influence concept to drive real change in the world.

The influence of media and the draw of the power that comes with it. We are basically building a media company here that will influence ideas all across the world. People are either watching for two reasons. Either they think I am going to succeed or because they are waiting

32:00 – More about LinkedIn

We wrap up the show by diving deeper into LinkedIn again and I realize mid sentence, that they have just made some major changes to their user interface. I admit that LinkedIn is actually trying some new things and trying to make it better.

34:00 – Stealing Content

The trade off between generating original content and the balancing the relationships I have with some nationally syndicated websites.

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