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Posts Tagged ‘Media’

How To Start Your Own Blog – It’s Easier Than You Think

GETTING STARTED!

The  first rule of blogging: THERE ARE NO RULES FOR BLOGGING!

Blogging is no different than any other kind of writing even the fact that at some point you may hope to monetize your work … and to do that you need to attract people to your site. Lots of people. The more followers of your blog postings, the more reason advertisers will want to appear there  to sell their goods and services so let’s get started.

The information that follows comes from my good friend Denny Hatch who is one of the true gurus in the business of writing. He pens a monthly column in TARGET MARKETING MAGAZINE. More about Denny later.

If you are sitting and looking at a blank computer screen (or a blank piece of paper), you’ll never get started. I am reminded of the great wit, writer and actor of the 1930’s and 40’s. Robert Benchley (1889-1945), grandfather of Peter (“Jaws”) Benchley. One day under deadline and suffering from a severe hangover, Benchley was sitting in his room at the Algonquin Hotel in New York staring at a blank piece of paper in his typewriter. To get started he typed the word “The”.

Benchley rose from his chair, walked to the window and, glancing at his watch, realized the gang of regulars was assembling for a splendid lunch of booze and bon mots at the legendary Round Table downstairs — Dorothy Parker, Groucho Marx, George S. Kaufman, Alexander Woollcott, New Yorker editor Harold Ross and others.

Benchley returned to the typewriter and stared at the “The” for a long time. In a burst of inspiration, he completed the sentence. It read, “The hell with it.” Whereupon he took the elevator down to join the party.

Ted Nicholas on Getting Started

Ted Nicholas is a legendary direct marketer, entrepreneur, publisher, copy writer and teacher. In his classic book, “The Golden Mailbox,” he wrote:

  1. Clear your mind. For some persons, this might mean lying down for a few minutes before going to work. For others, it could mean jumping in the pool or jogging around a track. Frolic, spend time with someone you love or go dancing. Do whatever comes naturally to you in order to have a clear mind for creative purposes.
  2. Never write when you’re tired. You’re not going to try to drive or operate machinery when you’re tired. Don’t try to write when you’re fatigued.
  3. Never write when you’re busy. If there are other demands pressing on you, tend to them first. I don’t think anyone can write well when watching the clock. Don’t try to write if you have appointments later in the day or errands to run.
  4. Don’t write in bits and pieces. Once you’ve turned on your creative energy, you need to keep it flowing. I don’t stop until I complete a draft. I try not to stop even for meals.

A Kitchen Timer

The late Gene Schwartz, who wrote powerful mail order/direct mail copy that sold millions of dollars worth of books (many published by himself), once told me to get a kitchen timer and set it on the desk next to me. He said:

Punch in 4-4-4-4. That’s 44 minutes and 44 seconds during which you’re working. Period. All you do is work, write, do research, deal with correspondence, design, whatever. When the timer goes off, get up and shut the alarm sound off. Take a break. Walk around, stretch, get a cup of coffee, clear your head. When you’re ready to go back to work, hit the 4-4-4-4 button again and dive in.

I follow Gene’s advice. It keeps me sane and refreshed.

Hemingway on Writing

When Ernest Hemingway finished a book, he would stick the manuscript in a drawer and come back to it a few weeks later. Most of us under deadline do not have this kind of time. however not looking at a piece of paper or a computer screen for 12 or 24 hours or longer and then going back to it for edits and rewrites can be beneficial. In “A Moveable Feast“,  Hemingway wrote:

I always worked until I had something done and I always stopped  when I knew what was going to happen next. That way I could be sure of going on the next day…I learned not to think about anything that I was writing from the time I stopped writing until I started again the next day. That way my subconscious would be working on it and at the same time I would be listening to other people and noticing everything, I hoped; learning, I hoped; and I would read so that I would not think about my work and make myself impotent to do it.

Denny Hatch is a freelance direct marketing consultant and copywriter, and author of Denny Hatch’s Business Common Sense e-newsletter at www.businesscommonsense.com.

If you’d like a FREE copy of Denny Hatch’s 22 Rules for Internet Success, it’s yours for the asking; just send an email to: Send me a FREE copy of Denny Hatch’s 22 Rules for Internet Success

How To Protect Yourself and Your Privacy On-Line

THERE IS RISING CONCERN OVER SCAMMERS and PRIVACY ON THE INTERNET!

This weeks posting is devoted to helping you to protect yourself while on-line, whether communicating via email, Facebook or Twitter, accessing your bank, or making purchases through on-line merchants. Always remember that it is ultimately up to you to maintain and protect your own privacy!

Keeping your software up-to-date isn’t just a question of adding new features to your programs. It is also a critical part of protecting yourself on-line. But that doesn’t mean just having the latest version of your chosen anti-virus program. Your computer’s operating system and the programs that run on your computer must be up-to-date, too. Never ignore prompts to update your operating system or applications with critical security fixes. When updating your Microsoft operating system, only do it using Windows or Microsoft Update Tools. Macs have a similar updating program that prompts users when it’s time to make an update. All other software programs should be updated via that company’s website to ensure safety.

For years scammers have used email to dupe their victims into sending money or divulging sensitive information. While that’s still a problem, scammers are increasingly turning to social networks, such as Facebook, and using your friends against you. The message, which can appear as a direct message or a post on your Facebook wall, is designed to look like it came from your friend’s profile. A request for money or a free treat from your favorite store presented by a friend can be compelling or a tempting offer but before clicking, you should ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Does the request sound reasonable or is the offer too good to be true?
  2. Is this really something my friend would request/send/write?
  3. Does the language have awkward phrasing or a lot of typos?

If any of those questions raise a red flag, don’t click the link. If you really want to verify the message, contact your friend directly about the request or offer.

When visiting a new website, you should always take a moment to scan the site’s URL  (Uniform Resource Locator) that is displayed in a bar at the top of your Internet browser. That URL, is the address of the website and should be scrutinized for typos or other irregularities to make sure they are not just a clever imposter. Most URL’s will begin with the familiar ‘http’ before the site’s address. News, entertainment and other general interest websites all use this format for their URL’s. But if money is to change hands or you’re asked to share sensitive information such as your Social Security Number, look for a URL with an extra letter. Make sure  that when providing sensitive information that the Web address starts with ‘https‘ instead of ‘http‘. That little ‘s‘ stands for secure, meaning the website has additional security and you are less likely to have your information compromised.

If you use Twitter you’re probably familiar with so-called shortened URL’s which are a method for streamlining a link so it  can fit in Twitter’s 140-character limit. While it  is handy for sharing information, it can be dangerous. Even if you know the person who has posted the link, it’s a good idea  to  proceed with caution. Take the time to expand the link before clicking on it.

Never assume that mobile applications (apps) are safe. Smartphone users who want to use mobile banking should only use apps provided by their financial institution. Third-party apps may not have the same privacy protections as apps offered by your bank and many continue to run even after you exit them. This increases the risk  that keystrokes and touch screen selections will be intercepted. Security on mobile devices will get better but for now don’t do it!

Following these guidelines will make all your on line dealings safer and protect you from scammers.

The Greatest Entrepreneurs of Our Times!

Who Would be on your list?   This list compiled by the editors of FORTUNE MAGAZINE and published in their April 9, 2012 issue lists  their choice of  The Greatest. See if you agree. All information is based on calendar year, 2011.

  1. Steve Jobs/Apple…Sales 108.2 billion…Market Value $546 billion… Employees 63,300
  2. Bill Gates/Microsoft…Sales $69.9 billion…Market Value $30 billion…Employees 255,593
  3. Fred Smith/FedEx…Sales $39.3 billion…Market Value $30 billion…Employees 255,573
  4. Jeff Bezos/Amazon…Sales $8.1 billion…Market Value $84.6 billion…Employees 56,200
  5. Larry Page & Sergey Brin/Google…Sales $37.9 billion…Market Value $203.2 billion…Employees  32,500
  6. Howard Schultz/Starbucks…Sales $11.7 billion…Market Value $40 billion…Employees 149,000
  7. Mark Zuckerberg/Facebook…Sales $3.1 billion…Market Value $75-100 billion (est.)…Employees 3,200
  8. John Mackey/Whole Foods…Sales $10.1 billion…Market Value $15.5 billion…Employees 56,200
  9. Herb Kelleher/S.W. Airlines…Sales $15.5 billion…Market Value $64 billion…Employees 45,392
  10. Noira Yang Murthy/Infosys…Sales $6.0 billion…Market Value $32 billion…Employees 145,059
  11. Sam Walton/Wal-Mart…Sales $446.9 billion…Market Value $316.5 billion…Employees 2.0 million

Total Sales… $796.7 billion

Total Market Value… $1.4 Trillion

Total Employees… 3,063,000

Becoming  an entrepreneur is certainly a worthwhile goal if making a lot of money is what motivates you but there’s no guarantee of wealth and the majority of people who decide to start their own business, frankly do not succeed. It  takes dedication, long hours and a good idea. There are many bumps along the road to entrepreneurial success so be sure to look for advice and help from those who have been successful before. One guide I would highly recommend to  those who would like to own a  business of their own, one  that can be started part-time and is perfect for  those who would like to run it from their home is MAIL ORDER, also known as Direct Response. The internet has been an eye-opener and a game changer for mail order businesses and has helped create MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRES almost overnight. Just about every successful business you see online is a mail order business. Direct Response means  that products or services are sold direct to the public not  through brick and mortar retailers. Companies like AMAZONZAPPOS, FIRST STREET, STAUER, BRADFORD EXCHANGE, HEARING HELP EXPRESS, GRAVITY DEFYER, HABAND…just to name a few of the very successful mail order companies you see advertise regularly in magazines sell their products direct to the public.

As a reader of my blog I  would like to help you get started in this wonderful business  that changed my life and can change yours, too.

HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE is available online from AMAZON at its published price of $39.95 plus s&h…..or you can save $10 and order it direct from the publisher for $29.95 plus $3.50 s&h (total $33.45). Send check or money order along with your name and address to: SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601. Sold on a 100% guarantee of satisfaction or your money back.

Using Platitudes In Your Marketing Messages Can Kill You!

Well, not literally “you” but if you are in business for yourself or into blogging for fun or have to write sales letters for someone else’s business, using platitudes can kill your marketing.

Saying you’re different and then acting the same, smelling the same, tasting the same, looking the same and offering virtually the same product  and service, makes you a LIAR!

These words of wisdom come from Rich Harshaw and his very useful on line site Monopolize Your Marketplace.

When you use platitudes in your marketing, your prospects have no way to tell if you are any better or any worse than anyone else.

What’s a platitude? A platitude is “any words or phrases that are drearily commonplace and predictable and that lack power to evoke interest through overuse or repetition that are nevertheless stated as though they are original or significant.”

Words like–

  • High Quality
  • Great Service
  • Amazing Products
  • Been in Service for Over 20 YEARS

Words and phrases that fall smack dab into the platitude bucket do absolutely nothing to help you explain your value to the prospect, and worse, they actually hurt your credability with the prospect.

Why? Simple.

Regardless of how cool your product actually is or how revolutionary your service has become, when you advertise it using platitudes you sound like every other average product or service offering out there. You literally become a  duck in a sea of ducks in the pond quacking at the same  time and are indistinguishable to your prospect.

When building your marketing, you need to prepare your case as thoroughly as an attorney would prepare a case for court.

In court, the attorney’s case can mean the difference between freedom or incarceration. Between life and death. In your business, your case for your product or service means the difference between success and failure. Think about your marketing and advertising strategy this way: Your product or service is on trial. The consumer is the jury. You are the attorney…and you must educate the jury on all the relevant issues and prove to them that you offer the best value available…and it’s a life-or-death sentence. Your job is to define the relevant issues, come up with all the proof, all the arguments, all the evidence and present it in a way that the jury believes you. Remember, your prospects are the jury!

PLATITUDES WON’T CUT IT!

Ultimately, if you present your case for your product or service in a compelling and convincing way, you’ll build confidence with your prospects and bridge the confidence gap. They’ll feel like they’re in control of the decision. You’ll have business coming to you because you will have effectively separated yourself from your competition. Just like the jury draws the conclusion of guilt or innocence, so will your prospects. They’ll feel like they’d have to be a fool to do business with anyone else but you, regardless of price.

If the idea of starting your own business  that you can operate from home from anywhere in the world then give some thought to MAIL ORDER. With the power of Internet to sell your product or service on line, it doesn’t matter if you live in Wyoming or Pennsylvania, in Canada or Italy or if you prefer to run your business from the Bahamas, then mail order is for you.

Take advantage of my special offer to readers of my blog to order my book HOW TO BECOME A MAIL ORDER MILLIONAIRE today. It’s sold on a money back guaaantte of satisfaction, available from Amazon at the published price of $39.95 plus s&h or direct from the publisher for only $29.95 plus $3.50 s&h (Total $33.45) Send a check or money order for $29.95 plus $3.50 (Total $33.45) to: SUPERIOR PRESS 333 N. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1032, Chicago, IL 60601

Death comes to visit the living – Jeff Zaslow’s tragic passing.

This blog post is dedicated to someone I knew only through his writing. Jeff Zaslow was a columnist for the Chicago Sun-Times. His untimely death occurred Friday February 10. The words are not mine but someone who knew the deceased well, who worked with him, shared good times with him and admired him.

Neil Steinberg is also a columnist for the Sun-Times and a damned good one as was Jeff Zaslow. Since this is my blog and I can post anything I care to, here is Neil’s column from the February 15 edition of the Chicago Sun Times.

Ludwick Wittgenstein’s Tractus Logico- Philosophicus is a list of numbered propositions, each leading to the next. Number 6.4311 begins “Death is not an event in life. Death is not lived through.” For the person who has died, that is. That person is whisked away to whatever reward awaits us after death.

It is those of us who live through death, big time, who must cope with it, particularly accidental death, which radiates outward, sending shock waves, first to those at the scene, stunned to find death intruding onto an ordinary day. Then to the oficialdom who must deal with death regularly and handle the particulars. Then exploding into the lives of family, who suffer the most and, finally the thunderclap reaches the outer world, where people hear it and look up, moved to the degree they knew the deceased.

Jeff Zaslow died in a car accident Friday, as you’ve probably heard. Longtime Sun-Times readers will fondly recall his thoughtful, human and funny advice column that ran from 1987 until 2001, or his best selling books such as The Last Lecture.

I don’t do grief well–I’m self-centered and over-analytical, a bad mix–and no sooner feel loss then immediately start  questioning it, to see if it’s legitimate. Jeff’s death came as a sickening shock, yet I instantly pulled back, certain that I occupy  too distant an orbit among his concentric circles of friends to be entitled to feel awful, which is reserved for his wife and daughters and family, the true epicenter of suffering. Any hurt I feel must be ersatz, overdramatic.

No matter How I tried to focus my  thoughts on others–Jeff’s genius, the key to his life: he was a big-hearted, generous man, a true friend–I kept returning  to my own experiences with him. Memories bubbled up, random stuff. as if my brain were venting everything it knew about Jeff Zaslow, from the fact  that at birth, he was delivered by Dr. C. Everett Koop, the future Surgeon General, to his sister’s hand-made picture frames, to his love of Bruce Springsteen–we once went to a concert together–to the day, almost 25 years ago, Jeff was being given his welcoming tour of the Sun-Times newsroom and I hurried over, curious to discover just what kind of idiot leaves a job writing front page stories for the Wall Street Journal to advise women how to get stains out of a broadloom rug on page 27 of the Sun-Times.

If a Russian novelist tried to create two separate characters to split the spectrum of qualities a writer can possess, might cook up Jeff–happy, concerned for others, frenetic, sincere–and me: melancholy, self-absorbed, shambling, scarcastic. Jeff wanted to help everybody. He held  those enormous Zass Bashes at Navy Pier because he got so many letters from lonely people, and wanted to fix them up with each other, to give each one a shot at the joy he found with his own wife, Sherry. I thought he was crazy. “Jeff”, I’d say. “You’re not a social service.”

When I got the awful news–we have the same literary agency–I dutifully phoned it in to the newspaper. “Do you want to write something?” an editor asked. I said “No.” The planet of my ego is such– think Jupiter–I knew it would be impossible to launch a tribute to Jeff without having it circle back and crash into myself. “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent” is the final line of Wittgenstein’s book. Good advice. I wanted to honor Jeff by shutting up, an under appreciated art form.

But silence felt even worse. We Jews bury our own, and standing at Jeff’s graveside, mutely waiting for my turn with the shovel, I stared at my shoes and tried to block out the sound of his daughters weeping. “This is the worst thing in the world,” I thought. “I hate this I hate this I hate this”.

Silence has no utility, it isn’t a sharp enough blade to scrape at the icy loss that Jeff’s death frosts over the world. I wish I could wrap this up tidily, with an inspiring  thought that counterbalances the tragedy in the world and leaves you with a smile. Jeff was so good at that. Alas, he is not here, a hard fact that touches on the often cruel nature of life, one that we lucky enough to have known Jeff will struggle with for a long time.

Thanx, Neil for allowing me to share this with my small group of bloggerfriends. If my mother were still alive and I could have read her this column, she would have said to me in Yiddish “Gut Gazooked”…roughly translated as “Well said”.

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the OWS Protests

That’s the headline to Matt Taibbi’s article in the current issue of ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. Last week’s post was from a conservative columnist who writes for FORTUNE MAGAZINE. It’s only fair for a progressive view–and there’s few as good as Matt Taibbi. He alone is well worth subscribing to one of my favorite magazines ROLLING STONE. Herein are excerpts:

“I have a confession to make. At first I misunderstood Occupy Wall Street. The first few time I went down to Zuccotti Park, I came away with mixed feelings. I loved the energy and was amazed by the obvious organic appeal of the movement, the way it was growing on its own. But my initial impression was that it would not be taken very seriously by the Citibanks and Goldman Sachs of the world. You could put 50,000 angry protestors on Wall Street, 100,000 even, and Lloyd Blankfein is probably not going to break a sweat. He knows he’s not going to wake up tomorrow and see Cornel West or Richard Trumka running the Federal Reserve. He knows modern finance is a giant mechanical parasite that only an expert surgeon can remove. Yell and scream all you want but he and his fellow Franksteins are the only ones who know how to turn the machine off.

That’s what I was thinking during the first few weeks of the protests. But I’m beginning to see another angle. Occupy Wall Street was always about something much bigger than a movement against big banks and modern finance. It’s about providing a forum for people to show how tired they are not just of Wall Street but EVERYTHING. This is a visceral, impassioned, deep-seated rejection of the entire direction of our society, a refusal to take even one more step forward into the shallow commercial abyss of phoniness, short-term calculation, withered idealism and intellectual bankruptcy that American mass society has become. If there is such a thing as going on strike from one’s own culture, this is it. And by being so broad in scope and so elemental in its motivation, it‘s flown over the heads of many on both the right and the left.

The right-wing media wasted no time in cannon-blasting the movement with its usual idiotic clichés, casting Occupy Wall Street as a bunch of dirty hippies who should get a job and stop chewing up Mike Bloomberg’s police overtime budget with their urban sleepovers. Just like they did a half-century ago, when the debate over the Vietnam War somehow stopped being about why we were brutally murdering millions of innocent Indochinese civilians and instead became a referendum on bralessness and long hair and flower-child rhetoric, the depraved flacks of the right-wing media have breezily blown off a generation of fraud and corruption and market-perverting bailouts, making the whole debate about the protestors themselves—their hygiene, their ‘envy’ of the rich, their ‘hypocrisy’.

The protestors, chirped Supreme Reichskank Ann Coulter, ‘needed three thing: showers, jobs and a point’. Her colleague Charles Krauthammer went so far as to label the protestors hypocrites for having iPhones. ‘OWS’, he said is Starbucks-sipping, Levi’s- clad, iPhone clutching protestors (denouncing) corporate America even as they weep for Steve Jobs, corporate titan, billionaire eight times over’. Apparently because Goldman and Citibank are corporations, no protestors can ever consume a corporate product—not jeans, not cellphones and definitely not coffee’—if he also wants to complain about tax money going to pay off some billionaire banker’s bets against his own crappy mortgages.

Meanwhile on the other side of the political spectrum, there were scads of progressive pundits like me who wrung our hands with worry that OWS was playing right into the hands of assholes like Krauthammer. DON’T GIVE THEM ANY AMMUNITION! we counseled. STAY ON MESSAGE! BE SPECIFIC!. We were all playing the Rorschach-test game with OWS trying to squint at it and see what we wanted to see in the movement. Viewed through the prism of our desire to make near-term, within the system changes, it was hard to see how skirmishing with cops in New York would help foreclosed-upon middle-class families in Jacksonville and San Diego.

What both sides missed is that OWS is tired of all this. They don’t care what we think they’re about, or should be about. They just want something different.

We’re all born wanting the freedom to imagine a better and more beautiful future. But modern America has become a place so drearily confining and predictable that it chokes the life out of that built-in desire. Everything from our pop culture to our economy to our politics feels oppressive and unresponsive. People want to go someplace for at least five minutes where no one is trying to bleed you or sell you something.

I think I understand now that that’s what the Occupy movement is all about. It’s about dropping out if only for a moment, and trying something new. It doesn’t need to tell the world what it wants. It is successful for now, just by being something different.”

These are only excerpts from Matt’s excellent article in the November 22nd issue of ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE. To read it in its entirety, pickup a copy or better yet become a subscriber. I’ve been hooked on their political reporting for 25 years and with age, year after year, it only gets better.

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