Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 00:24

I'm surprised how few business and professionals use Squidoo.  It's now ranked #95 of the top US sites with 9.0m US visitors each month according to Quantcast.  It's a great site for getting something one-off noticed.  For instance, although I write mostly about business and Egypt, I have a seasonal Squidoo lens about gingerbread houses which is getting 800 unique visitors a week.  Not massive in FTSE / NASDAQ terms, but for an owner-managed-business that's worthwhile.  For any author, it's flattering to have that sort of readership.  If you are interested in seeing more, these are my top Squidoo pages, or join Squidoo.  I just wish my lens about twilight birthday cakes and parties would do better - more about that later!

The alternative is HubPages.  Newer than Squidoo, it's ranked #93 with 9.2m American visitors each month.  I've been less active on HubPages than Squidoo and my most successful hub (great sax solos) has less traffic in total than my top Squidoo lens is getting in a week.  Both sites are supported by adverts but HubPages has a generally lower ad-burden than Squidoo so may seem more attractive to business.  However, on Squidoo it's possible to turn adverts off.  As a marketeer, I don't do that often (although I do set some lenses to be charitable, donating all of my income to charity), but my lens about my father's art (PT Phiz) has all of the adverts removed.  That's a format which would suit a business.  Hubpages also limits outbound links to 2 per domain; Squidoo's limit of 9 is more reasonable.  For those reasons, I think Squidoo suits buisiness and professionals better than Squidoo.

The key, in both cases is promition - SEO if that's the term you prefer to use.  That's the issue with my Twilight birthday lens - Google doesn't like it.  Some topics need little promotion, but if you wanted to promote a product it may need some work.  It could suit an artist, though, who wants a suit to describe her work but doesn't want the overhead of a dedicated web site.  Of course, any Squidoo lenses of Hubpages hubs you create will have an SEO advantage on your other sites if you link them from the lens / hub

Neither Squidoo nor HubPages is perfect.  Neither is an answer to all problems.  But they can have a role to play.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 01:02

It's hard to overstress the importance of titles.  Get the title wrong and people might not read your written material.

In keeping, I've made a minor change to the title of this blog.  It is now "Kate Phizackerley Means Business".  I think that is stronger than the previous title.

Posted by Kate Phizackerley on 21:37

One of the big Web stories at the moment is the move by many online news providers to make viewers pay for content.  Personally I doubt many viewers will be willing to do that.  That's an issue for media organisations caught between a rock and a hard place: if they don't charge, they don't have the income to maintain their accustomed level of profit; if they do charge, readers will migrate elsewhere.  People recognise the value of investigative journalism, like the work done by the Telegraph on MP's expenses and top columnists like Zoe Heller and Jeremy Clarkson.  But will they pay for run of the mill news stories they can get from other sources?  I think not.  Commentators are suggesting that people will also turn more to blogs and indeed traffic and subscriptions to my several blogs are growing steadily.

Unless one works in the media business, this might seem irrelevant.  It may not be.  The truth is that much of what passes for news is really advertorial or announcements dressed up as news.  Anybody who has had a professional marketing role will be familiar with press releases in the hope that the media pick up the "announcement" and present it as "news".  They will be familiar with writing articles which are either designed to either push a product or service, or at least to build brand awareness.  Even a TV show like the X Factor is a good example.  The contestants live within a media controlled environment and there are relatively few stories other than those promoted by Syco or fictionalised supposition.  Yet it is clearly vital for Syco for those stories to be picked up and generate the massive of media interest which drives the X Factor phenomenon.

I’m very involved in amateur Egyptology as many of you may know.   Increasingly blogs, including my own News from the Valley of the Kings, are leading the way at disseminating developments.  There are published, paid for magazines and they are very nice but there can be a big delay between event and publication – and increasingly people want news now, not next month.  Focused, free eZines are in increasing feature of the new world, featuring writing by a range of amateur writers.  There’s a professionally supported one called Heritage Key, for which I have written a couple of commissions. There are others and I suspect more will develop. ;)I’m increasingly carrying work by other writer’s on my own sites for instance.  Today I’m discussing publishing an original poem.

So what are the implications for professional organisations wanting to get their announcements out?  If the market fragments, then they will need to start developing relationships with bloggers and amateur writers.  For professional, for profit, organisations, dealing with amateur bloggers may feel strange.  It shouldn’t.  Political parties have done it for years.  Hollywood stars have developed such a strong relationship with Perez Hilton that he has become a professional. 

There could a need to identify potential bloggers.  That could be local bloggers - if you have local hotel then a blogger writing about the locality could be a key partner.  He will want stories of interest to his readers; you wish to get details of your special promotions out to the community.  It can be harder if your company is selling something technical like actuarial services, or VAT accounting.  In technical fields there may be no amateur bloggers – after all a hobby needs to be … a hobby.  Even there, though, options remain.  For instance the business could sponsor a rally car or an elephant and use blogs about totally unrelated stories to build brand awareness.  It’s much less valuable as there may be minimal overlap between the blog’s readership and the business’s target market; however, it may help even if only in SEO terms.  Better may be to submit articles to allied blogs or businesses.

There is no easy answer.  Nor is it clear how media services will develop over the next decade, but it’s an area which I believe businesses need to monitor.



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