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May 28, 2008

New Advertising Marketplace – BuySellAds.com

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BloggingTips takes a look at a new advertising marketplace called BuySellAds.com.

The new site, currently in a private beta and not yet open to the public, allows publishers and advertisers to buy and sell ads in a private marketplace. The site takes 25% for themselves as a commission on any ads sold – which is lower than alot of commissioned sales sites.

Here’s a look from BloggingTips’s review:

BuySellAds is not doing anything that hasn’t done before. Advertising marketplaces have been around for years however in my opinion BuySellAds has got everything right. The marketplace is very easy to browse and website ad pages have information on the sites Alexa traffic, Compete score, Google PageRank, Technorati links, Yahoo inbound links and number of del.icio.us bookmarks.

I’ve applied for their private beta and will hopefully have more to report soon…

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The StatBot analyzes TechCrunch from A-W

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The StatBot, an upcoming and coming blog focused on statistical analysis of the blogosphere, has posted an in-depth analysis of TechCrunch – and what they find is pretty interesting overall.

If you’ve followed TechCrunch, you know that the powerhouse blog breaks alot of stories, has a significant number of “inside” sources, and a solid stable of writers. What you may not know is how alot of that breaks down statistically – and how that has powered its continued growth.

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May 24, 2008

Arrington’s CrunchBase now integrated with LinkedIn API

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Not quite sure what all Michael Arrington is up to with his wiki/database site CrunchBase, but it’s interesting.. with their latest update – CrunchBase is now integrated with the API from LinkedIn, allowing for more robust searching and integration between the two sites.

There are more than 4,460 companies/startups and over 10,000 individuals in CrunchBase – it will really be interesting when this starts to be datamined for other information & metrics…

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ReadWriteWeb profiles nine company blogs

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Over at ReadWriteWeb (RWW) – Marshall takes a look at nine solid company blogs that are a good read::

You can’t talk about interesting company blogs without mentioning Signal vs. Noise, the wildly successful blog about design, usability and small business from the makers of project management service Basecamp. This blog could easily stand on its own as compelling reading even if there wasn’t a company behind it selling services. Sure enough, it’s even got an ad on it from the elite boutique ad network The Deck. Signal vs. Noise has 88k subscribers – making it fun and educational for those subscribers is great for the business of 37signals.

Signal v. Noise is my single favorite company blog out there.

There’s rarely a day that goes by that I don’t find something of interest on SVN. I’ve been watching the development of Backpack’s Journal with great interest – which they announced earlier this week.

What company blogs do you read and recommend?

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April 28, 2008

From eMoms to Sparkplugging – an interview with Wendy Piersall

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Today’s interview is with Wendy Piersall, a blogger & CEO based near Chicago, Illinois. Wendy is the founder & CEO of Sparkplugging, formerly known as eMoms at Home.

In this interview, Wendy shares her experiences building a business from a spare room in her home, some tips on building a strong online community, and the tough decision to change the name and direction of her company.

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How do you explain what you do to others?

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Over at Web Worker Daily, they’re asking how to explain web working to the uninitiated. Or, in other words, how do you explain to others what it is that you do when you sit and blog (or write) away…

The post goes on to highlight some examples and suggestions on what to say:

Have a ready answer to the most common questions. After you’ve established the basics, some people are keen to know more – especially after you mention the fact that you work from home. Freelancers are commonly asked, “Where do you find work?” and “How do you get paid?” As for teleworking employees, they usually get “How can your boss monitor you?” Answer these questions well, and people will be a step closer to understanding your work.

Interesting…

I prefer a more direct approach – when folks ask me what I do I tell them that “I’m one of the principals of a small boutique consulting firm”.

From there I can go on and explain in more detail the things that I do.. I talk about blogging, about helping companies with their internal knowledge management, about managing programs and projects in the IT world, and the other things that we do.

Although some are quite impressed when I talk about working from home – or a client’s site – almost 100% of the time – there are still some that are quite convinced that I’m living off of their taxes by claiming unemployment – and surely I must be up to no good in that basement home office of mine all of the time..

How do you explain what you do?

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April 23, 2008

Online Presence & Why You Need it… and business cards?

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Paul Stamatiou has posted what’s really a two part series over the last few days about online presence… and business cards…

Part One, which talks about why you need an online presence discusses the basics of online identity:

A few months ago I read an insightful article about how more and more job recruiters are putting a heavy emphasis on applicants’ online presence. By online presence, I am essentially referring to how active one is on the web – personal websites, blogs, published articles, activities on programming forums, etcetera. That same article detailed how recruiters hiring in technical positions would ignore applicants that while fully-qualified, lack the online presence that someone with their skills should have. If you’re a Ruby on Rails programmer, there’s no better way to show your passion for the framework by blogging about it, publishing tips and guides or simply helping others work with it. Companies will easily be able to see that, which definitely helps out during the interviewing and selection process.

While I don’t really have a personal website right now (I do own some domains, but nothing I’ve really used for that purpose) – I can attest to the success of having a strong online presence. I’ve secured 4 client gigs – just this year so far – through my various online presence points (Bryghtpath, Telegraphik, Twitter, and LinkedIn).

Owning your name – your name as your domain, that is – is critical. Ask Shel Israel how that’s been working out for him.

The second part shows Paul’s business cards and talks a bit about how they can help extend your online presence into the real world:

As a pseudo-followup to my post about establishing an online identity, I want to talk about creating your in-real-life (IRL) brand. Meeting people at business networking mixers, tech events and conferences is a lot like trying to pick up a girl at a bar. You need to sell yourself in the minute after you shake hands. Talk to anyone that frequents such networking events and they’ll tell you most people forget each others’ names immediately unless they have met before. That’s why you need to give them something to go home with – your business card. It gives people something do to after they get home be it visit your site, check out your company, email you or add you as a contact on LinkedIn/Facebook.

When we set out to create Bryghtpath LLC – we used the services of LogoWorks to create our corporate logo, letterhead, and design our business cards. It wasn’t cheap – but they did a great job helping us establish our online identity. Chris Jennings was then able to take their design concepts and create our online look & feel.

The same design can be applied to your business cards as well – as a nice real world way to extend your online presence.

Paul has some seriously cool business cards – which you can see here.

Course, my old ones are the coolest.

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April 21, 2008

An Interview with Myself

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Today’s interview is with myself – Matt Craven. Matt is a blogger here at The Blog Herald, the producer and host of The Blog Herald Podcast, a principal in Bryghtpath LLC, and a rabid Twitter user.

From February 2006 to November 2006, Matt was the publisher & editor of The Blog Herald. He was previously the SVP for Online Services for BlogMedia, Inc., later renamed to ProBlogging, Inc..

In this interview, we discuss how Matt entered blogging, the rise and fall of BlogMedia, why the Blog Herald was sold to Splashpress Media, and what his goals are for this year.

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April 20, 2008

Tips for Startup Stress from Jason Calacanis, and a few thoughts on how I deal with my stress

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Jason Calacanis, who is now running what I believe is his third startup in Mahalo, wrote recently about how he handles the startup stress.

Jason wrote that spending time with friends is the ultimate cure for startup stress:

We headed over to Mike’s hotel, and along with my wife, Loren Feldman, Scott from ThisNext, Brooke from MySpace, and Tyler from Mahalo settled in for a great meal. No stress, lots of laughing, good food, and big smiles when the digital cameras popped out.

Which lead me to realize what the greatest tool for managing stress in the world is: your friends. Fred Wilson point this out in the comments of my last post on “death by blogging/stress,” so it was brewing in the back of my head and last night confirmed it.

And I have to agree.. my friends and what I do with them are the greatest stress relievers in my life.

I’ve been working for myself, in some way, shape, or form, since I left college in 1996. And while that sort of ongoing freelance/startup life has its benefits – it’s never fun to have to deal with the stress inherent in that sort of lifestyle. Particularly when you’re launching a new business or working with a ton of clients with very high expectations.

On top of that, I’ve spent the bulk of the last 22 months in graduate school – which thankfully will be ending quite soon – so my average day can be 12-16 hours between work, class, homework, and client work – and my weekends are really not that much different.

There’s a couple things that I make sure that I do in order to appropriately manage my stress level:

  • Take breaks: It’s good to get away from what you’re doing regularly. Go watch Battlestar Galactica. Talk a walk. Chat with a neighbor. Or just make a cup of hot tea and enjoy the sunlight while it’s there. But take time to get away from what you’re doing to relax.
  • Exercise: I’m an avid cyclist – so I usually try to take a midday ride during the warm season here in Minnesota. I actually keep an older bike on campus so that I can do this between class/client time – as well as a road and mountain bike here at home. It’s a bit tougher in the winters but I find that the local gym does ok for me – and it’s a good time for deep thinking as well.
  • Vacations: I’m doing this right now – but as you can see I’m still blogging (more for fun than anything else). I’ve already spent a week in Cozumel, Mexico this year (no blogging from there though) and am now on a 200+ mile cycling trip in/around the Ozarks in Missouri here in the United States. It’s a great chance to clear your head in the fresh mountain (or beach!) air and take a break from it all.
  • Laugh: Whether you’re just watching a funny movie, listening to a stupid joke, or visiting a funny website – laughter truly is good for your soul.
  • Sex: No comment ;)
  • Most importantly: Spend time with my friends: They help keep me grounded – try to help me avoid most of my mistakes (when I remember to listen to their advice), and will always have my back.
  • That’s what helps keep me grounded and my stress level low. What do you do?

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April 19, 2008

New York Times talks about e-mail tsunamis, profiles Mike Arrington, and misses the point

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Sunday’s New York Times is carrying a story discussing TechCrunch as their primary “victim” of email overload.

And there’s the usual talk of email bankruptcy, folks who go out and delete all of their email, and so on, and so on, and so on.

Yes, we’ve heard all of this before – and we’ve heard it alot recently.

In fact, earlier this week I wrote a post outlining how Darren Rowse went from 10,000+ emails down to ‘Inbox Zero’ in a single weekend.

Now, I understand email. I get anywhere from 300 – 400 emails daily to my various mailboxes – and I’m currently engaged with a client that singlehandedly produces another 150-200 emails a day (Welcome to the world of Program Management at a Fortune 100 Company.. anyways) – so I’m having to dig through alot of email each day.

According to the NY Times though, Arrington’s situation might be just a tad bit more difficult:

E-MAIL has become the bane of some people’s professional lives. Michael Arrington, the founder of TechCrunch, a blog covering new Internet companies, last month stared balefully at his inbox, with 2,433 unread e-mail messages, not counting 721 messages awaiting his attention in Facebook.

Mr. Arrington might be tempted to purge his inbox and start afresh — the phrase “e-mail bankruptcy” has been with us since at least 2002. But he declares e-mail bankruptcy regularly, to no avail. New messages swiftly replace those that are deleted unread.

The Times article goes on to discuss technological inventions, secretaries, and then eventually lands on the example of H. L. Mencken and his approach to dealing with postal mail. Which is really not the metaphor that I think we’re all looking for.

There have been enough articles in the blogosphere on effective ways to manage email that I’m surprised that this is the approach that the New York Times chose to take. Let’s take a look at some articles outlining effective ways to handle this much email:

These are just some examples of individual’s personal experiences implementing tools & methods to get control of their email.

In the end, it’s down to how you discipline yourself and use the tools that are at your disposal in order to make yourself productive. And that’s the point that I believe the New York Times really missed.

What are your email productivity tools?

Update: Ross Mayfield makes some great points about this issue on his blog..

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