10 Tips to Build Website Traffic

NY Times had a nice article today listing 10 tips to building website traffic. As an online marketing specialist, this is the basic idea no matter who you are or what business you are in. Maybe you are a larger company that can spend more on advertising to grow traffic, but overall online success is brought by doing these types of activities.

http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/05/06/10-ways-to-build-traffic-to-your-site/

Did you learn anything new? Is this list depressing because you realized it’s a lot of work?  Or is there success you have found from exactly these techniques?  Tell me your stories!

Mainer's Can Get Green Electricity

I’m usually wanting to stick to web technologies, online marketing and food in this blog, but I’m inclined to share one small way we can do our part and feel better about the energy we use everyday.

If you live in Maine, we have an option to change where you get your electricity from.  Here is a link to get you started:

http://www.meipl.org/products/index.php

It will take a bit of energy to sign up and finalize the change in service providers, but it’s worth knowing that my energy is not from coal or nuclear sources.

I tried to do this years ago, and the process was too cumbersome. Then after I moved to where I am now almost 2 years ago I tried again and succeeded.  Something seems to have changed, and it was not any more time consuming than filling out your average application form and following up to make sure that your CMP bill made the change in where the power comes from.

Now that it’s done, I live knowing that even as I work in my home office all day, it’s green.

Is your electricity green?  Have any experiences to share?  Please comment below!

The Challenge of Recipes on Twitter – NYTimes.com

Twitter gets many different responses. Some good, some bad. But first, a brief definition for those who have no idea what this means…

It’s like having a blog or website to write in, but you can only type 140 characters at a time. You might even hear it called “micro-blogging”, and it is to some degree. Some people “tweet”, random nothingness and it is more about friends, but others have put it to work for business.

Overall when it comes to business, it works if 1) your audience can and will use Twitter at all; and 2) if you can speak about something vital to your customers about your business.

A few weeks ago, I heard a story about a food cart guy in Los Angeles. He “tweets” the location of his lunch cart each day. People seem to flock to this guy no matter where he is, so they get the inside scoop by subscribing to him, and he gets the core of his business… loyal customers.

When texting or chatting, people say OMG(oh my god), or brb(be right back), or LOL(laugh out loud). It shortens things, but we understand. What if we could communicate even more complex information in just 140 characters?

The following article is what spurred this blog post. Not business related unfortunately, but a creative approach to communicating complicated instructions in under 140 characters. Read the article and you’ll see what’s possible.

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/22/dining/22twit.html

What are your feelings on this whole Twitter thing? What might you “tweet” that could connect your business? Is this a waste of your time? Comment below…

Buds Of Spring In My Apartment

Last year when I worked the first half of a season at Wealden Farm in Freeport, I fell in love with growing seeds. The attachment I had was amazing, and was only realized late in the summer when the harvest came and the little seeds I once planted in a tiny hole were bigger than me and could feed me many times over.

Living in Portland and not farming this year, things have changed for this year’s season. Thanks to my also-former-farmer partner Kate, we’ve taken on the city version of farming… container gardening. Our challenge? To feed ourselves with lettuce for the summer, and maybe the whole year. This means feeding 4 people who live at our two residences.

I admit, I did not give this much thought at first and nay-sayed it all. But after thinking it through, it was the only way I could do anything with no land and living in an apartment. And since lettuce likes colder weather and needs less sun, it was perfect for the low-sun backyard and apartment windows that will be our sun here in Portland.  So we’ll use my apartment as the greenhouse, and her backyard for when it is warmer.  I’ve always joked about farming my apartment and how my downstairs neighbor would be mad when I watered, and now it’s a reality.  Not quite, but I’m still using a shovel and dirt in my apartment, and that’s all I need to be able to say “I farm my apartment now”. (ha ha)

I’ve also ended up growing a beard the last couple of months. Somehow, I’ve ended up saying that I’m not shaving until I eat some of this lettuce. It will be good to eat my own greens, and be cleanly shaven.  Still a few weeks away though.  Mid-May is about when we can start eating.

Until my next post, here are some of the first photos of our home-grown-apartment-greens. We are growing flowers too, but I’m all about the food.  All of this was planted on 3/21, and we will plant new lettuce every two weeks to stay stocked with greens for four.

This is the first round of our lettuce and flowers spread out on what was my TV stand.  Here is a few types of lettuce, flowers for pollenation and herbs like sage and thyme and rosemary.

This is the first round of our lettuce and flowers spread out on what was my TV stand. Here is a few types of lettuce, flowers for pollenation and herbs like sage and thyme and rosemary.

A baby lettuce popping it's head out.

A baby lettuce popping it's head out after 3 weeks.

Red Chard looking good, but a little blurry.  I'm working on that!

Red Chard looking good, but a little blurry. I'm working on that!

Bibb Lettuce

Bibb Lettuce

Sweet Red Lettuce

Sweet Red Lettuce

My partner wouldn't be happy if I didn't give kudos to a few flowers.  Here's her Sweet Pea.  Pollenators are obviously a gift of mother nature once we move outdoors.

My partner wouldn't be happy if I didn't give kudos to a few flowers. Here's her Sweet Pea. Pollenators are obviously a gift of mother nature once we move outdoors.

Obama's Online Town Hall – Part 1

In reading today’s news, Obama is taking yet another leap of faith to use the internet for reaching millions at almost no cost to our tax payers, and it leaves me speechless. Check out whitehouse.gov for the details on Obama’s 1st Online Town Hall.

In the realm of online marketing, I can not think of any other activity that could be more effective in connecting with people on a mass scale, and giving us what we voted for.  The feeling of having a seat at the table at the white house.  I don’t agree with everything about Obama, but he’s really good at providing hope.  Something we could all use a little more of.

As I learned of what he was going to do today, a tear came to my eye. Why?  Because back in ’94 when I first spoke of the internet and mentioned ideas like this, people thought I was nuts.  No one could even imagine email (or the hell that email would cause us all! :).  So admitedly, I got a little nastalgic when I realized that after 15 years, the Internet I’ve always envisioned as possible is finally here thanks to a tenacious president with the audacity to try something new.

“Try” is a key word here.  In the intro video he recorded for the town hall, he calls it an experiment.  That’s because it’s never been done on this scale.  EVER!  If it works out well, I predict a whole new trend in marketers holding online town halls about their products and ideas. And why not?  You may not be able to address millions, but realistically you don’t have to.  You just have to use the idea of asking questions, letting people vote on what questions are important, and then answering in video response.

Cheers to you for trying Obama.  “A” for effort in my book!

In the realm of online marketing projects, you may think it’s complex to do this, but it’s actually quite easy if you focus on the concept and do it with an email form, a web cam and a blog.

Thoughts?  Did you know of this at all?  Did you vote on any questions?  Have you ever put up your own podcast or tried an online town hall to market your business?  Please chime in with comments below.

Be It Twittering or Blogging, It’s All About Marketing

http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/12/business/smallbusiness/12social.ready.html

Being the guy who says “I don’t build websites, I build communication and marketing systems”, this article stuck out at me during breakfast.

The article is short and simple, explaining the idea of how blogging, podcasting, twittering(a.k.a. tweeting), facebooking are all different forms of making a connection and communicating. And for the majority of clients, it’s all about the free price vs. traditional ad models.

For me, as the article also says, these activities involve time, which we have less and less of these days. I’m taking time to write this post right now! I like to try and keep it short, but it’s tough to manage writing anything of worth in 20 minutes. For this online marketer, doing it any way you can is better than not doing it at all, you need to have realistic goals. I mean if your customer isn’t on Twitter, don’t go signing up for an account just because you heard it’s “the new thing”. But I know my readers would never do that, right? Right! :)

So what’s my technique with social networking? Well, I just started this blog not too long ago. I’ve had a few blogs in my time, but the Internet Farmer is the one I’ve chosen for my work, and I’ve made a commitment to keep up with it in my marketing. It’s fun, a little catchy, and makes a nice statement about who I am (1/2 geek and 1/2 farmer wannabe). I Facebook personally(when I can), which sometimes bring a new project here and there. I don’t use Twitter for myself or my business, but I probably will for my upcoming Maine Farm podcast(still in development) to broadcast Maine food-related headlines as they develop.

Are you using any social marketing techniques? If so, which ones? How much time do you spend doing it vs. the payoff? Please leave comments below, and email me if you would like to discuss this professionally.

Podcasting-Schmodcasting

The businesses that look to get the most out of the Internet these days go past the written word, to audio and video. Putting jargon aside, this means putting video and/or audio on your website. It also means you have a podcast, and could potentially get a link to your website through submitting your podcast to the iTunes directory! It’s a great way to get more traffic to your site.

With the technologies available today, recording audio or video for your website can done by anyone at a low price, and is an enormous effort in your on-line marketing.

A client I work with is in the alternative health care industry, and we have been getting ready to relaunch her site as a blog. After signing up for a service I use called Audio Acrobat, she made her first recording by phone for her homepage (like I said, the technology is there). It got me thinking that this client, who does not love technology nearly as much as I do, now had the power to record herself. Should she commit to recording regularly, her podcast will be an excellent addition to getting more website visitors by growing her on-line presence.

I think that planning for a podcast is like a blog or anything you’ll want to publish. Today I started searching around for ideas my client might be able to use, and I found this site, which I thought was a good example of audio for the alternative healers. It may not be everyones’ thing to record themselves, but the idea and personality comes through in a way reading can not, and it is a part of the overall marketing strategy to grow an audience for your teachings, books, affiliate products, what have you.

http://www.theglobalheart.org/free_transformational_tools.html

This is just one example I found with a quick google search and some surfing. I noticed I could not find it using iTunes, which was interesting. If you have any number of segments or plan to create audio/video going forward, make 100% sure that your audio is created to go on your website, but also on iTunes, where a whole world of people searching for things to listen to and watch are searching, and then they want more and end up at your website.

How do you get this project going?

  1. Research what’s out there. Search on-line, and with iTunes. You might even find an “angle” for your podcast just by listening to others.
  2. Determine how you will create the recording you desire. You can go to a professional studio, do it yourself if you know how, or do it yourself with a little help. Services like Audio Acrobat let you record-by-phone or on-line, and put it on your website as well as create a podcast from it.
  3. Set up your podcast in iTunes. Any webmaster should be able to put audio on your website, but make sure it goes on iTunes as well and let’s people “subscribe” with ease to your podcast. This one extra set up step, and one-time task if done correctly, makes all the difference.
  4. Submit your podcast to other podcast directories for maximum exposure. One more reason to go out and get more and more links pointing at your website… a highly recommended method for growing website traffic.

I have to admit that podcasting is not for everyone for a variety of reasons, but if you are going to make the effort of recording even one piece of audio for a homepage, you are on your way to creating a whole new avenue of website visitors by creating the podcast.

If you are stuck in the water and feel this could work for you, contact me today with your questions.

What about your podcast? Comment below…

I Love Spinach!

And now for something from the farmer side of things…

An article in the NY Times about spinach got me dreaming about spring (on this cold-rainy-slushy day here in Maine) and how much I love spinach. It seems crazy that I’ve only said that the last few years of my life. For about 35 years, no spinach, period. As I used to say, “blech!”

The key for me was learning that I did not like “cooked” spinach. I can tolerate it more now, but the taste just doesn’t work for me. But still, I love other cooked greens like kale and chard with some butter and Parmesan cheese. Love It!

Fresh spinach, on the other hand, is now my favorite green. It’s like eating photosynthesis! I guess growing up, spinach was cooked, I didn’t like it, and that was that. Without the choice, how are you to know? Growing up in a suburb of Detroit, it wasn’t exactly farm-central.

After learning about growing food a bit, I see spinach with all new eyes. It’s more than just good for you, it’s good for the land and sometimes the crops that grow next to it. That’s where the double edge sword for spinach comes in. The way I understand it, spinach is like a sponge. It soaks up everything from the soil, both bad and good.

So what’s bad or good?

The good is that it will soak up all the good nutrients from the soil, making it a hardy green with all the health of the earth.

The bad is when it soaks up things like pesticides. Any plant will soak up the pesticides we spray on them to some degree, but from what I’m told spinach more than other vegetables. So it’s no good to eat just any old spinach.

In a more productive sense than just telling you don’t eat it, be educated. The best purchase you can make is to buy directly from the person who grew the spinach, or anything we grow, and ask about their pesticide policies. It’s a blast getting out to the farms you eat from, but if you can’t get there, go to your local farmers markets and retail stores who stock the local products and endorse organic methods of growing food.

These days there are co-ops, winter markets and buying clubs focused on getting organic and local food. As a resident of Portland, Maine, here’s a couple resources for finding meat, produce and fish in Maine. Do a little searching on google to find resources closest to you.

The Portland Food Co-op’s “FoodNow! Buying Club”

Find Farms, CSA’s, Farmer’s Markets and more at the Maine Department of Agriculture’s “Get Real Maine”

Local Sprouts CSK (Community Supported Kitchen – 100% local, prepared food)

Do you like spinach too? Got any tips on growing? Recipe? Please comment below!

WordPress.tv

WordPress.tv.

WordPress continues to rock and roll in the online world of blogging and site management with the launch of WordPress TV, an online video site filled with tutorials for using WordPress.

For clients I work with, I always teach them the ins and outs of how WordPress works, and give them processes for easily updating their website and posting to their blog.  But I could never teach them every single thing that WordPress might be able to do, because the list is never ending.  This site is great to dive in, and learn the basics, as well as more advanced topics to see what is possible.

For partners I work with, this is a wonderful resource to help clients.  Why make your own tutorials when it was done by the people who made the software?

What do you think of the site?  Do you like online video tutorials or do you prefer to read?  Chime in below!

Using Facebook For Business

How to Friend Mom, Dad, and the Boss on Facebook…Safely – NYTimes.com.

If you don’t know what Facebook is, or social networking for that matter, you should Google these topics and do some reading.  I might even say to get an account and check it out for yourself.

This article is an important thought to consider when doing business on Facebook, which is traditionally not for business. It’s also a great tutorial of how to setup your account in a way that makes doing business on Facebook a little more professional.

As the article discusses, Facebook can be great for promoting yourself, but if you don’t learn how to use privacy settings, that big sales pitch you are doing for a $100,000 deal could go downhill quickly when they see that photo of you dancing on the table at the bar last night!  Some say “don’t do silly things and there will be no pictures”, but that’s no fun is it?

In business, Facebook is a B2C model of promotion. So if your traditional advertising methods are to the end-consumer, Facebook could be a great addition to promoting yourself.  But if you are selling business ads, this may not be the place to network.

For B2B, or any business, LinkedIn is the place to be as a professional.  The site recently added many of Facebook’s features of social networking, but the site is all about resumes, connections, and staying in touch with business contacts.  You could land a job or a new contract, as well as manage an on-line resume in one place.  Any professional can find a reason to be here.

Jeremy Bloom’s Top tips for social networking in business:

  1. Get an account in LinkedIn regardless of who you are or what you do.  This is social networking for any professional, and is almost a must have in today’s business climate.
  2. If you don’t know about this stuff at all, do some searching and reading about social networking.
  3. Understand that social networking on Facebook is not for everyone or every business.  Every site is different, so learn the ins and outs before jumping in to any marketing activity on-line.  Contacting a professional(me) isn’t a bad idea either!
  4. Get an account in Facebook.  Even if you never use it for business, it’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever experienced on-line, and maybe you will enjoy connecting with friends and family.

What do you think about business and social networking on Facebook?  Please leave your comments below!