MOFGA Annual Meeting

At the 2010 Dept. of Ag Show in Augusta, MOFGA held their annual member meeting.  For those who missed it, here you are…

 

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2010 Maine Departement of Agriculture – Growing Grains in Maine

I attended the show on the first day and sat in on this discussion about addressing “what’s happening in Maine with growing our own grains”, the session was full of people doing great things with grains.

Enjoy!

 

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Open-Source Software Comes To The White House

This is far from a political blog, but in this article from the NY Times today, I was THRILLED to see that WhiteHouse.gov is now run by the open-source software package called Drupal.

For me as the Internet Farmer, I love open-source. The software is free, and after using it for over 15 years I’m pretty good at helping clients use it.  It is the basis of most of my business.  Without it, I would have no choice but to charge high fees that farmers may not afford.  Using free software allows me to focus on service, and that is what client’s pay for.

Personally, I don’t use Drupal.  It’s a much larger package than me or my clients need in most cases.  I keep it simple by using two open-source packages that do most of what anyone needs. I use WordPress for my Blog Newsletter, and Zen Cart for E-commerce.  That covers 95% of what anyone needs for their website(s).

What is “open-source software”?

You can find the details of what open-source software is technically here.  It can be quite technical and focus on distribution and the code itself, when you get down to it.  For me, the keys to open-source are these simple principles:

  • It’s free to download and use
  • You can change the code to make improvements as long as you are willing to share those changes
  • We all benefit from the improvements that we and others make

It’s a real do-it-yourself thing, and it is supported by thousands of programmers and users around the world.  People writing software like this are literally giving back by letting the community use, and improve upon, their software.  That last part is key… improve upon.

When you make the software better and share it with people, we are all better off for it. I think that idea goes a long way here.  Not much different than two farmers sharing ideas is it?

If you are ready to start using open-source software, contact me today, or start some discussion below.

Common Ground Fair 2009

My friend Tim and I decided to ride our bikes to the fair from Portland. It was great, but more difficult that most rides because of our camping gear and clothes.  Loved every second of it!

Working with MOFGA, I was able to create a new volunteer job for myself. As the Internet Farmer might do, we wanted to record some speakers who discussed topics in areas that MOFGA does not have a regular specialist for so that anyone can learn.  Being the Internet Farmer, I of course agreed, and hope to see a podcast of this great material someday.

Enjoy the photos and recordings…

The audio files are in a very raw form, and each is about one hour. There is several minutes of dead air at the beginning of a couple of recordings, so be patient or click on the bar to fast forward a bit.

Michael Phillips – Home Orchard Basics

 

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Will Bonsall – Backyard Grain

 

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Will Bonsall – Food Legumes

 

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Russ Conrad – Current State of Beekeeping: Organic Solutions for Healthy Hives

 

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Charles Yelton – Permaculture Principles

 

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Mark Fulford – Plants, Minerals & Biology: an Inseperable Relationship

 

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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!

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…