Microblogger https://microblogger.com Build a small business empire you can be proud of Tue, 20 Dec 2016 22:02:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.9.2 How to Auto-Tweet Posts from an RSS Feed and Tag Someone https://microblogger.com/auto-tweet-posts-rss-feed-tag-someone/ https://microblogger.com/auto-tweet-posts-rss-feed-tag-someone/#comments Tue, 20 Dec 2016 22:02:47 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1991 There used to be a ton of auto-tweet services that would let you tweet out your friends’ RSS feeds for free. One by one, they died. In looking for a new solution, I stumbled upon this hacky way of doing it. Basically, you go to IFTTT to watch an RSS feed and then submit it […]

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There used to be a ton of auto-tweet services that would let you tweet out your friends’ RSS feeds for free. One by one, they died.

In looking for a new solution, I stumbled upon this hacky way of doing it. Basically, you go to IFTTT to watch an RSS feed and then submit it to your Buffer queue. Buffer than automatically tweets from your queue.

Why is Buffer necessary when IFTTT can autotweet something?

Twitter’s TOS states that you can’t use an autotweeting tool and tag people at the same time. I want to tag people, so this is the solution.

  1. Get the RSS feed you want to auto-tweet.
  2. Make sure you have a Buffer account, the free one is fine.
  3. Go to IFTTT.com and link up your Buffer account.
  4. Go to create a new Applet.
  5. Select a trigger (THIS) from the Feed category, New feed item.
  6. Select an action service of Buffer, Add to Buffer
  7. I like to add something like “New post” to the front and then tag the original author.
  8. Done!

If you want something to auto-tweet, might I suggest this feed: https://wallethacks.com/feed/

I’m @wallethacks on Twitter too.

Enjoy!

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How to Delete a Website from Google Analytics https://microblogger.com/how-to-delete-a-website-from-google-analytics/ https://microblogger.com/how-to-delete-a-website-from-google-analytics/#respond Wed, 09 Dec 2015 18:32:20 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1989 Deleting a website from Google Analytics is surprisingly difficult to find. Log into Google Analytics and go to Admin at the top navigation. Then change the Property to the one you want to delete. Click on Property settings. Now click on “Move to Trash Can” in the upper right. You’ll be asked “are you sure?” […]

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Deleting a website from Google Analytics is surprisingly difficult to find.

Log into Google Analytics and go to Admin at the top navigation.

Then change the Property to the one you want to delete.

Click on Property settings.

Now click on “Move to Trash Can” in the upper right.

You’ll be asked “are you sure?” Click on Delete property.

A tiny little yellow “Success” will pop up and now that property is gone.

(if you change your mind, you have about a month before it’s finally deleted. You can rescue it by going to the Trash Can under Account)

I can’t believe it took me this long to find it.

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Don’t Use Public URL Shortening Links in Emails https://microblogger.com/dont-use-public-url-shortening-links-in-emails/ https://microblogger.com/dont-use-public-url-shortening-links-in-emails/#respond Fri, 12 Jun 2015 12:26:41 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1977 In my spare time, I run a scotch whiskey enthusiasts blog called Scotch Addict. One of the fun things about whiskey and spirits is that the age of a whiskey is important, so it always gets mentioned. Most aged whiskies worth mentioning fall between 10 and 18… which to a computer makes it sound like […]

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spam-score-analyzerIn my spare time, I run a scotch whiskey enthusiasts blog called Scotch Addict.

One of the fun things about whiskey and spirits is that the age of a whiskey is important, so it always gets mentioned. Most aged whiskies worth mentioning fall between 10 and 18… which to a computer makes it sound like I’m talking about teenagers. (and not in a good way)

Well, when you publish a link, sometimes it has 12yo or 18yo in it and that has the potential to get your email marked as spam.

So occasionally I use redirects to take the year out of the link when I do my emails. I usually use a redirect on Scotch Addict but one day I was feeling lazy and went to bit.ly, a popular URL shortening service.

Big mistake. As it turns out, Bit.ly is Spamhous DBL (domain block list) because bit.ly is popular with spammers as well. (check if your domain is in there)

If you use a bit.ly link in your email, there’s a higher than average chance the message will get marked as spam.

It’s as simple as that.

teenager-2.4Aweber has a tool that scans your email with SpamAssassin, a popular spam detection tool, and will give you a spam score. Anything under 5 is OK, by using a bit.ly link, my spam score jumped to 10. Mentioning a teenager only bumped it up to a 2.4. That’s how bad including a public URL shortening link is!

Don’t be lazy, don’t use a public shortening link. If you need to use a redirect, install a plugin (I use Pretty Link Lite, I’ve heard good things about ThirstyAffiliates too but never used it) and take a few extra steps to do it right.

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One Post, One Goal https://microblogger.com/one-post-one-goal/ https://microblogger.com/one-post-one-goal/#comments Tue, 05 May 2015 11:05:18 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1960 Last year at FINCON, I gave a well-received talk about how I split tested a page on Bargaineering. It was the #1 money making page on the site and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. It was so successful for a variety of reasons but the number one reason it did well is […]

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Credit: Laineema

Credit: Laineema

Last year at FINCON, I gave a well-received talk about how I split tested a page on Bargaineering.

It was the #1 money making page on the site and generated hundreds of thousands of dollars a year.

It was so successful for a variety of reasons but the number one reason it did well is an idea that is ingrained my brain forever.

One post, one goal.

When someone visited that page, I had one goal.

Get them to apply for a credit card.

Nothing else mattered. I didn’t want them to subscribe to the email list (I killed the popup), I didn’t want them to comment (I turned off comments), and I didn’t want them to go to another page on the side (I removed the sidebar).

All my testing was focused on one goal – Get. The. Click.

When I started, about 10% of visitors would click on the Apply button. When I was “done,” about 35% of visitors would click on the Apply button. All because I had one goal and I played with the page until I maximized the one goal.

The key was understanding that my blog post had one goal. Not two. Not three.

You can’t test against three goals or even two goals. It’s like trying to herd cats, one cat goes this way, another goes that way, and before you know it the group of loosely associated felines has scattered and you’ve wasted your time.

Have you ever written an email to ask three questions and the person replied with an answer to just the first one? It happens waaaay too much. ISN’T IT INFURIATING!?!?!?!

If so, then you know the perils of having more than one goal in an email. One email, one goal.

The first mistake people make is to try to do too much. You think you’re being efficient but you’re being inefficient. The key to winning is simplifying.

The second mistake people make is to not have a goal in the first place. Why does that post exist? What do you want out of it?

(if the answer is – because I always post on Mondays… well that’s a terrible reason)

What’s the point of this post?

Please tell me what you think. 🙂

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Behind the Scenes: Private Beta Launch of $5 Meal Plan https://microblogger.com/inside-beta-launch-5dollarmealplan/ https://microblogger.com/inside-beta-launch-5dollarmealplan/#respond Fri, 01 May 2015 11:00:15 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1777 Last year, around this time, we did a private beta launch of $5 Meal Plan, the meal plan service I started with Erin Chase. You might remember Erin Chase, founder of the amazingly successful $5 Dinners, author of cookbooks, and our guest for the 12th episode of the podcast. We officially launched the service on […]

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5dollarmealplanLast year, around this time, we did a private beta launch of $5 Meal Plan, the meal plan service I started with Erin Chase. You might remember Erin Chase, founder of the amazingly successful $5 Dinners, author of cookbooks, and our guest for the 12th episode of the podcast.

We officially launched the service on August 1st to the general public but we actually created a Beta program back in May. Both launches exceeded all of our targets (which says something about our ability to set targets huh?) and it was the first time I ever launched a product, let alone a membership site, and I thought I’d share a little of the behind the scenes.

Today, one year after beta launch and ten months after official launch, membership numbers are strong and growing. It was all based on a solid beta test foundation that helped shaped our service, from how the plans looked to when they were emailed, and this article discusses our beta strategy and execution.

Our Overall Strategy

The overall strategy for $5 Meal Plan was to come up with the core offering and then fine tune it based on the feedback from an initial beta group of testers in May. After a few months, getting both the product and the process down, we’d launch in August just in time for the rush of back to school, with a product that was honed and ready for prime time.

Step 1. Growing Our Email List

As you know, your email list is gold.

For $5 Meal Plan, our email list consisted of exactly 1 subscriber (me… even Erin wasn’t on it!).

We would need more. 🙂

Our strategy for populating the list was through surveys sent to Erin’s readers, of which there were tens of thousands, and signing up the respondents to our Prelaunch email list.

The first survey we sent out was a beta test for our survey! I wanted to learn the language of the people interested in $5 Meal Plan but also write the survey in a language used by the people filling it out. The first survey was sent out just to her followers on Facebook. The survey was 9 questions and all open ended.

The goal was to:

  • Collect enough responses so we could create the same survey but with multiple choice answers.
  • Understand the language so we could integrate it into our copy.
  • Collect email address so we could add them to our list and…
  • Ask them more specific questions based on their responses.

Here were the questions for the first survey:

  1. Are you responsible for meal planning? If yes, continue.
  2. How do you meal plan and how long does it take you each week?
  3. What do you like about meal planning?
  4. What do you dislike about meal planning?
  5. What is the most challenging part of meal planning?
  6. Are you currently using any meal planning services? If so, which ones. If not, what do you feel about them?
  7. If you do use a meal planning subscription service, what do you wish it did differently? Does it offer all that you need and expect?
  8. Do you have any special food preferences? (Food allergies, intolerances, dietary restrictions or choice to remove ingredients from diet.)
  9. Do you own any of The $5 Dinner Mom Cookbooks? (Original dinner cookbook, breakfast and lunch cookbook or the one dish dinners cookbook.)

Nine questions in a survey is a lot of questions. Especially so many open ended “fill in the blank” questions. We knew response rates were going to be (relatively) low but we only needed enough to create a survey populated with multiple choice questions. (I like to send surveys that can be finished in < 30 seconds) We collected ~150 responses, which was enough for me to create a second version, consisting of questions with multiple choice answers (which are easier to quantitatively analyze and also faster to fill out). Erin sent that out several times to her email list and we collected 2,130 responses for the second survey. We made some minor adjustments to the questions (for clarity). The most common reason why people meal plan is because they don't want to stress about what to eat for dinner each night (78%) and so they can save money (64%) and time (52%). I would use common phrases and words in those free form answers to create the survey but also for use in the copy on the landing page. It's not a coincidence that the home page for $5 Meal Plan calls out the top three reasons.

Feeding the List

We collected our responses about a month before we intended to offer the private beta. As a bribe, and as a way to keep the list active for that month, we took the ten most popular recipes on $5 Dinners, by visits according to Google Analytics, and crafted a autoresponder series that sent out emails over the course of the month. People who signed up received several emails over the next month with great recipes, a gift that was inline with what we were offering.

The series was a huge hit with an average open rate of 58% and many many email replies telling us what they loved about the recipe, what they tweaked, what they disliked, etc. Replies are great.

One side benefit of sending out this autoresponder drip is that we would learn the optimal time to send out emails to this group – 7 PM Eastern. I would send out all of our launch emails at that time.

Quick Alpha Test

In emailing the survey respondents, I started collected about a dozen emails that I felt a good relationship with. These would be the folks I’d invite to an Alpha test where they’d be testing the checkout page and all the steps involved in signing up.

All of them signed up without any problems, which was great. Unfortunately we’d still have different problems during the beta launch! 🙂

Beta Launch Emails

First things first, you need to establish goals. Our goal for the beta launch was to get ~300 members beta testing the menu plan, shopping list, and our forums and membership site. We arbitrarily picked 300, it “felt” right.

We wanted a large enough group to capture all the different things that could go wrong and have enough people to give our forums a lift.

The launch itself was going to be pretty simple – four emails:

  • A longer email about 36 hours before the close – A
  • A shorter one about 12 hours before the close – B
  • A brief reminder about an hour before the close – C
  • A brief email a day after it closes for a waitlist – W

The timing and number of emails varies but the basic strategy is the same. Frequent emails that get shorter and shorter. A waitlist email after it closes.

Some metrics from our emails:
Email A: When we sent the initial beta test invitation, which was approximately 36 hours before we would close the beta, it went to ~2,100 subscribers.

Nearly half opened the email (48.9%, of the entire list) and half of them click on the beta (24.2%, of the entire list). Of those who clicked through, 40% signed up for our free trial beta that required them to enter in a credit card (more on this later).

We would lose 24 subscribers, or a little under 1%, to bounces or unsubscription.

Email B: When we sent the next email, which was 12 hours before the beta closed, it went out to ~1,900 subscribers.

This time only 35% opened the email and 11.1% clicked, of those 25% would sign up to the private beta. We’d lose another under 1%.

Email C: This is last email we’d send before the close of the beta. We extended the beta by five hours because of technical problems we ran into (more on that below) but our final numbers were ~1800 email sent, 27% opens and 9.3% clicks. 50% of the people who clicked through would eventually sign up. We only lost 9 email addresses with this send.

Since we delayed the close by 5 hours, we had an opportunity to add another truly “last minute” email. I decided against it since we were going to hit our goal of 300 members.

Signups by email:

  • Email A – 202
  • Email B – 51
  • Email C – 81

Email W: This is the post-beta survey & waitlist email. My real goal for this email was to collect information from the people who didn’t join. These will eventually become objections I will want to kill on any copy I write.

This also gives folks who missed the beta a chance to get in later, if people drop out. You might be surprised to hear this but there already have been folks who cancelled their accounts, a few did it the same day they signed up (we would call them instaquits and 0.05% of signups instaquit, a rule that even applied during our launch).

Waitlists are often seen as a marketing ploy because you collect the waitlist and then let everyone in. We would eventually allow everyone on the waitlist to join because our 300 target was a target and not a limit. If someone wanted to try it out, we let them. It might seem like a marketing ploy after the fact, but we were giving away six months of the service for free so it seemed like they were getting the better end of the deal. 🙂

Beta Launch Landing Page

The landing page is about as sparse as you can get. I won’t even link to it here because there really isn’t much to it. It had a picture of Erin, since she’s the menu planner, with some text that said:

We’re super excited to have you to join us and help us make this the best experience possible!

What we’re offering is an absolutely free 6-month private beta trial of our service, after which you’ll be joining our monthly membership program where you will be billed just $5 a month. All we ask is that you let us know what you think of the service, what could be improved, and help us make it even better!

Please act quickly, we’re only accepting sign ups until May 13th, 12:00 PM (noon) ET. (due to some bugs, some people were having trouble signing up so we extended it until noon)

click to join now!

You can cancel at anytime.

Why so brief? All of our selling was done in the email and we didn’t want to go overboard. We’re not selling a $500 or $5,000 course, this is a $5 per month subscription for a product that is easily understood with few objections we could overcome in copy.

Key Lessons from the Beta

We learned two crucial things during the beta.

First, we used to send out meal plans on Sunday night. We figured most meal planning was done on a Sunday so why not send it out then?

Wrong. The planning might be done on a Sunday but the shopping happens much earlier. We did a survey and the bulk of respondents (like 85%+) requested that we send out meal plans on a Friday, Saturday, or Sunday — because that’s when they shop! So we send it out at 11am on Fridays.

Next, we used to have forums on the site. I knew that community was a big deal when it comes to any type of membership site and forums are a great way to build that community… unless no one uses them. We had 300+ members and virtually zero engagement on the forum.

Why? Because they weren’t used to going to our forums. We were trying to influence too many habits at once, without making it clear what the benefits was, and this was one battle I didn’t feel like overcoming (getting them to use the meal plans was the battle I wanted to fight).

So we created a closed Facebook group (members were already on Facebook all the time) and as I write this, it’s almost 12,000 members. There are pluses and minuses to Facebook but the majority are pluses – more on that in a future post.

About those Real Technical Problems

We extended the beta from 7am to noon because of technical problems. These were real technical problems, not “technical problems so we can get more signups.”

For one, our checkout page wasn’t mobile responsive – clearly a mistake because 31% of visitors use a mobile device and 15% use a tablet. This wasn’t just an aesthetic issue either, the way the page broke made it impossible for visitors to enter in their billing information… which is bad for a checkout page! 🙂

Thankfully, people emailed me and we were able to fix it.

Another “problem” was our host WPEngine. They use very aggressive caching and so there would be some unexpected and unpredictable behavior that made signing up very difficult (you don’t want to ever cache a checkout page!). It’s a known issue and there is a workaround involving cache exceptions, so going forward it’s not a problem.

Things I Would Do Differently

We were thrilled with the results. We hit our targets, got 15%+ of the email list to join the beta, and we have a vibrant community from which to grow.

But, here’s what I’d do differently… I would not close a beta at 7 AM. I don’t know what I was thinking closing it in the morning (4AM PT!), but I’d just shut it down at midnight PT and update the pages whenever I woke up the next day.

One thing I’d debate more is requiring a credit card for the trial. This is a debate that has raged on for years. (more on this in a future post, now that it’s a year later, we have data on the credit card vs. no credit card thing) I don’t know the answer other than the most common reason people didn’t sign up was because they didn’t want to enter in a credit card.

That said, I would like to believe that the members who did are more committed… which is crucial for a beta test. We don’t want tire kickers with no buy in to be the source of our direction!

That’s it for now, hope you enjoyed it. If you’ve done launches, do you see anything I could’ve done differently? Or otherwise have questions on my logic? Let me know in the comments.

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Anatomy of a Perfect Business April Fool’s Joke https://microblogger.com/anatomy-of-a-perfect-business-april-fools-joke/ https://microblogger.com/anatomy-of-a-perfect-business-april-fools-joke/#comments Thu, 02 Apr 2015 11:00:05 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1964 Who doesn’t love April 1st? The perfect April Fool’s joke needs to do two things: 1. Be Funny and/or Clever 2. Highlight Why You Are Awesome Seth Godin’s April Fool’s post today about Tuber was awesome. I’m definitely a big Seth Godin fan. My three year old asked me once if I’ve ever seen a […]

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Who doesn’t love April 1st?

The perfect April Fool’s joke needs to do two things:
1. Be Funny and/or Clever
2. Highlight Why You Are Awesome

Seth Godin’s April Fool’s post today about Tuber was awesome.

I’m definitely a big Seth Godin fan. My three year old asked me once if I’ve ever seen a blue monster with three ears and no eyes. When I said no, he said he’d draw me one and started laughing. It was the best joke ever. Whenever I turn the tables, I always ask him if he’s seen a purple cow.

We did an April’s Fool’s joke on $5 Meal Plan – we just sent out this “kid-friendly” plan.

Why is this funny or clever? Other than the obvious that it’s chicken nuggets and a bellini, it’s also about as unexpected as you can be on 4/1. We frame it as a kid-friendly plan, which is something lots of people have asked for, and it actually is kid-friend. It’s chicken nuggets, can’t really get more kid friendly than that.

How does this highlight why we are awesome? We use humor in a lot of what we do in our service, we try to make the service as entertaining as possible. We put food trivia in our emails, we tell jokes, and we otherwise try to make each email delightful. You look forward to the email for the trivia and jokes as well as the plan.

In addition to showing you we have a sense of humor, it shows you what a plan looks like. You can see we use icons to identify recipes, our directions are easy to understand, and the plan is simple to execute.

My personal favorite from this year, CERN researchers confirm the existence of the Force. My favorite result from an April Fool’s Joke is this one from Tesla.

So, what did you do for April Fools’ this year?

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Why I Started $5 Meal Plan https://microblogger.com/why-i-started-5-meal-plan/ https://microblogger.com/why-i-started-5-meal-plan/#respond Mon, 30 Mar 2015 11:00:13 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1957 $5 Meal Plan was one of the reasons why Microblogger was in hibernation mode. In a previous post, I wrote that I’d be sharing what I learned building these other projects and this is the first part of a multi-part series about one of those businesses – $5 Meal Plan. $5 Meal Plan is a […]

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$5 Meal Plan Logo$5 Meal Plan was one of the reasons why Microblogger was in hibernation mode.

In a previous post, I wrote that I’d be sharing what I learned building these other projects and this is the first part of a multi-part series about one of those businesses – $5 Meal Plan.

$5 Meal Plan is a meal plan service that emails you a weekly meal plan and shopping list every Friday. The service has a free trial and then it costs $5 a month, less if you pay for six or twelve months up front after the trial.

My co-founder, Erin Chase, is someone you may be familiar with because she was on the podcast on episode 12, when we talked about her selling 150,000+ copies of her books.

We’ll discuss the origins of the idea, why I chose to do it, how I found Erin, as well as what’s next in the series.

The idea

Let’s be honest – meal plans are not new.

A meal plan based on affordable meals is not new.

The inspiration to start a meal plan service was another meal plan service. Jason, semi-formerly of Paleo Plan, told me about his experience (episode 5) building a meal plan service and I thought it sounded like fun.

The big difference? Jason had the benefit of building a plan around a diet that was brand new, Paleo. Jason’s also a smart guy, which is why he thought of such a great idea, so he was able to quickly build it to be the market leader.

What was going to be $5 Meal Plan’s competitive advantage? There was no clear leader when it came to a meal plan focused on inexpensive, easy-to-make meals that was an affordable as ours. Emeals is the market leader and their budget-friendly plan is priced at $5 – $10, depending on the length of the payment plan.

Also, I believe that a singular idea is great but it cannot win without strong execution. I don’t consider $5 Meal Plan to be a novel idea, but I feel that it’s a good business that can excel if executed well and it solves a problem that lacks a perfect solution.

Why I chose to do $5 Meal Plan

I’ve always wanted to start a membership site and I thought that by starting a business with a low membership fee, $5 a month, I’d cut my teeth on something “easy” while learning skills I could apply to something “harder” (more expensive).

Somewhere, my surrogate Asian father Ramit Sethi is shaking his head right now.

I also thought the business would be easier because I wouldn’t have to worry about the core product – meal plans. It was technologically very straightforward and I could find a partner who had demonstrated years of proficiency.

When I approached Erin about it, I didn’t know she was already giving away meal plans each week. They weren’t formatted as nicely as $5 Meal Plan is today but they cost nothing. That meant there was an audience out there who was used to using her meal plans and we could convert some of them to the paid service.

How I found a co-founder

Speaking of Erin, I only did $5 Meal Plan because I knew Erin ahead of time. I like to work with folks with whom I get along with but they must also possess a set of applicable and complementary skills.

From an execution standpoint, I knew that Erin had the recipe database to support a weekly meal plan service, the meals were on $5 Dinners. I knew that she had the audience that was receptive to meal plans, since she’d been giving them away weekly and selling Costco plans on her site, and she had always wanted to do something like this. All the pieces were there.

If I didn’t know Erin, I wouldn’t have been as bullish on the idea in the first place. Meal plan services are a dime a dozen and the moat is small.

The appeal of $5 Meal Plan is that it’s affordable, both the plan and the cost of the meals, but it’s also because of Erin. When you sell 150,000 books, at least a couple of them are going to be fans of you. 🙂

What I think I bring

In addition to looking for a co-founder with complementary skills, I felt like I needed to understand what I brought to the table. I knew I’d be learning a lot but my strength is conversion optimization testing, copywriting, and handling all the technology behind the scenes gave me confidence I could be a good partner in the business.

I think what’s key to a good partnership is when all partners are doing what they’re good at and when the two skillsets cover the whole range of tasks. Erin’s role is to get folks to the site, then I get them in the door, settled, and using the plans she creates every single week by hand. Then I make sure the technology is as friction-less as possible.

And the process isn’t like handing off a baton. It’s more like hiking a trail when sometimes I’m in the front and sometimes Erin is the front in terms of guiding responsibility.

Throughout the hike, we’re communicating from our own perspectives and experiences so we’re most likely to succeed. We may have complementary skills but we also complementary and often overlapping domain expertise that’s invaluable.

A prime example of this domain expertise example was in our payment systems. I knew we would set up Stripe, which effectively takes every single credit and debit card out there. I wasn’t sure if we wanted Paypal because you hear tons of horror stories about Paypal and integration was going to be a minor annoyance..

Erin insisted that we have Paypal, I deferred to her judgment and set it up. The result shocked me.

32.7% of our payments have been through Paypal.

While we could’ve gotten some of those sales if we only offered Stripe, 32.7% is a much bigger number than I would’ve guessed. (my guess was ~10%, but that’s not based on any data which is about as useful as a fistful of snow in the Arctic)

(Incidentally, Erin’s domain expertise from selling Costco plans told her that a significant number of sales comes from Paypal – data always wins)

What’s next?

If you’re interested in how we launched the membership site, stay tuned because next up I’ll share how we beta launched the service to 300+ beta testers. How we convinced them to try us out and how they would have a major impact on how the service looked on Day 1.

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What Have I Been Up To? https://microblogger.com/what-have-i-been-up-to/ https://microblogger.com/what-have-i-been-up-to/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 10:39:47 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1955 If you’ve been a long time reader of Microblogger, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t produced a podcast or written a blog post (regularly) in quite some time. What gives? Like a lot of blogs, the answer is – “other projects.” Blogging, and any business, is a matter of opportunity cost. When I started Bargaineering, […]

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If you’ve been a long time reader of Microblogger, you’ve probably noticed that I haven’t produced a podcast or written a blog post (regularly) in quite some time.

What gives?

Like a lot of blogs, the answer is – “other projects.”

Blogging, and any business, is a matter of opportunity cost. When I started Bargaineering, the opportunity cost was television time. Instead of watching TV at night after dinner, I’d write blog posts and network with other bloggers. For me, that’s not a difficult trade at all.

Nowadays, blogging comes at a cost to other priorities. In my case, I co-founded two new businesses with two separate but equally fantastic co-founders. The businesses are doing well, they’re challenging me in new ways that help me grow, and they’re a lot of fun.

I’m sharing this with you for two reasons:

  • I’ve learned a tremendous amount. I’ve learned a lot as a result of starting these new businesses and working with other people in building these businesses. What I’ve learned I hope to share with you in the future.
  • I miss writing. I did copywriting and other types of writing in support of those businesses, but I wasn’t writing blog posts. I wasn’t putting ideas on paper, as it were, and working my writing muscles in a way that kept them strong. I used to write three blog posts a day for Bargaineering and while it was great to write zero blog posts a day, I felt like I had an itch I just couldn’t scratch.

When I started Microblogger, it was to give myself a year to build up a business and investigate new technologies that became popular in the last few years. I produced a short email course, 50 Days to a Better Blog, and a podcast that made it to 36 episodes.

The mindset that Microblogger was to be a business made me evaluate Microblogger as business and as a business, it wasn’t doing well. Microblogger earned a few hundred dollars a month through hosting referrals and course sales. If Bargaineering made a few hundred dollars in the first year, I’d be ecstatic. But Bargaineering was a hobby and something I did for fun, I didn’t approach it as a business so I didn’t let the numbers tell me it wasn’t a business yet after a year. Microblogger wasn’t cutting it financially so I put it on hold while I pursued other more promising projects.

But I realized I enjoyed Microblogger because it gave me the opportunity to share ideas, have conversations, and it helped me express myself creatively. I missed all of that. It’s my way of saying I missed you.

So I’m going to rekindle Microblogger and this time I’m going to approach it like I approached Bargaineering – this is a hobby, let’s learn from each other, have fun, and I’m not going to think about whether the ROI on my time makes business sense. 🙂

What’s on tap? I’ll share the ins and outs of how I started the first of the two new ventures, $5 Meal Plan, including why I approached Erin Chase to start it, how we launched our beta, how we launched for real, and a lot of the learnings along the way. There’s a tremendous amount involved in a membership site, in billing folks on a regular basis, and I’ll share it with you.

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What World War 2 British Bombers Can Teach You About Competitive Research https://microblogger.com/survivorship-bias/ https://microblogger.com/survivorship-bias/#comments Mon, 08 Dec 2014 19:41:27 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1924 During World War 2, the prevailing military strategies believed that the key to victory would be sustained bombing of industrial and political infrastructure, as well as military targets. Bombers would play a huge role in the war as they were one of the most effective units in causing massive damage to this infrastructure. Throughout the […]

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Photo: D. Biller - B17 Flying Fortress & B24 Liberator at Airventure 2006

Photo: D. Biller – B17 Flying Fortress & B24 Liberator at Airventure 2006

During World War 2, the prevailing military strategies believed that the key to victory would be sustained bombing of industrial and political infrastructure, as well as military targets. Bombers would play a huge role in the war as they were one of the most effective units in causing massive damage to this infrastructure.

Throughout the German advance in Europe, air power played a huge role as sustained bombings pushed many governments to surrender. The Luftwaffe would eventually turns their sights towards Britian and heavily bomb British towns and cities during July and August of 1940, in advance of Operation Sea Lion and The Blitz.

The British RAF Bomber Command would bomb Berlin in response and Berlin was just within range of British bombers. These bombing raids would go frequently between 1940 and 1945 and dropped an estimated 46,000 tons of bombs, about twice the tonnage of the United States Air Force, in Berlin alone.

As one would expect, the British were suffering losses of their bombers from German anti-air defenses. So, they commissioned a study of their surviving bombers to decide where they could reinforce their bombers to increase survivability.

The British RAF Bomber Command recommended that they increase the amount of armor on the places that were being hit, not a bad conclusion, right?

In fact, it’s illustrates a common logical error – survivorship bias.

What is Survivorship Bias?

Survivorship bias is a simple logical error where you concentrate too much on what you can see with people, businesses, or things that “survived” a process. You miss what you can’t see because it’s not immediately in front of you or was excluded because it no longer exists.

In blogging, it’s easy to see the successful bloggers in a niche and look for a commonality among them. While that’s good to start with, it’s dangerous to finish there. You need to consider who was popular four or five years ago (or longer, depending on the niche) and if they no longer exist, investigate why. Research what made them peak 5 years ago but a shadow of their former glory today. Compare that with what works today with current successful bloggers in that niche and do your comparisons with the “dead” included.

I don’t want to name names but some of the most popular frugal blogs from five years ago are a shell of what they once were. A blog that used to get 50+ comments on each post (sometimes hundreds) now get less than five or ten. I don’t know about its traffic numbers but I know the community that used to exist on that site is gone (and it’s kind of sad).

If you sit it next to arguably the most popular “frugal lifestyle” blog today, Mr Money Mustache, there are plenty of similarities. Both talk about a simpler lifestyle, both give actionable advice on how to save money and live a life of wanting less, and both have a clearly articulated mission.

What does MMM do better? Among many other things, it has way more personality. Pete is far more interesting and he’s more up front than the other site’s author. The other site had more personality five years ago but over time it went away. It became diluted, with staff writers, and people lost that connection. Readers don’t build relationships with staff writers, they build relationships with people whose faces they see over and over again.

MMM is also far more focused. It’s perfect for a smaller number of people than the other site, but that “smaller number” of people is still a very large number. It is still the internet after all.

Why is this significant? Because blogging strategies have changed the last 5 years. Five years ago, it was about producing high quality SEO-optimized content so that Google and other search engines would rank you higher and send you traffic.

It’s different today. You still need high quality but it’s about being specific, about having a personality and making a connection. Your biggest traffic wins will come from social media and word of mouth. Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest are the cake… and Google is the icing.

People share shareable content, they don’t share encyclopedias.

If you were to study just the popular blogs of today, you may not notice the change in trends because very few of the older blogs survived it (or are a fraction of what they used to be, and you just don’t notice). You would see what makes MMM popular but you might not see what’s missing in the other other blogs.

Regardless of the conclusion, it’s crucial to study them all, not just the ones that are still around. That’s the point of understanding survivorship bias.

In 1943, Abraham Wald, a Jewish mathematician from Romania, published a series of memoranda while working for the National Defense Research Committee in the United States (I learned of this via Douglas_Reay on the site LessWrong).

In it, he recommended that the planes be reinforced in the areas not hit in the surviving planes. The returning planes survived the hits they sustained, so they are less critical than the areas that weren’t hit, and it’s presumed that the ones that were lost were hit in critical areas. You can read Wald’s memoranda here.

Also, neither of the two beautiful aircraft in the photo are British. They’re the B17 Flying Fortress and the B24 Liberator and awesomely American.

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MBP #38 – How to Dominate Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing with Steve Scott https://microblogger.com/mbp-38-dominate-amazon-kindle-direct-publishing-steve-scott/ https://microblogger.com/mbp-38-dominate-amazon-kindle-direct-publishing-steve-scott/#comments Mon, 03 Nov 2014 15:03:44 +0000 http://microblogger.com/?p=1930 Do you know that there are folks out there making five figures a month publishing books directly via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing? There are and today we talk to Steve Scott, who makes anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000 a month from his publishing empire and all of it is through Amazon’s KDP program. Whether you’re […]

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steve-scott-finalDo you know that there are folks out there making five figures a month publishing books directly via Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing? There are and today we talk to Steve Scott, who makes anywhere from $15,000 to $60,000 a month from his publishing empire and all of it is through Amazon’s KDP program.

Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro in publishing and internet marketing, you’ll learn something from this conversation. Steve shares some of the beginner strategies he used, such as giving away copies of the book for early reviews, to how he structures each book to drive email signups on his blog so he could continue to reach those customers. He also explains his publishing strategy to increase overall sales including ideas he’s borrowed from fiction writers, some of which will surprise you.

There is a lot of “behind the scenes” information in this one and I suggest you get a notepad.

How to subscribe

There are two main ways – Stitcher and iTunes.

iTunes
Download on iTunesSimply click on this link and you’ll be taken to the page where you can subscribe.

Stitcher
Here’s the link to the Microblogger Podcast where you can subscribe to the Microblogger podcast via Stitcher.

Finally, if you aren’t using either service and prefer RSS, here’s our RSS feed.

Quick favor…

Tell everyone you know that this is a great podcast… unless you think it sucks. Please tell me and I’ll try to make it better!

It would mean a lot to me if you could leave me a review and a rating on iTunes, it makes a big difference and helps others find the show! To leave a review, click here and thanks so so much!

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