Tag Archives: blogging

Learning from eBay timing


Several few years ago I got really involved selling stuff on eBay, became a PowerSeller for a few months and turned over a nice revenue, until the choice was to give up my main job and go into eBay full time. I decided to concentrate more on my main job, and well, the rest is recent history.

One of the things I learnt from eBay was that when it comes to auctions, timing is 90% of the story.

There was little point creating an auction that would finish at say, 11am on a Monday morning. The end of the auction was when there would be the highest number of bids, and Monday morning was a poor time for attracting traffic to the bid.

I used to list items on the weekend, and pay a few pence extra for a ‘Scheduled start‘. After some trial and [lots of] error I would schedule for items to finish at around 5.30 or 6pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On items to do with the home, I would schedule for auctions to finish on a Sunday evening.

I’ve noticed that timing is once again really important when it comes to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn statuses. Actually, the same is true of any status update. If someone (or a brand) continually updates a status, any previous status falls down from prominence very quickly. End users will probably be following tens, hundreds or sometimes thousands of other users/brands, so the timing between status updates is absolutely key.

I now find I’m using the same practices for writing blog articles and Twitter updates.

I write almost all the week’s blog posts on a Sunday morning, and delay them being made public – trying to stagger them over the week. Also, I try to choose a decent time when they are made public (which then posts to my Twitter page, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.). If I made them all public in one go, especially on a Sunday, only the most recent one would get any traffic.

Posterous has an excellent scheduler for blog posts. For my Twitter feed, I use either Timely, which has been written specifically to address the timing issue above, or sometimes TweetDeck. Timely is OK, but provides pretty random scheduling (you can’t provide a time – the system does it for you). I find TweetDeck is one those applications that tries to be all things to all people, and ends up being unusable to all of them as well, so in practice I tend to use Timely more often.

Photo courtesy of LenP17 on Flickr.

No updates


Nope, I haven’t got bored of blogging. Quite the opposite in fact – I have a long list of topics to write about. The issue has been time.

I’ve mentioned before that I write articles on the weekend (usually before 6-9am on a Sunday) and set them to appear during the week. However Mrs H has had the flu for the last 10 days, so I’ve been running around all weekend sorting out the kids.

Stay posted for quite a few articles appearing in the next couple of weeks.

Happy Birthday post


This blog has now been going for a year, so I thought I’d share some of the readership statistics with you.

Between 18 January 2010 and 17 January 2011, there have been:

  • 133 posts 
  • 2,556 visitors come along
  • 3,723 page views on the site

In terms of geography, it pretty much matches where we have current and former colleagues, clients, suppliers and friends:


It’s interesting to note that colleagues in Romania and Moldova spend the longest reading articles whereas colleagues in the US are either put off straight away, or read very quickly (quicker than the UK)!

The most popular article of the year was a review on Yammer where 300 people read the review – well above the daily average. Talking of the daily average, this has been steadily growing from nothing at the start of the blog to a steady 20-30 visits a day now.

These figures don’t include the RSS feed readers or search engines which keep crawling the site.

A huge thank you to everyone who reads the blog (that includes you!).

My aims for 2011/2 are to double the traffic and have more people commenting. If you have any recommendations or articles you’d like to see, please let me know by adding a comment below or contacting me directly.

Review of my 2010 predictions


Back in January I made 10 predictions for Digital Media for 2010. Being open and transparent, how did these predictions fair over the year?

  1. Reinvestment in Digital Media.
    2010 was a great year for agencies. We have implemented a number of very large websites, both brand new brands and existing ones. In terms of reinvestment, clients are now looking into cloud computing and full disaster recovery.
    Prediction rating: 10/10
  2. Lack of new products due to R&D being slashed in 2009.
    Looking back at new applications and products – what was released that made a big impact? The iPad (at the beginning of the year before being launched it was referred to as the iSlate). I predicted that the end of the year would see some launches, and Kinect was released in November. Before you start commenting that 2010 was the year of 3D TV, they were in fact launched in 2009.
    Prediction rating: 10/10 

  3. A number of live events on YouTube.
    Well, in September they launched live streaming. However I doubt most people really noticed. I’ll knock some points off because I said “live is where the value is”.
    Prediction rating: 8/10

  4. More Flex applications, less Silverlight.
    Hmmm – more site are using Flex (BBC iPlayer download for example). HTML 5 changed the landscape significantly, and due to the ongoing spat between Apple and Adobe, agencies are nervous about any single vendor, and will move to the latest version of HTML instead.
    Prediction rating: 3/10 

  5. SecondLife to further decline.

    Second-what? The LindenX has just flattened out for the last couple of years – which means no more money is coming into the platform.
    Prediction rating: 9/10

  6. The UK to start accepting blogging at the same status as the US.
    Absolutely. UK news programmes now interview blogging experts for their views and opinions. Blogs are quoted in the press (errr, but so is Twitter, so maybe it’s just reporters’ laziness).
    Prediction rating: 10/10

  7. Offline browsers make a comeback.
    Perhaps 12 months ahead of it’s time, this prediction didn’t materialise. Before you think there is a gap in the market, we have been approached by a number of vendors in this space.
    Prediction rating: 2/10

  8. The FIFA World Cup sees huge use of video over mobile & broadband.
    It’s easy to forget the World Cup this year. If you were streaming it though, your view of the summer was probably very different to England supporters. Internet traffic reached a record peak (of almost 1Tb/sec) due to video over mobile and broadband. 
    Prediction rating: 10/10

  9. Expect ebooks to take off.
    Ebooks have exceeded all expectations for booksellers, so I was correct there. However magazines, sports programmes and other paper publications have been slow to move to ebooks, mainly because Amazon and other ebook retailers want such a high slice of the revenue. So if you’re a football club that sells a programme for £3 or £4, you really don’t want a new middleman taking 20-30% of your revenue to sell the book electronically.
    Prediction rating: 5/10

  10. 2010… the year of Web CRM
    There is still a major opportunity for a cloud based platform with efficient pricing. I do not understand why there isn’t a white label SSO platform out there. Let me know if you can recommend one.
    Prediction rating: 0/10

Pretty good going overall. Any more accurate and I’d be an octopus.

I’ll post an article on 2011 predictions next week.

Photo courtesy of Shine 2010 – 2010 World Cup good news.

Book review: “What Would Google Do?”


I’ve just finished reading the book “What Would Google Do?” by Jeff Jarvis.

Actually, I think that title of the book was probably not the first choice from the author.

The first title Jarvis probably thought of was “The cultural difference between Americans and Brits”. The first few chapters are full of example stories of how Jarvis bought a Dell computer, complained, and ended up interviewing Michael Dell (the founder of Dell) himself, and how Jarvis have advised most of the biggest companies on the Internet in ways they could improve.

Jarvis is one of those people who always seems know someone at every company in the World, and probably worked there (sorry, advised them to make them better) at some stage too.

If you (and I’m talking to Brits here) can stand those types of bold claims and self promotion, of which I’m not disputing the accuracy of the claims — just how liberally they’re used through the book; you’ll move on to the second part. This part deals with the actual title – how would Google run a restaurant, a hospital, a law firm, and many other industries.

Jarvis is quite creative with his thoughts, although if you work in any of those industries you can’t help but admire his naivety at lack of understanding that industry. That naivety is precisely at the core of how Jarvis thinks Google approach any industry though – they reinvent it specifically without wanting to understand how it’s been done before.

The final part of the book is a long essay into what Jarvis thinks is good and bad about the Internet, and full of promotion about his blog – why he blogs, how he blogs, why he’s so great – and then we’re back to that same American style which is probably admired in USAland and sneered at in the UK.

WWGD (as Jarvis calls the book) is an OK read. The book is extremely simplistic – for example it lightly touches with the issue of WHY Google goes into certain industries (to capture more search traffic, more personal/crowd/industry insight data) – he only deals with the end user’s perspective. If you work for one of the industries that Jarvis uses as a case study of being Google-ised, you’ll sit there nodding your head saying to the book “No, that’s not how my industry works” – which is the whole point of the book really.

Why are Fax numbers on business cards?

It doesn’t matter if you’re an IT services company, a creative agency, anyone and everyone still seems to be putting their fax numbers on business cards.

I haven’t used a fax machine for years. So many years, that I can’t remember how many years.

Why are we refusing to let go of fax numbers?

How about replacing them with Twitter usernames (too geeky – really?), blog addresses (too much personal promotion – really??), Facebook address (definitely too personal for me)?

OK, let’s just leave it out then. And leave white space there instead. At least they’ll be more room to write memorable stuff about the person instead.

Web content doesn’t last forever


There are many magazines and blog articles which stress the importance of online privacy based on the notion that once content is ‘out there’ on the Web, it’s there forever.

Yesterday, Microsoft announced that users who keep a blog in their Live Spaces account will need to move it to another company, WordPress. This process is not automatic though.

During the summer, a friend and neighbour passed away after a courageous, hard fought battle against cancer. Jonathan used Live Spaces to write about his battle in great detail, with a key aim that once he’d won the battle, it would serve to help other similar cancer patients. He included photos, personal thoughts, detailed medical information and contact details of financial, medical and psychological) support networks available to cancer victims. 

So what will happen to Jonathan’s blog? Unless someone contacts his wife (who wrote the final, agonising entry after he passed away), the blog will be deleted forever, never to return. So digital content doesn’t really last forever – in this case it barely lasted a year.

So what can be done? There are a number of options available. Most blog platforms allow the author to automatically post to another blog platform. You can also host the site yourself (although this will only continue while you’re paying for it).

Probably the safest option is to write a paperback book.

Why Is Old Media Being Perverse?

Why Is Old Media Being Perverse ?


I was going to use the term ‘lemmings’ but the United Order of Lemmings have written to me and asked me to stop giving them a bad name.

How did ITV get Friends Reunited and ITV Local so wrong ? And where did NewsCorp managed to get MySpace from 100m to 5m users – and why are they now seeming to do the same with The Times online sites?

Yet, with video they have leveraged this positions well and become dominant in the provision of online video in the US and the UK. In the US no major TV company has tried to stray beyond what they do, and at the same time they’ve come up with concepts such as Hulu.

Collaborative ventures like this have critical mass in the US, but seem futile in the UK where only the BBC count.

Traditional media has great sales capabilities, good production discipline, but the content is what counts.

Great video content is much more difficult to produce than a great article. Volume of video content is even more difficult. For example, by my experience, a minute of high quality video takes an hour to edit on average.

Likewise, audiences now form themselves and generate their own ‘content’.

So why can’t old media monetize this ? This, perhaps, is the most valuable question in media.


I just commented on an excellent article by Iolo Jones of VidZapper regarding Old/Traditional Media companies struggling to make New Media ventures successful. The article is above, and my comment was as follows:

Excellent article Iolo – I agree with every single point.

The BBC have successfully implemented Digital Media so, so well – i.e. iPlayer, the BBC News website (including each upgrade), even the BBC Weather site is excellent (albeit the accuracy can be dubious, that’s not their fault though). 

There’s no close second in the UK except maybe skysports.com – will the mothership demand that it also becomes paid-subscription?

Ten Digital Media Predictions for 2010

Here are my predictions for the coming year. In 12 months time, let’s review what actually happened!

1. Reinvestment in Digital Media.

Based on a lack of investment in 2009, I think a lot of companies will see a website revamp, or a new product version appearing in 2010. This will be especially true of companies who chose to ‘cut corners’ in 2009, for example deciding to build their own proprietary CMS. This coming year, they’ll choose to re-engineer the same site using an off-the-shelf, or even open source CMS.

2. Lack of new products due to R&D being slashed in 2009.

I’m not sure we’ll see so many new Spotifys (Spotifies?) appearing in 2010, because of a lack of investment/R&D budget last year. Maybe we’ll see new stuff appear at the end of the year though. The exceptions will be anything from Apple, with the imminent launch of their iSlate.

3. A number of live events on YouTube.

Yup, live is where the value is. And Google know this. So expect some new live events appearing on the platform in 2010.

4. More Flex applications, less Silverlight.

Flex will succeed because the creative agencies like Adobe and not Microsoft. This might change in the longer term, but for 2010, expect to see some sites migrate into very funky (I can’t use the adjective flash here!) Flex applications.

5. SecondLife to further decline.

Yup, not many people are writing about SecondLife these days. My own personal view is that in the long term, the web will be accessible through a graphical interface probably not far off SecondLife, but for the next 5-10 years, the standard browser is very much here to stay. The LindeX (the market to sell real world cash for made up cash – quite remarkable really) is in a steady decline, and the data has been moved from publicly available to a free signup. Here’s the graph as of today. Next yearm expect the graph to be totally unavailable, or in steep decline. A shame, but some technologies are just too ahead of their time.

6. The UK to start accepting blogging at the same status as the US.

In the US, bloggers have almost the same status as journalists. That’s a bit of a sweeping statement, and my apologies to journalists who have had a turbulent couple of years, and an even bleaker future for a trade that’s totally unfairly undervalued. Anyway, in the US, bloggers are often quoted by journalists and news organisations, whereas in the UK they are dismissed by the news organisations. Of course there are some exceptions such as The Guardian, but in the main, most people think that bloggers are nerds/IT geeks. This is a view which Twitter & the term ‘microblogging’ has helped to change slowly, but by 2011, I expect to see some famous UK bloggers be quoted by the press.

7. Offline browsers make a comeback.

My view of the Internet is that the same applications are constantly being re-invented. Facebook is like a modern version of Compuserve (a nice clean, walled environment); Skype is ICQ on steroids; Spotify is Real Networks (OK, just sort of!); Twitpic is like a billion free image sharing sites; today I even stumbled across a ‘directory’ of Twitter users – and directories kind of died off a few years ago! I remember installing offlines browsers on my Palm V in the mid 1990s, which effectively downloaded snapshots of a website on to my Palm, for me to read on the way home. I had a similar application on a few early mobile phones. Expect similar applications on iPhones, Kindles and iSlates to start appearing, so that users of the Tube and other areas can read articles on the move, outside of an RSS reader.

8. The FIFA World Cup sees huge use of video over mobile & broadband.

Put it another way, if it doesn’t, expect to see broadcasters and mobile operators to pull out of mobile video for the foreseeable future. Expect some amazing stats for broadband use from Sky, ESPN & FIFA. In 2005 we were discussing a 10 deal for bandwidth that went into Petabytes, and everyone thought we were mad. Expect to see that word banded around a lot during the World Cup.

9. Expect ebooks to take off.

This has the potential for a huge market. I estimate football club programmes, concert programmes, manuals, etc. all to be available in ebook formats, either free or very low cost by the end of the year. It will be a mini-reinvention of MP3s…

10. 2010… the year of Web CRM

I have no idea why it’s taken so long for a vendor to come up with a Web based CRM system. Facebook Connect, Windows Live signin & Google Orkut are the main contenders, but does a major website really want to release their list of customers to be shared with Facebook, Microsoft or Google? No. There are CRM vendors who charge a ‘per user’ model – which is useless for a free sign up model. A number of the newsletter systems are extending into this area – with Traction probably being the most attractive. But if you want a standalone web authentication and single customer view with Single Sign On (SSO), who are the sub $50k vendors? Exactly. So expect to see new players start appearing here.