Recent Interviews With Me, or About Keyword Strategy

June 8, 2011 Leave a comment

There have been a couple of interviews go live in the last couple of days about my webmastering with Universe Today as well as the work we’ve done building up Keyword Strategy.

Here’s a great review of Keyword Strategy by SEO Theory. Michael Martinez is probably the most original thinker in the search engine optimization sphere, so it was great that he took the time to put the tool through its paces.

Ann Smarty, the editor of Search Engine Journal also took the time to interview me and posted the interview online.

Of course, if anyone else wants to interview me about Universe Today or Keyword Strategy, just drop me an email at info@universetoday.com.

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Categories: Keyword Strategy

Wrapping My Brain Around Social

June 1, 2011 Leave a comment

I’m a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to social media marketing. I’ve focused all my efforts on search engine optimization, but I’ve done absolutely nothing with relation to social media. I’ve got a Facebook page I ignore, a LinkedIn account that I don’t even look at more than once a year, an empty Twitter feed, etc, etc. I set all these things up, but I never actually engaged with them. And I think I’ve suffered because of it. Well, not suffered, but disconnected from an important shift in technology.

I’ve written the individual methods off in the past, but now I can see that collectively, something really big is happening. I was ignorant because I was lazy, and wasn’t willing to invest my time to just figure it out. Well, I’m all done being ignorant, and I’m going to master these media. Then, when I truly understand them, I’ll be better able to decide if I should be engaging in them, or they’re truly time wasters.

Anyway, a big thanks to Chris Pirillo for turning me onto Empire Avenue (I’m FCAIN there). It’s a cool online game, where I can connect and invest in other people online, but also structure the way I use social media. I like to win, so I think it’ll give me a good way to keep track of my progress as I figure this out.

Categories: Marketing

Success is Analog

May 20, 2011 1 comment

In the olden days (a couple of years ago), success was a binary event. You were a nobody, and then you got that book deal, record contract, or movie role, and suddenly, you were a somebody. Literally overnight. Obviously, you didn’t get that much better by being discovered, but the nod from a gatekeeper, like an editor, publisher or movie mogul gave you the kick you needed in your career to take you over the top.

Success was binary.

It was the hope of achieving that binary event, being discovered, that kept people going. You toiled away for decades, attending casting calls, sending out book proposals, and playing gigs in dive bars. Plug away at it long enough, and you might, just maybe, get discovered. But those days are over. One by one, traditional media are careening over a cliff, taking their starmaking powers with them. Gold records, blockbuster movies, and bestselling books will be ancient history. Good riddance.

From here on out, success is analog.

As a content creator, the tools are inexpensive. Anyone who wants is free to write a novel, record a song, or create a video. But even more importantly, the distribution network has become effortless. You don’t need to wait for a DJ to play your song on the radio, you can sell it on iTunes. You don’t need a movie deal, you can release it on YouTube. Take a look at Jonathan Coulton, or Cory Williams, or Scott Siglar, or Phil Plait, or Felicia Day, or Wil Wheaton. Or the thousands of people who have turned their back on the old media, and got with the internet program, connecting directly with the fans and carving out a living wage doing what they love.

Whether you succeed or fail has always come down to marketing. And this was the service the gatekeepers provided through their exclusive relationship with the distribution channels. The record label could make you a rock star because they could get your album played on the radio. The movie studio could make you a movie star because they could actually get your movie made. A publisher had the resources to print and distribute your book to the stores.

Now you produce your own material. You write your own book, you record your own album, and you create your own videos. And then the internet is your distribution channel.

You need to take control of your own marketing. You need to create that analog era, creating diehard fans one at a time. You build and maintain your own list of followers through email distribution lists, twitter, podcast feed, your blog and RSS feed. It doesn’t happen overnight, but if you grind away, producing amazing content, and then personally connecting with your fans, you’ll build enough of a following to have a career.

Come on, I write articles about space and astronomy, and I’ve made a career of this. Can you imagine where I’d be if I waited for Astronomy Magazine or Sky and Telescope to publish me? I just started writing, recording and publishing, and hoped people would enjoy what I was doing. I knew I’d eventually figure out the money part.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Business Idea: Audio Tours for GPS Devices

May 10, 2011 Leave a comment

As a busy entrepreneur, I’ve got a lot going on my plate. But as my close friends know, I come up with ideas all the time. In the past I would hang onto them, maybe share the idea with a few friends, and plan to maybe, someday work on them. But I know that most of these ideas have a short shelf life. They depend on a certain moment in the technology lifecycle, and then they’re not really opportunities any more. Anyway, just to get some of my ideas into the wild, I thought I’d just post them on my blog. If anyone can find a business that already exists to perform this service… awesome, I’ll go sign up. If you want to steal the idea, take it, it’s yours.

So I was driving in Florida with my Dad recently as we tried to report on a space shuttle launch, and we had brought along the iPad 3G, which has a GPS built in. There was a lot of scenery passing by, and I thought it would be cool to have some kind of audio tour that I could tap into with the iPad, so that it would trigger as we were driving along. When you cross within X meters of a specific spot on the Earth, you automatically hear an audio commentary about that location. With the precision of today’s smartphones, it could work perfectly well in an art gallery, or as you’re driving along the highway.

Basic Business Idea
Now the basic idea was that you would create a company, write up a bunch of audio commentaries for various locations, and then release a free app that people could install on their smartphones. When they want to receive commentaries, they just turn on the app, and then as they walk around, commentaries will automatically play. I can imagine cool customizations, so you don’t hear commentaries twice, or a visual map, so you can guide yourself to the audio hotspot and then listen. Obviously, you could have it be text only, and maybe even have some cool links out for more information.

I’ve seen a few apps that provide audio tours of specific locations, like the Louvre, but nothing generic. Maybe I missed it. And Foursquare is kind of different to what I’m describing.

How You’d Monetize It
The way you’d monetize it would be to let nearby stores, restaurants, hotels, etc place audio ads at the end of commentaries. As you’re driving up I-95, listening to a commentary about alligator habitats, you could then hear an ad directing you to a nearby alligator farm. If you do things right, the advertisers could deploy and then remove their audio ads to match their business needs. For example, they could have their ads run during the lunchtime rush, and then disappear again after lunch.

How You Could Make it a Standard, not a Business
Whenever I think of ideas, I always consider what it would look like if it was an open standard, and not a specific business. So, to take this to the next level, imagine instead that you create an open specification for how you define geographical positions and their related audio files. The app would be more like the iTunes store where users could browse through audio tours in their region, see feedback, and subscribe to them. That would let anyone create an audio tour, and let anyone subscribe to it. It would be very similar to podcasts. So this would just be an open standard, like HTML or RSS, and not run through any system, like Twitter or Foursquare.

How You Could Open it Up Even Further
The core functionality of detecting location and then triggering some kind of event could be used for all kinds of things. There are the audio tours, but then there’s stuff that would never occur to me. Could you replace a traditional radio station with something like this, which plays audio, and then serves ads based on locations. A conference organizer could map out booth locations at their event, or you could replicate a Foursquare but on an open platform.

In general, I prefer that technologies are created as platforms like this if at all possible. Nobody controls the web, and that’s the way it should be.

Anyway, that’s it, let me know what you think, or if you know of something like this.

Categories: Business Ideas

A Day at the Kennedy Space Center

April 28, 2011 2 comments

As I mentioned over at Universe Today, I’ve never actually seen a rocket launch. It was always on my todo list, but it’s such an epic journey from Courtenay, BC to Florida to cover a launch. I’ve always handed the assignment off to the writing team, managing everything from my kitchen table command post. But they’re not going to be launching the space shuttles forever, in fact, there are only two more launches before the shuttle fleet is retired for good.

So I made the trip. I spent today out at Kennedy Space Center, touring the area, meeting the press officers and other journalists, and generally feeling overwhelmed. I’ve reported on space news for 11 years, but it was always from afar. I never been able to afford the time or money to report on the scene. Being an Internet journalist makes it so easy to stay at home.

But now that I’m actually here, with the Vehicle Assembly Building towering over me, other journalists buzzing around and the space shuttle Endeavour waiting to blast off, I’m so glad I made the journey.

Tomorrow is launch day.

Categories: Uncategorized

Welcome to the Personal Blog For Fraser Cain

April 21, 2011 6 comments

Hey everyone, this is the home of my new personal blog. This is different from Universe Today, or Astronomy Cast or my work with Keyword Strategy. This is the place that I’ll try to tie together my various online endeavours, as well as blather on with my personal opinions.

Categories: Uncategorized