Vintage Marketing To Women Was A-Wash In Premiums

Some people think that the only premiums that came in boxes were in cereal boxes for kids. Sure, there were those coupon books and other early loyalty programs designed to bring people back to certain department stores, gas stations, grocery stores, and other shops. But when it comes to actual free things inside boxes, most people think of the toys and surprises inside cereal boxes designed to make the kiddies beg mom and dad for the stuff. But there were other premiums, including those in products for adults. And primarily these offers were specifically aimed at those adults in charge of most household purchasing: the American housewife.

white wash no red hands vintage duz adPerhaps nowhere was this push for premiums more used than in the area of laundry detergents and soaps.

The competition was fierce in this market on all sorts of points, just as it is today, on everything from cleaning power and amount of suds (any real expert will tell you cleaning has more to do with physical scrubbing and agitation than chemicals and soap suds) to product versatility, and, because some cleaning still was done by actual human hands (something I still highly recommend), how gentle the product was on the little lady’s hands.

Those of us who are at least 40 years old may vividly recall these premiums and brands — not coincidentally because of the soap operas, which were, at their very essence, dramas created for housewives to watch and therefore pushed soaps and cleaning products; hence the name soap operas.

Lever Brothers, makers of Breeze laundry soap, partnered with Cannon towels for a luxury co-branded premium giveaway, eventually offering three sizes of towels.

breezead

three sizes of vintage cannon towels in breeze detergent

(This stuff is apparently so nostalgic, that someone just paid $39.99 for an old unopened box of Breeze with the towel still inside.)

My mom watched the CBS soap operas, as did her mother before her. As a result, our family was loyal to the family of Proctor & Gamble products. Proctor & Gamble put towels into their boxes of Bonus laundry detergent — as this fabulous musical commercial from 1960s illustrates. Note the gender split — and how the little woman’s knowledge (and sexual necktie manipulation) wins out.

Later, P&G would graduate from towels to putting glasses and china dishes with a wheat pattern (some even with gold trim) in boxes of Duz, the “does everything” laundry detergent. Incidentally, those wheat dishes were once clogging thrift shop shelves, but now, nostalgia coupled with the fascination with Mid-Century Modern, these dishes are making a comeback.

However, when it comes laundry detergent premiums, I don’t think many things are so firmly entrenched in our collective minds as Dolly Parton pitching boxes of soap with towels in them in the 1970s. While there is some debate as to whether the brand of detergent was Breeze or Duz (it was, in fact, Breeze; and we pray again to the YouTube Gods that someone can upload such a commercial!), almost everyone recalls the ads. Especially the kitsch factor.

Dolly herself admits how corny the ads were:

I remember seeing you on “The Porter Wagoner Show,” pulling out giant towels from boxes of Breeze detergent.

It was actually a bath towel — we used to have to do our own commercials on those shows, and they were so corny. But I still have some of those towels that I’ve kept through the years. Those were the days — “And you can only get them in boxes of Breeze!” And honestly, with that towel inside, there probably wasn’t more than half a box of Breeze. But people didn’t care because they were getting something free.

Corny or not, to this day, when I see a small hand towel covered in gold roses, “zeenyas!”, or other yellow flowers I instantly think of Dolly Parton. Its not just Dolly’s love of yellow roses, but those 70s yellow florals that stick in my mind. And that’s not all. Whenever I am at someone’s house and they have a similar looking towel out for use, I am convinced my hands smell like vintage detergent too. Come to think of it, that may be why I don’t like those wheat patterned dishes either.

I Think You’re Missing The Big Bottom Line In Those “Skinny” Subway Ads

Have you seen Subway’s latest ad ~ the one with the woman who reminds us to “Eat Fresh!” and stay healthy & slim so we can fit into our sexy Halloween costumes?

Jezebel did. And out came the requisite rant. (Have I mentioned I’m getting tired of that?) Of course others had their rants too.

But come on now, let’s face reality. Aren’t all the Halloween costumes for women sexy now? The fact that Subway knows they are shouldn’t really be a surprise. Because just who hasn’t noticed this? There’s a name for it: Slutoween. And, right or wrong, there’s a history behind it. (And, in fact, Hallowe’en began as a holiday for rowdy, bawdy adults, not children.) Whether or not you want to don such sexy apparel is up to you; but stop denying that they are popular. Guess what, $1.4 billion will be spent on adult Halloween costumes. The free-market has dictated that sexy does sell when it comes to Halloween costumes.

With so much money being spent on the costumes, is it any wonder Subway would latch onto our vain desire to look better in those costumes? If our cultural definition of “better looking” is thin (or at least “thinner”), it makes dollars and cents to pull that marketing string. And if you want to cry out in body image outrage (apparently not seeing the shirtless man in the Viking costume at the table, as well as the humor of the commercial itself), go ahead. I’ll cynically counter with the point that Subway also wants us to be alive next year ~ if only to be customers. Having a business that’s all about eating healthier really is a great business model; it really does cost more to acquire new customers than to retain existing customers, you know.

jared_subway_pants Anyway, I think the negative response to this Subway commercial is itself sexist.

Where were the complaints about men having to slim down so they didn’t have to wear those huge pants?

The collective “we” saw that as a healthy move. There was no out-cry then.

But a woman wants to be sexy? A woman who dares to admit she wants to be sexy?

Oh hell no! We simply can’t have any of that!

Meanwhile, Natalie Mitchell, the actress in the ad who models all the sexy costumes (complete with “Foxy Fullback”), is keeping mum until this latest, mainly feminist, frenzy passes. Keep an eye on her Tumblr page for comment.

natalie mitchell foxy fullback subway ad

Research On Content Curation Online

big mouth promotions logoAt Scoop.It I posted (or “re-scooped”) to several of my curated topics a link to a research study entitled Sharing the Loves: Understanding the How and Why of Online Content Curation. Robin Good  of Content Curation World breaks the findings down thus:

a) what people curate as relevant is not generally among the top ranked results according to popular metrics. Good stuff is not the same as what is considered normally popular or authoritative stuff.

b) content curation allows a community to synchronize around specific issues and subjects (as anticipated by Clay Shirky)

c) better and more appreciated curation is of the “structured” kind, providing additional info, meta-data and categorization.

d) curators that are highly appreciated are characterized by consistent activity and by a variety of interests (or viewpoints under the same theme) that they are capable to cover.

This is rather my experience; however, I usually explain it to my clients this way:

a) You can be doing an excellent job, but never receive the recognition, popularity, or traffic you deserve.That doesn’t mean you won’t be appreciated greatly by the smaller group of people who do find/read your curated works.

b) No matter the popularity of your curation, you can build and have conversations — but remember, community cultivation not only requires additional time, but a different skill set.

c) If you’re going to do it, do it well. Use tools, such as labels and tags, and *always* provide context as well as proper credits and links.

d) Consistent activity is nearly as important as showing some personality along with your knowledge. Your topic may be narrowly focused, but offer additional topics and information about you personally (not just professionally) so that people get a sense of you.

More on curation here.

Blogging Death Knells Are Premature & Passe

This sort of “blogging is dead, especially for business” thinking as shared in Beyond Blogging: 13 Content Marketing Opportunities for Ecommerce by Linda Bustos drives me nuts:

Remember when business blogging was really big? You know, 2007-ish, before Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram came and stole all that consumer attention span.

The death of Google Reader may just be one more signal that blogging is passe, at least as a marketing tool for commercial products.

Only 25% of the 85 retail blogs we tracked in 2007 are still actively updated today. That’s a 75% abandonment rate.

So if blogging’s dead, what content marketing opportunities remain for ecommerce?

First of all, the majority of the sites listed rely on content produced elsewhere to fill them — not only curation sites, like Pinterest & Scoop.It, but social media sites, like Facebook & Twitter (which are also blogging or micro-blogging), as well. Without blogs and websites creating content, what is there to curate or share? And, in fact, at least half of the 13 “opportunities” Bustos lists are actions (content, curation) performed at blogs; many are actually dependent upon blogs specifically for content, and at least three of them (Infographics, Newsletter/email, QRated content) require blogs or websites to make them work.

Premature_Burial_VaultIf The Future is based on blogging, how can it be dead?

Secondly, there are major issues with the subject of blog abandonment rate claims. Blogs, like the static sites before them, have always had high abandonment rates. Since 2004, Technorati’s State of the Blogosphere has been examining such things as the supposed “death” of blogs — and the more the death rumor waves rolled in, they rolled back out again as more data put the rumors out to sea. Sure, blogs are abandoned. Blogging has made it super easy for the code-ignorant to self-publish — come on in, the water’s fine! And, like so many self-directed activities, such ease has allowed them to self-perish just as easily. Any one of those reasons can just as easily be applied to curating or “Facebooking”.  (But, by the way, did you do any digging to see why that 75% of retail blogs were abandoned? Are the companies still around? Have multiple blogs been combined? Have blogs been rolled into retail sites? Have they simply been “guest blogging” at other sites, or using Facebook Pages?)

Beneath all of this, however, is the fundamental issue of what blogging is.

I’ve long contended that blogging is a method of publishing; it’s the software, the mechanism, the platform. In that case, Facebook, Twitter, etc. are platforms for blogging. Platforms which are far more controlled by others than the single stand-alone sites which Bustos & others call blogs and are trying to declare dead.  But to say “blogging is dead” is a more than premature; it’s just plain not true.

You can split-hairs over what blogging is or isn’t, which platforms, software, distribution methods etc. are trending now and where it might go tomorrow, but whatever you call it, people will be creating and many of them will opt to control their creations as well. (…Well, many of us will do our best to try to control as best we can in this Digital Wild West. And for many of us, that means our own sites and even our own servers. Because as we are learning more every day, sites and platforms come & go every single day. And censorship is a threat. Wise folks who value their creations know that using another party’s service/site/platform has plenty of risks.)

Whether the blogging/self-publishing mechanism changes is not really an issue, for as technology advances it certainly will change. But the creation of content itself will remain. And (hopefully!) we will always have individuals involved who will opt to retain their roles of both creator and publisher, i.e. their own blogs and sites (whatever they’ll be called), for which the curators, sharers, etc. should be most thankful.

Image Credits: Wikipedia

I’m Betting You Need To Do This

Check MarkI’ve just finished a round of website reviews, and I’m here to tell anyone listening (which includes contacting a slew of former clients with whom I remain in close contact) that you need to implement or update your About and/or FAQ pages.

I know a number of bloggers using Blogger (Blogspot blogs) either avoided creating such pages or simply made posts they linked to and have passed out of mind as they have passed from sight. But now that Blogger offers “pages,” you’re out of excuses.

I know a number of people who said their site was so new no questions had been asked, let alone any questions frequently asked, so they put it off for another day… Those days have rolled into how many seasons or even years now? *wink*

Even those of you who took great efforts to create such information pages should really take another look at them…

The truth is About pages and FAQs are quite popular and important pages. They are where people look to make contact with you, where they look for more information to evaluate if and how to do business with you. That business may be buying ad space, arranging a link swap, or finding additional information needed in order to commit to buying your widget. In any case, every time that page isn’t found, you’ve likely lost that sale.

After the round of such poor and just plain missing pages, I’m almost certain your site’s About and FAQ pages would benefit from a critical update. I’d bet my reputation on it.

Would you bet your reputation on them? Because you are, you know.

If you aren’t sure that your primary information pages are up to snuff, get them (and the rest of your site) evaluated by with a website review.

If you’re not sure just what information is necessary, which questions and answers should be on your FAQ, contact us about a consultation. We can assist you with a simple list of what you need, write it for you — even code it for you, if necessary. Contact me with your needs and budget.

Whatjamacallits Wednesday: Tigers In Your Tank Edition

Back when I was a kid and I didn’t understand intellectual property such as sales & marketing slogans; hence, I never understood why Kellogg’s didn’t just come right out and have Tony The Tiger say that Frosted Flakes cereal was the tiger in your own tank. I was reminded of this upon sight of this vintage Tony The Tiger stuffed toy.

To me, a tiger was a tiger — and really just as cute. (Don’t you just love the Exxon tiger on this glass pitcher?)

And fuel was fuel, even if cars had less “taste” to worry about.

I sill feel rather the same way today about both tigers and fuel. Even with a better understanding of slogans, marketing, and intellectual property. That knowledge, combined with my usual obsessive streak, has since led to the discovery that it was Kellogg’s who first unleashed their tiger (in 1951). Exxon’s tiger arrived in 1959. So perhaps it was Exxon executives who ate cereal and felt the connection between breakfast fuel and gasoline for cars.

Both of these item are for sale. I am an antiques dealer, you know. (Also on Facebook.) You may also contact me about them, if you are interested.

Calling All Former Snip.It Users & Future Content Curators!

As mentioned in my interview with Scoop.It’s Guillaume Decugis, Scoop.It has been working on a way for those of us abandoned by Snip.It to upload the exported data. Earlier this week, I beta tested the new import feature — and it works quite well!

As you can see, there were some topics or categories in common, so I will have to work a bit to resort and even delete both individual links and entire topics. (Because I specifically worked to make sure that my feminist topic at Scoop.It was different from my feminist collection at Snip.It, I have to check each link before I hit delete — however, Scoop.It’s system has always let you know if you’ve scooped a link before, so it goes faster than you think!)

Amazingly, all of my collections uploaded — giving me more collection or topics than Scoop.It previously allowed! And it’s not just for former Snip.It users either now.

For the month of February, Scoop.It is “lifting the topic creation limit: for free!” That means, even if you were not a member of Snip.it, whether you were a Scoop.It user or not, you can get an unlimited number of topics to curate at Scoop.It!

Again, this is only for the month of February (2013). (Which works out pretty good for Snip.it users who have to download their export file of collections and snips by the 21st of the month.)

Here’s How You Do It

Step One: If you were a Snip.It user, and haven’t already done so, go here to export and save what you’ve snipped using the “Export To HTML” download button.

Step Two: If you are not already a Scoop.It member, join now.

Step Three: Once you are a Scoop.It member, contact Ally Greer at Ally@scoop.it. Introduce yourself as a former Snip.It user and request the account option to import Snip.It collections.

Step Four: When the option has been activated, login to Scoop.It, use the drop-down menu beneath your name and click on the Settings option.

Step Five: In settings, look for the Snip.It Import tab; click it and you’ll see where to upload your Snip.It export file.

What’s very cool, is they have progress bars to show you how it’s all going. For those with many collections and thousands of links, it goes faster than you think — especially when you can see that it is working!

Pretty easy and fabulous, right?

A few of the links, very few percentage wise, did not upload the images. But with Scoop.It, you can always edit your scoop, including uploading your own image. So if that bothers you, you can fix it.

First, click the Edit button…

Then the Edit Image button to upload the image.

Once you join Scoop.It, let me know. (You can follow my topics or just leave a comment here with a link to you at Scoop.It; whatever works for you.)

And if you have any problems, contact Ally; she’s always there to help. Really!

PS If you are new to curating, don’t have any file to import, or are an existing Scoop.It member who just wants more topics (for free!), you can still take advantage of the free love at Scoop.It this month. All you have to do is ask for more topics by sending an email to business@scoop.it. Again, details here.

The Scoop On Content Curation & Scoop.It

Once Snip.It pulled the plug on the content curation site, thereby pulling the rug out from under the feet of content curators like myself, I began speaking with the fine folks at Scoop.It.

As always, Community Manager Ally Greer was there with more than kind, supportive words but with some action too. Thanks to her, and the other responsive folks at Scoop.It, there will be some great news coming from my now favorite curation site soon. (Hint: They are working on a way for the exported Snip.It file to be uploaded to Scoop.It; details to follow, so stay tuned!)

Meanwhile, I wanted to talk about why why many had not been using the site – like myself, had not been as dedicated to Scoop.It. After all, while many are scrambling to move their online curation, the same reasons why they hadn’t used Scoop.It before may very well still apply, right? And what better way to discuss this than with Guillaume Decugis, Co-founder and CEO of Scoop.It.

Thanks so much for making the time to discuss this with me, Guillaume.

Decugis: Thank you for giving us this opportunity to communicate with you as we try to find Snip.it users a solution to migrate their topics to Scoop.it.

You might not feel that way after I shoot some hard questions at you! Here’s the first one:

The problem, comparatively, with Scoop.It vs. Snip.It, was the limited number of collections or topics. Many of us had 20 or more collections, and even the business plan has a limit of 15. Can you explain Scoop.It’s reasoning for limiting the number of topics?

Decugis: In the very early phases of Scoop.it private beta, we were confronted with a very simple problem: some people were doing domain squatting on Scoop.it urls without actually using them to curate content. Scoop.it topic urls are unique and it works really well with our topic-centric model: we’re not just about curating content but we also strongly believe that we offer better discovery capabilities to our users by having this model where you curate, discover and follow topics. Making urls unique encourages users to be specific on the niches they cover. So preventing domain squatting was one pragmatic reason to implement topic limitation.

What we discovered since then is that even though we fully understand that some people might want to do more than these limits, this limitation actually forced them to focus on what they felt was essential — one of the objectives of content curation. Content curation in general, and Scoop.it in particular, is biased towards quality vs. quantity after all. We’re not saying you can’t have both, and there are exceptions, but so far the scheme has been working pretty well even though that’s of course something we might revisit at some point.

Of course, paying is also a concern. We obviously feel the pain of “free that can go away” (despite millions of dollars Yahoo! paid), but paid service sites also disappear… Can we be assured Scoop.It won’t vanish? Or at least not in a matter of minutes, without warning?

Decugis: First of all, we’re not forcing anyone to pay: Scoop.it is a free service and will always remain free. Free users are very valuable to us as they help the Scoop.it brand awareness by bringing qualified traffic to the platform. Thanks to them we grew from 0 to 7 million monthly since our launch. So everyone is welcome to use Scoop.it as much as they want for free. Premium plans are here to add value to professionals who want more from Scoop.it or businesses and companies who want to use content curation as part of their content strategy.

No company can ever say “we’ll be here forever”. However, I think free Web services without any implemented business models are likely to be much more vulnerable which is why it’s been very important to us to launch Scoop.it publicly only until we had a good idea what our business model would be. We had close to a year of private beta (yes, we took our time…) but this was very important to us to understand how the balance between free and paying users would work, what people or businesses would be ready to pay for and at what price. We can’t say the current model is perfect, nor that there won’t be any changes. But a bit more than 1 year after our public launch, we’re very happy with the revenue we’re generating, the number and growth rate of our paying customers and, more importantly, their strong loyalty to their premium plans and the low churn rate we’re observing. In the long run, profitability is the only thing that can guarantee any company’s survival and while growth has been our main focus, having a sound business model has been one of our other priorities from day 1.

The last thing I want to say about this is that we view Scoop.it as an open platform: we offer multiple interfaces with social networks but also blog platforms like WordPress or Tumblr as well as RSS feeds and an open API. This provides multiple export capabilities for our users’ curated content and we’ll enable even more in the future. We think the value we build as a company is in our active and growing community – not in locking up our users in a proprietary platform.

I know beggars can’t be choosers, but is there a way former Snip.it folks could get a discount on Scoop.it services?

Decugis: Though we’re happy for Ramy and the team at Snip.it and wish them the best in their integration with Yahoo!, we feel sad about the Snip.it service shutting down. We didn’t plan to do anything specific, but some Snip.it users like yourself have asked us whether they could import their Snip.it collections to Scoop.it and we’re investigating that. We don’t plan to offer a discount on Scoop.it premium plans, but we’re looking at what we can do to welcome Snip.it users who want to join our community while obviously being fair to our existing users. Stay tuned.

I can’t thank you enough for your time, Guillaume. Hopefully this will address the concerns and potential fears of people who are considering using Scoop.it.

As for me, my final thoughts are this: Scoop.It may be forcing us all to limit or tighten up our topics of interest (which does have both its pluses and minuses), even when you pay to play — but they’ve always had their strong points that can’t be refuted.

One, they’ve always had the best means of connecting and disseminating curated content to social media sites and blogs.

Two, they’ve always had the best method of suggesting content to a curator. In fact, they may be the only curation site to offer that option — which has proven to draw in members who may not even curate, but read and watch. Turning lurking subscribers into participating, engaged members is not to be undervalued.

Three, as you can see with this interview, the folks at Scoop.it are readily available to discuss issues, concerns, and suggestions.

As Guillaume Decugis and I have both said, stay tuned!

Snip.It Snaps

Today, just hours after I tweeted how much I loved the site, Snip.It was purchased by Yahoo. That’s good news for Ramy Adeeb and crew, but it leaves those of us who were fans of the site without the space for curation. Personally, despite being mentioned in the Snip.It Hall Of Fame, I feel as others do: tossed aside. Even with all the beta testing etc. I worked with Adeeb and others on, I found out after the site was “shuttered”. All my work there nothing but a downloadable file to upload at a short-list of bookmarking sites — which is nothing like content curation at all, and Adeeb and crew know it.

Personal whining aside, the worst of all this is the BIG business mistake of it all.

Handing things this way means Adeeb, Snip.It, and Yahoo alike all miss out on the good will and future adoption of whatever Yahoo plans to do with Snip.It. Instead of keeping all of us who loved the site in the loop and even in the game — waiting to kill services until after there was the new place for us to participate, this action has rather insured that we won’t give a flying fig about whatever the new service or site is about.

You can’t blame the likely death of Snip.It’s potent new life as part of Yahoo completely on Yahoo — even if there’s a history lesson in that. No, you have to blame the folks at Snip.It for devaluing users so much that we there couldn’t be a “Snip.It’s closed, sign up and merge your account at the new Snit.It.Yahoo” link for us to follow.

Tossing aside Snip.It users like they did, means that I myself have a bunch of orphaned users or followers of my own. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth. And one I’m not likely to forget. Even if someone from the old or new Snip.It comes-a-calling, asking me to adopt the new site.

The Early History of Women & Film

Every so often, we women complain about women in the media. When it comes to movies, we complain about the diminished roles for maturing women; we complain about the way women are portrayed in films; we complain about the history of films, most notably The Hollywood Code which seemed to destroy & limit our potential as women in film — on both sides of the camera. But long before all that, in the very beginning, it was even worse.

In Movie-Struck Girls: Women & Motion Picture Culture After the Nickelodeon, by Shelley Stamp, we learn more than just the roles of women in films or behind the camera — we learn about women’s role as patrons of cinema.

The book is an eye-opening look at a long ignored part of American film history — and an astonishing look at the history of women as media consumers.

Stamp spent over ten years researching for this book. She studied trade journals, fan magazines, ephemera, and many official documents and records at the National Board of Censorship Archives in New York City, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ Margaret Herrick Library in Los Angeles, & the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts. Many of the films she reviewed are no longer readily available, let alone circulating, but can be found at the Library of Congress & the UCLA Film and Television Archive.

It sounds like a huge undertaking, & I thank her for it. ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ presents a wealth of information that I had never known before.

Movies began with the nickelodeon, and as such, movies were not places for proper or even improper ladies to be. In the early 1900s, when films were being moved from temporary places with projection onto sheets & walls, and cinemas were being built, many in the business of film, began to reconsider women. This was a purely economic move. For if these new developments, these more expensive buildings, were going to pay for themselves & gain profits to pad pockets, the new movies must include women as patrons & gain their approval.

Why? In ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ the author reminds us of an America where women were seen as the keeper of the family morals. Neither little Johnny Jr. nor Johnny Sr. would be allowed to go to such places if Mother didn’t approve. In order for women to view movies as more than sordid places where her family wouldn’t be caught dead, these new cinemas would need to gain the respect of women. The best way to do that, would be to show women, fine respectable women, how respectable & fine the theaters were. It was thought that if women would give the theaters a try, and continue to come, their physical presence would elevate the standing of film viewing.

So, movie theater owners began to court women as patrons.

They did so via premiums & tie-ins & in addressing the decor of the cinemas themselves. As a marketing person, I enjoyed the conceptions about women, and how they would lure them into the movie-going fold — with many of the tricks still employed in the movie trade today. As a woman, I felt more than a bit bitter to see what they thought…

As Stamp illustrates, cinemas were designed with appeal to women in mind. They were located near shopping and offered services such as package holding with hopes of luring women into the buildings. The buildings themselves were decorated to attract the feminine. It was suggested in industry publications that cinemas ought to have lobbies, with plenty of mirrors, to encourage female patrons — by appealing to their vanity. They thought ‘what woman doesn’t want to see herself & parade for others?’

But then, they complained that women didn’t know how to behave properly: they talked, they interrupted the absorption of the movies themselves. The very women they encourage to be vain, to come to the theater to be seen, these women didn’t want to sit quietly in a dark room full of others who were not paying attention to them. These women who were, by societal standing, to ‘dress’ for these public events, they wore hats that blocked views. And so even while courted by the film industry as valuable assets to ensure the viability of films as safe, moral entertainment for families, the industry mocked them in articles & cartoons. The debate within the industry as to the need for women, how to both cater to while educating them to achieve their purpose, was entering full swing.

But this was only the industry side of the debate; Next, Stamp shows us society’s debates.

In the early 1900’s, the most popular films were vice films, & in the teens, a major societal concern was The White Slave Trade. Sensational white slave films were made during this time, to warn folks of the dangers to their women. Conflicting with the as-billed-educational-films messages, cinemas brought women-folk out into public where they could easily fall prey to such ills as the white slave trade. Debate centered around the irony. Other debate focused on the films themselves, and censorship issues were raised. And to make matters worse, women seemed to enjoy such films! Oh, how could such tender beings watch & enjoy such lewd filth such as scenes from brothels?!

Obviously, women enjoyed the films from the same points of fascination as men, but as the author clearly reminds us, there is more. Adding to the fascination, was the fact that women themselves has seen little of ‘the world’ — even if that ‘world’ was part of their very own city. Through movies, women vicariously saw their nation. This alone would make these films riveting for women.

Again, as movie houses were public gathering places, classes mingled. Not only were there the fine upscale families as so recruited by theater managers, but along with them, the working class — including single women. Single women moved about the theater as patrons, both in danger & dangerous themselves. A woman alone could end up in the slave trade, or she might mingle with gentlemen of good standing… In fact, theaters often hired pretty, single young girls to be ticket sellers, ushers, cigarette girls etc. This was seemingly at odds with the motives of ‘women adding respectability’ and elevating the idea of theater, but it was a lure that worked. But the independent woman, even if only a work-class-girl, is dangerous. Much debate centered around the appropriateness of such places for women & families.

Since the elevation of cinema depended upon the stamp of approval from women, including materials & promotions designed to engage them, the talks about women’s roles in film viewing were discussed by women. Given the general fear of ‘those darn suffragettes,’ encouraging women to debate the social & safety issues of women viewing film — in the context of women viewing educational films about civil matters — seemed a dangerous thing indeed.

The film industry needed to ‘clean up’ the entertainment, so they began to focus on films aimed at women, with stories & formats they knew — Enter the serial film.

The industry coordinated film with print versions of stories in newspaper & print publications. Again, these were often aimed at women, but then came the ‘oh no!’ cry, as women did in fact enjoy the adventure stories. It is at this time that film gave rise to the very popular female star. She was now revered for both her on-screen & off-screen antics. So much so, that young women everywhere started dreaming of being a movie star themselves!

To counter act the scary notion of independent women, adventure serials, & vice films it became routine to mock independent women, with notions of becoming a movie star, or worse, civic ideas. The author clearly shows examples, such as a 1916, The Motion Picture Classic cartoon with the following poem to illustrate this concern:

“When our dear grandmas were girls,
They’d smile and smooth their pretty curls.
Look in the mirror then & say
“Oh, will he think me fair today?”

Today the girlies everywhere,
In the mirror gravely stare;
“Am I fair enough,” they day,
“To be a movie star some day?”

But poetry would not be deemed enough. There would also be many films to lampoon the suffragette.

Mainly these films attempted to show how crazy things would be if women could vote. Movies depicting women taking over government & leaving men’s needs behind darkly illustrating the dangers present to men were made, but more often, comedy was used. Cross-dressing men & women exchanged roles, with only love ‘saving’ the women from their folly. Ironically, it seems to the reader that perhaps these movies did more favor to the opposition than to their own cause.

The suffragist movement noted the power of cinema. If educational films were popular, and women not only allowed but encouraged to attend, why not make propaganda films of their own? Both the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) & the Women’s Political Union (WPU) made films to both rally women to the cause & to educate resistant men & women. Sadly, many of their films seemed to falter at romantic notions. In order to make the female stars appealing, less threatening, most often the female lead would succumb to love & home, happy with her vote, but definitely not claiming civic responsibilities.

In ‘Movie-Struck Girls’ you learn all about these long-hidden details of American film history & it’s collision with turn of the century American values — including titles, studios, stars, organizations, & political figures. For a person who adore film & is a passionate feminist, this is a great read. Why it’s as thrilling as those old adventure serial films!

Stamp does a great job of presenting this long ignored part of film — and women’s — history. It’s definitely an academic read, which means it is meaty enough for those who want to further search for clues, artifacts & films themselves. It may not read like a novel, but it’s so fascinating & full of details, it won’t disappoint. Fans of film, especially silent films, cannot call themselves educated in the subject unless they know this history. And women, well, we start to see a much larger image emerge — our complaints regarding women in the media have much deeper roots than we previously knew.

The Political Shades Of A Colorpillar

When I grabbed this Romper Room Colorpillar toy, I had vague memories of the Romper Room TV show…

But not enough, apparently. A quick look at the Wiki entry and it turns out this toy is most fitting for this political season.

First, there’s the whole problem with children’s television shows and hosts pitching product during shows. Romper Room was the first target of the newly formed watchdog group Action for Children’s Television who leveraged the power of an threat FCC threat into ceasing “host-selling”.

Then there’s the whole Romper Room abortion scandal.

In 1962, the hostess of the Phoenix franchise of Romper Room linked her own name with that of the ongoing controversies over abortion. Sherri Finkbine, known to television viewers as “Miss Sherri”, sought hospital approval for abortion on the ground that she had been taking thalidomide and believed her child would be born deformed. Finkbine made a public announcement about the dangers of thalidomide, and the hospital refused to allow an abortion, apparently because of her announcement and its own fear of publicity. Finkbine traveled to Sweden for the abortion. Upon completion, it was confirmed that the fetus had no legs and only one arm. The incident became a made-for-TV movie in 1992, A Private Matter, with Sissy Spacek as Finkbine.

I guess this really is an educational toy — if you research it, rather than play with it.

In terms of memories of the show, as I said, they are fuzzy. Not all warm and fuzzy; just not clear. Also according to Wiki:

The hostess would also serve milk and cookies to the children, with prayer offered before eating. The famous Romper Room prayer went “God is great, God is good. Let us thank him for our food. Amen.”

Now that’s the prayer I remember saying. But that’s really odd, because our home was not a praying home. Perhaps this praying business is why I don’t recall much of the show… Perhaps when my folks found out prayer and indoctrination was part of the program, they switched the set off. That is something I will have to ask them.

What Kind Of Curation Site Should You Use?

No doubt about it, content curation is growing. If all the news stories about it wasn’t convincing enough, the number of clients asking me about curation would! Here’s a simple little primer on the two major types of curation sites — and a decision tree I made to assist clients.

Pinterest, LoveIt, and the like are image-based eye-candy. At best, this type of curation is like a great store window; it might just lure a lookie-loo inside (to the original site) for a sale. At worst, this type of curation is content theft (allowing curators to garner the traffic and exposure at the expense of the creator of the image, product, etc.), or is just a bunch of spam links sent out in numbers large enough that even a tiny percent is hoped to garner a sale or conversion. (Please don’t do either of those worst-case scenarios!)

Snip.It, Scoop.It, and the like are article-based brain-candy. Images from the sites themselves are generally used, but the focus is the articles. The best of these sites (which most definitely includes those named) aim to not only avoid content theft but to get readers to actually read the content at the original site by not allowing entire articles to just be reposted.

Neither type of content creation site is better than the other; your goals ought to dictate which type of curation site you use. This is where the decision tree will help you. Click the image for a larger view of the content curation site decision tree.

Curation Is The New Black; But Will It Get In The Black?

There’s a lot of talk about content curation; but is anyone making money?

I’m sure some are making a few bucks… But big profits? So far, probably not. Will it? Let’s take a look…

When it comes to potentially profiting from curating online, there are three main groups:

1) Software/site creators — those who have built, hoping the people come. These folks have invested time and money in the venture adventure, and some of them are charging for their services. Much like those charging for blogging software and/or hosting, it remains to be seen whether or not curators will pay for such services — and in enough numbers to pay for the developer investment.

2) Companies and individuals selling the products, services, and content being created. So far, this is the group seeing the greatest rewards. While numbers and margins are murky, it’s clear from the investment and funding dollars that big business believes (or hopes) curation will be the future of brand and product promotion.

3) Curators themselves. This group is last on the list for two reasons. First, they are the base on which this whole business is built; without them, no one is paying for curation sites/software or curating the products, brands, and ideas that corporations are counting on. And second, curators are apparently last on the list in terms of consideration.

Despite the fundamental importance of curators, they currently have relatively no means of making money from curating.

By and large, there are no spots for advertising on content curation sites. Not only are there no means by which the curators themselves may edit pages to place advertising, but the curation sites themselves are without their own advertising, so there’s no option for profit sharing between curation site and individual curators. This doesn’t necessarily preclude the possibility of curators being bought. Other than, perhaps, the difficulty in contacting a curator, what’s to stop a curator from accepting payolla, putting a dollar value on a “curated” link like many bloggers do with paid posts?

If you think this lack of built-in monetization will keep curators honest in their curation — that they’ll do it for the pure passion and love of it all, you are naive. Curation is a commitment. Without the prospect of money, only a few diehards and crazies (such as myself) will bother to curate and then it will be as time and inclination allows. That is not the steady stream of “superhero” curation that enthusiasts are predicting.

Without advertising options, how are are content curators are going to make money? In order to make money directly from curating (i.e. curators are not merely pushing their own products, services, and/or sites that they have monetized), it will need to be because people are going to pay for curated content, because companies are going to pay for curators to push profits for them (via payolla or paid curator/marketing positions), or some combination of the two.

But will people really pay?

So far the evidence says, “No.”

Curation really isn’t anything new. Curation is, if not exactly the same, a lot like blogging; and we all know blogging isn’t a sure-fired, self-supporting, money-making activity. Not that it necessarily should be. I mean, some guy’s playlist isn’t necessarily equal to that of a radio station DJ — and it’s not just a matter of audience numbers either. Quality and importance — perceived or real — also matter. The low barrier of entry to self-publishing and self-producing comes at a cost to the entire media marketplace. Value perception (heavy on the “values” for the growing confirmation bias tendencies) is ironically at the heart of this supply and demand issue of this new Information Age. For example, how many mixed tapes have you actually purchased?

Image via 123 Stock Photos.

 

 

A Pen Is

Resisting all jokes and puns about what a pen is, euphemisms for swords, and even the pragmatic discussion of women’s rights to wield the power of writing implements, I bring you the folly of the BIC For Her Amber Medium Ballpoint Pen. There’s little I can say, really… This pen, “A gel pen essentially for women!” is only sold in Europe and the fine folks there have responded accordingly, filing the following reviews (and more) in retaliation for a poorly thought of product designed “for women.” Enjoy. And take heart that there are sane people.

I never knew I needed this so much, 16 Aug 2012
By Butch McCassidy

Oh. My. God. I’ve been doing it all wrong. There was me thinking I didn’t need to worry about whether my writing implement sufficiently reflected my gender. Thank you so much Bic for showing me the error of my ways. Perhaps Bic will also bring out a new range of pink (or purple) feminine spanners, screwdrivers, electric drills and angle grinders so that I can carry out my job as a bicycle mechanic without further embarrassing myself? Luckily my male colleagues have managed to keep their disapproval of my use of their masculine tools to themselves. I’m so ashamed. And re-educated as to my place in society. Thanks again Bic!

At Amazon, the above review, “The most helpful favourable review,” is pitted against this next one, “The most helpful critical review.”

No good for man hands
I bought this pen (in error, evidently) to write my reports of each day’s tree felling activities in my job as a lumberjack. It is no good. It slips from between my calloused, gnarly fingers like a gossamer thread gently descending to earth between two giant redwood trunks.
Published 6 days ago by daveyclayton

But there plenty more; this one may be my favorite, simply for the title:

Such a useful little tool (and that’s not just a description of the man in charge of the marketing campaign), 21 Aug 2012
By zak jane keir “decadent media” (UK)

How could I have missed my own deep inner need for such a product? It’s just perfect for ramming straight up the hogs’ eye of any sexist man I happen to be oppressed by – no more tabasco-dipped nasty old medical catheters for the misogynists in my life!

But perhaps this one is most sarcastic:

Send from Heaven by the Angels, 20 Aug 2012
By Siobhán

I could never write until now because I’m such a thick little Princess that I refused to. I just drew pictures of my pink little bike, with the lilac streamers. I thought I’d just grow up and let a big manly man come and marry/save me.
Now I’ve found this pen, I’ve learned to write. It’s so pretty, with it’s comfortable grip, not like the razor like surface on ordinary mens pens. It will help me list all my household chores and record my calorie consumption in my diary. Who knows? Maybe it will give me the confidence to take the stabilisers off my bike.

Or maybe it’s this one…

This product cured my girly dyslexia., 21 Aug 2012
By I am a private person, not a real name!

Before I bought this product I couldn’t write but now I’m an engineer. Mind you, I only design pink, flowery bridges, motorways and sewers. Blue ones would be wrong wouldn’t they.

Lane Bryant Needs Tips On How To Be A Gold Digger

So, on the 13th of this month, Lane Bryant sent me an email saying they “missed me.” They don’t know me personally; they just missed my money as I hadn’t shopped there in awhile.

In the email, there was a 40% off coupon. It was just 40% off one regular priced item, but I had received a gift card for my birthday, so I wanted to print the coupon out to take it to the store with me. No newbie to how this stuff goes, I went to use “print preview” to make sure the barcode part of the email would actually be printed. The print preview did as I feared, only showing the model and not the barcode. So I clicked to “view the email online” — and that’s when the proverbial shit hit the fan.

The page on the Lane Bryant site was without an image. All I got was the website header and footer — just a big hunk of whitespace in the middle. So I went back to the email.

Guess what?

The image had disappeared.

Perhaps the gremlins which run the interwebs believed that use of print preview meant I had printed it — and only one coupon is allowed. But I hadn’t printed. So now what?

Since this was a coupon from a national chain that I was going to have to use at my local Lane Bryant store, I called them. I figured that as I’d be using the coupon there, they’d be familiar with the process and maybe even have a spare or blank coupon for such things. No, they did not. Instead, they gave me a customer service number. Only that customer service number is for Lane Bryant card holders, which meant that not only was it difficult to get past the voicemail prompts, but when I finally did reach a person, she couldn’t do anything to help me. I doubt very much that even had I been a Lane Bryant credit card holder that she could have helped me as her understanding of how email lists etc. work was very limited.

“Just sign up for the newsletter again,” she said.

“I don’t think you understand,” I began patiently. “You see, the email was about ‘missing me’, so I would need — along with a new email address to join under — to shop at the store and then not shop at the store for six months in order to be ‘missed.”

She put me on hold.

When she came back, she suggested I call my local store. To which I replied that I’d already done that; that’s how I got the number I called to reach her.

Pause.

“Well, all I can suggest is to get a new email address to sign up for the newsletter with.”

Umm, didn’t we already cover that?

Was there another number for customer service — one not related to credit cards? Would a supervisor be able to help? Was there any other Lane Bryant number to call at all?

No. No. No. (Though it turns out there is another Lane Bryant customer service number; sadly no one gave me that number or even seemed to know it.)

So, Lane Bryant, thanks so much for missing me and creating a marketing disaster.

Instead of making me happy, making me feel treated to something special (even though we all know it’s just about you getting your hand in my pocket and getting my money), you peeved me off. For all the efforts of your team of marketers who want to build relationships with me, you forgot some basic rules. Rules gold diggers know:

1. Be accessible. Yeah, “not to available” might lend an air or mystery; but no means of contact — or having so many hurdles to contact, just means the man with money grabs another honey.

2. Smile nice when reaching into my pocket. Lean in and make me want you to put your hand there… Lift the bills out and take them. Don’t stand so far away, don’t place your other hand over the wallet so that the whole deal is a struggle.

3. Know what you are doing. That includes any of your cohorts (aka employees). Don’t make the mark have to do so much work. Unless our relationship is based on some S&M kink, I shouldn’t be frustrated and sweaty just trying to give you my money.

4. When all is said and done, I should be left with an empty wallet and a smile, dreamily looking forward to next time.

If it weren’t for the fact that I have a gift card, and a rare window of time to shop, it would be a lot longer for you to see me again.

For Sexists Sans Secretaries

For men who, unlike the Mad Men, didn’t have their own private secretaries to humiliate and fondle, there was Ellen the Eye Opener:

Yes, sir! When there’s a job to be done, a service to perform, or a need to be met, we’re ready for action. And when it’s time for a smile, we like to erase those frown lines with something on the light side, for all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.

So… meet Ellen, the Eye Opener, a girl who’ll appeal to your “mail” instincts… as she opens your mail, let her serve to remind you of us. Treat her nice… she’s a swell gal.

From the seller’s description:

[A] Gil Elvgren designed plastic letter opener entitled “Here’s an Eye Opener” produced by Brown & Bigelow between 1958-1960, including the original sleeve on card stock. This fun 3D letter opener, with a flat back,is done in “accurate” curvy detail, and is in very fine condition, as pictured, and measures 8.5″ x 2.5″ at it’s widest point. The folding sleeve which creatively ‘undresses’ Ellen our pin-up model measures 8.5″ x 7.25 opened, is in excellent shape with no tears or visible toning.

The medallion she is holding above her head would have had the name of an individual business – in this case from “Mannequin Service Company – Saint Paul MN” – used as customer giveaways.

All images via Grapefruit Moon Gallery.

Sex Sells… Swans

A recent study may have found an increase in ads using sex to sell, but using sex to sell has been around a long long time. Perhaps the study didn’t go back far enough? The study looked at 30 years of magazines, but this promotion for Pliofilm, featuring a sexy nude woman behind the see-through Pliofilm shower curtain decorated with swans and flowers, was published in the 1930s. Which begs the question… Who the hell was this targeting — men or women?

Fashion Matters. A Lot In This Economy, Apparently.

It was pretty obvious to me when Amazon, Google, and eBay invested in the fashion sector, that fashion was going to surpass the e-commerce success of books, music, and videos.

Data, analysis and insights publisher on digital marketing, media and commerceeMarketer is predicting that the fashion apparel and accessories sector is expected to grow 20% to $40.9 billion this year (up from $34.2 billion in 2011), while books, music, and video are only expected to grow by 18% this year (to $20.4 billion). The figures are for the US:

If you’d like to make money (or even more money) via fashion affiliate programs, get my white paper.

Working The Knowledge Graph

As I’ve said before, “Search engines are based on programs or algorithms which do their best to interpret what a searcher wants and, attempting to replicate human understanding, gives it to them based on the text or written content it can find.”

So Google’s announcement of, Google’s Knowledge Graph, a major shift in the way it looks at searches, focusing on trying to “think” even more like a human, i.e. less in keywords and phrases.

The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.

More at Mashable, where the funky infographic came from.

Filter, Flavor, Color Too With Glamorous Vanity Fair Cigarettes

Ahh, the great marketing movement of making things pink to sell them to women… This time, ladies, turn in your pink lungs for pink smokes.

Also available in pastel blue, for that oxygen deprived look.

According to Behind The Smoke on Flickr, the Vanity Fair cigarettes were only around for five years, at which point they were replaced by the Vogue Color cigarettes, which contained an assortment of five colors.

Things I Learned At and About Tumblr

Tumblr Logo
Tumblr has a bad rep in the blogosphere; it’s notorious for its members taking the content of others without crediting it. But clients have asked or stated that they should “be on it,” and so to be fair, I spent some serious time (about 11 months) using Tumblr — under various niches and topics.

These are some of the things I learned about the site.

Tumblr is far more social network or community oriented than a standard “blog”; or maybe it’s more accurate to say that Tumblr is more of an intense microcosm of blogging. The posts are shorter, more rapid, more plentiful — mainly because nothing is actually created there. Instead it’s based on reposting what others have created around the Internet, and then reposted and reposted over at Tumblr, in and out of the interconnected social circles of followers.

Tumblr is so based on the notion of regurgitating the posts and reposts of others, that the only real way to keep up is to stay logged in to Tumblr and sit at your dashboard, where you can see all the reposts of those you follow go by. For this reason, it has an addicting quality. But the price of such a glut of rehashed stuff is the need for more speed — people clicking repost as fast as they can, more stuff flying at you.

That can be a time waster, but let’s look at the more important things in terms of promoting your business, your site, your writing.

Tumblr is incredibly image oriented. Text posts and links are virtually ignored. Even when the photo you post has text or a link, these are seldom what makes a post popular i.e. reposted. In fact, your text and link have at least a 60% chance of being removed by the person reposting it. And link click-through rates, even when the link is the image credit (i.e. clicking the photo to get a larger version), are much lower than at regular blogs and websites — including in the adult area.

That is the number on reason why using Tumblr to market your site or business is ineffective.

The popularity of a post is reposting. “Likes” do very little for you (since they are a one-click thing not requiring them to leave the dashboard, they are just a way for a user to more quickly add their “note” to a post).

Readers, followers, etc. are numbers that don’t matter as much as the long string of “notes” (the list of people who reposted and liked the post). This is obviously increased by the number of people following you; but as long as your post is reposted by someone and reaches another circle of users, your post will go on and on, showing up on your dashboard over and over again. But, if no one is clicking the links, visiting your store etc., then so what?

Tumblr is also not the best way to have conversations with your customers or your target market either.

Comments are not actually built into the system (though you can add DISQUS) and conversations are discouraged in general. You can send a message via the “ask me” feature, but if you answer it, it’s published at your Tumblr — and the one who asked or commented does not get a notice of it. So unless they are logged in, are following you, and see it on their dashboard, how will they know you replied? And in order to continue the conversation, one of you will have to go back to the “ask” and start again. It’s incredibly awkward.

Tumblr is also a rather closed community in the sense that anonymous (non-Tumblr users) are clearly second class citizens. In your Tumblr settings, you can allow or disallow anonymous to “ask” questions, but unless they say, “Hi, it’s Susan,” or otherwise identify themselves, you won’t know who it is because Tumblr either recognizes a logged in user or labels them anonymous.

While the rest of the Internet is trying to engage readers across platforms, regardless of whether or not they are an official user/subscriber, Tumblr and, more importantly, Tumblr users deride and mock the “anons.”

That’s a closed community.

And now we get to the issue of what most irks people about Tumblr…

Contrary to what most of us were taught, having something unique to say or offer is not important at Tumblr. In fact, unless you are a big wig at Tumblr, your original content is likely to go completely unappreciated. People prefer to repost what the cool kids repost rather than be the person who finds unique or new things. These are the majority of the users at Tumblr.

The other group of users is a smaller group, but they are far too often those with larger followings. These are the folks who like to pose as the news makers, the creators, taking credit for what they found with the omission of where they found it, who owns it, etc. — and they are to blame for Tumblr’s poor reputation, even if the majority users are guilty of perpetuating it with all the reposts.

Some blame the ease of Tumblr’s reposting and sharing widget are to blame for this, but if people were truly lazy and using Tumblr as it is, nearly every image raped from a site would have a link crediting where it was found (and, one hopes, more information on original source, etc.). But these people take great efforts to right-click-save an image, then upload it to Tumblr — never crediting the photographer, scanner, or image owner.

This is a malicious act. It’s done on purpose. It requires more effort than the one or two click of the Tumblr Bookmarklet sharing widget — and it’s done so they can act as if they put the time in on something they didn’t. Often times, once they’ve saved the image on their computer, they’ll even go so far as to remove copyright and URL information before uploading and posting to Tumblr.

The number of people who post that they’re “going home to scan more photos of X” — and then perform image searches for such photos and scans are astonishing. Those of us who spend the time scanning know what our scans look like — where there’s a wrinkle on the page, tanning, if we included text or not, etc.

All of this would be the silly poser stuff of teenagers — if it weren’t so infuriating. Because the bottom line is, there are many big bloggers out there who are so popular because they find and credit the cool stuff; they are like antique dealers who are adored by collectors with less time.

As if this weren’t bad enough, many Tumblr users take great pride in expressing their indifference and defiance regarding copyright and intellectual property. Sidebars and profiles are filled with “I find stuff lots of places and if you’re one of the credit nazis, don’t follow me” and similar statements that I gather are supposed to appear as cool non-conformist, punk-rebellious, barbs at The Man. Unfortunately, the Internet is not The Man; so the ones they hurt are the ones who create the content — artists, photographers, dedicated folks who scan antique and vintage works, etc.

No, Tumblr is not a good way to market your product, your website, etc.

Yeah, this post is so not going to make me popular at Tumblr. But what am I going to miss? Even more of my content going out and about uncredited?

I have since deleted my old test accounts at Tumblr. But I do retain a personal account there for two reasons:

One, a few ethical people I met there only post at Tumblr and so I can keep up with them

Two, sometimes logging in and scrolling the Tumblr dashboard provides some good leads on cool stuff. Such a stream of photos can provide a quick way to see things — but it’s deceptive in the sense that once I spy something cool, I’ll have to put a lot of work in to searching for the images. (For that I use TinEye; a detailed account of how and why to use it is here — the site is NWS.)

And when I do use it, it can be a tremendously frustrating time suck because so much uncredited stuff is coming at you so fast.

So overall, I do not recommend Tumblr as an effective way to market yourself or your blog; but it has its entertainment value and can be useful if you don’t invest too much time in it.

UP to the DL: Blog Tours & Marketing Services

ABOUT:

UP to the DL

U.P. to the D.L. is the dynamic duo of Deanna Dahlsad & Laura Brown, two wordy grrls who met 10 years ago as columnists at (the now defunct) Backwash.com.

Of course, both had been writing and promoting online (and off) long before that time, so the slow demise of one site didn’t keep them from continuing to do what they do — or being friends. *wink*

Our latest joint projects are Inherited Values and Ululating Undulating Ungulate. (If you visit the sites and are interested in joining us there, please check out the “about” pages!)

Because of our years of experience in the Internet trenches, we’ve long been individually helping other writers, bloggers, artists, sellers, and entrepreneurs start-up or increase their online presence; now we’ve joined forces, offering you our firsthand knowledge and experience.

We offer specialized services, such as:

Bloggers, you have brands too, so any of these services can be tailored to suit you!

You can keep up with U.P. to the D.L. by following us at Twitter and you may contact us at Deanna.Pop.Tart@gmail.com.

A detailed FAQ of services can be found here.

BLOG TOURS

The most familiar sort of Blog Tour is the Book Blog Tour, which is the virtual version of yesteryear’s book tour. At UP to the DL, we don’t limit the idea to only books — you can use blog tours to promote anything, any product or service, including, simply, yourself.

This virtual version of a promotional tour isn’t so bad; it’s cheaper, less frustrating than traveling, and, as Arielle Ford (former book publicist, literary agent and the author of seven books) says at The Huffington Post, you “essentially spend the day in your bathrobe while interacting with your readers and fans and selling books.”

However, if you aren’t familiar with all the details involved, virtual tours can become real nightmares!

Organizing a Blog Promotional Tour involves:

  • Identifying potential hosts — that will reach your target audience
  • Contacting potential hosts
  • Making the pitch, helping sort through the options with hosts
  • Scheduling the tour and individual host actions
  • Answering technical questions and concerns of hosts
  • Performing the check-ups and follow-ups necessary to ensure a good tour
  • Proper timing of it all!

And, if you are an organized person with enough time to do all of this, do you know what things are most vital to a successful tour?

  • Do you really know how to identify your target market and evaluate which of the millions of blogs, podcasts, zines, newsletters, etc. are honestly able to reach them?
  • Do you know how to anticipate, avoid and over-come host/blogger concerns?
  • If you have a limited number of products (or none at all) to give-away for reviews and contests, do you know what other tour options you can offer — some of which are even more likely to garner the results you desire?
  • Do you know what sort of tour events or activities will help you more increase cash flow, which are designed for long-term, how to maximize long tail results — and which ones you really need?
  • Once you have secured hosts that will reach your target market, do you know how to best capture the attention of your potential readers or customers?
  • Do you know what sorts of posts and tour activities will positively (or negatively) affect things such as PageRank (PR) and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
  • Are you aware of and know how to address the legal and ethical issues in virtual tours?
  • Do you know how to create promotional tours which will get bloggers excited to participate — and their readers converting to sales?

We do.

We’ve been writing, reading and buying online for over a decade. We know, as press, readers, and consumers what bores & what soars.

We know what pitches get, well, pitched via that delete button. We each have over a decade of networking with other bloggers, building relationships and contacts to ensure results.

We know what sorts of things discredit you, harm the reputation of you and your product or service. We will organize your online event so as to maximize your sales and your personal brand.

Hire U.P. to the D.L. as your blog tour coordinators and liaisons; we’ll maximize your presence and sales.

We know how to identify the online conversations and communities where your audience is congregating — and we know how to ethically participate in those relevant conversations so that you, your products, services, and brands are engaging with your customers and potential customers.

Blog Tour Package Rates:

(Details on what each blog tour includes are listed here; information on the process is also outlined here.)

One Week Basic Blog Tour: One week of blog tour events, including Tweets and other social networking site promotion for just $150.

Two Week Basic Blog Tour: Two weeks of blog tour events, including Tweets and other social networking site promotion for only $289.

Select & reserve your Basic Blog Tour package:

 

Basic Blog Tour
 

 

U.P to the D.L. does not guarantee a specific number of hosts on your basic blog tour, however, our goal is to get at least one host per day of the tour.

For more information, please see our list of tips for authors and promoters.

The Soft Blog Tour: This tour is our specialty; we’ve been doing it for years, nearly unnoticed — and that’s by design.

Unlike traditional blog book tours, the soft tour is designed to go without the pomp and circumstance of the usual blog tour. There’s no set time frame, no tour link round-up or announcements, as this tour is designed to look and feel more organic. It best suits the needs of clients who’d rather avoid the promotional look of tours and for bloggers who, for their own reasons, do not wish to appear as part of an organized tour.

The same rules and tasks of basic blog tours apply, only the posts are published over a longer period of time, rather than as a timely event, and for this tour only we do guarantee a minimum of blog posts.

The fee for a Soft Blog Tour with a minimum of 5 posts is $500.

The fee for a Soft Blog Tour with a minimum of 10 posts is $900.

Select & start your Soft Blog Tour package:

Soft Blog Tour
 

We reserve the right to refuse to offer our services at any time to anyone, or any product, book, service or brand, deemed objectionable.


OTHER SERVICES

We offer a number of services in brand management and online support; experienced assistance for newbies and start-ups, those expanding their online presence, and established folks with limited staffing and budgets.

Marketing Consultation:

Marketing consultations & one-on-one tutoring are now available here.

Website Reviews:

Wondering if your website, store, or blog is ready for a Blog Tour or other promotional efforts? Get a review! More than a “Pass” or “Fail” test, we’ll give you tips on how to improve what you’ve got. One of us will review your site for $9; each of us will provide our own review for $16.

   

Website Review

 

Individualized & Customized Services Upon Request:Looking for some help editing your press release, proof reading your website, drafting your bio, assessing your press kit? Have “just one quick question” you want us to answer, or some information you want us to suss out? Need a longer blog tour time period? Rather than tutoring, would you prefer to have us set up your new and/or connect your existing blog, social media profiles, pages, etc.? Have some other virtual assistant needs? Looking for some other service that’s not listed here? Want to “bundle” a few packages at a better price? Contact us about your needs.

Yes, we offer these and other services for bloggers too!

After all, you’ve got a brand too!

If you’re wondering why your site isn’t getting pitches for reviews, blog tours, links, ads, etc., let U.P. to the D.L. help get you to the next level with our services.

Disclaimer: We reserve the right to refuse to offer our services at any time to anyone, or any product, book, service, or brand, deemed objectionable.

FAQ

What makes your blog tour services different from other blog book tour services?
What niches or genres do you cover?
What does a blog tour include?
How, exactly, does this blog tour work? What’s the process like? How personalized is it?
Are bloggers paid to participate in the blog tour?
What if I want Laura or Deanna to host a tour at one of their blogs… Will that be a conflict of interest or against their No Payola policy?
What’s expected of a blog tour host?
Why host a tour? What’s in it for bloggers?
I’m interested in hosting blog tours. How do I get on your list of contacts?
Do you offer long-term exclusive management?
What publishing platforms, content management software, and other “tech stuff” can you help with?
What social network(s) do you recommend?
Do you do web design?
What’s your privacy policy?
What makes your blog tour services different from other blog book tour services?
Frankly, our experience — which we could go on and on about. But the bottom line is this: We know how to turn ideas, products, services, brands into stories that will garner interest and yield results. 

Some specific features and benefits are:

Content: Because we know written content is king, our focus is on the written content or text of the tour. (After all, people type text into search engines to be found, and brands battle over keywords!) As a result — and to achieve the best results — we:

  • Do not allow canned Q&A. This is not only boring for readers who may be avid readers/followers of multiple host sites (both in terms of redundancy and lack of the individual personality each host site offers), but duplicate content is disliked by Google and other search engines which, upon finding it, will penalize both host sites.
  • We don’t waste any of our time or your money on any specialized graphics, trailers or other gizmos in our blog tour packages. Fancy graphics can be fun, but we’re after results here. If/when individual tour hosts are inspired to create images, videos, podcasts or other audio and visuals as part of their host blog tour post, that’s great — and, in fact, a much more preferred way for them to interact with their readers than offering them canned promotional schtick.

Availability: Like you, we are able to juggle multiple tasks and projects, including multiple blog tours running at the same time professionally and effectively. This means there is more freedom and flexibility in scheduling your tour.

(However, also like you, we do have our limitations! So please contact us as soon as possible to reserve your optimal promotional dates.)

What niches or genres do you cover?
We have a vast network of friends, associates and cohorts all along the Internet, but our specialty niches are: 

  • Arts, Crafts, Photography
  • Beauty, Fashion, Shopping
  • Collecting, Antiques, Vintage
  • Family, Parenting, Special Needs, Mommy Sites
  • Health, Sexuality (from Informative to Risque and, yes, even frank Mature Adult sites)
  • Hobbies, Handmade, DIY
  • Home, Interior Design, Housekeeping, Cooking
  • Relationships, Dating
  • Social Issues, Politics, History
  • Women, Gender, Feminism
  • Writing, Publishing, Media

Yes, we know book bloggers, and, yes, we can help with fiction genres. We find the best results include tour stops at other sites based on your readership’s demographic interests.

What does a blog tour include?
Each blog tour is unique and tailored to the client’s needs, but each tour stop will include: 

  • Subject to relevancy of who/what the tour is promoting, an image of the product, book, company logo, photo of the expert, etc.
  • Links to client’s website, blog, shop etc.
  • A minimum of 350 words (250 if the post is accompanying a host produced podcast, video, etc.)
  • Participation in social media sites by Deanna, Laura, and/or U.P. to the D.L., as appropriate.

Also, at the end of the tour, U.P. to the D.L. will post an official blog tour page with the client’s bio &/or product information (including appropriate site links) as well as listing and linking to each stop (or post) on the tour along with the home page of the host.

How, exactly, does this blog tour work? What’s the process like? How personalized is it?
This might be business, but we also know this is a very personal experience! 

Once we receive your payment, the process begins by having you answer a few questions about you, your promotional interests, your availability preferences (participation and interviews), product availability (for reviews and contests), and your desired time frame. Once we’ve evaluated you and your brand needs, we’ll begin our work in tailoring a tour to fit you.

Next, will begin the process of identifying and contacting the appropriate potential hosts for your tour. As hosts and dates are confirmed, we will communicate them to you, along with any necessary participation on your part (including sending items for review, scheduling interview time, etc.).

As tour posts are published, we’ll send you the links.

At the end of the tour, we’ll send you a link to the official blog tour’s page along with our specific tips on how to continue to utilize the virtual tour.

Absolutely not — this is not advertising; paying for any PR coverage is unethical. 

Our fee is for organizing, coordinating, and communicating regarding the blog tour event itself.

What if I want Laura or Deanna to host a tour at one of their blogs… Will that be a conflict of interest or against their No Payola policy?
To avoid any conflict of interest issues, neither Deanna nor Laura will host a tour at one of their own personal blogs. However, as each will be aware of and following along with the blog tours, if they are interested in the subject or are sparked by an idea presented in tour conversations, they retain the right to publish their thoughts at their own sites after the official event has concluded.
Why host a tour? What’s in it for bloggers?
Simply put: for the content. 

Like any magazine or newspaper, radio or television host, bloggers need stories to tell, guests to interview, topics for conversation, etc. in order to entertain, enlighten, and/or educate their audience. There are many (often unseen and unknown) activities involved in blogging and many bloggers relish the idea of interesting relevant subjects and experts brought to their attention.

Also, the buzz about a blog tour offers the opportunity for host blogs to generate additional traffic from links, tweets, etc. as well as finding other bloggers in their niches to network with.

What’s expected of a blog tour host?
As each tour and each tour stop is unique, some specifics may change, but generally speaking, your post must include: 

  • Image(s) of the product, book, company logo, photo of the expert, etc.
  • Links to client site(s) (Please note: hosts are forbidden to use “no follow” links)
  • A minimum of 350 words (250 if the post is accompanying a host produced podcast, video, etc.)

You do not need to mention or link to U.P. to the D.L. or the official blog tour page. (Although we do recommend you visit the page after the tour to visit other blogs which may be in your niche and therefore might be excellent sites/persons to add to your own network).

And, most importantly, post when promised and follow our ethics rules.

I’m interested in hosting blog tours. How do I get on your list of contacts?
Simply contact us at Deanna.Pop.Tart@gmail.com, providing us with your name, site URL, and any additional information you think would be relevant and we’ll review your site and contact you regarding our decision as soon as possible.
Do you offer long-term exclusive management?
At this time, our services are non-exclusive.
What publishing platforms, content management software, and other “tech stuff” can you help with?
We are experienced in WordPress (including WPMU and BuddyPress), Blogger, Movable Type, Drupal, Tumblr, Blog Talk Radio, as well as standard HTML and CSS.
What social network(s) do you recommend?
It really depends upon your business, brand, personality and time constraints. We are experienced with Twitter, FaceBook, Stumble Upon, Delicious, Flickr, LinkedIn, Tumblr, MySpace, Friendster, Ryze, and Ning as well as many smaller, more specialized communities and networks.
Do you do web design? Do you create logos and graphics?
We are not web designers, but we can, in most cases, personalize or tweak templates and we can refer you to good programmers and designers. 

We can also tutor in the basics in graphic software, such as Photoshop and Gimp so that you can create most things you need by yourself.

What’s your privacy policy?
Client and host names, conversational details, services used, etc. are all confidential. Other than information on blog tour pages, as stated, will be made public. Contact information is only released as necessary in order to facilitate tours, interviews, items sent via the mail, etc. Otherwise, unless you opt to provide a testimonial, your information is never shared or sold. Ever.

DEANNA DAHLSAD

Really? Another bio? Writing bios is the one thing that prevents me from activating all the domain names in my possession. It certainly isn’t a lack of names for websites or an inability to talk endlessly…

Anywhooo, here’s the short story:

I’ve been writing, selling, and working on the web since 1997 (more info below), which has led to many successes, including wonderful personal and working relationships. The latter had me form Big Mouth Promotions; ironically a quiet, under-the-radar, marketing service I started when helping others for free became too time consuming to be so kind about. I’ve been purposefully quiet about my professional services so as not to distract me from my primary passions of blogging, but now the cycle of need is, apparently, high again, and so I’ve teamed up with Laura in a more official way, opening U.P. to the D.L. to provide the experienced “insider secrets” we use on our content focused and driven websites.

You may find and follow me at Twitter and FaceBook. Feel free to contact me at Deanna.Pop.Tart@gmail.com.

Resume-esque Info:Education:

Graduate of Alverno College, dual degree in Professional Communications and Business Management — with a minor in Social Science.

Sales & Marketing Experience:

Various work in sales, marketing, buying, direct sales, direct mail, retail department and specialty shoppe management, winning numerous individual and district sales awards.

Several years of work in the non-profit sector, community relations, fund raising, etc.

Writing:

Along with my own personal sites/blogs/projects, I’ve been:

  • A paid columnist @ CollectorsQuest.com
  • Greeting card writer and blogger for No Evil Productions
  • A paid columnist/blogger @ Backwash.com
  • Various paid work in both print and web publications, under numerous pen names

I’ve also been lucky enough to sit at The Cool Kids’ Table a number of times, with posts/articles featured at BoingBoing and other top sites.

Web & Social Media:

Presenter at the Association of Midwest Museums (AMM) and Mountain-Plains Museums Association (MPMA) Joint Annual Conference, 2008 Museums & Web 2.0: Slaying Dragons or Titlting at Windmills? Blogs, YouTube, MySpace – Using Social Networks for Museums.

Presenter at the 2010, and been asked to return again to the 2011, Bookmark Collectors Virtual Convention; my sessions are best (loosely) described as being focused on the importance of sharing your hobby, your passion, and how to do so on the Internet.

Consulting for Collectors Quest, No Evil Productions and numerous smaller clients via Big Mouth Promotions.

More about me than you likely wanted to know…

Along with liking to talk and collecting domain names, I collect many other things. It’s a vicious cycle, really. I find a neat thing to add to my collection and I want to blab about it. In order to make my blabbing more well-rounded, I research the collectible. From there, as my research and I segue into related topics and contexts, I not only find more items to collect, but I find myself wearing my marketing hat and start to think it might suit readers and other researchers better if I had a site tailored to that sort of thing… Should I start yet another site? If so, should I use one of my already held domain names — or the fabulous new one that just popped into my head?

Endless cycle.

(Which is why I know too-too much about starting, marketing and moving websites!)

My antiques, collectibles, and vintage themed sites are:

Items from my collection appear in such places as the Virtue, Vice, and Contraband: A History of Contraception in America exhibit at the Dittrick Medical History Center and Museum (at Case Western Reserve University) and The Hingham Shipyard Historical Exhibit.

If you still want to know more about me (and even my mom doesn’t want to know that much about me!), you can check my Google Profile and my other sites (along with their “about” pages) for more.

LAURA BROWN

I started online in 1996, an IRC diva after I had taken a two-year Corporate Communications college course. The free style and creativity of web publishing appealed to me, long before weblogs became popular.

I started writing online in 1998. At first creating my own site, then a newsletter and then I branched out and wrote for online networks like HerPlanet, Suite101, WZ.com, LockerGnome, and BackWash. During this time I became an editor with the Open Directory Project as well.

Along with running WordGrrls and my other sites (which can be found at ThatGrrl), I currently am an assistant to Bev Walton-Porter, host of the online radio show, Elemental Musings on BlogTalkRadio.

I can be found at Twitter and FaceBook. Feel free to contact me directly at thatgrrl@gmail.com.

Skills and Qualifications:

  • Social media management: Twitter, Stumble Upon, Facebook, Flickr, LinkedIn, Tumblr, Delicious, and Ning.
  • Developed marketing, advertising, promotions, SEO campaigns for online networks.
  • Knowledge of HTML, CSS and web usability standards.
  • Copywriting, editing and proofreading. Strong verbal, oral and written communication skills.
  • Columnist, community manager and forum moderator.
  • Publishing with WordPress, Movable Type, Tumblr, Blogger and other content management software.
  • Working with a team to develop ontology and integrity of a web directory.
  • Using digital photography, image scanner, graphic software and cartoon drawing to illustrate online publications.
  • Location scout and digital photographer for two Ontario film makers.
  • Production and booking guests for a web radio show.

UP to the DL: We like stuff. We write about stuff. We do stuff. We like projects.

Blog Tour Tips For Authors & Promoters

The success of your virtual promotional tour is dependent upon several factors which you influence:

  • The number of books, products, gift certificates that you can provide for reviews, contests, etc.
  • The amount of your participation in the events (interviews, offers, comments you post, Tweets you make, etc.), communication with U.P. to the D.L. and hosts, as requested.
  • The strength and appeal of your book, product, service, brand, etc.
  • The performance and appeal of your website, blog, etc.
  • The number of response options you offer (newsletters to subscribe to, social sites you belong to for “following,” number and quality of sales outlets, etc.).
  • Your efforts in promoting the tour, via your own site, BookTour.com, etc..

Authors who have traditional publishers (i.e. not self-published works) should check with the publisher, as they may pay for the Blog Tour fee, all or in part, &/or copies of the book out of the book’s promotional or PR budget.

UP to the DL
(In fact, authors who are shopping their books should take heed; many publishers, large and small, require authors to include a marketing plan of the author’s promotional efforts and budget along with their manuscript submission.)

At UP to the DL, we also provide tips for our clients on how to make the most of a tour once it has officially ended.

Ethics In Virtual Book Tours & Other Blog Tours

Blog Tours
Blogging is a form of self-publishing — and it’s a beautiful thing; but it comes with its own set of responsibilities.

I personally don’t abide Paid Posts and proudly proclaim my No Payola status, but as those posts rather cover my sentiments, today I’ll focus on the ethics involved in Blog Tours — specifically in terms of the rules of UP to the DL Blog Tour Services.

These rules are based not only on the experiences we’ve had hosting blog tours, posting reviews, receiving pitches to promote this or that, but on fundamental ethics — good ol’ common sense. And these rules are designed to protect the integrity of bloggers, blog readers, consumers, and promoters alike.

Rule #1 It is not ethical to review something you’ve never used, read or otherwise employed; that’s fraud. Therefore, asking a person to commit a fraudulent act is unethical, at best.

Rule #2 It is unethical, to say the least, to insist a reviewer not publish or share a review that is not flattering. Such “reviews” are not reviews at all; reviews are to be thoughtful opinions, educated critiques, and, above all, honest. Individual hosts may, after reviewing the item and honestly disliking it, post their negative (but not hate-filled or personally attacking) review as they wish; or, they may wish to contact us for help regarding their conflicted responses and uncomfortable situations.

Rule #3 Follow-through on what you promise. Send your review copies, samples, contest prizes on time; publish your blog tour event as promised; get back to people as promised. In the rare cases where “life happens,” please contact U.P. to the D.L. as soon as possible to communicate and problem solve the situation.

Any and all persons who break these rules, are found to be guilty of such unethical behavior, will not be allowed to participate in any U.P. to the D.L. projects of any kind. Offenders may also find themselves the subject of unwanted press, with a public disclosure of their behavior.

I know these rules may sound more stern or even scary rather than inviting, but practicing these principles protects and respects the integrity of all involved! It is our expectation that everyone upholds these values and has a commitment to the rights of consumers and brands.

Your Best Tool For SEO (Or, Why Search Engines Are Your Friends)

I believe search engine optimization (SEO) is best and primarily served via the content you write. If you believe that, you may stop reading; but if you aren’t convinced…

People seek entertainment and information the same way online as they do in the real world: by asking questions. The only real difference is that a lack of complete sentence structure and punctuation won’t get in your way online. *wink*

You and I may differ wildly in terms of our demographics, interests, and needs (for example, perhaps you are a 20-something male interested in the latest tech gadget while I’m a 40-something female who may be looking up some obscure silent film actress), but we each end up doing the same thing. We each find ourselves at some search box, be it at a search engine, sales marketplace, or favored site, typing in text and clicking to get the results. Those words we typed are the questions we have; on the Internet, these queries are called “keywords.”

What Google and other search engines, including internal search engines on individual websites, try to do is provide the best possible answers to our questions, the most relevant information that matches our query. Search engines are based on programs or algorithms which do their best to interpret what a searcher wants and, attempting to replicate human understanding, gives it to them based on the text or written content it can find.

In trying to take the search as question and help the person find the answer, Google et al employs not just what you say about your site (meta tags, descriptions, folksonomy, etc.), but what your site actually says. In other words, it ‘reads’ your site.

Every word in every post and page.

Including your links out to other sites (because if you’re not having conversations with others, you might just be a mad mumbling fool talking to himself).

To check how much of authority or credibility a possible answer has, search engines also look to see not only who links to that page or post — but for what. And just how do those links get there? By people who read your content!

Ah, the power of the written word.

But it doesn’t end there.

Back to you and I as question seekers on the Internet…

After we’ve posed our questions and received a list of possible answers, we evaluate the responses to our questions.

We each use our own individual criteria for trustworthiness, we have different ideas of what’s funny or entertaining, etc., but we each sort through the options or answers provided to us and make determinations about what we find. And what do we questioning searchers use to evaluate the possible answers? We read the content.

First, we read the brief snippet of content shown with the link, as grabbed by the search engine; if that passes the mustard, we click and go on to read more of that page or post. If that’s what we seek, we likely read the whole post or page — maybe even reading more pages at the site, clicking what’s recommended there, etc. If it’s still not the answer we are seeking, we go back to the list of possible answers or try phrasing our question differently and begin our search for the truth all over again.

This is why written content is so important; what you write is how you are found and how your site is evaluated.

Believe it or not, search engines are our friends and partners in our quests, so there’s no point in trying to “beat” Google or any search engine with SEO tactics.

What’s the point in trying to divert those seeking information on silent film stars over to a site dedicated to tech gadgets — or vice versa? Annoyance?

You can give yourself a little nudge with some basic use of technology to assist in SEO; but frankly, your time is best spent on creating unique content that will address the needs and interests of the question seekers.

The PR Of PageRank

PageRank, or PR, is one of the most misunderstood metrics in the measurement of your website’s success.

What PageRank Is

PageRank is a whole number between 0 and 10 (i.e. PR0, PR3, etc.), with the most popular pages having a PageRank of 10, the least having a rank of 0. The ranking reflects a page’s popularity, primarily based on the number of links to it and the rank of those sites linking to it. (Words used in text links, the size of the page itself, the page’s content and words used in headlines, number of outbound links etc. are said to factor in as well) This rank is per page, not the entire site. So your site’s main page usually has a much higher rank than any other page or post on your site.

You can read the detailed history and description of PageRank, look at diagrams and calculations of Google’s PageRank Algorithm, but the basic premise is that PageRank is roughly based upon the quantity and quality of inbound links.

What Can PR Do? What Can You Do With PR?

Like Alexa, PageRank remains a popular or useful measuring device primarily because it’s free. It’s available to anyone, and can be used when calculating and negotiating ad rates, etc., and it can be one (of many) ways to calculate your site’s growth. You can check your site’s PR here. (It should be noted that the Goggle Toolbar PageRank value displayed is not the actual value Google uses;for some reason there is a lag in the Toolbar reflecting the actual rank information.)

Many people confuse PageRank with SEO. While the two are related in the sense that a page with higher PR is weighted higher in search engine algorithms (and, in cases of text links, the words in the link itself may help with higher search return placement or SERP), and webmasters and bloggers try to manipulate or “beat” the system, they are not synonymous.

People who were once banking on PR and those who financially speculate on SEO are now complaining and making predictions about PR.

They complain about the difficulty in trying to increase PR today compared to “back in the day.” But Google has always acknowledged the mathematical fact that increases in the number of websites and webpages (including blogs and blog posts) decreases the approximation of PageRank, creates resistance to climbing higher in rank. This is why older sites, even established sites that are no longer active, benefit from their age — even if they no longer receive new links in to them. So the explosive growth of blogs alone has created more friction in the uphill push for higher PageRank.

Others believe that PageRank, or at least the public sharing of the value, is going to be discontinued. The fact that PageRank is not included in Google’s Chrome browser confirms their suspicions. But Google has made a concerted effort to downplay RageRank. “[J]ust because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s useful for you as a site owner,” pushing Google Analytics instead.

The Bottom Line

The truth is, the easy days of PR have been over for awhile now, but ignoring the importance of links to your site is done to the detriment of your own site. Not simply in terms of PR, but in terms of discovery by new readers.

Links coming into your site are votes of confidence and recommendations from other bloggers and websites. This was the basic principal behind PageRank, after all.

But perhaps even more importantly, links are access to your site. Every link is an open door. So even if you don’t use PR to monitor your site’s popularity, you should focus on getting links to your site.

Magazine Equality: Stuff White People Worry Needlessly About

I get mail, paper and electronic. Today’s winner is this one:

Hey, you sell and ship a lot of stuff, and you write about racism, so I’m tossing this question to you — I don’t care if you post your reply, but please don’t out me. (Outing my stupidity is fine! Just not me!)

My question is this: Is it OK if I use torn pages etc. from publications like Jet magazine as packing material, or is that offensive?

Obviously, this is a white person who is worried about this, right? Right.

My Latest Issue Of Jet: Click To Read My Address As Proof (Posting Stuff Like This Is Why I Get A Lot Of Mail)

Why would anyone else even consider what magazines, newspapers, etc. were used as packing material? As long as it’s not Playboy pictorials or other adult stuff, who cares? Even magazine collectors like myself don’t wince (too badly) at the thought of destroying publications in terms of recycling them rather than collecting the past issues or saving them for future collectors.

This is one of those cases of being so overly sensitive to race issues that you go full circle and become racist.

The underlying premise here is based on faulty and racist assumptions:

1. That all people are white unless otherwise stated. And so…

* Not knowing otherwise, the seller here fears that a white person will be somehow offended by a non-white publication included in their box of merchandise.

* The assumed-to-be-white person receiving this package will now assume the seller is black — heaven forbid!

2. That people of color are intolerant and ridiculously possessive of their culture. And so…

* Should the recipient be a person of color, they will somehow be offended that anyone would ruin a proper African-American publication in such a fashion.

* A non-white person receiving their order with such packaging will assume the seller is also non-white; the seller has somehow misrepresented themselves.

3. That people should only read or subscribe to publications by color. And so…

* Any person of any color will find a white person reading or subscribing to any publications for or by persons of color to be some sort of poser or culture-thief.

These are not only faulty and racist assumptions, but fear based ones which, when given in to, perpetuate stereotypes and limit us all.

So my response is this: In the spirit of saving the planet by recycling, in the spirit of saving the planet by practicing brotherly and sisterly love, please, use any and all of your unwanted publications as packing materials — including your Jet Magazine. Treat your publications as you do people — as equals.

I would recycle my copies of Jet; but I save most all of my magazine back issues, no matter their “color.”