WORK-FROM-HOME IN THE TIMES OF CORONAVIRUS

 

Covid-19 the new strain of coronavirus has caught us all unawares. Nobody knew of it until it surfaced recently in Wuhan, China, Dec’2019. The uncertainty that this infectious disease has caused, leaves us all bonkers! The question on everybody’s mind is how to stay productive in these times of immense upheaval. We live in the age of automation where work-from-home is a viable option and companies are pushing for it.
Nobody had any inkling that coronavirus would hit us so hard. Sadly, the whole world is in the grip of this virus outbreak now. Experts fear that it could spread exponentially and indeed it has in some countries.  It’s already done a lot of damage.
Health advisories are advising us to maintain social distancing. This way we can minimize our chances of getting infected.
Now, that the threat of coronavirus looms large, no amount of stress, panic and other negative emotions will get us anywhere. Let’s us be calm and focus on what really needs to be done.
Some companies are already encouraging their employees to work from home.
Social media giant “Twitter” has made it compulsory for all the employees worldwide to work from home due to the coronavirus pandemic[1]. Amazon has told its employees worldwide to work from home if they can[2]. Alphabet, the parent company of Google has requested its workers in 11 offices in US and Canada to work from home.[3]
All these tech giants are taking the threat seriously. It is likely that more and more companies ask their employees to start working from home. That’s how social distancing can be implemented in full force. We are certainly witnessing extraordinary times. Caution at all levels has to be maintained.
Employers and employees have to be united in this fight . The resolve has to be there.
Challenges for employers…
Employers need to provide a conducive atmosphere for their workers to work from home. This requires a lot of strategizing, necessitating the companies to take steps like
·       Upgrading their networks
·       Ensuring adequate home connections
·       Pressing on internet service providers to relax band-width (in case there is any) at employee’s homes.
·       Bearing the cost of computers and the required furniture to run a work station at home.
·       Addressing security issues
·       Providing the necessary tools for remote-work
·       Keeping employees motivated and happy by providing virtual coffee-breaks etc;

Though some IT companies have already prepared or are preparing for this new setup, it is not hunky-dory everywhere.

Companies have their reservations and insecurities. Some companies are facing issues because they are not used to too many connections over virtual private networks (VPNs). Then there are companies who are already frowning upon the whole scenario as an increase in overhead costs.

 

Companies can seek professional help to upgrade and work upon their systems.
Re-orienting the way we work is certainly not a small issue. If road-blocks are there, I am sure solutions are also there for those who seek them.
It is in the interest of everybody that productivity does not take a hit.
Work-from-Home made easier….
 
There are some tools and freebies being offered by some companies to help
people work smoothly from their homes.
 

·       Slack, which makes business chat software are holding free consultations for companies who want to shift to remote working.

·       Allowing conversations to exceed 40 minutes on its own free tier is a gesture by Zoom, the videoconferencing service.

·       Microsoft has offered a service plan cloud “Productivity Suite” free for 6 months to small businesses.[5]

There are other tools available for remote working that you can check.
How may employees view this …
Work-from-home or Remote-work can be viewed differently by employees. Some of them might actually like it for the following reasons:

·       No long commutes

·       Work flexibility hours

·       No nosy colleague to waste your time

·       A much-needed break from the office scenario

Believe me, all this can result in increased productivity!
Work-from-home is a new concept for most of us.
It requires utmost discipline to get your work done in homes.
 
Why?
 
You can take it easy because you know it’s just your home not an office. Distractions are too many. You can get carried away and then your work can take a hit. Since you are not used to working from home, you may not know what went wrong.
That’s why it’s good to follow some rules. Abide by them in totality and you are good!
 
·       Workstation
First and fore-most get your workstation set up in a separate room. In fact, choose a room which is a little away from the living room. This is to cut noise which comes from the household.
Working on a sofa or lying down and working at the same time means you are not serious.
You are most working for some company/brand, so work with full seriousness.
·       Sticky Notes
Yes, the famous post-it notes, which you use commonly in your offices must be used. Stick them in front of your desk so that they are easily visible. You can prioritize your work according to the points mentioned in the notes.
·       Dress Code
Ensure you are dressed properly in your working hours. See, your boss can make that video-conferencing call anytime during your working hours. Leave a good impression as a thorough professional.
·       Bar Entry
This is one area where you have to maintain complete discipline. Remember this is not your office. You are operating from your home and your family members are also there. There can be a million distractions, especially if you have kids around. Leave strict instructions for everybody in the family to not disturb you in the working hours.
·       Working hours
Never relax or compromise on your working hours, otherwise your work will pile up and it will take a toll on you later.
·       Refreshment break.
Yes, this is what everybody wants after working incessantly for a few hours. So have your tea/coffee/snacks so that you get stimulated and refreshed. Its important to keep yourself motivated and happy.
Remember your targets, deadlines and work pressure are going to be more or less the same ; it’s just that the work environment has changed. So, being organised from day one, will relieve you of any unnecessary stress later.
 
Now that you are through with your work commitments for the day; the rest of the time is all yours.
Hey! You could me missing your office, your way of life! Well, here’s a few things you can do to lift your mood!

 

  • Just sit back and relax.
  • Read a book.
  • Chat with your friends on social media.
  • Catch up on some movie that you always wanted to watch.
  • Pursue some hobby-maybe you can draw, paint or anything else.
  • Practice Yoga and Meditation.

You can always try working on an online gig. Maybe you will end up making an app or acquire some new online skills.

Do whatever catches your fancy to unwind!
Well, I know some of you out there, are really no big fans of the work-from-home model.
You feel it will lead to isolation and loneliness. The biggest argument is that not everything about human beings cannot be automated and regimented. They need to interact physically with people as well.
We are social creatures, we need to meet and discuss business, have our lunch and coffee breaks together. It is this bonding that helps us to be creative and get great ideas.
 
We view success as a balance between productivity and happiness quotient.
 
 
Agreed!
 
But these are not normal times. Desperate times, desperate measures!
 
We have to make these lifestyle changes now for a better tomorrow.
 
 
Remember not everyone is fortunate enough to get their work done from their homes in this pandemic. Malls, theatres, restaurants, school and colleges are all closed. Daily wagers have been hit hard by coronavirus outbreak.
CONCLUSON
 
As a responsible citizen of the world, pay heed to all the health advisories. We don’t know how long this virus outbreak shall last. Countries are locking down.
 
Social-distancing helps in the slowing down of the spread of coronavirus.
 
Working-from-home is an efficient way to stay productive in these trying times.
 
Maintain social distance! Stay Safe!

 

WHY MY BUSINESS NEEDS SEO IN 2020

 

The idea behind writing this blog of mine is to give you a fair idea of SEO from a business perspective. The acronym SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. As a business person, you must know what to expect from SEO in 2020. The idea, here is to nudge you towards implementing SEO for the immense traffic and credibility it brings along.
 
If your business is already into SEO, great!
 
But, as you climb up the SEO ladder, you will discover newer insights. So, this blog shall help you discover and understand what these might be. Adding fresh ideas and perspectives helps a business keep moving.
 
You may be surprised to know that there are still those who dismiss SEO as a fad or a gimmick. That’s so not true. How, can you dismiss something without giving it a chance?
 
Well, a vast majority of people manage to make a website and then somewhere forget about it. What an opportunity wasted! The argument that the business is doing fine, and they shall do SEO sometime later when they need it is absolutely the wrong one! The paucity of time is often cited as a reason and they keep postponing it indefinitely.
 
My take is that if you can’t invest your time in a fundamental marketing technique that has the potential to expand your reach globally, boost your brand and generate traffic then whose loss is it anyway?
 
The fact that the online world has taken over our lives is no exaggeration. People are connecting and communicating like never before. Businesses today have a global reach. They are making the most of it and increasing their profits. Isolation can only harm your business.
 
So, get out of the comfort zone!
 
Take advantage of the digital boom!
 
I sincerely want all of you to give SEO your best shot, otherwise, you won’t know what you are missing!
See, nothing good comes easy. No marketing tool can be implemented without dedicating time to it, and going through its share of hassles and yes, plenty of hard work too. SEO, like any other marketing tool, comes with its own challenges.
 
 
I hope that you have created a website for your business.
 
What next?  Customers, right? As a smart businessperson, think of SEO as a wonderful marketing opportunity.
 
Before we discuss the various facets of SEO vis-à-vis your business, let’s get a quick understanding of the very basics of SEO.  

What is SEO?

 
SEO as a process is an evolving digital science which optimizes your website in order to push traffic to it through un-paid(organic) means.

Understanding SEO

 
Now let me explain and elaborate on that. We are living in a digital world, where information is just a search away. With smartphones in their hands and laptops on their desks, people are conducting billions of searches a day. Imagine the traffic that generates!
 
People don’t make these searches without intent. A search can be done to gather information about a restaurant, a holiday destination or just with the intention of buying. The list is endless!
89% of consumers end up purchasing on account of a web search, as per Business 2 Community.[1] 
 
That is the Power of Search!
 
Here’s an example to simplify it further.
 
Suppose I want to buy a phone. I won’t head to the market straightway to do the purchase. I am a smart consumer and I live in the digital era. I’ll do my complete research on Google. I’ll make comparisons of prices, latest models, features and so on. Only then will I take a final decision. As a businessman, wouldn’t you want your business to figure in these searches? This is achieved by SEO.
 
It’s quite obvious for you to ponder, as to how does all this information reach us?
 
It’s through search engines.
Let’s Get A Basic Understanding of Search Engines               

 

 
A Search Engine is a type of software which enables us to find information in the web world. The function of search engines is three-fold:
 
i)  Crawling – Scanning the net to find information.
 
ii)  Indexing – Storing and organizing the information in an index.
 
iii) Ranking –  Providing the most relevant or the best matching information, when a query is                    made.
 
You must remember that users trust search engines. Google is their topmost choice because it receives the maximum traffic and has the largest market share.
 
Bing and Yahoo are other well-known search engines. They have a reasonable following and hence cannot be ignored.
 
Now that we have some basic knowledge of SEO and the search engines, we can dig further to get an insight into how SEO functions.
 
SEO is Not Static …..
 
SEO is not a one- time formula to be applied to get the desired traffic. It is quite complex and is guided by various factors. These factors evolve/change with changes in technology. So, SEO becomes an ever-evolving process to be updated, applied and checked /analyzed until it gives us the desired outcome.
 
The fact is that one has to experiment with a combination of different factors until results are achieved. In the process, we may have to leave some tactics, adopt others and experiment again and again till one gets it right.
 
As a businessperson, you can expect a lot from SEO, provided it’s done properly.  There are some business people who are not sure about the importance of SEO. They are not sure what to expect from it.
 
Here are a few points which will make it easy for you to understand SEO from your business point of view.

IMPORTANCE OF SEO

1.   TRAFFIC

When it comes to online business, everybody wants traffic. This traffic has the potential to get converted into revenue.
 
The question is how does one ensure a good flow of traffic? The answer is SEO. Getting traffic is the responsibility of SEO.
 
In fact, it is responsible for getting traffic which is 20x more than PPC (pay per click). [2]You can imagine the reach of your product/service if SEO is done the right way.
 
Remember, it’s this traffic which can eventually lead you to sales.

2.   BRANDING

SEO exposes your brand to the users over a long period of time because it’s done organically. Your brand gets global exposure. Isn’t that great?!
 
Once people start doing business with you, they can recommend your brand to their friends. They can share information about it on social media as well. They can even leave a nice comment on your website. It becomes a sort of a chain reaction, where one thing leads to another. In this process, your brand gets a terrific boost.
This eventually helps in generating traffic.

3.   LONG-TERM BENEFITS

Advertisements run for some duration and then dry up once the campaign is over.
 
SEO, on the other hand, if done right, keeps giving you dividends for a long time. You will keep showing up in organic searches. These searches can be your potential customers.
 
It’s a good practice to keep introducing fresh content so that the users keep coming back to your website.
 
Let them have expectations of useful and updated content from your site. Raise the bar of your content for your users’/customers’ sake. This is a good way of having them drawn to your site.
 
All this can result in making your users’ loyal followers/fans of your brand. You will have a long association with them.

4.   MARKETING

 

SEO in 2020 has become bigger and better. It has evolved into a wholesome marketing tool.
 
A lot of successful business houses are already reaping its benefits.
 
Why should you shy away from it?
 
You are a forward-thinking businessperson. You must realize the full potential of SEO. In so doing, SEO will become an integral part of your marketing strategy. You will benefit from it like no other marketing tool.
 
SEO gives you a wonderful platform for marketing.
 
Here’s a bird’s eye view of what all you can expect from SEO-
          
  •           Appear in search engine results.

 

  •         Try and get a top ranking in search engine rankings.

  •         Write blogs on other websites to publicize your brand.

  •         Write on other blogging platforms where users can find you.

  •          Email outreach to your audience.

  •          Offline business activities to be pushed to the online world for boosting your brand.

  •         Give users the best experience when they visit your site in terms of content, loading speed and so on to get them interested in your product/service.

  •      Give customer satisfaction your top priority by having tailor-made content answer customer queries.

  •        Provide appropriate content as part of sales support.

The idea is to get traffic, customers and repeat customers
.

 

If you have a little knowledge of SEO under your belt, you can leverage it on your own. Alternatively, you can hire an SEO professional to meet your needs.
 
As a businessperson, nobody knows your business better than you. So, put on your thinking cap and be totally involved in the SEO process. SEO is not just a few links and keywords here and there, it’s much more than that.
 
Since your inputs/ideas are extremely important for your business, you should get familiar with the different types of SEO which have been summarized for you below:
         Technical SEO
         On-site SEO
         Off-site SEO
                    
Technical SEO-    It caters to the crawling and indexing of your website by search engines as mentioned earlier.
 
On-site SEO-       It deals with the structure of your website, title headings, metadata, internal links and other techniques which provide relevant information to search engines so that they know what your page is all about.
 
Off-site SEO-      It’s about ranking your website by search engines. Here the backlinks play an important role.

5.   AHEAD OF COMPETITION

SEO must be tweaked all the time to keep pace with the ever-changing algorithms. There is not a single surefire method of perfecting SEO. Things are changing/evolving fast. It makes sense to keep yourself abreast of the latest trends to secure your present and future.
 
Some points need to be emphasized here so that you take them seriously. I have touched upon a few things so that you are aware of them and include them in your SEO plan as per your need.
 
i)                User Intent
 
Today, everybody who knows about SEO is talking about it.
 
See, your business needs customers and these customers make queries/searches. So, these queries are really important to you.
 
What are these queries? How are they searching? This is exactly what you must work upon.
 
Search engines are adapting to natural language, so long-tail queries/keywords can be one solution.
 
Another solution is to reach out organically by talking to your target audience and asking them how they carry out a search. This would give you an insight into the user’s intent.
 
Accord the power of search your top priority.
 
Optimize your content for it, by keeping users’ queries in mind. Let your content provide the most accurate answer for these. That way you can capture their attention.
ii)              Optimizing for Speed
 
We are living in a super-connected world. People want everything this instant.
 
In this scenario, if a user searches for your site and your site fails to load instantly, the user will return to search results. 
 
Oops! That’s bad news for your business.
 
This is the reason why you have to ensure to optimize for speed. You must make site loading super-quick by removing all the obstacles. Talk to your SEO guy or maybe your developer for this. They will certainly find a solution.
 
Once your site loads fast, users won’t leave just like that. They will likely spend some time on your site. In this process, they might like your product/service. This can result in conversions.
 
It’s all about revenue at the end of the day.
 
So, make sure your site loads fast, maybe in 2 seconds or even less.
 
iii)            Mobile-SEO
If you worry about the fact, as you should that mobile traffic has superseded traditional desktop traffic, you will make your site mobile friendly.
 
Be a smart business person and join ranks with the forward-thinking SEO tribe. Mobile search is already huge. Get your mobile SEO done to capture this immense traffic.
 
Let me explain this more…
What is mobile SEO?
 
Optimizing your website for users on smartphones is mobile SEO.
 
Now the question on your mind is…
 
Why do I need mobile SEO?
Google cares for the immense traffic that comes from its users. 58% of all searches on mobile devices are done by Google users. Google cannot ignore this. [3]
 
In fact, Google has already announced that mobile-first indexing shall be applied to all websites in the next 6 to 12 months. [4]This means the sites will be crawled by Google from the mobile browser’s point of view for indexing and crawling purposes.
 
So, in case your website is up and running and it is not mobile-friendly, it’s time for you to move to mobile-first indexing.
 
Well, if you are one of those whose websites have just come up or are in the construction stage, then get it optimized for mobiles first. It makes sense because then you won’t have issues concerning the loading speed of sites on mobiles, cropping up later.
 
How to get mobile SEO done?
 
  • Mobile users have their devices in their hands and they want everything in real-time. So, make sure your site gets loaded quickly by getting rid of any impediments.

 

 
  • Customize your mobile content for your users. The content should be easy (i.e., not small- in -size) to read. Don’t expect users to adjust to your font size because if they find it difficult to read, they won’t spend a second more engaging with it.

 

 
  • Video content is quite popular amongst mobile users. If your video is working good on the desktop, there is no guarantee that it will run fine on your mobile. Check for this, and take the necessary action if required.

 

 
  • Since mobile devices are also used outdoors; so be sure that there is a significant amount of contrast between the text and the background. This will ensure a good reading experience.

 

Be sure about the fact that users will look for your website more on mobiles and less on desktop computers.
 
In short, optimize your content for your mobile visitor, pay attention to speed and other issues. The idea is to give your users a fantastic experience. So, make your site mobile friendly.
 
 
iv)            Voice Search
Another thing that is catching on with users is Voice Search.
What is Voice Search?
 
It is a speech-technology which allows users to search by a voice command.
Why is it gaining popularity?
 
It’s gaining in popularity because of two simple reasons:
 
.  Convenience: Users are falling for voice search because they find it so convenient and easy. Well, it is easier to speak than type.
 
    . Results: The results of voice-search are faster.
 
In fact, in the US alone 55% of teens and 41% of adults use Voice search as per Northstar Research.[5]
How to carry out Voice Search SEO?
 
. First and foremost, ensure your site is mobile-friendly.
 
According to Google, more than 20% of all mobile searches are voice searches.[6]
. Use natural-language phrases with user intent in mind. Optimizing your content with long-tail keywords around customers questions needs to be done.
 
Be an early adapter so that you get the chance of tapping into this traffic.
 
v)              User/Customer Satisfaction
Google is evolving its algorithm all the time to give users the best experience. It’s time for you to turn your attention to this.
 
Shoppers when visiting regular shops or malls, check the product/service, their terms and conditions thoroughly before making the purchase. Customers expect a similar kind of assurance when buying anything online.
 
Today’s users are well acquainted with the digital world. They expect a few things from your brand before they take a final decision.
 
.   They will go through the reviews/feedback of previous customers.
 
.  They would expect solid content as part of the after-sales support to give them much-needed assurance and confidence. Anyway, keeping them in the loop shall keep them happy.
 
.   Up to date and quick responses from your end.
 
Ensure providing your customers with amazing experiences. This will translate into nice feedback, social shares and above all trust. That follows an increase in traffic.
vi)            Think Big
Being short-sighted doesn’t pay
 
 If your focus is just on making quick bucks or if you are playing for short-term gains and ignoring your customers, then, I am afraid all this can translate into bad customer experiences. The result will be…
         
        They will never give you another chance
         
        They can leave a bad review
 
That surely is not good news for your brand. Your competitors will definitely love it!
 
Never put your brand’s reputation at stake for small gains. Remember it takes a lot to build trust in the online world. 
 
Don’t look for short-cuts
 
.
Don’t get too cozy, too soon!
 
The online world is a dynamic one.
        
       Having made some money too soon doesn’t mean you have the magic formula.
      User’s intent, algorithms and technology are not constant. So never be too sure of your techniques or methods.
     Your competitors might have already prepared a better answer or provided a better solution for the user’s problem/query than yours. See, if you are keeping a watch on their ways of business, so are they!
     Always leave room for evolving, learning and understanding. That’s how SEO works. This is the only trick that will make you a long-term player and eventually a big player.
 
vii)          Build Trust
You can do even more by building trust! The more trust you garner online, the better it is for your brand.  
 
As a businessperson, you surely must be attending events like seminars, award functions and so on. Now, make it a point to show that online. This shall increase your visibility and reputation online.
 
Ultimately, Google and your users want to know you more. Your users want to do business with you. So, build a strong image of yours online to look convincing and earn trust.
 
 
CONCLUSION
 
  • In the SEO world, the URL’s, Titles, Metadata, backlinks etc. are all important. BUT, that’s not all!

 

 
  • Remember Users/Customers get a top spot.

 

 
       – Their search
       – Their trends
       – Their satisfaction
 
All this is important for Google, so integrate it fully in your SEO plan.
 
  •  Keep a good watch on your competition’s style of doing business. You can get inspired to do something better to increase your reach.

 

 
  • You might have the greatest idea/product/service in the world but what good is it, if it’s not made visible to the people. Implement SEO.

 

 
  • There are no hard and fast rules here. See and analyze, what works best for your industry, your product, your service. All websites are unique. They have their own challenges, demands and needs. So, make your SEO plan accordingly.

 

 
  • Attract traffic by doing SEO through various channels.

 

 
  • If your content is cool, your product/service is good, your site is delivering (no speed issues) you can very well get traffic.

 

 
In 2020, all businesses should be SEO-smart to for them to be players who matter.
 
So, Think Traffic, Think Conversions, Think Business! 
                                                                                                                                                     


[1] https://www.business2community.com/digital-marketing/what-a-digital-marketing-persona-really-is-and-how-to-create-them-02252618
[2] https://sparktoro.com/blog/seo-opportunity-growing-shrinking/

 

Getting Famous Online

The Internet can be used to get famous. Really famous. There are several ways of doing that. Some have been well documented and in the last chapter we discussed the attributes required to get famous. Given below are five unknown, very fun, but highly effective ways of getting famous, leveraging the potential of the Internet.
Videos that go viral
We come across these supposedly accidentally shot videos of someone doing something remarkable without noticing  that they are being filmed. The person may be doing somersaults on the roof of a high rise building practising his flips right next to a sheer 100 foot drop, oblivious to the danger and enjoying his routine. Somebody uploads it and the clip has millions of hits online. Soon the man’s identity is known and he becomes a household name, and the media are at his door with interview requests, and he is even asked to lecture school kids on the benefits of exercise. Sounds far fetched but this is how the phenomenon of viral videos pans out. And mind you these are invariably pre-planned and anything but spontaneous.

Now what is noteworthy here is that a viral video can make you very famous in the proverbial overnight time span, and if you can successfully effect one you have had it made. If one were to learn from the various examples of successful viral videos one will realise that it is not really that difficult to pull it off.One of the ground rules to follow is that the length has to be kept short what with people’s short attention spans and the veritable deluge of viral videos that has descended upon us.

 It has to be remembered that a video is not inherently viral. It has to be worked upon and made that way. A whopping 3 billion videos are viewed on YouTube everyday! How do you make yours viral in such a scenario. The content needs to be reached to the right target audience first for it to receive the right push that will make it viral.

To ensure that the video gets the initial attention, it does of course have to create a
good first impression. Then the description or transcription that accompanies the video is important too and the key words should be chosen with care. Remember that YouTube is also a social medium. So get the conversation flowing back and forth by initiating it and actively participating in it. Get the traffic flowing so that it eventually it reaches viral proportions.

Take the case of the Star Wars kid video which got viewed a 900 million times. And what was it about. A fat kid foolishly waving his stick about again and again proving that there is vast market even for stupidity. See how much better you are then. You probably have something useful to showcase. Justin Bieber apparently had the same idea when his video of the song Baby was put up on YouTube, paving the way for him to become the pop sensation he is today. He started off with 50 million page views. The examples are umpteen actually

Or take the case of Amber Lee Ettinger whose video depicting her love for President Obama was viewed 14 million times. Then there is the case of Ted Willimas, the man with the amazing voice who got a job as an MSNBC anchor thanks  to his viral video on YouTube. So we see that viral video are a proven and extremely effective way of gaining fame, provided one is able to use it the right way
Go Blog
Blogging is one of the simplest and most effective ways of getting famous, and the best part is that you could be anybody-the average Joe or the wiz-kid of the block; both of you have an equal chance to hit it big by blogging. The basic premise is that there have to be numerous people who are more or less like you and would respond positively and appreciatively to what you put up on your blog.

The way to achieve success is by updating your blog on a regular and consistent basis and by focusing on quality. It might take some time for you to build up your audience, but you will get there if you persevere. The trick is to socialise. Comment on other people’s blogs and get them to comment on yours. Let people know about your blog but do not over do it. Use the right vehicles like Facebook and Twitter to reach your message to a vast audience in an unobtrusive way.

It might also be a good idea to enable sharing buttons on your website. That apart you can share links with other websites. When you do that traffic gets diverted from your site to the ones that are linked. Those sites will get to know of this through a ping back and they may in turn get interested in yours. This way you create a virtuous cycle. Putting together a side-bar embellished with link widgets takes you a step further.

While it is all very well to be blogging regularly you should monitor the direction that your efforts are taking. Find out what constitutes the major portion of your traffic, and customise your posts to cater for that section. It also pays to be a bit smart. For instance you can closely study the strategy applied by the most successful bloggers and try and replicate it. It might work wonderfully for you and in double quick time too.

 Another way of getting noticed by the right people is to occasionally blog as a guest on other sites, which have synergy with your blog. This will put you in direct contact with just the target audience you have always drooled over. This will be your chance to win them over.

In essence blogging is something where time is on your side and you can and will willy nilly make a great success of your blog, if that is what you want to do. Really one of the best ways to get famous.

The truth of this is borne out by the many success stories of bloggers who have become celebrities in their own right by the very power of their blog posts. The most famous blog in the world is the Huffington post, which specialises in breaking news pertaining to a wide array of subjects-world news, entertainment, business, politics and fashion. Started by Arianna Huffington, Kenneth Lerra and Jonah Perreti in 2005, the blog was acquired by AOL in 2011 for $315 million. Then there is the Micahel Arrington founded technology blog Tech Crunch with a whopping $4.5 million subscribers, which was again acquired by AOL for $25 million in 2005. You have traffic, the biggies will be waiting in the wings to pay you a huge some for your coveted blog. That is the way the cookie usually crumbles if you can show substantial traffic to your site.

For the gadgets aficionado there is Engadget, the blog started by the former Gizmodos editor Peter Rojas, provides information on everything that there is to know about electronic gadgetry. The popularity of the blog can be gauged by the fact that it operates ten other blogs in English and six other languages. This blog too is one of the famous purchases of AOL.

The point in sharing these examples is to showcase the tremendous power of a blog in terms of how famous it can make you and the kind of revenue you can possibly generate. Now not everyone will possibly be this successful, but one can understand that a fair degree of success is possible for anyone who is able to follow the methodologies discussed above. The degree of success of course depends upon the degree of innovation and capacity to leverage displayed by the individual.
 Nothing like Entertaining
If there is anything that people take to instantly, be it the offline world or online world it has to be entertainment. Music, dance, food, fashion and culture make the world go. And if you can put up stuff online that people find genuinely entertaining you are set to achieve success, fame and wealth.

If you are a comedian or a singer or perhaps a painter there is no better way of acquiring a fan base, than being on the Internet. People have this urge to know the smallest detail about famous entertainers-their hobbies, their food habits, their hang out joints and what it is that they wear. If you can get a sizable group of people genuinely interested in your craft, you will have them eating out of your hand, by leveraging such information on the Internet.
Get across to your target audience by writing blogs about your performances, posting videos. Give them a glimpse into your life- your joint performances with other artists, any new deals you may have signed;the works. 

You have got to remember that your success and livelihood depends upon your fans being happy. So take full advantage of this interactive platform and get to know your fans up close and personally. Respond to their comments and criticism, chat with them online, send them mails, do everything it takes to keep them hooked on to you and see where that gets you.
The thing that is of paramount importance for you should be of identifying the right niche and segment that you want to focus your energies on. If for example you are excellent at rock ballads but can sing hip hop too, rather than diluting your image by catering to both the segments, it would make sense to focus on your core competency. You will naturally attract more and better quality traffic with something you are really good at rather than in dabbling in several things you are only average at. In economics this is referred to as the theory of the comparative cost advantage.

Once you are sure of your genre, you have got to give it your all. Use blogging, social media,  and YouTube for all its worth and try and form associations everywhere. A multi pronged online approach will create opportunities which will sometimes exceed your wildest expectations. A singer might be approached by a multinational record label,  and a cookery blogger might get approached by a TV company for his own show.

The online world has so many examples of people fulfilling dreams of a lifetime simply by being on the Internet. The website College Humor was founded by  Baltimore high school friends Josh Abramson and Ricky Van Veen as a means of keeping in touch. Today it has grown significantly and receives 8 million male visitors between the ages of 18 and 24 every month. And how do they entertain? By popularising a novelty foam hand by parodying the well known ‘We’re no 1’ foam hands sold at sporting events. 

They actually used an inside joke of college students and turned it into something else. Last heard they had signed a deal with Paramount Pictures which has to do with making movies on college humour.Take the unique case of self proclaimed ‘pirate’ George Ouzounian or Mddoz who hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. He created the website, The Best Page in the universe-the name has its origin in the now defunct Yahoo policy of blocking sites which had the word best as part of the title. 

So this started off as a form of protest and took on a life of its own and eventually made one of the most controversial and visited sites because of its often vitriolic content that targets detractors. The point to be noted is that notoriety is the flip side of fame, but as long as you get the traffic and don’t break any laws, you will be attractive to marketers who will want to be a part of the action.

A similar example is that of Rotton a website dedicated to morbid curiosities. Revolting perhaps, but there are people who are drawn to this. It was started in the California Bay Area in 1996 and has grown into this great purveyor of the macabre with a dedicated fan base. Now there are regular entertainers like actors, singers, performing artists, fashion designers and of course regular people like you and me and not just the weird  eccentrics, who use the Internet to entertain, inform and engage.

You think  you have what it takes to become an entertainer make the Internet your friend. It is cheap, easily accessible and can put you in instant touch with your prospective audience. Plus you get real time feedback on your performance which you can effectively use to improve your act and make it more in line with what people want. If you get it right, in time you are bound to grow big.
Be a specialist
The Internet is a world that is teeming with people’s posts, blogs, articles, pictures, videos, e-books, games and some not so savoury content. How do you get noticed in this bewildering maze of content. Going back to the economic theory of the advantages of comparative cost, by specialising in a particular niche. Now what can that niche be? It is something that you are particularly good at. Something that you can call your own. You are so good and adept at providing that product and service there is no one else who can replace you.
The online world is driven by content or information. If you are effectively meeting specific requirements of a set of people better than anyone else be it in the shape of music that your produce or game that you create, then for that particular niche you are irreplaceable. The fact of the matter is that your target audience expects you to be an expert. So you had better be, by doing research and refining your skills. Make it your niche and yours alone and nobody else’s. 

Once you have the above sorted out and have traffic in place you can go ahead and make money from this traffic. This can be done by signing up for an affiliate program that lets advertisers place their advertisements on your site for a consideration. Not only do you make money by marketing the product or service, you also specialise in leveraging the traffic to your site to earn more money-a win-win situation for you.

You can learn from the examples of others  who have done wonderfully well for themselves by focusing on the right niche. You would be surprised that some of the best examples of niche marketing are not small timers but large corporations. Take the case of the remarkable revival in the sales of its computers by Apple. They designed silver boxes as replacement for the old black boxes which were perceived as boring and Steve Job went after designers and  Microsoft geeks and eventually re-established Apple. Or take the case of Groupon which made online coupons fashionable in preference over boring old paper coupons. Their niche? Local businesses whom they wooed with their creative writing style. Or take the case of Etsy which came as a godsend for  crafters and buyers. No longer did crafters have to depend upon summer markets and farmers markets for their income.

A classic example is Hotmail the pioneering email service provider. Sabeer Bhatia the Indian immigrant techie in the United States quickly realised the humongous possibilities by making the email a ubiquitous service that it is know. From being nearly broke to having Microsoft buy his small set up in a multi million dollar deal, Sabeer Bhatia’s is a classic tale of how correctly identifying a niche for you to exploit can one day make you a fortune.
Be special
Following up on the above where one talked about creating or discovering one’s own niche; this cannot and will not happen unless your product or service is unique and in a class of its own. Before you come to as to what makes you or your offering unique, we need to address a more basic question. Who are the people that you plan to serve? For example if you plan to be an author, you cannot be writing about everything under the sun and expect to make any headway. There would be so many like you who wouldn’t have the slightest clue about what the profile of their average reader would be. 

However if you want to be known as an author who writes books whose characters hail from Brisbane, you would be able to identify your target audience-the people of Brisbane. Now you can go all out and woo the people of Brisbane. How many authors would there all of whose characters would be from Brisbane? That would make you unique. You would be able to through you books on the city explore different facets of it. Its history, its people, its culture, its cuisine,  its entertainment hot-spots and so on.  You could literally go to town with snippets from your forthcoming books, information about the real life people and events that inspired you, the part of Brisbane you grew up in and other like trivia. By and by you would create a unique position as the definitive voice on Brisbane.
I
f you are looking for examples of uniqueness saving the day for websites, the successful ones are all unique. Take the case of Facebook which propounded a unique model of online social networking. Today there may be many copycat sites. But can they replicate even a tiny fraction of the success that accrued to it? Not a chance!. Because they were clearly not unique.

Well Facebook may be a legendary example, but there are many many more which validate the contention that being unique is the first step taken towards online celebrity and fame. Take the case of Saddleback Leather, the leather bag company par excellence. There is no other lather bag company that manages to have its aura, its personality and its fan base. Log into the website and you will come across bull fights in Mexico, travel in third world countries, the everyday joys of life and heart warming anecdotes about the owner’s pet Labrador Blue. What further touches a sympathetic chord with its core audience: ‘They will fight over it when you are dead!’

If there can be so much passion and uniqueness attributed to handbag The Mast Brothers can be forgiven their obsession with hand crafted chocolate. For that is indeed their USP,  marketing jargon that stands for Unique Selling Proposition. Rick and Michael Mast convey that “we’re from the 18th century, back when craftspeople were revered and took pride in working with their hands.” That line conveys their uniqueness unequivocally.  They drive in the uniqueness of their product by travelling by sailboat to foreign shoes to being home the best cocoa possible for their chocolates. Now wouldn’t their clientele be theirs and theirs alone for life. They naturally have gone to town on the Internet publicising the uniqueness of their products in the most unique way possible.


You may think that this is an over the top and eccentric way to prove that you are unique, but when the stakes are high can it be otherwise? Work out your uniqueness quotient before you even begin to think of making mass contact. That being said, there is nothing in this world that stops you from finding your niche.  The Internet universe is a much fairer and more democratic organism than what has ever evolved over the eons, and everybody has a fair chance at communicating with like minded individuals. This is the Internet’s greatest strength. Make it yours

Young Internet Millionaires Harnessing The Power of the Web: New Age Entrepreneurship

We have all heard stories about obscure teenagers turning into huge celebrities overnight. They are children who, by the time they came into their teens turned their  everyday hobbies and passions into multi-million dollar enterprises; all by reaching out to vast numbers of like-minded individuals on the Internet.
Before we begin to understand what it takes to bring about these tremendous transformations, let us begin by going ahead of us and taking a sneak preview into what sort of lifestyle changes a (formerly) regular person experiences, as a result of becoming an online celebrity.
Somebody like Marck Zuckerberg, the billionaire founder of Facebook cannot step out onto the street without attracting a crowd of photographers, journalists, tourists, autograph hunters and possibly a posse of policemen for their security. Then there are others like dating columnist for Times Out New York, Julia Alison, who even if not in Zuckerberg’s league, has more than 10000 people devouring her blog every day..What’s more, she has been profiled by New York Times and the New Yorker crowned her with the epithet-the most famous young journalist in the city.
You become an internet millionaire at a young age and the world is your oyster. The best cars, snazzy mansions, incredible holidays, and the best people to date-you will get all that and more. If you are really at the top of the heap every newspaper and magazine, worth their salt, would like to feature you, and there will be offers to write books (perhaps your autobiography which can be turned into a book). Large multinational corporations would like to sign business deals with you and you will be a youth icon and role model for the young of the world.

Successful Online

There are a number of people who have made a mark for themselves by skilfully using the internet to promote themselves or their business models. You will find that a great many of them started off fairly young, sometimes in their teens. All of them shared a strong belief in their conviction that they had the right product and service for which there existed a healthy market, and they gave their all in its pursuit.
If one were to look for examples, Mark Zuckerberg, the founder of social networking site, Facebook , is easily at the top of the heap. Founder and CEO of his company, Mark has a personal fortune of about $6.9 billion dollars! And to think that he started off in Middle School and boy, has he grown! Today he is one of the most widely known human beings in the world and, recently, there was a Hollywood blockbuster that documented his rise.
This is an example of a rare and unprecedented growth, but there are many many others who may not count among the world’s richest folk, but still have grown exceedingly rich and famous by any standards of the world. The success story of immigrant boy, Gurbaksh Chahalais, who was born in India and raised in California is quire inspiring. Dropping out of school at 16, he set up gWallet, and is today personally worth more than a hundred million dollars.
Quite honestly, the examples are far too numerous, but what is striking is that most of these individuals began with an original idea at a very young age and made their millions while still under 30 years of age. Never in the history of mankind, since the advent of civilisation, have so many young people made such prodigious amounts of money at such a young age.
The influence of young, happening and vivacious people with an attitude, who have the ability to influence vast numbers of their peers is borne out by the success of blogs like Missmalini where irreverence, fun and a devil may care attitude are the defining flavour.
At the same time, a highly creative and competent team that contributes to the blog, disseminates information greatly in demand by hordes of young people across the country-in the shape of real time blogs, photographs, guest write-ups, fashion and Bollywood content etc. And to think that this was started as a lark by radio DJ and gossip columnist, Malini Agarwal, who is, today, feted by film stars and revered by Huffington Post which calls her India’s most famous blogger.
It is the power of the internet which has given wings to the imagination of these new age entrepreneurs and given them the ability to soar. Truly the invention of the internet must rank as highly as the invention of the wheel, the electric bulb and the automobile, in as much that it’s impact has been epochal.

What is in it for me?

What can success on the internet give you? This is a question which has many parts and you may wonder as to what it is that becoming an internet success would hold of special significance for you? Is it about the money, the fame, the adulation, the popularity, the convergence with likeminded people, or is it about notoriety?
Well, the fact of the matter is that the internet and internet millionaires are a recent phenomenon and the judgement is yet to be out as to whether it is all good, or whether it is a mixed blessing, and, no doubt as the years go by and the golden boys of this era add a few grey hairs to their temples, sociologists and psychologists will write their theses and treatises on the subject but right now it suffices to say that the internet provides unprecedented opportunity, but along with it comes the pitfalls, which are really part of the territory if you are looking at a blazing a trail and making a name for yourself.
Consider this. The internet is a vast ocean of information which you can harness and put to use to further your own objectives. Now, your objective may be something as simple as help in your homework assignment, or you may want to run an online pizza delivery business. You may even want to write your autobiography and try to make it reach as many people as possible, across the globe. The internet empowers you to go ahead and accomplish this.
The internet will let you communicate with whoever you want, anywhere in the world. This means that you can work and be entertained with likeminded people, when you want and where you want, without being at a disadvantage because of your age, sex nationality, religion or geography. Now, this can be a tremendously liberating thing. You are free to choose who you want to work with, at what time and on what terms. The same applies to recreation and entertainment.
What this means is that the very paradigm of living life as we know it has changed. For the first time in the history of mankind, one has the truest personal freedom of choosing one’s career, where you choose your own schedule and give full rein to your creative imagination.This does not, of course, mean that there is no flip side. Of course there is, just as it is there in everything in life. There is danger of spamming, identity theft, pornography and vicious virus attacks.
But these are illegal activities and you should take all measures to protect yourself against them. If you indulge in such activities yourself, you do so at your own peril as you are breaking the law. Then there are other pitfalls, not the least among them being Internet addiction. The internet is a tool that you can use to get ahead in life and also indulge in for some harmless entertainment. If you make it the be all and end all of your life, then you will have no life to talk about.
Your online friends can never fill in for real, physical contact and interaction. Neither can online gaming take the place of a game of basketball. You have got to put things in perspective and you will be alright. Take the case of Facebook- a great way to socialise and re-establish contact with long lost friends. But you know what? Don’t be the fool who lives to update his or her status on it. Who wants to know what you had for breakfast today? Try Facebook to launch your business career or for finding employment. It lends itself very nicely to such things thanks to its vast reach.
The internet can empower you like nothing else, but you’ve got to be focussed on your goals and not get side-tracked by its many distractions. It’s like life itself. The choices you make decide where you go. You can use the internet to sell your skills and get rich. If fame is your thing, the internet gives you access to a vast audience, and if you are up to no good and indulge in dirty tricks and sleaze- well, the internet can provide notoriety too. As they say: to each his own.

Famous Online Better Than Famous Offline.

Most people in the Western world and large sections in the rest of the world have a real life persona and an online persona. This is especially true of young people, also known as the Internet generation. All most everybody these days communicates by email, rather than rely on the good old postal services. Texting and video chatting have become mainstream and e-commerce has willy nilly entered all our lives. Don’t we remit money or receive it into our bank accounts online, and haven’t we all used the credit card to make purchases online? We all swear by e-bay for God’s sake!

The point that one is trying to make here is that we have a very active online life that co-exists with our offline life. But  a debate really arises when we have to choose between performing the same function in the traditional or off line fashion or the contemporary online way. Take the case of making payments. You have the option of writing a cheque or making an online transfer. Cheques are relatively safer, but can’t match the speed or convenience of an online money transfer. 

Another example is socialising. Communicating via the net obliterates distance and time differences, but if you want to enjoy a coffee together with your friend or watch the sunset together, you have to do it offline. But the wonderful thing is that as online technology evolves we may be able to even do things that we right now consider impossible. Like smelling coffee. The coming days will see the Online vs Off line debate getting more and more interesting.

What makes online famous a different kettle of fish?
Now you might turn around and say that to me it does not matter that I got famous the old fashioned way, without having to use the Internet, and what ultimately matters is the result. You may be right and you may be wrong. While it is true that one can get famous using traditional media like TV, newspapers and magazines, one cannot claim that these media represent you and what you have comprehensively. Getting famous using the Internet on the other hand lets your target audience know you and what you stand for more intimately. They can personally connect with you on your blog, and you can chat up with them as frequently as you want. You can use analytical tools that will let you know precisely who is interested in your offering and how many of those are establishing contact.

The thing about being spotted on the Internet is that it is a very democratic and a cheap as well as fair process where everybody gets a shot at being successful, whereas in the traditional model you need to knows how to work the levers of the system for things to really work for you. Entertainer PaulaAbdul one time judge of American Idol felt that there weren’t enough avenues for young people to go out there, showcase their talent and get famous. So she launched an online service called Audition Booth which lets budding talents  upload their videos which will then be available to talent scouts. They can also search the site for upcoming gigs and auditions and send across their credentials. This site is free for people to use, though there is a premium service as well which is available for a charge.

Look at this in another manner. In the old days one relied on one’s family, community, society and church to get along in life.At that time one needed that support. As time went along and technology reduced our dependence on people, one’s number of friends and acquaintances dropped dramatically. In the modern era, the time immediately preceding the Internet saw most people having about three people they counted as friends. Which was fine except that you could not use the three to spread the word about say the new book you wrote. You would have to pay professionals to do that.

With the advent of Internet all of that has changed. The average person has more than a hundred friends on the various social networking sites and these are a valuable resource in case you want the word spread about something. Word can spread like a viral infection on the Internet and make a mega celebrity out of nobody in a matter of two or three days. This even has a term-viral marketing. So you see the Internet has changed the rules of the game completely and the goal posts have been moved a lot closer for everyone’s convenience.

Be known online
The online world has assumed a huge amount of significance in today’s times and this is only going to grow and grow. It would therefore stand you in very good stead to mark your presence in it in a very telling way.You simply have to develop your social presence in a manner that you are effectively able to leverage your attributes, skills, likes and dislikes to a vast and appropriate audience. 

Social networking sites led by Facebook and Twitter are fast and ruthlessly efficient enablers of this- far more effective than traditional media like newspapers and television, and best of all cheaply available and accessible to everyone.Today the youth are defining and constantly re-shaping and evolving the digital world by their socialising, entertaining, learning and studying and following the latest trends online. You are not a part of it, you are dead. Period. 

In order to be heard you have to be on top of the form. E-mail and Instant Messaging are baby steps in this world. You have to be part of online communities where you contribute actively and constantly interact while at the same time learning to innovate. Be it blogging, web-casting, trending, on-line trading-your transactions will build up for you an online profile by which people will gauge you. Much like in the world of finance, each country or for that matter each individual has a credit rating, so it is in the world of the Internet. You have to make your presence felt.

The power of the Internet as a harbinger of change was brought home by the highly effective way in which Arab youth were able to harness its power to bring about The Arab Spring. This was something the previous generations could not achieve, as they did not have the tremendous power of the Internet at their disposal. We are in the throes of the mighty digital revolution and the youth are the ones who are driving it and it is in their individual interest to put their individual stamp on it.

Uninterrupted Economic Success
The Internet is a medium that can be effectively used to achieve overnight success. Now whether this success is a flash in the pan or sustainable over a long period of time depends upon how you play the game. Overnight success does not come to many and the lucky few who get it might have worked really hard to achieve it or might have been plain lucky, but what is important is how they manage it, or whether they are able to sustain it or indeed grow it.

The Internet not only empowers the individual but by extension the community, the nation and finally the world. In countries like  India for example with every passing year Internet penetration increases and with it increases the opportunity for the Indian youth who have already gained a formidable reputation for their IT prowess, to make India the crucible of new ideas and innovation. 

This has the potential to pitch folk the Indian nation way ahead of where it is now and quite rapidly, and truly become the world’s economic power house. India with its democracy, rule of law and well established institutions patterned after those of the West is perhaps better equipped to achieve this than an at present richer, but dictatorial China, which denies its citizens the freedom to think freely and therefore innovate, a prerequisite in this bold new world of the Internet with its ever evolving and changing by the minute paradigm.

Truly living the Internet life will be the ultimate game changer for mankind and we are in the throes of a lifestyle metamorphosis which is of no less significance than the momentous occasion millions of years ago when man first learnt to walk upright. Nothing is going to be the same again.