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One Guy's Thoughts On Technology, Social Media, Internet Marketing, Artificial Intelligence, and more


Archive for December, 2009

My Summary of 2009

Originally I intended to write a summary of “my 2009″. But after reevaluating this, I decided to make it shorter.. or better phrased, easier to digest. Just share some of the lessons I learned this year. I’m mixing both the personal and the professional here, though items are generally grouped together.

Overall, 2009 was a great year. There were some rough moments, both personal and professional, but the positives far outweigh the negatives.

In 2009 I learned:

  • That as suspected, having no boss and being self employed would result in (easily) more than twice the amount of hours that I worked when I had a boss. Even when considering investment banking (notorious for demanding a lot of hours).


  • That even though I am smart, an excellent planner and a hard worker… I sometimes lack focus. And focus matters more than I realized. This one was a very valuable lesson.


  • That working insane hours but having much more time to spend with your family is SOOOOOOO worth it.


  • That working after 4am can cause you the equivalent of a hangover. Since then I try (and often fail) not to do so.


  • That “Do No Evil” is just something that Google says, but nothing more than that.
  • .. and that things can change in a way you’d never expect: Who knew I would ever be rooting for Microsoft?


  • That twitter is not just about sharing “what I just ate” (admittedly, I used to think so too) but rather a wonderful, albeit addictive, medium for meeting friends and making business connections.
  • …yet sharing “what I just ate” occasionally results in the most fascinating discussions.


  • That Twitter includes the entire range of the human spectrum: the best, kindest and most wonderful people you’ll ever meet, and also some of the worst. And that “Block” is a wonderful option for the latter.


  • That Twitter allows one to find many people who need help but don’t know how to ask for it.
  • … but also that it’s wise to draw lines, otherwise you may get pulled in and (at times) blamed for some of their troubles. A lesson I learned the hard way.


  • That some celebrities are extremely friendly, and yet other people at times act like the worst celebrities regardless of the fact they’re no different than you and I (often less, actually).


  • That being a Twitter ex-con makes you tougher… kind of. Okay, it just makes you less talkative which may make you appear tougher (see my blog post on Twitter Jail).


  • That blogging about “professional subjects” leaves enough room for humor and self expression (until this year I’ve only had personal blogs).


  • That some spammers have a well honed sense of humor (see my two posts on spammers: spammers types, and spammers jokes).


  • That a good affiliate manager is worth his/her weight in gold (and if we’re talking about a really thin one, then platinum).


  • That sometimes you really need to listen to your instincts, but other times you really need to ignore them. Both professionally (in this case, talking CPA offers/Landing pages/Ad copy), and personally.


  • That due to the secretive nature of affiliate marketing, the good ideas usually stay with you, while the bad ideas get rehashed, repackaged, and resold.
  • …and I wish I could say more about the former…


  • That PPV is just awesome.
  • … but other times it’s not fun watching your entire budget evaporate in 20 minutes without any positive results.


  • That the most successful people – at least in affiliate marketing – are usually the most modest ones (or the most silent ones – sometimes it’s easy to confuse the two).


  • That it’s hard finding people who truly want to collaborate as a team. But when you do… it’s the best thing.


  • That quotes are a great way of saying what you want to say without saying it. And that sometimes this is very important (yes, being cryptic is part of the point here ;-) )


  • That some friends don’t even give the tiniest of warnings before they decide this world is not for them. Kaya, I wish I got to know you better before you left us. I hope you are at peace, wherever you are. (I intended for this to be the last item, but I don’t want the last one to be sad… and the next one relates in a way Kaya would have found amusing, I think).


  • That being deprived of cupcakes is extremely dangerous (more about that in future posts).


  • That I can survive on my own cooking (who knew?).


  • That having a character named after you in a book is, like, the coolest gift ever.

Can you believe it’s already 2010? I feel it was just 2000 maybe 2 years ago… how did a whole decade pass so quickly? Personally, I think 2010 is going to be fantastic – I just know it.

Happy new year everyone!


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Twitter Jail
Thanks Krishna Sadasivam from pcweenies for drawing this awesome comic!

Lately this term is becoming increasing used within the Twitterverse (at least in my circles). Twitter Jail means you maxed out your status updates for a period of time/a day (I think these are two separate things, though not 100% sure), OR you maxed out your number of Direct Messages (DMs) for the day.

(Edit: as far as I discovered, Twitter Jail occurs when you update your status more than 100 times per hour or 1000 times per day and can last any time between 30 minutes and several hours. For me it’s usually 2 hours).

Once this happens – usually in the midst of a conversation – you find out that you can’t talk anymore. Can happen both using standards tweets or DMs.

I imagine this was created to deal with spammers who would send 15,000 tweets in 10 minutes. I doubt it was meant to limit very talkative users – since what’s to stop someone from just unfollowing them? I see no reason to limit that.

Lately because of my increasing number of friends I find myself almost daily in ‘Twitter Jail’ for a period of time. This is very frustrating, because here I am, chatting to multiple friends, and suddenly I can’t reply – to anyone. From their perspective, I simply vanished. Usually I send them all DMs, but it’s becoming a really annoying daily situation. Sometimes it happens when I’m not even talking that much. I guess Christmas, with all the ‘Merry Xmas’ messages made this temporary worse (for me) and triggered writing this post.

As an ex profsesional software developer and architect I cannot but speculate, again, that this was done mainly to prevent spamming. However, wouldn’t it be best to limit the number of links that are sent, rather than the tweets? Since spammers mainly send URLs, by limiting only the number of tweets that include them it would really just target spammers. Then they can talk as much as they want but won’t get any sales… though I’d still have a limit, just make it much greater (say, 5 times as high).

Furthermore, if it were my system, I would set the limits according to the age of users: clearly a spammer is more likely to be a new user since sooner or later he’d be suspended. Unlike, for example, a user that has been a Twitter user for 2 years who would be far less likely to be a spammer. There’s no reason for the two to be treated the same.

Finally, I also think the limits should be set according to the number of people who follow a user: if someone has a million followers and wanted to respond to each, he’d be thrown very quickly to Twitter jail. Ridiculous in my opinion. If you have more people to talk to, you should be able to converse more. Isn’t that the whole point of Twitter – interaction?

These are just my 2 cents on the subject. If this ever gets to someone in the Twitter team, hopefully they will find it constructive criticism, which is my intent.

edit: I am amazed how searched this topic is. A large percentage of visitors to my blog look for information about Twitter Jail. As a result, I wrote a sequel post which deals with visitors who are interested in Twitter Jail.

edit 2: since writing these two posts I actually discovered yet a third type of Twitter Jail: Twitter Jail: Yet Another Type…. They never stop coming with ideas, do they..


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Twitter Money


A conversation I often have with fellow internet marketers who are not in Twitter is: is it worth the time investment from a financial perspective? Usually I am told that this is obviously not the case, and thus, disregarding the fact it’s a good way to befriend people, it’s not a good investment in terms of time and money.

Although I know some people who have been monetizing Twitter rather successfully, my answer is: yes, this is right in the short term, but no in the longer term. Yes, I’ve made some money using Twitter with SponsoredTweets and Ad.Ly, as well as the occasional affiliate offer, but overall if one wants to monetize his time, then there are definitely easier to make money online.

That being said, every day I meet great people and make many useful business connections. To use one example, if it weren’t for Twitter, I wouldn’t have met the incredible, pancake loving, Darren Williger (@williger) who invited me to participate as a panelist in a webinar series which is not only great fun, but will be monetized soon as well. Nor would I have been invited to ad:tech as press (yes, I came thanks to this blog – but ad:tech heard of my blog through Twitter). Or be invited to the MarketLeverage VIP Yacht Party during Affiliate Summit East (which obviously was an event many would have paid to participate in and was incredible from a networking perspective).

Personally, I think this is just the beginning. The more time passes, the more people I know, the greater my online presence and the possible networking that I can do. So judging Twitter just by the immediate ROI is a mistake, in my opinion. Ask me again in 6 to 12 months and I’m confident I will have significantly better examples than the ones I’ve given.

This conclusion is emphasized by the fact I’ve been very active on Twitter for a rather short amount of time – only since the end of July 2009 (though I did register in March).


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Too busy

I know I haven’t been here for a while. Things were incredibly busy for me, and I kept postponing updating my blog. However, when the third person asked me whether I’ve abandoned it, I realized it is time to post something.

Unlike other posts, I’ll just write what I’ve been up to. I have several posts I intend to publish soon, but they’ll have to wait a bit.

In the past few weeks I’ve:

  1. Finally turned my company, U Labs, into a legal entity. This meant (finally) forming an LLC, getting it a bank account, a credit card, commissioning a logo, commissioning a professional looking website (not that the one I created using Wordpress is bad, but well, it did take me around 30 minutes to make – I want to make a better impression than that). This is still not complete.


  2. Had to comply with the new FTC regulations regarding affiliates. This meant going one by one to every single site I have and adding certain disclaimers and making changes where this makes sense. Since I have no sponsored posts in this blog, I actually didn’t add any here. I did receive several offers in the past to do so, but I always thought they would stick out and felt I had to reject them. Of course, I’ll be honest, if the price was more, uhm, tempting, I might’ve made a different decision, but for now every single post I have written was initiated by myself – I’ve sponsored nothing here for money.


  3. Started participating in a weekly series of webinar events as a panelist. In the past few months I’ve joined a fantastic mastermind group that consists of seasoned internet marketers who share their wisdom in weekly calls. This series of webinars is but one of our joint projects. Last week we had our first (and test) session: despite some technical hiccups, it went extremely well. Our goal is to share our expertise on various subjects. In this session I discussed basic aspects of SEO and intend to do this a lot more in the coming weeks. More information soon. I’ll just say this was phenomenally fun – I had a blast!


  4. Started a massive hunt of ad networks. From various reasons, I’m looking for good ad networks, particularly those that provide decent traffic volume, easy to configure campaigns (without requiring to go through an account manager) and (ideally) international traffic as well. Fortunately, ad:tech occurred pretty recently and was a good source of those, so I started going one by one and testing every network I found. In addition, I posted some questions in forums and tried these sources as well. This takes time. Unfortunately, money too – but no pain no gain. Any suggestions would be welcome, by the way!


  5. Had my mother as a guest for 10 days. ’nuff said, no? :)

I expect to have more time soon and then I’ll return to blogging more consistently.


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