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Monday, October 28, 2013

Offline Direct Marketing Strategies

Niche businesses are the best way to go online. Putting your business on autopilot is huge step toward making it a success. By reprint rights and turn them into affiliate programs. Take reseller programs and turn them into affiliate programs. Advance notification of special offers.

Be open to new technologies - even if it makes you uncomfortable. Be open to changes in business. Accept and embrace the possibilities of any media.

Maximizing the lifetime value of a customer should always be your primary goal. Focus on backend marketing - selling other products to customers who have already bought from you. Use great salescopy and work the backend.

It requires a greater level of sophistication to make money online today. It's complicated and complex. A person with discipline and the determination to get it right and prosper.

Offline advertising driving traffic online can give a big boost to the bottom line. Combine electronic and hard copy.

  1. Do your model, tweak it.
  2. Do your sales process and pricing.
  3. Get your back end and your marketing model done. The goal is to get a working model that makes money.
 4. Get offline and reproduce the same model to generate a new revenue stream.

Remember that results with one media are indicative but not predictive of results with another media. Test online (offer, price, guarantee, headline, benefits etc) then take your winners and test them offline - you'll have an increased chance of success.

Integrate online and offline worlds

A good online model has a good chance of working offline and vice-versa. Your R&D budget should always include marketing promotion testing. Offline equity is more than online equity.

The best way to earn credibility is to practice what you preach.

Find a group of people who have a problem that needs a solution or a neglected group in need of attention. Go after a niche and take that small little market that nobody cares about and nobody thinks you ever could make money at and make tons of money. Monopolize that market.

Create your own product, then you own it and you control it. Make yourself go through the needle. To make serious money, acquire skills and knowledge. Learn the fundamentals of direct marketing and information marketing. Then keep reinventing and expanding your business over and over again.

Always seek more information and more strategies. Duplicate others successes - learn from the best and model your efforts after what has worked for them. Train yourself to endure, not to enjoy short-term success.

The Internet is not a business, it's a communication medium. To be a success, you need a business plan and you need to be willing to try more than one media or strategy. Real business involves acquiring customers with that media and then serving those customers repeatedly.

Create a business plan to acquire, serve and capitalize on customers. The media is a way to acquire more customers but your business needs to be your first concern. Niche marketing is easier online than offline. People with well defined interests and problems congregate in forums, websites and email lists.

Take something generic and turn it into a niche. Example : Piano lessons --> Play by Ear --> Gospel or Jazz. This strategy works well because of tighter message to market.

Letters from X, sell in demand merchandise

1. List passion.
2. Write problem statements. Checkout groups and forums.
3. Research supply and demand.
4. Find a solution to the problem.
5. Find out if they will pay for the solution.

Sell anything you can think of. Check out CafePress. Search for 'Reprint Rights + Your Topic'. You can sell software, ebooks, paid subscription newsletter, members only site. Use Google suggest : 'How to fix X'.

100:1 is good supply / demand ratio. KEI > 1 is good. Ariel or Verdana, white background, black font. Make sure web page can load faster - compress html. Quantify in headline. Ezine hub, newsletter access, ezine locator.

Top 100,000 rank is good for super affiliate. Ranking, Link popularity. 50 - 100 keywords, key phrases. For keyword tracking use Click Plan

Prequalify Leads

1. Website for generating leads. Get many more targeted leads.
2. Website for direct sales.
3. Low cost customer service.
4. Sell back-end products / services.
5. Build loyalty with customers.

Why self publish ebooks?

Why self publish? 
 
  - Publishers don't consider books that don't sell certain number of copies.
  - Publish control approval, distribution, printing and know-how of publishing.
  - Free ebook creation
  - Distribution is democratized. Readers care about author and not who published it
  - Professional publishing best practices are available to authors for free.
  - Traditional publishers are losing monopoly
  - Competitive advantage over traditional publishers. Better job of reaching readers. Traditional publishers tend to price the product high that can hurt sales.
  - No longer the last option for a writer
  - The global sales of your ebook

Self published author == Indie authorship

Why ebooks?

  - It's a growing market. Print books are shrinking market.
  - People prefer changeable font size.
  - Lower cost than print
  - Huge selection
  - Convenient browsing and purchasing
  - Countries outside the US are entering the exponential growth phase of their ebook markets

Advantages of Self Publishing

 - Faster time to market
 - Creative control
 - Better distribution to global market
 - Ebooks never go out of print
 - Lower expenses
 - Lower prices to consumers
 - Earn more per book (60 - 80 % vs 12 - 17 %)

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Converting Your Private PDF Files to Text Files

1. Split the file into several files using online pdf file splitting tool. Each split file should be 2 MB or less.
2. Convert each of the split PDF to text file by following the steps in the Optical Character Recognition (OCR) in Google Docs Tutorial video.
3. Name the converted text file as the name of the pdf_number where number can be 1, 2, 3 and so on depending on the number of text files.

Reducing Clutter to Create Space for Writing

I bought Fujitsu Scanner to convert printed material to PDFs. It helped me to reduce clutter and simplify my workspace. It is now easier to find my research material and focus on writing books. Now when you scan the printed materials scanner allows you to use OCR which will allow you to search the scanned PDFs but the problem is that it slows down the scanning.

Enter Google, now you can easily convert any PDFs that you can share publicly by following the instructions below.

Convert Scanned PDFs to Text

Create a folder in your website and upload all the PDF images to that folder. Now create a public web page that links to all the PDF files. Wait for the Google bots to spider your site.

Once done, type the query "site:example.com/pdf filetype:pdf" to see the PDF documents as HTML.

Evernote is an alternative to Google OCR conversion. But it provides you a way to convert your private PDFs to text.

Reference: Convert Scanned PDFs to Text

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Straw-Man, Wood-Man, Tin-Man, Iron-Man

Here is a process for getting quick feedback to write a compelling book that readers want to buy.

Straw-Man

Straw-Man version is the first draft. The quickest way to create the first version is to have your friend ask you questions about the topic and you answer them. You can record this session as a video.

Define the scope of your book by stating what you will cover and what you will not cover. Use constraints to your advantage, for instance : This book will be about 100 pages. I will spend a weekend to create the Straw-Man version.

It is also a good idea to list top 3 problems that you will address in your book. Practical, hands-on approach to the book that helps the readers to accomplish their primary goal will be easy to sell and spread by word of mouth.

For programming books, you can come up with some examples you will use to illustrate the concepts. The first example will obviously be an hello world example.

Get the video transcribed on Elance or Odesk. Revise the transcript and make it flow smooth by arranging the sequence of concepts. Work your way backwards and create a table of contents for the draft version. To create table of contents you have to group paragraphs into sections and sections into chapters.

Wood-Man

Use the Straw-Man version material to teach a small group of people (2-3). This will create what Napolean Hill calls as the Master Mind. Record the teaching session. Students will ask questions on things that is not clear. Answer them. Also observe your students and see if they are able to accomplish the learning objectives. It is important that your material helps them. Because your promise in the beginning of the book must be fulfilled if you want to be one of the best selling books.

After the class, revise your material again based on the feedback. This will result in Wood-Man version of the book.

Tin-Man

You can have a group of 5 to 10 to teach a class and repeat the process as before.

Iron-Man

Take the previous version of your book and make a presentation to an audience of 50 to 100 people. You will have to answer people at various skill levels which will be a challenge. After revising the material you will end up with the Iron-Man version.

Your book eventually becomes a proxy for you. It is able to handle more students as you progress through the different levels.

Remember that Iron-Man has his weakness. This version does not mean your book is perfect. Aiming for perfection will not help you publish the first version. You can always refine your book later based on reader feedback.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

WoodMan Version of First Two Hours of Test Driven Development Course

The following WoodMan version of the two hour tutorials sold out very quickly. The lessons were broken down into 10 minutes segment that is easily digestible. It gradually increases the level of complexity.
Who is it for?
This is for beginners. You are new to TDD or only heard about TDD.
Prerequisites
1. You already know the basics of programming.
2. You know basic Ruby.
3. You have already installed Ruby 1.9.x or 2.0, RSpec 2.x and your favorite IDE on your laptop.
What will I Learn?
You will learn about :
• Assertions
• Test First Programming.
• Problem Solving Techniques : 
-  Obvious Implementation
-  Fake It Till You Make It
-  Problem decomposition : Divide and Conquer
• Designing experiments to answer your own questions and learn on your own
• Validating your ideas by running tests
Overview
If you complete the exercises you will walk away with strong foundation to learn more about TDD on your own or attend subsequent TDD classes that will build upon this foundation.
You will be able to use TDD on simple problems like Factorial, Fibonacci etc. You can apply these TDD concepts to any language.
Structure
• Introduction         -  10 Minutes
Your Background
Where did TDD come from?
What is TDD?
Why TDD?
When is TDD applicable?
• Demo      1           -  10 Minutes
What is not Test First Programming? Developing a calculator example : addition and subtraction.
What is an assertion?
How to use assertions?
• Exercise   1           -  10 Minutes
Extend the calculator example to implement multiplication and division.
Applying Obvious Implementation to solve problems
• Discussion             -   10 Minutes
Making your code robust.
Why use testing frameworks?
What is Design By Contract?
• Exercise   2            -  10 Minutes
Make the calculator class robust by applying Design By Contract
• Demo      2            -  10 Minutes
Test First Programming using RSpec. Developing a calculator example : addition and subtraction.
• Exercise   3            -  10 Minutes
Implement multiplication and division using Test First Programming.
• Guided Exercise  1  -  20 Minutes
Implement Factorial by using Test First Programming.
Discovering the public API
Making examples executable
Applying Fake It Till You Make It
• Wrap Up                -  20 Minutes
Summarize lessons learned. Q&A.
The presentation will give you the background and the demo will illustrate how to apply the concepts. You will then practice TDD by working on coding exercises. I will conclude the session by reviewing the solution to the exercises.
Required Software
You need to have Ruby 1.9.x or 2.0 and RSpec 2.x already installed before the class. We don't have time to deal with installation issues. I will NOT spend any time on installation issues during the class. Send me an email before the event to get help on any installation problems.
Refunds
In order to reduce no-shows, you need to pay for this event. You will get a full refund when you show up for the event or change the RSVP to No by Oct 18.
If you don't change your RSVP to No or you don't show up, then you will NOT get any refund.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Creating Straw-Man Version of the Book

Straw-Man Version of Your Book

Straw-Man version is the draft version of your book material. You want to get feedback from your customers from the draft version. I scheduled an event using meetup.com to teach 3 students the material from the first chapter of the book. The learnings for me from this meetup can eventually become the first hour of a 10 to 15 hours online course. 

By watching the student's reaction and answering their questions, I can refine the material and it will eventually become the Wood-Man version. Forming a group also creates what is called the Master Mind by Think and Grow Rich. 

Testing involves evaluating the material by judging whether it accomplishes the learning objectives or not. This can only be done by allowing the students to work on exercises to evaluate their understanding of the material. 

Here is the event details page:

TDD for Beginners : Writing your First Test

Who is it for?

This is for beginners. You are new to TDD or only heard about TDD. 

Prerequisites

1. You already know the basics of programming.
2. You know basic Ruby.
3. You have already installed Ruby 1.9.x or 2.0 and RSpec 2.x on your laptop.

What will I Learn?

You will learn about assertions and Test First Programming. 

Overview

If you complete the exercises you will walk away with strong foundation to learn more about TDD on your own or attend subsequent TDD classes that will build upon this foundation. You will be able to use TDD on simple problems like Factorial, Fibonacci etc. You can apply these TDD concepts to any language. 

Structure 

• Presentation      -  20 Minutes
• Demo               -  20 Minutes 
• Exercise            -  30 - 45 Minutes
• Solution Review -  20 Minutes

The presentation will give you the background and the demo will illustrate how to apply the concepts. You will then practice TDD by working on coding exercises. I will conclude the session by reviewing the solution to the exercises.

Required Software  

You need to have Ruby 1.9.x or 2.0 and RSpec 2.x already installed before the class. We don't have time to deal with installation issues. I will NOT spend any time on installation issues during the class. Send me an email before the event to get help on any installation problems.

Refunds
In order to reduce no-shows, you need to pay for this event. You will get a full refund when you show up for the event or change the RSVP to No by Oct 11. 

If you don't change your RSVP to No or you don't show up, then you will NOT get any refund.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Creating ERRC Grid for Your Book

Step 1 :

Find the top 3 books in your topic on Amazon. Read the reviews and create a document with the following sections: Positive Factors, Negative Factors. I was able to create additional sections due to large number of reviews such as Where to Go Next, In Scope, Out of Scope and Topics.

Step 2 :

Classify
: Group similar items that you find in the reviews. Phrases might be similar that expresses the same concept. Combine and merge them into just one phrase. For instance, in my research readers liked :

Practical and hands-on, Step by step approach
Very concise and educational.
Easy to Understand, Clear, Easy-to-follow, Plain spoken explanation

I logically grouped these phrases. Now I can go a level up in abstraction like this:

Delivery Style

Practical and hands-on, Step by step approach
Very concise and educational.

Readability 

Easy to Understand, Clear, Easy-to-follow, Plain spoken explanation

So in this case, the factors that buyers use to make a buying decision are Delivery Style and Readability. One of the reviewer actually based his rating by breaking his rating into different criteria:

Readability
Coverage of topics
Depth of coverage
Credibility
Accuracy
Relevance to software quality

Then gave the Overall rating based on the average of the above scores.

Step 3 :


Create this grid in a big sheet of paper. I use the 'Premium Self Stick Easel Pad'. Fill out each sections of the grid. Factors are the characteristics of the book that the readers use to make a buying decision. These factors can be derived from the Amazon reviews. This research is fuzzy, so expect some difficulty in analyzing the reviews.

Eliminate will contain the Negative Factors. Create will contain things that most of the top 3 books did not provide, if you cannot think of factors then one of the book did not provide. Raise is where you amplify what readers liked but the existing books did not provide enough of it. Reduce is where you list things that must be lowered because readers don't want it to be covered in depth.


Eliminate and Reduce steps helps you simplify your book. Create and raise list will make your book unique, helping you to come up with a unique selling proposition.


Here is the ERRC grid for my book :

Eliminate

Humor                                    [I am not a comedian. Reader can read some other book for that purpose]
Digressions
Developing Frameworks
Third-party version problems
In-depth coverage of the subject [Not in Straw-Man version, maybe later based on feedback]
Chapter on how to do TDD in different languages [Not in Straw-Man version, maybe later based on feedback]
UI Testing material is unique
Web application
Tips, tricks and strategies to using TDD tools [Refer them to other books for tool specific material]

Database related testing
Race conditions [Explain in the section on scope when TDD is insufficient. TDD is not a silver bullet]
Rambling
Repetition in case study
Bloat


Reduce

Non-Linear Coverage of Topics   [Connect new concepts to what they just learned to increase comprehension]
Collection of Notes and Tips        [They don't need my book if I don't add value to existing resources]
Good presentations on XP and Agile Modeling [Provide only enough details to set the context in the introduction]
Discussion on test coverage tool
Explains how to use TDD tools [Cover only just enough to discuss the TDD concepts]

Raise

Real World Examples
Design Principles
Show Misconceptions and Mistakes

Coherence
Practical advice
Practical and Hands-On

Clear and Concise
It is easy to understand for a beginner
A good foundation for understanding TDD
Well Defined Scope                            [The author had failed to establish the expectation for the reader]
Explanation of the TDD process and its benefits
Explain Thought Process of didactic examples
Explain the thought process of developing a complete application
From inception to the finished product
Supports the daily development work as well as the planning for a TDD project
The next best thing to sitting down for a pair-programming session with a TDD guru.
Downloadable code examples
Well organized

In depth coverage of mocks
Discuss what tests to write
Design Insights
Clear code format


Create

Code for Every Section
Examples in Different Languages
Hands-on Exercises
Solution Checkpoints
Domain Driven Design Concepts
Code Mutation Tool  (Heckle)

Head First Style [Version 2]
Put framework related material on the website where it can be updated
Provide code that is error free
Provide final and intermediate versions of the code. Code showing Before / After for each lesson.
Provide link to code repository to document the evolution of the code, checking the code in at the end of each test.


Now you have a blueprint for your book. Use this to create your Straw-Man version of your book. I will discuss about how to evolve your book from Straw-Man, Wood-Man, Tin-Man to Iron-Man in my next blog post.