Blog Business World

Blogs in business, marketing, public relations, and SEO search engine optimization for successful entrepreneurs

Sunday, February 29, 2004


Business blogs help in search engines

Business blogs give your website a boost in the search engine rankings, particularly with Google, Yahoo search, and Microsoft's MSN search.

I have been saying that for awhile, not only here on this blog, but also in my article at SEO Chat called Blogs and Search Engine Optimization.

The latest person to agree with me and to echo what I have been saying is noted internet observer Garrett French. Thanks to The Blog Herald for the link.

Like me, Garrett believes that it will take some real creativity to make money from your blog, however. Unlike Garrett, I am more optimistic that blogging can be monetized by extendng the definition of blogging revenue to include freelance writing and employment.

Garrett French also agrees with me that blogs are a media news source of the future. Bloggers had better be prepared to work with professional mainstream journalists in the future.

Keep in mind that not all journalists will be familiar with, or even friendly towards blogs. It's up to us to clear their path, and make their visits to blogs a pleasant and helpful one.

By being courteous to mainstream media people, blogs can go a long way toward acceptance as a major news source. Already, bloggers are being quoted in the major media on important news stories. Recently Jeremy Wright of Ensight was quoted in the prestigious Washington Post regarding the delayed Google IPO. More such interviews with bloggers will be forthcoming in the future.

There will be more upcoming articles about the value of business blogs, and their power in the search engines. As more people become aware of the blogging secret to search engine success, there will be many more business bloggers out there on the internet.

As most of you already know, the blog advantage is regularly updated keyword rich content, coupled with many incoming links from other blogs and websites.

That is the recipe for high search engine rankings.

Blog serve those rankings up as the main course.

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Saturday, February 28, 2004


Blog News Agency: Could it work?

Adam Curry has formulated the idea of a Blog News Agency. Thanks to Trudy Schuett for the link.

The Blog News Agency would be a cetnralized global network, providing blog based news to the mainstream media. As most of us are already aware, the major news media currently scour the blogs for newsworthy article ideas.

Anyone who has been blogging for any period of time knows how much of a challenge finding story ideas can be. The same difficulties face journalists as their deadlines loom. They need a story idea.

A Blog News Agency could go a long way toward providing regular story ideas, whether in politics, other news, sports, or lifestyle articles. The many blogs have them all and much much more.

Another interesting aspect of Adam Curry's idea is the paying of bloggers. In his scenerio, bloggers would be paid through the PayPal system for their blog stories.

Contibuting bloggers would be freelance writers under the Agency. Since bloggers regularly are seeking new sources of revenue, writing for the mainstream media outlets, would form another one. It would also be a reputable income source.

The mainstream news media are constantly searching for cost effective ways to provide more indepth news. Bloggers are always looking for methods of making some money from their blogs. The match is a good one.

Let's see where Adam Curry and his Blog News Agency wind up.

It may be good for everyone involved.

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Friday, February 27, 2004


We're on the blogging radio

Blogging as a radio show?

It might work.

The fertile mind of Jeremy Wright has brought forth the concept of blogging on radio.

At first blush, the concepts of blogs and radio would seem to be miles apart. On closer examination, however, they seem to have more in common than one would think.

Bllogging is an internet medium and in many ways, radio is a blogging medium as well. News stories on radio tend to be brief and immediate in a similar vein as blog entries.

Talk radio is blogging writ large, complete with comments on and references to, other writers, and news stories. The most popular talk radio hosts opine on news and current events, with references, in the same manner as bloggers.

The step from blog to radio program would be a small transition.

An internet radio show on blogging just might take flight.

The important point, for blogging on radio, would be to utilize the burgeoning idea of internet radio programs. Over the airwaves radio, heavily controlled by very few owners, would not be the place to test an unproven concept.

Like blogs themselves, internet blogging would be on the cutting edge of technological communications. The independent internet radio stations, eager for strong and reliable content, would probably welcome a blogging show with open mikes.

Internet radio could take full advantage of the diversity of the blogging community. Several show themes, from business to technology to news commentary would be readily available. There would even be room for the more personal journal type blogs, as a lifestyle section.

Jeremy Wright's idea has merit.

Let's see what becomes of it.

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Thursday, February 26, 2004


Farm Computers I Have Known

***Here is a change of pace for your reading enjoyment. This is a humour column I sold to a Canadian farm publication a couple of years ago. For those who don't know, agriculture is one of the several sources of income I have to draw upon. By its very nature, it's harder to money from that industry, than making a living by writing. On that note, without further adieu, here is the story***

Farm Computers I Have Known

I bought a computer. It seemed like the thing to do. Most farm publications offered the same advice. Get a computer now, was their common refrain. Visions of a bright new agricultural horizon swirled like a dust devil through my head. Not wanting to be left in the technological dust, I followed the experts’ advice. I bit the bullet, or perhaps I bit the byte, and entered the world of technology.

Like all new toys, the computer became the focal point of the household. That is, if overwhelming an entire room makes for cutting edge interior design. Fortunately for me, crowded bookshelves, calendar covered walls, and a battery charger in the living room are not the dream of interior decorators either. Unsightliness was not an issue. I didn’t care. I was computing.

After connecting up the printer and speakers with a screen and a huge box like thing referred to as a tower, I was set to go to work. If I could translate the hieroglyphics posing as an instructional diagram, anything was possible. I would create and account and maybe even do a bit of field mapping. I had used a computer in the world of employment and considered myself to be vaguely computer literate. I defined computer literacy as the ability to find the power button. Knowing a mouse from a floppy is something everyone from the farm understands. I had this thing covered. I pushed the power button and waited for the entire thing to spring to life. Nothing happened.

An eerie sensation overcomes a person when a piece of equipment fails to operate as expected. Am I at fault, or is the machine in need of immediate medical attention? I suspected both possibilities. I fiddled with the cables and wires and discovered that at least I had it plugged into the outlet. I had visions of money flushed into the regions beneath any septic tank. Something was wrong.

My confidence in my technological skills was draining faster than my neighbour’s pothole into my wheat field. I had to find a solution. I was reminded of the purchase of a new swather that arrived with the knife improbably placed upside down. That I could remedy. It has long been a personal policy to never ask for directions when locating an unknown destination. A little time and patience is all that is needed. After a lot of time and the end of my patience, I was baffled.

No amount of tweaking and poking was getting the desired result. On the verge of ending the problem with axe and sledgehammer, I sought professional help. I asked my mother for assistance. After asking me if I had the contraption plugged into an outlet and receiving an answer in the affirmative, she suggested that I call the dealer.

I knew it. I had to do it. The new toy had to be packed into its original box and returned for repairs. The humiliation was beyond mortal comprehension as I explained the failure of the technology, and downplayed the human element. With a counter side manner that would make a kindly family physician envious, the dealer assured me all would be well. I accepted the reassurances and returned home.

There, where the computer had proudly taken its place, was an empty void. Cords and cables were connected to nothing but open air. The screen was dark and the printer was silent. I endured fitful sleep for two days. The worry was too much to bear. Soon, I told myself, the computer would be home and all would be well. After having survived being stuck in the mud for two days while combining, I was capable of surviving the stress.

On the third day, after the sacrifice, the computer was returned home. I failed to fully comprehend what had gone awry, but the conversation seemed to centre around the need to reload the operating system, or something like that. The transplant had been a successful one, and I was assured that I could now compute until my eyes hurt, or my behind did, whichever occurred first.

Flushed with renewed enthusiasm, I reconnected the cords and cables in rough approximations of their earlier locations; give or take a few creative variations on the untranslatable diagrams. I punched the power button on the computer and the one on the screen. Lights flashed, words describing exotic activities appeared on the screen, colours changed, and odd looking little drawings, referred to almost mystically as icons, appeared where only emptiness had been. In the end all was well. The computer was on. It was working after all.

Following the instructions provided by the dealer, I set forth in a confident manner to load some software. The idea of loading sounded reasonable, like placing square hay bales on an empty hay rack. The screen presented instructions that I blindly followed. I felt almost robotic in my obedience. It worked. The cessation of normal thought, and surrender to the computer’s will was the secret. I had learned its intimate knowledge. The computer is in charge. The operator just clicks the mouse and follows orders. After clicking and following for several software loads, I was certain that the computer and I were on good speaking terms. It had not given me more than a few dozen disciplinary beeps and stern warning messages. I felt that we had an understanding. It was good.

I had a program for something referred to as an office suite, although I saw no usable furniture. Maybe I missed something when it was shipped. I also had a drawing program to compensate for my need to label drawings composed of the most basic of subjects, like stick people. In a more adventurous vein, there are programs for CAD design and for computer geographic mapping. I had successfully entered them into the voracious appetite of the computer memory. There was a lot of RAM in there, tending the growing flock of programs. The world of computational wizardry and creativity was at my fingertips.

With all of the expertise of thousands of software designers to draw upon, I punched up the menu to test drive a program. Would I choose to map the yields of the fields, or to design a slightly better mousetrap? The choices and various options were intoxicating in their bewildering complexity. After much deliberation and careful thought, I made a well reasoned choice. I decided to play a game. I lost.

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Paid for writing blogs

I was having a blogging discussion with some friends the other day.

Needless to say, they had not heard much more about blogging than it involved discussing what the writer had for lunch.

I was telling them about the concept of business blogs and how a business can help itself with customer service, public relations, marketing, and search engine optimization (as in this blog's description!) by using a blog.

Somewhat convinced, they had some other concerns.

Time and post writing quality.

They felt that the time and effort to write blog posts was better spent on other work. The actual writing of the blog should be subcontracted out to professional writers, they thought.

Their logic was based on the premise that not everyone writes well and not everyone has the time to do it. Like many aspects of business, the job is better left to others. Simply pay the writers to create regular top notch blog content and post it.

The idea might not be for everyone. Many business people will certainly prefer to write their own posts. After all, one of the purposes of a business blog is to add your personal voice to your company. The business blogger places a human face on what could be a faceless bureaucracy.

On the other hand, hiring bloggers to do the actual writing and posting might have benefits as well.

First of all, it would put some revenue into the pockets of the many good bloggers out there. Earning money, for for their thoughts and writing, is a constant source of concern for many bloggers. Being hired to write specific articles, to post on company business blogs, would help ease that concern.

For those bloggers, who would consider such a concept to be selling out, keep in mind that the writing would be simply another freelance job. The job is to write the article, as with any publication, whether on the internet or offline.

For the companies using the purchased posts, their time is saved and the company would have a business blog. Perhaps without hiring freelance writers, the organization would not have a business blog at all.

Of course such an arrangement is not for every business blog or for every writer. It all depends on individual circumstances.

Just like anything else.

The possibility of a win-win situation exists for both the business and the freelancer. The business gets the benefit of a professionally written business blog. The freelance writer gains some cash and some highly marketable writing credits.

The idea may have some merit, after all.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2004


Bloggers helping bloggers

Bloggers are a tremendous, if perhaps underutilized support group.

We often see blogs, where people with various illnesses and concerns help and support one another. The blogging community forms, for them, a widespread therapy group. The realization that one is not alone with a condition or concern is liberating for those involved.

Blogs are also helpful for some good old fashioned networking for getting a job.

The always generous Jay Solo recently blogged employment notices on behalf od two other bloggers.

James Joyner of the well known Outside The Beltway joins Kathy Kinsley of On The Third Hand in the job search market.

Because bloggers are such a diverse lot, with many connections adding up to a blog version of Six Degrees of Separation, the possibilities for mutual assistance are unlimited.

Jay Solo may have hit upon a burgeoning underground job search technique. Letting other bloggers know of your skills and employment availability could lead to some new employment opportunities. Those jobs could range from short term freelance work to permanent employment.

All bloggers have to do is make their availability known to others.

For example, I do freelance writing and search engine optimization.

Your skills and talents are marketable.

All you have to do is get the word out there. Let other bloggers know you are available for work and tell them what you can do.

Bloggers like Jay Solo are spreading the word.

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Monday, February 23, 2004


Permanent links now working

I finally have this blog's permanent linking feature working.


My thanks to Jeremy Wright for his fixing my delinquent coding.

For those of you who may not be aware, I am nowhere close to a computer coder. I learned how to use a computer the hard way. In my work experience, I was given the office, and the computer, and told to get to work.

I had zero training, and I never took a single computer course while at University. I was an Arts student. I took subjects like History and Political Science and Geography and English. I hdd two Majors. One was Political Science, and the other was History. I never went anywhere near the Computer Science department. Ever.

My computer skills are entirely self taught, by doing. I believe that is referred to as the seat of the pants methodology. I have learned a lot of basic computer work skills, mainly out of having no choice, but I have a lot of holes in my knowledge. That is usually the end result of self teaching. You learn the necessary skills for what is needed at the time. Everything else gets ignored.

Thanks to Jeremy Wright, a major hole in my coding deficiency has been plugged.

His assistance is greatly appreciated.

Thanks Jeremy!

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Publicity and bloggers

I have written a few times about the value of blogs to your public relations and publicity efforts.

By keeping and maintaining a business blog, you have a built in press release, updated on a daily basis. All you have to do is alert the mainstream media.

Now, there is a new twist on the same theme.

Jay Solo was writing about the problem of receiving his first comment spam. I just got some comment spam on this blog, and I don't know how to remove it from my third party commenter.

While the evils of comment spam were being pointed out, Jay made another interesting observation. The spammer, craving attention to their rather pitiful efforts at being regarded as humanity, could have done the following:

"The smart thing would be for them to have created a blog as an adjunct to their site, covering internationalization and other business issues. Then they could have introduced themselves to me (and other bloggers) for a plug or a link, or maybe offered to get on the list of future CotC hosts. Boom, you're on Google! Heck, contacting someone like BusinessPundit with a "press release" of sorts might have gotten you a mention. Just as you'd hope to get by sending press releases to the mainstream business press."

The interesting part here is the discussion of how other bloggers can be sent press releases. It's so obvious, it is often overlooked.

Many of the major bloggers have traffic approaching that of small to medium sized daily newspapers. Some lesser lights, but still heavily visited, have over 1000 unique readers per day.

Bloggers are now ideal targets for press releases themselves.

Since most bloggers (well maybe not Jeremy Wright) have a constant need to find "a topic". It's one of the most difficult parts of the...I just can't resist saying this...the blogging experience.

Topics are gold, whether for the blogger or the mainstream media (who call them story ideas.

Press releases solve the blogger's dilemma.

Instant topic!

The blog owner who sends out a release to the larger readership bloggers, and selected niche bloggers, may find a mention on the so-called "A List". The resulting influx of traffic, should send the previously unknown blogger's visitor counter logs, into a major upward spiral.

When you send out your press releases to the mainstream media, don't neglect to send them to other bloggers in your niche area.

You may find your blog mentioned elsewhere.

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Sunday, February 22, 2004


E-mail as a posting idea


Blog comments.

Both are huge, and usually untapped, sources of blog post ideas.

Reading and even posting selected e-mails from readers, is a healthy source of post inspirations and concepts for even the most prolific bloggers. Highly regarded baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman is one of the blogosphere's most exhaustive writers. I say that in a good way. He writes abundantly on his favourite subject.

And I mean abundantly!

Despite his multitude of story ideas, Aaron Gleeman often posts parts of e-mails to help create entries. He takes the ideas from the e-mails, and puts them through his usual indepth analysis. The result is a post, on a topic of proven interest, to his readers.

Comments on blogs form another fertile garden of ideas for blog posts. You have first hand, ready at your fingertips, statements from your readers. They have, in effect, spoken. They have told you what they want you to discuss. All you have to do is write about it.

Similar to using your site counter visitor logs, your e-mail and commenters show direct evidence of your visitors' interests. If they weren't interested, they wouldn't have taken the time to write, commnent, or in the case of keywords, search for your blog.

Don't treat your e-mail as spam (unless it promises enlargements and alleged improvements of various body parts).

Don't consider your comments section to be throwaways.

They are direct messages from your most interested and loyal readership. Let them help you make your blog better.

Take a hint from Aaron Gleeman and let your readers help write your posts.

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Saturday, February 21, 2004


Blog stats: helping your readers

It's often considered to be bad form, according the stiff upper lip types who care about such niceties, to post about your blog statistics.

They say it's not interesting to your readers. Perhaps it is boring to some readers, but I am personally very interested in other bloggers' stats.

Maybe I'm a minority of one, but I like to know how long you've blogged, your total number of posts, and how many incoming links you have. I care how many visitors find their way to your blog, and from whence they arrived. Was their road in via a link from another blog or website, or did your reader find your corner of the internet from a search engine?

Those are interesting quesions you should be addressing. They are not only for your own benefit, but that of your visitors as well.

I have advised my readers to analyze their visitor counters before. By reading the visitor logs, you can determine if your visitors are heavily new ones or repeat returnees. Those bloggers who find a high degree of turnover in readers, and little repeat visitor traffic, may find a requirement to change their subject matter. After all, if no one returns to read it, perhaps it's not all that exciting to anyone.

If you are getting a heavy influx of visitors from search engines, your blog is probably optimized well for those keywords. Those are topics in which your readers have shown an interest. After all, if they searched them and clicked on your link, they must want to read about those subjects. I would suggest writing more posts on those keywords.

Keeping track of your incoming links, and the type of blog that links to yours, is also of interest. Of particular interest to you, should be the blogs that link to yours without asking for a return link. They linked to your blog because they enjoyed reading your subject matter. Be sure to include a few posts of interest to them, as their own readers probably will enjoy your material as well.

it's always interesting, to me at least, about how many blog posts you have written in total. Longer running blogs should have fairly strong daily traffic and regular return visitors. If that is the case, your blog is certainly providing information of interest to your niche readership.

As always, keep a close watch on the ratio of your new readers to your returning visitors. Too few returnees could be an early signal of readership decline. Heed the warnings, and provide some extra good and targeted posts, especially for those regular readers.

By being a bit "navel gazing", you can help provide the type and quality of posts your readers desire.

Don't think of yourself a hit obsessed blogger, but rather as a reader concerned blogger.

Use your statistics to benefit your readers.

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Thursday, February 19, 2004


Yahoo search is all new

For those not aware of the wild, and occasionally wacky world of internet search engines, former search powerhouse Yahoo is getting back into the game, in major league style.

Yahoo is challenging industry dominant Google search, with a fresh new algorithm, that is creating some different search results from Google.

When Yahoo purchased moribund search engine Inktomi (mainly a pay for inclusion company), it was thought by some observers that Yahoo would simply use Inktomi's technology.

Not so, it seems.

Yahoo has added search engine talent and they have created a fresh new way to search for what you want to find on the internet. Now, as a searcher, if you can't find what you want on Google, perhaps Yahoo might find what you seek.

There is also rumour that internet giant Microsoft is positioning its MSN search to try to gain search market share as well.

Competition is good if it helps to create better search results and better search engine products for both website owners and searchers. As long as money is not simply used to battle for market share, in a massive zero sum game, the search engine community may see some exciting days ahead.

In any case, webmasters and bloggers will no longer have only Google to consider for traffic and search engine optimization. There are some more players on the field.

Let the games begin.

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Business blog: how to article

I just had published a fairly indepth article entitled Blogs and Search Engine Optimization published on the SEO Chat website.

For those of you who are not familiar with SEO Chat, it's a site and forum where the main topics of discussion are getting higher search engine rankings for your blog or static website.

In my article, I discuss how adding a business blog to your web based business, can help your site move up in the search engine result placements.

In general, the Blogs and Search Engine Optimization article is strongly in favour of adding a blog to your site.

Because of the blog secret weapons, of abundant freshly added content and many incoming links from other blogs and websites, the blog provides exactly what the search engines demand.

There is a lot more there as well.

Surf on over to Blogs and Search Engine Optimization.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2004


Blogging up to date

Hi all.

I have been out of the blogging picture, so to speak, with illness.

I am attempting to catch up on the comings and goings in the blogging world, which turns with amazing rapidity. Even a few days of missed blog entries, and a regular blog reader can be left in the cyber dust.

I am reading as I type, with my usual abundant windows open. Yes, I use Windows 98, as David at Swagu will attest.

Catch all of you later.

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Monday, February 16, 2004


Where are my posts?

I am very ill with something I managed to catch, but I don't know what it is. I am posting half awake and half asleep.

I'll be back with posts soon.


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Saturday, February 14, 2004


Business blogs vs e-mail newsletters

As recently as a couple of years ago, people looked forward to receiving your company's opt-in newsletter.

Is that the case anymore?

Opening an e-mail box, only to see hundreds and even thousands of e-mails, is a sight that scares off even the most e-mail loving person. Included in that batch of unread messages are many good informative newsletters. You may have specificially signed up just to receive them.

Unfortunately, they often get lost in the flood of spam e-mails you most certainly did not request.

Many times, installed "spam filters" will block out your fully authorized permission based newsletter entirely. Your message never reaches its intended audience. You may never know.

While fully permission based opt-in newsletters are still welcomed by most recipients, there is another alternative.

It's business blogging.

The great thing about maintaining a business blog is there is no need to worry about it being blocked by spam filters. Since a blog is not sent by e-mail, it can't be blocked.

A blog can't be accidently deleted along with unwanted spam sales pitches either. Newsletter recipients often set aside some requested e-mails for later, but instead wind up deleting them in the end. Unread, with dozens of other "saved" e-mails.

Barring a failure of your internet server, your business blog is available at all times. All it takes to read it is a click of a bookmark.

It takes time and effort to build up a permission based e-mail newsletter subscriber list. That is no different from adding more readers to your business blog. Both require strong marketing and promotional efforts to be successful. There are no easy methods for gaining more readers in either case.

In many ways, a blog is more timely than a newsletter. The blog can be updated several times a day, while a newsletter is more likely to be sent every two weeks. Even a weekly newsletter can't be as immediate as a daily blog.

That is not to say that a fully opt-in, permission based newsletter is a bad idea. In fact, it is far from it. Properly used, a newsletter can provide great information and product offers to your subscribers right on their desktops. They still have a powerful place in your marketing and customer relations programs.

The main purpose of an e-mail newsletter is the same one as a business blog. Their role is to build up a relationship of familiarity and trust with your readers. In that capacity, as a customer relations vehicle, both have their places in your business.

While most entrepreneurs look to the conventional e-mail newsletter, perhaps it's time to look at the less used blog approach. The e-mail newsletter is an established method of reaching customers. That's why it's popular. That's also why it has been invaded by spammers.

Properly used, an e-mail newsletter campaign can remain effective. You can reach your customers and maintain a steady relationship with them.

On the other hand, a business blog can be equally effective at communicating your message to your customers.

Because the business blog is still in its infancy, it's on the cutting edge of business communications and public relations.

Isn't that where you want to position your business?

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Friday, February 13, 2004


Visitor traffic: Building with fun

You want more visitor traffic, I'm sure.

Well, maybe you have enough already, but you can always use a few more friends, right?

Have you ever tried using those personality quizzes that appear on so many blogs? Since most people succumb to the temptation to answer the quiz questions, except me of course. Mostly.

The various quizzes can gain your blog a bit of extra visitor traffic, and some links of acknowledgement for your questionnaire discovery. Or curses raining down around your head, but that's a story for another day.

An example of one such quiz is the following (courtesy of Jen Speaks:

Which Historical Ruler Are You?

Quizzes of that type are found on many popular blogs, and some blogs have become popular hangouts because of the personality tests found there. While none of the tests purports to be an authority, or even remotely accurate, they are fun for many people.

Another type of popular traffic builder are those visited places maps. You see them for the world or the United States.

Here is one for the USA, courtesy of The Accidental Jedi, who notes that she found it from her husband, Jay Solo's blog. Notice how these things travel from blog to blog.

Your Visited American States Map

These various blog pop culture favourites can help you get a few more visitors to your blog.

And no, I didn't bother to fill out the historical ruler quiz.

I already own a ruler. It measures in both inches and centimeters.

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Thursday, February 12, 2004


Internet sales: Make it easy to buy

Buying products online should be easy right?

Well, if you read some of the concerns at Nice Dream, that doesn't seem to be the case.

Online retailers may not be putting the same effort, into their internet e-commerce ventures, as into their brick and morter stores. Digression: Why do the internet commerce folks always refer to physical retail outlets as "Brick and morter" anyway?

Concerns in the e-commerce failures article range from slow loading pages, to terrible site navigation, to simply making it very hard for the customer to buy anything.

Those concerns are basic to retailing. If anyone working retail in the offline world were to employ such obviously bad practices, they would be fired. How did internet retailing customers and outlets get treated so poorly?

Making the product easy to buy is basic sales procedure. Being able to find the items you are looking to purchase should be a logical first step. Make the products attractive and easy to add to the shopping cart is only good site practice.

I would suggest that before launching any internet sales site, that you actually test shop it yourself. Have some staff, friends, and family try it. Select as many testers as posible, and don't choose the most internet savvy among them. Find some testers who are new to the internet, as they will find obvious problems, sidetracks, dead ends, and bottlenecks almost immediately.

Stand near the test buying people, but don't influence them in any way. Merely have them shop around your site, select items, and attempt to purchase them.

You are there only to observe. Write down where the test buyers click and where they go from one page to the next.

You might be surprised that your ideas, of how people navigate a site, may not be anywhere close to how real users click around. Keep track of how many mouse clicks it takes to actually complete a real world purchase as well. A buyer won't stick around for a fifteen click buying marathon.

Think of your internet sales department as another retail branch and treat it like one. After all, it's a round the clock sales staff for you and your business.

Treat your customers well, design a sales friendly site, and watch your internet profits grow.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2004


Can blogs get you jobs?

As blogs and blogging become more mainstream, the question of whether employment could be an end result was certain to arise.

Many bloggers are very good writers. Many are improving as writers thanks to the continued practice gained through regular blog posts. While a blogger may not have the benefit of an editor's opinion, the writer is not hampered by one either.

The possibility of blog writers become part of the mainstream media is a strong one. The media has a constant need of solid wordsmiths in politics, crime, sports, human interest, and business. Note the hint.

Fellow blogger Tristam Bielecki at Blogopoly addresses many of the same topics you read here. He usually does them from a different approach than me, but that's a story for another day. What is the story for today is his thoughts on blogs for jobs.

Tristam says:

"Everyone has felt like this at one time - and a lot of people get asked the question "what is your knowledge of this industry?" which is often difficult to demonstrate in an interview....I mentioned my Internet Marketing Blog on my Resume once and was impressed to have an interviewer once remark that they are an avid reader of my blog and they brought it to the meeting to show to the other interviewer."

Tristam has interest in his blog from the world of business.

Other bloggers have designs on vaulting from their blog to the sports pages. Talented and widely read baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman has already drawn notice for his indepth baseball analysis. Writing assignments from other internet baseball sites have been flowing in his direction.

Another baseball blogger, Will Carroll has also written about moving from blog stream to mainstream. His column on the topic has drawn equally interesting comments from his readers on the same subject.

The blogosphere wide discussion on whether bloggers will become print media pundits and columnists is heating up.

Perhaps some more blog authors will be seen in the daily newspapers and newstand magazines.

Those future wide circulation columnists may be sitting on your own blogrolls as we speak.

The future may be in the keyboards of the bloggers.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2004


Blog business: Relationship marketing

Relationship marketing.

You've often heard the term used, but were never really certain what it meant. It does sound kind of touchy feely, doesn't it? Really all it means, however, is building good long term customer relations.

To turn your present marketing system into relationship marketing, you have to change your outlook somewhat. Traditionally, marketers have located their target market segments, made their offer, and made the sales. It's always been a single step process.

Relationship marketing looks at customers and clients over a longer term. It takes into account the lifetime value of a customer. Many experts think it costs anywhere from six to ten times as much, to find a new customer, than to sell to an existing one. With those financial realities in mind, the approach makes some sense, and some real dollars.

Relationship marketing is based on the idea, that people prefer to do business with people, they know and like. After all, it's easier to buy from a friend, than from someone you've never heard of before. The focus is on a multi-step marketing system that works for the lifetime of the customer.

It's said that people need to hear an offer about seven times before they buy. That concept certainly works against the single step marketing method.

That is where a business blog can be really helpful.

As you write your daily blog entries, your readers get to know you and your business on a more personal level. Your blog begins that all important relationship with your prospects and current customers. As they read about your daily business activities, your problem solving ideas, your business advice, and your various products, they begin to think of themselves as a part of the company.

They are!

The prospects for your products and services begin to turn into customers over time. Since they already know about you and your organization, it naturally follows that they will buy from you.

Your existing customers will remain loyal to your business, through the regular personal contact of your blog. Your customers will not only stay loyal, but they will often bring tons of valuable referral business to your company. Happy customers are your best marketing friends.

By creating a business blog, you can develop strong bonds with your existing and future customers. Instead of treating them as numbers, you have formed a long term relationship with them. Their purchases, of your products and services, are a natural response to your blog entries. It is certainly not a one step sales system!

Creating a relationship with your customers and clients doesn't just pay off financially for your company. It is also rewarding personally for you; and for them.

Start your blog and build those long term relationships.

You'll be glad you decided on a blog for your relationship marketing!

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Monday, February 09, 2004


Carnival of the Capitalists selects my post

Again this week, the prestigious Carnival of the Capitalists is featuring another of my blog posts.

This week, as usual, a different blog is hosting Carnival of the Capitalists. We find the Carnival has set up its tent at political blog The Trommetter Times.

Well known for serious study of religion, politics, and informed opinion, The Trommetter Times is a highly regarded blog. It is a privilege to have an article selected by blogger Jason Trommetter.

Regular readers of my roller derby blog, known as Wayne's Derby World, will recognize the themes from my roller derby posts over there.

Be sure to read the many great articles and blogs presented at Carnival of the Capitalists.

I always learn a lot from them.

I'm sure you will too.

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Sunday, February 08, 2004


Equity Financing: A Case Study

I was talking with some friends of mine the other day, and it struck me that they knew little about roller derby at all.

That came as a surprise to me, as they were all fans of the Rock-n-Rollergames show from the late 1980s. Because they never received TNN (now the Spike Network) during the RollerJam years, they had forgotten that the banked track sport even existed.

They had even less knowledge of the newer all female leagues, that are springing up all over North America, whether skated on flat track or bank.

I gave them all a crash course in recent roller derby history.

They were all quite enthused about the sport's revival, but skeptical about whether the sport could ever become popular again.

One of my friends is involved in high risk venture capital finance. His company lends to, and takes equity stakes (part ownership) in, various higher risk business ventures. Their clients include companies that are long on ideas and talent, but are very short of cash and....well....just about everything else.

He was not certain if they could justify the financing for a roller derby startup league.

With the unscientific sample that day, of many former roller derby fans, he saw some serious stumbling blocks. It seemed to him that the sport needed a lot higher profile created, with the general public, before any league would be seriously considered by any investors.

If past casual roller derby fans were unaware that the sport still existed, there was a long way to go, if a league wanted to build a fan base. He saw the current roller derby fan base as just slightly above non-existant. He said that would be the position the investors would take from the start.

The onus would be, on the league owners and management, to prove a fan base existed now, or become viable in the vary near future.

The roller derby fan base, from the venture capitalist standpoint, would be considered zero.

He thought locally popular leagues (that would include the Texas, Cayman Islands, and Arizona all female leagues) would find some nice niche markets. He did not see much growth potential, from an investor point of view. He felt the leagues might do very well financially, as small businesses, but attracting large scale funding would not likely happen.

I told him that the all female leagues were bootstrap type operations, who financed themselves, through fundraisers and their own cash flow. He said that was probably going to be the only way to finance and operate roller derby leagues for a long time.

Since his company which operates in all of North America, looked only at high risk investments, he had a sense of which industries would be good investments. He believed the sport of roller derby was even too high risk for them. Other high risk investors would likely think the same way. The main strike against roller derby, in his opinion, was limited pre-existing market.

That information is bad news for potential roller derby leagueowners (or other high risk industry entrants) who are chasing the elusive "investors".

I have never been a fan of the investor concept, so it was not earth shattering news for me.

I have said for a long time, that investor led roller derby leagues are not the way to go, for new owners.

In fact, I am not sold on the concept of investor equity financing for entrepreneurs in any industry, due to the loss of ownership control. For new business owners, who consider high risk venture capital, being prepared to compromise and even sacrifice their vision is necessary.

While many business owners may be tempted by the opportunity for startup equity capital, they must be ready to potentially lose control of their own business and ideas.

While I don't entirely agree with everything my friend said about equity venture capital, he does make some good points. Roller derby's fan base has been seriously eroded, and will take a long time to rebuild. I have said that myself, more than once.

Perhaps other investors might not be so pessimistic about funding roller derby startups. On the other hand, they just might be even less optimistic.

In any case, the best way to start a roller derby league, or a business startup, is probably to fund it yourself. Using the business's own cash flow, coupled with some really creative money raising techniques, is probably a better route to success.

While the all female roller derby leagues may have found a few great methods of league funding, they haven't found them all. There are many more creative techniques for getting money for a league. The all women's leagues have probably only scratched the financing surface.

We always have to keep in mind, that what works for one business, will not necessarily work for all startup businesses.

To say that "you should copy the all female leagues as they have all the answers", is not good business advice. Every business, and roller derby is a business too, has different financial needs, goals, markets, and management teams. They have found one business model, among an infinite number of business possiblities.

There are as many ways to get money as there are people with league startup concepts.

On the other hand, the investor route to league financing is not the answer.

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Saturday, February 07, 2004


Google PageRank Questions and Answers

Q. What is Google PageRank?

A. Google PageRank (one word) is the measure of the relative importance of a web page on the internet. The numbers rank from 0 to 10. The higher the number, the better the PageRank.

Q. Is the PageRank (PR) number for the entire site?

A. PageRank is determined for each individual web page, as every page on your blog has a different PR. The blog home page is likely to have the highest PR as it will have the most sites linking to it.

Q. How is PageRank determined?

A. PageRank is calculated based on your incoming links. The higher the PR of your incoming links, and the fewer there are on a page, the more PR is passed to your blog page.

Q. How does my PageRank increase?

A. PageRank increases in a geometric manner similar to the earthquake Richter Scale. For example, it is harder to go from a PR4 to a PR5, than it was to reach the PR4 from a PR3. In a similar fashion, it's even harder to get to a PR 6, than it was to get to PR5 from PR4, and so on up. Each level requires increasingly more high value incoming links than did the previous level.

Q. How can I find out my Google PageRank?

A. It is displayed in increasing amounts of green on a guage on the Google Toolbar. The Google toolbar can be downloaded for a PC at http://toolbar.google.com and it also displays backlinks and works as a pop-up blocker. There is no Google Toolbar available for a Mac.

Q. How soon do the backlinks and PageRank show up on my Google Toolbar?

A. It often takes two full monthly updates for all of your incoming links to be discovered, counted, calculated and displayed as backlinks.

Q. Do all of my backlinks get displayed?

A. Google only shows the backlinks it has found and calculated for your pages that have a PR4 or higher. All links are included in the tabulation, however.

Q. Do low level PageRanks help my blog's PR?

A. All incoming links count towards your total, but lower level PRs (0-3) don't count a lot immediately. They will add more PR later, however, as their own PR's increase.

Q. Should I exchange links with low value PageRanks?

A. PageRank should not be your primary concern for link exchanges. Benefits to your readers, of discovering new and interesting blogs and websites should be your first concern. The PR is simply an added bonus, and the PR may rise over time. A PR2 could soon be a PR7.

Q. Are 60 outgoing links to other blogs too many?

A. No, as Google is only concerned with pages of over 100 outgoing links that it considers to be link farms. Your blog is not a problem.

Q. Can my PageRank go down?

A. Yes it can, if you lose some important links, that are no longer linking to your blog. PR loss can also occur if some of your linking partners also experience a drop in their own PR.

Q. Is it important to have good PageRank?

A. Yes, as PageRank is part of the Google algorithm that determines where your blog will appear in the search engine results. Higher PR pages, especially for competitive keywords, will usually be listed higher. Keep in mind that relevant on page content of your blog is even more important.

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Friday, February 06, 2004


High search engine rankings: Trend catching

High search engine rankings Google, Yahoo, AOL, MSN, Inktomi, and other search engines can be achieved by spotting a trend and holding on tight.

The relatively new and unknown Melon Blog was able to do exactly that, by catching a wave.

By posting an entry on the much talked about Janet Jackson overexposure during the Super Bowl halftime show, Melon Blog was able to gain some top Google rankings.

The heavily searched terms were for various combinations of Janet Jackson, Justin Timberlake, Super Bowl, halftime, and of course, the infamous partially jewellery covered nipple. Those words were some of the most searched terms in the various search engines for the past week.

Because of the unexpected catching of a search trend, a relatively unknown blog was able to find itself atop the search engine results.

What can we discover from this phenomenon?

For one thing, the power of blogs within the search engines is underlined, in red, double.

Blogs score well in the search engines because of the freshness (pun cheerfully intended) of the content. Blogs can be posted within a matter of minutes of a major event occurring. That immediacy translates well into the search engines.

Blogs are crawled regularly by the internet spiders (computer program robots sent out to read the coding on web pages). Many are crawled on a daily basis, and their content entered into the search engine data base almost immediately, for discovery by web surfers.

The Janet Jackson underclad appearance also shows us how blogs can grab a fast rise (love those puns!) in the search engine rankings. By spotting trends early and often, bloggers can post a quick impression entry, and wait for the spiders to crawl and index it.

While the blip on the search engine radar may be short lived, another media event is always following in hot pursuit. Celebrity media keeps the stories in front of the public. Bloggers can use those stories to maintain constant top rankings, for literally millions of potential visitors.

The heavy visitor traffic flows will evaporate as quickly as the hot news story, but another is always on the way.

In a few cases, some of the visitors to the blog may even return, but that is not the point of wave catching. This is a volume traffic concept, not a return visitor idea.

It's all easy come, easy go.

Until the next fad and trendy item arrives.

if you are so inclined, spot some trends and fads. Blog about them.

Watch your visitor traffic counter spin out of control.

Then, find the next wave.

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Thursday, February 05, 2004


Fired Up

The always thoughtful David St. Lawrence has a tremendous post discussing the unpleasantries of being fired from your job.

David writes from personal experience, and having been fired myself in the past, I fully understand his feelings and his point of view. I know where he's coming from.

I was fired, for doing my job too well, and being a perceived threat to the status quo. After all, new ideas are what I do best, resulting in turnarounds of bad situations. The problem with that is twofold.

One is what do you do for an encore, as the explosive increases in revenue and profits during the turnaround period, are virtually impossible to sustain. Based on percentages, instead of as absolutes, used with very bad statistical understanding, and you find yourself explaining numbers.

I know. I did that. No one cared to understand that growth was still happening in larger dollar terms. The percentages, of course, were smaller.

Bad news for me.

Rule to remember:

Emotions will always trump the most rational explanations and numbers, especially when someone has painted a huge bullseye on the back of your suit jacket.

The other problem is struggling branch offices, will get their feet placed to the fire, to get their sales and profits up to the new standard. The employer didn't get blamed for the new higher standards. I did. I became a marked man.

Rule to remember: Upset the status quo and the old boys network at your own peril. I did and soon discovered profits were less important than the status quo, especially if the numbers can be falsely portrayed as an illusion.

I took my firing on my feet without an emotional outburst. In fact, I didn't really mind losing my job, as I had created something good that I was proud of, and really was wanting a new challenge.

I was far more concerned with what was going to happen to my sales staff.

The best two of them, named Krista and Shereen, were soon gone.

Shereen was fired for what was termed "insubordination". Translated, that means understanding the stupidity of the newly installed counterproductive system, and saying so. After all, Shereen and Krista had full authority, working with me to present their ideas for testing. There was none of that input requested by the new regime. They got orders. Not answers.

Shereen is now a manager herself in another company.

My best sales rep Krista soon left, after her pay structure was redone, into one of the most disincentive packages I have ever seen. She was too good for what they wanted her to do. I was happy to see her leave.

She became a very good manager herself too.

Firing wasn't so bad for me.

I work for myself and much prefer it.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2004


Incoming Links: Three Ideas For More

Incoming links are a good thing.

We know that.

They mean more visitors to your blog from the linking blog. The links boost your Google PageRank (the measure of importance of your blog on the internet). Links give your blog a much needed boost in the search engines.

Okay, you give.

You want to get more links.

But how?

1. Check the link exchange requests in the popular blog message board forums like Blogger Forum and Blogger Talk.

Each of those blog forums has a busy link exchange section. Many good blogs are more than willing to happily swap links with yours. Don't worry about their current PageRank, however. Many are brand new blogs, but with the way some of them are rapidly adding incoming links, they will have very strong PageRanks. Fast.

2. Check the blogrolls and links lists of your favourite blogs. Many of the blogs on those lists are active traders themselves. If you like some of them, add them to your own list of links.

Following that inclusion first, contact them by e-mail and request a link to your blog. Since they will notice that you have already linked to their blog, many will happily link back to your blog. Your courtesy, of linking to them first, will go along way. Politeness counts.

3. Post good intelligent comments on other blogs. By intelligent comments, I mean posts that are on the blog post's topic. By taking part in discussions, in a polite and helpful manner, you will gain the respect of that blog's owner and regular visitors. As a result, many will add your blog to their lists without asking for a link in return.

In the same way that interesting and quality content adds numerous incoming links to your blog, polite and useful comments will do the same thing.

Use these ideas this week, and you will be sure to add at least one more incoming link.

Almost guaranteed.

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Tuesday, February 03, 2004


Search Engines Like Blog Titles

Titles for your blog posts?

Of course you have them.

Do you know how important titles are to search engines?

Google and the fast rising Inktomi (possibly becoming the main source for Yahoo searches) like blog post titles. They key on them, in fact.

When you post a title for your latest blog entry, and you aren't inclined to use a pun, joke, or similar type label, consider one with your chosen keywords. As you know, keywords are the terms people place in the search box, when they are searching for information.

Since titles are prominently placed on the page, and often in bold, titles carry extra weight in the various internet search engines.

Optimizing for Inktomi, in particular, places strong emphasis on bolded print titles. Inktomi also likes high placement of those bolded words on the page. If you want future high rankings in Yahoo searches, that bold lettering may be a policy to adopt.

Titles are also important for RSS feeders.

The blog post title is how the various RSS feed services list and search their blog databases. Good informative labelling, of your blog entries, can help you get a boost in the RSS feed community as well.

RSS feeds are searched by keywords too. People look for interesting posts by entering search terms. Make certain your blog is included, by using those sought after keywords.

Make sure your title reflects the keywords you are optimizing for in RSS feeds. Search engine benefits will follow along naturally.

Think good titles for your blog posts.

Titles aren't just for books anymore.

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Monday, February 02, 2004


Carnival of the Capitalists again

Once again, I have an article included in the prestigious Carnival of the Capitalists.

This week's edition is hosted by Steve Verdon at Deinonychus antirrhopus. I didn't make that blog name up. Steve did.

As always, there are many absolutely brilliant articles on taxes, international economics, business and marketing, business blogs, business and monetary theory, investing, and political economy.

I consider it a real privilege to have my A sad tale of a business that could have been included among the selected columns.

The selected articles are thoughtful and extremely well written. While you may not always agree with the writer's approach and opinions, they do make you think.

Scoot on over to Carnival of the Capitalists and read your hearts out.

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Sunday, February 01, 2004


A sad tale of a business that could have been

I was once a business partner, in what would have been a
great new roller derby league in Florida.

One business partner was a former roller derby skater and trainer named Erwin Miller. Our other business partner was (and remains) Pam Burke, a very knowledgeable business person, with strong organizational skills.

Our plan was to combine Erwin's skating knowledge and skater training,
with Pam's and my business skills. The idea was a good one in theory.

The problems began to arise when Erwin decided to attempt a takeover
of the business. He has little business knowledge, but he attempted to
undermine any ideas that Pam and I put forward. The readers of my daily
roller derby blog, have a pretty good idea what those ideas were.

Erwin did not like them because he wanted control. His ideas for
marketing, publicity, public relations, and promotions were weak at
best and destructive at worst. After all, he is from the "derby is
different" and "if it is derby, they will come" school of anti-

Those ideas are based on the theory that somehow a roller derby business is not really a business. Yes, you read that correctly. The other concept is there is no need to market the sport as people will simply rush out to watch. Not knowing about the sport, or even that a game is being held, is no deterrent. Obviously, fans of the sport were thought to be psychic.

There is a need for strong business sense and planning. In our case, Erwin Miller was opposed to applying business principles to roller derby. He insisted that "derby is different" and that somehow, ordinary business ideas do not apply to roller derby. He did not like any innovative marketing ideas or listening to the fans or skaters ideas. He believed "If it is derby, they will come."
He sabotaged any and all proven and innovative ideas.

He preferred no league at all, to one he didn't control.

The game was to be an "ad-lib" "working" game, where the skaters would
work together and there would be no pre-determined outcomes. That
would enhance the excitement for the fans, and give the game back to
the skaters. Erwin tried to change that over and over. First he would
talk "real" game, which it wasn't. He would then talk a "set" game
like RollerJam. We had thought the issue was settled.

In fact, no issues were ever settled with Erwin.

Pam and I had a well
thought out and constructed business plan. We covered marketing,
promotions, publicity, finances, and long range planning. We included
the ideas of the skaters and fans in our plans. Erwin was busily
undermining that solid plan with his weak "if it is derby, they will
come" mentality.

In mid 2002, Pam and I wanted to meet with him to discuss the issues,
including the game venue. Pam and I believestrongly in controlling your own building. It is necessary for financial viability and long term league stability. We had a building, but Erwin selfishly destroyed that deal. If he had not done
so, there would be a fully operational roller derby league in Florida

In the meantime, my mother had become ill with breast cancer and Pam
had some personal family tragedy as well. We were understandably
sidetracked from derby for awhile. Instead of supporting us, Erwin
used that to go behind our backs, to join with a former skater named Gary Lockamy, who had been a skater in the RollerJam roller derby league. Gary was NEVER a partner in the league.

Together they went to Witchita, Kansas of all places to buy track
parts. Pam and I wanted to hold off on the track, until we had our
building secured for games and for practices. Erwin never listened to
any advice. He wasted thousands of dollars, in his obsession about
the track, on his Witchita wild goose chase. In his mind, he was
leaving our league, and he and Gary were going to do it Erwin's way.

We know how that turned out. I don't see any sign of Gary, and Erwin
is still, over a year later, "working" on his super secret track obsession.
Rollersport, his supposed league, is still nothing but a website and a lot of talk.

After Erwin Miller had solidified his partnership with Gary Lockamy, he
attempted to use legal means to push Pam and me out of the incorporated leahgue companies.

When that failed, Erwin resigned. By his resignation, he left everything
in the company to Pam and me. He even stated as much in his e-mail to
the skaters. Many copies of Erwin's e-mails had been sent to us by
various skaters.

Pam and I were shocked at the suddeness of the resignation, and its
abruptness. I phoned Erwin to find out his reasoning. What I heard was a
smug self satisfied response. His new league was going to span North
America and the world. Skaters were going to pour into his training
centres. He was going to have no outsiders (meaning non-roller derby skaters) like Pam and me around.

He told me right on the phone that I was an outsider and that he and Gary
knew it all. There would be no non-skaters in management in his league.

Erwin then proceeded to e-mail various former RollerJam skaters and potential
trainees. He told them that Pam and I were outsiders and were opposed to
all of his brilliant ideas. He said we were inflexible and unable to
help with a league as he saw it.

Of course we opposed his ideas. They did not work before. What made him
think they would work now?

He announced that he had found the "perfect arena" for his games. It was
a fairgrounds between Orlando and Daytona at Deland, Florida. Pam and I
ran the numbers on that venue. There was no way it could work
financially. The stated rental was only part of the cost. It also had
many added hidden costs, and the fairgrounds held the concessions. In
the past, when I offered to provide some numbers and a business plan,
Erwin had laughed at me. His mentality was" if it is derby, they will

The numbers in my business plan for that type of venue could not
work, and I said so. Pam said so too. She could not make any budget work
for the fairgrounds. In the end, Erwin did not skate there....or
anywhere else. He announced a venue he had not actually leased! His
business plan for the fairgrounds was so bad, it would have been
laughable, if it were not so sad.

He invited the skaters to his Rollersport "headquarters". They were in
a storage unit in Daytona where he had stored his precious track parts.
The turnout, by all reports was not great.

When Pam and I had a skater meeting earlier, Pam and her daughter Heather secured the use of aluxury condo. What a difference! Of course, our policy for any league is to be professional and first class, within the necessary confines of our budget. I can't say that for Erwin and Gary.

Erwin got into a rush. He prematurely put up his wbsite, as he feared
Pam and I would set up a league of our own and bury him. He also had
warned the former RollerJam skaters that if they spoke to Pam and me,
they could not skate for him. Since we have had contact from most of the
skaters, he will either have to renounce all of the RollerJam skaters,
or go back on his word yet again.

As of now, Erwin Miller has not completed his super secret track or
secured a game or training venue. There is no longer any sign of Gary
Lockamy either, not even as a name and photo on Erwin's website. Erwin discarded him too.

As for the vow of no non-skaters in management, Erwin seems to have
forgotten that one too. His nephew Andrew Brumana is now listed as a
vice-president. Andrew Brumana was never a skater in any league.

The sad part is Pam and I had a chance to get a very good permanent venue and Erwin was opposed to that concept. He may have even deliberately derailed it.

That building is no longer available as an option.

In any case, there could have been a functioning league in Florida for
the past year. The league would have been skating regular games.

That dream never happened because of Erwin Miller's opposition.

The moral of the story is: be careful of your business partners.

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