Archive for March, 2010
Okay, I admit it, I am a research addict! Being a good researcher can be a great strength…but at times, a weakness as well. It can be SO easy and tempting to get distracted by ALL the goodies you find! Because of this, I tend to rely on tools that help me find the content or information I’m looking for as quickly and as efficiently as possible. The tool I want to share with you today is one such amazing research tool. It’s a website that has become one of my favorites. As a reader of this blog, YOU have benefited from the research gleaned using this tool many times, and so, after today, you will gain the same benefit (and edge) that I have leveraged into content creation, articles and much more.
To be honest, I share this website with you reluctantly BECAUSE it’s such an amazing research tool. I don’t like giving away ALL my secrets. In this case, however, I’ll make the exception so that you can benefit from it as I have!
The website I’m referring to is SimilarSites (http://www.similarsites.com). It’s a search engine of sorts that enables you to find other websites that are similar to the website you type into the search box. I use this website’s search strategy in many different ways, but I’ll share one key method with you today as it relates to the Public Domain. You can use it to find similar and related content sites! Here’s what I mean.
For our example, I typed in the well-known Public Domain content site, Gutenberg.org. I don’t do much with the content from Project Gutenberg, but figured that there may be other sites out there RELATED to it that may offer more great content. BINGO! I was right. Upon conducting the search, here are the results I received…nearly ALL of them offer content from the Public Domain in one form or another:
Similar Sites to Gutenberg.Org
- ManyBooks.net – Free eBooks for your PDA, iPhone, or eBook Reader (manybooks.net)
- LibriVox (librivox.org)
- The Online Books Page (onlinebooks.library.upenn.edu)
- Free-ebooks.net | Download free Fiction, Marketing,electronic publishing ebooks (free-ebooks.net)
- Bibliomania – Free Online Literature and Study Guides (bibliomania.com)
- Online Books, Poems, Short Stories – Read Print (readprint.com)
- Bartleby.com: Great Books Online — Encyclopedia, Dictionary, Thesaurus and hundreds more (bartleby.com)
- FullBooks.com – Thousands of Full-Text Free Books (fullbooks.com)
- etext center: collections (etext.lib.virginia.edu/ebooks)
- Feedbooks: Food for the mind (feedbooks.com)
- Page By Page Books. Read Classic Books Online, Free. (pagebypagebooks.com)
- Free eBooks at Planet eBook – Classic Novels and Literature You’re Free to Share (planetebook.com)
- Munseys : A Bangsian Fantasy (munseys.com)
- DP: Welcome (pgdp.net)
- World eBook Fair (worldebookfair.com)
- World Public Library Association (netlibrary.net)
- Bookyards.com » Library to the world (bookyards.com)
- eBooks@Adelaide: Free Web Books, Online (etext.library.adelaide.edu.au)
- The Burgomeister’s Books: Truly free ebook download library (#1) (truly-free.org)
Of course, as you can see in the screen-capture image, you also have the ability to also conduct similar site searches on every result as well…meaning that you could find a LOT of related websites in a very short period of time. Told you this was an amazing tool! What make this tool even MORE fun is that SimilarSites also offers a toolbar (which I have installed) so that if you are out surfing the web and you happen upon a website you really like, the toolbar enables you to find sites similar to the one you are visiting right there on the spot. How cool is that?!
Now I just used Gutenberg.org as the example, but I hope that you’re picking up on the greater implication…like finding niche-specific content, for example. You can also use the search to find sites similar to the popular ones out there…like Facebook. There are new social media sites coming online all the time and there is no way you could possibly find them all. SimilarSites makes it easier…and as I always say, “easier is better!” Have fun with it!
I couldn’t resist creating another brief video JUST to hopefully get your creative juices flowing. THIS video features an excerpt from Chapter 1 of “The Science of Getting Rich,” an amazing book in the Public Domain.
I always appreciate great testimonials, and this one by my robot friend on product creation and the Public Domain is no exception. Thanks, my friend!
It’s no surprise that there are a number of marketing folks who talk about Public Domain content. I don’t have the exclusive on the topic…expert or not. Of course, most give their primary focus to books…and rightly so…but books are just one branch in a massive tree of content possibilities. Other “branches” include images, magazines, patents, movies, audios…the list goes on and on. But in today’s post, I’m going to lead you to another branch that very few marketers, if any, are talking about with regard to the Public Domain. I’ve hinted at a few of the “leaves” of this branch in the past…today I’m going to focus your attention on a few more.
Our discussion for this post and posts to come draws from a curious paragraph found in Copyright Circular 40 on Works of the Visual Arts. It’s no secret that I LOVE the visual arts in all its forms, but today we’ll look at them with a spin…NOT considering content that was once copyrighted but is now in the Public Domain, but rather, content that was NEVER copyrighted (and never will be). It’s content you use everyday and likely never considered it for product creation. And that’s the exact reason why I’m mentioning it now.
The paragraph I referenced earlier from Circular 40 reads as follows:
Copyright protection for an original work of authorship does not extend to the following:
- Ideas, concepts, discoveries, principles
- Formulas, processes, systems, methods, procedures
- Words or short phrases, such as names, titles, and slogans
- Familiar symbols or designs
- Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring
Now I am not planning to focus on all these “non-copyrightable” options in this post…I just want to spurn you to think about just ONE bit of content differently today. We’ll get to others in future posts. As a matter of fact, I’ve already written a post previously about IDEAS which you really should read HERE.Today, however, I want to take a look at the last option: Mere variations of typographic ornamentation, lettering, or coloring.
One of the reasons I wanted to look at this type of Public Domain content is because it’s the exact type of content that I discussed briefly in my previous article on Aeropostale. Defining this content is rather easy because you are “using” it right now…letters, numbers, ornaments and colors! Now, about now, you might be thinking, “Okay Tony…book content I can see for products, even images and magazines…but letters? Like A or T or Z?
Yeah! Letters! Letters and symbols are the basis for all our written (and in some cases visual) communication. They represent specific concepts to us regardless of our language or worldview. And so, while the letters, “Z”, “P”, “A” and “I” may seem to offer no possible relevance to us for product creation, the word, “PIZZA” instantly conjures memories of images, tastes, smells and experiences…at least it does for me. More than that though, you and I have the legal right to use that word, pizza, or the letters that make it up, to create ANY type of product we choose…as evidenced by the yellow-stripped shirt I’m wearing right now with “A87″ embroidered on the pocket (yes, I bought it at Aeropostale)! To you and me, “A87″ means very little if anything, but to Aeropostale, it means a multi-million dollar business and brand!
Here is another question to consider…what does “STOP” mean to you? And in how many ways have you seen those letters in that configuration used in products of all types? What about the color “red” as it’s used with a stop sign? The color “red” carries meaning to it…think about it…you don’t see “green” stop signs! Why? It sends the wrong message…and that message is conveyed with a color and four letters.
Let me offer one more example (I could provide thousands) in the form of another question…when you see the numbers 0, 1 and 9, they don’t mean too much right? But what about 9/11/01? Every American knows what THAT number combination stands for…and those numbers in that combination has generated tens of millions of dollars! How about this set of numbers: 12-25? Merry Christmas! I hope you are beginning to get my drift.
You know what this means, right? A very common symbol online…a smiley face…that has been worth millions in one form or another!
It’s likely that you have not consciously considered what possible products could be created with the combination of letters, numbers, symbols and colors. My hope is that this post will challenge you to consider new possibilities in your quest for best-selling products. Think outside the box and brainstorm how a letter or two might be able to transform your business!
My daughter, Ashlea, works at Aeropostale, so over the past several months, I’ve been in the store many times. I’ve also been paying attention to what they do and how they do it when it comes to how they create and market their products (clothes and accessories). Aeropostale is hugely popular with the younger generation and it’s evident that they understand their demographic (14 to 17 year-olds) very well. Heck, even I like a lot of their clothes and I wouldn’t consider myself a part of their target audience. That said, there are a few lessons we can ALL learn from Aeropostale when it comes to branding and product creation.
For Aeropostale, branding and product creation are synonymous. If you’ve been to one of their stores or to their website, the ONE thing that will stand out immediately is that their brand is on everything…their clothing turns their customers into walking billboards. It’s rather brilliant actually. Of course, they’re not the only company to do this…many do…but I’d have to say they’re one of the best at it for sure.
Aeropostale also provides a LOT of variations with their products. Now stay with me here…their main brand simply involves their name and the year they began their company…1987. Here is where it gets fun…the variations they create on those two elements is nearly limitless, it seems. As a product creator, this is an important lesson to understand. With just the words Aeropostale, Aero, 1987, A87 and other variations, they produce hundreds, if not thousands, of variations on the theme. You can do the same thing with your products and your business…especially if your products are image based!
Here is a challenge for you…go the the Aeropostale website and just look at their t-shirt lines…that’s it. Now, using Aero’s approach as your inspiration, consider a graphic, photograph, logo, or brand related to your business and make a list (or sketches) of every possible variation on the theme you can think of. Ask friends and family to do the same. You will be surprised (and amazed) at the outcome. I guarantee it! Then, share your results and what you learned here in the comments! I can’t wait to see what you come up with!
One of my favorite local powwows happens today, the Lawilowan American Indian Festival, and I’m excited to see friends, vendors and dancers whom I haven’t seen in a while. Of course, I’m also excited to see my girls dance again. So in honor of the powwow, I thought I’d share some great sources for “Native American” related content from the Public Domain. There is some great content out there…hope you enjoy!
The first place we’ll begin is at Google Books…the growing source for all kinds of fun things in the Public Domain. The BEST way to find Native American-related resources on Google Books is by using focused keywords…for example, not “Native American” but “Cherokee” or “Dakota tribal.”
Another favorite source for Native American-related images is the Beineke Rare Books & Manuscripts Digital Library at Yale. Here you can find a LOT of great images…many in high resolution…including photographs, fine art and illustrations.
The Internet Sacred Text Archive is a terrific source for information on tribal stories, religious ceremonies and much more. This is definitely on of my favorite sites!
To wrap up this post, I’d like to share a quick video of my girls dancing at this powwow three years ago. Enjoy!
I “wrote” the previous post titled, “Sell Quality and the Price Won’t Matter” to demonstrate a powerful method for using Public Domain content the right way…one of many “right” ways! You see, I didn’t write the article…I re-wrote it. It’s an excerpt from chapter one of a book I downloaded from Google Books that was published in 1922. I copied the text right out of Google using their “Plain text” feature and then pasted it into Microsoft Word. I went through the text and highlighted the “power points” of the chapter and compiled them into a new Word document and then started re-writing the new paragraphs into a cohesive article. You can see the original chapter with the sentences I used (bolded and in red) HERE. The whole process took me about half an hour, if that.
I wanted to present this quick Case Study to make the point that this strategy can be used in many forms and ways to create new, hybrid articles, blog posts and products. And YES, even by YOU! So what are you waiting for?! Get to it!
PS: I want to add that I could just as easily taken those SAME highlighted sentences and created PowerPoint slides with them and then taught a webinar or created a Camtasia video with them. THEN I would have a video, audio, transcription, etc. of fresh content I taught, all based on that original chapter from the book. And, BTW, this was JUST Chapter one…grin!
There are many people selling online today, especially those just starting their own business, who are convinced that the reason they cannot get more business is because their price is too high. They think that if they just cut their prices a little more than their competition, they would get a lot more business. But would they?
Truly successful companies and individuals recognize that their long-term game plan cannot be built around having the lowest price, but rather, having highest quality merchandise and charging prices corresponding with that quality.
When you look at sellers who try to establish their reputation on price, the fact becomes clear that the combined sales of these price pirates are but a fraction of the sales generated by the businesses focused on quality…and that includes selling e-books! The old axiom is true: “You get what you pay for!”
Cheap things are made for people who cannot pay more; for people who must get along the best they can with something almost as good. Unfortunately, when the expected service is not delivered, the customer is aggravated and upset. He or she never forgets the person who sold them that crappy product. On the flip side, the customer who buys a quality product soon forgets that he or she paid more for it, and remembers only the satisfaction it gives them. Quality is the strongest testimony you could ever have.
Quality means repeat orders. It creates relationships that stay with you year in and year out. It means that you will be able to hold what you have and add to it. In short, quality products means enduring success, and not success built upon the quick sands of here-today-and-gone-tomorrow customers.
Here is something else to consider, if your business were to follow a plan of meeting every price cut that you see others offer, there would be no figure for your customer to use as a basis of price comparison. In other words, selling would simmer down into a seesaw proposition. You have the lowest price today on this product, and your competitor has it tomorrow.
Permanent success can be built only on a quality foundation. A cut in price–if out of line with the general market trend–will undo a reputation for quality quicker than any other one thing. It breeds suspicion. Buyers think: “If his stuff were as good as he says it is he wouldn’t have to cut the price.” And their reasoning is logical.
So you see that quality is synonymous with satisfied customers, and we all know that the product which gives the most satisfaction, in the long run, is the easiest to sell. If you sell a product that is better than what your competitor is selling, you can be sure that the world will find it out about it and want it. Word-of-mouth spreads quickly…especially in this day and age of social media. This is why I emphasize over and over again that you should NEVER publish or re-use Public Domain content as-is. Not that the content is necessarily bad…but it is more an issue of YOUR quality. The quality of product that defines YOU as a great person or business to buy from. When people start wanting the products you are selling, the measure of your success depends only on your ability to embrace even greater opportunities as they are presented to you.
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I am an idea guy (among other things). My intense curiosity is constantly wondering (and wandering) about the “next” thing. Everywhere I look, I find myself wondering, “I wonder if there is an easy way to create that using Public Domain content?” That’s usually how the curiosity begins…including this time with what I’m sharing in this post.
Lately I’ve been doing a lot of research on new technologies that allow us to create even more custom products from Public Domain content, which previously would have been impossible or cost prohibitive. I admire companies who push the envelope with technology and then bring their successes to the rest of us. The latest companies I’ve discovered are like that…they take impossible or difficult product creation options and make them easy.
As I share my latest discoveries here, you will notice a theme. And the research paid off with new options for me (and you) to create entirely new types of products and businesses from Public Domain content. What was I researching? Wall coverings and signs!
Perhaps it’s because I’m currently remodeling my house, but I’ve been drawn to alternative ways of decorating walls, rather than just the boring paint styles…and apparently, others are curious as well. There is a definite interest out there in specialty wall coverings. The good news is that I found several companies who can help you create those wall coverings from your own images and designs (think Public Domain). You can then sell YOUR wallpaper, decals, signs, etc. to customers, on Ebay, to contractors…you get the picture (pun intended…grin).
Totally Custom Wallpaper: Offers options for custom Murals, Wallpaper, Borders, Canvas and Peel-n-Stick Decals. Their site also offers an interactive designer template that walks you through the design process, step-by-step.
Murals Your Way: Offers custom Murals in a straight-forward “choose your size, upload your image” kind of fashion. Simply upload your custom image and you’re off and running! They also provide hundreds of existing designs as well.
Java Signs: Offers options for custom Vinyl Lettering, Signs (more on this in a minute), Banners and Decals (wall decals among other things). Their site also offers easy-to-use design tools that make the creation process super simple.
Speedy Signs: Also offers options for custom Vinyl Lettering, Signs, Banners, Decals and Displays. They also offer easy-to-use design tools for creating your own custom designs.
One of the things I love about these options is that we now have a lot of flexibility in product design and offering for an entirely new market…home owners and builders. Remodeling is huge right now with the economy the way it is. More and more people are opting to remodel rather than buy or build. The sites above provide options for you, the product creator, to tap into this market in a very real way!
I also wanted to highlight another product offered on the Java Signs site…custom aluminum signs. Now when you think about metal signs, you probably think real estate or some other type of signage. I don’t…I think custom décor. If you’ve been to any store that sells unique gift ideas, you have likely seen reproductions of old Coke signs or John Deere tractor signs. That’s the direction I’m thinking in. Java Signs provides you with the opportunity to create your own line of metal signs…and Public Domain content is PERFECT for it. Use your imagination!
The LAST new product I want to highlight in this post has nothing to do with walls or signs…it has to do with your feet! Zazzle has finally introduced a brand-new line of men’s sneakers, both low-top and high-top, that you can completely customize with your own designs. I’ve been waiting for this for a LONG time and can’t wait to start designing my OWN sneaker line. You should too!!