Archive for the ‘research’ Category
In order to succeed in business online, you have to understand your target audience. Who are they? Where are they? What answers are they searching for, and where? There are great tools available online that can help us determine the answers to these questions and others. It’s likely that you use some of these tools now for keyword research, trend tracking, demographic research and more. The problem I encountered with these tools, however, is that they are all over the place…each has their own website, and quite honestly, I was having trouble remembering what all the website addresses were. When good research takes you to 3 or 5 or even 10 sites, getting to those sites quickly becomes a problem.
My solution to this issue was to create a couple free sites that pull together the potpourri of research sites into two convenient, easy-to-remember websites. The first site, Online Keyword Tool, offers links to all the best and most commonly used (and a few off the beaten path) sites for conducting keyword research. The second site, Trends Research Tool, offers a compiled listing of all the best websites you can use for researching and tracking online trends in a wide variety of markets.
Whether you are an affiliate marketer, a product creator or even offline business owner, these tools should be an essential part of your research arsenal. The great news is that you can now access them from just two sites! Enjoy them and tell your friends about them!
When it comes to search engines, we all tend to get a bit myopic, thinking Google is our ONLY real choice for finding the info we need. Of course, nothing could be further from the truth! The truth is that there are literally thousands of search engines available for us to use for our “data mining” duties, and some of them are rather cool. In this post, I thought I’d share some of the search engines I have been playing with recently.
BlinkX: Blinkx offers access to over 35 million hours of index videos from across the web. Using patented conceptual search, speech recognition and video analysis software, Blinkx is extremely efficient and accurate with finding and qualifying online video. They are the world’s largest single index of rich media content on the Web, and deliver more content from a broader range of sources than either Google or Yahoo! They also offer the ability to embed a “wall” of videos based on your search results on your own website.
Technorati: Technorati has been around for quite a while, but it’s likely that you aren’t using it, which is why I’ve included it in this list. They are the leading blog search engine and directory and indexes more than a million blogs. So if you are looking for relevant info on your topic and want to see what other bloggers are writing about, Technorati is your answer. You can also use the results to find articles related to your topic so that you can comment and benefit from the backlinks. I personally use it for leads on new content and info that isn’t being widely shared.
InkMesh: Inkmesh is an ebook search engine that makes it easier to find free ebooks and compare ebook prices for the Kindle, iPhone, Sony Reader, Nook and more. What I like about this search engine is that, not only can I use it to find free e-books, but I can also use the results to “spy” on what Public Domain books are being released by others. Being an iPad user, this is a super cool website for finding e-book gems!
NowRelevant: NowRelevant was a pleasant discovery! It is the interface portal for The Internet Time Machine’s backend search engine that gives you access to every written word about a subject for the past 14 days. It monitor millions of sources and feeds to give you the most up to date and pertinent information on your subject. What that means is that rather than have to filter through ALL the results you would find through Google or Yahoo…some of them years old…NowRelevant limits your results to just the past 14 days, and they offer a time slider that allows you to cut the results down to even fewer days. Why this cool is that your results enable you to track trends easily, which means you can target your PPC campaigns (among other things) with current, relevant data! Gotta love that!
How often have you tried to find an certain type of image in the Public Domain, and no matter what you try, you can’t seem to find what you’re looking for? It can be pretty frustrating for sure! Just the other day, I received an e-mail from one of my UK customers who was experiencing that exact dilemma. She e-mailed me to ask:
“I purchased your “Easy Money Picture Project”. As you are US based it’s not surprising that your links to internet sites for public domain are going to mostly contain US public domain material. I am in the UK, I know most of the US material can be used here OK but I am interested in old images of the UK & I didn’t know whether you had come across any sites that contained such images or any UK websites that contained content from the UK.”
To be honest, I had never researched images specific to the UK, so I thought it would be a good exercise for my research skills. After spending 2 or 3 minutes with Google, I sent her a few of the results I discovered:
“Here are a few starting points for you:
Hope this helps!”
She responded back the next day with:
“I’ve just quickly linked to the sites you sent me & had a quick look & they look as though they will be very helpful, why couldn’t I find them? Must be doing wrong searches!”
I responded to her that searches can be tricky and offered keyword phrases I used to find the websites I sent her. After writing my response to her, I wondered how many MORE of you have encountered similar frustrations? So I thought I’d write a post to share the methodology behind how I research.
I’ve found that there is no rhyme or reason to why websites use the text they use in describing the contents on their websites. The sooner you learn that fact, the sooner you can move into conducting and enjoying meaningful research online.
First of all, you need to be aware of variations on your keywords. You can use a thesaurus if you get stuck. For example, let’s consider the keyword “photograph.” Photograph could also be displayed as:
To this end, you will notice in the screenshot below how this website uses the word “advert” for advertising, so if you were searching for “vintage UK advertising,” you may not find this site because of the variation.
Now, in the case of our case study, I simply used two keyword phrases:
- “vintage UK photographs”
- “old UK photographs”
Again, there are a number of variations for “old” and “vintage.” The same holds true for “UK”: United Kingdom, Britain or British Isles…and don’t forget specific locations, such as “Gloucestershire” or “London.” I think you get the idea.
Another trick I want to point out is this…when you find a site you like in Google, very often you will see a link for “similar sites” in your search results as seen in the screenshot below. CLICK that link! It will reveal even more related sites for you. Of course, you can also use SimilarSites as I mentioned in a previous post, if they offer suggestions for your sites. In the case of the UK sites, they didn’t offer any results.
Now there is ONE keyword phrase that, oddly enough, you probably DON’T want to use in your search phrase…”Public Domain.” Seems odd to say that being that this is the Public Domain Blog, but the truth is that it’s not a common word that many sites use. Yes, you can find Public Domain images using that phrase in your searches, but I can tell you from experience that you will not get the kinds of results you truly want if you include it. As a matter of fact, with this case study, my customer indeed wrote back and said she was searching using the keyword phrase, “public domain vintage UK photos” among others and wasn’t finding the sites I found. Notice that her search phrase is a variation of one of mine except for a noticeable difference…she included the phrase, “public domain.”
To learn even MORE methods for finding and using images from the Public Domain, check out, “Easy Money Picture Project,” my comprehensive book on how to profit from Public Domain images and photos.
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!
Recently I was on the phone with one of my new friends from the Useppa Island Mastermind I participated in and he REALLY wanted me to talk to his Mom about the Public Domain. So I spent about 5 minutes sharing the basics and then we discussed what she did for a living. Turns out that “Mom” is in a very cool niche and has a list of 20,000+ subscribers who are very active and motivated to purchase products related to that niche.
I shared my experience with product creation using Public Domain content and offered to research for content that would serve her market well and a deal was struck. I’m absolutely confident that I’ll have NO problem finding content for a product that her customers will love. The call lasted just half an hour, and with a little research and product development time, we have a good shot at adding some serious cash to our bank accounts.
I feel confident in being able to find the content (and great content at that) because I use the SAME tools and websites I share in my products. The process works! And here’s the thing…pay CLOSE attention to this…what I just described was NOT a difficult process! Picture this…a guy introduced me to his Mom and I leveraged my ability to find content in an effort to work together with her in a mutually beneficial way.
You can do that, can’t you? Oh COURSE you can! This is NOT difficult!
You see, I don’t have experience in her niche, and I certainly don’t have a list in that niche…but she does. So my product creation skills with Public Domain content together with her relationship with her list makes for a perfect “marriage” of skills toward a common goal…to make money!
So let me ask you…
How many “Moms” or “Dads” are out there online serving their customers in specialized hot niches who you could partner with to create income opportunities with? PLENTY! And it’s highly likely that there are several in the same niche. Using proven content from the Public Domain, you can easily research and create products that would perfectly compliment the efforts of those “experts”…all the while, creating money-making, cash-building opportunities for both of you. It’s honestly a win-win situation and one that you’re going to see me doing a lot more…well, perhaps not “see” me do…I may not reveal some of those private opportunities. But no worries…there are PLENTY of other goldmines waiting for you. Just get out there and find them…and you might want to start by finding out what some “Moms” are up to online!
I want to share some valuable lessons I’ve learned through a method of research I use to determine the best niches to sell in and the types of products to develop for those niches. I will also share some unique insights with this method that you may have not considered before now, but that can have a profound impact on your product creation process.
There are a number of effective methods for researching niche markets to identify which are the best for achieving success, but the one method I want to focus on in this article is this: Using current print magazines as research tools. There are some huge benefits to utilizing print magazines for niche market research, and while some are obvious, others may be less apparent. Let’s look at these benefits as they apply to effective niche research:
1. Magazines Help Identify Niche Trends. If there is a niche you are interested in pursuing but you’re having a hard time finding print magazines related to that niche, it’s likely that the niche is a waste of your time. Of course, as in all things, there are exceptions to this rule, but I’ve found that this is a rule worth paying attention to for a number of reasons.
First off, magazine publishers spend a LOT of money doing market research as well when producing or preparing to produce a magazine. If there is little interest in a topic, the readership (also known as circulation) will not be there and neither will the advertisers; and it’s in those two areas where the money is in traditional magazine publishing. So, in a sense, we could say that you need to “follow the money.” If there is a strong readership/circulation AND an abundance of advertisers for the magazine, then it’s likely that the niche will have sales potential. A good resource to read that I highly recommend is the 2008-2009 Magazine Handbook found here: http://www.magazine.org/consumer_marketing/circ_trends/index.aspx. You can also find a wealth of magazine trend information here: http://www.mediainfocenter.org/magazine/magazinecategories.asp. Also, if you have access to it (check your local library), the SRDS manual can shed valuable insights into the true circulation numbers for most magazines. It’s worth checking out!
Another feature to watch for when searching for magazines in a specific niche is how many magazines there are for that niche! If you can only find one or two magazines for a niche, it’s likely that there is not the same public interest there that you would find for a niche that has 10 magazines in it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you should still consider the niche with only a few magazines in it, it just means that the market share is likely to be smaller.
2. Magazines Help Identify the Best Content Demands. What topics are the magazines you found writing about consistently? As you study the various magazines you find, you’re going to see trends…again, pay attention! There is a reason why those topics are coming up over and over again—it’s what the consumer is looking for! When doing this type of magazine research, I would HIGHLY recommend that you purchase copies of EVERY magazine related to your niche so that you can study the articles and content. As you review the magazines, make a list of the content topics that are the SAME in every magazine…this is valuable data that can help to focus your own product efforts. If you find that all the magazines related to your niche offer certain types of data or content, you NEED to offer those same types of data as well! This seems like an obvious point here, but not surprising, most marketers never pay much attention to this.
3. Pay Attention to the Advertisers. Just like you will see trends in the articles and features, you will also see trends in the advertising. Pay attention to this. Advertisers are paying a lot of money to be in the magazine, and many are there on a regular basis. Learn to leverage advertiser’s research and money expenditures for your own benefit. If advertisers are consistent with offering certain types of products or services within the niche your magazines serve, you need to note that and pay attention to it as well!
4. Learn From the Design and Layout of the Magazine. This point is one that most people overlook and one that can be extremely valuable for you! I’m sure I’ve been more sensitive to this because of my work as a graphic designer, but it will serve you well to deliberately consider the design and layout of the articles, features and regular columns. Here’s why…THIS is what your target audience is USED to…it’s what they see (and expect) from content in this niche. You WANT to give your customer what they want, right? Then you need to know not only what “what they want” is from a content perspective, but also how it’s being presented to them. I ALWAYS look for these design trends. Consider these questions when flipping through the magazines:
a. What fonts are being used?
b. How are photographs and artwork being used? And what types of artwork?
c. Is there secondary or support information included with the articles? What is it and how is it presented?
d. What colors are being used for headers or for backgrounds?
e. How effective are the article titles?
f. How is the Table of Contents designed?
g. Are statistics, charts and graphs used? How?
h. Are there Q&A’s, step-by-step articles, editorials, interviews, testimonials, etc.?
i. Is the content presented in bite-sized chunks or in long form? What is the balance between the two?
These questions and others help identify the design and content trends for your niche. Again, a lot of money is spent identifying these trends and then designing for them…leverage that research for your own benefit! Use the magazine design to spark ideas for your own product design, layout and creation! It will only serve to improve your product and presentation.
I love this method of research using current magazines because it gives you the ability to benefit from millions of dollars of research for a niche market, and all for the cost of a few dollars! Think about that…the publishers have spent millions in research and the advertisers have spent millions in research, and you get ALL that for $5.95 or whatever the cost of the magazine is! Now that’s leverage! Niche research just doesn’t get better than this…so use it to maximize your own efforts and enjoy the success it brings. I know I do!
Ever since Creative Commons released the new CC0 license, there has been a growing trend on Twitter of people releasing all their Twitter posts into the Public Domain. As you would expect, I’ve been investigating this and have made some rather interesting discoveries. First, the Public Domain release statement being used by Twitterers to release their posts is almost universal. It is as follows:
@tweetcc: I license my tweets under Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication license
Of course, the question on your (and everyone else’s) mind is, “Can we even find any usable content on Twitter for product creation with the 140 character limit of Twitter posts?” It’s a great question…and one that needs an answer. Along with that, I also wondered whether the released posts will be little more that simple or stupid conversations between friends. Part of me wants to dismiss it all and say, YES, the content is worthless, but there is another part of me that is prompting me to investigate further.
There are two factors that stands out to me the most with this trend. First, more and more people are releasing their Tweets into the Public Domain, which means new content is being added to the Public Domain on a moment-by-moment basis! Every day more people are jumping on this bandwagon and as I’ve tracked the development of this new trend, it’s been interesting to see how the inspiration of it seems to run within certain countries and regions. Someone in Germany releases their Twitter posts into the Public Domain and then their German friends see it and do the same. And the trend continues to spread across the globe. In a sense, you could say that it’s organic, viral marketing at its best.
The second factor I’ve noticed (and just alluded to) is that this movement isn’t just limited to the United States. As a matter of fact, based on what I’ve seen so far, I would say a third to half of those Twitterers who are releasing their Tweets into the Public Domain are from other countries…especially from Central and South American countries and certain European countries, like Germany. I find this prospect very curious.
I spent a little time reading through Twitter posts by some of those who have released their copyrights. I wanted to see if I could even find any usable content in the posts that could be repurposed in some form. Below is one interesting example that I came across from the Twitter ID @fasteasyrecipe:
# ingredient swap: try these substitutions for less fattening baked goods: – instead of white flour use whole whea.. http://tinyurl.com/czezdh
# What’s for dinner? http://twtpoll.com/xdl4r7
# chocolate play dough: What’s better than play dough? Play dough you can eat. Here’s our recipe for chocolate pla.. http://tinyurl.com/b5jv6g
# feed your mind, and the rest will follow: Ever wonder which foods are brain foods. Below are the vitamins that m.. http://tinyurl.com/74hstj
# caesar salad with garlic: 2 ounce chopped anchovies1 tablespoon minced garlic1/4 cup lemon juice4 .. http://tinyurl.com/3o2hdm
# better be balsamic: The right balsamic vinegar can make all of the difference. The older the balsa.. http://tinyurl.com/5cvehf
# happy salad day: labor day. salad day. it’s all good. this month we’re focusing on salads. there’s.. http://tinyurl.com/6glnl7
# treat yourself to a leftover makeover: it’s amazing what you can do with some staple items. here a.. http://tinyurl.com/5hkovd
# more $$$ saving tips: buy the less convienient option — boneless chicken breasts cost a lot more .. http://tinyurl.com/59n9ck
Finding these posts encouraged me that perhaps there are some content possibilities available on Twitter through this new Public Domain trend. I decided to keep searching for more examples, and after reading a lot of useless posts, I came across some posts from @quantumbrands in Amsterdam:
# Turkish Airlines plane was not so much a crash at Schiphol – more like a controlled landing
# local new crews now broadcasting on NOS with images from Turkish Airlines plane crash at Schiphol
# no fire or smoke seen at Schiphol plane crash – treating passengers for injuries
# plane crash at Schiphol – Turkish Airlines known for bad reputation with maintenance and not permitted to fly in NL until recently again
# 50 unwounded passengers they – from Schiphol plane crash
# crash plane at Schiphol came from Istanbul
# Schiphol plane crash foto from @catorghans http://tinyurl.com/afmfyt
# plane crash Schiphol – Turkish Airlines – closed off the A9 – not clear what happened – nose broken off – plane seems to be in 3 pieces
# news about plane crash Schiphol Amsterdam – 135 passengers, missed the A9, Polderbaan
As I read through the above posts, it suddenly occurred to me that what I was looking at…the reporting of a news event as it happened. This could have huge potential with certain types of product creation…especially if the accounts were first-hand accounts! After all, we DO live in an age of instant information! Of course, not all Twitter posts that share about a current event are in the Public Domain, but an increasing number of them are, so I see this as an encouraging possibility!
Here is one more example of quality information I found from the Twitter stream now in the Public Domain. These insights are courtesy @paulhyland:
#hubspot First rule in “word of mouse” marketing – use the language of the people you’re trying to reach.
#hubspot – Second rule: no coercion required. Don’t trick people into clicking on your links. Back button third most used feature on web.
#hubspot Rule number 3 – don’t be afraid of your fans sharing your stuff. Example: Grateful Dead. FYI David Scott and HubSpot CEO Deadheads!
#hubspot – was that rule #4? If you want to reach an audience you need to go where they are.
#hubspot Rule number 5 – Create triggers to encourage people to share. Easy w/ AddThis/ShareThis. Or encouraging discussion/Q&A w/ hashtag.
#hubspot last rule: Play Nice. Not like 3M – used cool idea, didn’t want to credit originator, pay a little money, turned into PR disaster.
The conclusion I’ve come to so far with this new Twitter trend is to not discount it as no big deal. Yes, there will be a lot of useless posts that are released into the Public Domain, but that’s true in any case. My challenge to you (and to myself as well) is to look beyond the obvious and the useless to “see” the potential…to explore what may be waiting in the Twitter stream for you. And perhaps the most exciting aspect of this trend is that it means new content is being added to the Public Domain EVERY day!