Archive for the ‘cat’ tag
David Carr stops short of saying that the American magazine business is headed for a dead cat bounce, but the recent numbers on newsstand sales are grim:
Like newspapers, magazines have been in a steady slide, but now, like newspapers, they seem to have reached the edge of the cliff. Last week, the Audit Bureau of Circulations reported that newsstand circulation in the first half of the year was down almost 10 percent. When 10 percent of your retail buyers depart over the course of a year, something fundamental is at work.
I talked to an executive at one of the big Manhattan publishers about the recent collapse at the newsstand and he said, “When the airplane suddenly drops 10,000 feet and it doesn’t crash, you still end up with your heart in your stomach. Those are very, very bad numbers.”
Historically, certain categories of magazine will encounter turbulence, but this time all categories were punished in the pileup. People was down 18.6 percent, and The New Yorker had a similar drop, declining by 17.4 percent. Vogue and Cosmopolitan were down in the midteens, and Time fell 31 percent. When Cat Fancy is down 23 percent at the newsstand, it seems that there’s little place to hide. Newsweek, it should be mentioned, was off only 9.7 percent at the newsstand, but that’s cold comfort.
It’s not just consumers who are playing hard to get: advertising is down 8.8 percent year to date over the same miserable period a year ago, according to the Publishers Information Bureau. With readership in such steep decline and advertising refusing to come back, magazines are in a downward spiral that not even their new digital initiatives can halt.
Carr closes with an anecdote about his recent recent doctor’s office visit, where a pile of magazines went unread, because all the patients were staring at their cell phones.
There will be something like magazines in the post-normal economy, once the internet has gobbled all media into its enormous maw and excretes it out as mobile. But the transformation will be so large scale that it’s hard to imagine the brands like Vogue, GQ, Newsweek or Cosmo with retain much value, if any.
Etsy, the uber-cool marketplace for all things handmade and vintage, has put its intricately crocheted foot down: no more selling body parts. Or bodily fluids. Hair and teeth, however, are still allowed.
The eBay for unique goods marketplace has grown dramatically recently, pulling in $525 million in sales last year. When startups grow, challenges are inevitable, and one of them is ensuring that the company’s culture and vision survive.
So Etsy laid down the law this past week, updating its prohibited items list.
Definitely out are skulls, bones, skeletons, and bodily fluids. Preserved tissues or organs are verboten too, so that freakishly awesome white devil scalp you inherited from your ancestors will just have to stay in the family a little longer.
Teeth continue to be kosher however, so you will still be able to purchase this tasteful Human Teeth Bracelet from the cheerfully-named up-and-coming artiste Deathany97.
For some reason, drugs are also not something Etsy wants to sell. (Probably a non-compete contract with stealth-mode South American entrepreneurs.)
That includes drug paraphernalia such as hash skillets and tobacco products. But tobacco pipes are still allowed, provided they do not have carburetors.
(Google helpfully informed me that a pipe carburetor has absolutely nothing to do with a internal combustion engine.)
Speaking of which, Etsy does not want to sell your motor vehicle, boat, or RV. And hazardous materials such as mercury, matches, and lighter fluid are out too.
Cool cat nap his-and-hers pillowcases? Still absolutely and defiantly in.
Image credit: DM7/ShutterStock
Today, for those of you living under a rock, is World Cat Day. But of course, every day is cat day on the Internet. In honor of our feline friends, and their uncanny ability to send Internet users into a state of euphoria simply by existing, we present nine of the looniest cat commercials ever made. Some of the entries come from Unruly Media's new list of the most-shared cat ads ever; others are just some of our favorites. All of them are like catnip to the kitty-loving YouTube populace. Check out the gallery at the link below, and let us know your favorites.
Maki was born in April of 2001, presumably by a breeder trying for a pure Chartreux cat. I got her from the local animal shelter, the victim of a marketing problem – she had a small patch of white fur beneath her chin which made her, for show purposes, a sub-standard member of her breed. Whichever breeder created her was obviously angry about this and abused her before abandoning her to be found by one of the no-kill shelters in the area.
It took a very long time for her to get over her distrust of human beings, but she eventually did, and I hope that the remaining 11 years in a life of comfort, love, and satisfaction made up for the first few months of abuse. Maki died peacefully in her favorite cat bed with her toys nearby, no signs of illness or anything. She just stopped and moved along to her next life. As ways to leave this one go, that’s not bad at all.
As a Buddhist, I’m thankful to her for teaching that forgiveness is possible even with terrible crimes, and wish her a speedy and fortuitous rebirth. Certainly, the smiles, laughs, and love she helped to create with me and my family should contribute heavily in her favor and karma, even if she did kill a few mice along the way.
I hope to see you again soon, Maki. I’ll be on the lookout for a new kitten that seems familiar, likes matzah, and adores catnip.
For the rest of us still in this lifetime, Maki’s final lesson reminds us that we never have as much time as we need or want, so spend what you do have loving and being loved. Anything less is wasting a precious, irreplaceable resource.
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This guest post is by Mary Jaksch of Write to Done.
Imagine boosting your subscriber count by more than 50.7% in under six months.
You’d like that, wouldn’t you?
Okay, so if your blog has only about 200 subscribers, growing by more than 50% in under six months isn’t a big deal. However, it’s harder to achieve neck-snapping growth on an established blog.
Yet a combination of three booster strategies lifted Write to Done from 23,120 to 34,830 subscribers in under six months.
I’m not talking of becoming a guest-posting machine, like Danny Iny, who fired off 119 guest posts in the last nine months, or of becoming a heroic blogger like Leo Babauta. He kickstarted Zen Habits by writing five posts a week, plus five guest posts (whilst holding down a full-time job and raising a family of six kids). You wonder when these guys found time to sleep…
The number one challenge
Ask any blogger, and they’ll tell you that gaining more subscribers is their number one challenge.
My first blog, Goodlife ZEN, had an initial growth rate of … well, near zero. At the end of the second month I was so desperate, I subscribed my cat Sweetie. That made three subscribers: my son, by best friend, and my cat.
Like many newbie bloggers I asked myself: how can I gain more subscribers?
The root of the problem is that in order to grow your blog, you need traffic. But not just any traffic.
You need resonant traffic. You need the people who visit your blog to resonate with your content.
When I decided to rejuvenate Write to Done—the writers’ blog originally started by Leo Babauta—the challenge I faced was to lift this established blog into a new orbit. A combination of three booster strategies did the trick.
How to put a rocket under your blog
The booster strategies I’m talking about are simple to implement, don’t take much time and effort, and they work—no matter how big or small your blog may be.
Strategy #1: Run an event on your blog
Running an event on your blog can create a buzz and draw resonant traffic—especially if you involve other bloggers.
I experimented with this strategy early on, when I launched the “Blog with Heart” competition on Goodlife ZEN a couple of years ago. The idea behind this competition was to get other blogs to participate in creating competing lending teams for the microlending charity Kiva.
The blog that raised the most money (relative to its subscriber numbers) was declared the winner. We raised over $16,000 during this campaign and subscriber numbers on Goodlife ZEN rose dramatically.
Later on, I created From Fab to Fit: the Great Fitness Challenge, an event that created a host of new followers.
There are many different kinds of events you can run on a blog. For example, you can run charity drives, competitions, challenges, or projects on your blog.
Another great example is Courtney Carver’s Minimalist Fashion Project 303. When Courtney casually mentioned the idea of a minimalist fashion challenge to me over a late-night cup of coffee in San Francisco, I got so excited I jumped up and swept my cup off the table! Now Courtney’s blog Be More With Less is booming and the movement has spawned a Facebook page with over 3,300 Likes.
On Write to Done, I was able to utilize a ready-made event: our annual contest, the Top 10 Blogs for Writers. As part of the booster combo, we decided to run the Top 10 Blogs for Writers contest in November and December of 2011, integrating it with the two other booster strategies. We received 2,174 nominations, and traffic came pouring in.
But traffic isn’t enough to grow a subscriber base.
Reader habits have changed on the Net. Subscribing used to be a slow courtship where readers returned to a blog repeatedly before deciding to subscribe.
These days it’s more like speed-dating: you only have a few moments to turn an interested glance into a lasting relationship.
Great content, arresting headlines, and an attractive design used to be enough to grow your blog. But now you need something else to turn a first-time visitor into a subscriber.
Which brings me to the next strategy.
Strategy 2: Offer a subscription reward
If you want to turn visitors into subscribers as soon as they visit your blog, offer them a subscription reward. This could be a report, an ebook, a couple of videos, a short course, an app, or anything else that your readers would find extremely useful.
An easy solution is to compile an ebook from your best posts. This is what we did on Write to Done: we created The (nearly) Ultimate Guide to Better Writing.
You can also create a bundle of free ebooks, videos and podcasts. An example is The Blogger’s Toolbox. Another nifty way to create a subscriber reward is to invite other bloggers to contribute to an ebook.
The delivery method depends on how your subscriptions are set up. If you use an email responder service, like Aweber or Mailchimp, the delivery is pretty straightforward: create a follow-up email that goes out automatically as soon as someone confirms their subscription. The follow-up email should contain a link to a delivery page.
If you use Feedburner for subscriptions, use a plugin called RSS Footer. The plugin will put a link to your delivery page at the bottom of every post delivered by Feedburner, whether it’s by email or by RSS. You’ll need to tell your readers that the link to their freebie will be at the bottom of the next post they receive by email or in their RSS reader.
Strategy 3: Launch a product
Whenever you launch a product on your blog, you generate excitement. The excitement is generated in the run-up to the launch. The key is to foreshadow the arrival of the new product so that your readers look forward to it.
I recently asked Jon Morrow when you should start telling readers about a new product. He said, “Tell them about it as soon as you have the idea!”
Here’s an example of how a launch boosted subscriber numbers: Scott Dinsmore used a product launch to revitalize his blog, Live Your Legend, with great results. Watch the video of an interview with Corbett Barr where Scott explains how he doubled his readership during the launch.
On Write to Done, we decided to create a launch for our ebook, The (nearly) Ultimate Guide to Better Writing in order to drive traffic to the blog.
How the strategy combo works
We combined three booster strategies: creating an ebook as a subscriber reward, launching the ebook, and running an event. This gave Write to Done the momentum to grow by 50.7% in under six months.
If you want to grow your subscriber numbers dramatically, create a booster campaign in five steps:
- Produce the product you want to offer as a subscriber reward.
- Plan your event and invite other bloggers to join in.
- Get your subscriber reward in place with signup forms and delivery page.
- Launch your product.
- Run your event.
If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to take advantage of the traffic surge created by your event and the product launch.
Just make sure that your event is in tune with your blog topic so that you generate resonant traffic. This means that people who swing by your blog will be more likely to turn into subscribers—especially if you offer them a useful product in return for subscribing.
What growth strategies have you tried on your blog? Did they work? Please share them with us in the comments.
Originally at: Blog Tips at ProBlogger
Crack journalism is coming to the land of cat and Justin Bieber videos: YouTube is helping to launch a new channel with the Center for Investigative Journalism (CIR). The new “I Files” channel will curate videos from sources such as The New York Times and Al Jazeera, in a attempt to bring some much needed attention to the fledgling investigative journalism space and bolster YouTube’s multi-million dollar foray into professional content. An $800,000 grant from the Knight foundation is seeding the channel, which will share revenue with its content partners.
To justify the partnership with a website normally associated with skateboarding dogs, the I Files team cites recent evidence that user-generated content on YouTube is a growing source of serious news for the average citizen. “That’s our assignment at The I Files,” writes Stephen Talbot of the Bay Citizen, “to be timely and relevant, to provide an outlet for a citizen journalist who captures an incredible moment on camera, but above all to dig deeper and to present well-reported and engaging stories that offer real information and insights.”
The YouTube project is part of the Knight Foundation’s push for philanthropically-funded local investigative journalism, which has been hit especially hard by the financial downturn of traditional media. Last year, the FCC released a report on the decline of journalists covering local politics, and speculated about the possible corruption and negligence going unnoticed. YouTube could potentially offset this problem with user-generated content and by incentivizing the CIR’s national partners, such as the BBC, with some added viewership.
But, just how much attention YouTube will give the I Files is unknown. A spokesman for YouTube tells TechCrunch that “we highlight all kinds of news content from time to time on the site, and often highlight new channels – so you can expect that in the first few weeks after launch we’ll look for opportunities on YouTube and social media to tell more people about it.”
At today’s Eduweb conference, I had the pleasure of sitting in on Julie Campbell’s Storytelling session. Julie brought lots of things to think about and questions to ask. A few simple takeaways:
Your child never asks at bedtime to tell them about a press release. They do ask you to tell them a story. How would you make your story compelling to a 9 year old?
Find your “save the cat” moments. In the movie The Incredibles, a diversion by the hero, Mr. Incredible, to save a cat in the midst of a crisis reveals a lot more about his character than the main story plot in a very compact way. As you work on finding your story, look for “save the cat” moments of your own that appear at first to be setbacks but highlight the best parts of your overall story and brand.
You can and should always tell the truth in your stories. Even if the truth is ugly, you can improve your ability to tell a story about it skillfully.
Your customer must be your advisor. If you’re marketing to students, you’d better have a student on your advisory board or marketing team. If you’re marketing to 50 year old professionals, you’d better have them on your team in some capacity or you’re going to create and tell stories that don’t resonate.
A terrific session with lots of additional takeaways and reading lists. After I’ve bought and read all the recommended books, I’ll have a list of which ones really resonated. Thanks to Julie Campbell for a thought provoking talk.
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Personal genomics has been popping up on our radar with increasing frequency in recent years, but the same can’t yet be said of related services for pets. Sure enough, though, we recently came across a new genetic testing service that aims to help cat owners learn more about the ancestry of their feline companions.
Much like 23andMe and the other human-focused genome mapping services we featured several years back, a new effort from the University of California at Davis offers consumers a new way to trace the forbears of the cats they love. Specifically, the Cat Ancestry test – developed by Dr. Leslie Lyons and the Lyons’ Feline Genetics Laboratory in the School of Veterinary Medicine’s Department of Population Health and Reproduction – can determine which of eight major ancestral groups a given pet cat descends from. Then, once that ancestral origin has been determined, the genetics of the cat in question are compared with those of 29 breeds of cats to determine if the cat has similarities to any of a particular set of reference breeds. To order a Cat Ancestry test, consumers simply request one from the MyVGL website. When the bar-coded test package arrives, they collect a cheek swab sample from their cat with the supplied cytological brushes and return them by regular mail. Within 10 to 15 business days, an e-mailed Cat Ancestry report details the cat’s results. Pricing per test is USD 120 per cat.
In the past few months we’ve seen pet-friendly TV channels, food trucks, social networks, travel agencies and hotels, to name just a few. Biotech entrepreneurs: time to start tapping the pet-loving masses yourself?
Spotted by: Katherine Noyes
It’s not just you. GTalk is down worldwide. Google first recognized the issue and started investigating at 6:40 AM EDT. While Google Talk appears to be up at first glance, calls and messages fail to complete, likely leaving internet users feeling alone, adrift in a sea of information without anyone around to share a laugh over a cat GIF.
Since the service crashed, Google has provided hourly updates via the Google Talk Service Details page. The latest one, posted at 8:50 AM EDT, does not provide an estimated time when Google expects the service to be restored.
7/26/12 6:50 AM
We’re aware of a problem with Google Talk affecting a majority of users. The affected users are able to access Google Talk, but are seeing error messages and/or other unexpected behavior. We will provide an update by 7/26/12 7:50 AM detailing when we expect to resolve the problem. Please note that this resolution time is an estimate and may change.
Until GTalk is restored, let me suggest communicating with fellow Internetters via Skype, Aim, or even ICQ (yes, it’s still around). Or, and this is a bit crazy, but use this outage to your advantage and talk a walk outside.
TechCrunch reached out to Google for comment but the company has yet to respond.