Monday, September 26, 2016

State of the World Series of Polls on

I have been working on Honestpage polls, where you can create, share or vote on interesting polls, summaries and pitches. I know, there are many online tools to create and share polls, but there is poll-based community. That was my idea behind Honestpage. It is a work in progress.

I am especially excited by State of the world series of polls (there are 100+ polls in this section), where I hope to gauge the world's opinion on politics, morality, society etc. It would be great if you check out the State of the world polls and share your views. Thank you.

Some other interesting polls in 'State of the world' series:
Men and women should have equal... (check all that apply)
Rank things that are causing the most stress in your life
Most responsible for polluting the environment?
Most Hated Employment Ritual? (choose all that apply)
Rank The 50 Most important Problems In Your Country

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New Online Quiz Types On Beat The Clock and Word Of The Day

New features on Basicversity, where more than 200,000+ people have taken a free online quiz: Beat The Clock and Word of The Day. Please check out an online quiz and see how many correct answers you can give in 3 minutes!

(screenshot from a Beat the Clock quiz type)

(screenshot from Word of the day quiz type on Basicversity)

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Friday, September 16, 2016

Why Facebook advertising is a waste of money

Came across this smart writeup on how Facebook advertising waste advertisers' money. We knew this always, but the explanation is very good:

I once liked a dance company on Facebook because I know the person who made their website. Now I see adverts for dance productions. That's not advertising gold; that's a waste of advertising money.

I reckon most people's profiles are like this - a few likes or posts about something that you'd never actually buy and all that ad money is just thrown away. 90% of the adverts could be getting your profile wrong but simple confirmation bias makes us notice that 10% far more than the useless, poorly targeted adverts, so when advertisers survey people they get the impression their profiling is working. Or worse, the ad networks know that the profiling doesn't work but they carry on the myth in order to charge advertisers more.

I might well be wrong on this, but while I see adverts for things that have no appeal to me I'll keep suspecting profiling doesn't actually work.

Seems only internet marketing agencies and Ad networks, with their overpaid 'marketing experts' and their lesser-paid 'army of trolls' push the case for more FB advertising, polishing the turd masquerading as a golden egg (for some, maybe).

Also read: Can Adwords help sell ebooks? No.

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When will peak BJP come?

Peak Congress was probably its 2009 Loksabha elections win. Now it is BJP time, which plans to open 500 offices across the country and Modi says 'winning elections' is a 'national responsibility' (he said 'rashtriya kartavya', which sounds grand). Smart. Equating fortunes of a political party with what a nation must do.

Power nourishes hubris. A lot of it. We have seen Congress fail. We have seen the Left getting confused and stumbling. Now, it is BJP hubris time.

Again, one party claims to have all the right answers. People in BJP are aware of the noise they are making. Nitin Gadkari, a BJP minister, says Modi's achhe din slogan in 2014 is now a millstone, and that the Indian public will always be a 'dukhi atma'. Right.


Friday, September 09, 2016

The Career Bible: Quick Answers To 100+ Most Important Career Problems

The Career Bible is the latest and perhaps my favorite guide in The Success Manual series so far. It contains 100+ concise guides on the most important problems we face in our career, at one time or another - finding what we want to do in our career, creating a winning resume, job search, job interview, workplace survival (especially the two headed demon in form of office politics and the boss), and more.

318 Pages | 107 Easy-to-follow guides

All this for only $5

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Thursday, September 08, 2016

Can Adwords Help Sell EBooks? No.

This is a quick summary of my 60-odd days of experimenting with Adwords to promote and sell a series of How To/Reference PDF guides on various skills using Adwords. In the past, I managed Digital Marketing Campaigns for eCommerce companies.

All this happened in the last two months:

1. Good CTR (Click Through Rates) mean nothing. I mentioned in the text and display ads that these were PDF guides.

2. In the 60-odd days period, I got 1500+ clicks, and O conversions.

3. I posted in the Adwords forums about my problem and the internet advised me that only branded content sells well online. This is something worth thinking over. It needs time, some viral needs exposure.

4. Text ads are the worst. I even tried expanded text ads. I got the clicks. Nothing on the sales side.

5. A lady from Adwords (they call the new customers, and I was using Adwords from my personal account) called. She advised me to use newer kinds of Adwords ads (Gmail ads etc) and promised to check in in 14 days. I started the new ads, got the clicks (the skill guides are really useful), and waited for the lady to call back. When she didn't, I paused all the ads, except the Display and Remarketing ads.

6. I changed the landing page, A/B tested etc more that 5-6 times in this period. More clicks, but no conversions.

7. Thankfully, I got conversions from other channels: Links, emails etc.

What I learnt: Even when I used to do Digital marketing campaigns for ECommerce companies, we knew Adwords/Facebook Ads etc are money-gobblers - good for branding, but if you plan to use these to plan profitable marketing campaigns, after having figured in per-sale margin and all that, you are in for a shock. Yes, yes. Online marketing is supposed to be targetable, measurable and what not...but advertising is advertising.

So, Adwords doesn't help with ebook sales. How about Adwords' effect on other sectors?

Google (India) and Facebook (India) are perhaps the most profitable digital companies, making the most money out of ECommerce in India - Google alone makes more than Rs. 1000 crore each year from India. I am thinking of using Facebook to promote the page for the guides, but I am still figuring out the margins, which is foolish, for online advertising doesn't seem to be about margins/unit economics etc at all.

P.S. The headline should have been 'Can Adwords and Facebook Ads Help Sell Ebooks? No.'

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Friday, August 19, 2016, 2003-2016

Univision has bought Gawker Media in for $135 million in a bankruptcy auction. It will shut down, the flagship website and will run the group's other websites: Deadspin, Gizmodo, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Kotaku and Lifehacker. Billionaire Peter Thiel pursued his vendetta against, and funded Hulk Hogan's suit against the website, and a jury awarded a $140 million settlement to Hogan, causing Gawker media to file for bankruptcy. Although, the settlement is still to be challenged in higher courts and could be reversed or reduced.

Three things I thank Gawker for:

1. For 'sticking it up' the elites, for 'punching up', and for fully practicing the maxim that no one is above an investigation and the self-important should be brought down a notch or three.

2. For the good writers: Elizabeth Spiers, Choire Sicha etc left to fidn their own publishing success. I shall miss the writing of Hamilton Nolan, Sam Biddle and many other Gawker writers who provided that rare thing: Good, highly readable writing, with no pretensions. I wish them the best.

3. For putting the story ahead of the advertising budget, and refusing to Buzzfeed's model of 'lists, fluff, and sponsored writing masquerading as actual articles.' Gawker did the high-traffic sensational pieces to support the good writing elsewhere on the website, which is something other websites must follow.

Sadly, Gawker will become more famous for being a victim of a vengeful 1 percenter Peter Thiel, a cautionary tale for reporters to not antagonize the rich and the powerful.

Gawker will keep its archives online and a selection can be found here and here. I would like to hope this is not the end of news blogging.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Introducing The Success Manual: The Ultimate collection of the best advice on 200+ important skills

The Success Manual, my latest project, is an easy-to-follow encyclopedia of advice with everything, yes, everything, you will ever need to know to succeed in any career you choose, starting with how you manage yourself: create a targeted resume, get a job you want, get a raise, get a promotion, manage your boss and the politics, communicate your ideas and messages clearly to the relevant people, negotiate and persuade people, start and run a business, freelance your skills, establish a personal brand and stand out by doing great and useful things... and all the other important things you must do to get ahead.

There are 290 guides, helpfully arranged across 13 skill categories, on all the skills and tactics a professional will ever need to succeed.

This all-in-one resource is a must buy for a fresh college graduate or a seasoned professional. There is just so much we all need to know to survive and succeed.

Note: The Success Manual exists in offline forms since 2004. Now it has been updated massively, and has its own website, where you can read all the chapters and more.

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Thursday, July 24, 2014

100,000+ Online Tests taken on has crossed the 100,000 test takers milestone. That means, if you create something useful, people do come. So far we have not done any promotion, save a couple of blog posts (such as this one here) for Basicversity.

I guess I need to more than that now - add more online tests to existing 2100 (approximately), do some promotion...

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Who took away my Qwerty Android phone?

Many of us have gone through this. We were in love with our Qwerty/Blackberry phones - we typed and typed on them; we were in love with the tactile feel. Even when the Touch smartphones arrived, we were the last of the tribe to go for them, dreading till the last moment how, in the name of all the phone gods, were we going to type fast on them.

Much battery juice and data plan bandwidth has flown by till then. Who knew typing on a Touch smartphone was going to be so easy?

But, tell me this: who knew we were going to miss the soft tactile crunch of the real keyboard? Friends tell me they buy Touchscreen phones for themselves and gift Qwerty phones to their parents, who have always voted for solidity in all things in life, including phones. Some friends see young people chat away on WhatsApp, and they miss their BBM messaging and SMS-chatting days of past. They say typing on Qwerty phones is faster and familiar as they are with working on computers.

Which brings me to my central point: There will always be a demand for Qwerty phones. Let me correct myself. There will always be a demand for Qwerty smartphones - bringing the best of both worlds of Smartphone Touch OS and the likeable click-clack of real keypads.

Be that as may, most of big smartphone brands have sort of given up on making Qwerty smartphones. The last big brand model in this corner of the mobile play field was HTC Chacha. That was a cute one, that phone.

Tentpole launches from big brands give heart to other players to play catch up and launch better-priced phones and then the market is better and more wholesome for it. Where is my Samsung Galaxy Qwerty version, one might ask?

Thankfully, mid-sized phone brands have not given up on Qwerty phones, and I thank them for it. To be trying to keep a tradition of Qwerty alive, they deserve something of a Nobel prize of Mobility.

And the market has responded well. It was heartening to see the positive response to recently launched Qwerty Android phones. Take for example, the Stellar 360 from Spice Mobiles, which I hear is selling well. Here's to more Qwertified times.

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