The Write Stuff - Blogging for Fun & Profit

By Carl Weiss

Image courtesy of
When it comes to generating results online, most people still act as though a website is the be-all, end-all of Internet marketing.  That kind of thinking is so 20th Century.  Sure, before the year 2000, there were only two things you needed to succeed online: a website and a search engine.  Fifteen years later, not only is this clearly not the case, in some cases you don’t need a website to generate results at all.

Since it can take from 4-6 months on average for a website to work its way up the food change onto the first page of the major search engines, this isn’t always the best route to success for many businesses.  Sad to say it, but 99% of websites never make it onto page one.  In the first place, a website only represents 25% of the criteria that search engines use to determine ranking.  The other 75% consists of off-page media, including blogs, social networks, and videos.  Unless you have the time or money to post relevant content to Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Blogger and YouTube on a regular basis, then your chances of making it to the top of the search engines is slim to none.

However, that doesn’t mean you should throw in the towel.  Especially if your resources are limited, it is sometimes a better course of action to choose your battles and start growing your web presence on the installment basis.   One of the quickest ways you can create a growing audience that you can sell to is by blogging.

This Ain’t Your Daddy’s Blog

Started on August 23, Blogger was originally created in San Francisco by three contract programmers during the dot-com boom.  When dot-com became dot-bomb, Blogger barely survived the shake out.  Then Google came calling in 2003 and bought Blogger.  Since that time, Blogger has seen quite a few changes.  Today’s platform allows users to do much more than merely post blogs.   Fully fledged, a writer can do everything with Blogger that they can do with a website, including:

·         Post text
·         Embed videos
·         Include banner ads
·         Host forms
·         Create subsidiary pages
·         Add backlinks
·         Automatically resize to any platform
·         Generate a loyal following

Even more important is the fact that as soon as you click on the submit button, the Googlebots will spider your blog.  This means that a properly optimized blogpost could wind up on page one of Google in as little as a few hours.  Try doing that with a website.

We Don’t Need No Stinking Website!

Face it, the reason anyone builds a website is to generate exposure.  The problem with that idea is that the current monopoly exerted by Google, Yahoo and Bing means it’s their way or the highway when it comes to what generates top ranking. That makes trying to getting on page 1 very hard to do.  (This is especially true when the search engines “Tweak” their algorithms on an almost daily basis.)

But what if there was a way to generate the same or even better exposure for your business without having to rely on search engines at all.  In fact, what if I could show you a way to generate a bigger, more targeted audience while at the same time increasing conversion without the use of a website?  Would that interest you?

Before I do that, let’s take a look at the best case search engine scenario.  Let’s say for the sake of argument that you woke up one morning to find your website in position 1, page 1 on Google.  Let’s also assume that it was for a highly coveted keyword or phrase that produces 10,000 relevant searches per month.  Sounds good doesn’t it?  Well, it should, because on average the top organic listing on Google generates nearly two thirds of the clicks that land on that search.  So your website would receive around 6,500 clicks that month. 

That’s the good news.  The bad news is just because your site generated a few thousand clicks doesn’t necessarily mean that it will generate a lead, much less a registration or a sale.  That’s because on average a visitor to your site from a search engine is going to spend less than two minutes on-site before they either take action or click back to search.  After all, there are upwards of twenty listings on page 1 of Google search from which to choose.  Unless your website fulfills a need, or contains an irresistible offer that compels the visitor to act, odds are they are going to peruse several sites other than yours.  That’s the main reason people “Google it” in the first place, to comparison shop.

Blog readers are a different breed of cat.  In the first place, blog readers spend on average twice the
Courtesy of
amount of time on a blog as a visitor does when they visit a website.  Secondly, a well-written blog can not only make an impact on the reader, but it can also elevate the writer to the level of expert. That’s right, it raises your credibility!  Since it is important that a visitor know, like and trust you before they make a buying decision, you can convey much more authority with a timely blog than you can with even a highly focused website.  Best of all, once immersed in your blog, the only subsidiary clicks available are not to competing bloggers, but to the other content contained on your site.  Just like your website, Blogger comes complete with analytics that can help you adjust your message, your subsidiary content and your offers. (Take a look at a snapshot of our readership below.)

Currently, our blog is being read by almost 50,000 people per month.  This figure far exceeds the 6,500 clicks per month that our mythical website above achieved during the same period.  These blogs are well-read and our offers and ads produce results nearly every day.  This blog’s readership was generated by writing an average of 1 post every week for the past three years.  So this is something that anybody can do as long as they follow the ABC’s of successful blog writing.

A - Always intrigue the reader.  The last thing anyone wants to read is about your last board meeting or ad copy.  To create a following you need to answer a question, fulfill a need, or provide real value. A catchy title and lead paragraph are also a plus.  The objective is to inform and entertain at the same time.  (We refer to this as Infotainment.)
B – Bring your readers a great read.  We have found that the minimum copy for a great blog is 1,200 words or more.  Don’t short sheet your readers by penning only a few paragraphs.  Think magazine article as opposed to a tweet.  Your readers will thank you.
C – Create a sharing atmosphere.  Provide your audience with information that they can’t find anywhere else and they will treat you like an authority figure. Also make it easy to share your blog with others. Post it to your social nets daily so that your current following can stay current.

A few other must haves are:

1.      Keywords embedded in the title and text
2.      Backlinks to your website (if you have one)
3.      Brief bio of the writer at the end of the blog
4.      Appropriate images and/or videos embedded in the copy
5.      A clear offer or call to action

Then there is just one more task and that is to distribute your blog.  The problem is if you write the world’s best blogs and no one reads them what you have created is a billboard in the desert.  While there are a number of ways to create an audience, the most popular way to promote a post is via pay-per-click advertising.  And that can get expensive.

However, that isn’t the only way to generate an audience.  The two best organic ways to get the word out are by posting to your social nets and by working with other successful bloggers.  If you already have a substantial amount of followers on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest and/or Google+, pushing your blogposts couldn’t be simpler.  That’s because at the bottom of every Blogger blog is the F, T, P and G that were created for you to do just that.  Simply point and click to push your blog to your followers.

An even better way to generate a following is to pool your resources with fellow bloggers.  One of the services that we offer to clients is called Team Tech.  This is a peer-to-peer blogging club where members are matched with five bloggers from non-competing businesses.  Every week these blog buddies are tasked with reading each other’s blog, adding an appropriate comment and then pushing member blogs to their respective social nets.  This creates instant readership, since their blogs are seen every week by thousands of readers who would otherwise have no way of receiving their blog.  This has literally allowed us to help bloggers generate thousands of readers in less than a year for participating club members.  (If you would like to learn more about this service, call Carl or Hector at 904-410-2091.)

On top of that, we coach each team to make sure they are optimizing their blogs and acting in each other’s best interest. As part of the service we also share their blog post to our 65,000+ followers and groups we belong to. This gives each of the team tech members an additional bump each week and really kick start their readership.

The important thing is that with a little imagination, you can create an audience without having to duke it out on the search engines.  If you do have a website, adding a blog is a great source of Google Juice, since the world’s most popular search engine puts a high value on blogs that generate a substantial following.  You can also use these blogs to bolster your social networks as well, in essence killing two birds with one stone. All you have to do to succeed is apply the write stuff. 

Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio 

That Drone You Hear is the FAA Sleeping at the Switch

By Carl Weiss

Everybody these days seems to be getting into the drone craze. The military has thousands of them, Amazon covets them and millions of civilians own them. Otherwise known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), not since the dawn of manned flight more than 100 years ago, has a topic so enthralled the public and worried the federal government.  This leads us to a very real fly in the drone ointment...that of regulation, or the lack thereof.  The FAA currently has its hands full trying to manage the booming airline industry where 21st century jumbo jets are still being vectored to all the cardinal points of the compass by 1970’s technology.  The last thing the FAA wants to have to wrestle with are potentially tens of thousands of UAVs crisscrossing the friendly skies.  It’s one of the things that give bureaucrats indigestion.

Could Bureaucratic Bungling Bring Down the Civilian Drone Industry?  

Believe it or not, it was a bureaucrat by the name of William P. McCracken, Jr. that received the first pilot’s license in the US on April 6, 1927.  (To put this date into perspective, that was only a month and two weeks before Charles Lindbergh made the first solo crossing of the Atlantic on May 21.)  As assistant Secretary of Commerce for Aeronautics, McCracken had initially offered the honor of the first pilot’s license to none other than Orville Wright. Oville declined being that by the latter part of the 20's he no longer flew.  McCracken, who had earned his wings flying in the Army Air Corps during WWI, followed by a stint flying the mail, was tasked with enforcing the Air Commerce Act of 1926.  This legislation not only regulated the training and licensing of pilots, but it helped establish and manage airports, navigation aids, issue airworthiness certificates for aircraft and investigate accidents.  In short, it established the framework for the agency that would start off as the CAA and eventually evolve into the FAA we know to this day.

Fast forward nearly ninety years and we have come to the dawn of a new age of aviation, brought about by the same military that introduced aviation to the masses way back when.  While relatively a recent innovation in the eyes of the public, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles have been around for nearly as long as have been aircraft.  The first pilotless aircraft were constructed from surplus military aircraft fitted with radio controls and packed with high explosives.  Kind of a poor man’s cruise missile, these flying bombs were designed to be piloted to altitude where the pilot would engage the radio-controlled autopilot before bailing out.  Then the plane would be flown by a pilot in a second nearby aircraft.  It was this pilot's job to guide the plane to the target.  While initial tests were carried out during the First World War, it wasn’t until WWII that the technology was deemed flight worthy.  Even then there were a number of accidents, such as the one that famously claimed the life of Joe Kennedy Jr. when his B-17 loaded with Torpex  detonated prematurely, killing Kennedy and his copilot, Lieutenant Wilford John Willy.

After the Second World War, UAVs saw use as everything from pilotless target drones to the first fledgling reconnaissance drones.  These spies in the sky were used extensively during the Vietnam War, with the USAF 100th Strategic Reconnaissance wing launching nearly 3,500 Ryan Lightning Bugs for use as aerial scouts.  (554 of these were lost during the war in Southeast Asia from a combination of enemy action and mechanical problems.)  But it wasn’t until the 1980’s that the military had an epiphany that gave them a whole new mindset when it came to embracing the true capabilities that UAVs represented.

It was the Israeli Air Force that first saw the possibilities that drones represented, by using a fleet of Ryan Firebee drones they had purchased from the US to trick Egypt into firing off all their surface-to-air missiles at these UAVs at the outset of the 1973 Yom Kippur War.  This made routing the defenseless Egyptian Air Force child’s play.  In 1982, the Israeli's soundly defeated the Syrian Air Force by once again using UAVs in a number of tactical roles, including being deployed as decoys, aerial jammers and surveillance birds.  Their Scout UAV was the first to transmit live video with a 360-degree view of the terrain below.    

During the first Gulf War, the US used Pioneer UAVs developed by Israel to observe Iraqi troop deployments.  In one famous incident, a Pioneer launched from the deck of the battleship USS Wisconsin, observed Iraqi troops surrendering following the bombardment of their trenches by the ship.  This led the US to develop a new class of military UAV starting with the Predator.  At first used exclusively as an observation platform, it didn’t take the military long to figure out that the Predator was a platform big enough to handle ordinance.  An armed and beefed-up version of the Predator, which can carry two Hellfire Missiles, was eventually designated the Reaper.

Take me to your leader

Suddenly all kinds of military contractors were creating all manner of UAVs from vertical takeoff quadcopters, to drones that could be carried onto the battlefield in a backpack by troops, to miniature bugbots that could stealthily infiltrate buildings, to world traveling autonomous UAVs that can stay
Image from
airborne for days or even weeks at a time and that could be mistaken for a UFO if spotted by the public.  
Ever since the 1950’s, UFOs had become common fodder in newspapers, on TV and in the movies.  In more than one motion picture, alien lifeforms descend from their spaceship only to demand, “Take me to your leader.”  While this alien invasion never happened in real life, it was only last month when our current Commander in Chief got a taste of what this scenario could be like when a UFO landed on the White House lawn.  That’s because on February 2, a DJI Phantom quadcopter, owned and operated by a US intelligence agency employee, crash landed in front of the White House.  The employee later said that the UAV in question purportedly malfunctioned.  The President, not to mention the Secret Service, was not amused. 

Better Late Than Never?

With everyone from businessmen and women to kids having access to an ever growing armada of consumer UAVs, you would think that the federal government would be rushing to legislate the training, operation and regulation of drones.  And you would be wrong.  The FAA’s rules for the operation and certification of drones are at present four years late.  Originally the federal aviation authority had set a date of March 10, 2011 as the inception date for the establishment of regulations that among other things, would designate where, when and how high drones could fly.  But as of the date of this publication, the FAA is still asleep at the controls. 

Sad to say it, but as drones of all shapes and sizes continue to proliferate, there is no way for a US citizen to obtain either a private or commercial drone pilot’s license.  Meanwhile the skies are quite literally abuzz with consumer drones.  Aside from rankling the President, there are clear safety issues associated with fleets of unregulated UAVs.  While military UAVs such as the predator are responsible for an increasing number of deaths, it is only a matter of time before a consumer drone causes, either intentionally or unintentionally, a fatality.

Image courtesy of
Unregulated drones being flown by untrained pilots can easily come into conflict with civilian and commercial aircraft.  A number of consumer drones have the ability to fly hundreds or even more than a thousand feet high.  Everything from helicopters to aircraft taking off and landing could be damaged or even brought down should a drone inadvertently stray into their flight path.   (Everyone remembers how US Airways Flight 1549 was forced to ditch in the Hudson River in January 2009 when it crossed paths with a flock of geese.)

A blog from sums up public opinion best:

“As the delays have mounted, drone enthusiasts have grown increasingly frustrated with the FAA. In a press conference this morning, transportation secretary Anthony Foxx and FAA administrator Michael Huerta both refused to say when they thought the new proposed rules might actually be implemented–probably because it could take years. Foxx and Huerta also dodged questions about how the FAA would even be able to know if rules are being violated. Huerta said the FAA’s first focus is on ensuring people know what the rules are.” 

In the meantime, commercial drone operators have been flying on the edge of lawlessness.  To fly a UAV legally in this country currently requires a commercial operator to apply for and receive an exemption.  Since September 2014 the FAA has issued a grand total of two dozen exemptions to commercial operators.  This is a fraction of the 342 applications received.  Even more bizarre is the government’s current requirement that every applicant have a private pilot’s license.  Since there is a huge difference between flying a light plane and a drone, this is just another clear cut case of bureaucracy run amok. 

Far from being stymied by the Herculean task of studying the myriad of applications in which commercial operators could employ UAVs, an internal FAA cost-benefit study recently leaked to the press only considered four uses for civilian aerial drones: aerial photography, search/rescue, bridge inspection and precision agriculture.  While anything that saves lives or helps feed the world is a good thing, this particular study only covers the tip of the UAV iceberg. It just goes to show how ill-equipped the federal government is when it comes to dealing with the biggest innovation in civilian aviation since the Wright Brothers first flight.

While civilian drones continue to literally fly off the shelves, the FAA effort at regulating them seems to be all but grounded.  Two weeks ago, the agency proposed that commercial operators pass a written test every two years.  They also proposed restricting that commercial operators always maintain eye contact with their aircraft and that drones be restricted to an altitude of no more than 500 feet and a speed of no more than 100 mph.  On top of that, they want to restrict drones to flying only during daylight hours and they want to restrict drones from flying over anyone not involved in their use.  This means that commercial operators would literally be precluded from flying over any place that crowds gathered, which would mean that you can forget about using drones as delivery vehicles.  (Sorry Amazon.)

When it comes to enforcing the rules, that is another matter.  A recent article from the NY Times stated that, “Regardless of what the final rule says, the F.A.A. could find it difficult to enforce the regulation. It will have to rely on complaints from the public and local law enforcement. Also, the agency, which is in the middle of a major upgrade to the nation’s air traffic system to reduce congestion, may not have enough resources to monitor the thousands of drones that could take to the sky once this rule is finalized in the coming months. The agency has about 7,200 employees in its aviation safety division, a number that has not increased much in recent years.”

Is anyone awake in the halls of Congress? (or the FAA?)  Thousands of unregulated drones are already taking to the skies with unlicensed pilots at the controls.  That there needs to be rules and regulations is obvious.  Civilian drones are here to stay.  As their prices continue to fall and their flight capabilities continue to climb it is clear that doing an ostrich impersonation is hardly going to make the problems inherent in the growing fleet of civilian drones go away.  All it makes you want to do is shake your head wonder what Orville and Wilbur would have made of it.

Carl Weiss is president of Working the Web to Win, an award-winning digital marketing agency based in Jacksonville, Florida.  You can listen to Carl live every Tuesday at 4 p.m. Eastern on BlogTalkRadio