great line. Blogging is one big padded room.
I laughed when I heard it, but it's very true.
I asked the policeman handling the dog about it and all he would
whisper is that he is a bomb sniffing dog.
I've also seen more of them at the airports like the one photoed
below. I snapped his picture at the Ontario Airport last night.
I've always enjoyed seeing animals work. Only if the Iphone had a
video camera, then I could have captured this one on the job.
People pay to list on eBay, even though there are a zillion free
places to post because eBay has an enormous community of buyers and
the likelyhood of selling your item is good. With the exception of
craigslist, there are few places that offer this.
So, if your sites new or lacks an established traffic flow of buyers,
then it's nearly impossible to sell listings. Unless the listing fee
is used to attract buyers.
If I was going to try and start a paid classified website, I'd try and
build a community first. Microsoft tried to launch a free classified
website on the strength of its funnel. I doubt that this service has
the stregth to take on craigslist. However, Facebook launched a
classified site on top of its community. I think this has a good
chance of becoming the dominant classified site.
Today I learned that a large piece of the online ad spend growth is
expected to come from online classifieds in four big categories. Jobs,
autos, misc and real estate.
eBay has been succesful with the pay per listing model, but I'm not
sure that this market isn't headed towards free.
Also, the trend is heading for decentralization of the listings. Sort
of like YouTube for classifieds.
The killer solution seems like an API that accepts listings and a
service that pushes it everywhere you would like it to be posted. For
example, I want to fill out one form, post it to ebay craigslist etc,
have an option to post it to PPC search engines and gives me a widget
to post it anywhere.
The key to messaging is providing it at the right time. As products
add features the messaging becomes increasingly complex which makes
delivering the right message more difficult.
The interesting thing is its hard to find a website that consistently
delivers messaging across the site that is effective. On HubPages we
have used a right hand nav that highlights as you change boxes. We
have placed the answers to the top customer support issues in the
boxes. However, it hasn't cut down the inquiries. I wonder if the
best messaging is simply a big button with a phone number that is
answered quickly and answers questions accurately.
Fundamentals are the core skills of running a site like customer
support, and making the app scale. Don't underestimate fundamentals.
Innovation is what makes your site standout. It differentiates you
from the noise. And its what people talk about when they describe
My advice is to innovate, but remember that successful innovations are
built on top of fundamentals. If Magic Johnson couldn't two hand chest
pass, he'd never be able to throw a 92 ft no look behind the back
bounce pass through a defenders legs and over the next persons head
for a perfect alley-oop
What I didn't get in the picture is a we're hiring for $10/hr sign
right next to it.
See, Costco pays higher wages and that attracts talent that is
knowledgable about tires. Plus they have the best return policy around.
It takes a lot more than cheap prices to beat Costco.
Just organize the site well. And follow fundamental SEO rules. It's
best to start this from the beginning.
Ok. That's it for the series.
First, create something unique. If one person loves it, the chances
are good someone else will as well. People that love something tell
Second. Let users communicate on the site. Comments, forums, chat,
and email are ways to do it. This makes a site sticky and keeps
people coming back.
When it's new, there isn't that much there, so it must be easy for
people to contribute. Digg lets users submit stories, which is easy,
but even easier is to leave a comment and even easier than that is a
one click Digg vote.
The key is to figure out how people will contribute and to make sure
there is something very easy that anyone can do to add value.
The downside is this technique has been criticized for being spammy.
So make sure users can opt out of sending emails.
The upside can be tremendous with thousands of people signing up
daily. The experience for each new user is also enhanced when they
are connected with more people they know.
Bad problems are ones that should have been prevented. I screwed up
and now it's biting me in the ass. Like a bug. Or a legal issue where
you're at fault. Or even worse, you lose customers.
Good problems are trying to decide which features to build. How to
scale because more people are using your service. Or where to invest
because your business is throwing off so much cash.
The key is to understand the type of problems you have. Then you'll
have a picture of where your business is heading.
There is a spend to grow formula and a save cash until you figure it
out formula. The big question for new companies is what are the signs
that it is time to switch from figuring it out to spend to grow.
Probably the worst mistake you can make is thinking you have it
figured out when you don't because it usually means increased spending
which takes away time.
In the end it's time that matters.
Most people defer the infrastructure work until it feels like a
nagging two year old and can't be ignored.
One thing to be cautious of is that there is probably something that
is just as painful for your customers that use the site everyday.
Fix your customers problems before you fix your own.
The biggest gains in traffic have been where few things change for a
longer period of time. While the biggest step backwards has been
after our most major changes.
However, after each major update the site does recover and hit new
A good thing to keep in mind when updating the site is can you
pinpoint causality for traffic changes and adjust quickly for unwanted
I've had to learn to avoid the energy sucker. Worry. Nothing does
less for yourself or your company.
Note to self. Apply all energy to opportunity and progress.
(waiting for the J)
And wondering where we'll find our next engineer to hire.
I have also learned to put fewer items in the next release. My
suggestion is to try and shoot for monthly releases. If it takes a bit
longer, you're still OK.
Summary: Plan the strategic work at a high level. Trust engineers
to do a good job and constrain development cycles to a month.
In similar words of coach Durant "There are no parking signs and there
are no parking signs, and this is a no parking sign."