How to Make Your WordPress Blog Not Run Faster by Using a CDN That Goes Out of Business and You Suddenly Realize After the Fact That Maybe It Wasn’t Such a Good Idea In the First Place

My difficulty instituting a CDN continues

 

I had been using a CDN, the acronym for “Content Delivery Network”, to deliver the pictures on this blog to your browser. The reason for doing this is to speed up the load time of the web page and it certainly fit in my “Experiments with WWW” or whatever I’m calling it. A CDN stores your pictures/videos/whatever (content that is larger than the rest of the html in a site) and when the page loads your server doesn’t have to spend a bunch of time pushing that heavy content around, it can focus on the simpler and faster html  and associated scripts.

 

But, what happens when your CDN provider gets shut down and you didn’t even notice? Or get a notification? And what if that happens at exactly the same time that you upgrade your caching plugin, which leaves a file on your server that breaks the website? And not just your website, but the other three websites on the same host? What happens is that even if you put your server right side up again, all of the pictures that you call on the deceased CDN no longer answer.

 

Oh MY GOD this is SO boring!

 

The CDN I was using was called “SimpleCDN“. SimpleCDN logoAs I recall, they offerered 150Mb of storage, and up to a Gb download per month for $FREE. I’m using MAYBE 10% of that. I could pay some “cloud” service like Amazon $100.00/mo. And there are others, most of which are as expensive. SimpleCDN “fit my needs”, as they say. Apparently, SimpleCDN were using a hosting service then reselling it as a content delivery network. This article explains it better than I will, so you should read it if this type of thing is interesting to you. So the host shut them down. Hit the kill switch, with no advance notice. UH OH! Now you have subscribers who are using your service to run their websites, and they all go dark (sort of, I mean, their content wouldn’t be visible if the page tries to refer to stuff on the CDN server).

 

Two lessons I learned from this experiment:

 

  1. You get what you pay for. This is an immutable natural law. Whether it be for Graphic Design, a CDN, or a bottle of wine.
  2. If you want your blog to stay online, you MUST do some maintenance and pay attention to all the stuff you have tacked on to it.

 

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The Shocking Tale of BookLocker v. Amazon

Bangor, Maine based BookLocker has won a suit against Amazon.com which claimed Amazon violated anti-trust law. The complaint was that Amazon used intimidation and other mafia-like tactics to shut down a publisher’s ability to use their own printer by attempting to force these publishers to use Amazon’s own POD printing business, BookSurge (now called CreateSpace).

cartman

You will respect Amazon's authoritah!!!

Let’s say you are an independent publisher, a niche publisher or a small digital printing company. Continue Reading →

What Do You Mean by “On Demand”?

Not everyone agrees on the definition of “on-demand”. They’re all right, AND they’re all wrong, too.

How many ways can you make change for a dollar?

The phrase “on demand” is pretty self explanatory. Software makers use it, video services use it. Even “print on demand” has been pretty much lumped into the book publishing domain.

Digital printers and marketing service providers have taken “print on demand” a step further to include things like web to print, short run reprints of marketing collateral (maybe digital, maybe not), pick and pack fulfillment, and there are others lurking in the shadows. All of these processes are different in a lot of ways. (BTW, there are 293 ways to make change for a dollar. And probably more ways to define “on demand”). Continue Reading →

Marketing Money is Going to the Wrong Places

According to a study by Bredin Business Information (BBI) (from an article in Marketing Charts), marketers are spending too much on channels that their audience doesn’t care about, and not enough on channels they like.
The article says that marketers are putting their most of their eggs in the online basket, but the way SMBs want their communication is in a more passive form. From the article:

BBI, which surveyed both marketers and small businesses about their online and offline media preferences, top concerns and brand ratings, found that marketers are most interested in using online tactics such as microsites/resource centers, webinars and webcasts, and social networking. Offline, tactics such as PR and telemarketing are most appealing to marketers, while interest in direct mail, print advertising and trade shows all declined.

These efforts are at odds with what SMBs say they prefer, according to BBI. As a source of information about products and services, SMBs rely most on newspaper and magazine articles (43.6%) and direct mail, including letters, postcards and catalogs (43.5%)

It is perfectly reasonable that marketing agencies and enterprise marketers are moving toward the online channels. The benefits (to the marketer) are critical: more touches for less cost, theoretically better targeting, online methods are significantly easier and faster to deploy, and marketers can track response accurately and quickly.

But, if your audience prefers to get their communication in a magazine, newspaper, or direct mail, isn’t it a big waste of time and money if you choose to ignore that preference?

I think that there is are important differences between the online and offline channels that marketers should try to understand. First, with print marketing, the recipient is in control, they have the choice about where, when and how they want to read. They can carry it around, put it in the briefcase until the time is appropriate for them. A much when the reader chooses, and controls his environment for doing that, he’s going to be a lot more receptive to the information. At least that’s what I’ve found in my own world. On the other hand, online marketing is typically pushed at the reader, and even if the recipient is in a state where he’s receptive to the message, as soon as he answers his next email or visits the next website, he’s gone. And, possibly gone forever. It’s easy to attract a buyer, and just as easy to lose a buyer.

The boys (in order from left to right): Eric C...
Image via Wikipedia

Like the say on South Park: I think we learned something today. Buy some printing if you want your ads to actually work.

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Digital Printing and Prepress job trends

letters
Image by MonkeyBoy69 via Flickr

It seems from the chart below that jobs with the phrase “Digital Printing” in the job description (being precise here) were definitely trending up, even ignoring the anomalous spike in Summer ’07. Of course, the trend has turned down now.

The situation for prepress jobs is far more dismal, as this chart shows:

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Creating a Business Page on Facebook

Google Trends Facebook

Image by AJC1 via Flickr

So, I get this genius idea to start using the web for promoting my employer. I remember Facebook. Open my page, and see a link on the page (somewhere, I forget) for “Advertising”. I go there. In the tabs on the advertising page, I see something called “Lexicon”. I like big words, so I click it. Looks interesting because there are a lot of visuals depicting all the lucious data I might get. Seems like it’s going to be a knockoff of the Google model, where I can deliver ads to some kind of target through the Facebook platform.

I am still trying to understand the appeal of Facebook for someone like me. I have friends. If I want to “connect” with them I call or email, or wait for them to call me. I’m not really someone who socializes much. I enjoy a quiet evening at home, with the family, possibly taking in some Food Network or playing something on the Wii, reading a book, etc. Boring. I like it that way.

Anyway, I understand that Facebook is the preferred social Networking platform for many, why exactly I still don’t know. Nonetheless, if that’s where people are spending time online, and I want to communicate a business in that realm, I need to get a presence there and make it “searchable”, or whatever it is people do on Facebook to find things/interests/people.

I am resistant, however. The basic premise of Google is that people search for things, businesses, information, enterainment and so on. If my business fits the searchers query, I can present a targeted ad or if I’m lucky I might show up organically. Facebook exists for a different purpose. To connect with friends online. If someone is interested in printing or marketing or whatever, a cosmetic dentist, say, why would they be looking for that on Facebook?

Plus, the word “Facebook” is… I don’t know… kind of uncomfortable?

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Marketing Spending in 2009: Where’s the Money Going?

Wordle Cloud of the Internet Marketing Blog - ...
Image by DavidErickson via Flickr

In November 2008, BtoB Magazine, a magazine for marketing strategists, did an exclusive survey of marketing executives. The results were reported in their December issue. Among the results are some encouraging numbers for vendors to the industry.

According to the article’s author Kate Maddox, of 211 b-to-b marketing professionals, 31% plan to increase their marketing budgets, while 43.5% will keep their budgets flat. Only 24% will decrease their budgets in 2009.

From the article: “Significantly, of those planning increases, one-quarter intend to raise them by more than 20%, and nearly 9% plan increases between 15% and 19%.”

Some traditional media platforms will also see increased spending next year, including direct mail (36.9%), events (31.0%), telemarketing (21.8%) and print (20.6%).

However, while some marketers plan to increase spending on these media, others plan to cut spending. The survey found that 33.2% of marketers plan to cut spending on print; 30.5% will cut spending on events; 25.6% will cut direct mail spending; and 21.3% will cut outdoor advertising spending.

Where’s the money going? You guessed it: “social media” and the internet. According to Dr. Joe Webb at WhatTheyThink.com, printers can win some of that spending by exploring the “role of new media in strategy development and tactical implementation”. Print is a crucial media component in the marketing mix.

See the whole article here.

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Print Industry Hubris

Naruto whirlpool
Image by MShades via Flickr

So, I’m reading the always amusing PrintCEO blog, and almost had to re-swallow my lunch in reaction to the cloying, rose-colored insanity that I tripped over. Check it out, if you dare, by clicking this.
Here’s the comment I did not reply with, but wanted to.

Before a chorus of “Amen, Brother” starts, I’d like to say this:

You say “our industry can and will not only survive but thrive and prosper as never before.” What evidence do you have of this?

How exactly will that happen? Employment is falling, newspapers are closing, magazines are dying, high schools and colleges are no longer teaching the craft, most of the money advertisers have left is going to the internet… THE SKY IS FALLING.

The industry can no longer “hope” its way out of a bad situation (on all fronts) nor can the industry rest on its legacy as the most important vehicle for communication between people. We are not the kings, anymore. The industry has rested on its laurels for too long, and we’re being swept into a whirlpool by the internet and mobile phones.

I’d imagine a similar piece could be written by the prognosticators of the typewriter, telegraph, or horse and buggy industries.

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