How to Break Negative Mental Habits

Patterns: Breaking In To
Plato reminds us that ‘character is habit long continued.’
The Jesuits caution, ‘give me the boy until he’s 7, I’ll give you the man.’
and Dr. Stephen Covey gave us 7 habits of successful people.
What’s going on here?
Habits are held together by patterns.

Plato reminds us that ‘character is habit long continued.’
The Jesuits caution, ‘give me the boy until he’s 7, I’ll give you the man.’
and Dr. Stephen Covey gave us 7 habits of successful people.
It seems… It’s the habits we acquire that determine the patterns we engage in.

Just Disconnect

Habits are held together by patterns.

  • Emotional patterns
  • Spiritual patterns
  • Intellectual patterns
  • Instinctive patterns

Most are established very early. The Jesuits were confident that before the age of 7, the future man was crystallized within the young child.
Yet, most book focus on creating good patterns.

  • Better time-keeping
  • Multi-tasking skills
  • Faster typing skills

New Business Patterns

One way to examine how your business works, and your role within the business, is to define new patterns. New human patterns. New business patterns.
Not revise, change, or remove existing ones.
But, create new patterns that connect the synapses together in ways you hadn’t thought of before.
It’s like thinking of a new color.

How to make Google fall in love with your blog

Put yourself in Matt Cutts’ shoes. When people click Search, you give them the best results. How do you decide what really is the best?
Understanding this is the key to creating content – not just text – for Google.
It’s after quality. Yes, I know, there are exceptions to the rule but after blogging for fifteen years, certain patterns begin to emerge.
Such as:

  • Think long term.
  • Aim to be the definitive source in your field.
  • Don’t get distracted. Trends come and go. Stay focussed.
  • Study the Webmaster Guidelines.
  • Use every Google tool available.
  • Aim to be an expert in all things Google.
  • Think like a publisher, not a blogger.

Some of these are more important than others.
Stop blogging, start publishing.
The search engine is a robot. It can’t read between the lines. Cute logos mean nothing to it. It reads your text, looks for patterns, indexes some of it, and comes back again.
You have to help Google understand what you’re offering.
Do you know?
Explain your site in a single sentence!
My site is the:
Write content that is as valuable now as it will be in five years.

  • Be the expert.
  • Make sure others know you’re the expert.
  • Create other types of content that complaint – not conflict – with your content plan.
  • Banners ads, videos, and animated gifs are (almost) meaningless to Google. If you create a video, which is indexed correctly by YouTube (which Google owns) you might have a chance.
  • Develop your content as though you were writing for a magazine. Write short chatty pieces, long essays, and balance it with photos and videos – but stick to the same theme.

More next week!
Photo by Ange

Tax on digital products?

The digital products bills (ESHB 2075 & SHB 2620) clarify – – how taxes apply to products that exist only as computer bits and bytes.  Specifically, they:

  • Define digital products as goods and services transferred electronically.
  • Make the taxation of digital products technology-neutral.
  • Include certain exclusions and exemptions for businesses and end consumers.
  • Require sellers of digital products to electronically file their tax returns, as well as pay their taxes online.
  • Provide amnesty to those who didn’t collect or pay sales or use tax on digital goods that were taxed before the effective date of this act, and explains how a credit or refund of B&O tax paid in excess of the proper amount due works.

Which digital products are subject to tax?

While downloaded digital goods (music and movies, etc.) have always been subject to sales or use tax, ESHB 2075 and SHB 2620 apply sales or use tax to all digital products, regardless of how they are accessed (downloaded, streamed, subscription service, networking, etc.). (See exclusions from the definitions and exemptions from retail sales and use tax below)
Digital products subject to sales or use tax include:

  • Downloaded digital goods (music and movies, etc.)
  • Streamed and accessed digital goods
  • Digital automated services (DAS)

The bills also cover remote access software which is now subject to sales and use tax. It does not matter if the purchaser obtains a permanent or nonpermanent right of use.

VAT on Digital Products in Europe?

The EU operates Value Added Tax (VAT) and electronic goods and services are subject to VAT at the applicable rate. Each member state may set its own rate of VAT if they want. VAT regulations are very complicated and the intent of this article is not to provide definitive guidance but rather to list some of the relevant factors.

  • VAT is not collected from foreign EU businesses
  • A business must always charge VAT to non-VAT registered entities (i.e. consumers) but should not charge VAT to foreign EU VAT registered businesses who provide them with a VAT number. These foreign EU businesses are required to declare their purchase and the tax due to their own tax authorities. See
  • From 1st July 2003, EU suppliers will no longer be obliged to charge European VAT when selling on markets outside the EU.
  • When a non-EU supplier sells to business customers in the Union (at least 90% of this market), there will in practice be no change and the VAT implications will be handled by the acquiring company in the EU under self-assessment arrangements.
  • For the non-EU supplier whose EU customers are non-business individuals or organisations, there will now be an obligation to charge and account for VAT on these sales just as EU suppliers have to do.
  • The EU has issued a directive stating VAT on all electronic services and goods should be charged in the country where they are bought. That means that, if ou are selling a digital edition of a magazine to UK customers through Apple. the VAT charged will be 20 percent, not 15.

In other words, if you are charging £10 an issue, including £1.50 worth of VAT, the changes mean you would have put the cover price up by 50p, or give an extra 50p of revenue on every sale to the tax man. See
Next week we look at tax on digital goods.

How to sell expensive 'special reports'

If you have relatively good writing skills, knowledge of an industry or specialized area, and a little determination, you should consider selling special reports, white papers, or research materials.

What are special reports?

These are reports that cover a very special topic, industry or firm. For example:

  • Biocides
  • Online Payments
  • Apple

Why are special reports so effective?
Even though the information is out there, it takes time (money) to find, package, and share.
If you can do this for less than it costs your customers, then you’re in business. It’s realty that simple.
What customers usually prefer is:

  • Downloadable – either from a link or attached to an email.
  • PDF format – so it looks the same on all PCs  and they can print it out.
  • Monthly – most customers prefer a detailed monthly report, think of those monthly business magazines, instead of a weekly newsletter.

An example?
Directions on Microsoft
In-depth reports pull together all the important details you need to intelligently evaluate new Microsoft technologies and strategies. DOM research reports help you quickly understand the significance and technical underpinnings of new Microsoft enterprise technologies.

How to find special reports topics

The most lucrative type of report writing for me was writing about IBM – The IBM Strategy Report

  • This was a lower cost version of DOM.
  • Published monthly on the 15th
  • Cost 197 per annum
  • 40 pages
  • Customers included most of IBM’s competitors.
  • Why it didn’t work?

Took on too much, eg coding, personal emails, size of publication.
Note: this was before oDesk, Google Alerts and Aweber, which I use today.

How to identify potential customers?

If, for example, you’re writing about a company, say IBM, then identify their top 100 competitors. I looked at their:

  • Software
  • Hardware
  • Services

And then looked at their products lines, for example:

  • WebSphere
  • Lotus Notes

And saw who was competing with them.
Other sources of information are:
Yahoo Finance-
Hoovers –
Type IBM v Key Competitors into Google and you get this chart from IBM:
So, there’s an ocean of information out there if you search for it.
Tip: learn to use the advanced search features on Google.
What payment model should you use? Subscription v Web Store
You have at least two options here:

  1. Subscriptions – customers pay a one-time fee, usually for a yearly subscription. In my experience, you don’t need to offer a ‘pay as you go’ option if you’re targeting corporates. If they have the budget for the subscription, then it’s fine. They just want the report. Actually, the larger companies are usually the easiest to work with as most processes are automated. It’s the small ones that complain, look for refunds, and submit technical requests.
  2. Web Store – let’s say you write a special one-off report, for example, IBM’s commitment to green initiatives. You can put this on sale on your store and then send out email reminders to your customers. Not all will want to buy it but some will. Also potential customers may buy it to judge to quality of your publications. So, write less expensive reports as ‘teasers’ for the annual subscriptions.

How much should you charge?

Look at your competitors, if you have any and see if you can make a profit based on expected sales. If you don’t, look at similar length/frequency of delivery publications in other industries.
Remember, you can always increase the subscription rates. So, it may be worth offering the subscription for a ‘break-even’ fee for the first year and then think how you can increase it. Also, you may find that selling other ‘special reports’ generates sufficient income to keep the subscription at a fixed price.
But how much?
If you plan to offer 12 issues, then consider charging at least $97. I charged $197 for the IBM Strategy Report and it didn’t seem to be an issue. Most requested a sample copy and then made the purchase. So, price isn’t usually the issue.

How to create, price, and sell digital products

In this tutorial we look at how to price a digital product, for example, an ebook, courseware, infographic, or other product that you plan to sell using amazon Kindle, Shopify, Clickbank, eJunkie, or 1ShoppingCart among others.
What’s the definition of digital goods?
One definition for the Wisconsin Finance Dept states it as:
“A “digital good” can be any product that it is transferred electronically to the purchaser, other than pre-written computer software.
Digital goods include versions of products that have historically been produced and transferred as articles of tangible personal property that are now produced and transferred electronically as digital files. A digital good can be previously recorded sounds or images such as music, movies, or video or electronic games that are transferred electronically to customers by retailers of such products.
Example of Digital Goods
An example is “recorded music produced and sold as a digitally-encoded file which is transferred electronically to the purchaser. Recorded music transferred electronically is a digital good.”
Examples of digital books include:

  • Novels and autobiographies
  • Encyclopedias, dictionaries, and repair manuals
  • Directories, such as phone directories, business directories, zip code directories
  • Educational textbooks
  • Cookbooks

Examples of what is not a digital book:

  • Newspapers or other news or information products transferred electronically, such as a website maintained by or for a local television station which posts current news, weather and sports information for viewing by the person accessing the website.
    Note (1): “Newspapers or other news or information products,” while not subject to tax as a “digital book,” may be subject to tax as an “additional digital good.”
    Note (2): Newspapers are exempt from sales and use taxes, regardless of whether they are transferred electronically or in paper form.
  • Periodicals, such as magazines issued weekly, monthly or at some other regular interval of more than on one day, scientific journals, trade publications, and newspapers issued at regular intervals other than daily.
    Note: A “periodical,” while not subject to tax as a digital book, may be subject to tax as an “additional digital good.”
  • Chat room discussions
  • Blogs:
    Note: A “blog,” while not subject to tax as a digital book, may be subject to tax as an “additional digital good.”

What is a digital product?

It is transferred electronically. (See section 201(8) of ESHB 2075 or section 203(8) of SHB 2620)
Digital goods (movies and music, etc.)
Digital automated services (services that have been automated)
The bill also covers remote access software, which is now subject to sales and use tax. (See section 201(7) of ESHB 2075 or section 203(7) of SHB 2620)
What is a digital good?

  • Data
  • Facts
  • Information
  • Sounds (music)
  • Images (movies, pictures

Next week we look at VAT on Digital Goods.
Photo: fallentomato

Do Sub-Domains Increase or Decrease Google PageRank?

Matt Cutts’ SEO blog discusses different ways Google interprets Sub-Domains and Folders. What’s important is how your Google PageRank may be affected by setting up a new blog on a sub-domain versus a folder.

Matt Cutts’ SEO blog discusses different ways Google interprets Sub-Domains and Folders. What’s important is how your Google PageRank may be affected by setting up a new blog on a sub-domain versus a new folder.

Why Sub-Domains are Better for Google PageRank

If your site has a good PageRank, then the new content you add, including pages, images, and videos, is given the same weight of the existing domain.

This means it ranks the same as the parent site after it has been indexed.

go-daddy-sub-domain-450 GoDaddy Add Subdomain Screen

With a subdomain, you are essentially starting from scratch. You need to work up and create the same amount of weight for each sub-domain.

  • Google interprets a sub-folder as a subset of a site – and awards it the same PageRank as the parent.
  • Google interprets a sub-domain as a unique site – you create the PageRank as for any new site.

However, using keywords in the sub-domain URL may increase traffic to the site as Google will identify these keywords and use them to index the pages.


How Link Weight Works

The way Google gives weight to links is also considering. For example, Google considers a link from


as internal.

BUT… this link does not carry much weight in terms of SERPs.

Now, let’s look at how Google treats links between domains and subdomains.

From what I’ve seen, Google does not treat links to and from subdomains as internal links.

Rather it treats sub-domains as separate domains.

This means that a link from


is fully weighted as an offsite link.

See article on Google Webmaster Tools.

Google PageRank & Root Domains

Google’s algorithm has changed over the years and now ‘seems’ to treats web pages independently. This means that unique web page can outrank the home page as web pages can be allocated unique PageRank values.


GoDaddy Web Hosting Control Panel

Another point is that the closer a folder is to the root, the more it gets credited with PageRank values.

Search engines appear to give more weight the closer you are to the root domain.

This means that

The ‘city’ folder will get less credit as it is further from the root.

Subdomains are treated as root, carry all the weight of root, and therefore start out with more weight right out of the gate.

Submitting to Web Directories

One problem for webmasters is that if you submit a site to a web directory – with a folder – it will probably get rejected.

However, if you submit a sub-domain, it is usually accepted as it’s seen as a unique standalone site.


Web Directories refuse Folders as they see this as a ‘deeplink’ to the home page URL. Sub-domains such as are accepted as unique sites.

Search Engine Results Position

Google, and other Search Engines, give your domain one or two listings in the search results.

Your other results are indented under the root domain. If your site is designed correctly, it will show them in logical order, which is for another post.

What this means is:

  • Using Folders – Your website will get one listing per search. Your folders will be indented in the listings under the root.
  • Using Sub-Domains – Your website get more listing per search as each Sub-Domain is interpreted as a unique site.

Note: If you use folders, you only get 2 results in the SERPs. If you sub-domains, you can potentially dominate the results page with different sites.


In most cases, using a sub-folder is best as you ‘micro-site’ is under the umbrella of the main site.

The downside is that the more pages you add, the less PR is spread across your site. My advice is to do split testing and check the results in the SERPS.

What else would you add?

PS – the screenshots were taken from the GoDaddy Web Hosting Control Panel

9 (Unusual) Ways to Make Money on Your Blog

Thanks for all the emails about the making money post last week.
You asked for a few more examples. Well, here they are.


9 (More) Ways to Make Money on Your Blog

Just one word of warning. Before you choose a product to sell online do as much research as possible. It’s very frustrating when you find that after setting up a site, selling some units, that your partner doesn’t pay up.
Ask around before you choose to invest you time. It will take a little effort but it’s worth doing. With that said, here are nine more…

  1. Music – When I created my first podcast I needed some background music and a jingle.  Where do you get these? Odesk is one option. Other companies have setup blogs offers royalty free music that you can add to your videos, podcast, and online shows. How hard can it be?
  2. Writing Templates – if you have writing skills, develop products for non-native english speakers or for specific industries. Here are templates for technical writers
  3. Voiceovers – Ever taken voice lessons? If you did, you can make money online doing screencasts, narrations, voiceovers, and tutorials. Want an example, listen to the intro to  Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast.
  4. Membership Sites – This takes hard work but… offers HUGE rewards. Do the math. 100 members paying 49 USD per month. How about 500 paying $79? The question is who’d pay? Again, focus on the business sector, for example, energy, software, finance, research, government. Look at Jay and Sterling at Internet Business Mastery  and the Third Tribe.
  5. Mobile Apps – Again, link up with others on odesk and create an app that you can sell to mobile users. Don’t create another generic me-too product. Look for something magazines will want to review. This gives you the exposure and publicity you need to sell the product. Look at the iTunes store and see what products you could make better.
  6. Buy and Sell Sites – You can use sites like to sell do this. Be careful when you start. Learn the basics. Get as much information about the site’s performance, traffic, memberships and sales. Then place a bid. This process works very well is you understand the fundamentals of web business and are prepared to be patient. Don’t get burnt by paying too much. See what others are bidding and then proceed.
  7. Languages – While this market is saturated, look for ways to offer segmented courses or products. For example, teach American Born Chinese how to speak Shanghai-hua (the dialect spoken in Shanghai). Or teach the Scottish version of Gaelic. Most products are for the Irish version.
  8. Third Parties Software – Maybe the simplest way to make money. If you can get ‘quality’ traffic in sufficient numbers, then you can sell them software on behalf of others. For example, I sell Aweber, Method123, WhiteStorm software on different sites. If you have ANY experience of these areas, then you can use this to create posts, videos, cheat sheets, downloads and other content that drives traffic back to you site.
  9. Royalties – Use sites like Createspace, which is owned by Amazon, to upload music, videos and books you have written. You will be paid royalties on each sale; there are no setup costs.

You’ll notice that many of these involve selling other products. My suggestion is to try to sell products with a medium profit margin rather than real big hitter. Why?
The market is saturated with people trying to shift the very lucrative products. It’s a battlefield. Instead, step sideways and look at areas that are under-served. You’ll get much better returns in the long run.
What else did I miss?

Sir Alex Ferguson’s Unique Interpretation of Success

Most of us congratulate our team when they win, right? What’s interesting is that many successful leaders adopt an an alternative approach. One example of this was Sir Alex Ferguson’s response when his Aberdeen team won the Scottish Cup. Did he congratulate them?

Most of us congratulate our team when they win, right? What’s interesting is that many successful leaders adopt an an alternative approach. One example of this was Sir Alex Ferguson’s response when his Aberdeen team won the Scottish Cup. Did he congratulate them?

Creating a Culture of Dissatisfaction

Aberdeen, who were a relatively small team in Scotland, managed to break up the duopoly of Glasgow Rangers and Glasgow Celtic. No mean feat at the time. And, to put this into perspective, few teams outside Glasgow have won the league since then.
Aberdeen had performed well in the league that season, and retained the Scottish Cup with a 1–0 win over Rangers.
Most managers would have done three things:

  1. Congratulate their backroom staff. Those that never get attention.
  2. Deflect the glory to others. Say it was really the players efforts.
  3. Remind them that they need to sustain it for next year.

All common sense approaches.
But Ferguson was not happy with his team’s play in that match. Actually, he was livid. He was described the win as a “disgraceful performance” in a televised interview after the match.
Ferguson worked very hard to avoid any complacency entering into the team. Despite their best efforts, he demanded more.

Using Success as a Benchmark

Think about this for a second. Most of us would revel in the moment, slap the team on the back, and back in the warm glow of success. Especially when you consider how hard it was for the team at the time.
Later Ferguson retracted his comments. But, he’d made his point. He wasn’t satisfied with this result. He wanted to create a culture where they players were never satisfied with today’s results but say them as a springboard for future success.
It’s a risky strategy.
Do you think it works?

How to Batch Schedule Tweets with Hootsuite

Tired of writing each tweet by hand? Instead of individually scheduling every tweet, you can write them in a group (batch) and then upload them all in one go. I use Hootsuite to do this, though there are other tools that let you do the same thing. Socialoomp is another I use, though the UI is a bit flaky.
Batch schedule tweets with Hootsuite

How to Batch Schedule Tweets with Hootsuite

The first thing you need to do is write the tweets.
In Hootsuite, you need to follow this format:





Batch Scheduling Tweets – Setting up the Dates

Note that all dates/times are relative to currently selected time zone. You can setup the option under the Admin section in Hootsuite.
Batch Scheduling Tweets – Setting up the URLs
URLs must contain “http://”
Batch Scheduling Tweets – Sample Format for Batch Tweet
25/12/2011 12:00,”Enter your message here”,””
This tweet will go out on the 25th of December 2011 at mid-day, which is kind of handy as you’ll probably be at home on Xmas day.

Batch Scheduling Tweets – Other Rules

  • Schedule messages at least 10 minutes from upload time
  • Assign times that end in 0 or 5, e.g. 10:00 or 10:45
  • One messages per time slot
  • No duplicate messages

Using Excel to Create Batch Schedule Tweets File

If you use Excel, format the first column to conform to HootSuite’s date requirements.
To do this:

  • Click on the “Custom” tab in Format.
  • Save your Excel document as a .CSV file.

Batch Scheduling Tweets in Hootsuite

Batch schedule tweets with Hootsuite

  • Create the file with the .cvs extension
  • Open Hootsuite
  • Click in the Compose Message Box
  • Click the Calendar icon (i.e. To schedule a message)
  • Click the Schedule in Bulk option
  • Select your file and upload it
  • Select the Twitter account you want to use (otherwise it defaults to the first account)
  • Click Submit

If it doesn’t work, look at the next section for answers.

Common Errors With Batch Uploads in Hootsuite

You may encounter the following errors:

  • File format – make sure it’s .cvs
  • Make sure your text editor doesn’t strip out the formatting. I use TextEdit (Mac) and NotePad++ (PC)
  • Be careful when you save from Excel to .CSV that the formatting doesn’t get mangled.
  • Dates are the wrong way around. 07/05 can mean May 7th or the 5th of June. Check your settings in Hootsuite and use the same format.

Sample Batch File For Scheduling Tweets

Start with a short test, such as the following:
28/07/2011 11:30,”test – pls ignore”
28/07/2011 12:30,”Social Media writing skills – what do you want to know?”
28/07/2011 13:30,”Social Media writing skills – drafting ebook today”
and then create longer batch files depending on your needs.

Why Schedule Tweets?

I do this (mostly) when I want others to know that I’m:
Bulk schedule tweets with Hootsuite

  • Working on a new project that coming online soon, i.e. Create interest in advance
  • Writing a new ebook, such as Social Media Writing Skills, and I want questions from others to help write the material
  • Looking for answers for an on-going problem, e.g. Does social media justify the efforts

I also use to schedule shoutouts to others and Follow Fridays. Why wait til Thursday night to do it!
The key is to use a little common sense. See what you can batch and then do it. Make sure to engage with others in real-time as well to balance your twitter streams. And make sure to monitor the results. See if it works. Are you getting feedback? Do people respond to the tweets? Are more clicking through to your site?
Do you schedule any of your tweets?