Change is Good

Since early 2000, we’ve had a business website at kristofcreative.com. Coded in HTML, it wasn’t able to handle a “blog”. So we did the next best thing and started this site, Observing Polarity, as a place to post articles.

Well, we finally got around to redesigning and recreating our old site which does have it’s own articles section — plus a lot more information. And, as they say, change is a good thing. So, as of June 6, all the articles on this site have been ported over to the new website and all future articles will be posted there as well.

If you’re one of the hundreds of people subscribed to the RSS feed of this site, I recommend subscribing to the new Kristof Creative RSS feed. Just click here to subscribe.

Please also feel free to visit the new site and read any of our marketing articles.

Thank you for stopping by and I look forward to seeing you there!

Michael Kristof

Productivity Tools & Services To Help Turn Your Business Into A Well-oiled Machine

It takes more than a village to build and run a successful Nashville advertising company. It takes a lot of really smart, dedicated people and reliable productivity tools and web-based services to streamline processes and keep a business running smoothly.

The majority of the listed tools are online services but I’ve also included a few offline gadgets and resources that, now that I’ve used them, I couldn’t live without.

You can click on the linked headings for more information about the tool and/or service.

Domain Names

I now own over 350 domain names. And each one is registered with Domain-Blaster.com. Why? Low price and awesome 24/7 support. They also offer web hosting and many other services. (Learn more).

WordPress

When I need to create a website fast, I count on WordPress to get the job done. A highly flexible content management system (CMS) that’s easy to install. This site runs on WordPress.(Learn more).

WordPress Themes

Once you’ve installed WordPress using their famous 5-minute installation, you need a theme (a fancy name for what the website will look like). My personal preference is to use a premium WordPress theme. I know many people prefer “free” themes but for only $39, you get unlimited access to all their themes and, frankly, they’re just built better — which means less modifications. Just upload, activate and start using. (Learn more).

LayeredTech Dedicated Servers

Once we decided we need more resources and control over our website hosting, moving to LayeredTech was pretty much a no-brainer. (Learn more).

Amazon Web Services (AWS)

From Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service) to hosting apps in the cloud, our bases are covered and our site run smooth as butter! In fact, all the heavy lifting for this site is handled by AWS. (Learn more).

E-junkie Shopping Cart

If you sell digital, down-loadable products like eBooks, e-junkie provides a great shopping cart service to make the process and cart integration (which is included) pretty darn quick. (Learn more).

Email List Management

Have you signed up for our email newsletter? Well, the sha-bang is handled through AWeber. (More info).

Freshbooks Invoicing

Freshbooks truly is painless billing. A great interface, seamless merchant account integration, account tracking — the works. Can’t begin to tell you how much time I’ve saved using this invoicing service and many of our clients have told us they like it too. Two thumbs up. (Learn more).

Appointment Scheduling

See that big red button over there on the left? That’s Setser — our new appointment scheduling service. Although the user interface could be a bit more user-friendly, it’s a really smart idea and has streamline scheduling consulting appointments. (Learn more).

WuFoo Website Forms

Whether you have a static or dynamic website, WuFoo is a really good service for quickly adding forms to your website. No programming is required to create a form and they have both free and paid packages. If you’re business is just getting off the ground, this is a great choice for you. (Learn more).

Gravity Forms

Every form on this site was built and integrated using Gravity Forms. No programming knowledge is required to create a professional form. This amazing WordPress plugin has so many great features it’s impossible to list them all here. That said, it does offer seamless integration with PayPal, Freshbooks, and MailChimp. This is a must have plugin. (Learn more).

Easy File Backups

If you need to sync files across computers, easily share file with others (no matter where they are) DropBox is a snap to use. Their free account gives you 2 GB storage and you can upgrade to a paid account when you need more space (An invaluable service when working with developers). (Learn more).

YouSendIt File Delivery

A great way to send files to anyone. Couple big benefits; files are uploaded to the YouSendIt server so you don’t have to worry about clogging up your recipients email software and the service tracks when files are accessed and downloaded. It’s like having a return receipt. You can use the service for free or get a paid account. (Learn more).

Pluggio

A great Twitter based tool for quickly finding and tweeting news and articles found through keyword based RSS feeds. A real time-saver! (Learn more).

Twitter Brand Monitoring

The best Advanced Twitter Search, Brand Monitoring, Sentiment Analysis and Reporting tools around. A must-have for any business concerned about reputation management. (Learn more).

PPC Keyword Research Tool

Like the name says, it does keyword research for PPC campaigns. Too many cool features to list here, I’d recommend clicking the link and reading about it. (Learn more).

Teaching Sells

Knowledge is power and the TeachingSells training course shows you how you can build your own membership site using what you know. Everything is covered from start to finish. A great course for anyone looking to make some money by teaching others what they know. (Learn more).

ScanSnap S300M

Going paperless has never been easier. This little scanner has a small footprint and zips through paper scanning in a flash. Everything from documents to sales receipts, ScanSnap scans it into a nice PDF I can then tag and organize. The two software apps I use with this are YEP and Paperless to organize, archive and track expenses. It’s a beautiful trio you will love. (Learn more).

Apple Computers

Don’t be fooled that being this far down on the list devalues the importance my Mac Pro Tower and Mac Pro laptop, a second Apple laptop and iPhone play into a successful work-flow because this site wouldn’t have been created without them. Sure, I could have used a PC, but that would have meant tripling the time to get anything done. Not to mention the extra lost time dealing with system crashes. But that’s just been my experience. Your mileage may differ. (Learn more).

A (Bad) Social Media Advertising Business Model

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I’ve been participating in a social media advertising program called SponsoredTweets. This is a system where advertisers pay Twitter users a specified amount (generally based on the number of followers you have) to post an advertising message for their product or service. Being that my professional background is in advertising, I was curious to see how the system would work and play out over time. So I decided to give SponsoredTweets a test run.

As my @kristofcreative account currently has a little over 2300 followers, I receive a whopping $5 each time I accept and tweet a message for an advertiser through the SponsoredTweets service.

My guidelines for accepting and tweeting such messages are as follows;

1. The product or service needs to fit in line with the content I already talk about.
2. The product or service needs be something I would actually use myself.

To-date, I’ve accepted and tweeted a total of 6 messages for total earnings of $30 which are earmarked for a local food bank.

SponsoredTweets Earnings

Up until today, I thought the service was pretty straightforward and had a clearly defined (and successful) business model; post a message (once) and get paid by the system.

Apparently, SponsoredTweets decided to change their business model from a simple post/pay system into some sort of high-bred Pay-Per-Click (PPC) model called ClickWatch. So it’s no longer a simple post one Twitter message and get paid. It’s now a system that follows a Cost-Per-Click (CPC) model. That’s to say that if the link posted in your message does not receive a certain amount of clicks, it costs the advertiser more. On the flip-side, the more clicks a link receives, the less it costs the advertiser.

This CPC business model for selling advertising isn’t bad in and of itself — it’s the same model Google uses. The problem is that SponsoredTweets isn’t Google. SponsoredTweets is a program in which advertisers pay Twitter user’s to post an advertising message on their behalf. This is no different than a company paying to place an advertisement or link on your website or blog, But SponsoredTweets ClickWatch business model changes that.

With ClickWatch, if a link in a posted message does not receive enough click-through to achieve a $1.50 CPC, SponsoredTweets requires the user to repost the message up to two more times (a total of three times). This does nothing more than boost the benefits to the advertiser (they pay less per posted message) while reducing the income for the person posting the message.

In my specific circumstance, my potential earnings of $5 per tweeted message is reduced to $1.66 per message. But the earnings reduction is, by far, not the biggest problem.

The biggest problem is that the people following you on Twitter aren’t doing so to read advertising messages. So the more advertising messages you post the more likely they are to stop following you (no one like’s to follow a spammy Twitter account).

The outcome is that you can quickly find yourself with a social media channel that’s anti-social. Plus, if you’re even remotely considered using advertising in your Twitter messages as a monetization method you’ll find that the less followers you have is directly proportional to the amount of money you can earn.

Less followers = less money.

From an initial viewpoint I can perhaps understand SponsoredTweets thinking — they’re trying to create a more viable and cost efficient program for advertisers. It doesn’t take a lot of thought to come to the conclusion that the cheaper they can offer advertising the more clients they can bring into their service. That’s all well and good until you consider that in doing so, you’re slowly destroying the only advertising vehicle you have — Twitter users. Because without them, you have nothing.

So my question to SponsoredTweets is, “Why are you integrating an advertising model that is systematically executing the people you need to succeed?” Seriously, what are you thinking?

The simple fact is that every person who has decided to follow me on Twitter has entrusted to me to not fill their stream with spam. And I value that trust — a whole lot more than helping you make more money.

So go ahead shoot yourself in the foot one more time SponsoredTweets by revoking your user’s ClickWatch status for 60-days for choosing not to Retweet a message that the advertiser approved and the Twitter user already tweeted. Because punishing people for bad choices made by the company doing the advertising is always a smart move.

And quite frankly, if your advertiser’s don’t like the CPC results they’re receiving by using your system they should either A) do more research into the people they’re making an offer to or B) Move to a PPC campaign.

I’d like to hear your thoughts about social media advertising. Do you like or hate it? Does it have a place in the Twitterverse? And if you’re using SponsoredTweets, I’d love to hear about your experience.

How to Auto Update the Copyright Notice in WordPress

It’s that time of year again.

Time for a little WordPress maintenance to update the copyright notice on your site.

For a lot of site owners, this means manually updating the year in your footer.php template. Not necessarily a hard or time-consuming task but you have to remember to actually do it. And if you manage more than one WordPress site, it can be quite tiresome.

So here’s a quick and painless way to have WordPress automatically update the copyright year for you. And it doesn’t require a plugin which is a nice bonus.

Just add this code (generally to your footer.php file).

Copyright <?php echo date('Y'); ?> by <a href="<?php echo get_option('home'); ?>/"><?php bloginfo('name'); ?></a> All rights reserved.

The first code snippet “echo date(‘Y’)” will automatically display the current year.

The second part will display your blog name (linked to your home page). If you don’t need the name linked, simply remove the href links.

That’s it!

Be Inspired Every Morning

An exceptional and inspiring video I would recommend watching every morning.

So grab a cup of coffee, a pen, a piece of paper and watch this video about how entrepreneurs change the world. Then write down your ideas. But don’t stop there. Because now is the time to ACT upon them.

Be inspired. Be innovative. Be original. And do the impossible.

Entrepreneurs Can Change the World

Credits:
Original Music: Carly Comando
Writer & Producer: Sonja Jacob
Design: Ben White.

How To Create Color Palette In Photoshop From ANY Photo

At some point in time you will want to create a color palette based on a photo image you’re working with and there are a couple options available to you.

  1. You can manually choose colors from the photo
  2. You can use an online tool to upload you photos
  3. Or you can use this quick and easy method

Using the following process in Photoshop, you can quickly create a color palette and add them to your swatches for your projects.

Create Color Palette From Photo

Drop any questions or comments below. Thanks.