Mari Pfeiffer teaching a free session on how to create a message that attracts and converts website visitors into loyal customers

My friend (and phenomenal teacher) Mari Pfeiffer is stuck at home like the rest of us, but she’s putting her web development and business growth talents to work for those who are interested. 

She’s holding a free live session tomorrow at 10 am on YouTube geared toward a beginner audience who either already have websites or are beginning to consider designing and building one for their business. 

Several people have asked for help or advice on their business websites and so I thought, we’re all home, why not do this live? I’ll be talking about crafting a clear message that attracts and converts, and show how to put it together on your home page. I’ll also be taking any questions about website development in general.

Create a Message that attracts and converts website visitors into loyal customers

Own Your Followers: Redirecting Feeds on the Web

Every four months or so I go through and tidy up many of my feeds. Invariably a dozen or so feeds die out, but I’m noticing a recurring quirk. Most of them are within my IndieWeb folder!

A lot of the changes seem to be related to people who are shifting from one shiny toy or project to another. They all seem to say something like:

Hey Mom! Look at my fancy new static site that builds in 0.001 seconds!
Can you believe what Drupal supports in the IndieWeb now? See ya! 
I’ve moved back to good ol’ WordPress. Ahhh…
Micro.blog is awesome and requires such little maintenance. I migrated… while on vacation… in the wilderness… from my cell phone!!!
Wheee!

They’re often redirecting all their old URLs to the new site, but the one URL they commonly neglect is to create a redirect for their primary RSS, Atom, JSON or other feeds to their new feed structure. This means that the feed goes dead, and I (and others) have to notice it, then revive it. For some who simply have h-feed structures on their home page things may continue apace, particularly for the Microsub readers out there, though I haven’t been using those for as long to see as many issues.

Why are you doing all that work and making your followers do the extra manual work to go back and resubscribe?! Over the past four or five years there have been fifty or more people I’ve seen do this dance (some multiple times and even a few every 4 months or so). I totally get why they do it (because why not?!) But there should be a better way of keeping track of our major URLs and redirecting them properly.

From a continuity or even business perspective, this could be an even bigger thing as sites will likely spend a lot of time building an audience and could potentially throw it all away with the flip of a switch. I’ll be the first to admit that most of these people may not have a lot of people following them via RSS or similar means, but still?! It seems like at least once a week there’s some big newspaper, magazine, or corporate site I want to follow and I have to complain about finding their feeds. Why would you want to start all over again? 

If a social media framing is easier for some, it’s the equivalent of changing your Twitter handle for your account with a hundred thousand followers to something new with no followers instead of creating a dummy account and swapping the usernames so you can have the new name, but keep all your followers.

There are also a few serial bloggers/writers who will start up a project for 3-6 months and build a following only to shut things down though they’ll keep the domain name. Why not redirect that primary domain to one of their other or newer projects and redirect those feeds as well? You’ve spent the time building an audience, why wouldn’t you want to keep it? Am I missing something fundamental here?

We often say, own your online identity, own your domain, and own your data. Perhaps we need to remember to also “own” our friends, family, followers, our community, or more broadly our audience?

Until then, I’m still flailing away out here. Manually changing your feeds in my reader…

IndieWeb idea for the extension of ThreadReaderApp

I’d love it if ThreadReaderApp had the ability to authenticate into my personal website and publish a copy of my own tweetstorms into my blog using Micropub

This would be a great way to leverage their existing infrastructure and to allow people to put their own Tweetstorms onto their blog and solve the perennial “Why didn’t you just blog about this” commentary. 

Simultaneously saving journalism and social media

As I’m reading the notes from the New Affordability session at IndieWebCamp Austin I can’t help but to think back on my old IndieWeb business hosting idea which I’ve been meaning to flesh out more fully.

What if local newspapers/magazines or other traditional local publishers ran/operated/maintained IndieWeb platforms or hubs (similar to micro.blog, Multi-site WordPress installs, or Mastodon instances) to not only publish, aggregate, curate, and disseminate their local area news, but also provided that social media service for their customers?

Reasonable mass hosting can be done for about $2/month which could be bundled in with regular subscription prices of newspapers. This would solve some of the problems that people face with social media presences on services like Facebook and Twitter while simultaneously solving the problem of newspapers and journalistic enterprises owning and managing their own distribution. It would also give a tighter coupling between journalistic enterprises and the communities they serve.

The decentralization of the process here could also serve to prevent the much larger attack surfaces that global systems like Twitter and Facebook represent from being disinformation targets for hostile governments or hate groups. Tighter community involvement could be a side benefit for local discovery, aggregation, and interaction.

Many journalistic groups are already building and/or maintaining their own websites, why not go a half-step further. Additionally many large newspaper conglomerates have recently been building their own custom CMS platforms not only for their own work, but also to sell to other smaller news organizations that may not have the time or technical expertise to manage them.

 A similar idea is that of local government doing this sort of building/hosting and Greg McVerry and I have discussed this being done by local libraries. While this is a laudable idea, I think that the alignment of benefits between customers and newspapers as well as the potential competition put into place could be a bigger beneficial benefit to all sides.

Featured photo by AbsolutVision on Unsplash

Liked Some shopping cart comparisons by fluffyfluffy (beesbuzz.biz)
Recently I finally set up a shopping site for me to sell some of my art and other merch. In doing so I evaluated a bunch of different shopping cart providers, and decided I should share my findings.
Listened to @ Future of Web Apps: Google's Kevin Marks on social networking trends by Jemima KissJemima Kiss from the Guardian

Kevin Marks, Google's developer advocate for Open Social, talked today about the unpredictable, organic growth of social networks

Jemima Kiss interviews Kevin about Open Social at FOWA. Thu 9 Oct 2008 15.50 EDT

Kevin Marks, Google's developer advocate for Open Social, talked today about the unpredictable, organic growth of social networks. Even the biggest networks have seen their audience bases grow exponentially in unexpected communities; this is partly because of the dynamics of relationships between people, who mostly want to connect - or feel most comfortable connecting to people like themselves.

Despite some derogatory write-ups of Google's Orkut social network in the US press - "it's not a proper social network and is full of Brazilian prostitutes" - it's a perfect example of a social networking site with a strong community in one language. A community tends to mould the site to its own culture, which makes it less appealing for other languages and cultures. Clearly those with a strong English-language audience have a big advantage, despite the cultural differences of the Anglo-speaking world.

I asked Marks to explain a bit more about trends in social networking and how Open Social is trying to both facilitate growth, and respond to change. Open Social doesn't have a three-year road map, but is constantly adjusting its templates around the mapping of social information.

Some interesting philosophy of social networks from 2008 that’s still broadly applicable today. This sort of design thinking is something that IndieWeb as a service platforms like Micro.blog, WithKnown, WordPress, and others will want to keep in mind as they build.

People tend to be members of more than one network for a reason.

Originally bookmarked on December 06, 2019 at 09:00PM

Read Khoi Vinh on How His Blog Amplified His Work and Career by Kyle (Own Your Content)
It’s fair to think, what if you never monetize your website? What if no one reads your blog? What is it all for? We spoke with Khoi Vinh, Principal Designer at Adobe, author of How They Got Here: Interviews With Digital Designers About Their Careers, and a writer who’s been publishing on his blo...

👓 Should the Media Quit Facebook? — The Disinformation War | Columbia Journalism Review

Read Should the Media Quit Facebook? — The Disinformation War by Mathew Ingram (The Disinformation War)
With all that has transpired between Facebook and the media industry over the past couple of years—the repeated algorithm changes, the head fakes about switching to video, the siphoning off of a significant chunk of the industry’s advertising revenue—most publishers approach the giant social network with skepticism, if not outright hostility. And yet, the vast majority of them continue to partner with Facebook, to distribute their content on its platform, and even accept funding and resources from it.
A very solid question to be asking and to be working on answers for. 

Personally I feel like newspapers, magazines, and media should help to be providing IndieWeb-based open platforms of their own for not only publishing their own work, but for creating the local commons for their readers and constituents to be able to freely and openly interact with them.

They’re letting Facebook and other social media to own too much of their content and even their audience. Building tools to take it back could help them, their readers, and even democracy out all at the same time.

Sadly, based on what I’m seeing here, however, even CJR has outsourced their platform for this series to SquareSpace. At least they’re publishing it on a URL they own and control.

👓 📺 Bokeh is on Kickstarter | Bright Pixels

Read Bokeh is on Kickstarter by Timothy Smith (Bright Pixels)
It’s been a crazy two days. Yesterday, I published the Kickstarter for Bokeh. At the time of writing this, the project is 36 percent funded. I’m grateful to everyone who’s backed the project and shared it. There’s been a lot of stress building up to this moment. I believe in this ...
There’s not quite as much detail here as one could want. On first blush there’s nothing here when I read it because I missed the fact that there’s a video. But even with the video the details were awfully muddled about what exactly this will end up being. The fact that he mentions that it will be IndieWeb friendly could be interesting. I’m worried if some of the forthcoming microsub readers will render parts of this less useless unless it expands into other content types the way micro.blog has already.

👓 Why I’m supporting the IndieWeb (and you should too) | MarketGoo

Read Why I'm supporting the IndieWeb (and you should too) (MarketGoo)
Today, as we are facing the unethical evolution of many social platforms, there is a fresh movement called the IndieWeb that understands you're done with others owning your content, your identity, and yourself. This is why I support it and you should too!
Replied to Fixing the financial dilemma at the heart of our broken tech industry by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

I was recently forwarded Jeffrey Zeldman's piece on A List ApartNothing Fails Like Success, on the impact of venture capital on startup business models. At the end, he questions whether the indieweb is a possible answer to the predicament we find ourselves in.

I feel uniquely positioned to answer, because I've been a venture capitalist (at mission-driven accelerator Matter Ventures) and have literally started an indieweb startup, Known. I've also bootstrapped a startup and worked at one that raised hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars.

Ben does an excellent job (in a short space) encapsulating what the VC world is and how it works. He also provides some insight into ways forward for those who might want to build businesses or infrastructure that have an indie web flavor.

I agree with him that we should ultimately be looking for more zebras instead of unicorns. This model is a much better method for building value and particularly for building long term societal value.  

In sum, Ben seems to be saying that it won’t be easy–but what process of business building ever is? This may seem to paint a less-than-rosy picture, but keep in mind that Ben also doesn’t touch on the sea change of individual people who are personally choosing IndieWeb solutions for their online identities, presences, and communication. And it’s just this audience of people which Jeffrey’s piece was trying to reach out to. At the same time a lot of that audience is also most likely to begin building out businesses based upon these things, and here Ben’s expertise will stand in good stead.

Ultimately I’m sure this technology will continue to build until it reaches a full boil, and this will make it much easier for a wide array of creative and service businesses to be built upon it.

For those considering businesses who’d like a leg up, especially if you’d ever written a Twitter client of any kind, take a look at the Micropub and Microsub concepts. I’ll bet that with some modular pieces (and potentially pre-existing ones), you could add these to that old client and bring it back to life for a growing universe of more than 10,000 active websites and a potential universe of millions more. Based on the reaction to my recent presentation of some example Micropub use cases at a WordCamp, there is a huge group of people who are excited to see and use these tools.

Thanks for writing this all out for us Ben.

👓 Fixing the financial dilemma at the heart of our broken tech industry | Ben Werdmüller

Bookmarked Fixing the financial dilemma at the heart of our broken tech industry by Ben WerdmüllerBen Werdmüller (Ben Werdmüller)

I was recently forwarded Jeffrey Zeldman's piece on A List ApartNothing Fails Like Success, on the impact of venture capital on startup business models. At the end, he questions whether the indieweb is a possible answer to the predicament we find ourselves in.

I feel uniquely positioned to answer, because I've been a venture capitalist (at mission-driven accelerator Matter Ventures) and have literally started an indieweb startup, Known. I've also bootstrapped a startup and worked at one that raised hundreds of millions of venture capital dollars.

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👓 12 days of microblogging: business sites | Manton Reece

Read 12 days of microblogging: business sites by Manton ReeceManton Reece (manton.org)
It’s the 8th day in our 12 days of microblogging blog post series. Most Micro.blog accounts use the author’s name — personal blogs, writing about everyday topics or sharing stories and photos. But since Micro.blog-hosted blogs can have a custom design, separate pages, and a domain name, you ca...

👓 Why Founders Should Start With a Website, Not a Mobile App | Atrium | Julia Enthoven

Read Why Founders Should Start With a Website, Not a Mobile App by Julia Enthoven (atrium)
When I was a Stanford undergraduate in 2012, everyone seemed to be building apps. The sexiest tech startups—Snap, Uber, Facebook—were almost synonymous with the word “app,” and that the world was moving increasingly towards ?...
There’s a valuable lesson in here and it’s something that a lot of app builders don’t even consider.

👓 Journalism is the conversation. The conversation is journalism. | Jeff Jarvis

Read Journalism is the conversation. The conversation is journalism. by Jeff Jarvis (Medium)
I am sorely disappointed in The New York Times’ Farhad Manjoo, CNN’s Brian Stelter, and other journalists who these days are announcing to…
I appreciate Jeff Jarvis’ points here about not succumbing to the techno-panic, but at the same time we do need some better ways to find and disseminate these stories than relying on toxic platforms. The conversation needs more space and flexibility and perhaps this is also part of the problem. There’s no reason we couldn’t simultaneously hope for better tools for journalists while still doing as Jeff indicates. Some journalists enjoy and find value in doing battlefield reporting, but this obviously isn’t for everyone. While platforms like Twitter make finding some unseen stories easier, they definitely aren’t the end-all-be-all of the depth and breadth of stories out there. Relying solely on looking at the conversation through the lens of Twitter isn’t always the best or even only way to appreciate the broader conversation. There are far more trenches we all need to be exploring.

Here yet again, I can’t help but think that journalistic outlets ought to be using their platforms and their privilege and extend them to their audiences as a social media platform of sorts. This could kill the siren song of the toxic platforms and simultaneously bring the journalists and the public into a more direct desperate congress. There is nothing stopping CNN or The New York Times from building an open version of Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, or even blogging platform on which everyone could participate. In fact, there are already several news outlets that have gotten into the content management system business and are selling their wares to other newspapers and magazines. Why not go a half-step further and allow the public to use them as well? The IndieWeb model for this seems like an interesting one which could dramatically benefit both sides and even give journalism another useful revenue stream.