Tag Archive | wordpress

Two Year Anniversary – Stop Crying

New Years 2014 Fire Works

The Spark n Launch Team celebrate with some backyard fireworks…

According to WordPress we just celebrated our two year anniversary – two years since we registered this account. Since our first blog post we have published over 100 articles and written another 100 draft posts. The site attracts traffic from around the world and continues to increase it’s readership. Thanks to all our loyal followers!

Unfortunately most of the traffic is spam bots, and the quality & frequency of our posts has diminished. Nevertheless we will try and keep up the web presence. If you’re interested in guest blogging or want some links shared, get in touch. Drop us a comment and share some love!

For those looking for some inspiration, check out some of our published posts below. Got a favourite post – tweet it!

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In The Beginning:
Hello world! *
Starting a Blog – Don’t expect any Shakespeare
Working for the “Man” (Draft)

WordPress Links:
About
Social
Glossary *****
Tools
Table of Content (TOC) *****

Startups – Lists:
The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (2012) *****
The Top 100 UK Startups Revealed (25-50) *****

Startups – People:
Fabrice Grinda – Musings of a Serial Entrepreneur
Jason Calacanis talks to Alex Tew of Calm.com
The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Startups – Stories:
Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories *****
14 Year Old Girl: "Stop making excuses, make something awesome”
Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus *****
Samsung's Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
Lessons Learned – Be Your Own Boss *****

Startups – Lean:
The History of Lean Startup by Steve Blank *****
Startup Is Not The Same As A New Start Business
Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in One Day
The Apprentice – Lean Startup Builds Minimum Viable Product in Two Days?
Building Your Minimum ‘Minimum Viable Product’ (MVP)

Startups – Weekends:
Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
Startup Weekend: What to Expect?
Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0) *****
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 1) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 2) (Draft)
Startup Weekend: Lessons Learned in 54 Hours (Day 3) (Draft)

Entrepreneur:
The Year of The Entrepreneur – It’s YOU again

Business Ideas / Business Planning:
How to go from Idea Guy to Execution Guy? ****
Evaluate Your Business Idea – Evaluating your spark
Business Plans – "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail" (includes business plan template)
Starting Up – 9 Business Selection Criteria
Another Way To Plan – The Business Model v Business Plan *****
Step 1 – Where to Begin
How To Get Traction? Or Why Is My Startup Broken? *****
Thinking of Starting a Startup? 8 Sentiments To Think About ****

Customer Development:
Ghetto Testing the Viability of an Idea
A Smart Bear – Jason Cohen on Startups *****

People / Management:
Why Being a Deal Maker Matters To Your Team

Social Media / Blogging:
Twitter – Tweeting to your #audience
The Problem with Twitter – Social Disconnection by Stealth ****
Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts? *****
Blogging: Is Blogging Dead?

Social Media – Experiments:
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment #1
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2
Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
Technorati – Does the verification process work?
Technorati – Does the verification process work? (Yes it does!)
Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
Social Media Experiment – How we made it onto the BBC!

Brand / Marketing:
Picking a name – The importance of brand
Affiliate Marketing 101
Lessons Learned From 10,000 Page Views ****
Online Advertising Experiment with Google AdWords
Happy V Day – Seasonal Opportunities
The Zoo Project – A Fantastic Marketing Opportunity
Product Functionality Often Trumps Beauty

Traffic / SEO:
How do you get on the Frontpage of Hacker News? (4 Links in 1 Day) ****
Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike ****

Design:
Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral ****

Toolkit:
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs – Q&As
Helpful Startup Tools for Entrepreneurs
Creating Your Very Best Startup Business Logo ****
Podcasts – Hearing and Learning From Others
Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening
Weekly Digest #1 – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources
Weekly Digest #2 – More Golden Resources for Startup Entreprenuers
New Startup Lingo – More Buzzwords
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #2
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo
The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
Need Startup Advice? – Just Ask Online

Funding:
Crowdsurfing: Alternatives to Kickstarter
Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes ***
Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
Startup Funding: I’m 15 With An Amazing Product Idea
Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available In Europe
Raising Money (Draft)
Working Full Time and Bootstrapping Your Business Startup (Draft)

Web:
Web Stats – Who is top of the league table? ***

Rants / Musings:
Why is everything broken? (Draft)
Getting Real – It’s a project, not a startup (Draft)
Web Two is awesome – Web 2.0 changes our surfing experience
The Public Image of Business People (Footballers versus Bankers)
To Code or Not To Code

Messages:
100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained
Be the First to Like Us on Facebook
Who Are We? About Us Page Updated in FAQ Format
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers (Follow Up)
Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts
New Month, New Look – What Do You Think?
Blog Milestone – 30th Post – What it means? (Mostly nothing)
Project Mackerel – Please Sir… Complete our quick survey?
Upcoming Posts – Please Vote
Project Mackerel – Sneek Peek of Prototype

Weird / Unclassified:
It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11
Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!
Random Generated Startup – Life gets easier (again)
Get hired with the help of your friend, Mark Zuckerberg?
The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)
Technology – Is a black pixel on or off? ****
Leap Year – 3 interesting facts about 29 February
April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
How the $16bn Facebook IPO looks like in cash (Image) **

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Analysis – Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available in Europe

Good News for Crowd Funding and Startup Financing

In November 2012 we published an article titled “Kickstarter Crowdfunding Now Available in Europe“. The post described Kickstarter, the well known crowd funding platform, entering the UK market.

In October 2012 Kickstarter opened it’s doors to projects in the UK. This was a remarkable event as at the time, as crowd funding was just coming into the forefront for entrepreneurs to gain financing (in the shadows of a depressed economy). This was fantastic news Kickstarter is available to projects in the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

Something Strange

The strange part was that this one post has attracted the highest volume of traffic, almost 5,000 views since it was published. And we don’t know why?!

The bulk of site visitors are from the US, then way back are UK visitors.

On keywords, it does seem that the combination of “kickstarter” and “europe” are popular:

kickstarter europe (434)
kickstarter in europe (53)
kickstarter for europe (5)
european kickstarter (15)
kickstarter from europe (13)
kick starter europe (12)
kickstarter europe alternative (12)

One thought may be that very few articles write about Kickstarter in Europe. Rather they write about “Kickstarter in the UK”. Hence our post has scored a high Google page rank and we can maintain this traffic (for now).

SEO

We guess we will leave this for the SEO experts to analyse. For now, thanks for visiting our site!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Kickstarter: Ouya raises $1million in 8 hours and 22 minutes
+ Ouya Breaks Crowdfunding Record – Exceeds Target By Millions
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

one_hundred_blog_posts_blogging_100

100 Posts – Nothing Ventured, Nothing Gained

This message marks our 100th post. It has taken over 12 months to publish 100 posts. It’s been a tough and interesting journey in the blogosphere…

Lessons Learned

What have we learned? Blogging is hard work!

+ Writing is hard
+ Building interest is hard
+ Gaining focus is hard
+ Avoiding distractions is hard
+ Getting traffic is hard
+ Getting meaningful traffic is even harder
+ Choosing what tools, platforms and techniques to use is difficult
+ Maintaining momentum is hard

In summary, if you want to start blogging – make sure you write about something that interests you and focus on the writing.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!
+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
+ Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
+ It’s a numbers game – 11/11/11 @ 11:11:11

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Blogging: Is Blogging Dead?

blogging_blog_trend_dead

tl;dr Some are questioning if blogging is alive or dead. Blogging is certainly not dead, it continues to rapidly evolve.

Is Blogging Dead?

Blogging is not dead.

Although the conventional notions of traditional old school blogging are most likely outdated.

Blogging or writing online has changed rapidly in the past few decades. Anyone can create and publish an extensive body of writing, video and photos. Blogging has become a mainstream hobby. Microblogging is intensively easy and popular.

The ease of publishing has flooded the market and pushed traditional print authors into online forums. This has essentially made gaining and audience via blogging extremely competitive. It is hard to stand out from the crowd and maintain a following.

The advent of online advertising has also spurred terrabytes of lifeless content to drive quantity (traffic), rather than quality. How can a sole blogger compete with an army of content aggregators and Search Engine Optimisers?

The days of hard coding your blog posts in HTML and having intellectual dialogue with like minded individuals is dwindling. Mass media professional bloggers are taking over with paid subscription and mass advertising models. Reputation, backing and infrastructure are keys to being noticed in this crowded space.

Blogging is not dead, it just continues to evolve.

Got an opinion on the topic? Then please leave us a comment!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Blogging: How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts?

How To Get New Traffic To Old Blog Posts

Blog Promotion

A recent Quora question asked How do you promote old blog posts?

Often a new post gains a high spike in interest when first posted. This is commonly due to promotion on social media and general timeliness of the content. After time, this attention drops off. Good posts should not be forgotten and can still be used to drive traffic.

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Old But Not Forgotten

The following 10 tips may help you attract attention to your older blog posts.

1) Remember the footer: Add a footer on all new posts to older (relevant) posts. The “You might also enjoy reading this” WordPress widget can do this automatically.

2) Add links: Add a menu bar or column that includes links to older/archived articles. This includes using sitemaps, archives and tag clouds.

3) Use categories: Ensure posts have tags and categories.

4) References: Reference older posts in new posts. For example: Back in 2010 I wrote about XYZ…

5) Create a series: Many older posts can easily gel together with newer ones.

6) Updates: Add updates to older posts. A simple “Updated (Date)” with a couple of words at the top of an older post may bring attract visitors.

7) Advertise: Share older post links on other social media site you use. In forums and community sites members may ask for advice that your older blog posts can answer.

8) Avoid Repetition: Avoid reposting older posts verbatim. This may damage your search engine rankings.

9) Analytics: Study your analytics. Discover how your visitors land on your blog and exploit these “doorways”. Remember that not all visitors will first land on your index/front page.

10) Other mediums: Utilise other communication methods to promote older posts. If you have a regular email newsletter, consider adding links to older posts in these messages.

Did these work for you? Have you got some suggestions? Leave us a comment!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?

Blog Promotion

Recently on Quora we read the questions: How do you promote your blog posts? and What are the best ways to increase traffic to a Personal Blog? We thought we would share our own experiences and respond.

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The Response

Being relatively new to the “blogosphere” we are no experts on the best methods of promotion. In fact, through our very own experimentation[2] we are still struggling with effectively executing these techniques.

Firstly, we do not believe that quantity is necessary strongly correlated to quality. We think that marketing your blog can almost take too much time away from the actual writing. So it is a personal choice on how much time you devote to writing and promotion.

Nevertheless we have read plenty of articles and hope the below can help others.

In summary you need to spend an extensive amount of time across many methods to successfully promote your blog. Often the popular blogs of today spent months/years trickling along with little to no followers; or they had luck by picking a subject matter that went viral.

(A) Tips & Tricks:

+ All of the below: You will need to put the majority or all of the below to achieve saturation point.

+ Niche: Start small and pick a small niche target market. Become the expert. It may also limit the number of competitors (noise) you need to compete with.

+ Social Media: The vast majority of experienced bloggers will say use Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc to share your posts. However this takes time and effort to build up a significant or valuable following. It takes time to maintain your presence across these sites.

+ Blog Directories: Add your blog to directory sites.

+ Feeds: Utilise RSS feeds. RSS readers remaining a popular method of readers keeping track of news from various sources.

+ Forums/Communities: Participate in online communities relevant to your blog. Again, beware this take time.

+ Tools: Use tools like IFTTT (If This Then That) to automate your messaging. For example, whenever you post a blog on WordPress, IFTTT can spread the word through all your other social channels automatically! Read the blog platform’s user manual – WordPress has some great advice on spreading the word.

+ SEO: Use your blog content to naturally appear in search results. Avoid paying anyone for this service. This can be achieved by simply being smart about your existing content. This is free.

+ Paid Advertising: This costs money but does work (at a premium). Pay for relevant visitors to your page and not likes or spam. Google Adwords and Facebook frequently hand out free credit to experiment with their tools.

+ Analytics: Use analytics to work out where your traffic is coming from. Know your conversion rates. You are trying to make the most of those visitors who actually visit and stay on your site for more than 2 seconds.

+ Mailing lists: Good old fashioned email is still massively powerful in pulling in traffic.

+ Brand: Be sure to include your blog URL in all your messaging (email, social media, business cards).

+ Networking and Guest Blogging: Speak to other bloggers and people in your ecosystem. Share content and favours for mutually beneficial results.

+ Diversification: Capture your audio through alternative mediums. Think books, videos, podcasts…

+ Time and Perseverance: It will take time for any of these methods to grow. Not all will work, at least not in isolation.

+ Bend the Rules: Leveraged paid advertising, mass marketing (spam) and/or guerilla marketing to build early traffic.

+ Offline: Get out the building. Attend conferences, meet people face-to-face. Often people read a blog because they discovered them in the flesh.

+ Good Writing: Writing and sharing personal and real experiences is always popular.

+ Ignore Frequency: We don’t believe posting regularly is important. Many of the good blogs we find are from discovering brilliant articles published years ago.

(B) Learn From Others:

The guys at SEOmoz write a terrific blog on SEO and other web marketing techniques.

One suggested 22 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic. They are summarised here but I recommend visiting the site and picking one or two to start implementing:

#1 – Target Your Content to an Audience Likely to Share
#2 – Participate in the Communities Where Your Audience Already Gathers
#3 – Make Your Blog’s Content SEO-Friendly
#4 – Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to Share Your Posts & Find New Connections
#5 – Install Analytics and Pay Attention to the Results
#6 – Add Graphics, Photos and Illustrations (with link-back licensing)
#7 – Conduct Keyword Research While Writing Your Posts
#8 – Frequently Reference Your Own Posts and Those of Others
#9 – Participate in Social Sharing Communities Like Reddit + StumbleUpon
#10 – Guest Blog (and Accept the Guest Posts of Others)
#11 – Incorporate Great Design Into Your Site
#12 – Interact on Other Blogs’ Comments
#13 – Participate in Q+A Sites
#14 – Enable Subscriptions via Feed + Email (and track them!)
#16 – Use Your Email Connections (and Signature) to Promote Your Blog
#17 – Survey Your Readers
#18 – Add Value to a Popular Conversation
#19 – Aggregate the Best of Your Niche
#20 – Connect Your Web Profiles and Content to Your Blog
#21 – Uncover the Links of Your Fellow Bloggers (and Nab ’em!)
#22 – Be Consistent and Don’t Give Up

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Be the First to Like Us on Facebook

We recently announced our foray onto Facebook. It is difficult to ignore Facebook with 900 million active users. Unfortunately we are yet to get much of a following. Therefore this is a shout out for support.

Simply log onto Facebook and visit our page. Invite your friends and share your views on entrepreneurship, startups and technology.

And don’t forget, we are also on all the other mainstream social media site – please get invovled:

twitter.com/SparknLaunch

plus.google.com/SparkNLaunch

facebook.com/SparkNLaunch

sparknlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/ (RSS)

stumbleupon.com/stumbler/sparknlaunch

technorati.com/SparkNLaunch/

sprouter.com/sparknlaunch/

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

A Smart Bear – Jason Cohen on Startups

Bear riding a bicycle launches startup

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We have just finished listening to an interview with Jason Cohen on Techzing. We first heard Jason on an interview on The Startup Success Podcast. Jason writes a very popular startup blog , is a successful entrepreneur and founder of four successful companies.

We really enjoyed listening to his views on startups and his real world experience from building his own businesses. There is so much information on startup methodologies however Jason talks in terms of actually applying these concepts. His insightful views challenge many of the norms providing common sense steps to getting your startup off the ground. You can find out more from Jason at his blog and podcast.

Below are some key points from the Techzing podcast. We thought that the ‘sell it first, build it second’ approach really smart.

+ Exponential growth – You can aim for exponential growth but understand that growth will be slow and flat in the beginning due to small starting base.

+ Blogging – Jason tried to conform to blogging best practice and rules but eventually found honest writing works better (proof with his 30k+ RSS subscribers). He wrote better and gained more followers when not worrying about the guidelines.

+ Startup Philosophy – Startup entrepreneurs talk to others in terms of therapy rather than philosophy.

+ Selling Your Startup – It is a difficult decision whether to sell your business. It is not a bad thing to question why you want to sell?

+ Growing Your Startup – Again, it is a difficult decision on how to grow your business. You can chose to grow without employing more people.

+ Evaluating Your Idea or Sell It First, Build It Second

Jason suggests you continue to talk to customers every 3 months to benefit from their insights into your product. He advocates the strength of customer interviews before even building your product.

Approach – Customer Discovery:
Write down your theories and assumptions (20 to 30).
Speak to customers.
Write customer attitudes and your own thoughts down.
Don’t try convince customer, get customer to validate or invalidate theories.
Don’t lead the witness – ask open ended questions to get the truth.
Result will likely be the following validations: Third right, third wrong, third appears while talking.
Pick the top 5 and build your product.

Key Questions:
Would you buy it? How much would you pay? Would you write a cheque today?
If you cannot see a clear niche and interest emerging then likely product will not sell.

Example:
Jason spoke 50 people (1 hour per interview) – 30 said they would buy the product, 20 actually paid.
He asked the question – Would you write a cheque today?
This approach is not a sales call but asking the questions to get real answers.
The benefit are you can get customers paying before building a product. This is the best signal of validation you can get!

This bootstrapping sales technique allows you to have income on day 1 and aids funding implementation.

+ Finding Potential Customers To Interview – Jason recommended this great cold calling technique.

Begin by searching for experts (who are likely to be your potential customers) on LinkedIn. Be sure to approach these experts honestly, openly, respectful, and be willing to pay for their time. Do not approach this as a sales call but rather a call for help.

In Jason’s experience he found that all people approached were willing to help and for free. If you cannot find people to cold call, this suggests product is going to be difficult to sell.

+ The Business Guy – Jason believes that business guys don’t exist. Business starts by getting leads and getting real things done. They doesn’t wait for development and don’t waste time with things that won’t generate sales.

+ Pricing – backup example: people willing to pay whatever cost when their server crashes

Benefits of paying for sales – mechanical process which you can control. good position to be in.
Blog followers don’t equal conversions – 2 signups from a blog post (30k) and similar result for KISSmetrics

+ Bootstrapping – Jason used early funding from friends and co-founders to build a profitable startup. He demonstrated that company could make money while asking for money. By the time Jason needed some more serious money he found funding from strategic investors easier by showcasing a proven model.

+ Happiness – Doing something that fulfills you leads to happiness. Jason gets great satisfaction from helping others (knowing that others can succeed from mentoring discussions). Discussion often leads to eliciting new ideas.

Conclusion
+ Sell it first, build it second
+ Be honest when cold calling to elicit true customer insight (early sales are incidental but essential)
+ Build a proven model to help raising more funds
+ Doing something fulfilling leads to happiness

Did you listen to the podcast? What did you think? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Blog Milestone – Lessons Learned From 50 Blog Posts

One way to celebrate your 50th blog post... (Dangerous Goods Transport)

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It’s been a long time since we celebrated our 30th blog post and even longer since our first post when we proudly blogged “Hello World”.

Today we publish our 50th post! We are often surprised how many bloggers suffer the dreaded writers block. We suffer the opposite and have a pipeline of 100+ draft posts awaiting publication.

We have learned a massive amount on startups since beginning this blog. Mostly thanks to the excellent resources available online and meeting some smart people around the place. Nevertheless there is still much more to learn in this dynamic environment.

So, what have we learned? Was it worth it? Should we keep going? Where are we? And where are we going?

On startups:
+ Startups are hard work
+ Startups are uncertain
+ Startups are different to traditional businesses
+ Your startup will probably fail

On people:
+ Your team matters
+ You don’t need to be technical (but it helps)
+ You need enthusiasm and passion
+ Be surrounded by people smarter than you
+ Don’t work in isolation, engage with others

On ideas:
+ Every good or bad idea is being done
+ Having an idea is just the beginning
+ Evaluating your idea is tough but crucial
+ You need to identify the problem
+ Getting surveys filled out is hard
+ Personal evaluation is step 1

On planning:
+ Planning is important
+ The Business Plan has been replaced by The Business Model

On customers:
+ Customer discovery starts by getting out the building and speak to people
+ You need to speak to potential customers
+ You need to know their pain points
+ You want the right customers, not the wrong ones

On development:
+ You need an MVP
+ Build it and they will come is fiction
+ Keep It Simple

On learning:
+ Entrepreneurs are willing to share their stories
+ The Internet has many great resources
+ Knowing the language helps
+ Reflection counts
+ You can never stop learning

On motivation:
+ Stop making excuses
+ Set small tasks and complete them

On blogging:
+ Getting engagement is hard
+ Upcoming posts
+ No one reads this blog, but it doesn’t matter
+ Twitter doesn’t work
+ Good writing counts
+ Looks don’t matter

On next steps:
+ Keep blogging, but write better more meaningful and honest posts
+ Start (and finish) something real
+ Interact more

Thanks to all our readers and those who have sent us feedback. We look forward to sharing another 50 posts with all of you!

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You might also enjoy:
+ Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

New Month, New Look – What Do You Think?

After several months we have finally decided to change our WordPress theme. We are now running Origin. This was to replace the Bueno theme that we found difficult to read. We are hoping the new minimalist look and feel will improve general readability and enjoyment!

What do you think? Please let us know.

We wrote about the power of keeping website design simple in an earlier post – Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral. We will report back if keeping it simple makes any difference to our blog.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Blog Milestone – 30th Post – What it means? (Mostly nothing)

+ Thirty Posts

We recently posted our 30th entry to this web blog. Our article on ‘The Public Image of Business People (Footballers versus Bankers)’ grabbed little attention however continued to be an outlet for sharing our random ramblings. We have learned a lot since our first post.

+ Super Resources

We have found and shared super resources from leading university lecturers to humble serial entreprenuers, from established online brands to early startup bloggers. It is surprising how many brilliant bits of information exist. It means that it is difficult to make excuses for not building something ‘special’.

+ Traffic Remains Low

Thirty posts in we are finding it a lot harder than expected to attract traffic and start having some meaningful discussions.

Our ‘Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Updates’ (last update) summarised our surprise at the ineffectiveness of Twitter and other Social Media tools in directing traffic to the blog. It is apparent that converting tweets and blog posts to something takes dedication and probably ‘offline’ promotion (eg TV, radio).

+ What’s next?

We will continue sharing our findings on biz startups, social media and new technology. With time we hope to build a more interactive blog and forge some new relationships with our readers. We also hope to release the first protype of our bootstrap startup idea for testing (Project Mackerel.

+ Still Here?

If you’re still reading this, then please drop us a line via the various social media devices. We love feedback and appreciate your comments.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2

Project Trout continues measuring the effectiveness of various online promotion methods as mentioned in earlier posts (Social Media Experiment #1).

The results from the last few weeks are disappointing. Especially the ineffectiveness of Twitter in driving traffic.

Updated findings:

+ Online interactions don’t always equate to anything of value.

The experts advise you to interact with other blogs and online mediums. This may constitute following another blog or leaving a friendly comment. The few interactions that gather a response back typically result in limited or no value (eg link back to your blog).

+ Efforts for attention still result in zero effect.

Promoting yourself on social media sites means competing against millions of others, even in your chosen niche. Breaking out and getting noticed is tough. Getting noticed by the right audience is even tougher.

+ Activity on Twitter doesn’t necessary drive traffic to your blog.

In an effort to interact and thank our faithful Twitter followers we sent direct messages to new joiners (including a link to our blog). We even tweeted our thanks publicly (mentioning new joiners). In the first week drove 1% of followers to our blog. This conversion rate feels awfully low, especially for those who have made the effort to ‘click’ follow.

+ Traffic doesn’t necessary equal value.

The ‘Leap Year – 3 interesting facts about 29 February‘ post gained significant interest from StumbleUpon. The problem with StumbleUpon is that users ‘stumble’ through website and therefore do not stay long on your site and do not visit other parts. This makes their visit meaningless in terms of value. (Example).

We have summarised the activities below. We hope our planned activities and patience will pay off.

Week 7:
Current focus is Twitter and WordPress blog. Google Plus has been neglected for now as difficult to gain a large following as a ‘page’ rather than a ‘user’.
Twitter: 42 Tweets, 300 Following, 92 Followers
Blog: 20 posts now available. Traffic still remains low.

Week 8:
Twitter: 56 Tweets, 300 Following, 100 Followers
StumbleUpon: Registered account and added recent posts to profile. Automatic pingback generated false spike in traffic.
Blog: 22 posts now available. Traffic still remains low.

Week 9:
Twitter: 70 Tweets, 450 Following, 125 Followers
StumbleUpon: Big spike in traffic over two days from SU however traffic falls back down to normal levels.
Technorati: Registered account. Awaiting application to be approved.
Blog: 25 posts now available. About page updated. Traffic still remains low.

Week 10:
Twitter: 82 Tweets, 440 Following, 162 Followers

Planned Activities:
Continue with Twitter activity and better blog content.

Current Links:
Wordpress: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/sparkNlaunch
Google+: plus.google.com/sparkNlaunch/
RSS: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/
StumbleUpon: stumbleupon.com/stumbler/sparknlaunch

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You might also enjoy:
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
+ Lessons Learned From A Hacker News Traffic Spike
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Who Are We? About Us Page Updated in FAQ Format

Following the sensible guidance of our friends at WordPress we have now updated our “About” section of the blog. This attempts to share our vision and connect with our readers (that’s you). We have styled this about page into a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) to try and keep things simple.

Obviously if you want to find out more click on the various social media links to get in contact. We love to hear from others (that’s you, again).

We have also added a header image to make the blog a little more visual. Drop us a response if you like or do not like. For now, here is our low down on the blog:

Q. What’s this blog about?

A. The Spark ‘n’ Launch blog grew out of the desire to record the learning journey of a budding entrepreneur. The web offers so much insightful and powerful knowledge it seemed crucial to capture these articles, videos and podcasts somewhere. Therefore this blog is our notebook or scratch pad we hope others with a similar passion and interest will benefit from.

Q. Why the rocket fetish?

A. The rocket analogy (in our name and logo) makes reference the exploration of an idea from an initial spark or brainwave, to actually delivering or launching that idea into something real.

Q. Anything else?

A. We hope you enjoy the rambling of a startup dreamer… sharing ideas and thoughts on business, startups, entrepreneurs and new technology.

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update

Late last year we kicked off Project Trout (Social Media Experiment #1), aimed to share our own experiences with using social media to gain traffic and interest.

Our findings so far are not so surprising:
+ It is hard to get noticed, even in your own niche/field.
+ It takes time for responses.
+ Some efforts have resulted in zero attention.
+ Interest in a tweet doesn’t necessary result in a visitor to your blog.

We have summarized the activities below.

Week 1:
Go live – Blog goes from private to public. 8 initial postings available.
Enabled Google Webmaster Tools.
Enabled Social Media buttons on each post.
Improved header information and text.

Week 2:
Twitter and Google Plus accounts activated. An additional 4 postings made available.
RSS feeds added to Feedage.com.
Twitter: 6 Tweets, 2 Following, 11 Followers
Blog: Some traffic and comments to blog.

Week 3:
Monitored Twitter activity via Twitter Counter.
Added links to FeedShark, a free tool to promote your website.

Week 4:
Experimented with Pluggio and HootSuite to schedule and manage Twitter account.

Week 5:
Twitter: Increased the amount of Twitter users we were following from c. 15 to 350. Had a dramatic impact on followers (peaking around 110). Then a sudden fall over the following days down to nearly 80 followers. Many followers were spam accounts later deleted by Twitter.

Week 6:
No new activity.

Week 7:
Current focus is Twitter and WordPress blog. Google Plus has been neglected for now as difficult to gain a large following as a ‘page’ rather than a ‘user’.
Twitter: 42 Tweets, 300 Following, 92 Followers
Blog: 20 posts now available. Traffic still remains low.

Planned Activities:
More interaction within WordPress community.
Continue Twitter tweets.
Create more high quality content.

Current Links:
Wordpress: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/sparkNlaunch
Google+: plus.google.com/sparkNlaunch/
RSS: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/

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You might also enjoy:
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Project Trout – Social Media Experiment #1

Over the next few months we will be experimenting with methods of bringing more readers to this blog.

We have already made efforts to make it easier for interested readers to find this blog by adding meaningful and relevant tags and titles to each post.

However the biggest challenge will be measuring the effectiveness of individual social media tools (eg Twitter, Google+ and Facebook). Also, old school methods like Really Simple Syndication (RSS).

Fortunately plenty of free statistics tools are available so we hope that this bit will not be so difficult. The majority tell you how a visitor came to your website, what they read and what links they clicked on.

For example:
WordPress provides it’s own statistics dashboard.
Google Webmaster Tools offers the same.
Twitter Counter shows you metrics based on tweets, followers, followings. It forecasts these metrics based on previous performance.
Feedage lets you add your WordPress RSS feed to their directory and track previews and views.

As we go along we will update this post to include our new links. Currently we offer links to the site via:

WordPress: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/
Twitter: twitter.com/sparkNlaunch
Google+: plus.google.com/sparkNlaunch/
RSS: sparkNlaunch.wordpress.com/feed/

Last Update: 05/02/2012

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You might also enjoy:
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #2
+ Project Trout – Social Media Experiment Update #3
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

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