Is this the end of FAQ-Tastic Pro?
Only time will tell... who knows. If enough people actually take me up on the discount offer, maybe I'll be able to continue... That's really up to you guys.
Right now, I'm answering emails from eager FAQ-Tastic fans offering to buy it off me. There's gold in them thar plugins!
We'll see what happens.
I'll make sure it goes to someone who'll look after it and do right by it... Unless they make me an offer I can't refuse, in which case, I'll have the cash thanks! (I'm kidding! I have actually got a lot of integrity...).
Here's the original email that I sent out earlier today. It's really long. Enjoy.
*** UNSUBSCRIBE LINK AT THE BOTTOM ***
It is with deep regret that I'm writing this email. I wish I didn't have to do this but, right now, it's the only option that I'm left with. If you're interested, in this email I'll be explaining my decision and the reasons why I've decided to stop offering FAQ-Tastic Pro.
Yes, this is your last chance to purchase FAQ-Tastic Pro. I hope you do take some time to read this email - there's useful information here. If you're in a rush (or don't really care what I have to say), and just want to get the 40% discount code - it's at the bottom. You'll miss out on some quality stuff though... I get silly towards the end.
Is It Worth Me Carrying On?
FAQ-Tastic has been an excellent plugin and, over the last few years, I've learned so much from the experience of creating a product, setting up a shopping cart and really creating benefit for thousands of people. I hope it's made working on your site easier and saved you time.
Over the years, I've really appreciated the warm and heartfelt thanks and gratitude that people have sent via email. "Thank You" to those kind people - you will always be in my heart and I appreciate your sincerity and the time to provide your kind words. They've helped to keep me strong and persist with this project.
However, the reality is that it takes a lot more to keep a site and project alive. I have monthly running costs to support like the shopping cart and the auto-responder list that you're reading this email on. There's also my Developer - John (absolutely brilliant WordPress plugin Developer) - who needs to be paid every time WordPress does an update. There's also time spent dealing with customer issues - it's actually a lot of work behind the scenes which no-one ever sees...
In terms of cost, it's essentially, my time that's the biggest factor. FAQ-Tastic Pro actually only makes enough to cover the cost of the cart and responders. After that, I'm lucky if I make $5 a month on the Pro product. To quote from one of my favourite movies, "Trading Places" (one of Eddie Murphy's finest moments):
Ezra: "Five dollars. Maybe I'll go to the movies... by myself!"
As a part-time freelancer and for 3 days a week, I'm a part-time single dad, I don't actually have much time left. There's cooking, cleaning, laundry to be done as well as my freelance work. It all adds up and the FAQ-Tastic site is additional time added to what I'm doing. Quite simply, I've spread myself too thin and not focused my efforts on any one thing in particular. I've had my fingers in too many pies and now I need to focus my efforts on one thing that will actually reap rewards.
So... is it really worth carrying on? In terms of my time... at the moment, unfortunately, "no". It's not. I'm worth more than that... It's a pity it's taken me so long to realise that and do something about it.
An Interesting Social Experiment In "Free"
As a social experiment, I'd like to pass on my knowledge to other would-be plugin Developers or Internet Marketers who are thinking of creating their own plugin. I hope my success (failure? You decide) may help others in the future. If you've ever gathered anything about me, it's that I do like to help people (if I have time!). So, here's a few quick tips:
Now these guys do it exceptionally well... they have excellent tutorial videos, a proper support department and regular events set up. They do 1 thing very well. It's their full time job. Aside from having an excellent plugin (the one I use), Tracy Childers is a truly wonderful human being who's provided me a lot of advice (which I've not taken due to lack of time, sorry Tracy! If only I had, maybe things would be different!)
Anyway, if you want to help me out, please consider using my affiliate link. Basically, if you buy their product, I'll get a commission and you'll be helping me out in a roundabout way:
http://member.wishlistproducts.com/wlp.php?af=994488 (my affiliate link)
As a niche, FAQ's are specific but here's the catch: "What is the one thing that binds your mailing list users together?" In terms of FAQ-Tastic: "nothing". They are varied in their interests, so it's impossible to market any one thing to such a list. Send out an email about any particular product and watch the unsubscribes on your list reach an all time high! Basically, if nothing ties your end-users together apart from your product, then email only about your product (and nothing else!). Don't think you can get away with marketing anything else to them as they'll just consider it spam, mark it as such and you'll get complaints.
You'll only ever receive a few "Thank you" emails - the rest will be "Oi mate, this doesn't f**kin' work - fix it, will ya?!?!". You will spend more time in "tech support" than actually building something new and cool (where you get the buzz from!).
...And when you get to that point, you'll have a whole heap of users that are dependent on your WordPress plugin and will be upset as you're no longer interested.
Don't get me wrong - a lot of people love "free" and are more than willing to suck up your time, especially if they don't have to do anything in return. It's a dog-eat-dog world we live in, and, unfortunately, it's all driven by greed rather than mutual benefit. There *are* a few good people out there in the world - very few and I'm really grateful for them.
Trust me - money is a good incentive. At least, if you know you're getting paid, then that will keep you on track as it's actually worth your time.To quote from Napoleon Hill's classic work "Think & Grow Rich":
No one will work indefinitely without some form of compensation. No intelligent person will either request or expect another to work without adequate compensation, although this may not always be in the form of money." Napoleon Hill, Think & Grow Rich (1937, p. 100)
Now, Michel Fortin recently reminded me of a quote: "Free advice is worth what you pay for it." (It's also mentioned by the Sage in the Groo comics which I was reading recently). So, I leave it to you whether or not you want to heed my words of wisdom or not. I hope it gives you something to think about and provides you with the wisdom of my experience. If you want to heed the advice and also require "value" to be attached, why not send me a donation? (Heh... nice reframe, huh? C'mon... that's got to be worth a donation!).
So Why Am I Doing This?
Well, quite frankly, aside from the time aspect, the last few months freelance-wise haven't been too good (Christmas, a new year, a new decade - who knows). Basically, I'm stuck. have bills to pay and 2 mouths to feed (3 if you include my cat - and she's huge, so let's call it 4 mouths!). The mortgage needs paying and the banks are sucking me dry (again) - funny that... they were the ones that helped me get into debt in the first place with their extortionate rates on a mortgage a few years ago when times were "good". Now, they like to bill me monthly and help me to go over my overdraft when there's not much work about. Hmm... well, looks like the banking system likes to suck people dry. Considering they were the ones that put us into a recession in the first place... What kind of a world do we live in, eh? I don't know whether to laugh or cry.
...sorry, I'm just venting now!
I've been spending quite a bit of time looking for other ways to bring in a bit of cash and keep going, which has also lead to me taking my eye off FAQ-Tastic. I'm sorry if it's caused anyone who's tried emailing me any inconvenience. I'm not in a good space at the moment and a bit messed up, looking for a new direction...
Yup... there we have it folks: honest to goodness "honesty". A bit like a recovering alcoholic - the first step is to admit to the problem. What better than to confess it to the group of over 3000? I might as well stand up on stage at a rock festival and drop my trousers. I hope you appreciate my candour... So, quite simply... yeah, I need the cash. Like, yesterday.
Why Else Am I Doing This?
Apart from the finances, well... my Developer's gone a bit AWOL recently. Not sure what he's up to and I don't have the time to chase him up right now.
It's also the Spring Equinox (No... I don't know what that means either), so apparently a good time to start clearing out the old to make way for the new. Time for me to close a chapter of this book and to start sowing new seeds... to mix metaphors.
What Does This Mean For The FAQ-Tastic & The Site?
Right. Just to clear things up. Here's what's going to happen:
Not only that, but I'm giving you a major discount on the product... and you want support too? Double, sheesh! What can I say... do you want me to bring you the moon on a stick as well? Cause I'll just tell you what you can do with the mooning and the stick! And I'll give you the finger if you're expecting product support - that'll be my index finger and I'll be pointing at the door...
Hehe... sorry if I'm sounding rude right now - I'm just messing with you! I'm having too much fun writing this email and making myself laugh. What a way to say goodbye! I hope you're enjoying this as much as I am... Well, as much as you can enjoy a "goodbye".
What Does The Future Hold For FAQ-Tastic?
Right now, I'm not sure. Thing are up and down in my world. I have to focus on 1 thing at a time and make use of my time sensibly. It's taken me too long to realise that and I'm just grateful that I have.
Anyway... It's been fun. An amazing and at times, scary, journey with lots of ups and downs. A roller coaster ride with a lot of good experience points notched up. But "it's just a ride". Pity, I'm up against an end-of-level monster that's proving a bit tricky to defeat. I'm sure I will in time... just not sure when. Hopefully soon... and gain some extra experience points on the way.
I may be back in the future when things pick up - I don't know just yet. I still have a functional spec document for FAQ-Tastic Pro version 2 that has so many cool things in it. It's a pity that I was never able to raise enough funds to build it. I designed a cool new logo for it and everything... Oh well. It's a good job I never told you about it cause you'd really want it built...
Tis a pity more people aren't more forthcoming with donations - like I say, people like "free" when they can get all they want... but just taking without giving back will have an impact on your plugin Developer. If I were you, I'd recommend you send your favourite free plugin Developer an email right now, thanking them for their efforts (and sending emails regularly) just to make sure they continue their projects! There's very little thanks or generosity in this world - it's the least you can do (and if you can't do it with sincerity, then at least do it out of self-interest!). Trust me - most Developers create plugins because they like to feel appreciated about doing something cool... and it only takes a moment of your time to write an email!
So long, Farewell, auf Wiedersehen, Adieu,
I hate to go and leave this pretty [site]...
That's got you singing, hasn't it? Righty, folks. I'm off. "There is one more thing...it's been emotional". (10 points to anyone who can guess which excellent movie this quote is from...)
Here's the link to the page: http://faq-tastic.com/lite-member/upgrade-to-faq-tastic-pro/
Scroll down to the bottom and hit that big green button.
When you get to the PayPal screen, add this discount code if you want to get 40% off:
Note: Offer Available For A Limited Time Only.
Valid Until The Weekend!!!
Obviously, right now, I'd prefer it if you didn't use the discount code. Just a hint if you're feeling particularly generous right now!!! I don't know what to say... *sniff* :~( ...so I'll end on this:
"Thank you so very much. God bless you all. Have a ball and goodnight"
PS: "A few of these sentences have already begun to take root in your subconscious mind, haven't they? If you play the record a few more times, you'll be amazed how easily you have begun to understand.". 10 points if you can guess the track and an extra 10 points for anyone who can guess the artist...
PPS: Up to you if you'd like to unsubscribe. I may be back in the future - you never know. I hope I am... and if I do, then it will be with a proper focus and a better product!
Leave a comment. I'd be interested in knowing what you think.Share and Enjoy:
I'm not a 23rdian, or even into numerology, and recently a good friend sent me a very interesting link to an article about the number 23 in the Independent. The number 23 seems to be very powerful. I was intrigued by this idea but thought nothing of it. Until yesterday...
In this post, I'll be showing you how 23 kept coming up again and again in Derren Brown's show. The number 23 also appears in the "random" lottery numbers that were selected by the machine. For those of you who are slightly mathematically challenged, be warned - there are numbers involved in the following post. Strange numbers that may challenge your preconceptions and belief systems. Read with an open mind.
Is Derren's Brown's trick simply an illusion performed by a wonderful mentalist, or has Derren Brown managed, consciously or unconsciously, to tap into a world of poweful numbers that challenges our preconceptions of "randomness" and "predictability"?
Let us begin with the actual National Lottery numbers that were drawn on 09/09/09. These were:
Immediately we can see that the number 23 has been drawn.
Now, let's have a look at a few calculations where 23 appears in these numbers. This is where it starts to get freaky:
So, as you've now seen. The numbers drawn for the actual National Lottery - regardless of Derren's intervention or trick - have a combination of numbers which, when divided by the number of balls used, result in the number 23.
Are you freaked yet?
Is this numerical pattern in any way similar to the type of "auto-matic writing" that Derren Brown teaches his subjects to do, so they can help predict the correct numbers during the show? Are the numbers that the subjects tap into, simply part of a bigger pattern that is - as yet - unseen?
Note: was it just me or wasn't it also interesting that during the "Automatic Writing" segment, out of the 24 volunteers, one was removed so there were 23 making the predictions? I'm also wondering if Tyler contributed to the final prediction or if Derren relied on the 23. No mention is made of this fact during the show, but it would add to the bizarre, almost spiritual aspect of 23 if there were indeed 23 automatic writing subjects used...!
Throughout the ages, Mathematicians and Scientists have pointed to how patterns in numbers can be found within Nature. For example, the Fibonacci sequence is a perfect example of spirals that can be found in shells and even the growth of leaves on the stem of a tree. There is a beauty in numbers - especially those that can be predicted accurately and then applied in a proper, conscious, way to re-produce nature's perfect order.
Could Mathematicians who *deny* that there is any perfect mathematical predictions of the National Lottery numbers simply be part of a group who are unable to perceive the greater order of things? Perhaps these objections - made by an inability to find the patterns in the numbers - are nothing more than self-inflicted boundary conditions, placed upon limited understanding of naturally occuring "patterns". What would happen if a paradigm shift appeared whereby correct predictions could be made of "random" events - like the probability of having 6 balls correctly drawn in a Lottery? What would need to happen for this type of perceptual shift to occur? Is it unreasonable to pre-suppose an order of things that go beyond our limited (habituated) understanding of how things work?
Did the Fibonacci sequence exist before it was discovered? The answer to this is obviously "Yes". Our perception of this sequence of numerical patterns, however, did NOT exist in the minds of Science until it was perceived. This is an important point to note: Science is never 100% accurate or true. Perceived reality is simply an illusion. Science is simply backed up by evidence of 99.9999% etc probability... until the next paradigm shift occurs. Remember that there will *always* be small percentage - however improbable - that could also be "true" and it would only take 1 instance of this improbability to occur before Science has to change it's perception.
Does this mean that Science is simply a matter of Faith? And can the same be said of Mathematics, the perceived numerical patterns and the natural order of things? Do we need to simply have "faith" in Science and Maths in order for our reality to be true, or is there a reality that is yet unperceived by us waiting to be discovered?
These are interesting questions that I like to ponder... By challenging our pre-conceptions and established limitations, I think it's possible to get closer to "truth" (a truth). What the truth may be, is something that very difficult to perceive without correct assumptions to begin our investigations.
As Derren Brown demonstrates, it's very easy for the human mind to be deceived. There are illusions that surround us. And people and things that can easily mislead us. What Derren does extremely well is to frustrate us into asking questions. And it is only by asking questions that we can properly challenge the world around us, with a view to providing better solution for the problems we face.
Is there really anything in the pattern of 23 that we've seen? Is there any significance to Derren Brown's show being 46 minutes long? Is there an untapped world of numbers which currently appear to us as "random" but in reality could be part of a great pattern, as yet undiscovered?
At the end of the day, I don't know. I love watching Derren Brown and his wonderful tricks. The skillful misdirection, making you believe that you're watching one thing, when really he's getting drawing your attention to something else.
I'm hoping this post is similar.
I'm actually trying to sell you an idea. How? Simply by asking questions.
Have you thought about the context of where you are reading this article? If you're on the original site of this post, you should be on FAQ-Tastic.com - a simple WordPress plugin to help you ask questions of your site readers. The basic idea behind the plugin is that, it is only through the power of questions, that you can gain a clearer picture of your perceived reality. Through feedback, we allow constant re-development and change. By asking "What specifically is the problem?", we can find the most appropriate solution to a problem. These concepts are powerful when applied in the correct way... What would happen if you simply asked your site readers what their problems are and just answered them? With a little creativity and imagination, it's easy to see that "asking questions" is an extremely powerful way of creating new solutions. In a business context, it means providing products that people actually want. In a societal context, asking questions means finding the most appropriate solutions to common issues - simply by understanding what the problem *actually* is. In a metaphysical and spiritual context, asking questions can help us to redefine the boundaries of ourselves.
If you're wondering how we got to this point, then let me explain.
This post has been written as a response to the questions I found myself asking in reply to my previous article on how best to provide support for my plugin and challenging the common misconceptions of Open Source software. Quite simply, what I came to realise during the past few days is that there is *nothing* that binds the users of my product other than Questions. So, what better than to write thought provoking posts based merely on "asking questions" and then enlightening people on the power of Questions?
Will writing about Questions, that challenge fantastic and bizarre notions, help people realise the true power of questions? I certainly hope so.
I also hope that you've enjoyed this momentary diversion - from Derren Brown to 23 to Mathematics to Questions and ultimately to, perhaps, sparking enough of an interest for you check out the WordPress FAQ-Tastic plugin right now.
I love Questions. To me Questions are wonderful, powerful, things that can help us all to examine our preconceptions and accepted beliefs. Through questions we can reach various points of certainty - until the next question challenges us and we must re-evaluate. It is this wonderful, natural human ability to push our boundaries and go further than we have ever imagined that I find fascinating. And this ability is in You...
To conclude, I'd like to quote Einstein:
The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.
If you missed it, here's Derren Brown's trick (split screen with the original BBC footage):
You can view the Full Derren Brown Lottery show explanation of the trick on 4OD.
Enjoy asking yourself "How did he do that?". Whether it frustrates, infuriates or intrigues you, take a moment to appreciate how far we've evolved simply by our ability, as a species, to ask Questions. Take a moment to be in awe of the wonder that is your Curiosity. And then, take a moment to realise that you can be more than yourself, simply by asking more of Yourself... The Truth is within You.Share and Enjoy:
Initially, I was angry, upset and annoyed by it and was just about to send a very scathing, flaming email to him but, thankfully, I had to return my kids to their Mum's house and that gave me a chance to cool down, txt to a friend to vent my frustrations and to re-evaluate the situation.
I started writing a reply earlier this morning about 10am. It's now nearly 3pm. While I'm slightly annoyed that I've not managed to get on with what I needed to do today, I'm satisfied that what I've written as a reply hasn't been a waste. In fact, what I've written has helped me to clearly express what I think a lot of plugin Developers feel but don't actually express. It's helped me to explain some commonly held assumptions about Open Source and what it means. It's helped me to clarify some points about my own plugin. And most importantly, it's made me realise that flaming people isn't the best option - maybe there's a real benefit in what they're saying, if you really listen to them...?
This post is dedicated to the thousands of Developer's out there who feel like sometimes they have no voice. For those of you who have always wanted to point out how much time and effort has gone into what you have built. To those of you who feel un-appreciated.
This post is for you. I salute you!
In this post, I've added my reply as well as Ash's provocative email that really pushed my buttons. At the end you'll see the email I originally sent out. I've removed Ash's email address and last name out because I know how some people can react - let me first say, he's done me a favour, so please respect his opinion.
Was my email spammy? I can understand how people could think that. Let me know - leave a comment. I'm open to suggestions.
Thanks for the compliment and I'm glad you use FAQ-Tastic and think it's great. I also appreciate the time and effort you've taken to reply and send me a considered opinion. I appreciate your honesty and I'm sorry if you feel that my emails may be considered "spammy". I get the sense that you're an intelligent and reasonable guy and so, please allow me to put my own point across in the same way that you have voiced yours. I'm sure you'd be good enough to take a moment and consider an alternative perspective to help properly inform your decision before coming to a conclusion. Just to let you know, I'll be blogging about this as it is a very important subject that I think the WordPress community would benefit from.
Open Source Is Free
While I completely understand the common perception that "Open Source" means "something that anyone can simply go and download and use completely for free", let me take some time to explain the concept in a rational manner, so you can decide if this is really true. I'm going to put it to you that the idea or opinion that it is "free" is, counter-productive to the Open Source idea and something that should be re-considered and opened up to debate.
Let's me start with a basic assumption to help shape the discussion: "Open Source is based on a spirit of giving not of taking".
Think about it. If everyone simply "took", nothing would ever be created. It is only through the generous contributions - a spirit of giving - made by various Developers that anything ever gets created. These handfuls of hard working, diligent, creative and inspired people take a great deal of time and effort so that they can bring a community the software and applications. This ensures that, literally millions of people, save time and effort and that the community grows and becomes even more productive. Take a moment and consider the implications of simply "taking". I'm sure you'll see the validity of this pre-supposition.
Let us make another assumption: The production of any software (or any product) takes time and effort.
This "time and effort", in business terms, is a "cost". The amount of time which Developers put into building and maintaining their plugins is actually time that could be used, focusing on making money in their regular freelance work, or time they could be spending in other areas in their life (like with their kids and loved ones). It's a sacrifice Developers make, so other people don't have to spend time and effort building things (or doing things the hard way).
This means that the creation of any product isn't "free". There is always a cost somewhere down the line. It may not be visible to most people because it's very easy to just download and just "take" things - without considering how and where these things are being created. Therefore, Open Source, does not mean it's "free" simply because the person downloading does not pay for it. The truth is that *someone* ends up paying for it and it's usually the Developer. So people should feel a sense of gratitude and fortunate that it's not them who has to dip into their own pocket or sacrifice their time. The Developer helps *create* time for millions and ensures that productivity is increased because they "give" back to the community instead just taking.
Is FAQ-Tastic FREE?
I'm very glad you enjoy FAQ-Tastic Lite and think it's "great work". A great deal of time and effort has been put into developing it. I spend a lot of time listening to ideas and suggestions made by users of the plugin. A lot of ideas that you now enjoy has come through the tiny comments and suggestions made by them, which have helped me to tweak and re-develop the FAQ-Tastic plugin. It gets better with each release.
Let me clear something up: FAQ-Tastic is NOT FREE.
Now... you may or may not be aware that I actually use my own money to have FAQ-Tastic built. When it comes to maintaining FAQ-Tastic, I hire one of the best Developer's ever (John Godley) to help me build and maintain it. For over the last two years, I've probably spent well over a thousand pounds (£1000 - if not more... I dread to think!) to ensure that I can deliver a high quality product, and give back to the WordPress community so that they can save time and effort (and expense) when it comes to building excellent frequently asked question pages on their sites.
Each time a new feature or tweak is suggested and then made to FAQ-Tastic, I pay for it. And I mean proper physical cash. Excluded from this "cash value" is the time and effort I spend maintain and managing the website, answering emails, helping people to fix their issues and generally ensuring that things run smoothly for users of the plugin. The time and effort that I put into these additional actions, over and above the maintenance of the plugin, are usually unseen and invisible. However, they do incur a cost of time and effort. I'm not even going to think about how much it's cost me if I were to calculate the true cost of creating, building and maintaining this plugin and site...
But What About Donations?
I would love to say that donations cover my costs. The amount I get in terms of Donations, if looked at from a time/effort/cost analysis would have most business-minded people cringing, laughing or crying if they knew the true extent of people's "generosity" and how much was actually given. I were to solely rely or even try to survive on donations, then I'd be seriously in debt. I already am - but that's a different matter which doesn't add to this discussion. Only a handful of people ever contribute. And that's over the period of a year...
Over the last 2 years, the amount of donations made by people has been extremely few. Saying that, I've probably gained more in terms of donations than other Developers - this is mainly as I take time to point out the running costs that most other excellent plugin creators overlook and simply don't mention. Quite simply: I ask.
Here's an example: there's a Developer I know who's been building WordPress plugins for over 4 years. He's one of the best coder's I've ever seen - I know, as I've gone through his code libraries and seen how he builds his plugins, and they really are pieces of art. Over the years, he has put a great deal of time and effort into creating some of the most exceptional plugins I've ever seen; maintaining and updating them; personally responding to emails and comments; including new functionality; helping people fix issues and generally making them available to the public. Just *one* of his 15+ excellent plugins has been downloaded over 65,000 times (and that's from his site) and over 200,000 times from the WordPress plugin repository. But how much has he made in terms of donations? You could probably count the donations on one hand. So, really, is it worth his time doing this? If we were to look at the figures coming from just donations alone... Probably not.
So consider this: if 1 Developer, with 1 plugin has made such a huge contribution to the WordPress community, what would happen if he realises that the cost of production and maintenance is no longer worth his while? Sure, another Developer could take on the project... but would they? It's not guaranteed. I've seen some excellent Open Source plugin projects end, simply because there's no appreciation of the value and quality of the work that has been offered. When a Developer decides that there's no rewards from their work, they simply stop.
This happens when there's no equilibrium in the system - i.e. what is given out does not come back and the Karmic wheel is stuck. There is a point where a lot of Developers will draw the line and just call it a day.
The impact of this is... well, you can imagine how big it can be for the hundreds of thousands in the community that have depended on something that is perceived to be "free".
Donations are a valuable source of support. Helping by showing appreciation for the quality of work being delivered, makes a Developer feel valued. After all, that's one of the things that we all - as people - strive for.
But donations don't work and, from experience, do not provide the necessary returns to make a project worthwhile or a Developer feel valued...
If Donations Don't Work, What Other Alternatives Are There?
So, now you've seen that even a Developer who's helped literally hundreds of thousands of people doesn't make anything in terms of Donations, then what does this mean for the smaller creators of plugins - like me - who aren't in the WP plugin repository and yet still make a difference by helping thousands of people save time and effort in their workflow? If the rate of donations based on hundreds of thousands of users are any indication, then I may as well quit now - it's a pointless exercise.
As I've explained in my earlier emails, the FAQ-Tastic project *does* need suport from it's users. One of the ways of doing this is by email marketing and recommending products and services that may be of use to some people. As explained in my emails - when people buy using my affiliate link, then I get a commission. These commissions help me to continue building a better product and to maintain a level of service that ensures I can help people with their issues.
FAQ-Tastic is not a cash cow (...yet).
Was The Email Spammy?
I apologise and I am really sorry if it appears to you like my emails are "spammy" but in order for me to ensure that FAQ-Tastic Lite remains free, then it's essential that I can rely on contributions just so that the quality of excellent work can continue.
Let me explain how it works (and why it doesn't work):
FAQ-Tastic has a very large, untargetted audience. Everyone with a WordPress blog, looking to have an FAQ section on their site can install it. This means that the type of user I have on my email list isn't always going to be the same. Each of these different users will always have a different topic or subject matter that they're interested in.
Basically, there is *NO* way, I can possibly sending a specific, well-targetted, user-focused email suggesting a product for each and every one of my FAQ-Tastic users and their specific interests. If I were Amazon - and were tracking people's interests and tastes - then sure, I'd do that and I'd ensure that my emails were properly tailored to suit. It would be great if I could... but it simply isn't realistic.
If you let me know what you'd like to see in the emails that you *would* buy, feel free to tell me - that would make my job much easier!
I'd be able to send out messages and be guaranteed of a result. Seriously, if I knew exactly what the common thread between all the people who use FAQ-Tastic and what they would buy, then I'd probably be a lot more spammy in terms of my marketing as it would then be like shooting fish in a barrel! As it is, I only send out stuff as and when things happen and are products which you can guarantee have enormous potential and are high quality products. I do this consciously and realise that it's not going to be for everyone. I don't recommend any old junk as it would reflect badly on me. I have no intention of doing that as I respect your right to have a clean and uncluttered email inbox.
Let's face it - even the one common bond that all FAQ-Tastic users have is the FAQ-Tastic plugin. And even then, there's hardly any donations. Very few people upgrade to the Pro version. Although, I'm not surprised. You mentioned that that my "marketing don't work on [you]"... and I completely agree. I actually state, in my emails, that I'm not the best guy at doing this stuff.
Let me clear this up for everyone: "I SUCK at marketing!". Okay? I think this is a point that we can both agree on... Right?
And no, that's not some weird "ah, that's a clever bit of marketing. I see what you're doing - pretending to suck at marketing, so that you can market to me". Sheesh, give me a break. Seriously - check my conversion rates. I hold my hands up and will tell you I'm guilty of some of the smallest conversions you will *ever* as an affiliate. I'm lucky I can get a sale! You see - I *really* do suck at marketing! What I am, and what I do to compensate, is to be honest, genuine and will always look to give you as much value as I possibly can. That's the only way I know how - giving my considered opinion of something cool which I know can benefit users.
Trust me, if you think *my* email marketing is spammy, then you should see what I get in my inbox from *real* Internet Marketers. Those guys will send you an email (if not two) a day, letting you know about a product or service that they or their friends are currently promoting. Either that, or sending out emails as bait to get you hooked on some "quality information" so that you're ready to receive the next "buy now" email and do it without thinking. Do I agree with this strategy? No. Not necessarily... but I can see how it works for them and I salute them for their ability to do it amazingly well. It's not for eveyone... and I'm still learning. They don't get complaints of spam because they do it exceptionally well!
If I could do without using email marketing, then I honestly would. So, if you could help convince everyone to club together and sends me $10 (or more) for using FAQ-Tastic Lite, then I'll quit sending out the "spammy" emails. It would be so much easier for all of us! I could just concentrate on building a better plugin and you'd be able a spam free inbox. Deal?
So Why Do I Use Emails?
I use emails for 2 different reasons.
I use emails to keep people informed about any new updates and changes to the FAQ-Tastic plugin(s). Unlike other WordPress plugins, FAQ-Tastic isn't in the WP plugin repository, so you can forget about notifications updating on your plugin WP plugin dashboard when changes are made. Until I've got enough resources to add this functionality (like Oliver Seidel has in his excellent cforms plugin), then it's not something that's going to change soon (mainly as I can't afford to do that right now).
Secondly: To get support.
Like I explained earlier, for me, it's a useful tool to remind people that the FAQ-Tastic project does have invisible costs that you won't ever see if you simply download it and use it. If you like it, then help by giving back in some way...
Are My Emails Really Spammy?
The term "spam" I think is another area that a lot of people think they understand but don't - just like the idea of "Open Source". I'll explain it using my own email communications as an example:
Let me clear this up: Real "spam" is unsolicited.
The FAQ-Tastic site is completely CANSPAM compliant. In order to get email notifications - you need to make an active decision to receive my email broadcasts before I will ever send you any information. There is a "double opt-in". You need to enter your email address and then a confirmation is required to ensure that the user was really the one that requested the information.
I let people know this on my pages and in my confirmation emails. Whether or not a user decides to subscribe is really up to them - there's no necessity to sign-up to the FAQ-Tastic emails... you just won't be getting any useful updates about FAQ-Tastic and will have to guess when the next version of the plugin comes out.
If a user wants to keep a clear inbox, then it's really up to them to be responsible for the choice they make when they subscribe. In no way do I coerce or force a user into accepting my email communications. I do this because I fully respect all my users and subscribers of my FAQ-Tastic plugin. I am honoured that they have chosen to use the plugin and so consciously make my mind up to respect them for their excellent choice.
I feel it's up to a user to take responsibility over their actions when they unsubscribe. If you notice in my emails, I always have an unsubscribe link. The links are there (at the bottom) if you feel my communications are not of value in some way. I *never* send out an email without this. If you want to unsubscribe, then please feel free to do so - click on the link - I won't be in the slightest bit offended. I know my users have the option to choose their own path and give them every opportunity to do so.
If anyone subscribes to my email communications, then they do so by making a conscious decision to subscribe. It is never unsolicited, and therefore can in no way can my FAQ-Tastic emails be considered as "spam". If a user doesn't like what I say, then the issue here isn't about the content, it's about their opinion of the content. As as explained before, I'd love to cater to everyone... it's just that I can't!
What Can I Do? I Hate What You Write
If you don't like what I write, then unsubscribe. Or alternatively, delete that particular message if you still want to know about FAQ-Tastic updates. You do not have to read everything I send. No-one is forcing you to do so. Set up a filter if you like which gets them straight in the trash. Which is kind've pointless as the easiest way is not to subscribe!
If my email communications feel like they're so repugnant that you really can't stand them, then what I'd recommend is to uninstall the FAQ-Tastic plugin, unsubscribe and just steer clear of the site.
The same ideas, philosophies and conceptual framework that went into the creation of my emails also exist in the FAQ-Tastic plugin. What FAQ-Tastic stands for and how it is delivered are part and parcel of the same thing. If it feels like you really cannot accept one part and it's so completely abhorrent to you, then remove it completely. Again - I won't be offended - it just means it's not for you. There are other plugins you could pay for or you could simply do the work manually. It's a choice that only you can make.
Personally, I stand by the quality of what I deliver - be it in the plugin or my emails. I am responsible for my actions and I would urge people to be responsible for theirs. In the same way that if you don't like what's on TV, change the channel. If you don't like what FAQ-Tastic stands for - ignore it and don't use it. The choice is yours. Decide and then take action.
Was There Really No Value In My Email?
Value is subjective. Everyone likes different things. While you may feel that the last email I sent out didn't contain any real value, several hundred people were intrigued enough to click and check it out again for a second time. I'm just sorry you weren't one of them.
The other thing you may have overlooked was that I wasn't just looking to "just make money for myself" in that email. Check it again. If you read it, you'll see that you can sign-up for an opportunity to do the same thing as me - make a couple of hundred dollars from not doing much. And, like I said in the email, you may well be better than me at it.
What I was looking to do - if you missed my intention - was to give you a means of increasing your own wealth. I was doing that by sharing and, again, "giving back" because I respect that there would be people who are interested in such an opportunity. Yes, I'd make a little in terms of possible second tier commissions but at least a greater number of people would benefit from such an opportunity - not just me. I'm sorry that if you, personally, were not interested, although I'd be glad and very happy if someone else saw it and made it work for them. Again, for me, that would mean that I'd have added an additional layer of value to someone's life through my work.
So, now that you've had an opportunity to be fully provided with the facts and reasonings why I use emails and promote products, can you now understand why it's necessary for me to use emails as tool for supporting my product? As I've pointed out, "Open Source" does not mean absolutely "FREE". FAQ-Tastic costs me money to build. My email was not "spammy" and contained some real value. And ultimately, everyone has their own opinion which they can, if they so wish, act upon in order to get the result they want.
If you still feel lthat your postion on being an "open source kinda guy, and don't pay for anything at all" is still a good one to hold after reading this, then let's agree to disagree. Feel free to unsubscribe yourself - the link (as always) is at the bottom of this email - and just not use the plugin.
I would like to say that I am very grateful that you *did* email me. It's helped me to really express some issues that a lot of plugin and software Developers (not just me) suffer from. The debate on how "Open Source" should be viewed, I believe is extremely important. Let's open it up to discussion. Your email may well help people to discuss creative ways of addressing the issues of support and funding of plugins. It's never really been properly addressed and I'm glad you took the time to email me (instead of just unsubscribing).
Admittedly, I was initially quite upset and annoyed by the assumptions you conveyed in your email. However, like I say, it's a good thing that you did. I appreciate your honesty and telling me what you really thought.
As Albert Einstein once said: "The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has it's own reason for existing". Your email made me curious about why someone might feel this way. There was a purpose and a reason "why" you thought the way you did about my email communications. I feel partly responsible, as it's made me realise that I probably have not fully, or effectively, communicated what FAQ-Tastic is about and how it survives on affiliate commissions and donations. If you had known the full story, would still have objected?
All of these questions are a good thing. FAQ-Tastic is all about asking questions. Asking questions helps us to broaden our understanding and also to push the boundaries of what we "assume". I have preconceptions and assumptions about the type of people who use my plugin. Your email has enabled me to challenge these views.
So, "Thank you" for helping me to challenge my boundaries. When I have some time, I'll be addressing some of the areas where I feel I've not fully communicated myself on the website.
PS: Apologies for the length of this email - when I get passionate about a subject, I feel the need to express it and communicate it properly. If you have any questions or are confused about any of it, feel free to email me and I can explain it further.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
Whilst I appreciate the great work you did on FaQ Tastic Lite..(and it really is great work - don't get me wrong) You are kinda pissing me off now with the further emails trying to get me to buy stuff I perhaps don't need, nor really want (I'm an open source kinda guy, and don't pay for anything at all, so your marketing don't work on me).
Remember mate, if you enter into open source endeavours then trying to sell stuff, no matter how worthy and great as I am sure it all is, kinda goes against the whole premise of open source.
I trust you will remove me from your mailing list. If I want to buy one of your products, believe me, I will... Until that time comes, please stop spamming me.
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
From: FAQ-Tastic Lite
Sent: Sunday, August 30, 2009 2:09 AM
To: Ash W
Subject: FAQ-Tastic: For what it's worth - Thanks!
* * * * * UNSUBSCRIBE LINK AT BOTTOM * * * * *
You may remember, last week I sent out an email recommending a brilliant little product for Photoshop to help create beautiful CD/ebook/stationary product shots *extremely* quickly.Well, this email is an update to that last one - with a twist: I'll be giving you a link that you will definitely want to check out. Keep reading...
As you've come to realise, through my emails, I'm not the best at writing stuff which is persuasive enough to make people buy things (like the Pro version of FAQ-Tastic for example!). So it was a shock when I found that out of the thousands of people who my mails go out to, some people actually read it. Even more surprising was that a few of you actually clicked the link and checked out the product. The thing that really made my day was that 1 person actually bought it!
How cool is that?
Okay, so you're probably wondering why I'm emailing? Well, I'd just like to say to whoever bought the Photoshop actions - "Thank you, Thank You, THANK YOU!" I really *really* appreciate it. And it's *really* helped contribute towards this project!
You may be thinking: "Hah! Zain, that's absolutely awful... you only got 1 sale!". And you're right, I completely agree, it could probably be much, much better!
But let me set this straight. Just to let you know that this 1 sale of the product I recommended has actually made me more in terms of donations and sales of FAQ-Tastic Pro this month!
Yes. That's right. 1. Count 'em - ONE - sale!
...And it's made me more than I normally make in terms of supporting the FAQ-Tastic plugin. This is why I'm taking the time to send this email and say "Thanks!" to whoever that one person was. All of that singular sale helps to keep the FAQ-Tastic project alive.
Ash, let me ask you something - how much can an email be worth? It's not a question that a lot of us think about. But really, how much value can be placed on a few minutes of typing something in and pressing "send"?
For me, it was worth a couple of hundred dollars (and probably more if I knew the secret of how to do it successfully!).
Now, I'm going to let you into a little secret: You could probably do this a lot better than me!
I'm a guy who doesn't have much time to promote stuff (even my own!) and spend most of my days either up to my eyeballs in clearing up after my kids on the few days I have them or working at full capacity in the few days I have working as a freelancer. And yet, I managed to surprise myself with just one email!
I'm sure anyone who's ever contacted me will tell you that I like to give as much value as possible whenever I can (assuming I'm not busy). So, with that in mind, I'm going to do the same today and give you some additional value, just by letting you know that you can do this too. If you've got a decent blog with good traffic, then imagine how much better than me you can do - it's a no-brainer!
So, if you want to make a few hundred by promoting a very cool and useful Photoshop actions product, then click this link and sign up right now:
(note: if you want to see the actual site, click here: http://bit.ly/eMPnu [aff])
All you really need to do is to add a link - mainly because this thing is really cool anyway! If you missed it last week, then I'd suggest you go check it out as it's 1) one of the coolest things you'll see and 2) the site is absolutely beautiful! Seriously, when you see the site, you'll know what I mean.
Even better than that, the guy who builds it - Mark Monciardini - seems insane. Not only is he willing to give you 50% on whatever you can shift for him, he's also looking to make sure you get sorted out on a weekly basis!
Hmm... that seems too good to be true. So it probably is. You best skip it
Except for the fact that I've just received an email telling me that I've received something from PayPal! So that's extremely cool (and which is why I'm now emailing you!).
Anyway, I'm going to leave the choice with you. Personally, I've probably done more with one email in the right hands, written in a few minutes, than a lot of people could do working a 9 to 5 for a few days. I think that's pretty cool all by itself. I should do more of this! Just be glad that I'm a cynic and quality is one of my top criteria - I wouldn't recommend anything unless I'd use it myself. And if a few more people get those Photoshop actions, I'll be grabbing a copy myself...
Like I mentioned last week, I have a friend who keeps telling me to "feel the love" as well as to "share the love". And she's right. Last week, for me, proved her point and I'm grateful I did share something really cool and send out that link, instead of doing nothing about it (like I usually do). A few minutes typing saw greater rewards than I'd expected. So, I'm following her advice again and let's see what this next week brings!
Here's that link again if you want sign up, now:
(and http://bit.ly/eMPnu [aff] if you just want to check out the site)
I hope this has been useful to you. Feel free to pass it on if you know anyone that can make use of it (even if you can't!).
Creator of FAQ-Tastic
Follow Me: http://twitter.com/zainbador
PS: Don't be surprised if you see this on the FAQ-Tastic blog at some point. When I get a bit of time, I'll be adding it. I'd be a fool not to...
46 Sandown Road, Brighton, East Sussex BN2 3EJ, UNITED KINGDOM
To unsubscribe or change subscriber options visit:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
The irony here is that if you actually follow my Twitter feed, you'll be subjected to not only affiliate marketing links but also a whole bunch of extraneous stuff that I think is cool but probably no-one else will... muahahaahaha <-- evil laugh.
Anyway, what's your take on this? I can see how it could be considered "spammy" but are there any other viable forms of support that could be created for plugin Developers? As I mentioned... if a huge Developer loses interest, the whole community can suffer.
If you've been moved to make a contribution - then don't start here. I'd recommend you make a list of plugin Developer's you really feel make a difference to Your blog and send them something. A donation is always appreciated although even just a heartfelt note of "Thanks" can provide a person with a buzz to set them right in the morning. Whatever it is, just let them know you care. That way, you ensure your plugins will live a long and fruitful life!
I'd strongly recommend making a donation to John Godley over at UrbanGiraffe.com if you've ever used, or will use any of his plugins or even FAQ-Tastic. You could help me out too just by adding "Zain say's Hi" to your message when you do make a donation.
Any Comments or Suggestions? Please leave positive comments below. If you feel angry - stop, chill and come back before leaving a comment!
But yesterday, checking my mail first thing, I received this strange message:
Subject: Forget 2012 - the world (as you know it) ends on 09/09/09
In just over a month, we're going to make a very important announcement about StomperNet that you will want to see.
You should definitely bookmark this page now. [link below]
We promise that when the timer on that page reaches zero you'll be glad you're watching.
WTH is going on? Keep reading...
Whatever it is, if you're an Internet Marketer, you know when StomperNet sends out this type of message, it's going to be HUGE! Definitely something to know about NOW, rather than later!
Way back in the 70s, one of my favourite movies was released: "The Omen". The marketing for the movie was simply brilliant with posters advertising the film saying "Today is the SIXTH day of the SIXTH month of Nineteen-Seventy-SIX!" (IMDB trivia for The Omen) just to freak people out. And it worked! Decades later 20th Century Fox released the film on 06-06-06 as their release date... again, the marketing strategy worked.
As masters of marketing, StomperNet have come up with something big for 09-09-09. And knowing Andy Jenkins is a really big movie buff, I wouldn't be surprised if he had something to do with the idea behind this (and has been planning it for quite a while!). The curious thing is that the email it's not signed by Andy - if you notice, it's signed by Brad Fallon! That in itself is very unusual... so maybe Andy's not the one to have come up with this. Things are getting weird. The mystery becomes even more... well, mysterious! (I'm running out of clichés).
Anyway, if you want to check this out then go here:
(Only Go Here If You Want To Be Freaked Out!)
CLICK THE LINK ABOVE!!!
Those Stomper guys are definitely up to something BIG... but what is it? I've no idea and I'm going to keep a close eye on this one. There's something strangely alluring about this - the answered questions, the guessing game. Such intrigue and suspense. As I say, these guys know how to put on a show, so go check it out.
I'm hoping, unlike The Omen, this is going to be something great - like an "Omen inversion" using the date for something really positive. And knowing the Stomper guys, I'm certain that it will be.
I've bookmarked that page, it's strangely hypnotic watching the clocks count down. And I love those bizarre riddle-like guessing games!
The only unfortunate thing is, over here - across the pond in the UK - "999" is used for calling the emergency services.
I sure hope no-one has a heartattack freaking out over this!Share and Enjoy:
Anyway, Ed did something similar to the 30 Day Challenge when StomperNet first started - I remember doing a bit but not getting that far with it (although I did end up with an affiliate check of about $20 three or four months after the challenge...)
Anyway, this year, Ed has created a new 30 Day Challenge Facebook application so you can get access to everything in one place.
However, there's currently a problem with the links in the actual Facebook app. At the moment, links inside the app on the tabs seem to link back to the homepage.
Temporary Solution: I've got a PDF file with a bunch of links which I use to access the 30 Day Challenge in Facebook. It might be useful to some people - if you want to get the full experience this in Facebook and are suffering from the same problem as me!
Thirty Day Challenge - Facebook Application links PDF File (273kb)
Or Zip file: Thirty Day Challenge - Facebook Application links PDF File (Zipped) (259kb)
(right click and "Save As..." to download the file)
Feel free to share this PDF out with anyone, if you like - it's simply what I use to make things easier until Ed sorts out the problems with the Facebook app! Let me know if this is useful.
Remember, you'll need to sign up for the application and log into Facebook in order for these links to work!
PS: Thanks Ed! You ROCK! Can you please get those links fixed? I may even complete the TDC this year...
PPS: 2009-07-25 22:45 GMT - Now updated with "Meetups" Link.
In my last post on the origins of the FAQ-Tastic, I discussed how the idea of FAQ-Tastic isn't new at all. Essentially, my idea to build a WordPress frequently asked questions plugin was inspired by an exceptional Internet Marketer called Dave Taylor. During my time in StomperNet [aff], I also discovered other brilliant marketers who's ideas I've expanded upon to help create the exceptional plugin that you now know as FAQ-Tastic. Unlike other FAQ plugins, the foundations of FAQ-Tastic are based upon Internet Marketing ideas and was built (partly) with an intention to help users with their Internet Marketing efforts. I doubt any other WordPress FAQ plugin can really say that...
Quite a few people have asked me how FAQ-Tastic Pro can help them to create their own e-Books. In this post, I'm going to reveal how you can do that using the new Pro version of FAQ-Tastic, which was inspired by another Internet Marketing "Guru" called Frank Kern. The way that FAQ-Tastic Pro does this is loosely based on Frank Kern's "Flycatcher Page" principle.
If you're a new Internet Marketer and you've never heard about Flycatcher pages, then you're in for a mindblower. I wouldn't be surprised if this technique has passed many marketers by. Doing a Google search for "flycatcher pages marketing" brings up very little (around 4000 pages) about this exceptionally powerful method. It's almost as if this technique has been ignored or passed over in favour of newer methods. However, I would argue that this extremely simple method for building a e-Book product from scratch is one of the most powerful techniques you can learn.
Why? Because you can create an e-Book (or any product) without having to know anything about that niche! (note the bold, italics and underline for *extreme* emphasis!).
So... Would creating a marketable product be useful to you? If you're now interested in knowing more, then keep reading... Strap yourself in - it's a long Post.
If you've ever thought about creating your own product, then you'll already know some of the common headaches associated with trying to build something for the niche market your in. For a lot of Internet Marketing newbies, the idea of being able to create a product to sell online, using an automated system that's making money 24/7, is a dream that seems filled with so many pitfalls and obstacles.
For example, when considering writing your first e-Book, what should you write about? What do your readers *really* want to know? How can you know if people will be interested in your product? How can you ensure that what you've written fits your market?
At first glance, the task of creating a new e-Book product seems practically impossible. But it does it have to be like that...?
Creating an e-Book (or any other product) is probably a lot simpler than you realise. In order to create something that is suited to your niche there's actually only 1 question that you need to answer:
What is it that your customers want?
The solution to this problem is extremely simple... well, if you follow Frank Kern's advice and build a Flycatcher Page!
To help you understand how simple it is to do, I'm going tell you Frank's story. Partly as I like storytelling (an art form I fear is dying out...), partly because it's a story I feel should be labelled under the category of "Internet Marketing Genius" but mostly as I'm certain that by knowing his story you will gain a better insight on how Flycatcher Pages work and can help you build your first product.
Admittedly, this is a very summarised version of events and I've left out quite a bit so this post doesn't get too long!
Are you sitting comfortably? Then I'll begin...
Frank wanted to create a product about Japanese Gardens. Having done a little research, he'd identified that this was a great niche to be in. But Frank had a problem. He didn't know anything about Japanese Gardens!
Here was a great opportunity in a potentially profitable niche but how could Frank build a product for a market in which he knew nothing about?
He thought about it and came up with an idea that was simply a moment of genius. In Internet Marketing terms, I would say this moment was possibly equivalent to the apple hitting Newton's head. Whatever it was, it was this moment of inspiration that provided a "simple" solution to the problem.
Instead of seeing his lack of knowledge as an obstacle, Frank turned the problem on it's head.
- Did he really need to know anything about the subject?
The answer was "No".
- But if he didn't need to know anything about the subject, then What was it that he *DID* need to know?
Well, what he needed to know was what people wanted.
- So the question became: How do you find out what people actually want to know?
The answer was so fantastically simple: "Ask them what they want to know!" (and they'll tell you!).
Now, I want you to consider something for a moment. How many times have you missed an opportunity, simply because you didn't "ask" for it? For example, just asking if there's a discount or asking if you can have one for free or asking if someone will go on a date with you? Just the simple process of "asking" can yield a whole new world of opportunities that you may not have realised before...
So here's roughly what Frank did (I'm summarising here):
He created a simple Page (Yes... just one page!). On the page, he said:
"I'm creating a new e-Book and just want to make sure I've got everything covered. What's your biggest question about Japanese Gardens? In return for your question, I'll give you a free copy of the e-Book when it's released".
The page had a form that people could use to email Frank their question. Frank then used some Pay Per Click ads to drive traffic to the page. As you can imagine, people submitted their questions as they knew they'd get their answer as well as a whole load of other answers related to Japanese Gardens from Frank's e-Book!
Frank then collected up the questions and sent these off to a ghostwriter to research for him. Once all of the questions were answered and the e-book was finished, Frank had a great, high quality product ready for sale.
Now that you've seen how to create a Flycatcher page, let's have a look at what's really going on behind the scenes. If you take a moment to consider "why" it works, then you'll understand why I consider this one technique to be really quite magical amd extremely powerful...
So, can you now see how amazing, yet simple, this technique of "just asking" really is? This technique was so powerful that Frank Kern and Ed Dale created an extemely successful course based on it (and other stuff) called the Underachiever Formula (note: I may be wrong on this... the story was passed to me second hand in StomperNet). I'm not sure that the course is being run any more... and let's face it, if it was then I'd probably have an affiliate link somewhere here if I could find one!
Most Internet Marketer's will know of Frank Kern. If you don't then just Google him and you'll find a lot of his products are now selling for literally thousands of dollars. Of all of the Internet Marketing "Gurus", I'd have to say that Frank is probably my favourite. He's not spammy, he has integrity and a lot of his stuff is funny to watch. Personally, I quite like the fact that these days he's starting to look a lot like Jesus (no offence - to anyone - especially Frank!).
Ask yourself: What is it that Frank Kern did with his FlyCatcher pages? He answered other people's questions.
Now ask yourself: What is it that FAQ-Tastic does? Quite simply it allows you to answer other people's questions.
Hmm... SNAP!?! Do you really think this is just a happy coincidence?
I think you can see where this is going. So... Now you understand how powerful just one simple technique can be, what how would it be if you could make this process even simpler?
Well, now you can.
In FAQ-Tastic Pro, there's a facility to export your questions and answers to CSV format. Quite simply, you can do the same thing as what Frank Kern has done. Set up a page and pop a FAQ-Tastic "Ask Box" on it. Drive traffic to the page and collect the questions. Once you have enough, just click on the export icon to download your questions and hire a freelancer to research the questions for you (if you know nothing about the niche).
As you can see, creating a Flycatcher page and exporting questions is a natural extension to what FAQ-Tastic does exceptionally well! It's a very simple piece of functionality but one that could create a whole new world of possibilities for you... if you choose to use it that way (instead of a plain, old, boring Frequently Asked Questions plugin!).
And that, is how I expanded on Frank Kern's simple, yet powerful Internet Marketing idea. I do believe, that's now 2 giants that FAQ-Tastic is standing on the shoulders of!
If you're new to FAQ-Tastic, then I'd recommend you try out the FREE Lite version of this Frequently Asked Questions plugin for your WordPress site so you can get a feel for the plugin. For most people, FAQ-Tastic Lite pretty much does what they need it to do.
If you've already tried it and have now realised how much more value could be gained by unlocking the untapped potential of the plugin, then feel free to upgrade to the FAQ-Tastic Pro membership.
One thing that you should bear in mind is that with FAQ-Tastic Pro, you get all of the power of a fully functional frequently asked plugin for WordPress as well as the ability to create Flycatcher pages! If you did a quick search, you'd know that just getting some software to help you build Flycatcher pages would cost you around $69.97...
At the moment, the FAQ-Tastic project is slowly starting to take shape. While the Pro plugin is ready, there's still quite a lot I have to do in terms of explaining why FAQ-Tastic is one of the tools you should have as a marketer. As most existing members know, I'm still in the process of building the members areas. Over the next coming months, I'll be adding videos to demonstrate more of these techniques.
For the moment, there's a Discount on Pro membership - this is mainly as the Pro area is still a little bare and I'm still trying to steal time, in between my normal work, to add more content. Also, I'm having a few issues creating videos on my PCs - i.e. they keep crashing - so I'm waiting for my Mac to get fixed to start creating some fresh new content! The discount ends on Sunday 26th July so I'd recommend you take action now and don't be like other people who missed out on the last offer!
Frank, if you're reading this - I owe you a beer! Thanks for being one of the inspirations for my plugin and helping people to realise that they can make the seemingly impossible become possible!Share and Enjoy:
As an idea, FAQ-Tastic Lite - the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) plugin for WordPress - isn't new. The original idea for the plugin came from a really cool guy called Dave Taylor. If you've not heard of him, that's okay - the only thing you really need to know is that Dave used to be a StomperNet faculty member (still is?) and is a very, very, smart cookie. Another 2 guys that I'd like to mention are Frank Kern and Ed Dale for helping to inspire a feature found in the new FAQ-Tastic Pro plugin (released soon - cart issues).
In this series of posts, I'll be revealing why I owe Dave Taylor, Frank Kern and Ed Dale a beer (I have done for over 2 years now!). You'll discover one of the main concepts that make FAQ-Tastic an extremely powerful plugin (when used properly) for any WordPress website used for business or that generates an income from advertising.
Before I explain to you why FAQ-Tastic can help generate income on your WordPress site, it's useful for you to understand the origins of the plugin.Why is it important for you to know this? Simply by understanding how FAQ-Tastic evolved will give you a better insight into ways that you *could* be using this plugin and fully maximising it's potential.
I'll try to keep it short but if you know my writing style... that's not always possible! (Skip ahead where necessary!)
Just over 2 years ago, I'd quit my job as a Project Manager for a large ISP over here in the UK and wanted a change of direction. Having completed an NLP course and looking for a change in career, a friend introduced me to something amazing called Internet Marketing. Having been online and on the Internet for about 10 years, doing a web-based 9 to 5, I was shocked and surprised to discover that there were people - individuals - making money from home. I'd never even considered doing that before. Admittedly, I was reluctant to be sucked back into a life online - after all, I'd just left an Internet-related job and still had a particular distaste from the position I'd just left behind. However, the prospect of being able to make money without needing to travel to a job I hated was *extremely* appealing.
It was around this time when StomperNet exploded onto the scene. I got an email from my friend about the launch 2 days before Stomper went live. Their marketing was exceptional. Their videos demonstrated an understanding of how to utilise the Internet to create markets, customers and start selling from home. As an ex-Developer, I was hooked. I love technology - I'm a geek - so the idea of making money from what I loved (for a change) appealed to my techy side. Fished in? I was hooked and reeled in. They definitely got me. I was probably one of the first in the queue on launch day, hitting refresh for a course that I didn't exactly have much knowledge about (but knew it would change my life). I do believe I was one of the first few hundred to get in and I've not looked back since.
I have to say that the training I've had from StomperNet has been unbelievable. The content I received was mind-blowing (and I thought I'd seen everything on the Net!). The skills they taught, I'd never considered - being stuck as a Developer/Project Manager in a 9 to 5, I hardly ever saw how Marketing fit into the company site I was building. Their "StomperNet faculty" consisted of some exceptionally talented, proven, Internet Marketers - one of them a guy called Dave Taylor.
During my time learning new skills and hanging out in the Stomper forums, one particular website caught my attention. That site was Dave Taylor's "AskDaveTaylor.com". This was the site that originally inspired the creation of FAQ-Tastic.
So, what was it about Dave Taylor's site that was amazing? I'm going to break it down for you, so that you can understand how powerful this site actually is.
At the time, AskDaveTaylor.com had a huge red button on the right hand side which said "Ask Dave" and encouraged readers to submit their questions. Dave then replied to the questions and these would appear on the site. Simples.
This principle, in itself, is pure genius.
What Dave Taylor actually created was a massive site which, in essence, is a huge list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). FAQ's are probably the most under-used section on most websites I see. However, they're probably one of the most powerful sections you can have on any website (when used properly - I'm guilty of this too, don't worry!).
So, why should you build an FAQ for your site? Let me put it this way:
Dave didn't need to think up of things to put on his site. All he needed to do was just to answer the question. At the time, I was having problems coming up with ideas for my site(s) - so what better than to get readers to just ask their questions and then answer them? Brainstorming headaches? Not any more.
This is actually a win-win situation for both Dave and his readers. Users that asked questions would have it answered and so were happy as they now had the solution to their problems. Dave was happy as he now had great content for his website. This content would attract new visitors who had the same problem (and were looking for the solution!). If you're looking for an easy way to create high quality content that drives traffic from search engines, then you'll probably now understand how powerful this simple technique really is.
I'm still amazed that a lot of webmasters have yet to realise that something as simple as an FAQ could have a impact on the traffic to their site. Basically, the more questions your readers submit, the more you can answer, creating more high quality content for your website and generating more traffic as the search engines pick up on the answers. As one user of FAQ-Tastic once said, this process of just answering questions is "pure white hat content generation in a box!".
When I realised how powerful this strategy was (as did many other StomperNet members), the question was - where can I get a plugin like that for my site? As you can imagine, a lot of people in the StomperNet forums asked about a plugin for WordPress that could do the same thing as on the AskDaveTaylor.com website. However, Dave's site runs on TypePad and most people were setting up their sites on WordPress.
Well, at the time, I was in the process of building a site for a client and thought something like this would be great. And so, I spent a few months hunting down an exceptional WordPress Plugin Developer (John) and getting FAQ-Tastic built. The irony was, I never got to use FAQ-Tastic on that particular site but at least the development costs for the intial plugin were covered in the site build! It was fortunate, as it meant that FAQ-Tastic could be released to the world as my way of saying "Thanks" and contributing back to the WordPress community.
If you're reading this and now feel that you've discovered a new strategy that's easy to implement, great! It now means that you've found yet another simple way of attracting visitors to your WordPress website. All you really have to do is to let your readers ask their questions... and then answer them. And that's really why I created FAQ-Tastic.
If you'd like to try out this strategy on your WordPress site, click here to register as a member and download your FREE copy of FAQ-Tastic Lite (that's right, it's FREE). Grab the FAQ-Tastic Lite plugin and start generating more high quality content, just by asking your readers what they want to know about. To make things even easier for you, I've even created some videos on the homepage of this site that will help you to use FAQ-Tastic. Check them out and you'll see how easy it can be to create new content for your WordPress site.
It's now been 2 years since I started this project but it's now gaining momentum. Now that I've managed to overcome some personal obstacles and put some issues to rest, FAQ-Tastic is now (finally) starting to receive the attention that it deserves from me. This new site and the latest version of FAQ-Tastic for WordPress 2.8 has started to receive some welcome attention.
I'm thankful for the users who have sent me extremely positive feedback and kicked my butt into getting the Pro version out (mainly as it helps me to continue to pay John to develop and build a better plugin!). It's nearly here and will be available in the FAQ-Tastic Lite members section in the next few days (I'm just ironing out a few bugs in my shopping cart system and we should be ready to go!).
Why am I making the Pro available in the Members section only? Basically, 1) for most people the Lite version is more than enough for what they need to do (no point buying something you don't need!) and 2) using the Lite version helps to identify any issues even before you buy the Pro version!
Let's face it, I *am* trying to sell you something... Well, only in as much as it helps me create a better plugin. I've tried the donations route and, to be honest, it simply didn't work. I've no idea why other WordPress plugin Developers keep up their project when very few people show appreciation. But that's another story.
If this project had just been about the money, then FAQ-Tastic Pro would probably have been released for sale 2 years ago. I could've simply ripped off someone else's code and re-labelled it as my own product. But, for me, that simply has no integrity. As faithful FAQ-Tastic users know, I like to provide value when it comes to this plugin.
FAQ-Tastic is about something entirely different. There is an ideology, a framework and also a biological principle behind this FAQ plugin that is probably a bit too intense to reveal in one go. For most people, FAQ-Tastic is a great little time-saving tool for building FAQs on their WordPress site... but it actually has more to it than meets the eye.
In the next few posts, I'll be showing you other aspects about this FAQ plugin that will make you realise that you're probably not using your Frequently Asked Questions section properly! Wouldn't it be great if you could fully maximise the traffic potential of your WordPress site?
Remember to check out the FREE FAQ-Tastic WordPress FAQ plugin and start building your WordPress FAQ section right now.
PS: Dave Taylor - if you're reading this: "I owe you a beer". I tried meeting you 2 years ago at a StomperNet event but you were ill and had a throat infection or something. Thanks for the inspiration and the solid foundation that this plugin rests on!
PPS: If you'd like to know more about StomperNet, then why not click on my affiliate link and have a look at some of the great FREE tips from StomperNet (aff) which can help with your Internet Marketing efforts?
PPS: I'd definitely recommend getting the StomperNet monthly magazine "The Net Effect". Great content in bite-sized pieces, ideal if you travel or just fancy a quick dip into improving your site without getting soaked...
Share and Enjoy:
These affiliate links helps support the FAQ-Tastic project.
Was this time consuming? Yes. Muchly. But well worth it I think. I'm really quite proud of that new player and you'll probably be seeing a lot more of it (in various guises) when I start to create audio playlists and begin add MP3s to this site. Audio and video are definitely the way forward...
"I should've done this ages ago!"
...which is definitely something I was considering having put on my gravestone recently.
Anyway, I've now also updated the About section (removing all old test pages) and you can also check out a new page so that you can "Meet the FAQ-Tastic Team". Well worth checking out.
Trust me.Share and Enjoy:
Anyway. No matter. This is year I'm all about doing things differently.
Like I say, to make things even easier for people using this site, I've now finally gotten round to starting on some video tutorials for FAQ-Tastic!While it might not seem like much, there's quite a lot that's gone into them in terms of editing them down and making them easy to follow and as short as possible. You would NOT believe the number of takes I've had to do to get usable material for these videos - I am not a natural TV presenter (but I do edit well).
And then there was the editing. Don't get me started on that - it was a whole new learning curve to get Camtasia to work just how I wanted it to. This is not an easy task when the computer you're using is about 3 years old, okay?
Is there a point to all this? I suppose there is. The point I'm trying to make is that making things easy for people sometimes isn't the easiest thing to do. It takes a lot of time, energy and effort to really create something of quality. And the truth is, most people probably won't even notice the tiniest details.
For example... the way in which the navigation titles are actually different to the main heading titles. How is that possible in WordPress? And how the whole video index is actually generated using FAQ-Tastic (doesn't that just change how you use the plugin? )...
And that's fine too. Why? Because, it's not about whether or not people noticed. It's about the fact that I actually had some fun doing those videos and learning a whole new set of skills. So really, it doesn't matter if people use the videos or not.
...and if people actually *DO* start watching the videos and learning how to use FAQ-Tastic? Well, that will (at the very least) save me from a lot of time and effort replying to emails!Share and Enjoy:
Basically, his plugin didn't conform to the GPL licence that WordPress enforces and someone "ratted him out" which caused a great debate in the WordPress community and resulted in "King Rat" getting some hate mail.
There's 2 things I'd like to say about this issue, which I think, we - as members of a WordPress community - should try to remember:
Firstly, I really appreciate Oliver's work on the CForms II plugin. He's not a programmer and yet he's created one of the best plugins for WordPress. He's also personally helped me out once on his forum, so I recognise the time and effort he puts in. The "problem" was (as some saw it) in his plugin, he placed a backlink to his site which couldn't disabled without affecting some other functionality.
While some may see this as a bit unfair, the point is this: you can choose to use a plugin or not - if there's something about it you don't like, then seriously, just don't use it. There are other plugin alternatives (maybe not as good) which may do the job. Personally, for me CForms II is *the* form plugin to use with WordPress - how could you live without it?
I can fully understand Oliver's position about putting the backlink in, so I lalways eave them in. As I mentioned my my previous post about the Development issues associated with maintaining a WordPress plugin - a lot of people do not appreciate the time and effort that goes into building a WordPress plugin. While WordPress plugins may be free, but there is always a cost to someone, somewhere down the line. And, from experience, unfortunately people aren't as altruistic or as generous as we'd like to think (or would hope).
However, a little support can go a long way.
Since my last broadcast to my email list, I've had some wonderful comments from people which really do help to boost the spirit and make working on the FAQ-Tastic plugin project worthwhile. To those people who sent an email - "I thank you" - your appreciation, comments, feedback (positive and negative) are all valuable (and valued).
As you may remember from my last post I touched upon this very subject of "appreciating plugin authors" and it's interesting that this scandal came up after I wrote about it. Something in the air, maybe?
One of the good things that has come out from this "scandal" is that Matt Mullenweg from WordPress posted up a blog entry called "Thank a Plugin Developer Day" (you can find that on your WP admin dashboard) and it echoes my own sentiments. I don't know if his post was as a direct consequence of the GPL scandal and the events that unfolded but what I do know is that at least the issues are out in the open and it's made people think about the guys who work in the shadows!
Please, please, please take a moment to read Matt's post and to think about how you can say thanks to your favourite plugin developer (let's face it, if you've made it this far into this post, it probably means you actually *do* care!).
There are many ways you can do it - a donation; a backlink on your blogroll; constructive feedback; a quick email with a compliment... all of these things really do help (even though it might not seem like it). Small gestures like this help to re-establish the energy exchange... and let's face it, your favourite plugin has a better chance of being supported in the long-run!
One person who I'd recommend sending some link love, kind words, donations and overall appreciation is a guy called John Godley from UrbanGiraffe.com who is quite simply a world class WordPress Plugin genius. He certainly doesn't get much as much credit for his work but should do. Check out his excellent collection of WordPress plugins and remember to find some way of demonstrating your support if you use them! Aside from that, he also helped build the FAQ-Tastic plugin that thousands of people enjoy using on their WordPress blogs!
Anyway, I'm digressing... Second point:
As for "King Rat". He got a lot of hate mail and nasty comments on his blog. Personally, I completely disagree with the *way* that a number of people re-acted to his post that pointed out that Oliver's plugin went against the rules. The over-reaction was completely unnecessary. All he did was to point out a "fact" and made a suggestion (which I think Oliver went on to address on his own site).
Y'know... it is okay to disagree with people. And to have differing opinions...
The thing is, it's so easy to leave comments on a blog. And this was King Rat's own, personal blog, on his own domain. He should be free to voice his own opinions without people coming and defacing his virtual property.
To put it another way: would you go up and spit on someone's house just because they had a different viewpoint to you? Probably not, right? Although, I've heard that there are some who might...
It's so easy for the voices of the mob to shout someone down. And it's easy to become part of the mob. Let's face it, history has repeatedly demonstrated the devastation that can be caused by mob mentality. But doesn't that go against the whole nature of what blogging is about? We live in an age where everyone can be the authors of their own reality. We have become publishers of our own opinions and no longer have to subscribe to mob rule. It's a double edged sword - as we liberate everyone's voice we will often hear things that we do not agree with.
As a reminder: if you really don't like what someone has to say - I mean, if it *really* gets to you - then why not post on your own blog and link to their post? Blog comments are useful to help people "participate in the discussion". There's no real point in leaving hateful messages as nothing moves forward...
To be honest, aren't there other things to worry about in the world? Griping about GPL and the loss of a plugin from the WordPress plugins directory doesn't really help move the world forward. Put it this way: there are starving people in the world who probably couldn't care less about GPL, Creative Commons or any other type of software licence. If something is really bugging you, then take a moment - breathe - and get some perspective.
In the words of Father Ted, "these are small... but the ones out there are far away!". The dramas are imagined. They're contextual. Shift your perception and you'll see that the situation's probably not as bad as you'd thought it was.
Anyway, that's about it from me (possibly for a little while). Thanks for letting me rant (and actually reading this far!)Share and Enjoy: