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Socializing with customers without completely de-personalizing

Last time, I attempted to maximize the value of my existing products by introducing a lifetime membership, but so far I haven’t seen an uptick in revenue.

Could it be because I haven’t told anyone about it on social media? Or, for that matter, about the existence of ScaleQuail?

It may be my biggest failing as an entrepreneur that I just make things and don’t tell anyone. But today I’m going to explore why, and either find convenient psychological work-arounds, or consciously eradicate those aspects of my personality.

If you’ve never had to do that, you may not be ready for the world of business.

One of the reasons I rarely make noise about my work is because I’m not confident it’s good. Obviously, that’s ridiculous! But the worst part is the span of time after the post. Will people “like” it? Will they be completely indifferent? The silence of my notifications is unbearable. And because I produced the work myself, the reaction to the work is a reaction to me. The feeling can cut to the bone.

Strategic de-personalization is a technique I’ve applied before, but I can’t recommend it. Blocking out memories and emotions temporarily just so I can promote my books as if they’re somebody else’s is a slippery slope. We’ve all known business leaders who’ve chosen this route, and their cold eyes stay with us long after the meeting is over.

A healthier work-around is to have an automated service make posts without my knowledge. With a pile of content in the hopper, and a system that publishes at random times throughout the day, I can get my information out there without worrying about how I feel about it — or, at least, worrying about it constantly at a low enough level that I eventually tune it out, pushing it into the background with thoughts about climate change and armies of flying robot assassins.

Of course there’s software that does this. HootSuite is bird-driven, like ScaleQuail, so it’s the natural choice. Signed up for a 30-day trial and I’m off and running.

My HootSuite dashboard

Everything that’s relevant to me, in one place.

Alright... wow. This is what it must feel like to be an Influencer! Aw, it tells me how to put tracking links into my posts? Nice. And that dashboard. I can target people in specific groups by watching hashtags. This is great. I hope it filters out reaction GIFs. (UPDATE: it does not)

Now that I can see Twitter from the Content Producer point-of-view, I have all the tools I need to do a professional social media blitz. I may not even need to de-personalize as I drive up my follower count with coldly measured, consumable content.

There’s really no excuse for me not to blast you all on Twitter now — unless, of course, I forget about it.

Forget might not be the exact word, but for days at a time I might dive into some new project, or have to catch up on six months of backlogged accounting. It’s happened before, and not only for Twitter. Hell, I keep forgetting about my PO box, and I almost never think about my Goodreads account.

A failure at Goodreads

To be fair, I also haven’t failed a challenge yet.

This is why I need a general business dashboard, something to keep every active tendril top-of-mind. I would rather do anything but advertise, and there’s plenty else to keep me occupied, but if I’ve got a visualization of all possible business activities, I can see what I’m neglecting, and spread myself out more evenly.

The Scaled Quail saying “QAWP!”

My business tasks generally fall into these categories:

  • Building more ways for the online store to bring in money, AKA “Quickening” commerce
  • Advertising
  • Wrangling the admin
  • Producing content

To balance these four needs, I’ll create a QAWP Wheel using an old LP:

The basic form of a QAWP Wheel

The basic form of a QAWP Wheel. Sincere apologies to Tubular Bells.

From here, I use a labeler to apply my tasks in the appropriate areas, then pin the wheel in my work area where it can freely spin.

If you’re making one of these for your own business, make sure you put a ScaleQuail sticker in the middle so people know you’re serious. Order a book and I’ll tuck one inside. Please. Please order books.

An active QAWP Wheel

My QAWP Wheel in action. It could also be laid flat if you like the DJ aesthetic.

Now, when I’m in advertising mode, I can fill my Scheduled Tweets queue full of great content and then safely forget about it for a few days. And maybe I’ll finally connect with someone on Goodreads (but still, probably not).

But it’s important that I actually do communicate with customers directly instead of just passively blasting my followers. This is one of those tasks that I won’t voluntarily do, especially if there are other activities available, but luckily, my trusty auto-mailer is up to the task.

Ideally, if someone downloads a book, I’d send them an email to ask what they thought, and if they’d have time to leave a Goodreads review. I have all the data I need, so if the user has consented to receive emails, I can set up a one-button auto-sender for eligible users in my rickety admin area:

An auto-nudger

Crab User got a lot of emails during testing.

I could automate this even more, but I like the control, and I want to be able to address the user by first name in the email only when I know it’s appropriate. A machine may be performing my arduous social tasks, but it still has to feel personal.

There’s one more thing I have to do to complete the illusion, though:

Tracking email links creates ugly, impersonal links.

You can really anger some digital marketers by doing this.

Turn off the tracking! Unless you want every link in the email to come out as a nasty mess of parameters, and ruin the personal façade we’re trying to create here. It’s subtle, but people notice.

Look at this terrible link.


Ah, but then I won’t be able to track my opens and click-throughs. You think I care who opens the emails I auto-send? What, I’m supposed to A/B test the subject lines? Guess I should have A/B tested every line in my books, too. Make sure I wrote the right things.

With personal, psychologically manageable ways to push out my content, I should hopefully see that “bump” in revenue I’ve heard so many founders talk about. But if I want to maximize it, I’ve got one more marketing scale I want to put in place that’ll make my efforts at least five times more effective — fusing my site into a revenue monolith. NEXT →

Posted in: Scaling up

Fusing your digital properties into a revenue monolith

Now that I’ve automated some marketing and patched up a few psychological flaws, I’m almost ready to push products to my network. But there’s one more scale I have to implement before I put my life savings into billboard space.

Before, when contemplating a scale to my physical book distribution system, I estimated that shipping five books at once was five times less work, per book, than shipping one by one. Today I’m going to use an inverse of that theory to scale my marketing efforts.

Right now, I have at least 6 destinations within the website, each with separate marketing strategies and separate audiences. The #SickGoTakedowns hashtag I use to advertise the Snapback series to Go players is approaching its third year, though it may not be relevant to a Ghostcrime reader, who may instead be pulled in with neon ghost/robot art. But if I can attract a customer to the site with the right post, and it’s easy to navigate around, they might explore.

If you have a similar portfolio of disconnected comedy products, this next part will definitely be applicable.

The trick is to think of all the unrelated brands as a single product unified by the web platform. That was the original premise of the company anyway — a virtual employee who offers up an assortment of curiosities and handles all the financial transactions, so that I’m free to spend summers paragliding instead of indoors on the computer. Each book, blog, or game is just a module of a larger machine, and any effort to market one individually has the effect of marketing the whole. Now we must oil the machine, which sounds disgusting, but it’s necessary.

First, I’m going to analyze my blogs to make sure it’s easy to jump from post to post. ScaleQuail has a linear format, and prominent links in the text move forward and backward, so it’s fine for now. I Found This Badger, however, needs some love. It’s some of my most accessible writing, and a venerable story of human/animal relations, but by default it displays latest posts first. At this stage, I need to accommodate new readers who want to start reading from the beginning.

This is as easy as improvements get, just a link to the posts sorted in reverse:

An easier way to read the badger blog

A friendlier way to read adorable badger stories

Next, I’ll look at the Mirth Turtle blog, which hosts a collection of my older comedy essays, game reviews, and clickbait listicles. The range of topics is broad, so a custom recommendation engine is required here. It’s a simple build, choosing two posts related by Category or Tag, then a random third post for variety. With some new thumbnails to denote category, it’s done:

Classic content you’re definitely going to love

Classic content you’re definitely going to love

Getting readers deeper into the blogs is one thing, but to go from free short-form comedy to buying all my books, they need to hop around. I was originally thinking something like the recommendation engine above, kind of an internal ad network, but everyone hates ads, right? That’s why you all use ad-blockers? (you should use an ad-blocker)

I opted for a less obtrusive design — a bar along the top of every page that lets you know you’re in a sub-area, with an easy way to navigate back to the main page and also space to push the lifetime membership. Please buy a lifetime membership.

Gotta make the bar innocuous so people don’t hate the bar

How innovative, you’re probably saying. A bar. Yeah, how about you just go to hell, you piece of shit.

Anyway, now that my products are woven together into a multi-faceted revenue-generation monolith, it’s time to drive some serious traffic. In true ScaleQuail fashion, I’m going to accomplish this by orchestrating a marketing cyclone.

The difference between a cyclone of marketing and the regular kind is variety. In a traditional marketing campaign, you push one thing with one theme. It may be through different mediums, but it’s focused. A marketing cyclone, however, hits the populace with so many different ideas, they’ll wonder, with each new ad they see, whether it’s also secretly one of yours. A marketing cyclone is loud, unpredictable, and it’ll foster in the customer a paranoia that it’ll strike again at any moment.

A revenue monolith is perfectly suited to this kind of campaign. But if I’ve learned anything from the past few months using social media automation, the Hootsuite hopper doesn’t fill itself. It’s hungry for content, and a well-planned marketing cyclone demands high-quality debris. NEXT →

Posted in: Scaling up


Scaling in progress!

Come back soon to see how the next plan hatched.