Not getting website traffic?

Not getting (enough) traffic to your website?

If you want advice, there is no better resource than Ramit Sethi. His course(s) will advise you on website traffic and teach you all you need to know about running a successful online business. Click on the ad below and it will take you to his free sign up subscription and you are on your way.  If you just wanted a one-page preview, then continuing reading this post without clicking.

About Ramit

Paraphrasing from Ramit Sethi…

The most common mistake people make when they’re starting an online business is the idea that “if you build it, people will come”.  Then, without even hesitating or seeing if anyone would actually pay them for their idea, they jump right into the tactics. They get a domain, a website and start writing hundreds of blog posts.

And then, after two or three months, what happens on their site?

Nothing at all. Virtually no traffic.

Most people do this because it’s easy to sit around building websites and printing business cards all day.

It’s actually harder to go out and talk to people to see what they want.

Don’t build the website first. And don’t even think about what product you’re going to build or how you’re going to price it and package it just yet.

The first thing to do is understand:

  • Who is my customer?
  • What do they want?
  • What does my competition look like and say?
  • And why should people come to you for a solution?

Okay you alreadt have a business idea and a website, what should you do next — build up a subscription list to get those valuable emails – (see previous post). There is nothing better than an email list for your business.

Here are  three good reasons for this:

  1. Email outperforms every other marketing channel online. Don’t listen to experts telling you about Instagram and Pinterest and all these random channels. Email outperforms them all.
  2. You own your email list. Google and Facebook can change their rules anytime. But they can’t touch your list. It’s your asset. And most importantly, it’s your relationship with readers.
  3. An email list can scale. You don’t need much more effort to sell to 10,000 people than you do to sell to 10 people. That is scalability.

For more advice on increasing your website traffic, click here.

Guest Blog and Increase Your Mojo

Or How to overcome your fear of self promotion

Here are some hints on how to guest blog and increase your self promotion without being sleazy. This comes from Ramit Sethi’s Growthlab course: Zero to Launch.

  • How to build authentic relationships with top bloggers (without being spammy)
  • The secret to getting even the busiest and most successful people to read your material (with word-for-word email scripts)
  • A simple way to crush your fear of promoting yourself
Getting over your fear of self promotion is crucial to your online business

Embedded in this fear about selling is a fear of promoting ourselves. And the truth is, you have to get comfortable promoting yourself as you grow an online business.

For more of the same from Ramit Sethi’s Growthlab, click here.


The Right Price Point

While considering monetising some of my online activities, the questions arose:  what kind of product would it be and what would be the price point? Ramit Sethi, a very successful entrepreneur,  has provided some insights (see his pdf): The Ultimate Guide to Starting an Online Business.  Here is the way he visualises online businesses.


High End

Because you are charging a high price, you are likely to have relatively few customers. Think Rolls Royce and Prada. Ramit Sethi’s business model is to produce high quality content, give 98% of it away, but charge premium prices for the remaining 2% — like thousands of dollars. Ramit runs how-to-get-rich courses for the millennials (see audio clip below).

Golden Goose

Products in this section are great businesses; they have the potential for plenty of customers and command a high price. Think Apple iPhones. You get there by making a quality product and you can charge a relatively high  price because the price becomes secondary to the product.

Mass Market

Ebooks are an example of mass market products — the Amazon prices of  $1.99, $2.99 or $4.99. There are so many products there that the probability of someone finding you are very, very small. You are swimming in the shallow end of a very large pool and are unlikely to go anywhere. People have a natural tendency to undercharge when they are first starting out in business. The goal is to find the right price that reflects the true market value of whatever you are selling. You can always lower the price as a special offer at a later date.

Labour of Love

These are products that have few potential customers and can only be charged a low price. These are like weekend hobbies that nobody would pay you for. You may still want to do them to fulfill some inner need, but don’t expect it to make money or be disappointed if you fail to succeed.

Ramit Sethi

Pat Flynn interviews Ramit Sethi on these questions in Podcast SPI222 Here is a short excerpt that focuses on the price point questions that people who are starting out might ask.


The Perils of Memoir Writing

I have recently embarked on a Blog-A-Book project (The Inside Story)  about my place of work, the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Otago, Dunedin, NZ. Before retiring in 2009,  I collected and curated the departmental social history and published a precise of the archive as a book entitled: A History of the Microbiology Department 1950 – 2010. The archive itself was hosted on a website, but with the passing of years and changes in staff and departmental priorities the site fell into disrepair.

The Inside Story is being written (using the archives) in a narrative form which makes it more of a memoir than a history. Writing a memoir is associated with certain risks as pointed out in the Bookbaby blog.

1. Don’t use the book to settle old grudges.

It would be most unusual if there weren’t any grievances given the interactions with a diverse group of people working together. I have tried to weave these into the rich tapestry of departmental life.

2. Don’t mention every single person in the department

Some people will be left out since they did not play a key role in my story, but they should not feel that they were unimportant to the life and functioning of the department.

3. Don’t mention every event in its chronological order

By telling the story about the people and the events there will be a certain amount of toing and froing in time as each person enters center stage, but the minutiae of the day-to-day departmental life will not be included.

4. Don’t fail to organize the story

There is an overall chronology to the story — following the flight of time’s arrow. Jotting down random memories may be spontaneous and freewheeling, but not conducive to maintaining the interest of the reader.

5. Don’t write in dry, uninteresting prose

This is not a problem when writing about the lives of bright, over-achieving, egotistical, academics who love to be in the limelight and to centerstaging it.

6. Don’t expect a bestseller when your memoir is really a departmental keepsake

At the end of the day, the book may only be of interest to the inner circle of people associated with the department. It is unlikely to be a best-seller and the best plan is to publish it as an ebook and have a print-on-demand  version as an option.

How would I teach a university course?

Student asleep during lecture

Before retiring from academia about 5 years ago, I taught a 3rd year undergraduate course in molecular virology. The question is: how would I teach it now knowing what I know and having had spent some time with ebooks and online learning?

The first thing is that I would not give lectures but use resources such as MOOC’s for course content — like the MOOC offered by Professor Vincent Racaniello, Columbia University. This MOOC provides excellent videos and quizzes on the basic aspects of virus replication and control. (Students could enrol for the course on their own.) My main contribution would be to produce an eBook to accompany this online course that would contain my personal comments, experience, perspectives and also provide additional resources.

The course would be a hybrid using the MOOC resources plus my eBook. The advantage of the eBook for a student is that they can add notes and comments — personalise it so that it comes their own study resource that is theirs forever.

I wouldn’t give lectures for the reasons listed below and I would use the student time allocation for tutorials and discussion groups.

Here are 10 reasons why face-to-face lectures don’t work:

1. Babylonian hour 
We only have hours because of the Babylonian base-60 number system, which first appeared around 3100 BC. But it has nothing to do with the psychology of learning.

2. Passive observers 
Lectures without engagement with the audience turn students into passive observers. Research shows that participation increases learning, yet few lecturers do this.

3. Attention fall-off 
Our ability to retain information falls off badly after 10-20 minutes. In one study, the simple insertion of three “two-minute pauses” led to a difference of two letter grades in a short- and long-term recall test.

4. Note-taking 
Lectures rely on students taking notes, yet note-taking is seldom taught, which massively reduces the effectiveness of the lecture.

5. Disabilities 
Even slight disabilities in listening, language or motor skills can make lectures ineffective, as it is difficult to focus, discriminate and note-take quickly enough.

6. One bite at the cherry 
If something is not understood on first exposure, there is no opportunity to pause, reflect or seek clarification. This approach contradicts all that we know about the psychology of learning.

7. Cognitive overload 
Lecturers load up talks with too much detail, with the result that students cannot process all the information properly.

8. Tyranny of location 
Students have to go to a specific place to hear a lecture. This wastes huge amounts of time, especially if they live far away from campus.

9. Tyranny of time 
Students have to turn up at a specific time to hear a lecture.

10. Poor presentation 
Many lecturers have neither the personality nor skills to hold the audience’s attention.

For the source of the above and further reading see the comments. The article was written by Donald Clark for the Guardian. By the way Donald Clark runs an e-learning company — shades of self-interest?

Sutton Railway Station

This year I solved the annual problem of purchasing Christmas cards by making my own. A holiday pix was chosen, it had the festive red and green — it was modified by using Photoshop [Artistic/poster edges] with some cloning and blurring. It was printed on card paper stock at a local printery — the total cost for 24 including red envelopes was about $NZD 3.00 per card.


The image is of a New Zealand Central Otago iconic building — the Sutton Railway Station. It is on the 150 km Rail-Trail cycling route which explores the old gold mining trails and the unique landscape of schist outcrops and long, hazy distances. Artists, writers and poets find this area fascinating.

Relaunch of Kalmak Consultancy


I have recently relaunched the Kalmak Consultancy website using WordPress and the Creativo theme. Below is a brief history of my web journey and the web developments along the way.

In the beginning (1994) website developers used BBEdit (Bare Bones Software) — as a HTML and CSS editor for creating static webpages. Webpages were created line by line of hand-coding requiring a deep knowledge of HTML.  This was followed in 1997 by Dreamweaver (Adobe) which used WYSIWYG HTML and CSS editors (still in use by some!). From there (1999) I moved to using WebCrossing software which provided for an Open Source built-in server that included a SQL database and scriptable object-oriented HTML features. I was able to run an online virology course using this software which had a FaceBook-like module for social interactions and forums called Neighbors. WebCrossing faded somewhat in the following years and went through restructuring and was finally bought by Elliptics in 2013.

In 2007 I began using Silverstripe (a NZ company) which released a free open source Content Management System (CMS) and a framework that allowed content-authors to work separately from web-developers in a ‘model-view-controller’ software application. It used an Apache web server and a SQL database and could be run from a desktop computer. Silverstripe currently features a large number of widgets, themes and modules which extend its core functionality. This year (2013) Silverstripe has been adopted as the default standard for web development in NZ government departments. This was the web software that I used up until retiring from the University of Otago in 2009.

After leaving the University, I stayed with Silverstripe using Bluehost as a web-host provider but eventually switched to Concrete 5 because of its CMS and features like the in-context editing (the ability to edit website content directly on the page, rather than in an administrative interface or using web editing software). Also Concrete 5 had a wide range of addons that extended the range of its functionalities. This was the software used for the Kalmak Consultancy website until November, 2013.

In the meantime WordPress was growing in popularity, initially for its blog capability, but eventually for its overall website features. A very popular feature of WordPress was the plugin architecture which allowed users and developers to extend its abilities beyond the core installation. WordPress has over 26,000 plugins, each of which offers custom functions and features enabling users to tailor their sites to their specific needs. It is estimated that more than 20% of the world’s websites use WordPress and there are over 60 million blog sites. The tipping point for me was the release of the ‘Ultra Responsive MultiPurpose Creativo Theme’. This theme gave the website the dynamic capability to adjust and look good on a desktop/laptop, a tablet or a smartphone. Also it had an integrated page builder — a visual composer which mimicked the best features of the addons of Concrete 5. WordPress has a large community of helpful users and many SEO tools. I am a WP convert!

The publishing of ‘Winter of Discontent’

This book has published in August, 2013 and is now available from leading eBook distributors around the world — the above link is to the Amazon BookStore. Some of you may be interested as to the steps taken to publish the book.

Tony provided me with the equivalent of a WORD document and I proceeded in roughly the following way:

  1.  Printed out the WORD document — to get a sense of how Tony wanted it to appear.
  2. The WORD file was converted to a txt file — absolutely all formatting removed.
  3. Using PAGES opened an epub template (the Apple equivalent of WORD).
  4. Copied and pasted from the txt file into the template sections, grabbing images from the WORD.doc — original high resolution jpeg or tiff files are also required.
  5. Exported the PAGES file to an epub document (at this stage there was some editing and reformatting for Tony to do).
  6. For the Kindle mobi format, opened Calibre (a free conversion programme) and converted the epub format to a mobi format.

The final step for publishing with BookBaby was to send them a final copy of a formatted PAGES document which they converted to epub and mobi formats using their in-house software. They then sent a final proof for sign off — they handle all the distribution to Amazon, iBook, Scrib, Sony, Kobos, etc — and manage the collection of payments, etc.

Since the final proof had no DRM, it is possible to give away copies to your friends and to even sell copies on your website, etc — there are no distribution restrictions. The only ‘protection’ you have for your work is the fact that it is already widely distributed world-wide through the BookBaby network and it is unlikely that someone would make much money by trying to pirate your work — in any case, it is my view ‘better read than dead’.

Winter of Discontent — Published

The book Winter of Discontent by Tony Eyre was recently published and it is now available from all good eBook distributors — including where it was on the Hot New Releases Top 20 for about two weeks.
Winter-of-DiscontentTony and I spent the last few months formatting and editing the epub version and finally submitting it to BookBaby for distribution. The whole process worked well and I have other eBook projects underway.