Google Contributor Offers Interesting Approach To Blog Revenue

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, February 07, 2016 at 11:46 PM with 0 comments

Would you pay money to read The Hot Iron? And what if by paying you saw less ads on the site?

I know I have asked this question before when I added CentUp to this very blog. Another new revenue model for writers has come about from Google called Contributor. As I have no illusions (delusions?) of grandeur in earning a living from this very site alone in itself, I was more intrigued to try it to how it really works.

How It Works

Google Contributor allows a Web user to contribute money monthly for ads to not be shown on Web sites it visits. The ads specifically are ones from Google’s own ad services, AdSense and DoubleClick. So if a banner ad comes from another source other than Google (and there are many) that ad will still appear. In the place of the ad it may be blank or a thank you message for supporting the particular Web site.

From the Web site owner’s perspective, if they are displaying on their site through Google, rather than getting the money for someone seeing and clicking on an ad, they are getting money from the user’s Contributor account, in a sense offsetting the cost of the ad usually paid by the advertiser.

A few items of note on Contributor. Currently it only works in the US. By someone contributing money, either US$2, US$5 or US$10 a month, they are still going to see ads. As shown in the chart below, by contributing those 3 previously mentioned dollar figures, they will see respectively 5-15%, 15-25% or 25-50% fewer ads. These fewer ads are across all Web sites with Google ads not just one in particular. So if you contribute $10 a month, thinking it will all go to me for reading The Hot Iron, it will not.

”screenshot

Is It Worth It?

That’s a great question – is it worth it? I honestly don’t know, as I have just set it up on the blog, and I have also signed up as a Contributor at the whopping US$2 a month level.

Here is a screenshot of this blog with an ad appearing at the top:

”screenshot

Here is a screenshot of this blog without an ad appearing at the top:

”screenshot

I know – the difference is amazing!

It will be interesting to see how often I notice the ads not there. Last year was the 20th anniversary of the Web banner ad. As I heard somewhere – and I forgot the source – it was marking 20 years of people ignoring banner ads! So even if it technically works, it will be interesting to see if anyone notices.

Are you a Google Contributor? Did I convince you to join, or not join? I welcome your thoughts in the comments of this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Retiring A Well-Traveled Journal

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, January 24, 2016 at 06:43 PM with 0 comments

”photo

It’s been said over and over that all good things must come to an end. Where some ends are because something is broken or changed, it can be simply because something has come to its natural conclusion. That latter case is what I am doing with a writing journal, as I have recorded thoughts on its last blank page.

In the past I have talked about how I write out most all of my blog posts. Call me old-fashioned, but it works for me. Of course sometimes I just put fingers to the keyboard (all 2 of them) For those I have written (read: printed) most were captured in a journal.

This particular journal is a college-ruled composition notebook I bought at Target on September 5, 2012, and I only remember that as it was a Target-brand notebook, and the day I bought it I wrote my first post in it, Remember Team Morale During Work Stress. Since then it has captured many blog posts, brainstorming for blog topics, scratch paper for other uses – such as my kids stats from their last doctor’s appointment – as well as a doodle pad for said kids. Where many things were written from front to back, others started from the back to front, and the last post I wrote in there, My Takeaways From The Book 52 Motivational Quotations For Salespeople By Tom Cruz, was about two-thirds of the way through it. That being said, it was a very organized collection.

What To Do?

So what do I do with a journal that has traveled just about as much as I have over the last several years? Do I simply recycle it, shred it, or save it? I am not about to start saving notebooks, especially as I am trying, with moderate success, to declutter my life. But as I simply can’t discard it altogether, I cut the spine from it and fed it into my Fujitsu ScanSnap scanner, saved it as a PDF document, and have archived it with my other personal documents. That way, if 100 years from now someone wants to know how The Hot Iron was created, they can look at a PDF file rather than yellowing pages in a dusty box. That is if that dusty box wasn’t long tossed out by my future grandchildren first.

This post you are now reading was written out in another journal I bought at a Walgreens last summer and wrote my first post on the book Scrum, as that day I did not have my other journal with me and I needed something to capture my writing, It too has had some other uses, some I hope to share in the future.

What do you use to capture your creativity? Please share in the comments of this post… and let me know if you typed it straight from your mind or after transcribing it from paper.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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My Takeaways From The Book 52 Motivational Quotations For Salespeople By Tom Cruz

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, January 04, 2016 at 10:27 PM with 0 comments

photo of back cover of 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople by Tom Cruz

We all sell. Whether the word “sales” is in our job title or not, we all “sell” in some regards. From persuading a solution at work to convincing someone to date us to everything in between and all around, there is some element of selling in our lives.

Where we can succeed in selling, many times we do not. And when we do not, we can react to it in any number of ways. Whether we like it or not, we have to try to sell again. For some, getting back into the proverbial saddle is easy, and for others or just other times, we may need help. One way to get that help is from words of encouragement.

My good friend Tom Cruz has had the word “sales” on his business cards over his entire career (and when I say good friend, I stood up in his wedding and once flew live lobsters out to his house in LA from Boston, but I digress). When I heard he wrote a book titled 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople, I knew I had to read it. Of course it is always to support a friend, bit I knew it would be a great collection and motivator as well.

Friend bias aside, I enjoyed this short book. Each quote is on a separate page, allowing you to tear them out and hang them up. As with any book, I had a few takeaways from it:

We need to find what works for us – Reading through a book of motivational quotes in itself won’t necessarily make it a better day. Or maybe it will. We have to find what works for us, though trial and error, and it may be a third-party sharing something with you.

Explore beyond words – We often hear names of people and quotes that have been attributed to them. But who are these people? Were they business or religious leaders? Were they ax murderers or musicians? Does the quote define them or just confuse you? As I went thru this book I ended up searching several names I did not know.

Write your story – Where these quotes are just that, individual sets of words from others, combined they are part of my friend Tom Cruz’s life journey, and thus tell part of his story. We all have a story to tell or at least record for curious others – now or in the future – whether our child or a stranger. No matter who, our story may be of interest to someone someday.

Note Tom did not ask me to write this, nor did he give me a copy of it. I will make sure to give him a signed copy of my future book someday! As I pass along book I read to others, I am sending this one to a common friend of both of ours, who also works in sales, and should publish his own book too.

Were you intrigued or inspired to get 52 Motivational Quotations for Salespeople? Have you thought of publishing your own quotes? I welcome your thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Nine Years Of Blogging At The Hot Iron

By Mike Maddaloni on Wednesday, December 30, 2015 at 12:00 AM with 3 comments

”photoTypically the inspiration for something I write here at The Hot Iron comes from something that impacts me. It could be a conversation I have with someone. It could be a book I read or a product I try. It could be something I experience. Whatever it is, it will drive me to put pen to paper – or fingers to keyboard – to share it with the people I am fortunate are reading here.

Annually something occurs that I have addressed in various ways, the anniversary of the launch of this blog. With my Hello World post on December 30, 2006, I met a goal of launch a blog by the end of that year, and also launched something that is now entering its tenth year, racking up over 800 posts and over 7 million page hits.

Writing this post is always different from the others. Rather than try to come up with something profound or prolific (or any other adjective beginning with “pro”), I will simply say thank you! Thank you to all who read this and all who have inspired me to write over the last year and years. I have gotten more excited about blogging in 2015, and I am looking forward to more sharing and conversations in 2016.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Football Teams Winning And The Impact On Ticket Cost by TickPick

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, December 20, 2015 at 07:50 AM with 0 comments

”infographic

As the saying goes... on any given Sunday, any team in the NFL can beat any other team. What late NFL commissioner Bert Bell said decades ago still rings true today, as can be seen with a recent game involving my beloved Patriots and a certain team from Philadelphia. This parity in competition is good for the game of football, but not always good for the fans, especially if they can't get in to see their team due to the increasing cost of NFL tickets.

As someone who had Patriots season tickets during very lean years for the team, as well as traveling to see the team in other NFL cities where it was either extremely easy or hard to get tickets, I have known first-hand the impact on team performance and the impact on going to a football game. When the folks at TickPick created this infographic on winning and the impact on ticket cost for all NFL teams, I had to see it, and they have allowed me to share it with you here.

Click on the sample of the infographic above, or click this link to view the NFL football ticket cost infographic from TickPick full-sized.

As you can see, there's a variety of percent increases in ticket values and costs based on if a football team is a winner or not. What's also interesting to see is the difference in ticket costs. Though the value and cost of New England Patriots tickets can increase by 78% based on their winning, the cost at $479.63 is less than the Chicago Bears at $770.42, whose price only increases by 53%. Knowing a little about both teams, the Patriots base ticket costs are much less to begin with than the football team who plays a couple of blocks from me.

Where this infographic is for football, it is telling for all sports and events. Next baseball season it will be a lot easier and affordable to get a ticket to see David “Big Papi” Ortiz play in his final year here against the Chicago White Sox in US Cellular Field than it will at Fenway Park in Boston. I learned this first-hand when I moved to Chicago the day the Red Sox were playing the White Sox and everywhere I looked I saw Red Sox jerseys, a surreal scene to say the least. Other impacts, including stadium size and season ticket base, play into this as well.

Enjoy this infographic and I welcome your thoughts and stories in the comments to this post if you have experienced this as well and have traveled to see your team in another city due to ticket cost. Thank you to TickPick for letting me share this infographic.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Most People Spend Most Of Their Time Around Their Job

By Mike Maddaloni on Monday, December 07, 2015 at 10:12 PM with 0 comments

”photo

It came to me a while back, something I guess I always knew subconsciously but only then came to the forefront of my mind – most people spend most of their time around their job. I then decided to put fingers to technology to see if I was right, and here’s my analysis and further thoughts on it.

Jobs and all their trappings

When thinking about how we spend our time, our jobs tend to be at the top of our list. This is of course assuming we don’t sleep most of our lives, but I digress. The job itself is the major time hoarder, assuming the typical 8-hour day. But if your day is anything but typical, it in itself is probably more than 8 hours, give or take a few minutes to a few hours.

As the TV infomercials say, “But wait, there’s more!” There’s the commute to work, both to and from it. You then need to prepare to go to work – wake up, shower (hopefully), eat and of course thinking about work. After work, there is probably some decompression, which involves more thought. If you work for the bare-minimum tech-savvy company, you can probably check your work email on your mobile device, and that adds up quickly, whether it is during the day or off-hours, including weekend. Then there's time devoted to things like doctor's appointments if things aren't so great on the job, but I don't have to go down that path here, do I?

Speaking of those off-hours and weekends, you are also thinking about work in addition to being connected to it. You may also be shopping for work, whether it is clothes, food or other supplies to get you through the day. And let’s face it, you may even take time after (or before) hours and on the weekends to actually do work, taking those time-consuming thoughts into even more time consuming actions.

So what’s your point Mike?

Now that I have set a somewhat somber point, you may be asking why? Why even bring this up?

Where I have thought about this very topic for a while, I wanted to write it out to make it real, tangible, and in my own face, and as a result in yours as well. By doing so, it is a realization that this will play into my upcoming goals for the new year. Where this time allotment towards my job may not be a direct or the primary input to my goals and decisions, but acknowledging it, I am realizing it will have some impact on it. From what I buy to where I live to what I do outside of work to whatever I may not have even thought of, the amount of time that my job currently occupies my time will come into consideration.

This time consumption perhaps consumes you as well – hopefully less, but perhaps even more. And let’s face it, it consumes most everyone. I say most everyone as I realize there are those who may not have to or want to work as much, and have the ability to disconnect from it. It may be because they are wealthy, live a simpler life, have a business or job that does not require as much of their time, work part-time but make enough to make them happy, or something else I couldn’t possibly fathom, but would love to.

Even if your job takes up most of your time, that may be ok, providing you love it, or maybe just a strong like. Or it’s convenient to where you live so your commute time is shorter. Or whatever it is or are, when you look at it written out, I hope you are at a minimum content with it.

The lay of the land

Now that I have painted the picture, do I (or you) want to hang it on the wall, or change it? I am not trying to draw any conclusions here – just simply putting it out as I said earlier, but reserving the right to refer to this in future writings.

I welcome your thoughts on this in the comments to this post… and please leave out any specifics about your job in those comments!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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All Progress Requires Change But Not All Change Is Progress

By Mike Maddaloni on Thursday, December 03, 2015 at 10:08 PM with 2 comments

”the

Recently a friend posed this question to me, “hey Mr. Blogger, answer this: all progress requires change, but not all change is progress.” Yes, asked me it in just like that, and they did not tell me why they were asking me or if the statement came from somewhere other than their own brain.

Needless to say, their question got me thinking. I really didn’t care about the source and why as much as the statement itself… so much that it compelled me to write this.

When I first heard this, 2 things came to mind. The first was a quote from the song “Freewill” by the band Rush, which goes, “if you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.” Don’t ask me how this association was specifically made; I have always loved that line as it is one that frequently comes to mind when faced with a difficult situation or choice, or after I was and I may not have chosen or waited too long and options may have gone away.

The second thing that came to mind was the pure definitions of each word – progress and choice. Maybe it has something to do with growing up a few miles from the home of the original American dictionary. Where that is part of it, I always like to set my foundation from which to build a thought and idea from. According to Merriam-Webster, the definition of progress is movement forward or towards a place; the process of improving or developing something over a period of time. The word change is the act, process, or result of changing; an alteration, transformation, substitution. There is more depth to each definition and each word is linked to its full definition.

Gut reaction followed by reflection

Going into writing this, I agreed with the statement. I equate progress to forward motion and accomplishment, and change to something being a catalyst for it, though forward motion and accomplishment is not necessarily progress in itself. You can change your surroundings, but it doesn’t necessarily equate to progress in your life. Each one in themselves has tangible qualities, but only progress has the positive intangibles of pride and satisfaction. This speaks to why the organizers of the 1933-1934 Chicago’s World Fair likely nicknamed it “A Century of Progress” and not “A Century of Change.”

As I thought about this more, I found these 2 words – change and progress – need each other. In order to progress and move forward, you must act, evaluate and most likely change something in order to move forward. Whether it’s where you live, a job, a customer or whatever, many times doing what you did before to get you where you are won’t take you any further. That change doesn’t have to be monumental – it may just be a tweak – but something different is often needed.

Change in itself is always happening – whether the weather, people, etc. – and reacting to that change with appropriate actions – big or small – will lead to progress, not the mere change itself.

Of course this is how I interpret this statement today. In the future, with whatever happens in my life – and changes and progresses – will most likely have an impact on this analysis. At least for now, I hope this addresses my friend’s query. It has definitely adjusted my thinking as now I will be looking for progress in my life. It this statement impacted your thinking – or not – please share your thoughts in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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”Giving

With the holiday season upon us, and the accompanying shopping season long under way, it's time to take a break, be thankful and support the spirit of the season and participate in Giving Tuesday.

On December 1, 2015, you are encouraged to close the tabs in your Web browser showing the latest deals and open up a Web page for a worthy charity, and allow me to suggest Barrel of Monkeys.

For over 17 years, Barrel of Monkeys has been teaching creative writing curriculum in Chicago public schools and in after-school programs. These programs are offered to elementary school kids and help them not only in their writing but to learn a little more about their creative side. The teachers in the program are also professional actors and improvisors, and they take what the kids write – from a single sentence to a short story – and adapt it into sketch comedy. This comedy is first debuted to the kids in their schools, and throughout the year Barrel of Monkeys puts on performances to the public showcasing some of the best of this inspired comedy.

As a member of the Board of Directors of Barrel of Monkeys, one may say I am biased as to how amazing this organization is, its people and the work it does. But don't believe me – see it for yourself; whether its in one of our performances or hear it from the kids and teachers themselves.

For Giving Tuesday 2015, our goal is to raise $3,000 towards our annual appeal. Can you help? Click the giant red button below and you can make a tax deductible donation online in any amount.

”Donate

If you're still not convinced, watch this trailer for our Giving Tuesday campaign – the actors are our artistic and education directors – showing some of the depth of talent and dedication to the organization.

If you have any questions on Barrel of Monkeys, check out our Web site or share them in the comments to this post, and thank you in advance for your support!


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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Jackery Battery Chargers Big And Small Do The Job

By Mike Maddaloni on Tuesday, November 24, 2015 at 04:32 PM with 0 comments

photo of Jackery Mini and Giant +

Once upon a time you could easily remove the battery from a mobile device. This made it easy to keep a charge as you could simply swap out a dead battery for a fresh one. Of course you would have to charge the removed battery, and you could either charge it in the device or in a special battery charger.

Where the above scenario sounds like ancient history, it was less than a decade ago that you could do this. Today most mobile devices have non-removable batteries. Granted “non-removable” is a relative term as you can remove anything, it’s just that the device isn’t designed for it to be easily removed, and in doing so may void its warranty. As a result, spare batteries have been replaced by external battery chargers, and have spawned a whole new industry, especially as having 1 or 2 seems to never be enough power.

Recently I was offered the chance to evaluate external battery chargers made by Jackery. Where I have seen this brand before, namely on Amazon.com, I had never used one. In this eval I was also offered to choose which battery charger I would like to try. As I couldn’t choose between their largest and smallest models, the Giant + and the Mini, I asked if I could try both, and they said I could.

In my review I didn’t plan out anything specific, as I simply wanted to use them as I would any battery charger. I also had my wife use them as well, not specifically saying why I had them. Also note I am not an electrician, and I can’t speak to power ratings or usage, only from a lay person’s point of view. Judging from most people who read The Hot Iron, I am not disappointing anyone with that last statement.

Giant + – Multiple devices, multiple charges

The Giant + is a battery charger you most likely won’t carry in your pocket, this is unless you’re going to a festival concert, which I did this past fall when I took it to Riot Fest. I also have used it to charge multiple device at home, such as my iPhone and iPad. It was also the power source for my modern-day attempt at a boom-box, charging both my iPhone and a Bluetooth speaker which played at our neighborhood block party.

The main features of the Giant + are that you can charge 2 devices at once, and that you can charge devices multiple times. In my charging, I was far from scientific, but many times I had multiple devices charging to 100% at once. There is a 3-bar light indicator which tells you the battery level, and the accompanying charge cable would replenish the battery pretty quickly – at least overnight, which is what I most often did.

Another feature of the Giant + is an LED flashlight. By pressing a side button twice, the flashlight turns on and off. I’ll admit I didn’t really use this in a real-world situation, as I always had enough light, typically from device screens, to plug in to it. But I did try the light in the dark and it is plenty bright. As it’s not a battery you may typically carry around with you, I am not sure if the light often used, but I would love to hear from someone who has.

Mini – Topping off the fuel tank

As I said before, I have several battery chargers, namely as all of my devices have weak batteries and constantly need recharging. Where I have used the Giant + to bring a device back from the dead, sometimes it’s nice just to top off a charge or have a spare battery just in case. The Jackery Mini came in handy for both situations.

The Mini is just that – small, compact and can easily fit in the same pocket as your device… that is, if your device can fit in your pocket itself, but I digress. This battery is one my wife would take with her to charge her phone. It has a push button where up to 4 LEDs illuminate in extremely bright blue to indicate the strength. I have also kept the Mini in my backpack with a spare charging cable if I ever needed a top-off.

Solid and stylish

Both the Jackery Giant + and Mini are solid. They have an aluminum outer shell with a shine to them – the Giant + I had is bright orange (a color I love!) and the Mini was close to what Apple calls “rose gold” but they call it just gold. I of course have dropped both batteries, and they have held up well, though they mostly just fell off my desk.

As for the price, I have seen a variety of ranges, and as I am posting this close to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, I am sure there will be deals on it. In all cases, the Giant + is more than the Mini.

For portable power, these backup batteries from Jackery performed well for me. They also offer many other styles, as well as cases. And after having them hands-on, I am glad I couldn’t decide which one to review, as they each have their own uses. If you have used Jackery backup batteries before, or have any questions on these, I would like to hear from you in the comments to this post.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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First 2 Steps To Take To Start Blogging

By Mike Maddaloni on Sunday, November 15, 2015 at 09:53 PM with 0 comments

photo of 2 feet

As follow-up to my inquisitive and popular blog post on 2 questions I ask anyone thinking about blogging, namely to those who are still interested in blogging after reading it, I now would like to offer advice on how to get started with your blog.

First, setup a free blog at Wordpress.com

You need a blog in order to blog. A blog is a Web site with a content management system (or CMS) which is software on a Web server that allows you to easily publish what you write.

If you have been to a blog site before, there is a good chance it’s on Wordpress, as it is the most well-known and used blog CMS. Wordpress can be used for entire Web sites as well, and not just blogs, but we won’t get ahead of ourselves too much here. Another reason for using Wordpress.com is in its portability potential. If you build a blog at Wordpress.com and in the future you decide you want to move it to another Web host, you can literally export the site and move it. Note I have oversimplified how I described this process and some technical expertise is involved.

Plus, creating a blog at Wordpress.com is free, so if you start one and realize it’s too much for you, there is no major financial commitment.

Register and set a domain name for your blog

Where I just got done telling you to create a free blog, now I am recommending you spend a little more on a domain name.

By registering a domain name for your blog and tying it to your Wordpress.com blog, you gain in several ways. By default, your blog will be named something like myblogname.wordpress.com, but myblogname.com is a more unique name and easier to remember. Also, if you decide to move your blog in the future, you can keep the same Web address – you will not be able to keep myblogname.wordpress.com as that is not your own domain name, wordpress.com.

A domain name also a unique name to your blog. Where it may be presumptive that your blog will be a runaway smash hit on the Internet. If you have peered around The Hot Iron there are plenty of articles on getting your own domain name and other benefits of doing so. You can register a domain name many places, and I always recommend name.com and note I did not get paid to say that!

Ready to blog in no time

Setting up a blog on Wordpress.com and registering a domain name can all be done in under an hour. Configuring your blog and performing some customizations may take a little longer, and that all depends on how much you want to do, though I wouldn’t focus too much on the look of your blog and rather on its substance – the writing!

I hope this has helped, and please share a comment to this post once you do it and share the link to your new blog for all to see.


This is from The Hot Iron, a journal on business and technology by Mike Maddaloni.


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