Gathering the clans

May 20, 2015 at 10:04 am | Posted in social media | 4 Comments
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Putting you through …

To my surprise and dismay, I recently found that one of my most loyal readers had missed some pivotal blog posts.

On investigation, it emerged that he wasn’t across all the blogs I write.

To remedy this, I sent him the list below.

It then occurred to me that if you like some of my stuff, you may well like some of my other stuff too.

Here, then, are the blogs I currently tend for fun and profit (from most to least often):

Paul Hassing’s autobiography

Imagine Day

Living with Asperger syndrome

Practical copywriting tips

Practical social media tips

Now look here

Practical business tips

I’ve excluded blogs I ghostwrite for clients, so as not to obviate the ghost.

Your readership and/or feedback on any of these blogs would be deeply appreciated.

And, as I have no expectations of you, anything you may do will be a pleasant surprise.

And if you’d like help with your blog – from concept or creation to curation and promotion – I’d be delighted to serve.

With kind regards and many thanks for your interest.


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Pic by Alan Levine.

Fear factors

February 2, 2013 at 7:48 am | Posted in social media | 19 Comments
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Fear of the unknown … AND the known!

A few years ago I commissioned a $2500 scorched-earth rebuild of my entire website.

While it all turned out right in the end, I thought it might amuse you to know how I felt at the time.

I expected a faint pang of apprehension at this point; now that it’s here, I’m downright scared.

I’ve written dozens of sites for clients, but this is different. It’s my site, my brand, my business and my money, um … line of credit, actually.

In short, it’s my arse online. I’m literally trembling as I type. Will I triumph, or come a cropper?

Let’s play the fortunately/unfortunately game to see:

Fortunately  I have a good man in my corner. He’s been my IT Guy for a couple of years and his service is second to none. He’s fast and smart and reasonably priced. He’s got offsite backup thingys coming out of his serial port, so that’s got to be good.

Unfortunately  my years of experience with web projects have taught me that they’re longer and stringier than the longest, stringiest bits of string. What starts as a five-page walk in the park can turn into a 15-volume Grimm’s fairy tale. Overnight.

Fortunately  I did things by the book. I wrote an explicit, four-page plan of what I wanted in terms of content, structure and functionality. I also wrote a creative brief, complete with sample images, to give the designer a clear sense of my vision. I even gave the URL of the site I wish to emulate – a site, ironically, whose content I edited with supreme confidence!

Unfortunately  until you see everything on screen, you don’t know how (if?) it’s going to work. And even if it’s all done right and I love it, my clients may not. They range from sole traders to corporate juggernauts; what pleases some may repel others. It all comes down to my professional judgment which, though unerring to date, feels strangely frail today.

Fortunately  I have a small circle of gifted, trusted, objective advisors. To these generous people I will send the site mock-ups that precede the main event.

Unfortunately  until we go live, I won’t know for sure whether all this time, money and effort will pay off.

Fortunately  the Empire is soon to be mentioned in a major magazine and featured on MYOB. It’s possible that hordes of new visitors will give me the feedback I crave.

Unfortunately  the site may not be ready in time for this exposure, and these rich, new prospects may hit (and flee) my tired, old site which is so in need of a makeover.

Fortunately  if the whole thing collapses in a screaming heap, I’ll at least get some amusing blog posts out of it.

All this goes to show that when you’re reinvesting your own hard-earned cash, even decades of expertise offer scant comfort.

Do you trust yourself?

Whence comes your confidence?

Your advice, warnings and hilarious anecdotes are invited at this point.

Wish me luck!


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Spreading yourself too thin

January 27, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Blue Balloon

How to make social media ‘pop’.

It’s hard to pop a balloon with open hands; the force dissipates over too great an area. A pin in two fingers gives a dramatically superior result.

When you focus all your energies on one point, you all but guarantee success.

This post shows me using both methods. As we go, you’ll see some Web 2.0 jargon – all of which I’ll explain in detail down the track.

For now, just watch this crazy, new-fangled social media stuff in action.

Wrong way

Here’s me spreading myself too thin (i.e. using the open-hands balloon-popping method):

My Squidoo lenses are here.

When I started Twitter, I sent my followers to this lens in particular.

This was to create custom for my REMO T-shirt site (now defunct).

I got some sign-ups and sales and was particularly happy to connect with a clairvoyant in Washington (I’m in Melbourne, Australia). She was attracted to my palmistry T-shirt. We’d never have ‘intermet’ otherwise.

Then, the founder of REMO joined Twitter. I gave him some tips. I followed him, he followed me.

He found my Squidoo lens, liked it, retweeted it, then made me Featured Customer in his weekly newsletter to 38,500 people in 125 countries!

I got traffic spikes galore.

I was so elated with all this action, I blogged about Twitter here.

Big smiles! Fantastic fun! Wall-to-wall warm fuzzies!

Alas, despite having spent hundreds of hours on these exciting, new activities, I didn’t make enough actual cash to buy one soy Frappuccino (even if I’d wanted to).

It was at this point that I began to wonder – to my wife’s profound relief – whether I should focus on my ‘real’ job of writer, editor and proofreader.

Harnessing the web’s fickle and elusive power to this specific activity (the ‘pin’) is the subject of the next section.

Right way

So there I was, simultaneously promoting free T-shirts and $120/hr copywriting on the same Web 2.0 channels.

Visitors to my websites must have felt like they’d entered a dentist’s surgery, only to find themselves in a jumping castle.

I ignored all I knew about conveying a constant, relevant and significant message to a target audience.

I vainly chased the holy grail of passive income (which has been beautifully defined as ‘working 18 hours a day to make money while you sleep’).

Finally, I woke up and went back to my main game. The game I’d spent 22 years and two degrees honing. I started writing about copywriting, and sending people to my copywriting site.

I soon caught the eye of Anthony, a web template designer who was rebuilding his own website.

When he questioned me about copywriting (and I didn’t try to flog him a T-shirt) he asked me to quote on optimising his words.

Anthony liked my proposal and gave me a trial job. Though it took several hours to get a grip on the open source world of Joomla and its bewildering jargon, I did the job to his satisfaction.

Anthony told me to bill him. He paid the next day. $363 cash.

That’s a lot of T-shirts.

A few days later, Anthony asked if I’d like to do an interview for his onsite blog. No payment, just my logo and URL prominently displayed.

Free from my monetarised mentality, I said yes.

The result is now seen by many daily visitors to Joomla Bamboo (prospects I’d not have encountered otherwise).

Twitterers from Anthony’s world are now following me, and vice versa.

When Anthony asked for a second article, I put everything I had into it. The result was so pleasing, I asked if I could leverage it with MYOB. He said yes.

I was back on song. Instead of spreading myself thin, I was making the same call on every channel. The web had ballooned, but I had my pin.

My visitor statistics jumped so much, I realised it was time to upgrade my own website (stay tuned for that one).

Each day now connects me with more of the people I want to learn from and do business with. It’s only a matter of time until I gain my next paying client from Twitter.

I’ve even been approached to tell my story in a significant print publication (stay tuned for THAT one).

If the open-handed approach isn’t popping your balloon, focus your energies on one point:

the pin is indeed mightier than the broad!


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Necessary evil

January 24, 2013 at 6:19 am | Posted in social media | 1 Comment
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Google Evil

Google’s informal (infernal?) motto is ‘Don’t be evil’. Opinions vary as to how well they’re doing.

Though this benevolent dictator has deemed me terminally evil for one purpose (AdSense), I’ve lately found I’m not too evil for another (AdWords).

Like Dante, therefore, I’m qualified to give some morality tips.

Google AdSense comprises ads you permit on your blog or website. When a visitor clicks one, you get a tiny commission. LOTS of clicking makes you modest money.

I was so entranced by this passive income concept, I exhorted friends and family to click themselves numb on the ads assigned to my Surreal Short Stories blog.

This was unwise. It was also prohibited by the Google rules I didn’t read in my excitement.

Revenge was swift and total.

Just as I reached Google’s US$50 revenue payment threshold, my account was cancelled.

For life.

My subsequent confession, apology, blog rework and entreaties for Google mercy came to naught. I was officially evil.

No more would my three years of blog content generate AdSense loot.

Fair enough too! Each time someone from my mob had clicked an ad to glean me a cent or two, some poor AdWords punter had to pay up to several hundred times that amount for the faux visit.

I was most surprised, therefore, when Google approved my AdWords account (and stopped addressing me as Paul ‘Significant Risk’ Hassing in their emails).

AdWords are phrases you ‘bid’ for to make your ad/URL appear prominently in Google searches.

Keen to galvanise sales of my job ad writing ebook, I set bids of up to $1.24 for ‘job ad’, ‘perfect job ad’, ‘can’t find good people’, ‘attract and retain staff’ and many more.

Within an hour, my Google account was reeling from deductions that would take decades of AdSense action to recover.

I paused the campaign to learn that my words were too generic and my bids too high.

I’m now working my way very carefully though the help system and running a very very timid campaign.

I’ve had clicks, but no sales.

I plan to report further findings in a later post.

For now, if you plan to sortie in Google Land, ALWAYS read the instructions.

And if you’ve already been deemed evil, don’t despair.

With Google, it’s better the devil you know!


Brought to you by The Feisty Empire.

Twitter truths

November 21, 2012 at 2:31 pm | Posted in social media | 6 Comments
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Truth is best.

Having just clocked 30,000 followers on Twitter, I felt I should report my learnings.

At first I thought I’d just cover basic stuff (e.g. who to follow, how to list, behaviours to avoid).

Then I realised Twitter ‘truths’ were far more important than Twitter ‘tips’.

It seems impossible such a simple (and apparently frivolous) application could impart wisdom, but there it is.

So here I go.

1.   Be yourself.

Genuine humans thrive in Twitter. Fakers, flooders and floggers (though infuriating) do get smacked down in due course.

This isn’t obvious to the casual observer, who understandably concludes Twitter is crap.

Yet when you open yourself to a community and reveal true elements of your life and loves, everyone enjoys the exchange.

Being yourself is also easier than maintaining a fake persona. As Mark Twain said: ‘When you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything’.

2.   Be open.

I began Twitter to get more copywriting clients. I achieved that and gained a suite of handy contacts, fascinating colleagues and loyal friends from sectors, countries and professions I never thought I’d encounter.

Because I was open to these people, they named me in magazines, featured me on blogs, recommended me to others and sent me a truckload of free ideas and information.

This rich, unexpected education has been amazing. I’ve seen and done things way beyond my expertise and comfort zone.

I feel stronger, safer and more mature as a result.

3.  Choose quality.

A thousand nameless fans aren’t as fun, useful or interesting as one genuine contact. Yes, I have 30,000 followers. No, I can’t interact meaningfully with them all.

I can, however, pick the gems from the dross and build real relationships with a few dozen kind, clever cats.

4.   Be generous.

I’ve long been a fan of the saying ‘you can’t give good away’. Twitter has shown me time and again this is true.

Online, the Law of Mutual Reciprocity is SO powerful, it needs BIG metaphor:

It’s like spitting out the window of a 300 km/h bullet train. Before you can blink, it comes back at you in a thousand irresistible fragments. Try it! (Online, I mean.)

5.   Focus.

If you straddle several chairs you’ll probably fall between them. It’s the same with social media.

You can’t possibly be good at LinkedIn and Facebook and blogging and YouTube and Flickr and Pinterest and Twitter … and all the others.

You’ll never see the sun!

Instead, check them all out, choose the one or two that feel right for you (and your clients) and spend time being open, genuine and generous there.

Twitter and blogging are my faves. The concerted effort I invest in these is well worth it.

Now it’s your turn …

Good luck!


Paul Hassing, Founder & Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire





20 MORE blog tips!

November 14, 2012 at 8:31 am | Posted in social media | Leave a comment
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Enjoy another two-bob’s worth!

Yesterday’s blog tip post went down so well, I’m immediately tabling my next volume of blogging tips.

Not because I’m tired or uninspired, but because I used to be a DJ.

I learnt the hard way that if a dance floor’s jumping, it’s unwise to make sudden moves.

Monitor your audience carefully and give them what they want.

Only when their attention looks like waning should you change the groove.

So here’s today’s Top 20!

  1. A photo & caption which alone mean nothing, but combined mean everything, form a powerful post opening.
  2. If you know & love your topic, it’s almost impossible to get writer’s block.
  3. Stuck for a topic? Ask your audience what THEY want to read. They know better than you could ever guess.
  4. Use italics for emphasis. If you underline words (like I used to) readers may think they’re clickable links.
  5. Have some spare posts for emergencies. But don’t store too many, lest they go stale.
  6. If you’re truly stumped for a topic, as readers what they’ve been up to. It may trigger one of your best debates.
  7. Using your own pics is best. If you can’t photograph, partner with a pro who needs some words.
  8. When you have enough posts, add modest, relevant cross links to take readers on a fun voyage of discovery.
  9. In years of blogging, the most powerful word I’ve found is ‘you’. Better yet, it doesn’t wear out with use!
  10. When readers meet in your forum & start working together beyond it, you know you’re on the right tram.
  11. When readers use words YOU have to look up, you know it’s right to NEVER underestimate them.
  12. To holiday without losing momentum, ask a suitable forum member to write & moderate a guest post.
  13. To encourage shy readers & kill trolls, insist that ALL comments are POLITE. Clever & relevant are optional.
  14. If a reader writes a comment that’s longer & more authoritative than your post, rejoice in the honour.
  15. After writing a post, send it to relevant print media for broader reach. You may be surprised how well it fares.
  16. Keep a post fresh & connected by adding links to topical articles as you find them over time.
  17. If you connect genuinely with readers, many will also contribute to entirely different blogs you create.
  18. If you’re truly facing writer’s block, summon the worst moment of your life to date. Dark power = strong posts.
  19. Asking a photographer if you can use their Flickr pic is a fun way to cross-promote both your efforts.
  20. Readers go where readers are. If you can beat inertia, momentum is sublime.

[Rock out!]


20 Blog tips

November 13, 2012 at 7:19 am | Posted in social media | 3 Comments
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Collect the whole set!

Each day I give a blog tip on Twitter.

These have been very well received, as evidenced by many kind comments and retweets.

Now, in true blogging style, I’m folding my first 20 tips into this post.

Repurposing content is smart and fun.

It’s also dead easy.

I haven’t even had breakfast!

Readers who’ve seen a few of my tweets can now view Volume One of the boxed set:

  1. Answer EVERY polite comment swiftly, personally, comprehensively & gratefully.
  2. Collectively, readers know infinitely more than you. Be humble & learn from them.
  3. Most readers prefer external links in separate screens. Don’t ‘boot’ people from the post they’re reading.
  4. External links to further reading show you value readers’ brains, not eyeballs. They’ll reward you by returning.
  5. A post without a pic is like a day without sunshine. Add a caption to tempt weary readers into your tale.
  6. As people are online at different times & days, it’s OK to tweet a post several times. Just don’t do it verbatim.
  7. The more you woo search engines, the less human your words become. Put readers FIRST.
  8. Tired eyes & tiny attention spans demand pithy content. Keep your words, sentences & paragraphs SHORT.
  9. If a sentence is too complicated or long, riddle it with bullets.
  10. My recipe. Topic. True story. Broader context. Further reading. Conclusions. Questions. Comments. Debate. Fun!
  11. A commenter debate can expand your post 5-50 times. More important than the words is the wisdom they contain.
  12. The more of yourself you put in your posts, the more your readers reward you in kind.
  13. If you know your topic, your post will sing. If not, ask your readers, & your debate will sing.
  14. One of the best compliments a reader can give is: ‘You made me laugh out loud!’
  15. If your story is long, do a trilogy of posts over several days. Many readers enjoy serialisation & suspense.
  16. If your loved ones don’t mind featuring, they can become popular characters in your long-term narrative.
  17. Posting at the same time/s each week helps readers find you, get to know you & stick with you.
  18. In the long run, posts ranging from 300 to 600 words are more interesting than 450 words every single time.
  19. For every 100 readers, only 1 will comment. Entice just 1 more person to play & you double your debates.
  20. If you link your post topics to current affairs, more readers will feel confident to comment.

Even better, I have another 20 tips ready to roll.

So next time I’m tired or uninspired, I’ve got a simple path to a high-value blog post.

This is much better than bashing your brain or publishing crud.

I hope you like these blog tips and would LOVE to add yours.


Social media ain’t for the faint hearted

March 7, 2011 at 7:30 am | Posted in social media | 12 Comments
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social media

It takes wisdom to conquer social media.

Recently I was asked to meet an entrepreneur who wanted to ‘do’ social media.

On the phone, it soon became obvious he had BIG expectations of the outcomes, but no understanding of the process.

This was fine: I don’t know how to run multi-million dollar factories. It was wise for him to seek advice.

However, as we’re both very busy people, I didn’t want to waste our time. So I composed the frank (nay, brutal) email below.

To his credit, this man is now working through my documents and preparing the answers I seek.

When I do meet him, I expect we’ll proceed in leaps and bounds.

‘Dear Fred,

Betty tells me you wish to harness the power of social media to promote your new products.

This is doable, but not easy.

In two years of studying social media daily, I’ve learned that it’s a demanding, fickle, content-hungry, slow-burning beast of a strategy.

When it works, it really works.

But you have to put in.

To this end, I must see if you can give me what I need to help you.

If you can deliver, we can do business.

If not, it’s best we don’t waste our precious time.

Here is your mission, should you choose to accept it:

  1. Cast your eye over the following blogs and tell me which one/s (if any) you like and why:
  2. Complete the attached blog post questionnaire.
  3. Read the other attachments and tell me what you think of how I operate.

Being a writer, I need your responses in writing.

I can then review them carefully to ask you intelligent, relevant questions when we meet.

Naturally, refusal won’t offend.

Better a clear NO now than a fuzzy future MAYBE.

I look forward to your frank response.

Best regards,


Watch this space!

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

Blog visitor traffic report

December 19, 2010 at 11:02 am | Posted in social media | 4 Comments
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blog visitor traffic spike

Last week we smashed our visitor record by 240%!

A colleague wrote to me today. She’s been blogging her heart out, but not getting many comments. So I offered some advice:

‘You certainly have been faithful with your blogging.

It’s such a slow burn.

But the search engines are going to love you for it in the end.

The number and scope of your posts is amazing.

You deserve a lot more comments.

I can’t find you on Twitter.

I promote each of my posts several times on Twitter.

This has been key to building visitor traffic.

It has also helped to be mentioned in several blog lists:

We’ve also had some comments from Seth Godin and Penelope Trunk.

These blogging heavyweights add massive cred; just check the traffic spike from Penelope’s last visit! (See above.)

Another way to galvanise your readers is to guest on other blogs.

If you can think of a topic or three that would appeal to our readers:

I could ask MYOB if they’d like to have you as a guest poster.

You’d look jolly good in our Hall of Fame:

With best regards and many thanks for your update. P. :)’

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

New Squidoo

August 8, 2010 at 7:59 am | Posted in social media | 6 Comments
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squidoo lens seth godin passive income

Will I strike gold this time?

After tinkering with a mere ten lenses for a year, I’ve decided to do a BIG PUSH on Squidoo.

It’s one of the Internet’s Top 500 websites. And Seth Godin’s books just keep getting better (just see Linchpin if you don’t believe me).

As the online population booms, I sense that Squidoo is really going to take off, and I want to be part of it.

So I’m pushing ahead with my quest to be a ‘Giant Squid’. This takes 50 great lenses, which is a lot of work.

But the benefits, apparently, are extensive – like a search ranking boost for increased income generation.

And creating backlinks to my main site on each lens will help my Google performance.

I’ve tried a truckload of other content mangement systems, and Squidoo ticks more boxes than the rest.

I have 23 lenses to date, which you can see here. I’m aiming to do at least one a day. Wish me luck!

It’s a big ask, but if you don’t put in, how can you expect to clean up?

I warmly welcome your interest and would love you to visit and ‘thumb up’ a few of my lenses if you have the time and inclination.

BTW, if you’d rather read this post in my Surreal Short Stories blog, here’s the link.

Paul Hassing, Founder and Senior Writer, The Feisty Empire.

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