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Working out Volo

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User offline. Last seen 12 years 3 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-03-10
On Eating Both Feet

(But first...Democrates, you crack me up again! Smiling We need to take your PerlPrayer script and run it through a load balancer to a 100-node web farm.)

So, remember when I said I had a day job and got a mailbag from Volo potentials and one guy wanted to offer me $1K for what I suspected was a toxic project? Well, again, I had a day job. Not having one, however, changes everything a lot, doesn't it? So, I have officially eaten both feet and I'm walking around on stumps. I've offered to the guy to take his project during the holidays. He's in a panic because it's Xmas and no one is around to get him out of a contract crunch where he obligated himself too much. Fancy that he would run into me at the same moment.

Oh, and my stepdad (I have about, oh, 3 stepdads and one dad) said he bumped into a couple who's son now works for IBM Global Services. Bob, the stepdad, mentioned in passing that I was a Linux and PHP guru. The guy went nuts and now wants my resume. Yeah, and why would I want to work for a company with all that red tape and fly to a site for 6 months until the contract ends before I can see my wife and children? Been there, done that. Besides, if I get mired down to one mega-corp, I can't be nimble to a bunch of short-term contracts where I could potentially make more money and have the opportunity to telecommute.

The saga continues...

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User offline. Last seen 11 weeks 10 hours ago. Offline
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Wow, what a story. It really

Wow, what a story. It really offers some perspective into how business works from the inside. On the company you just resigned from, I really hope the kind of culture that runs in it is a dying breed. Contrast the, as democrates noted, communism-style culture from that company and the culture in Google and Canonical and you can see the way of the future. I think people should continue realizing that treating people like drones consistently stressed out is not a way to be innovative and go forward. One would say perhaps that doing what Google does is a silly waste of resources and wonder how anybody does any work that way - yet Google is pretty much one of the most successful and biggest companies on Earth.

Isn't this a time when "shift happens", a time when old unquestioned concepts are being turned on its head? Smiling Free Software? Nah, no way it could work. Look at it today. Free-style work culture? You got to be kidding me? Yet here is it Google, young Free Software companies and rich Web 2.0 startups. Digg anyone? Did you see a diggnation show? I stumbled on it recently and was actually kind of surprised to see digg's founder drinking beer and talking about women and sex in his show as if there's nothing to it - throwing that whole image of a "guy in a tie" of an IT expert or something, completely down the toilet.

It seems to me that new business style of today is about total transparence to a point of "heck, I wont hide anything anymore.. yes I am a big business CEO and I also get drunk every weekend and who cares, don't you?".. And yet the work gets done, money gets made and technology world is going through a never ending revolution. Doesn't seem like being an uptight "stick in a butt" kind of an business person really worked any better than just loosening up and getting creative. Smiling

Life may be a party and business is just a way of inviting people to it.

So...

About VoloSystems, which about now seems to be your main hope and THE day job. I read you're getting a few dozen downloads a day already, but aren't getting any real monetary juice from any of it... at least not yet and not directly. I think the key here and in these starting stages is to get your userbase going, get the word out - the marketing stuff. It's just getting started. It needs to become a darn buzzword. People should be googling milestone wondering what it is, because they heard someone on some random forum praising it. It doesn't even have to be the next big thing. If you do the marketing right it can still seem like the next big thing, and especially if your marketing is not too conventional. Smiling

And speaking of unconventional, viral marketing seems to fit the bill. So we're not talking about full page ads or TV commercials. Sticking out tongue We're talking about geeks passionately spreading the word around because you did something incredibly cool for them. In fact you already DID, you just need to convey the message of how COOL that was. Smiling Perhaps a viral video commercial is in order, for the YouTube crowds?

If that misses the mark though.. (I might not be in proper touch with what your exact target audience is), if your audience aren't so much the "regular" geeks as much as the uptight IT guys then a more serious campaign may be in order.. But.. I don't see a reason why it couldn't still be viral and why a community couldn't participate.

I think you really need to get that blog going and keep it updated with new interesting content related to your software AND your pay-for products. An example? Maybe you could, in your next blog entry even, talk about your documentation effort and that book you are selling so cheaply. It wouldn't be in a bitter kind of form ("why oh why isn't anyone buying it"), but in a positive form like: "Need documentation? We have it all, and you wont pay any more than $XX to get it. It's a darn bargain and you'll have all the info you need to get going with our products"... Hmm yeah, sounds like a pitch, but you can try making it look less like a pitch and more like a "wow hey isn't that cool, well.. just saying" Eye

And lastly, if it would help, maybe you should make buttons, banners of all formats etc. that people can use to link to you. There may be a geek or two who likes your software and may want to link to you. Additionally, I'd be willing to help a bit, for free, by placing your banner sitewide on Libervis.com and a button on Nuxified.org to, for what it's worth, help with raising awareness of what you're doing.

After all, you've been connected to this community for quite a while, sharing your incredible journey with us and allowing us to influence you. Not every business person of your experience does those sorts of things. I think you may really fit the new breed of business people - total transparency. Smiling

And.. feel free to consider any of the things written above as "silly rant" if it comes across that way. I wont mind. I just want to encourage you. Smiling

Cheers

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User offline. Last seen 11 years 31 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2004-08-23
various comments
libervisco wrote:

On the company you just resigned from, I really hope the kind of culture that runs in it is a dying breed.

Unfortunately, this breed isn't going to die very soon, but it is moving to different countries. They call this offshoring.

Quote:

throwing that whole image of a "guy in a tie" of an IT expert or something, completely down the toilet.

[offtopic]Guys in ties are inherently ridiculous and funny. Gotta try to reproduce my base vector drawing (lost in the disk crash) and start making comics about them again.[/offtopic]

Quote:

It seems to me that new business style of today is about total transparence to a point of "heck, I wont hide anything anymore.. yes I am a big business CEO and I also get drunk every weekend and who cares, don't you?".. And yet the work gets done, money gets made and technology world is going through a never ending revolution.

But only the most talented and creative few % can live and work that way. The rest risk having their jobs outsourced to India and China.

Quote:

I think you really need to get that blog going and keep it updated with new interesting content related to your software AND your pay-for products.

There is a huge potential market that could be reached through a blog. Lots of hobbyists (not just programmers, hobbyists of any kind) and also activists are trying to do teamwork, but they are not as successful as they could be because their planning and cooperation is chaotic and informal. Improving their cooperation just seems like a major headache to them because they simply don't know how, and for them copying the corporate way is even worse than chaos.
So, you could blog advice about time management and cooperation, using your software in your examples.
I know, this particular audience doesn't get software marketed to them a lot because they don't have much money to spend. But on the other hand, especially the hobbyists must be very attractive to advertisers. They'll need supplies and stuff. And some well-organized hobby projects do change into businesses...

Now I think of it, the kind of blog I mentioned above would fit very nicely into our ideas for the next version of libervis.com (which will be 75% about practice and 25% about theory instead of the current 100% theory... yes we would like to become 4 times bigger Smiling ). But if you would write this kind of articles for us, we would have to figure out a way to make most of the advertising income generated by it back to you. Of course you could also do it on your own site and let us link to your posts (gotta love RSS), which would help both us and you.

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tbuitenh wrote:But only
tbuitenh wrote:

But only the most talented and creative few % can live and work that way. The rest risk having their jobs outsourced to India and China.

For sure, but I'm not talking about people who work for someone. I'm talking about people who work for themselves. Of course, add employees of Google, Canonical, Digg and other such companies to it and that's the kind of group I'm referring to. Of course, if you suddenly change your behaviour in a company you already work for and they interpret this as a hit to their image, you may get fired, but that's the old world. Of course, this means it is encouraged for anyone who can to just break loose and start something on their own - anyway you can.

I agree with everything else. Smiling

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tbuitenh, libervisco:It's

tbuitenh, libervisco:

It's amazing. Right now I have so much information coming at me from those wanting to help right now that I feel like I have ADHD syndrome and everything's a blur. Zig Ziglar has some great motivational videos on YouTube where he says I need to focus, I need to have research, I need a plan, I need to budget my time, and so on. I've decided to watch two motivational videos on YouTube a day to get me through the day -- one in the morning, one in the evening. It's either that or I clutch at my face in a Munsch panic and say, "Oh my God! I have a $5K burn rate with my debt right now! What have I done? What am I going to do?!?"

You say I need a place where people can go to read this thread, if I get you right. I guess I have three veins right now: one to interact with those in the affiliate marketing (from here out called AM) arena like at wickedfire.com, and the people there can be a bit gruff and abrasive, sometimes even productively to my surprise; one to speak nicely and politely to my potential customers at Volo; and one to kind of vent with complete transparency (yet efficiently and politely) about what's going on. The problem about a blog is that people like interacting in forums even more. The blog has to be exciting and for them to get something out of it, or they won't come. I've brought up blogs that I thought were interesting, bring a few friends over there, and I get a response like, "Why do I keep hearing cricket noises here?" So, yeah, I think I need 3 separate blogs, and they need a forum very integral with it. I'm thinking of using Vanilla because of its sleek lines and beauty, as well as its bevy of modules. I think I might be able to park them at volosystems.com such as am.volosystems.com, blog.volosystems.com, and life.volosystems.com. (And yeah, I'd love to go after volo.com, but someone keeps renewing the darn thing, sticking nothing of real worth up there, and holding it like a gem.) Then again, if I do that, what little left would I return to post here?

You say I need some buttons or banner things. Can you show me some examples and what the size requirements are?

User offline. Last seen 12 years 3 weeks ago. Offline
Joined: 2006-03-10
The Old Volo

The old Volo (volosystems.com) was focused on getting people to purchase CDs with the source and the manual on them. That just doesn't fly -- trust me, I've done that. Perhaps a LiveCD or a VMWare or VirtualBox or JeOS VM on a CD might help, but just source and manual on a CD leaves you hearing crickets.

The new Volo is focused on using the downloaders as feedback and beta-testers, or making connections with people, while I go out and try to drum up consulting gigs where this tracking system can be used. I mean, the software is still free -- but the server I build for it, and my labor, and then my consulting to customize it, as well as my tech support -- that's where I can make cash. And it requires getting in my Jeep (*gasp*) and meeting REAL PEOPLE. Luckily I live near the beach. Since I'm terrible at cold call stuff, that's where commission and an available and interested relative can help. This allows me to focus on what I'm good at, which is programming.

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supermike wrote:You say I
supermike wrote:

You say I need some buttons or banner things. Can you show me some examples and what the size requirements are?

I don't know any best example from the top of my head, but what I mean you can actually see all over the web, advertisements of various technology companies designed to build brand awareness and ultimately bring in customers. So whether it is SugarCRM, RedHat, Novell or VoloSystems, everyone needs to do some marketing.

So which banner formats? Any you can have done, but the basic ones I'd say would be a standard 468x60 banner, a 100x100 or 120x120 square etc. Actually you can see various banner formats from Google adsense here: https://www.google.com/adsense/static/en_US/AdFormats.html . That gives you an idea of what formats are out there.

Now, many companies pay for advertising on the web, of course, but not being able to afford this in a major way you are left with viral marketing. You first have to have a consistent visual identity across your main site and all other sub sites and web sites that relate to Volo Systems. Visual identity includes everything from the exact colors used and a color scheme, the font in which the name of your company AND your software are written in, the actual logo and even the way name of these products and the company name are written in text (should I say Volo Systems or VoloSystems or voloSystems for example?). Everything that anyhow, even a little, affects anyone's perception of your company is important to consider.

The end goal is simply, total consistency. This is how I think you can build a brand. Once all your graphical and textual material carry a common, attractive and consistent visual identity you can proceed to spreading it around to the people in various creative ways. But before that I'll also like to mention that if anyhow possible your visual identity should reflect core values or characteristics behind your company and its products - what sets you apart. I do feel like you're already quite aware of all this, but anyway.. I'll keep going..

So next thing, you have the banners, you have the visual identity, you have a brand ready to face the spotlights. Now blog about it on a blog which totally fits your visual identity. Blog in a way that would attract and intrigue people into trying out your software. Once you see there is a little user base forming, perhaps create support forums on which you can further grow the community. Forums can be divided into "free support" and "developer input" (basically a users and developers section). Former is for those playing with it for the first time and having some questions. Latter is for those who actually want to discuss the way your software is made, make suggestions, discuss its further development - this is where you might find some future recruits. Smiling

Create a video presentation about your software that is both exciting and informing, and plaster it with your visual identity. Make it cool in some way, so that some people actually get the urge to spread the word. Maybe it would be because it is funny or witty or just so cool (ya know the way geeks drool over gadgets-cool Eye ).

And then on top of all that and all the while keep encouraging everyone to link back to you - using any of the provided banners that they feel will fit their blog or web site etc.

In short, prepare the visual identity, prepare the material through which to spread it and then start building a community that will be the one spreading it because they love you and your products. By this you get the buzz which may soon convert into various business deals, like those you mentioned below in your previous post (tech support, consultation, etc.). Smiling

EDIT: Oh and btw, I forgot one of the most crucial things: Where is your slogan? Smiling

Cheers

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User offline. Last seen 12 years 3 weeks ago. Offline
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Freaking awesome! I've got

Freaking awesome! I've got my first gig locked in after an hour-long conference call. It's only $1K in 2 weeks, but I can multitask with another gig or two at the same time (hopefully). It has nothing to do with a Volo product, but it was Volo products that drew the interest and got me the consulting work -- not the ends, but the means to the ends. I think I've learned that the best thing to do is be EXTREMELY FLEXIBLE on the first gig and then shoot for minimum $2K or $3K after that. I mean, at least for where I need to make $5K per month in order to stay afloat.

User offline. Last seen 12 years 3 weeks ago. Offline
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As a web developer,

As a web developer, especially as a F/OSSer, it's a natural progression to dabble in AM.

Last night I learned so much about AM. At the bottom, it's small because it represents that you have not learned enough, have less cash to re-invest (because there's no money coming in), have fewer options to capitalize on (because they cost money), and because it's a far, far slower process than the methods used at the top of the pyramid. However, it's a progression that all AMers go through. So, by the time you get to the top of the pyramid where Jeremy Shoemaker is, you've learned so much more, you've got lots more cash to re-invest, more options to capitalize on, and can get faster results with more financial returns.

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Cool, so.. what is "AM"?

Cool, so.. what is "AM"? Smiling

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