Tag Archive | "Could"

Snapchat and Amazon Could Be Teaming Up on a New Visual Search Tool

Snapchat is seeking to expand its horizons and utilize its camera to go beyond social media with a new visual search feature. This novel search capability and a team-up with Amazon could open a new revenue stream for the company.

According to reports, a new Snapchat version for Android smartphones includes a secret code for a new “Visual Search” feature. This new feature, dubbed Project Eagle, can allegedly utilize Snapchat’s camera to send a barcode or product image scans to Amazon. The retail powerhouse will then display the results of the product search.

The secret code was reportedly discovered by Ishan Agarwal, an app researcher. Agarwal then tipped off TechCrunch about his discovery. On their end, the company was quick to spot a source code in Snapchat that had a pop-up text with the lines — “Press and hold to identify an object, song, barcode, and more! This works by sending data to Amazon, Shazam, and other partners.”

The discovered code doesn’t really explain how the visual search feature will work. However, the application’s code enumerates the capacity to bring “reviews” and “sellers” to the surface, “Copy URL” of a specific product as well as “Send Product” or “Share” it with friends. These actions could be done through Snapchat Stories or simple Snap messages.

Project Eagle will undoubtedly change the way people see Snapchat. Instead of being just a social media app, it could become a clever tool for navigating retail. It can also provide the company with a new revenue source if it works out an affiliate referrals deal with Amazon.

This is something that Snapchat desperately needs at the moment. The company has suffered a loss of $ 385 million in the previous quarter, with its missing revenue pegged to be at $ 14 million. Snapchat’s stock also closed Monday at $ 13.65 per share, way below the $ 17 offering price.

Amazon is so far keeping mum about Snapchat’s visual search feature. It should be pointed out that there’s no definitive proof to indicate that the retail giant is working with Snapchat or if it’s just the end destination of the search results. As for Snapchat, mother company Snap Inc. just issued a “no comment” when asked about the rumored visual search.

One thing is certain though, a solid visual search feature could turn Snapchat into something more than a selfie aficionado’s favorite app. It could usher in a groundbreaking way for consumers to search for products to purchase.

[Featured image via Pexels.com]

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Google AdSense Native Ads Could Ultimately Lead to Better Browsing

Advertising is big business. In fact, it represents a substantial 88 percent of Google’s revenue. Until recently, however, the tech giant has stayed away from one lucrative segment in the advertising pie – native ads.

But that’s about to change soon. On July 5, 2017, Google announced its AdSense Native ad, a product that would pit the tech giant against native ad providers like Taboola and Outbrain. At the center of the clash that is starting to unfold is an advertising revenue gold mine. In fact, Seeking Alpha predicts that Google’s entry into the niche could mean another $ 1 billion for the company’s annual revenue.

Unlike the traditional banner advertising which can only be described as annoying, native ads are specially designed to match the look and feel of the sites on which they appear. As such, they get more engagement from users as more people are using ad blockers while others have learned to ignore the glaring banner ads.

While there are fears that Google may end up dominating the entire ad market, it will not be a walk in the park even for the tech giant as other players will surely put up a fight. For one thing, Google is a bit late in its entry into the segment. For instance, Yahoo Gemini, which was introduced back in 2014, is way ahead of the game. Even Facebook had a head start with its mobile native ads already accounting for around 80 percent of its revenue, according to Marketing Land.

Other players seem to have already anticipated Google’s move. Verizon, with its recent acquisition of Yahoo and AOL, has now transformed into a content and data powerhouse that could take on Facebook and Google.

With competition heating up, Google’s entry would surely impact the native ads segment. For advertisers, it is an affirmation of native ads’ potential to deliver quality brand promotion coupled with higher user engagement.

As advertisers begin to rebalance their ads marketing campaigns towards native ads, it could also mean a better browsing experience for the average netizen as ads become less intrusive and more relevant to the page they are on. Ultimately, it could probably mean a future without those annoying pop ups and banners.

[Featured Image by Ben Nuttall/Flickr]

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Amazon Prime’s Rapid Growth Could Soon Make Cable TV Obsolete

Cable TV is on the decline while the number of Amazon Prime subscribers has increased rapidly since last year. One estimate reveals that nearly a quarter of the U.S. population are Amazon Prime subscribers and the numbers are steadily on the rise.  However, can it make cable TV obsolete?

The Rise of Amazon

Amazon Prime had 66 million subscribers at the end of 2016 and a whopping 79 million subscribers to date. Meanwhile, the number of households subscribed to cable TV has decreased by nearly 5 million in the last seven years.

The modest decrease in cable TV subscriptions coupled with the increase of Amazon Prime subscriptions paints a rather vivid picture of the future of home television viewing. If this trend continues, Amazon Prime will have more subscribers than cable or satellite TV by next year. The chance of this overhaul happening in the near future is high.

In an attempt to be more accessible to everyone, Amazon is now coaxing lower-income American households with a discounted service. The company is offering monthly payment options to cater to those who are not willing to fork over $ 99 for the annual subscription.

Main Reason for Subscribing

Looking at the Amazon Prime’s impressive increase in memberships, it’s easy to conclude that the service will soon render cable TV obsolete. However, it is important to consider the reason behind Amazon Prime’s growing subscriber base.

Business Insider reports that Amazon Prime’s video service isn’t the main reason why people are subscribing. The growth in subscriptions is mostly due to the company’s impressive delivery service which is relatively fast and reliable.

That being said, cable TV isn’t directly threatened by a competitor in the same service field. It is likely that a household can subscribe to Amazon Prime while still enjoying the perks of having cable TV.

Other Competition

Although Amazon Prime’s main catch is not home entertainment, it doesn’t mean that they aren’t working on building a subscriber base using that platform in the near future. Currently, Amazon Prime isn’t directly battling with cable TV – or at least, not yet.

Image result for amazon prime vs netflix statistics

The service has to compete with other streaming services including Netflix and Hulu. A recent report suggests that Amazon Prime is gunning to become a major player in the streaming market and has already spent $ 4.5 billion on video this year.

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This Common Belief Could Be Blocking Your Creative Potential

"Creativity is not linear." – Stefanie Flaxman

A woman brought her two Pomeranians to a barbecue I recently attended. I had never met her before, but overhearing her give the dogs commands in Norwegian, Italian, and English sparked a conversation between us and another guest.

Hamburger in hand, the other barbecue-goer explained why he’s always had trouble learning a language other than English.

“I want there to be a word-for-word translation and get stuck because it doesn’t work like that,” he said.

I resonated with that experience and thought about where that outlook might pop up in other aspects of life and business:

There’s a reasonable question virtually everyone asks when they want to start a new creative project.

We all know I like questions, but if you dedicate too much time to this one, it can be more harmful than helpful.

“What’s the best way to do that?”

If you’ve ever decided to create a website or become a writer, you’ve likely asked yourself that question. I certainly did.

And when you’re out of your comfort zone, you often want a guide — a set of steps to follow.

Those steps are necessary at first, but large creative strides happen when you start operating with more fluidity. When you stop looking at your new endeavor like translating one language into another, word for word.

The common belief that could be blocking your creative potential is that you need to learn “the best way” to do something.

The desire to learn “the best way” often leads to asking endless questions rather than trying out the activity for yourself.

It’s understandable. You want to avoid making mistakes. But making (and learning from) your own mistakes will help you more than any question you could ask an expert.

The importance of being a Pomeranian

The Pomeranians weren’t bothered by the challenges of learning new languages. And their owner likely had to overcome the belief that it would be difficult to teach her dogs the languages she speaks.

They simply figured out ways to communicate that work for them.

Once you’ve learned the basics, you have to give your project your own color and richness, rather than try to mimic or duplicate someone else’s “best way.”

“The best way” to do something may not work for you at all.

If you keep searching for “the best way,” you’ll never discover your way.

Creativity is not linear

“Messy” is an understatement for my creative process.

It’s full of nonsensical phrases, tangents, mistakes, and experiments.

Certain articles I write begin with clear bullet points. Others begin as vague concepts. There’s no formula (which is convenient, because I don’t like that word anyway.)

Sometimes writing is easy; sometimes writing is hard.

The trick is to not get too attached to either experience. If you’re having a bad writing day, it won’t always be like that. If you’re having a good writing day, it won’t always be like that. You write (and keep writing) either way.

No matter what you’re working on, give yourself the freedom to try different techniques without getting discouraged if one method isn’t right for you. You can cross it off your list and try something else.

Move your creative project forward

Decide what you want to do, and do it your way.

Of course, you need to follow through to make sure you achieve your goals.

Since we like to pair creativity with productivity on Copyblogger, tomorrow’s post will outline a simple plan for managing a content project until it’s done.

See you then.

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Want a Digital Friend? Facebook ParlAI Could Be the Answer

Facebook has rolled out ParlAI (pärˌlē), which is expected to revolutionize conversational AI systems across different platforms.

Yann LeCun, Facebook Artificial Intelligence Researchers (FAIR) head, explained, “Ultimately one of the objectives of this is to have your own digital friend, your virtual assistant that is basically customized for you and under your control.”

For ParlAI, the FAIR team worked closely with the people who developed Facebook M, the social media company’s smart assistant for its messaging service. The aim is to make chatbots more responsive, articulate, and eventually, more efficient.

Researchers will also be able to customize ParlAI to be used in different technologies as the source code will soon be released by Facebook.

The system itself boasts of 20 built-in languages. Once perfected, there won’t be any questions out there that won’t be answered by the chatbots. Initially, examples of Q&A from Microsoft, Stanford, and Facebook are incorporated in the data sets.

They could also extrapolate the meaning in the question, taking into account the nuances of each language. The trick is to create an algorithm that is capable of machine-learning the complexities of the language, and to adapt accordingly.

While this new development is not exactly a breakthrough in natural language, ParlAI is nevertheless an important step toward better communication between chatbots and humans.

Jason Weston, researcher at FAIR, said that Facebook’s ParlAI is not exactly new technology, as researchers before have already made advances in question-answering systems. However, any progress they made were ignored because first, they were too narrow, and second, they were micro-focused on a single task.

It’s also a case of “once burned, twice shy” as industries have been promised before by researchers claiming to have the new benchmark in conversational models, only to be disappointed with the results. As it stands, there’s just no incentive for other researchers to piggyback on these benchmarks to add value to the technology.

Weston explained that while ParlAI does not claim to be the bridge that connects all of these separate data sets, it does aim to leapfrog dialog reinforcement involving chatbots. Think of this machine-learning technology as a baby—the more people talk to it, the more it learns and anticipates. However, the technology will take time.

“That will take a while before those things are general enough that they can take care of all the things of a human assistant,” LeCun said, before adding, “We’re talking decades.”

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If I Could Start Over As An Entrepreneur Again This Is One Thing I Would Do Differently

It was the year 2003… Like most days, I started my morning lying in bed on my back, feeling a combination of excitement and stress as I stared at the ceiling, thinking about all the things I’d like to change about my life. I was 23 years old, graduated from…

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Facebook Launches Marketplace, Could Challenge Craigslist, eBay

Facebook announced today a formal buy and sell platform called Marketplace, which is likely perceived by Craigslist and eBay as a new hugely powerful competitor nudging into their space. There has always been some buying and selling via Facebook Groups, but this is the first time that Facebook has focused this activity into a single feature. At launch, the goods available to buy and sell will only be viewable to people in your local geographic area.

Although Marketplace is free (at least initially), it’s not hard to imagine that over time Facebook will add payment and shipping features that make it an eCommerce competitor to eBay. With Facebook’s tremendous reach and the massive amount of buying and selling already happening in Facebook Groups, it already is a competitor with Craigslist and classifieds. Facebook says that more than 450 million people visit buy and sell groups each month worldwide.

Marketplace will be part of the Facebook mobile app, easily accessible by tapping on the shop icon at the bottom of the screen.

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How To Buy Stuff via Facebook Marketplace

Both selling and buying items on Facebook Marketplace is very easy. “Marketplace opens with photos of items that people near you have listed for sale,” notes Mary Ku, Director of Product Management, in a blog announcement. “To find something specific, search at the top and filter your results by location, category or price. You can also browse what’s available in a variety of categories such as Household, Electronics and Apparel. Use the built-in location tool to adjust the region you’re looking in, or switch to a different city altogether.”

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Once you find something you want, you simply send the seller a direct message right from the Marketplace feature and make an offer. All further negotiation takes place via DM and you will have to work out payment logistics.

How To Sell Stuff via Facebook Marketplace

Facebook provided this list of how to sell::

  1. Take a photo of your item, or add it from your camera roll
  2. Enter a product name, description and price
  3. Confirm your location and select a category
  4. Post
Rolling Out to 4 Countries

Marketplace is launching in US, UK, Australia, and New Zealand on the Facebook app for iPhone and Android. “We will continue expanding to additional countries and make Marketplace available on the desktop version of Facebook in the coming months,” says Ku.

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The Future of e-Commerce: What if Users Could Skip Your Site?

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Have you taken a look at Google Shopping recently? Okay, so it isn’t quite the ecommerce monster that Amazon or eBay are, and yes, it’s only filled with sponsored posts. Playing around with it, however, proves that it provides a decent experience.

And that experience got me thinking. What if, instead of being sponsored ads, Google Shopping completely replaced organic search results for transactional queries? Would this be a better user experience? I would have a comparison of products from multiple retailers without even having to visit a website. Would this be a better experience than just “ten blue links?”

In this post I want to share why I think Google Shopping could replace organic search results in the future, and how websites can begin to prepare for this.

A closer look at Google Shopping

We’ve already seen evidence of Google trying to keep users within their search engine with local packs, flights, knowledge graphs, and instant answers. What’s to say shopping isn’t next? Google have already been using Google Shopping ads within search results for a while now, and they recently started testing Showcase Shopping ads, increasing the level of product exposure in a search result.

Check out this Google Shopping result for “red shoes” below:

On first impression, this could easily be an organic shopping result.

Google doesn’t make it crystal clear that these are paid ads, only displaying a small notification in the top right. Do users clearly understand that these products and brands are paying to appear here? As the potential customer, does it even matter, as long as I find the red shoes I’m looking for?

If this had been my search result instead of the typical organic search result, it wouldn’t have been a disappointing experience. In fact, Google would be putting me closer to my desired action of actually researching/purchasing red shoes, without me ever needing to leave Google.

Why do I think the long-term plan could be to use the layout of Google Shopping as a replacement for the current organic result? For me, the Google Shopping landing pages offer:

  • An overall better user experience than most sites — it has familiarity and loads quickly.
  • A range of products from multiple suppliers all in one place.
  • Price comparison of multiple suppliers without me having to load multiple domains.
  • Easy-to-understand faceted navigation.
  • Mobile-friendly — I don’t have to gamble on the search result I’m clicking on.

More intuitive for voice search

This plugs perfectly in with the development and improvements of voice search and the use of compound search queries, which Tom Anthony and myself discussed in Distilled’s Searchscape series.

Here’s a previous example of a compound query that Tom Anthony shared at SMX Munich:

I thought I’d test this same process out by trying to find a pair of red shoes using just voice search. The results weren’t perfect and, at this time, not a great user experience. However, compare this to Google Shopping results and you’ll see where we could be heading in the future with organic results.

Below is how the current search results look for a mobile voice search (on the left) versus search results if you click through to Google Shopping (images on the right).

“Okay Google, show me shoes”

Yup, those are definitely shoes. So far, so good for both results!

Current SERPs Shopping SERPS

“Okay Google, under £40”

Not quite under £40, but they are shoes within a reasonable price range. Google’s organic results have dropped product listings and are now showing sales pages for shoe stores.

Current SERPs Shopping SERPS

“Okay Google, in red”

Organic search now lists red shoe landing pages. However, the ads seem way off target, displaying bikes. Google Shopping, on the other hand, is getting pretty close to the product I may be looking to purchase.

Current SERPs Shopping SERPS

“Okay Google, for men”

Organic continues to show me predominantly men’s shoes page results, despite a very specific search query. Compare that to Google Shopping, which now matches the majority of my criteria except price.

Current SERPs Shopping SERPS

While the above search shows the organic SERPs aren’t producing high-quality results for conversational queries, you can be confident that these types of results will continue to improve. And when they do, the Google Shopping result will produce the best answer to the user’s query, getting them to their desired action with the fewest number of clicks.

Time and again we’ve seen Google attempt to reduce the number of steps it takes for a user to get their answer via features such as car insurance, flight comparison, and instant answers. This seems the logical next step for shopping, as well, once search results are dependable.

Will the user still have to come to my site to complete a transaction?

Initially, yes, the user will have to click through to your page in order to purchase. Currently, Google Shopping allows users to find more information about a product within Google before clicking through to a landing page to complete their purchase.

But in the long run, Google could facilitate the transaction for your business without a user ever hitting a website. We saw Google testing this within paid search back in 2015. And while at the time Google stated they have no intention of becoming a retailer (and I still believe this to be true), we certainly know that Google wants to get the user to complete their goal as quickly and easily as possible, ideally remaining within the Google eco-system.

google-buy-now-animated-1437048801.gif

Google Shopping testing instant purchase

What could this mean for webmasters?

A change such as this could be a double-edged sword for businesses. If Google decided to rank your product more prominently than competitors, its ease of use could see an uplift in sales. The downside? If Google decided to monetize this feature, they could look to take a cut from any sales, similar to Amazon and eBay.

Secondly, we would have to refine the way we measure traffic to our site (or not). It’s likely that measurement would have to be based on impressions and conversions rather than sessions. Based on the current reporting format available for Google Shopping, users may have access to clicks and click-through rate, but as no actual data is being passed to Google Analytics this would likely be reported within Google Search Console.

Of course, we’d still want ranking reports, as well. Rank tracking companies such as GetStat and SEMRush would have to adapt their products to track product listings in the same way that we’ve seen them improve tracking for local packs and structured data over the last 12 months.

How could we prepare for this?

Preparation for a world where Google looks like this falls into two buckets: what you should do if you own the physical products, and what you should do if you don’t (for example, if you’re an affiliate site).

If you own the product:

If you own the product (for example, you stock and sell TVs), then you should be looking to give Google as much information about your products as possible to ensure they have the optimal opportunity to appear within search engine results. Ensure product pages are well-optimized so Google understands the product being displayed. Most importantly, we recommend you get structured data in place (Google’s current preference is for webmasters to use JSON-LD).

There may also be immediate benefits, such as getting more rich snippets within search results and an increased opportunity of being featured in answer boxes (and leapfrogging competitors), but this will help future-proof your site.

Want to know more about JSON-LD? I recommend taking a read of the following resources:

Additionally, we need to start looking higher up the funnel and creating content that will make users come back. I know, I hate saying it, but we have to produce great content! I’ll discuss how The Wirecutter has been approaching this in just a moment.

Further down the pipeline, if Google decided it can handle processing user transactions within Google itself, you’ll want to consider opening up your checkout as an API. This was a requirement in Google’s paid experiment and, as such, could be a necessity to appear here in the future.

If you don’t own the product & are an affiliate or review site, etc.

Ranking for both transactional and information search queries could become even more difficult. It may even become impossible to rank for very specific long-tail search terms.

The recommendations don’t differ too much from above. We should still get structured data in place to reap the rewards now and start producing great content that sits higher up the funnel.

Producing great and useful content

Will Critchlow recently introduced me to The WireCutter as one of his go-to websites. This is a site that’s taken product research to an extreme. With extremely in-depth articles about which products users should buy, they take the thought process out of “which product should I buy?” and instead, based on my needs, say, “Don’t worry about doing any more research, we’ve done it for you. Just buy this one.”

I’ve recently purchased a range of products from pens to printers based on their recommendations. They’ve created useful content — which, after numerous purchases, I now trust — and as a result encourages me to return to their site over and over again.

To finish up, I’d love to hear your thoughts:

  • How might the future of ecommerce look?
  • How have you been using voice search, particularly compound and revised queries?
  • Do you think Google Shopping replacing the current organic search layout would provide an improved user experience?

Reach out to me in the comments below or over on Twitter — @the_timallen.

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Could Libya become the world’s solar power leader?




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Another study by Nottingham Trent University recommends Libya may deliver very nearly seven times more power from sun oriented vitality than oil every day.

Libya is situated in North Africa along the Tropic of Cancer. This area gives abundant daylight for the duration of the day. Libya’s atmosphere incorporate couple of shady days, further expanding their potential sunlight based yield if created.

As of now, Libya produces 1.4 million barrels of oil for every day. The study gauges Libya could create what might as well be called 7 million barrels of oil for every day by creating 0.01 percent of the desert scene into a sun based homestead.

On the off chance that appropriately saddled, Libya could turn into a worldwide pioneer in sun oriented force generation, trading power to different countries. Interest in sun based innovation and force plants today could push Libya towards a vitality future no more subject to fossil powers. Such advance could turn into a case to other creating countries.

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What Could Happen if You Launch a Podcast in the Next 30 Days?

imagine your future in podcasting

Let’s start with a question you know the answer to:

What do you need to build a successful online business today?

Well, you start with a growing, loyal audience who views you as an authority. Content Marketing 101.

Now another question you probably can answer:

How do you stand out from the crowd, cut through the noise, and build an authentic connection with an audience when there is already so much content out there and more coming every day?

Isn’t it too … late?

No, it’s not too late.

But the reality of the content abundance all around us does mean that we cannot blend in and expect to stand out.

We must attract attention, be useful, and build trust.

In other words, we need to be remarkable.

And there is no better way to create an authentic connection with an audience than through a remarkable podcast.

Now I’ve got a question I bet you don’t know the answer to … yet.

If you launched a podcast today about your favorite topic in the entire world, where could you be five years from now?

Think about it for a minute. Let your mind wander.

While you’re thinking, I’ll quickly share my story.

Five years ago, I did launch a podcast about my favorite topic in the entire world: Indiana Hoosiers basketball.

I didn’t really know what I was doing — I was nervous and a little afraid — but I launched it anyway. And somehow I convinced a couple of guys I’d never met to co-host with me.

Five years later, The Assembly Call gets hundreds of live viewers, thousands more on the podcast, and is simulcast live on terrestrial radio.

Yeah, I host a radio show now. Who’da thunk? (That was fun to type.)

We also have an official internship program with the IU Sports Media school, and we are entirely listener supported.

Imagine if I hadn’t made that choice to launch the show five years ago, well before I was ready.

Actually, I’d rather not. I’m quite fond of what has transpired since.

So … did you come up with an answer?

Where could you be in five years if you launched your podcast in the next 30 days?

You know, come to think of it, five years is a long time to wait.

Let me rephrase that question.

If you launched a podcast today, about a topic strategically chosen to help you build an audience that could build a business, where could you be 18 months from now?

Think about it for a minute. Let your mind wander.

While you’re thinking, I’ll quickly share my friend Jonny Nastor’s story.

Eighteen months ago, he did launch a podcast about a topic strategically chosen to help him build an audience that would build his business: the entrepreneurial mindset.

He didn’t really know what he was doing — he was nervous and a little afraid — but he launched it anyway. And somehow he convinced a sponsor to support him before he’d even published an episode.

Eighteen months later, Hack the Entrepreneur is one of the top business podcasts in the world, gets tens of thousands of downloads every episode, and Jonny was able to repurpose material from the podcast into a book that became an Amazon bestseller.

Yeah, he went from unknown podcaster to bestselling author in 18 months. (I bet that was fun for him to read.)

Jonny also recently launched a paid membership community and has now interviewed more of his business heroes than he can probably count.

Imagine if he hadn’t made that choice to launch the show 18 months ago, well before he was ready.

Actually, I bet he’d rather not, as I know he’s quite fond of what has transpired since.

So … did you come up with an answer?

Where could you be in 18 months if you launched your podcast in the next 30 days?

You know, 18 months is a lot less than five years, but it’s still a while to wait.

Let me rephrase that question.

If you launched a podcast today, about a topic you are passionate about and that was chosen strategically to build an audience that could build an online training business, where could you be six weeks from now?

Think about it for a minute. Let your mind wander.

While you’re thinking, I’ll quickly share my story of working with Jonny.

On April 1, 2015, we launched a podcast about a topic that we are passionate about, and that was chosen strategically to build an audience that could build an online training business: podcasting.

At this point, after our individual podcasting successes on our own, we had a much better idea of what we were doing, but neither of us had ever built a course before. So, we were still nervous and a little afraid. But we launched anyway.

Less than six weeks later, on May 8, 2015, The Showrunner was one of the most popular Management & Marketing podcasts in the world, and our course, The Showrunner Podcasting Course, had grossed more than $ 75,000.

Yes, we had gone from nervous, sweaty-palmed novices to respected podcast instructors. (It wasn’t easy, but it was incredibly rewarding.)

And both the podcast and course kept growing. The Showrunner Podcasting Course would gross nearly $ 175,000 by August 20, when we closed new registrations for 2015.

Imagine if we hadn’t made that choice to launch the podcast on April 1 and launch the course just a few weeks later.

Actually, we’d rather not. We’re both quite fond of what has transpired since. ”</p

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