The Uptake

by Brad McCarty

Lessons learned, words written

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Rethinking Content: Email Marketing

I have a lot of thoughts about content, especially as it relates to content marketing and businesses as publishers. I tweet about this a lot, and I’ve even done some speaking on the subject, but I thought it was about time to write down some of these thoughts into a more coherent form.

First up, email.

If you were to go to your local mom & pop store, order something, have it delivered to your home and then wake up to their billboard in your yard the next day, how happy would you be?

Yet that’s exactly how we treat people when they provide us with their email address. That email address is, for most people, as close as they’ll come to providing us with a direct line of communication via the Internet. It’s every bit as real today as someone’s home address was 10 years ago.


I did an informal survey of my Twitter followers. Of those who responded, 98 percent of them stated that...

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The Freedom in Letting Go

It’s 1am on a Friday morning. For the first time in longer than I care to remember, I am not afraid.

After losing my job a couple of years ago, I have spent every day since living in fear of being in that position again. But this past week, after talking to a few people and realizing that I have built up a marketable set of skills, I’m not afraid anymore.

What has happened because of that lack of fear is extraordinary. I have been able to tackle bigger problems, I’ve found true annoyances and figured out how to deal with them and I’ve been able to enact things that I know to be good sense in business.

Decisions by committee? Out. I was hired to do a job because people had faith that I would do it well so I’m exercising that autonomy.

Quiet reverence? Goodbye. I have a reputation. Be it good or bad, it is my own and I will own it in turn.

Humility related to product? Nope. We have...

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Stupid Things Startups Do: Bad PR

The series continues! Today let’s talk about something that is potentially draining your finances while providing less ROI than any other purchase.

That’s right kids, we’re talking about outsourced PR!

Let’s set the record straight - There is a huge difference between good public relations and bad public relations. Good PR people (and companies) know that you need help defining and refining your brand’s message. They know how to get that perfected message in front of the right people.

But most of them suck. And you’re paying them a lot of money. And they’re providing you with negligible results. And you still keep doing it…

Almost without fail, you will get a better ROI by hiring a brand manager in house. But here’s the conundrum – they need to not drink your company Kool-Aid. They need to stay as objective as possible at all times, in order to help you reach the world with a message...

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Stupid Things Startups Do: Hiring

I’m on a bit of a rant today, as those folks who follow me on Twitter might have noticed. But I’m once again reminded of the completely idiotic thing that startups and tech companies are doing, which are only serving to hurt the companies in the long run.

I think this is going to be a series of blog posts, so I’m going to tackle one topic at a time. First up on the list:

Hiring Based on Education

Are we really still doing this crap? It’s 2013 and you’re still posting your entry-level positions with a requirement for a BS or MBA? You’re posting jobs that have a category requirement of 0-2 years of experience, only to tell someone with 6 months that you want someone with more experience?

Stop it. You’re screwing yourself.

If there’s something that every single entrepreneur should know, it’s that formal education counts for very little in the scope of ability. Yet every single day I...

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Dave McClure’s Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

I’ve spent the past three days in Omaha, Nebraska at the Big Omaha conference. It’s undoubtedly the premiere conference in the US when it comes to entrepreneurship. I was excited by the speaker lineup this year, as I am every year, but pleasantly surprised to see that 500 Startups’ Dave McClure would be taking to the stage.

Here’s the thing – Dave has a potty mouth. We all know this. Omaha knew this before he took to the stage, and he even forewarned people both verbally and in his slides that he would likely use language that some people would deem to be offensive. Before he got deeply into his presentation, he gave people the opportunity to leave. I say this not to excuse his choice of words, or his actions, but rather to set the stage.

Dave was talking about how things aren’t quite as good as they could be, and giving examples of ways that industries could be easily changed. In one...

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Facebook Home (and First) – My Personal Hell

If I had to consider what my personal version of hell would be like, it would be senseless arguments, baseless debates and uneducated ranting, shoved into my face at all hours of the day.

It would be updates from “friends”, concerning things that nobody cares about such as little Billy’s first poo poo of the day (there will be 4 more such updates from this person in the next 24 hours.)

Oh yes, and between the times when I’m trying not to wretch from the vile filth that these so-called friends are spewing forth, I’ll be shown ads. Ads for things about which I couldn’t possibly care less. Because targeting only works if your audience is being truthful about themselves and allowing you to see it, targeted ads largely fail on me.

That’s exactly what Facebook has decided to provide, with the release of Home and its companion phone, First.

Can we marinate, for just a moment, on the...

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14 Hours at the Computer and How I Fixed My Eye Strain

On a typical day, I’m awake by 6:30 am and sitting at my computer. I spend around 14 hours looking at a screen and sometimes I move away from my computer to sit on the couch with my iPad. To say that I’ve experienced eye strain would be putting it very lightly.

I’m a big fan of League of Legends (psst, that’s a referral link), and I noticed Dyrus (one of my favorite top-lane players) wearing some funky yellow glasses about a year ago.

I know that these guys spend countless hours in front of a monitor, but I also know that they do a lot of sponsorship deals so I wasn’t fully convinced of the validity of what Gunnar Optiks was doing.

Then I met the people from the company.

They’ve put tireless research into the design and fabrication of their lenses. There’s a lot of thought behind why they are the specific colors that they are, how they work and why they can benefit computer users. I...

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Reader, Keep and a Dissection of Google’s Madness

I’m on a bit of a vacation this week from the world of tech, spending my time instead being Mr. Husband and Mr. Homeowner. I can’t help but chirp up, however, on the subject of Google’s newly-launched Evernote competitor, Keep.

In case you’re not keeping up with the Angry Nerds crowd, people are pretty mad that Google decided to rather abruptly shut down its RSS service named Reader. The backlash of that is still ringing strong, with smart people like Om Malik telling Google that he won’t be using Keep because he can’t trust that it won’t meet the same fate.

I can’t speak to Google’s long-term plans, but I do think that Keep will stick around. In the grand scheme of things, where Google makes more money by understanding user behavior, a service such as Keep makes perfect sense.

In case you’ve missed the news, Google’s amazing-service-du-jour is Google Now. It’s the “living in the...

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Because Screw the Readers. That’s Why.

Blogs typically run on ads.

Box and rectangle ad rates suck.

To overcome bad ad rates, blogs are trying to do advertising differently.

Some of it is good.

Some of it is blatantly anti-reader.

According to the company, the native unit will allow brands to embed social updates on the Mashable homepage that look and feel like Mashable posts.

Tell me this – Do you want to go to a site, click on something that looks like a story and instead have an ad fed to you? Because that’s what Mashable just “invented.”

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My Review of the iPad Mini

It’s like an iPad. But smaller. And I can hold it in one hand.

Compared to my iPad 3, it’s impossibly light.

I’m mildly annoyed by the lack of Retina, but I’m getting over it quickly.

If I were going to work on it all day, I’d still want a 10-inch iPad.

The battery life is still shockingly good. The amount of money I’d pay for a phone that could manage this is…well…a lot.

People said that this was the real iPad. They’re right. It almost seems like Apple needed a couple of iterations with bigger devices to get the ideas right. Once they did that, they could move the size down.

I like it a lot. I think you will too.

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