Amazon’s Freemium Music Cloud

Amazon Cloud Player Locker UploaderIf nothing else, we now know for sure that server space and bandwidth has gotten cheap. So cheap, in fact, that they can’t give it away fast enough.

Amazon just announced their new music digital locker service, appropriately named Amazon Cloud Drive. If you already use Amazon, you get 5Gb of free storage space. And it’s not just storage space, you can actually upload your own personal music files and stream music to your device or desktop.

Are there other places where you can upload files for free? Sure, Dropbox.com and Google Docs have offered this kind of solution for a while. Services like these allow you ample space to FTP files to yourself or other people. It prettymuch eliminates the need for USB keys, which always seem to get lost or stolen.

Amazon goes one step further by adding a terrific music player and upload app that works on Mac and PC. If you don’t have it already, Amazon automatically downloads and installs Adobe Air, which is free and is useful for apps like TweetDeck. Best of all, it’s incredibly easy and fun, even for people who are fairly low tech.

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Nokia N8 – Two Week Photography Review

Nokia N8 includes a 12 megapixel camera and Ziess lens

For a phone, the Nokia N8 offers an incredibly powerful camera and video package in a smartphone about the same size as an Apple iPhone. And for two weeks, I shot several hundred photos and dozens of videos on the smartphone’s 16 Gb of internal memory.

But let me jump back for a moment. About a month ago, a person named Chris reached out to me from WOMWorld.com and offered me the opportunity to try out the Nokia N8. The Nokia N8 boasts a 12 megapixel camera with a Carl Zeiss lens, so I jumped at the chance to do a test and review.
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Cross Channel Book Marketing

Creating Comics book by Buddy Scalera

My new book Creating Comics from Start to Finish is just beginning to hit stores now. And despite the fact that I do this marketing thing every day for my clients, I’ve found it to be challenging to apply the same principals at home for my own projects. Crazy, right?

There’s an old saying, “the shoemaker’s children go barefoot.” That pretty much means the stuff you do at work is not the stuff you want to do when you get home. But a book being published is a timely event, and that time will soon pass, so I need to take the opportunity to market my book while I still can.

Initially, I was spending most of my efforts on my Facebook Fan Page, which had around 700+ followers and is now over 800. This group has been supporting my photo reference books, so they were most receptive of the new book. A good start.

Then I did a little bit of content seeding. I created a video flip through of my book, which I placed on the Facebook Fan Page, YouTube, Flickr, and even Amazon. I’m monitoring all of the channels through Google Analytics to see which drives the most qualified traffic.
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7 Tips for Better Flickr Traffic

Since I first discovered the analytics features in Flickr, I have been obsessed with my stats. I just can’t help myself. Stats and analytics fascinate me. (Note: Stats are only available to Flickr Pro users.)

Here are a couple of observations regarding Flickr’s chocolaty goodness:

  1. Post consistently. My stats hovered around a depressingly low number for many months. The key to getting more views on photos was to actually upload photos more consistently. Sounds obvious, but the reality is that people in a social community tend to interact more with people who are contributing consistently.
  2. Give the people what they want. If you know what photos get the most traffic, that means there’s an audience for your work. If people like your dog photos and label them as “favorite” then keep posting your dog photos.
  3. Share timely events. My stats skyrocketed recently when I uploaded 388 photos in one batch. (Thank you Flickr Uploader!). I attended the Long Beach Comicon 2009 and uploaded my pictures within two days of the con. My average views went from 500 a day to over 5,000 per day. That’s a HUGE increase in traffic. Not all of it is sustained, but I have definitely increased my daily views significantly.
  4. Include links to your other sites. The traffic from Flickr to my personal website BuddyScalera.com is increasing. The more people look at my Flickr photos the more they go check out my webpage. I saw a pretty nice jump when I uploaded that batch I just mentioned. Flickr users tend to check out my photo reference books, which is good.
  5. Join groups & create groups. I belong to dozens of informal Flickr groups. Plus, I’ve created two Flickr groups, which has increased my overall photo traffic. Since I have particular photography interests, it makes sense for me to contribute to certain groups. But some of my interests didn’t already have a group, so I created Long Beach Comicon – Official Flickr Group and Comic Book Creators & Pros. One complaint: they don’t give administrators much access to group analytics, beyond giving a list of members.
  6. Participate. People are sharing their photos online because they want the world to see their pictures. Give people feedback on their photos. If you share a comment, people will want to see your photos, which will increase your base of viewers.
  7. Contact ’em. There’s a “friending” feature on Flickr called “Contact.” Basically, it’s like friending someone on Facebook, except you get a feed of new photos that is being uploaded by your contacts. If you like someone’s work, you can check out their work in thumbnails as they upload the images. And unlike Facebook, people on Flickr are uploading photos, so you don’t have to wade through dozens of throw-a-sheep and super-poke invitations.

More on Flickr in the future. In the mean time, check out 10 Tips to Boost your Flickr Profile. Very good article about increasing Flickr traffic.

My Berlin Flickr Photo Schmapped

Ever been Schmapped? I just got Schmapped and I’m pretty excited about it.

Schmap is a groovy little application for people to use on their iPhone. It’s a little like YELP, but it’s designed to help people find interesting landmarks as they visit new cities.

The folks over at Schmap selected one of my photos from my trip to Berlin. So the next time someone goes to Berlin, they may see my photo as part of an iPhone-based guided tour. Good stuff. I’m proud in a geeky sort of way. It looks really neat on the iPhone.

Here’s the photo of the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church:
Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church Outside

I’m not sure how they found my pictures, but I’m guessing they did some Flickr searches and it came up. I guess it’s a good thing that I tagged everything.

According to Emma Williams the Managing Editor of Schmap Guides, inclusion in the guide will drive traffic to my photo. They linked back to my photo, so hopefully it gets people to go check out the rest of my pictures.

I just got Schmapped and I can’t wait to be Schmapped again.

Freemium – A Net Business Model

Free is great, isn’t it? The Net is packed with free stuff.

Need a free dictionary? Use Dictionary.com. Need some free music? Listen to Pandora. Want some free news? Try CNN.com. Free classifieds? Try craigslist.com. Free phone calls? Dial Skype. It’s all free. I should know, I use all of these sites and services.

And, insanely enough, many applications are free. Years ago, you had to pay for word processing, spreadsheets, and databases. Now, you can get pretty powerful software, all for free.

As I noted in an earlier blog, free isn’t really free. Someone is paying for it in the hopes of earning money. While most of these applications and resources will remain free, there are a few that are starting to turn a profit on the “freemium” model.

That is, it’s free, but to unlock powerful premium features, you gotta pay. Hence, the techronym freemium.

Freemium in My Life

Here are some examples of free and freemium services that I use:

Google Docs - Google ApsGoogle Docs:
Free productivity software. Good stuff. I use it a lot. All free, until I want to roll it out enterprise wide to my coworkers or employees.

And if you use GMail, you may eventually run out of space. Yup, look at the bottom of the GMail window, and you will see a little “% used” message. After you exceed your GMail limit, you may be prompted to upgrade to a paid Gmail account.

Zoho PremiumZoho Docs:
Similar to Google Docs, Zoho is a productivity software suite. Actually much broader and more powerful than Google docs, but not as well known.

Similarly, you can do a lot with Zoho, but if you want more features and space, you pay a Freemium price. I’ve been impressed with Zoho’s software suite and may tap into a few of their premium features.

Flickr PremiumFlickr:
A photo sharing social network. I keep all my photos here. And now, with a pro account, I have greater control over my photo sets and I can upload videos.

Someone gave me a freemium Pro Account for my birthday and now I am addicted to it.

Evernote PremiumEvernote:
A free to use idea-and-stuff capture system. (It’s hard to explain. Check it out.)

A freemium account unlocks more space and flexibility in Evernote and some cool digital camera features.

WordPress PremiumWordPress Premium:
This very blog is based on free WordPress software. The free version allows me to blog on their platform or even install it on my own web server.

But a premium version unlocks some extra features and hosting options.

Will Freemium Work?

Will the freemium business model work? Will people pay for stuff that they are used to getting for free?

Let’s hope that the added features are an incentive to get people to shell out a few bucks. Because eventually, some of these programmers and content creators are going to want to get paid…they have to pay the rent and utilities too.

For now, most everything on the Net is free and freemium features may help to keep it that way.

In the future, freemium features are going to matter a lot. This will be the way that many sites capture revenue…and the way they attract advertisers and partners. (For example, “how many people are registered for the free service vs the freemium services?”)

For more on freemiums, check out:

And, as always, a visit to my personal website at buddyscalera.com is still free

Picasa Goes Mac Desktop

Most dedicated Mac users I know tend to use the iLife applications that come with a new Mac. While not particularly glamorous, these apps work well together. Apple’s integration strategy makes the whole suite hard to resist.

But as the Mac market share increases, we see more companies developing new and interesting applications for OSX. Google just released a Mac desktop version of Picasa, which is designed to appeal to iPhoto users.

Based on this video, Picasa for Mac has some interesting features, particularly the ability to sync your online galleries.

I use Picasa to share pictures, so I’m likely to try the new Picasa for Mac. Picasa is functional, but not as good as Flickr for sharing pictures.

But considering the fact that Flickr is owned by Yahoo, it may be time to explore other picture-sharing networks. Yahoo’s future is pretty hazy, and they are likely to get purchased by another media company. That means networks like Flickr could undergo some significant changes.

Picasa may not be perfect, but knowing that it is backed by Google helps me have more confidence that my pictures will survive online. And the step to embrace the Mac platform just makes me plain ol’ happy.