GSME #24 :: Stupid Girl

social-media-asides

On Friday, I did something stupid, and paid the price by being soundly roasted to a crisp on Social media. What did I learn from this? Thing number one is that if you decide to start a fight, the benefits can initially appear more sensational than the personal trauma that results:

brokenly

At its peak, my self-destruction was garnering over 25% engagement. That’s the stuff of legends and ultimately, completely unsustainable. The only way you’ll keep that amount of interaction going is to reply to every thread until your eyes bleed and you’re down to zero followers. In fact, there were so many responses and retweets the entirety of my analytics went tits up for the whole of Friday. It was only when I checked this morning that the real numbers were revealed:

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The truth, in retrospect, is that engagement for the day was a modest 1.9% overall. 65k impressions means absolutely nothing, in the larger scheme of things, and tells me (if I needed to know already) that most people love to sit and watch other people having a fight. It is the same mentality that makes drivers slow down when there’s a road accident. That’s not what I started my journey for.

It is certainly never going to happen again.

alone

I know when I’m in trouble, and gut has always served me well in instances of drama. However, what I severely underestimated in this case was the responses of those with whom I interact. This is probably the most important lesson of all when ‘doing’ Social media: not everybody is your friend, and ‘business’ is something that some people don’t like to think you’re mixing with their pleasure. Someone asked me a while ago how you know who to trust and the reply has not changed since this entire journey began.

Everybody has the potential to destroy you whether you fuck up or not.

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What matters more in situations such as this is how you conduct yourself after the event. In my case, I issued a public apology on Sunday and wrote a blog post where I withdraw myself from making any contentious comments on the subject in public. This used to be my job, until I stopped writing about that particular game in order to concentrate on the Patreon. If there is a contentious opinion to express from now on, it will be posted on my Blog, where there’s a better chance of presenting my opinions with some depth. My job now, especially this week, is what should be taking priority.

Friday didn’t happen to get either views or attention, I just wanted to discuss an idea. This post however is capitalising on this spectacular failure as a basis for constructive criticism. If I wanted to use anyone as an example of how not to do Twitter, it would be me. I can’t say this won’t happen again, of course, because nobody is perfect.

I can say some very important lessons have been learnt and acted upon.

GSME #23 :: Big Log

social-media-asides

So, I should have done this a long time ago, on reflection.

thismonth

This is the true measure of progress since Twitter reset its UI in the Summer. In four months, I have picked up one new follower. This is what happens when you systematically remove the elements that exist within Social media whose sole purpose is to self-promote a chosen few. Like everything else (SEO, marketing, brand identity) there are a very specific set of rules one needs to follow to become a success.

Those can be summed up in two statements. Either you:

Are genuinely successful and organically gain an audience with a genuine interest in your life, brand or product;

OR

You create a completely fictional representation of the exact same thing using robot followers and reciprocal follow-backs.

From a distance, most users will be hard pressed to distinguish the two.

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It is the biggest and worst kept secret on the entire platform. If you pay enough money, you can be an overnight success, but if you never listen to anybody else or indeed contribute anything of note? What is the point of existing?

Then there’s the moments when the robots try and convince you they are human, and the humans think they’ve been clever when really, they’re dumber than rocks. However, in amongst the trash are some real treasures. Anna was one of them last week: she’s been trying to follow me for a while, and with 16k followers you’d think she might be worthwhile, but her Twitter’s a stream of quotes and pictures and little if no reality injected. Looking at her biography, she appears ‘real’ enough:

Student. Writer. Gamer. Slytherin. Bookaholic. Dork. Programmer in Training. Founder of [Account 1] and [Account 2] Part of the Response Team at [Online Employer]

[US LOCATION] · [Website here]

The two Twitter accounts she’s founded have no content, plus the company she works for is involved in curating automated content for Twitter. When I followed her, the first thing that was sent from her account was as follows:

awesomesauce

She almost had me, until I followed her from my Patreon Twitter and the exact same message was sent there, too. For a second I hoped that maybe I’d found someone who wasn’t playing the game, or simply here to show how easy it is to manipulate people into following but no, I was wrong. Anna was the straw that broke my social media ‘back.’ Fictional popularity is probably is the most insidious concept I can imagine, but has become a perfect metaphor for the current state of humanity.

The saddest thing of all is that Anna may well be real; going through her website there’s a response form, details of her education… and that she’s training in computer forensics. Ironically, right now, she’s reading 1984, which is particularly apposite with the level of doublethink operating here. If my investigations have awoken the real Anna’s interest, and she’s come here to read about what I have to say, I wish her luck in this future career, but I’ll keep you blocked. I have enough mindless crap on my feed without promoting any more.

The time has come to promote only reality in my journey.

GSME #22 :: Too Much

social-media-asides

Apologies, it’s been a few weeks, and I’ve not been giving Social media the attention it once had, at least in terms of numbers. There’s a couple of reasons for this, and it is probably not a bad idea at this point to break those issues down. After what was eight months of pretty much concerted effort to improve my presence by artificial means, it became apparent at the start of September that this is largely pointless. My market is so niche it has proved really tough to sell to, and I need more experience at understanding Twitter’s advertising setup before any more cash is dropped. What I’ve learnt from three days has provided significant pause for thought.

Let’s break down what I was able to conclude from my brief flirtation with Twitter Advertising.

1. Too Much Noise

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So, I spent £26.04 before I called a halt to my campaign, because it was abundantly apparent that nobody cared about my post. Of those 9,325 impressions, not one resulted in a website interaction. Of course, I am as much to blame as anyone else for not making my ‘campaign’ attractive, but honestly I shouldn’t be selling myself anyway, its the work that matters. There is just too much noise on this platform for someone like me to get heard without having someone famous expound my ability, or a major magazine or publication picking me up. As I won’t sell myself? I’m effectively screwed.

However, there was some peripheral interest in the contents of my feed and yes, I’ve picked up a few followers in the process. However, I’m more likely to just luck out organically over time, because my ‘product’ is not something that can be conventionally sold. If I changed that, there would be more luck. I’m just not sure I want to just to take advantage of what Twitter can do.

2. Talking to Real Users

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Last month I went to some length to remove people I believed weren’t actual human beings from my feed. I’ve since seen a virtual halt to follower increase, based (one assumes) on the fact I refuse to deal with the bots. Ironically a lot of the people I know are human are far more annoying than any of the robots, who often post quite useful filler material for my feed on dull days. It just goes to show that not everything is as black and white as people would like.

I’ve reconciled myself to having to find alternate means of advertising in the next three months and getting ready to start again effectively in 2018.  It is no big deal, and I’m prepared to rethink lots of things to improve my chances. What I don’t want, however, is to compromise what I’m becoming just as a means to create an audience who isn’t human. Sorry robots, it is nothing personal I assure you.

3. Creating Content over Advertising

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There was an important epiphany after my advertising ‘investment’ and that’s that being a company of one person means that sometimes, it doesn’t matter that you’re not being read by tens of thousands of people. Right now I’ll take a regular, dedicated audience who care and whose names I can remember. I’ll spend some time working hard to build up a following and not expect everything to happen tomorrow. After that? We’ll see where things stand.

What is most apparent in the nine months since I began this journey goes back to a basic understanding, that true success isn’t necessarily years of hard work. Sure, that helps, but often it is the sparks of unexpected brilliance along the way which allow this to change the entire course of your journey. I need to stop worrying about trying to control everything, and let some of the unexpected be just that, good or bad.


With this in mind, as of next week, the GSME will be undergoing something of a redefinition in terms of scope and objectives…

Still Alive

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My mini break seems a lifetime away, it must be said, after the last week, but I am now almost in a position to feel organised again. As a result, here’s the changed layout to the Website week as a result of the leaves on my Gym walk already beginning to change colour. It may not be September until Thursday, but Autumn is definitely on its way.

Monday

social-media-asides

The Great Social Media Experiment’s about to shift up a gear: as of midnight tonight my first legitimate ad campaign begins to run in an attempt to generate interest for Patreon. We’ll be following its progress, looking at how my attempts at engagement are going and continuing to demystify the sometimes murky practices within Social media.  I’m also widening the #GSME’s remit to cover a lot more stuff with general interest to those of you reading and using Twitter on a daily basis.

Tuesday

Origins

The Alt History Channel is shifting to Tuesdays, and with it comes the introduction of Great Fanfic Wot I have Wrote to pad out the fact my life’s not that interesting. Watch out for the first piece of fiction coming next week…

Write off (3)

Wednesday

Book of the Month

Yes, I KNOW I still don’t have titles up for September’s Book of the Month, but there is at least a text chosen, so that’s progress. 😀 This week’s task in what is a free Wednesday is to get an archive page up for the old Essays and Short stories.

Thursday

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I’ve been struggling to get content up post essay days (as you know, brain dead after a  deadline) and it seems sensible to schedule in some breathing space amongst all the work so, from now on, Thursdays are my WIP days. This means making valuable time for novels, poetry and everything else I want to be working on but normally can’t find the opportunity to. If I make one day a week just for writing the stuff I love? How can this possibly be a bad thing?

PS: Don’t use this time to write more Bond fanfiction. WALK AWAY NOW.

FRIDAY

don't be afraid of the Dark . . .

This has become the day when I scrape my Haiku and Micropoetry off Twitter and stick it here, and hopefully this will also give more time to explain the reasoning and process behind my writing. We’ll see how that goes starting this Friday, and work from there.


That’s the schedule that will run from now until the end of October. We’ll have some special events for the UK’s National Poetry Day that happens in late September, and I’m intending to take a month out of the normal schedule completely in November to make NaNoWriMo really count for 2017. More details on those will be available closer to their start dates.

The plan remains to still take weekends off, but that may change depending on projects and desire. For now however, I have a contest deadline to hit with a 40 line poem by Thursday, so time to get back to work. I’ll see you back here bright and early tomorrow morning.

GSME #16 :: Fix You

social-media-asides

As it transpires, I’m still not done with Social media faffing, and as this landscape is becoming increasingly significant in my understanding of the Internet generally, Tuesday will now be the day I return to this subject matter when warranted. For starters, it appears that Twitter’s analytics finally got fixed, and my effort to regenerate all corners of the social media presence is bearing fruit:

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I made an important connection late last week, and with that on top of now using Twitter polls to generate engagement and discussion, I’m getting some really interesting feedback from my existing audience. By inviting new people to think more about WHY they play games, or act as they do on Social media, I hope that some of them may have a interest in the Internet of Words project, based on my ability to demonstrate logical thinking and a decent attitude in my ‘personal’ account. I should probably state for the record it is never my intention to exploit anybody except myself. I don’t invent drama to generate clicks, I’m not here to upset people and create controversy. More often than not, that happens without me needing to do anything at all.

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The plan this last week has been simple: get people talking. Using monetary means to drive interest has not worked, buying follows and retweets doesn’t make people read my stuff. That means the next logical step is to ask people what does make them want to engage, and the Twitter polls are proving incredibly fruitful in that regard. However, that means having a good question to begin with, and being prepared to discuss the results without applying a bias to the outcome. This I can do well, it is one of my strengths, and two years worth of objective reporting on Warcraft suddenly stands me in good stead to do so.

sellyourself

However, I’d be a big fat liar if I didn’t look at my monthly Contest tweets and know this is why I’m continuing to make progress. People love free shit and this remains the best money I spend each month. There’s no point trying to deny that this method does give results, but this then 100% relies on me keeping that audience. It is not like buying followers: every person is a living, breathing, unique entity that requires me to engage them. My biggest issue since after my operation has been to do that. Now I have some traction and ideas to throw into the mix? I can work on increasing my 149 engagements. That’s nothing by the way, a pinprick when stuck net to the average viral tweet. I’m not about to become a Global superstar any time soon, and thank fuck for that.

Where I am right now and how things are going is suiting me just fine.

GSME #14 :: Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)

social-media-asides

It is time to get my writing aspirations back on track, and that meant today some serious thought over why I’m here and what’s happening long term with blogging as a future. This morning, a simple objective was publicly set:

There is a plan for this, that will play out across the week. I make no lie that it will involve incentives. This is a harsh reality in which we live, and I am well aware that to promote any ‘brand’ means getting dirty, providing sweeteners to help highlight what you do. I watched this play out across a weekend of ‘vintage’ bicycle festival: you pay to ride, and countless companies throw free stuff at you in the hope that you’ll like it enough to take the plunge and become a long term consumer. Our rider bags for Eroica were stuffed with alcohol, cosmetics and other gubbins. Free beer was offered during the ride, and when you completed. All of this has a purpose: buy into the lifestyle. That’s what I’m doing here, and if I’m up front about that, there’ll be no confusion.

The problem is, right now, that I’m not really terribly happy how Twitter’s platforms are being altered in order to make the company more relevant. We’ve spoken at length about the issues with analytics (that is still going on) but today my web-based platform of choice altered for good. On the back of last week’s ‘cleaner’ redesign (which owes a lot to the Android version of the UI) a fundamental change came into play that it took a while to work out. However, thanks to one of my most trusted followers, the answer was incredibly simple, once it became apparent some fundamentals have altered in Tweetdeck’s filtering functions.

At 5pm this evening, random tweets started appearing in my timeline from people I did not know. More importantly, these were accounts I did not follow, but in many cases had direct relevance to stuff I’d been discussing in my own timeline. The ultimate indignity was when Teresa May appeared, out of the blue, ON HER OWN ACCOUNT (that I’m positive nobody on my timeline would ever retweet). A sneaky switch to Hootsuite to check it wasn’t just a glitch showed promoted tweets are now appearing in their timelines, where this was not the case before. More significantly, it then became apparent what the issue was: these were cleverly picked posts being presented as ‘retweets.’ The thing is, unless I can see who’s retweeting them, or unless they are quoted, there is no way I can associate them with anyone I know on my feed. Once I worked out these were what Tweetdeck considered as a ‘retweet’, the filtering is a no-brainer.

preferences

One click of a button and the noise effectively vanished. It is now apparent that Twitter’s not mucking about with trying to promote new followers: by presenting ‘retweets’ that match the same content I’m talking about? There’s a better than average chance I’ll follow someone. The key here is, of course, these messages are anything but random. They were carefully targeted, just as that alcohol and other products were at the weekend. The problem with me, sadly, is that I won’t ever play that game if you don’t ask first. Just giving me everything and hoping I’ll click won’t work. In that regard, I will probably need to make sure I start using my own personally curated lists going forward so I can avoid all the noise. Today was a salutatory lesson in what a company will be prepared to do in order to make their product marketable.

Personally, I want nothing to do with it.

GSME #10 :: Back and Forth

social-media-asides

Ten weeks into our journey, and there’s a moment to stop and take stock of the last two and a bit months:

April was, like it or not, my quietest month for a while, which probably has a lot to do with me taking time off at weekends and being less involved with the gaming side of of my feed overall, as I prepare for the new project. I’ve also started quite aggressively blocking and ignoring people who simply join in the hope I’ll follow them back, simply for audience numbers. Despite this, I’ve seen an up-tick in new followers. All told, I’m pretty satisfied with where things stand, even though (as I discussed in the week) the CoPromote attempt to get the new venture some publicity pretty much was a waste of time and effort. However, things aren’t as woeful as they perhaps first appear.

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I effectively took the weekend off, and that’s demonstrated by the end of graph tail off. However the rest of the week was really rather robust: only Tuesday and Wednesday had anything to do with the CoPromote push, Friday was all my own work. In fact, these numbers give me hope that my forward planning could really start to show some results. Plus, having wanted to keep my engagement at 2% or above, today’s rate is already showing I don’t need an excessive number of tweets to do that, just to use the right content when I do.

The next couple of weeks will show a real split for focus: I’ll be setting up analytics for the IoW site once we hit early July, but until then I see no point in worrying over the details. There’s no intention to stop running or creating any of my other content either, but I will be amending posting days and content in the next two weeks. Basically, it will be all change yet with a focus on getting a better quality of response overall. I’ve decided that numbers really don’t matter nearly as much as getting a decent return on interaction and education.

I also still have some CoPromote reach to spend, and there are some new plans for that going forward.

GSME Special :: Baby I Don’t Care

social-media-asides

Normally I’d wait until Monday for an update on the GSME, but I feel that this needs to be written now, whilst the revelation is still fresh in my mind. I woke up to a mass of emails this morning, happily informing me that I’d almost exhausted the 500k’s worth of CoPromote shares I’d stored in three days. The results of that share, when you look at them, are pretty spectacular:

notcaring

50 plus retweets and 482 thousand people. WOW. That is indeed impressive, right up until the moment you translate that to my web stats:

scraped

That post was read 100 times. 31 times on Monday, 37 on Tuesday and 33 on Wednesday. Not a single person signed up for web updates, and (possibly) one person joined my Twitter account. I stopped the boost this morning because, honestly, I think there’s no point.

CoPromote’s entire business revolves around the understanding that if you’re willing to share someone else’s work, there’s a benefit to yourself. The problem, of course, is that many individuals simply won’t care about anything except what they stand to gain from the equation. As long as you can be seen to be doing something that appears to benefit others, it doesn’t matter about whether you take an interest or not. Looking at the people who shared me, and I have a long list, many undoubtedly did so so just in order to add my reach to their totals. How do I know this? Because that’s exactly what I’ve needed to do myself, sharing content that is not appropriate to my feed just to keep the numbers ticking over.

The truth of ‘sharing is caring’ is, in this case, pretty much a lie.

sharingiscaring

There’s a deeper truth here to be considered: I can see on my list people who shared my work with (it appears) nothing in common with me, except the fact I shared their posts previously. One assumes therefore their reasoning goes along the lines of ‘well if they did this for me and I do that back, maybe they’ll do so again.’ This is the moment that my husband would accuse me of being overly cynical and I’d look at that glass of water over there and know it is both half full and empty simultaneously. It would be lovely to give everybody the benefit of the doubt, right up to the point where you’re proved correct in your outlook. Assuming most people will be using this service for free, that means an awful lot of sharing to allow you to do the same. That means a feed full of stuff that could effectively be curated without you ever having to write a word. I can totally see the appeal of that for certain people, and then it stops being about one person hand curating their output and becomes something completely different.

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What you have then is a Twitter account full of other people’s work making your output look both relevant and vibrant, that nobody effectively reads. The problem with CoPromote for me, like it or not, is that it’s not a network that meshes with my interests long term. I could use it to float the occasional general interest piece, maybe with lots of pictures or a lighthearted subject matter but honestly, it is not what I need to sell my extremely niche interest project. Fortunately to discover this only cost $40, so there’s really no harm done. If I’d have gone full out with Twitter I would ironically have a far better chance of reaching the exact audience I want, because I can specify the particular type of user I’m trying to reach, but if I attempted to spend the same amount of money doing so? I’d undoubtedly have gotten about the same return, probably less. Effectively, if I want to sell the IoW, I’m going to have to do so for myself.

When I sit here and think about that conclusion, it isn’t a surprise at all.

GSME #9 :: Talk to Me

social-media-asides

This week, it must be said, has the potential to be a game-changer.

240417_1

My numbers are down overall for the week, which is due to one thing alone: I didn’t do the work. Instead there’s been a phenomenal amount of back end work, which will continue I fancy for the next four weeks, as I organise and put in place all the parts of the disparate puzzle that will become the Internet of Words. I’ve made the decision to have a separate Twitter account for that ‘brand’, away from what is being done here, because the subject matters are so very different: it is only where the two worlds meet here that the overlap will be noticeable. I’m looking at separate tools for that account’s potential growth, but for now we’ll focus on what happens here in the ext seven days. As you can see, I’ve quietly tipped into another multiple of 100 this morning. What I’m more interested in is the 6% increase in mentions, and the fact I’ve got some idea now of what is effectively doable in terms of long-term engagement.

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The plan therefore this week is to stay above 2% engagement and to try and work towards 3%. Next week I plan to make my own graph of how engagement has panned out in the last ten weeks, as that’s a reasonable time frame to show how effort relates to result. The way to keep that number high is to lay off the unscheduled ranting (which I’m getting progressively better at, it must be said) and focus on content people like: pictures, useful articles, insights on my life. I successfully scheduled from WordPress this morning, and have reactivated Hootsuite after an absence.

I’m paying for it, so I may as well use it, and it is proving already quite useful for showing up the holes in my social media ‘strategy.’ That means that this week’s maintenance task, like it or not, is to go redesign a bunch of effectively dilapidated Google+ pages to make sure that niche is covered come Patreon launch. I also have a Post-It note with ‘Pinterest’ on it for my art projects, plus the visual side of the project which is also going to be featured via Instagram and Flickr.

Needless to say, this morning my brain hurts.

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If I can get all this right, I’m hitting large areas of effectively undiscovered audience with a concerted effort. My CoPromote 500k reach is sitting freshly delivered for April too, and that means that tomorrow there’ll be a post here with some mission goals and a Call to Action, which I hope to repeat on the Facebook page. I’ll consider it a success that I get one person to be interested at present, especially when there’s effectively nothing to promote until June 1st. The key, of course, is to build interest in an engaging and attractive manner.

If I can get everything to mesh together effectively, who knows what I might be capable of achieving.

GSME #6 :: Fade To Grey

As is sometimes the case in Experiments, this week hasn’t exactly gone as I’d planned. However, before we begin, let’s look at the old Engagement scoreboard:

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There’s a few things to mention, most notable of which is that in the last seven days I didn’t use CoPromote at all and still the numbers are up. That will change this week, as I’ve almost built up 100k ‘credit’ to use on something worthwhile, but it is as much about writing a decent post to hook people in to reading long-term as it is just churning out rubbish, which seems to be how some people view Twitter to begin with. The plan going forward had been to boost myself using Twitter’s own range of ‘advertising’ tools and last night I cleared a block of space and time to do just this.

options1

The range of options is pretty decent: I can, it appears, pay money to get followers (recommended for accounts with an audience of under 1000, I’m told) plus be charged in any myriad number of ways. This was the first thing that put me off: what I could manage for the cash I have available was woeful at best. Obviously the more you pay, the better your chances of reaching people, though it would be unfair to say that’s the only way this works, because it isn’t. An awful lot of Twitter’s advertising however expects you to not only specifically identify and target an audience, but understand how that works to begin with, and I can see this putting off huge numbers of potential smaller users.

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The fact remains, that if paying a tenner A DAY for what might only be seven clicks is not, it must be said, the optimal use of my cash. In fact, if I’m honest, CoPromote’s reach function did more than that, and I pay $19.99 a MONTH. The only difference is what is promised in terms of Impressions, and I can make that happen myself via persistence and little grey cells. Maybe this is part of the reason why Twitter as a company fails to make money but continues to win in terms of being the most organic and accessible of mediums. Perhaps if they tweaked their selling model for smaller sellers, there might be an upswing in interest.

followers6

It doesn’t take a genius to understand how the basic principles operate, but the work involved for me in identifying a niche audience (which is effectively what I am, like it or not) is not currently worth the return. If I were a Warcraft streamer, however, this could have some genuine merit, or indeed if I was trying to sell my product in a larger market. In that regard, and because I know a number of people have been waiting to see what I think of this, I’d say it may well be worth the effort if you have the cash to back it up. It will also help if your market is well known, and can be easily targetted using specific keywords. I have so many applicable keywords right now for what I do, and as I currently refuse to refine those terms? This is a service I can happily leave well alone.

In fact, you’ll probably get far more out of this completely free guide to optimising your account than is ever going to result from a small business using Twitter ads. As is also the case with Facebook, these companies seem to only be interested in those prepared to spend big in able to make their point, and that effectively prices me completely out of the marketplace. More importantly, I get to help out a friend by granting her post a few extra views, which I’d far rather do than chuck money at a huge company that doesn’t seem that interested in my business to begin with.

Sometimes, your answer means not taking the obvious route.