Saturday, March 25, 2017

Online Safety and Reputation Management- YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Blogs

I was involved in a conversation recently about how much trust you should give your followers,  subscribers and other content creators and if it is a good idea to befriend them in real life.  I decided to re-visit the subject because of the next series on RB50.  These things are extremely important to touch on.  Not just for safety, but for protecting your personal brand from harm.

I will be going more in depth on this subject in the next podcast.  If you don't know about the RB50 podcast channel, you might want to check it out because the content there expands quite a bit on the current subject matter on the YouTube channel and the website.  It goes more into personal experiences and details on the subjects that I talk about.


Years ago I had a blog on Myspace and that blog was riddled with life experiences and thoughts.  The entries could be compared to what a vlogger channel does on YouTube today.  I enjoyed it and it had a nice size following.  The main thing that I took away from that blog was a basic understanding of what NOT to do with people that you don't know on the internet.  Like mentioning where you work and other personal information... unless you want people to start showing up there looking for you to say hello and bringing you bags of your favorite candy.  While it may sound cute and harmless, not everyone's intentions were good.

That was over 10 years ago and I have taken that experience and applied it to everything that I have done online for the past 12 years.  In other words, this ain't my first rodeo Fred.  In fact, my original YouTube channel was created on December 27, 2006 so I think it's safe for me to say that I've been on YouTube for a few minutes and have a bit of an understanding on how it works.


When you talk to someone online, you have absolutely no idea WHO you are really talking to.  Many people use fake identities, fake names, and post fake lives.  You meet who they want you to think they are, what they are choosing to show you.

I've said for years that online followers are not your friends.  There's a difference between a friend and an acquaintance.  Followers/subscribers... people that watch you online can become acquaintances but in my book, friendship is reserved for people that I actually know and completely trust in my private life and the reasons are because of personal safety and online reputation management.  You are who you associate with, even if you really aren't.  People perceive you to be exactly like the people you are associated with.  My mother used to tell me to be careful who I ran with and at the time it didn't make any sense to me but as an adult, I can see exactly what she was talking about.

Online reputation management is critical if you are making your living on the internet.  It can literally make you or break you.  That reputation can be easily tarnished by associating with the wrong people and a bad reputation is extremely hard to shake.  Especially if it belongs to someone else and you are guilty simply by association.  It's not being a prude.  It's not being closed minded.  It's protecting years of hard work, money invested into projects and future plans for branding.  It's running your brand into the direction that will gain the most profit instead of gaining a bad reputation that will promote to people that have no interest in buying what you are actually "selling" them. 

Unfortunately the world we live in today isn't filled to the brim with nice people and anyone that has any experience to speak of on the internet already knows these things.  Sometimes we just need a reminder.

You are who you run with even if you really aren't.

Now we'll move on to online safety because it is critical too.  How much information is too much and what's the best way to use social media safely to help build that brand?

Would you give a stranger your home phone number?  Would you give a stranger your home address?  Access to your family members?  The keys to your front door?  The answer to those questions should be no and if it isn't, I hope you never run into any problems but the law of averages says that eventually you will.  

Recently I deleted my personal Facebook page.  I have to have some sort of personal page in order to keep the Facebook pages for my websites and YouTube channels so I'm now using a page that has absolutely no TRUE personal information on it at all, including my name. 


Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are cesspools for private information leaks.  Even though we look at them as harmless social media sites, it's important to remember that they are all three in the business of making money through target advertising.  The more personal information that they can get from their users, the better because they can hit you with advertising that you will like, spend your money on and in return make more money for them.  They are not in the business of keeping you safe.

Part of your responsibility as a content creator whether it be on YouTube or your own website is to protect yourself.  Facebook has pages available that contain NO personal information that you can utilize for your presence on the site for your website, blog or YouTube channel.  Allowing followers, subscribers or people you don't know onto your Facebook page that contains your personal information is a recipe for disaster.  Google is riddled with instances of the bad side of allowing strangers onto your personal social media accounts.

Safety and security is up to the user.  If you answered no to the questions that I asked earlier then it's time for you to look at the information that you are providing to people that you really don't know.  I feel this is especially important for content creators.  As your following grows, not everyone will have the best intentions.  Not everyone online is your friend.  Not everyone online is worthy of your friendship.  Not everyone tells the truth and people will unfortunately try to take advantage of you.

As we move forward with making money online, I thought this was a necessary subject to hit.  It would really suck to spend hours learning how to do this and then allow a few small mistakes to tear it all down.

Questions? Comments? Criticisms?  That's what the comment section below is for... use it.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

The Curious Case of Where the F*CK is My Order? My Review of AliExpress.com

Everyone knows the way to make money when you sell stuff is to buy as low as possible and sell for a profit.  Even little kids are aware of this concept.

The $100 Ebay challenge started on January 1st.  I'm spending $100 dollars on product (which I still have over half of the $100 left to spend) and will be recycling the profit made off of the products that are sold over the next 12 months to see what the final profit is at the end of the year.  It's an experiment of sorts.  How much profit will be made?  That remains to be seen.

Believe it or not, I found AliExpress on the Amazon boards.  I don't post on message boards but I do read them on a regular basis because they can be a plethora of really good information.  When the review TOS changed on Amazon, it created a huge buzz in the reviewer community and someone had mentioned the website as an alternative to getting the items through the review sites because the majority of it is the same exact stuff, and they were right.

AliExpress is an interesting site.  I purchase items on there for pennies and can resell them for a very large markup percentage.  Just like all sites where you are buying things directly from the country of manufacturer, you have to watch the quality very closely.  Some of the stuff is literal garbage.  The review sites were littered with this kind of stuff.

Anyway, I only told a few people about this site because I hadn't really tried it out to evaluate it and in all reality, I'm glad I didn't.  Chances of me using the site again are pretty slim and lean closer to not at all.

It costs ZERO to import something in the US.  No tax.  None, nothing.  Whenever I order something from Asia and it arrives, I have to look at the label to see if it is something that I purchased in the US or from outside the country.  What I pay the seller is what I pay.  Granted I do take advantage of this because it's there and set up that way but I think it should be different because it is a large NAFTA shaft that the US took in the deal.  I'll explain all of that but not now.  We'll get into that in a future  write up here.

I've almost completed two purchases on the site so far.  Almost.  The first purchase was for loom knitting hooks believe it or not.  I paid 50 cents each for them and have been selling them on Ebay for $3.99 each.  Not a large amount of profit but I'm more than doubling my investment with each one that sells.

Spudward sporting his bow tie.
Copyright 2016 by RB50, not for reuse without
permission.

This order was for dog bow ties.  People LOVE buying crap for their pets and the bow ties are cute.  I plan on selling them on one of my websites.  I paid 10 CENTS each for them and will sell them for $4.99 each on one of my websites.  Now that's a profit margin.  Problem is that I ordered them on November 26th, 2016 and they haven't arrived yet.  UGH.

I opened the dispute with the website because the seller's estimated delivery time was 20 to 38 days which is a reasonable time frame for items coming from China.  At the time, the tracking said the item was STILL in China.  I knew the shipping was going to be slow when the seller took 11 days after I purchased to even ship it.  I messaged the seller TWICE and the only response I received was the mysterious tracking updates that showed up.  That's it.  This transaction had all the signs of being a headache from the beginning.

Now all of a sudden, new tracking scans have emerged and the package will be delivered either today or Monday because it has arrived at my post office.  Huh.  I just hope the product is good because the cost of returning something to China from the US is horrendous, another consequence of NAFTA.  I just keep it or throw it away.  It's cheaper that way.

Hopefully they will arrive safe and sound and are the quality that I'm expecting so I can get them posted on the site this weekend.  At this point, I'm not holding my breath though.  IF I ever purchase another thing on that site, it definitely will not be from the same seller.  Part of my brain is telling me that just because one seller sucks that I shouldn't skip out on the rest of the opportunities on the site but the other part is so pissed that it makes me want to kick small furry animals.

All of a sudden the scans appeared after I filed the dispute.

I'll update if and when they arrive.  Maybe they will be so cute that I'll forget all about how pissed I am about this at the moment but it still won't prevent me from leaving feedback for the seller on the site on how much BS was with this order.

Customer service and seller follow through seem to have went by the wayside.  Now I know why I have so many regular customers at the markets, on Ebay and CraigsList.  Customer service is worth its weight in gold.

I hope you have a fantastic weekend!

**UPDATE 1/24/17-  The order FINALLY arrived and the quality was decent.  At this point I'm really not sure if I'll place another order with the site.