Carole Bryant,

Attitudinal life coach Carole Bryant emailed me to ask for my help with setting up Google Authorship on her website, - and I was more than happy to take a look at what she needed to do to complete the process, so that hopefully her articles will soon appear with her Google+ profile information alongside them in Google's search results.

She was so pleased with my help that we're now discussing ways we can work together on more formal terms, and I hope to be able to help Carole with the general SEO and search visibility of her website in the near future.

Carole says...
"Bob, I appreciate so much your responding with information I can use to fix my Google Authorship problems. This was so generous of you to help me. You even apologized for taking a couple of days to respond :) I can tell you are a generous and very kind guy.

"I like the name of your blog, Phronesis Freelance, and the meaning behind it. This speaks volumes in our world. It is a principle I enthusiastically endorse, as well.

"After reading some of your articles, and exploring your services, I would like to learn more about your SEO help. I would like to work with you because of your knowledge and because of who you are as a person. I signed up to follow you on Twitter, and recommended you to a friend who can use your services. You are a walking testimonial of giving and receiving.

"Thank you. I am thoroughly impressed with your integrity!"
To learn more about Carole, visit her website at

What should I focus my marketing on?

There's a common question among webmasters, and it goes like this:
"What should I focus my marketing on?
In turn, this question usually takes one of two general forms:
  • You have no idea what to focus on
  • You have two options, and don't know which to choose
Either way, the answer is likely to be the same.

Finding Free Stock Photos on Bing

One of my most popular posts of recent months concerned finding free stock photos for commercial blog posts, and outlined several potential sources of free images that you can use for commercial purposes online or in print.

Now there's a new addition to the list, as Bing have added a License filter to their Image Search toolbar.

You're Doing It Wrong

or, How to Lose Followers and (Negatively) Influence People

Despite the occasional headline-grabbing brand implosion, social media is a fairly forgiving medium - it's real-time, so you have to be able to keep up with it, but that also means that any disasters are usually short-lived too.

However, when you look to the long term, there are certain things you're probably hoping to achieve - an increase in 'likes' and Twitter follower count, an improvement in brand awareness and perception, and ultimately an increase in sales.

With that in mind, here are a few examples of 'poor practice' (although there are few hard and fast rules) that I personally think you'd be wise to avoid.

The Empty Tweet

OK, 140 characters isn't much, but it should still be enough to summarise your message, and let your followers decide for themselves whether they want to visit your website/blog/Instagram feed.

Resist the temptation to write a tweet that is intended to tantalise, without delivering - if it ends with a '...' and omits the actual valuable bit of information, you're doing it wrong.

For example, if your new product is in the shape of, say, a cat, it's fine to tweet and say "We're loving our new cat-shaped spatulas" or whatever, and then link to either a TwitPic or blog post or product page, or whatever seems appropriate.

Tweeting "Guess what shape our new spatulas are...?" and then expecting every single one of your followers to click on the link to load the picture, blog post or product page in order to find out is frankly just annoying.

Marketers will say "it's good because it makes more people click". And? Do you define the success of your business by how many people look at your products, or how many buy them? Because if you tell people what your product actually is, far more of those who click through to your page are likely to be specifically interested in buying it.


Like-gating is horrific for so many reasons. It's the Facebook equivalent of local newspaper sites that prompt you to fill in a survey Every Single Time. Or sites that grey out their entire content every time you visit, in an attempt to force you to download their app. Or websites that redirect your mobile browser to a crippled, content-free version even though their desktop site would have worked just fine on your device.

Even though you're a 'brand' in cyberspace, you're still a person in real life. Ask yourself what the hell you're doing, and why, and if you hate it as a person, don't do it as a brand.

The worst examples of like-gating are "for every 'like', we'll give £1 to charity" and "if this gets enough 'likes', we'll whatever". If you're going to donate to charity, just do it - don't try and emotionally blackmail people into promoting your brand.

Even if you use like-gating as a marketing tool, what is it achieving? You're basically spamming a part of people's profiles that no longer has any concrete meaning, and what you get from it is a 'fan' cohort filled with low to no-value individuals who probably have zero real-terms engagement with your brand.

Stick to getting likes from people who actually do like you, and you've got a much more valuable data set to use for future, legitimate marketing activities.


This one isn't 100% bad, but poorly thought out cross-posting can be a disaster waiting to happen.

In particular, if your entire Twitter profile consists of the first 140 characters of each Facebook update you post, then you don't really have a Twitter profile.

Clicking a link on Twitter, only to find yourself referred via Facebook to an article on a third-party website, is frankly annoying, slows down the loading speed of the article, and will grate with anyone who is devoted to Twitter to the exclusion of all other social networks.

Likewise, if you're cross-posting from Google+, any mention of an individual that appears with a '+' symbol in front of it - required to link to their profile on Google+ - will just look like a typo on Twitter, where the + notation is not used.

Until recently, cross-posting Twitter posts with hashtags on to Facebook was similarly problematic, but now Facebook have added hashtag support too, it's less of an issue.

Do It Right

The point of all of this is, know why you're doing what you're doing. Don't cross-post and like-gate and stuff just because everybody else is doing it; it might simply not work for you.

Instead, be willing to take a gamble, to put extra effort in; to craft separate status updates for each of your social network profiles, so that you take full advantage of the capabilities of each platform.

Avoid 'empty' updates, and your messages will add value to your total social brand proposition; and as this value grows, so should your return on investment.

Leaving Adfero: Two Years On

During my career at the online news agency Adfero, there were two dates in each Adferonaut's career that really stood out - the date we joined the company, and the date we left.

The former was nicknamed your 'Adferversary', although that word never made it into the company's Style Guide, so spellings often varied.

We didn't really have a word for the latter, as far as I can remember, so let's use 'Exferversary' as shorthand in this post.

Anyway, the point is, my last day of working for Adfero - now rebranded as Axonn Media - was June 30th 2011, and as I think it's more worthwhile celebrating your first day of freedom than your last day of work, that makes July 1st my Exferversary.

Last time around, there wasn't necessarily much to celebrate; freelancing was going fine, but the long-term plan was still coming together.

The year since then has been like a Christopher Nolan reboot of my life; the kind that makes you wonder why nobody did it sooner, why the main character had so many rough edges for so long, why the writers thought anyone would believe a person would live like that.

Don't get me wrong - I was happy in my personal life before, and I left Adfero on (I think) fairly amicable terms, despite The Guardian's interference in the months since.

It's just that now, with a group of really great clients and a decent amount of control over my own day-to-day workload, I feel as though I'm finally also in control of my own destiny.

The ambitions are no longer about petty promotions that will bring nothing but more stress; I've had chance to iron out the more stressful creases in my collection of clients, and I'm now only writing for people I really like (thanks, guys).

Now my ambitions are both mundane, and major milestones in anybody's life: the greatest is, as soon as it's feasible, to buy a house.

This would have been unimaginable two years ago, but now, with the power to work as many hours as I choose, and so boost my earnings when I need to, it's becoming more of a financial possibility, and it's really just a case of having enough of a track record on paper to convince a lender that I'm low-risk.

Looking ahead, I can't help but wonder what my client list will look like in another year's time. I hope it's largely unchanged.

To my private clients: thank you for letting me be the voice of your brand - often with fairly free rein over the tone of voice and subject matter that I write for you.

To my agency clients: thank you for tirelessly acting as the go-between when I need information from the client, and again, for trusting me to produce content that you are happy to sell on with your company's name at the top.

My second Exferversary leaves me well and truly out of any contractual obligations to Adfero/Axonn Media, so I can finally begin to compete openly with them for work.

I'll put together a separate post on that, but needless to say, if you're interested in an alternative to Adfero/Axonn Media and would like to explore hiring a freelancer, rather than committing to a long-term fixed contract with a large agency, which might not offer you so much flexibility, drop me a line.

Even if I can't give you exactly what you need, I'm always happy to take enquiries and offer what help I can, so that you in turn can make the decision that's best for you, based on better knowledge of all of the options that are available.

The past two years have proved that there's room enough in the local market for both Adfero and lil ol' me, so I look forward to plenty more years of working within the north-west SEO and copywriting industry, and wish Axonn Media (as they are now known) the best of luck for their years to come too.

And Adferonauts past, present and future, wherever in the world you may be - I salute you, comrades.