All businesses should have an up-to-date website
We usually recommend WordPress for business use, and this post will explain why.
Can you think of a single reason why a small business wouldn’t have a website? You can build a basic website in a day or two, and host it for free, which takes the ‘money and time’ excuse out of the equation.
There will be people who prefer to research purchases online who won’t know you exist if you don’t have a website. Others might see you as suspicious or non-established if they can’t find you on the web.
Then we need to consider the standard sales/marketing funnel process that involves multiple touchpoints. Investigating a website is usually one of these steps. FAQs and customer testimonials can be seen and understood in advance, so when your customer contacts you directly or shows up in person, they’ll be closer to a purchasing decision.
Look no further than a WordPress website for business (probably)
We advise all small business owners to use WordPress (.org, not .com) for their websites. It’s a solution that can be extremely easy to set up and configure. A WordPress website can also grow in size depending on technical specifications and business complexity.
WordPress powers 42.9% of the internet. The software is open-source, and server companies offer one-click installs. There is a free plugin for every imaginable feature that can be uploaded and activated. You can import designs and themes pre-filled with demo content ready to be edited to suit your business.
In addition, the number of help pages, videos, and documents online are vast due to the sheer number of users. Even if a business owner runs into challenges, there are so many people that can help. If you can use PowerPoint, Word or Excel, you can use WordPress.
Switching from a hard-coded website
When clients come to us, they have been using website developers who code everything from scratch most of the time. Sometimes we find people that do it themselves using platforms such as Wix or Squarespace which are quick and easy to use.
The main problem with hard-coded sites is that it costs more time and money for every new feature. Even a straightforward redesign can be a considerable undertaking. On the other extreme, the issue with many of the ‘website in 5 minutes’ type platforms is that they have limited options for customisation and features.
WordPress is the best of both worlds. A free plugin can add new features that could cost thousands in development. The weeks of development and the new bugs are also avoided.
On top of that, WordPress is so popular and well supported that you can probably find more customisation options than with a developer. Any developer you might contact will have strengths and weaknesses. Since there are plugins for everything, there are few weaknesses as the best programmers write the code worldwide.
When is WordPress for business NOT the best solution?
A hard-coded website might be best if your website is unchanged over months and years. WordPress websites need frequent software updates. Someone needs to log in as an administrator and update the WordPress core, themes, and plugins every month or so. These are usually one-click updates, but this still needs to be done, and then occasionally, there might be new settings or configurations required or there could be a plugin conflict or other bug.
WordPress for businesses that need highly custom or unique features can be a blocker. WordPress might not be the best option when you have complex features over and above the standard brochure-type pages, blog posts, etc. Some plugins can add complex features such as job boards, forums or multi-faceted search features.
Still, if you require something unusual, there might not be a plugin to match your requirements. If there is, you still need to consider that regular software updates might cause an issue with the working of your specialised and vital features.
Hard-coded websites still need to be updated to recent software versions. Still, these updates are likely to be required less frequently, perhaps yearly. They will still probably function well enough if left alone for multiple years (although that is not advised).
*These points are general and will be clearer when we look at your specific business requirement. We can ask the most important questions when deciding whether to get the website custom developed or use a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress.
- Are you going to want to make frequent changes and post blogs and other fresh content?
- Will you have complex features that we might customise for your business?
- Do you only need a brochure-type website that’s rarely edited or changed?
These are the types of questions to ask yourself before a new website is scoped.
We usually advise clients to use WordPress to save a significant amount of money but still get a better result. There are exceptions based on what the website needs to do, but a user-friendly CMS is optimal for most companies.
Getting started with your WordPress business website
Our company website runs on WordPress, and we recommend it to all of our digital marketing agency clients.
We’ve learnt that the quality of themes and plugins vary tremendously. Two plugins that solve the same problem might be miles apart regarding clean software code, support and updates, usability, and the learning curve in setting them up. More importantly, some carelessly chosen themes and plugins can later cause terrible problems with your website.
You might find that you’ll lose data and accumulate bugs without even realising. Unfortunately, most backup systems overwrite previous copies every 14-30 days, so you can lose data forever without a deliberate secondary-spaced backup plan.
What are some things we wished we had known when we started?
There are countless WordPress developers in the world. We made one mistake searching for themes, plugins, and custom programmers at face value. For example, one might choose a theme that is most appealing visually. You might choose a plugin with extra features over a simpler version. Choosing between custom developers can be tricky.
Extra due diligence is complex when you know little to nothing about writing code. Choosing solutions without proper research will result in bugs, crashes, lost data, and the ‘white screen of death’ more often than you’d like (never). You can lose whole days or weeks fixing software issues that you could have avoided.
Most people creating a website are making blogs, hobby sites and side gigs. A WordPress website for business requires a much higher level of diligence as sales, enquiries (and complaints) will come through it.
It’s better to spend more time researching and then sticking to a minimum number of quality suppliers. For example, many top WordPress developers build every new website on the market-leading Elementor framework and themes.
It’s unusual for us to veer away from our trusted software providers. We will only do it if a client insists on a template design or features that a different theme provider does better. Due to picking as few reliable theme and plugin suppliers as possible, bugs and crashes are almost non-existent. The same applies to custom developers. Try to pick a reliable choice and stick to it.
The skill of researching and choosing quality is most important. There’s no benefit in having the best in-house plugin developer when we can choose from all of the best software in the WordPress ecosystem.
Being able to differentiate between quality efficiently is essential. There are lots of ways of doing this. For example, we can install SEO analysis browser extensions to take a glance at a developer’s website and see the authority of their domain (the number and quality of backlinks pointing to it).
As an agency that sells these services, we have an in-house person who takes care of websites for our company. The reason is that this person has plenty of previous experience in running WordPress websites. As a bootstrapped company, it made sense to use an existing skillset. WordPress is so easy to use, it takes little maintenance monthly. We use outside developers for any significant customisation or unique coding.
Whether to outsource fresh content, web design and maintenance should be about the cost for most business owners.
Not the price – the cost!
What’s the time worth of the person who would do it? What’s the opportunity cost? For example, if the business owner does it, is that the best use of their time? Or should they be raising money or pitching new business? If they enjoy writing and posting to a blog, perhaps this is an exciting hobby that gives a break from the everyday demands.
Unless the internal person is competent and enjoys it, you should outsource it in most cases. A WordPress website for business use takes careful planning and consideration, contact us for a free initial consultation, and actionable advice.
God Like Marketing
For those who believe, God is everywhere, and this applies to brand believers too. Once we’re sold on something, we keep seeing it, hearing about it and sharing the news with others. Most brand leaders have mastered God-like marketing.
Modern marketing strategies get enhanced by the fact that we live in an age of fast testing, instant feedback, and opportunities to scale quickly. In comparison to previous generations, there’s so much opportunity.
Is the practice of ‘being everywhere’. Fortunately, we don’t mean this literally (unless you’re a multinational like Mcdonald’s or Coca-Cola, that would be too much to handle). Unlike a god who is everywhere, we only need to be present wherever topics such as industrial workplace efficiency and health and safety best practices get discussed. At conferences, in board rooms, in the hearts and minds of managers and supervisors – Most importantly, all over the internet, in relevant places.
By being omnipresent, we find ourselves in the middle of conversations. We’re observers, collaborators and confidants. The market tells us what is optimised or lacking, what people want and what they need. In addition to being in touch with our clients, we find out about everyone else. We do this through networking, social media, trade shows, forums and by keeping up with significant events.
Being everywhere and seeing everything leads to the goal of omnipotence. We’re so in tune with our industry that we know what our clients require better than they do. We see the future and guide our clients towards it with a steady hand. Being at the centre of gravity within our sector, it almost feels like it revolves around us, yet we always stay as humble servants.
Here are a few past, present, and future marketing channels to start the brainstorming. All have been wildly successful in the right situation. None can be dismissed until tested. It’s not realistic to do them all at once, but we can steadily work through them over the coming years, keeping our marketing fresh.
Newspapers, Magazines, Leaflets, Trade Shows, Radio, Free Surveys, Sponsorship, Government or Educational Partnerships, NGOs, Industry Bodies, Prize Draws, Events, Exhibitions and Roadshows, Public relations.
Knocking on Doors, Telemarketing, Cold Email, Social Media Advertising, Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimisation, SMS, Content Marketing, Forums, Pay per click adverts, Affiliate Agreements, Referral Programmes, Certification Schemes, Corporate Mentorships, System Stress Tests, Influencer Marketing.
Chatbots, Voice Search Optimisation, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Remote Software, Asynchronous Communication, Internet Of Things.
Plus the latest versions of the past and present!
God-Like Marketing Requires A Systemic Approach
With so many channels, which do we choose? We retain what has created an ROI in the past as our foundation. Then we systematically test each channel. We decide how much time or money we want to invest in each channel and how long we anticipate results should take. Some channels produce immediate results; others can take up to a year, occasionally longer.
When we test each new channel, we do it with an open mind. If we or others have failed before, perhaps the timing was wrong; maybe it was something we did. We don’t write anything off until we’ve tested again. Each time a channel shows a clear ROI, it moves across to our group of foundation channels. The foundational channels are self-funding through measurable results.
By testing and scaling, we reinforce our core God-like marketing strategy. As long as we conduct every campaign ethically, each one strengthens our brand. Each marketing channel helps to compound the reach of our message.
By testing every channel, including new ones, we nurture our omnipresence, omniscience and eventually, omnipotence. You become known as the leader in your field, not just in your local vicinity but potentially around the country, region or world.
The Challenge of Effective Digital Marketing
Digital Marketing is a broad term, containing dozens of sub-categories. The vast majority of people who have tried to create a profitable website or a successful online advertising campaign will tell you about the steep learning curve.
Those who achieve success quickly and efficiently are incredibly rare. Stories of overnight successes relate more to media attention than to how easy it was to succeed.
The history of almost every high-level internet marketer gets littered with failure, broken dreams and tough lessons. This struggle isn’t surprising since most careers worth having involve years of hard work to become qualified. After that, it takes a while to become experienced enough to create real value in the world.
Digital marketing is easy to get started with, but hard to make profitable. The idea that we can bid on advertising space for the hottest keywords in our niche appeals. Setting up a landing page that provides a constant stream of leads or sales, with no further work, is marketing nirvana.
The problem is that, because the rewards of online marketing are so high, masses of competition fill profitable spaces. Competitors bid up advertising click prices and make page one of the search engines more elusive.
Your online marketing campaign is likely to follow the same path of failure that every internet marketer follows for the first few years of trying. There are two problems here, you probably don’t want to learn these hard lessons, and you’ve got your primary job to do. Digital marketing isn’t like blogging for fun; it takes hard work and dedication. While focusing on your main job, you’ll likely find that there’s no time to learn a secondary career.
This specialist skill problem is where a digital marketing agency like OOTBI comes in. We already know what’s likely to work for you based on our own experience. We hang out in communities where case studies are shared, and advice gets given among hundreds of successful online marketers. It’s the space we’re in, and the one we know intimately.
Inbound marketing such as the creation of great content, or stimulating social media pages might give you your best ROI. This opportunity depends on the type of product or service you provide. The strategy will depend on the level of competition in your industry or sub-niche.
Outbound marketing such as pay per click advertising, or an email marketing campaign might be the best thing that ever happened to your company. With outbound digital marketing, we have the luxury of testing small sample sizes, cost-effectively. Then, we scale up once we have a proven formula.
It could be that your competition is too fierce, and the company marketing budget too low. Digital marketing might be a real challenge for you at the current stage of your company.
So, rather than spinning your wheels as a novice online marketer, or spending days or weeks learning a single software tool, or marketing technique, get in touch with us. We know the terrain and have the experience. It could be that we see a fantastic opportunity for your business right away and get effective results for you from the start. It’s also possible that your plans are unrealistic based on competition or market conditions.
We offer very affordable competitive audits and niche opportunity discovery techniques. Getting in touch, in the beginning, won’t cost you anything, of course. We know that testing marketing techniques that are suitable for your business can be done quickly by us. It’s when we find a winning formula that we can scale things up with you. After all, if there’s a positive ROI, you’ll be happy to increase the project budget.
Creating Career Security
Same person, different hats
You’ve probably noticed an employment impact in the upstream oil and gas industry. The line between employees, consultants, self-employed business contractors and business owners can be blurred.
This trend is likely to continue and even accelerate due to several macro factors:
- Tenure rates and contracts are getting shorter, giving more employment breaks. At these times, a status jump can get made more quickly.
- People with plenty of experience and money in the bank find themselves unemployed and with little to lose. (In a good position for starting something new).
- The internet has empowered people to be easily able to create a new business or work remotely.
- The future of the oil and gas industry is uncertain, as is the case in most industries due to technology.
- It’s more culturally acceptable to start a business and fail a few times. Likewise, shifting from self-employed back to employed holds no shame.
There are other factors in play, ones that we’re all aware. For example, we no longer need to choose. A side-gig or multiple concurrent ventures can get launched, even while working full time. (If you can stomach that amount of stress!)
The point is that there is no set career path to follow anymore. The leaders of the future will be the ones who can pivot and solve problems in a creative way. It’s the creatives and visionaries that will blaze the way. When we think about it, hasn’t that always been the case?
Once you know the next steps in your career path, idea/market validation is crucial. You don’t want to be working on your new invention in the garden shed for ten years, only to unveil it and find that no-one is interested.
So, the leaders of tomorrow will efficiently validate and market themselves, their products and ideas. You need efficient ways of getting the word out, to the people that you want to hear it.
Which brings me to the point of the post
I’m a believer in creating not just an online presence, but an online omnipresence. Demonstrate to the world that you’re committed, willing and able to think about concepts and solutions continuously.
During your lifetime, you can get employed by ten companies, and start ten of your own. You can collaborate and be a lone wolf at different times.
While the economic activity that you undertake changes, there is something that doesn’t change: your character and your ability to create solutions.
These fundamental building blocks of a career can get chronicled, documented and stored online. Not on your hard drive, where they won’t help you, but online. For all of your peers, mentors, students, employers and business partners to see.
You can publish your body of work, including your career and life achievements.
Eventually, you might appear in all major news and media outlets, and every industry association website. In the beginning, though, in our path to online omnipresence and career security: we set up profiles and become known in as many places as possible.
Did you notice that I just wrote career security?
Job security is dead.
Long live career security!
Being a serial problem solver, who is willing to learn new concepts and put in the hard work, will likely mean career security. If you’re a fantastic chef, you could move from French to Japanese, to Chinese cuisine. If you use the same skills that you already know, applied to a new set of rules and tactics, you can succeed again and again.
A weak French Chef is unlikely to make a move to another kitchen art.
If you’re a serial achiever, chronicle it online. Create a track record that will allow you to stand out from all other candidates for future job applications. Set up a series of online breadcrumbs that will increase the chances of finding your next business partner, supplier or customer.
Are you planning to create career security? Perhaps you already have a sideline or small business? Maybe you’re set up as a consultant?
Apart from the prominent places that you need to be (Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.), search for places where you can set up a professional or business profile. Gradually, you can capture more online real estate for yourself and your companies of the future.
Goodbye Oilpro: The Best Oil and Gas Online Community
The news about Oilpro closing
So, the website that I visited five days a week, and read at least 20 pages each time was going to close. I’ve quite a few years of experience working online, but only joined the oil and gas business at the start of 2015, a few months into the worst crash in decades. Oilpro.com was my source of information and education. Over the past two years, I practically spent my apprenticeship or the equivalent of an MBA perusing those pages.
I spent a lot of time contributing, asking questions and cracking a few jokes. I felt, and still feel a connection to at least a few hundred people, mostly strangers in ‘real-life’. I never worked for, got paid a penny from, or even met a member of the Oilpro staff.
I got drawn to the community because of the level of engagement and openness. Also, the fact that the articles there were so authentic. Of course, there was some fake news, uninformed opinions, and occasional nastiness, just like in any group of people. There’ll always be an element of nonsense in large groups. At Oilpro, 650,000+ people had signed up.
When I got this email I was shocked:
A meritocracy of ideas
While most regular readers and contributors were aware of some legal issues in the background, we still showed up because of the community. I, for one, never expected the whole website to close down.
The thing that I liked most about this oil and gas social media community website is the fact that anyone could post without permission. There were no gatekeepers. Unlike generic social media channels, where the posts got lost in the ‘feed’, or the ‘stream’, each day there were a set number of alerts that would go out in an email. This system meant that each day, thousands of peers would review the post.
If you weren’t sure of the accuracy of the ideas during the post, you probably were by the end of the comments section. The forum had its faults but will be missed by me.
The blog post that helped get me the Community Moderator position
Before the Oilpro.com website closed down, I had a chance to go and cut and paste some of my old posts. I intend to re-publish them online over time. The following section is the blog post that triggered an offer of a moderator position at Oilpro, posted here for posterity, and in fond remembrance of my year as an Oilpro moderator.
Journalists Vs Experts
This draft was written a few months ago after reading some comments where a clear expert got criticized for mistakes in their grammar, spelling or punctuation. I felt strongly that experts with average English skills but insightful knowledge and critical thought skills were more worth reading than someone with only honed writing skills.
Then recently, the topic came up again in one of Arthur Berman’s updates titled ‘The Brain-Dead State Of Oil-Market Commentary’.
I was still reluctant to publish this article because while I have a strong opinion on the subject, I’m not an expert or a journalist. People might think – What the hell do I know?
Then the topic came up again in the comments of this post that I read yesterday:
In the comments, some of my favourite writers here at Oilpro commented that their posts were not getting any views. While censorship was suspected, I think that David Kent was sincere in that the email newsletter syndication had gotten overlooked by new staff.
While Jeff was a good writer, and Joseph was probably irreplaceable, I expect that Jess and Jonathan will do just fine as they settle in more.
So, yesterdays comment feed pushed me to get this article published.
(If it was correct about the censorship, then feel free to take this down and never speak of it again. Just don’t boot me out please!)
Journalists Vs experts, and the internet…
It has been a long time since the physical newspaper industry started to struggle. Why? The internet of course, why page through a newspaper looking for a nugget of interesting information when you can do a quick internet search for the latest developments about the things that interest you?
For a while, online newspapers dominated, the only challenge that they had was the ability to monetize the page views. Information seems to want to be free on the internet. It might be THE most common online business tactic, for people to give information and advice for free, to build goodwill. This benevolence, in turn, makes reputations and core businesses.
Then came expert blogs and social media…
If you’re a traditional newspaper type journalist, you’re likely required to write a lot, every day.
If you are required to write 10,000-15,000 words per day on multiple topics, how can you keep on top of each industry that you’re covering? You can’t.
How can you keep the quality high? So that every post is your best work? You can’t.
(In my humble opinion of course!)
If you’re a journalist, then you’ll be very good at spelling, grammar, and punctuation. Practice makes perfect. I also imagine that being in a competitive business with robust editors might also help you raise the bar.
Journalists create a volume of good quality (mostly) technically correct articles.
I would prefer to hear from an expert…
Experts get interviewed and quoted by journalists. If I’m interested in a topic, I prefer to go to the person with knowledge. The information will be targeted and in context.
Suffice to say the expert articles are less likely to be as polished as the journalists. They might be a bit wordy or complicated. There might be a few typo’s, repeated words or other errors.
I prefer the raw feedback over the polished, edited version from people who are not experts on the subject matter.
The problem with Blogs and social media…
… Is that anyone can appear to be an expert, a fancy looking website might fool us into thinking that one source is better than another.
Have you seen ‘quotes’ from historical figures about modern technology online? Any published outbursts that are entirely false will tell you that you can’t always believe what you see on the internet!
Of course, you can’t. We shouldn’t believe anything that anyone tells us without reserving the right to use our brains to decide the accuracy of it.
The evolution of news
So, getting to my point. We now have the opportunity to post articles freely without the bar to entry that we had before the internet. The whole world can see them.
Even better than that, any expert can post in a place where a panel of peer experts can review the material. These experts can freely post their comments and engage in a debate which is often more valuable than the article itself. (Especially here on Oilpro.com).
We have an open debate among experts, combined with the ability to up-vote, encourage and thank those who are helping us with their experience. We can get to the crux of the matter in a previously impossible way.
We can always improve our writing and communication skills, but this is not necessary as long as we can get our point across. Online expert communities are the future of news dissemination.
Factually incorrect and even stupid comments should get welcomed so that we can hone our skills of critical thought. We can also help those who become mistaken on a matter.
Thanks to everyone here at Oilpro, this article was for you.
Don M · Aug 24
Thanks for the article, Jason. Although I have my share of typos and outright errors, I am willing to edit the articles of others if they might be afraid to publish due to grammatical errors. If anyone wants me to edit, just publish the article and send me an oilpro message with the link. As a moderator, I can make changes without special permissions from the author.
The expertise on oilpro has probably taught me more about our industry in 1.5 years than I learned in the 25+ years before that time. I would hate to lose more information because someone is hesitant to post due to an unimportant consideration.
Jason Lavis · Aug 25
That’s great Don. This is the reason why I wrote the article, to encourage people who have something valid and potentially valuable to say – to say it. To not be put off by fear of ridicule or the grammar police. I also wanted to send another signal to ‘the management’ that this is what has made Oilpro great and has caused people to quit other oil related forums and websites in droves. By not adding contributor articles to the daily newsletters the good ship Oilpro had started to veer off course.
James D · Aug 25
This one was just too good to pass up …
“a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.”
To adjust one of the highlighted lines in the article, the problem with ‘experts’ and publishing is at least two-fold:
a). ‘Experts’ view publication as an endorsement or validation of “expertise”, and;
b). It isn’t.
Here’s what I’ve learned about most ‘experts’ … they’re (almost always) has-been drips. And it doesn’t matter how many ‘peer reviews’ that ‘expert’ has pinned to his or her wall.
Jason Lavis · Aug 25
James, I am meaning ‘expert’ in the broad sense of the word, as in having a practical and deep knowledge and experience, versus having little to none. I challenge you to write an article highlighting the different types of experts and the value they bring to the table. (E.g. self-proclaimed Vs recognised, academic Vs practical). Warning: If in this article you refer to yourself as a ‘thought leader’ as some internet experts do, I will un-follow you 🙂
James D · Aug 25
There is no such thing as an “expert” in the ‘broad sense of the word’, either one is, or one isn’t. In the event you’re unaware of the antonyms for the term “expert”, here are just a few: “amateur”, “apprentice”, “environut”, “ignoramus”, “novice”, “rookie”. It should go without needing to be stated, but there are additional not quite so politically correct.
And, without digressing too far, it just so happens that most of those who view themselves as “experts” are, in fact, in amongst those antonyms.
Further, how “you” want to define a term that is already clearly defined, definitely shows a lack of “expertise” in establishing standards for “expert”.
If you want to in-follow me because I refuse to engage in the equivalent of arguing how many Angels can dance on the head of a pin, well that’s not going to disturb my nights’ rest one little bit.
Jason Lavis · Aug 25
Just to be clear, I understand and agree with both of your comments. I also have no desire to debate meanings of words and categories, antonyms or synonyms.
My reply to you was intended to be friendly and humorous. I didn’t actually think for a second that you would consider writing an article about different types of experts while referring to yourself as a thought leader. The idea that I would actually suggest that in seriousness (or that you would take it that way) is obvious comedy to me. This is why I also put ‘Warning:’ – as if anyone would seriously warn someone that they might un-follow them.
IF, on the other hand, your comments quoting dictionary definitions, and other English language teachings are also meant in humor, then you are the master of irony and I take my hat off to you. (One of the main points of my article was for us not to be afraid of mistakes in spelling, punctuation etc). If your comments were both meant in humor then you got me twice!
Either way, I wish you well James…
Steve S · Aug 25
Grate artikle. Yur rite.
Arthur H · Aug 25
“a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.”
And there lies the problem, in ‘journalism’ for the masses, your ace reporter does NOT hesitate to pass him/herself off as being an “EXPERT ON EVERYTHING”.
Today, they pass themselves off as rocket scientists, yesterday, they were the “go-to experts on man-made global warming”, or in the case of their ‘reporting’ on our business, THEY are the ones who continually describe the oil and gas companies as “drillers”, and refer to “fracking”, as a “drilling technique”. These are same people who come dangerously close to practicing medicine without a license whenever they do a ‘story’ on medicine or medical treatment. I honestly believe that most, if not all of the un-named “experts’ that they quote, are nothing more than them inserting their own opinion into the story, just like they manage to cover their asses by the use of such words as possible, might, maybe, or could, in most of their stories, words which make their ‘story’, nothing more than conjecture, rather than the factual coverage of events. Most of the ‘journalists’ and ‘reporters’ for mass market media are there only because they cannot get a real job, because of their lack of intelligence.
Steve H · Aug 24
Good article Jason. I’ve stopped being overly concerned about grammar errors, and I am sure there will many in this short comment. My daily industry fix is undoubtedly social media blog sites pertinent to the subjects I follow. Journalists are almost always factually incorrect. We see it clearly as subject matter experts, specialists, or even as enthusiastic followers. It must, therefore, be true of most journalistic content. But as with all sites, the content becomes dull and repetitive without a constant stream of new authors, and those like yourself who are new to the industry but fascinated in how it works, and relates to our everyday lives.
Fawzy H · Aug 25
Good argument Dear Jason especially when it comes to a person like me (decedent from Egyptian peasant family). Despite studying Shakespeare and Dickens, English remains a second language. I feel quite comfortable to receive the editorial support from Jess and Jonathon the same as I used to receive from Elizabeth and Jeff. It appears as an Oilpro culture. My first post on Oilpro was edited by Elizabeth and, WOW ! on the added value of the style, the words… Again just yesterday, I made a post and a few hours later Jess came back to remind me to add an introduction. Let’s just go with he basics 1) there is always room for improvement. 2) Team integration improves the results 3) a mediocre initiative is better than nothing.
Jason Lavis · Aug 25
Thanks for commenting Fawzy. You’re right with your three points. With the mindsets of continuous improvement, better teamwork, and more effort, any organization thrives. To use a sports analogy, we move from having a good coach and a star player, to being a world class squad.
Mohammed K · Aug 25
You need to know what you really want, and on the other hand, you need to be open minded critical thought skills were more worth reading. Consider any opportunity even if it is not what you think you want, Not only this help you decide your place, it will also be useful later in your career as you will have a global view on your place in the industry and help you collaborate with various stakeholders.
David K · Aug 25
Jason, You are dead on. You have hit upon the primary reason we invented Oilpro – to give the true experts a voice. The Oilpro Staff would love nothing more than to simply be in charge of assisting the real experts with their content. We are more than happy to help with grammar, spelling, etc. Like writing a book, the author needs an editor to run cleanup. We are happy to do that and have done so in the past.
Do I miss Joseph’s equity research? Absolutely. But we have several equity analysts that are contributing today on Oilpro. There has been a bit of lull with a changing of the guard here at Oilpro but we are getting our feet under us again. Basically, we are still in a place where we have to reach out to our contributors to get their latest and greatest content. It does not always come organically, like your article.
The area of Oilpro that I am hoping that people discover is the Oilpro Q&A, http://oilpro.com/questions
Compare Oilpro’s Q&A to http://stackoverflow.com/ Stackoverflow is a Q&A for software programmers and it is a vibrant community of industry specialists helping each other and sharing knowledge.
Check out this page on the new Oilpro leaderboard for answers, http://oilpro.com/leaderboard/answers. These are Oilpros answering others’ questions and earning reputation points… just like on Stackoverflow… but for the oilfield.
We need help with adding questions as well as finding people to answer those questions. This will be a great resource on topics ranging from drilling engineering to subsea processing to proper mooring techniques to the digital oilfield…. the list goes on.
30,000 people have signed up to Oilpro in the last 30 days. That is basically the entire readership base of many popular O&G magazines acquired in a single month. That puts Oilpro at 650,000 members. Something good is happening but we can always do better, and we will do better.
Jason, Would you like to be an Oilpro Moderator? Once an Oilpro Moderator you will have more tools to moderate, edit, and approve content on Oilpro.
Anyone else interested in becoming a moderator, please email [email protected].
PS – I am sure this very long comment has numerous spelling and grammar mistakes. I don’t get an editor… tears.
Jason Lavis · Aug 25
Thanks, David, I was nervous about hitting the post button for a few reasons. For example I didn’t want to criticize journalists in general, in fact, I hold investigative journalists in high esteem, on par with doctors, teachers or other important roles in society. I also realise, as James pointed out, many ‘experts’ do not deserve the distinction.
I understand and appreciate the “changing of the guard”, and the “lull in contributions” points. If you are running email click analytics you will be able to see that I read multiple articles from every single email newsletter that you publish, so I understand what has been happening this year for your website.
The Q&A forums are an excellent addition, as too are the new leaderboards and point systems in place. In fact, I am only active on two forums online, this one, and one for WordPress Developers: https://premium.wpmudev.org/ The private WordPress forum is exactly the same as stack overflow.
Every single article or long comment online will have perceived mistakes in. I just spelled ‘criticize’ and ‘realize’ with a ‘z’ instead of an ‘s’ which will make some of my fellow Brits spit out their tea in shock and disgust! Those who notice mistakes and miss the message need to get over themselves a little.
Regarding the moderator role, I would be honored!
David K · Aug 25
Check out the homepage of Oilpro. Your article is the lead story. 2nd story is the always insightful, Art Berman’s, “Saudi Permian”… a must read as well.
Dejan S · Aug 25
An “Expert” is paid to solve problems and report data. A “Journalist” is paid to make sense of the “experts” findings to everyone else in words and photos. Journalism is a business with deadlines and is now driven by “shares”, “likes”, “views” = ratings. Journalism has evolved from print sales to digital shares. Journalists rely on experts, and experts sometimes rely on journalists depending on the experts’ agenda.
Jason Lavis · Aug 26
That’s correct Dejan. Now with the internet, the lines are all blurred. For example, a journalist and an expert can both have a personal blog and social media accounts in addition to their company ones. An expert can publish directly on to official news media platforms, without a journalist. Experts often court media attention and journalists seek outreach from experts for example on the Help and Reporter Out website.
Dejan S · Aug 26
@JasonLavis: With the digital platforms, there is a lot of overlap (i.e journalism vs experts). In addition, there are a lot of “citizen” journalism, usually untrained journalists reporting on various news events. The problem here is sources are not checked, biased treatment of data, and little to no code of ethics adhered to. Much of my work is that of a photojournalist for professional cycling events. Sometimes I am asked to put words together for these events. The problem when double dipping is your work becomes diluted on both ends…facts are loose, and photographs are not capturing the whole story, plus you have two different deadlines which tend to be within 2 hrs. I guess what I’m driving at is even though experts can be journalists, “journalists” make for better journalism. Just my take.
David K · Aug 25
Speaking of experts… here is a gentleman drilling wells right now but yet refuses to pump up prices with propaganda. http://oilpro.com/gallery/1378/17841 Thank you Art
Mike Black · Aug 25
Very good post Jason. I like to read my local paper for the local news but for finding facts and seeing both sides of a story you must use the Internet. I think the worst for only telling one side of a story is CNN. They take a story and bring in so-called experts, then beat the story to death, always staying on one side. For example they would make big news saying that the Palestinians had fired a rocket. This is what the American people want to hear, bad, bad Palestinians. They don’t tell you that the Israelis have destroyed 600 Palestinians homes in the last few weeks. Making 800 people homeless, half of them children. They don’t tell you that the Israelis have 414 children in jail for throwing stones. They get 10 years in jail for throwing stones at soldiers and 20 years in jail for throwing stones at a moving vehicle. I am sure if the American people knew exactly how the Palestinians are been treated they would have a change of mind in their blind support for Israel. Don’t get me started about Fox News, they have a complete dislike for the Middle East countries, Muslims and the Clintons. Fox is voting Trump and CNN is voting Clinton. Sorry Jason I have wandered off on another track.
Dejan S · Aug 25
Mike, CNN is about ratings just like big business (oil) in profits generated by sales. More ratings = more advertising sales…..right or wrong, it’s all about business. CNN vs FOX vs TIME vs Newsweek
How long do bright ideas last?
For an experienced SEO specialist to discover a real innovation is rare. The word innovation suggests utterly new technology or techniques. What tends to happen in the field of search engine optimisation is that the discovery tends only to be unique to the one discovering it.
SEO Innovation is rare, and even then, rarely shared soon after discovery. As with all secrets, the information leaks slowly, then suddenly all at once. This spike in awareness is thanks to the viral nature of the internet. Once ‘everyone’ knows about a new technique and starts to use it, the effectiveness dwindles since a higher level of competition makes it harder to get to page one.
Then there’s the next consideration, whether the SEO innovation that you are learning about is applicable for your business:
- Some tactics and techniques are potent for a short period but then result in search engine penalties or de-listing.
- Other techniques work well in lower competition niches or local niches but not for a more significant niche or location.
- Some tactics involve a high cost and level of human resources that might not give a satisfactory ROI for you. These same tactics might be golden for plastic surgery, insurance or finance niches.
- Some tactics work well for one industry or location but are pointless for others. There’s no magic SEO bullet that works everywhere and for everyone.
- There are keyword density levels and backlink profiles that will help you rank in one niche, but make your website tank in another.
Did anything that you’ve just read confuse you at all? Perhaps not, but as you dig deeper into the world of SEO, you’ll potentially lose countless hours and get very confused. Often reading about things that you will never take action on, or that would help your business if you did.
You can quickly do some SEO Innovations on a DIY basis
This is the reason for this section of our website. We’ll publish posts about tactics and processes that are likely to be useful to you for your business.
Why do we know this? Because you’re likely to be in the energy industry. Search presence is our specialist area. We know what is expected to work for your website. Our confidence is based on years of extensive SEO experience, as well and almost as many working with clients just like you.
SEO Innovations for energy companies to maximise their online presence. These posts can give you help for your DIY SEO efforts, or you can leave it to us.
Either way, these posts will be explained in as simple terms as possible, and contain references and examples of companies like yours.
This list of innovations will grow over time
When this post was getting written, there weren’t any innovations mentioned at all — just a seed of an idea that would grow. Over the years, this post will get updated with an ever-expanding list of hints and tips. One day there’ll be plenty of SEO innovations that can help you in your online efforts.Most of these suggestions will not be innovations to SEO consultants. They might be innovations for your business, and changes that can easily be made by you, or your company webmaster or IT person.
Click on a box to open it and see the tip:
Check your keywords – Relevance over buzz!
Most business writers tend to include a lot of non-industry related buzzwords to make product or service descriptions more appealing. We want our customers to know that we’re ‘dynamic’, ‘energetic’, ‘professional’, ‘synergistic’ and perhaps ‘leading’ or ‘respected’.The problem here is that search engines will often struggle to identify what you do, and who you do it for if too many generic words get included. Any page, post, or bio needs to have plenty of specific (but varied) keywords in there.The added benefit is that a web surfer or time-constrained visitor can easily see what you do, and for whom you do it. You might have the perfect market solution. If it’s drowned out by phrases such as ‘step-change’ ‘forward-thinking’ or ‘head of its class’, then the visitor might not easily differentiate what you’re offering.
Ask existing clients/customers to help you
By definition, your clients or customers usually aren’t your competition. They’re likely to also appreciate how hard it can be to get noticed online. You should be able to help each other out.
Think of online exposure swaps of similar value. They could write you a testimonial, and you can link to them when publishing it on your website. They could link to one of your articles in their blog, in return for you sharing their services on social media.
You have an area of reach online, and so does everyone you know. Reviews on Google, Trustpilot or on Facebook can help SEO. Any additional citation, review or link can help SEO, and directly lead to click through enquiries. Set aside time for mutual back scratching!
Get more social media exposure even in ‘boring industries’
Over time, we’ve seen plenty of social media trends, and have enough data to view insights. A couple of important observations are that in many industries, companies struggle to get organic growth; and that often, you need to ‘pay to play’ via advertising to gain traction.Did you know that only a fraction of your followers will see your posts on FB if you don’t pay to ‘boost’ them? Did you know that postings get lost in the ‘stream’ like a paper boat?One tip to help organic growth is to realise that in addition to being social media platforms, these websites are search engines too. When you search on LinkedIn or Twitter, you don’t leave the site and go to Google, do you?To leverage these search features, design or re-design your social media pages using keyword-rich text. Including your solution or a searchers question in the URL, description or name of the site can create a steady stream of followers.We created two oil and gas recruitment/jobs pages on FB within a month. A year later, with the same posts, one gained 1000+ followers, and the other has less than 50. That’s 20x the result by including the keyphrase ‘oil and gas jobs’ liberally. These followers came through search!
Give a boost to older content
Rather than thinking of new ideas for your content marketing strategy, see if you can optimise and update what you already published.Go to your Google Search Console, and look at all of your website pages that are on page 2-5 of the search results. Isolate the ones with decent search volumes or buyer intent keywords. Then, check the first-page competition and expand your pages to cover the topic better. Finally, focus your sharing, promoting and link building outreach efforts on these pages, make them into cornerstone content and main traffic drivers. Getting a couple of ‘out of the money’ pages to page one, will be far more successful than adding more pages to 2-5 or the results. Some of your earlier content will be more relevant and prized, worthy of invigoration.
Capture more online real estate
Some SEO hacks don’t involve doing anything to your main company website. When you search for a product or company, how does the first page of Google look? Sometimes we see competitors ranking higher, or even worse. Complaints!A smart business owner will want to capture as many of these top ten spots as possible. The easiest way of doing this is to create company profiles on websites that Google loves.You can create a profile on a few more of the big social media sites. You might think that your company isn’t relevant to Pinterest or Instagram, for example. But, with a bit of creativity, you can take another couple of slots on the top rankings of the search results.Another great idea is to look for business profiles such as the ones on Inc.com or Angel list. Here’s our profile on Angel List!
Hint: you can go there right now and create a couple of profiles!
Create mini niche sites for your products or services
As far as Google and the other search engines are concerned, they might see your main website in a macro sense. For example, you might get identified as ‘oilfield services’ or ‘solar panel retailers’. What are the chances of you getting to page one of a search for related terms? Unless your company name is in a similar class to Weatherford or Amazon, you’ll struggle to rank.If you drop down a few rungs on the ladder, then there are terms for which you can rank. For example, you can niche down to an area or region, or for specific product names or services. You can create new mini-websites that focus on lower competition keywords. These can still supply leads, or refer visitors to your main sales pages.Relevancy is vital in search. A small website with ten pages just about a single product or service will often rank better than a 1000 page website that discusses a wide variety of topics.
Replicate the back link profile of your competition
We all know that dominating the search engines is down to 3 main factors:
- Publishing great content.
- Gaining more high-quality backlinks than your competition.
- Being the biggest/best/most awesome in your niche.
For most SEO practitioners, backlinks are the number one priority.
The types and proportions of websites that link to other sites are different in each sector. Some major news and media outlets link out regardless of industry. But for your niche, there will be an ecosystem of links that your competitors have.
The only ones that matter is the inbound links to your top ten or twenty competitors. You can find these, put them on a spreadsheet, delete duplicates, then have a list of places that you need to build or earn links, to be number one.
The other 10, will have a Venn style crossover, but if you aim to get all of these domains linking to you, then how can you fail?You might have less of a brand footprint. Your company may not be quite remarkable enough yet. Having all of the same links as all your main competition is an unbeatable SEO innovation.How can you find your competitor’ backlinks? The best tool on the market for this is Ahrefs who offer an inexpensive trial.
A Modern Outsourcing Definition
(To go straight to the outsourcing definition, scroll down half the page. This page will only take a few minutes to read, so we recommend reading it in its entirety!)
What’s your definition of outsourcing?
Is it where you get rid of an unwanted task inside your company, such as outsourcing the cleaning?
Does it describe the packaging and selling of tasks to an overseas company that has a much lower cost structure? For example, outsourcing business process tasks to India?
At OOTBI, we think that this old fashioned view of outsourcing is obsolete at worst, and at best, only hints at the topic. Since the industrial revolution began, many tasks have been outsourced locally because of the specialisation of labour.
Since globalisation became a buzzword in the 1970s, we came to think of multinational corporations employing cheap labour. National companies started outsourcing tasks to save money. The rationale might have been that employees in certain countries might do a job half as fast, or half as well, but cost only a fifth or a tenth of a local person.
This view was partly correct, but a bit nationalistic and racist as well. Now, in the 2010s, the gaps have narrowed:
- Wages are rising in the developing world, and stagnant in the developed world.
- Education is improving in the developing world to close the skill gap rapidly.
- Costs of materials, energy and resources are more homogeneous over time.
- The internet allows people to work as efficiently in different countries as in separate offices.
- We know that people of all cultures and races are capable of the same quality of work.
Bottom line, we see the definition of outsourcing from the industrial age or even the information age as inaccurate.
Fun fact: OOTBI is a remote working company. We opened a physical office, then closed it again after a year because we didn’t see any benefit. Why search for web developers in Exeter, UK, when our favourite go-to people are in Yerevan, Armenia?
Here’s our definition:
Outsourcing is where you carefully select partners that can assist in your business objectives. The reasons may vary, perhaps the outsource partner can do the task cheaper and more efficiently.
Perhaps they are specialists, so you outsource, not to save money – but to get a higher level of skill and experience set to achieve the task at hand.
The best type of outsourcing is where you bring in a strategic partner that fills knowledge gaps in your organisation. The outsourcer will help bring synergy, focus, and market-trouncing advantages to your company. The net result will be a combination of higher market share, lower costs, and a better top and bottom line.
This concept exemplifies how we see ourselves at OOTBI. We can’t do your job as well as you can, but we can amplify your companies profile online.
With radio, TV and other traditional media losing influence and market share all the time, your online message should be your marketing focus. Your current client portfolio and staff are probably your main business assets. Fast-moving technology means that your business could be completely different in five to ten years.
When the generation that has grown up with smartphones, tablets and other technology, become company decision-makers, how will they be doing it? With augmented reality (AR) glasses? Will they be flying into your home town to visit personally? Who knows, perhaps there will be holographic conference bots to do the selling for you?
One thing is for sure; your online real estate is at least as necessary as your physical one. It might not seem that way now, but why not prepare for the future. After all, investment into online property is a fraction of the cost of the molecular alternative.
With brick and mortar real estate, we hear the phrase ‘location, location, location’. Online, our location can be everywhere, all the time. Contact OOTBI to experience ultimate outsourcing defined, in the results that your business sees.
NOTE: This post was written in July, 2017. There’s an update in July 2019 at the end.
This blog post relates to the near-term future
For me, Jason, and out of the box innovations. Those of you who know me understand my situation and the current company structure. I’m on the verge of a couple of big decisions. Those of you who do know me, know that I’m straightforward in my business dealings. What some founders or company representatives might deem as private, isn’t seen that way be me – if it affects my clients. Those of you who know me, I appreciate you, and you can skip the next section.
(For those who don’t know me)
Here’s a quick recap of the contextual background of what I’m about to say. You can then be up to date on the circumstances of the dilemma.
OOTBI is a limited company registered in the UK, but I reside between the UK and the Philippines. OOTBI is a remote working company, where we have outsourced contractors in different countries in three continents. I work from my Laptop and have until recently, chased the ‘location independent entrepreneur’ dream, or ‘lifestyle business’ philosophy.
Phrases like ‘oppression of an office cubicle’ and ‘work on your own terms’ had a significant impact on me. The novelty of these things certainly wear off, and over time, I have considered having a permanent office. A permanent residence, close to all of my family, not just my wife and children also appeals.
Those who know me can re-join here
So, recently, I’ve been thinking some serious thoughts about the future.
- How many potential clients have become discouraged when they realised I was in a developing country?
- How many potential clients have been dissuaded by the fact that I don’t have an office?
- How would I have focused if I had a regular work routine, in a stable environment?
- Working in a physical team can be distracting, but it can be motivational too, and no solopreneur loneliness.
Do I get an office? If so in which country? Will I keep outsourced staff?
You’re probably aware, OOTBI helps small to medium-sized energy companies with their online presence. That’s a reasonably narrow market sector for an industry like web design or SEO.
It’s even more niche than you might imagine. Due to user-friendly content management systems like WordPress, or DIY companies like Squarespace, anyone can put up a website. Many energy companies don’t need to expand their web presence. They trade through local networks, and they have a website because everyone has a website. I doubt that there’s anything that I could help Solar City or BP with when it comes to marketing.
Our market is small, but OOTBI has traded steadily and expanded in the last two years. How would we be doing with a brick and mortar office based in a major UK city? The same number of clients? I guess that we’d be a more significant company.
Do you believe in serendipity? The law of attraction? I think there is something to it, even if it is only related to focus, and what we notice in different mind states. A tempting example has just happened in my life.
So, I was thinking, if I get an office, how much cash would I need for deposit and advance rent, furniture and so on. I was wondering how many current clients are long term, and how many new ones might join if I had an office. Then within a few days, I started noticing funding ideas.
My regular bank offered us a loan, that might not seem strange, although OOTBI is at the end of its first two years as a start-up. The bank didn’t offer us a loan before. I investigated, and they want a business plan and some detailed financials, which is a bit of a distraction during a busy time.
It’s a Singapore based company, so while that makes a bit of sense while I’m in Asia. If my office ends up in the UK, then it might add some complications.
Hey – serendipity, prove you’re real and offer me an even more accessible and more suitable option, please. Preferably interest-free!
So, if you’re a potential client that has reservations about dealing with a remote working company, or with a location independent entrepreneur, please reach out. If you’re an existing client, who thinks that it doesn’t matter, or prefers things as they are then let me know too.
These types of topics are important and relevant to many of us in our businesses, so I hope you appreciate the openness here. No imminent decisions at this time, but I plan to write a few more ‘open the Kimono’ type posts like this.
It’s now July 2019 and two years since the original post. I’m now settled back in the UK with my wife and children.
We rented an OOTBI office for a year, and then relinquished it. I’d forgotten about the problems with commuting, lunch, following rules, filling in paperwork, and general freedom cramping constraints.
We didn’t borrow any money, preferring to bootstrap. Too many people get themselves into debt chasing business dreams. OOTBI is free to grow or stay the same, pivot into new products or services, and grow with re-invested profits rather than debt shackles. Yeah, I’ve read the Rich Dad Poor Dad books, I know about ‘good and bad bebt’. Right now, it would be bad debt.