How you treat your customer when they walk into your business.
Hello, customer.
Hello, store owner.
Nice day today, huh?
What can I get you?

When you see a customer on the street.
Oh, hello customer!
Hey! Hi there! Day off?
Yea, running errands!
Hah, it never ends, huh?
No, but that’s okay.
I’ll see you around!
Take care.

And now, how you interact with your customer on social media.
10% off today!
We close at 5pm.
Tomorrow we’ll have a special.
Don’t forget, we have gift certificates!

When it could be this:
Hey customer, great photo! That’s a great hiking spot.
Oh, thanks! Yea we love it there.
Have you done the Lake Loop with the kids?
No, we haven’t. Might be a bit much for them.
I hear you. We took our three year old on it one time, but he did okay.
Oh, really? Maybe we’ll try it sometime.
Take some photos if you do!
Hah! Will do.

Which one do you think is going to have a lasting impact?

Does it scale? Nope.
Can you schedule a conversation like this? Nope.
Can you automate it? No.

But I bet your coffee shop doesn’t have a self-checkout line, either.
Your tattoo shop doesn’t have an auto-ink booth, right?
As a photographer, you don’t send your Robo-Photo-Bot to a wedding, right?

No, because every one to one interaction is priceless. It’s valuable. It can’t be outsourced, and you can’t just get some unpaid college intern to do it.


Goodbye “blogs as media empires.” The signal to noise ratio is too high, and the buckshot approach (more content = more page views) is doomed to fail. You can only carry so much coal on the locomotive of “content is king.”

And the idea that an app or HTML5 or social media is going to save your media outlet or business is wrong. If you don’t have customers you are doomed. A coffee shop can’t stay open if people just come in for the smell everyday; it must sell a cup of coffee on occasion.

You need to read ‘Don’t “design for mobile”, design for your customer relationship.’ If you don’t have people who will actually buy something from you, you can’t last.

Do you think companies are going to keep throwing money at media outlets that aren’t bringing clicks and engagement?

This was dug up from the Wayback Machine here.

Here Until It Isn’t

Good morning, friends. May this day be filled with firecrackers and assorted jabs to the fragile jaws of your airborne enemies.

Okay, so this wasn’t really written on this blog in 2013, but it’s something I posted to Twitter, which someday won’t exist. If I don’t pay my hosting bill, this will go away. I don’t have much say about the future of Twitter, but MySpace, AOL Music, and RDIO all came and went.


I don’t think it’s possible to “do a media site” these days without engaging with an audience. My favorite barometer of this? I can visit most any US city and have lunch with someone. Or crash on their couch. That’s from 10+ years of doing music blogs.

I don’t care about 80k followers. I care about 100 people I can get coffee with.

To move to the next stage in the social media evolution, brands need to start focusing on actively engaging their fans over a sustained period of time. An active fan is one who has a relationship with a brand and, at least once a month, reacts to posts on the brand page, indicates a liking for various content, retweets a brand’s messages or creates original content on the page.

I built Skull Toaster from the ground up based on the idea of engagement. The result? Paid subscribers and merch sales, with no banner ads, no Top 10 lists, and no SEO tactics.

If I can make $1 Tweeting metal trivia, you can increase your income by engaging your customers in human ways.

Coffee shop: engage with your customers about upcoming events and local issues instead of just Tweeting your specials.

Music lessons: send tips and links to artists you admire instead of just “new student specials!”

Musician or label: engage your fans about other stuff: baseball, ‘South Park,’ movies, video games.

Bike shop: engage your customers with amazing bike videos that you find online. Send out photos from recent rides.

It’s about more than hyping what you do (HEY, READ MY POST! WATCH OUR NEW VIDEO! 10% OFF AFTER 5PM!), and just being someone that people want to talk to.

And when people talk to one another, sometimes it leads to sales.

Or at least a coffee.


I remember December 29th, 2009. I was checking email around 12:30am while laying down to sleep when I got the news that Avenged Sevenfold Drummer James’The Rev’ Sullivan passed away. A few emails later we had a post up at 1:15am.

This year, on Christmas Eve, I saw some Tweets that Netflix was down. That meant some editors and bloggers had to mobilize. A post had to be written! Hurry!

Dec 24, 11:06pm – Netflix Hit by Outage, Blames Amazon
Dec 24, 9:46pm – Amazon AWS Takes Down Netflix On Christmas Eve

The same happens with my celeb / pop writer friends during the holidays, hoping that no movie stars get caught kissing someone that ain’t their significant other.

In 2009 this worked. It works today, late in 2012. But it can’t continue. There’s too much. When everything is a story, nothing is a story.


If you’re reading this, I probably @replied you and your band because you followed me (@sethw) on Twitter.

What you’re doing is the cyber-equivalent of handing me a CDR at a show and walking away.

A bit about me:

I played in all sorts of bands from 1991 to 2001.
I booked shows. I built websites for bands. I published zines.
I founded back in 2001.
I was the founding editor of for AOL Music.

In those 20 years I have never discovered or fallen in love with a band because someone handed me a CDR and walked away.

But during those 20 years I’ve made a lot of friends, and those friends were in bands, or ran labels or distros or booked shows. I discovered and fell in love with a lot of great bands because of that.

So if you think randomly following me on Twitter is going to help you, you’re wasting your time. And it’s a shame, because I know a lot of great people in the music industry, like publicists, engineers, A&R people, writers, editors, label owners, managers, bloggers, promoters, and tour managers.

Use this advice if you want. @reply me on Twitter, or shoot me an email.

Let’s be friends.

Then maybe I’ll listen to your music.


Over time, our digital footprints add up and create a cyber world that starts to take on some of that very same messiness. Change a font or a layout or where something is, and it bothers us. You can take advantage of that need for comfort by making your digital work a little less sterile, a bit less squared offSeth Godin

As I told Tim recently:

“I’ve stumbled upon Lain Sellar and Zoe Veness and find their work amazing. It’s something about hand drawn, black and white, stuff that gets me.”

That’s the logic behind the design of this blog. It’s not quite hand-drawn (like this piece by Zoe), but it’s not glossy by any means. There are plenty of web designers out there that can do slick. I want to do more “less squared off.”


I was interviewed by Tim Harcourt-Powell, for his blog Standing on the Shoulders of Giants.

Sure, I’ll be 36 soon and should really “get my act together” and “get a real job,” but for all I know I could die at 37, and now, at least I have a bunch of cool robots that I drew, new friends I’ve made in different cities, and seen more of America than many of my peers. And I’m cool with that.

You know, I’ve wondered if I should write about my personal life here, as I try to use this site as a way to showcase my services as a web professional.

What would potential clients think?

Then I thought, well, I’d rather not work for a bureaucratic workplace, sitting in meetings all day with a dated dress-code and a time clock in the break room. And I’d rather work with clients who feel the same way. I like working with clients who appreciate sweat and grime with their project. People who’ve become who they are through hard work and doing their best to color outside the lines.


My friend Lisette Voytko landed on Reddit, a popular user-generated site of interesting & newsy links. With the expected spike in traffic, I replied, “monetize!” Meaning, turn that traffic to your blog into cold hard cash! But then she called me out and asked, “how?”

Well, here’s a few ways I’ve monetized my blog(s) over the last few years.

I’ve sold stuff on my site and people have bought it. I’ve sold hand-drawn robots at my Willed From Wires Robot Shop, and I’ve got two ebooks detailing my bike adventures from the past year and a half. Skip the affiliate links on Amazon – create something of your own – something you can stand behind – and put a price tag on it.

I’m not so huge that I can just sell stuff everyday, but I could sure use extra storage space on DropBox! So I wrote a post about how awesome DropBox is, and encourage readers to sign up for an account, which gets me more storage space.

When I was writing on The Bike Nerd during my daily bicycle adventures around the US, it showed something; I can write about bikes. It’s not about “lots of traffic,” it’s about the “right traffic,” and that’s how I got a paid writing gig for a bike shop in NYC. Write to your audience, not a “general audience,” and see what happens. The hard part? Figuring out who your audience is.

Okay, so you don’t have anything to sell today, and maybe cloud storage isn’t your thing. But you just know that someday you’ll have something that people will love. Well, make sure you have a “subscribe to my email list” box somewhere on your site. If you don’t have anything to sell today, maybe you will two months from now. The best time to start that is 10 years ago, but the next best time is now (hat tip to Gary Vaynerchuk for that one).

Monetizing your blog isn’t just ad networks or e-commerce, it’s about opportunities that come your way just by writing great content day after day, year after year. I did Buzzgrinder for six years before I got my foot in the door at AOL, and then it was another year and a half before I started Noisecreep for AOL Music.

HOMEWORK: What’s the one thing you just KNOW? It doesn’t even have to be an internet skill. Maybe you work on motorcycles, or you have experience finding great places to fish, or maybe you took over your parents business. Trust me – there’s an audience for all of those things on the internet. If you want to be a pop-culture super blogger, well, good luck with that. But if you want to be the #1 Google search result for “how to take over my parents bakery,” or “where to camp in Utah,” well, I bet you can own that audience.

So, who is your audience?


If your business wants to abandon Twitter, that’s your choice. But maybe you should remove the cute “Follow us on Twitter!” messages from your ads in the local alt-weekly’s.

Recently, just for the heck of it, I figured I’d look up a local business on Twitter from an ad and saw this – updated 238 days ago.

This reminds me of Van Halen’s “brown M&M” clause, about removing all the brown M&M’s from the bowl of candy backstage. If they showed up at a gig and saw brown M&M’s, well, that meant their rider wasn’t read very throughly. If the promoter shrugs off the M&M part, what else could they have skipped? The safety measures? The power requirements?

It’s not being pompous, it’s paying attention to the details.

If a business shrugs off social media thing like this (thinking perhaps,”it doesn’t matter, no one will notice!”), that’s your choice. But it’s my choice to consider what other details you’re skipping over.