24 June 2006

Again back to the occult, branding, and ad sales

Hmm, so I pop over to Fantastic Planet today and this, literally, is the first page I go to. Any search will load, in time, the entry page or the archive for the month, and this seems to a larger initiative in the online occult community as of recent: the need to make money to sustain oneself.

I'm not directly picking on FP, it's is a good and often popular resource for Gnostic thought, but it's made me think. The only time I see this many ads is on porn sites. But that is just it, the brand and consequent relation I make mentally from ads to porn, to irrelevant or wishy-washy. Not that FP's content is, but in an age of .3-second site interpretation from new readers, how many click-throughs is FP losing because of his presentation. And no, it's never the fault of the user. Everything that happens in life, particularly in magical circles, is the responsibility of the individual interpreting the events. Always.

And as for business models, there's witchy self-help publisher Llewellyn at the forefront of the business (imagine Oprah and your local Native American shaman make a baby that is raised by Wiccan hippies and starts a company), and others like Disinformation (the equivalent of a gay pride parade for the counterculture), New Falcon (whose lack of spell-check makes me question the care they put into their own work, however the books are often fabulous and some of my favourites), and now the online movement. Pop Occulture is doing a remarkable job organising efforts to communicate the message of the occult to the masses, and I've read numerous comments from fans of Tim's that have thanked him for helping them find him. (Oh, and congratulations to Tim on joining the 9rules Network!) There is a market of people looking to be exposed to a message that will helm them answer their questions. That is how any market works today. Key 23, too, brings about articles and essays, which are about a third of the time relevant and not too stereotypical of what I've come to expect from a fringe counterculture. But they've got the good will and brains to bring all the particulars of proper essays to one location to make for an easy find for n00bs.

Further, the geek I am, I'm reading Pursuasive Business Proposals, by Tom Sant, and in it he points something out:
What are "professionals," anyway? Are they merely people who do for money what amateurs do for fun? That may be true to sports and romance, but not in the business world. No, being a professional means something more, something rooted in the origins of the word. […]

A professional is someone who has mastered a complex body of knowledge and who can therefore guide, advise, and tutor others in that area. A professional is somebody who can and does profess.

In as such, I do give kudos to those at Key 23, Pop Occulture, and Disinfo.com, as well as the host of other bloggers out there doing their bit. The effort seems to be in re-interpretation of the esoteric into analogies and parables understanding by a contemporary audience. This is really all the occult is, and the hardest part about it: sharing information that, until now, was really fucking hard to communicate to others. Perhaps all occultists should be putting down their books and checking out information architecture, semiotics, and the study of ontology instead. It's the same thing, but people are actually making a living in those fields. But to profess, in today's age, communication must be precise, it really has to be concise and to the point. Of course, me being me, I am not the best example of this on this site. However, this site is just my mental diarrhea outlet and I have some other stuff in the works.

It's really not so different from the modern business world, particularly a business world readily rooting itself in communications. The new focus is on innovation, better business models, and, ultimately, in providing the best service possible for one's market. The power really does lie with the people now. Like many occultists, businesses seek to iterate new labels, new interpretations, in order to survive. Often, those drawn to the occult fall into it in the first place because the current system of labels aren't currently floating their boat to begin with. So, to survive (spiritually? intellectually? fashionably?) people turn to alternative viewpoints. Dogmatic vehemence in any practise will result in spiritual suicide, but the business world is not so different and with the way things are going, I'd be surprised if the business world didn't begin to find use in occult ideas sooner than later.

But will they find innovators, designers, and artists to create and utilise these methods and insights, rendering the current occult community someewhat moot in the social order of things. Or will occultists say Fuck that and, like the shaman, put their feet back into society and immerse… to emerge as the new innovators? To help others? To help themselves?

As Ramsey Dukes posits in Thundersqueak, what is everyone so afraid of? If you don't try out the enemy it's either your afraid that they're right and you're wrong, or if you're right all along you can learn their spirit and perspectives and bring it back with you to where you started: stronger and wiser because of such.

I just watched this presentation on entrepreneurship by Guy Kawasaki, any occultists out there may want to do the same. In comparison, if you're letting the money soak through the presentation of what it is we all enjoy, it'll tarnish the whole kit-n-kaboodle. But if you set out to change the world, as Kawasaki proclaims good start-ups should focus on, we might learn a thing or two.

Because, really, all the counterculture and occultism is, is simply another approach to trying to understand the world. Whether it's the best one is very much debateable in my opinion, but at the end of the day there are a lot of people that want to be successful, make enough to get by, and help others. While occultists may be focusing on problems too deep to be adequately acted upon by their current capacity for social interaction, many brilliant thinkers out there are innovating new ways (thinking magically and manifesting intent) and aiding their communities.

And if there's one thing I was told as a malevolent youth, it was that you can't help anyone else until you've helped yourself. Ponder this, and it might show us a side of occult spirituality that many aren't willing to acknowledge. I'm not saying everyone, but I'm throwing it out there from personal observation…

Watch the Guy Kawasaki video.


channel null said...

Worthwhile post that deserves more discussion. I've been looking at my search reference hits recently and there's really a geniune need for valuable information for "teh n008z". And as I have the word "infernal" and "dark" in my url and some of the code, I get a lot of interesting referral terms. Some more interesting ones:

"taking the bar" crazy insane
devil psychic censor
get paid get laid poster
what bullying entities

The majority of hits, though, seem to be kids after said noob advice. I imagine your site gets a lot of traffic of this sort. I'm just pointing out that there's a market there, therefore, a platform for injecting those metaphors.

While occultists may be focusing on problems too deep to be adequately acted upon by their current capacity for social interaction

Dr. Null speaks earlier last week: "cunnilingus... pawn in some giant battle between transdimensional entities..." That seems related to "problems too deep" and "social interaction". Right now I'm too hunover to interact socially rightly let alone feed myself... Your post is pretty dense and has about ten diffrent threads running through it and I'm too fucking hungover to comment really and I need to get a haircut, so more later. Good descriptions of the publishing labels.

Fell said...

You're always drunk. :-P

I think the thing with business, that a lot of people don't want to acknowledge, is that it's really just a professional approach to getting shit done. Entire schools devoted to refining the process of making sure that shit gets done. And how to approach it in a manner that everyone can understand.

kylark said...

This is a timely post for me as I'm just delving into the esoteric world of online marketing.

In all fairness, JP's main page is mostly ad-free; it's just the archive pages that are littered with Google ads. And hey, he said in a comment that he earns about $200 a month from it; if his blogging habit can keep him in groceries, why not?

It's a weird thing with ads, though. For your site to be valuable you have to have built up some trust with your readers; OTOH having to many ads can leach some of that trust away. There's a weird ghetto of sites about marketing that are chock full of ads for... more sites about marketing.

Making money online as such seems to be a dodgy enterprise; from what I can tell the best way to make money is in selling advice on "how to make money online." Grasping this (and it's so obvious!) feels like stumbling into a den of conjurers. I'm still blinking in the firelight, adjusting my eyes and trying to decide if I want to borrow one of their funny hats.

It's like that post over on Technoccult a couple weeks ago about the lucrative market in self-help books; the average consumer buys a new one every 18 months or so. I must sheepishly confess to having purchased a fair number of them myself. It's a weird closed system. Most self-help authors seem to have few real-world credentials besides... becoming a successful self-help author (or life coach).

Clearly I need to get onto the other side of this racket. It seems too easy though! Too obvious! It's just a formula that lures people again and again, almost like mad libs - all you need is a number (like 7 or 21), a couple attention-getting words like "easy" or "secrets," and a batch of testimonials, and you're on your way.

These are my thoughts halfway through this post. I'm off to read the rest of it.

kylark said...

For supposedly 'targeted' ads, those Google ads sure can be dumb. Why not ads for beer or recipes or something?

kylark said...

Ha ha, that guy was an awesome speaker (no pun intended). I actually took notes! Not sure what I'll do with 'em, but I took notes.

Fell said...

Coming from Kawasaki, a man with more experience in "manifesting" intent and desire than most so-called magicians, I think it's paramount that people listen to what he's saying. Those first points of his really reflect the natural progression of business — arguably the largest motivator of Western society.

Kawasaki says that to be successful, you have to MAKE MEANING.

Now let me repost this Stanley Kubrick quote once more:

"The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent, but if we can come to terms with this indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. … However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light."

Does this mean that perhaps those currently stuck in hate-mode and rebel-mode are really victims of their own manufacture? If you don't believe it, please, once again, refer again to this post:

You are the only enemy you will ever have.

Fell said...

Guy's "inconvenient truths" for startups
Presentation Zen's notes from Guy's May 13th "Art of the Start" speech.

(1) Be in it to make meaning not money (if you do the former, the money will come). Be in the game to change the world just a little bit by, for example, increasing the quality of life, righting a wrong, or preventing the end of something good.

(2) Forget mission statements. Formulate a 3-5 word mantra for employees. Mission statements, says, Guy are too long, not unique, and not memorable. Come to think of it, this describes most business and conference presentations too.

(3) Just get going. Get after it. Just do it. Think different. Don't be afraid to polarize people. If it's good, it will surely be hated by some. Jump to the next curve. The goal is not to make it 10-20% better, but 10-20 times better.

(4) Define a business model. Be specific. Keep it simple. Ask women (see the video). I suggest The One Page Business Plan by Jim Horan (forward by Tom Peters). You may actually write a 10-20 pager in the end (lord knows most are longer even than that), but the one-pager is an excellent exercise. And if you can not get your plan on one page, then you may be in trouble.

(5) Weave a MAT. Think in terms of milestones, write them down. Shoot for the milestones. Write down your assumptions. Make it your task to reach those milestones and test your assumptions.

(6) Niche thyself. Create something unique that only you can do. You must be unique and be of great value.

(7) 10/20/30 (10 slides/20 minutes/30pt font). Get your story down before you make the pitch. Guy says 10 slides if you are pitching to VC. Keep it to 20 minutes. If you have an hour meeting, why present for only 20 minutes? Guy quips:

"…you're using a Windows laptop, it's going to take you 40 minutes just to make it work with the projector!"

Never ever read your slides. Say's Guy, "if you start reading your material because you do not know your material, the audience is very quickly going to figure out that you are a bozo."

(8) Hire infected people, people who *love* your product. Hire not just on education and experience, but look too for those who love what you do. Hire people better than yourself. 'A' employees hire 'A+' employees. 'B' employees hire 'C'… this leads ultimately to a "Bozo explosion."

(9) Lower the barriers to adoption. Make it easy for people find you, use your products. Embrace your evangelist community.

(10) Seed the clouds. "Let a 1000 flowers bloom." You never know where great people are coming from or who your customers might be. Let people test drive; find the influencers.

(11) Don't let the bozos get you down. People will tell you that you can't do it. You will be tempted to believe them. But even the brightest have been wrong many times. Be careful not to let bozo advice keep you from implementing a dream.

kylark said...

Ha ha, the "ask women" bit was one of my favorite parts of the speech.

Klintron said...

*grumble, comment got ate, grumble*

Trying to make it more brief this time

1. Glad to see more and more occultists dabbling in business, design, and related subjects.

2. The ads vs. content ratio's a difficult one to pull off.

3. Something related will be coming to an inbox near you probably sometime this week.

4. I've been noodling around with ideas for other business ideas that are more lucrative and world changing than my blogs (though I have actually profited from the blogs).

Fell said...

Hey Klint,

Yeah I've been kicking ideas around with friends and acquaintances here, which usually wields interesting conversations. I've got some friends in reiki, yoga, holistic health, chiro, physio, et cetera, so it's good to bounce ideas.

Fortunately, over the years, I think I'm closing in on a couple I want to pursue.

Perhaps in time we'll discuss further.

Cuz really, if it is well-designed and helps people, there'll be a market for it.

As I've touted before, nothing will succeed without making it usable. This diagram, by Karl Long, has recently become my favouritist inspiration, check it out!

lvx23 said...

I like your point about business being essentially a refined and focused program of getting things done. that's the practical goal of magick, IMHO. I wonder if it's a sign of our age that a lot of us are starting to look at ways to merge magick with business? I know financial concerns have only gotten lager for me since leaving college many years ago. Is this an infection of economics corroding magick, or an attempt to bring the insights we've gained from occulture into the business realm to maximun effect and benefit?

Klintron said...

Do you mean is it a sign of our age as in how old we are, or a sign of our age as in the times we live in? Because I've been thinking about business and magic as a conjoined unit since I first started studying the stuff when I was 18. Of course, I came to magic through cats like William S. Burroughs, Alan Moore, Grant Morrison, and Richard Metzger.

Anonymous said...

Too little and too late:

The same way you talk of a "hate mode" and "rebel mode," fell, I can't disregard a "conform mode." As such, is a business person "Manifesting intent" manifesting *his* intent, or one that someone else gave to him? It's late and I'm really tired and in lots of pain, but "the System" seems to have plenty of roles to fill in for the unintentional so that their intention goes to maintaining "the system," and this seriously jepordizes the health of the System as it allows for certain forms of cancerous invasion. I need to elucidate more.

Fell said...

Please do, as I can't make much sense of your comment.

I guess you're gonna have to "conform" to a more standard form of language so we can both discuss this rationally, let alone at all.