If I offered you a way to catch the attention of your buyers and clients, promote to new ones, get easy feedback, collect payments, market test ideas and products, collaborate with colleagues and I told you it wouldn’t cost you anything more than what you pay for your internet connection and your computer except for an investment of your time – would you think I have a) finally rounded the last bend to the mad-house, b) hit on a goldmine c) what you say? If you answered a) read on, if you answered b) read on c) yes, read on.
‘Caribbean - Web 2.0” sounds like an impressive title don’t you think – I’m not exactly sure what it means though. See, I’m muddling along, building an online presence and wanting to interact with people in the region and beyond online, but the more I go forward, the more I realize visibility is nearly nil on this flight path. Yes, I’ve found a goldmine but I have no prospecting experience and it can be a scary place to be at times.
I wish I was more of a geek – and I’m rapidly recognizing I’m more of a geek than many of my peers – more by far. I’m hoping someone will come out and put me in my place for making that claim, but I’m not holding my breath either.
See, it has to be said, the majority of Caribbean people use web 2.0 to ‘waste time’ – a lot of gossip and idle chatter gets thrown down around here, very little of the massive business opportunity that is right underneath our keypads is recognized by most people.
But to be fair, it’s not all that obvious to us, but still being fair, we better get with the programme – this is the freedom to do, that has eluded us so far – we need to take on some personal development here and reach out and grab.
So, that sad recognition of where we aren’t, is rapidly followed by another, more constructive thought that I think is the heart of 2.0 anyway – dive in, explore, shape it, be a trendsetter, make it what you need it to be.
The opportunity to promote ourselves is real, here's just this novice’s take on it:
- Blogs – they’re free, easy to put up – I’m thinking I’ll run a workshop on setting up a blog – one day workshop and you’re off!
- They’re free – forget making direct money off them – use them as a portfolio online – see the growing Arts & Crafts Village – which I am already decided ain’t coming down after the event.
- There are marketing tools for getting your blog known to people you don’t know – RSS, catalogues, carnivals, links on social networks…
- Social networks – with a few clicks, some reasonably well chosen words and a careful openness, you can meet people in your field of work to team up with, do business with, sort out ideas with. I’ve joined groups on Facebook that just keep leading me to more and more useful sites – Caribbean Blogger’s Massive, I’m a Caribbean Entrepreneur, West Indian/Caribbean YellowPages. And sites where I can discuss my more personal issues like the last post discussed. Nothing like refreshing your psyche with a good positive discussion of ideas.
- Business networks – like LinkedIn – wow, a scary place at first – I felt distinctly under qualified to be there, but you know what? Dig a little deeper and you find people like us and the more of us that join, the more it will be useful to us. Yesterday I looked at a Q&A session there – the Q – what’s the going rate in your area for Website development and setup? And there were answers from across the world – people gave their rates – now tell me how you would’ve got that info otherwise? Pretended to be a prospective client and called up your competition for a quote? Which one is easier? More effective? And while you're exploring this, my friends at Lateral Action have an excellent review you should read.
- Sales - Etsy, Zazzle, sell online without the cost of setting up your website and actually getting it seen by people
- Video hosting – want to get your song out, your quirky philosophy heard, your tutorial skills noticed? YouTube is well known, Expert Village is another – there are loads more
- Twitter – my tweet this morning was “do Caribbean creatives use twitter? Where are they?” Of course I’ve not had any @finolaprescott answers because, well the answer is largely, they don’t use twitter. But Twitter is not as frivolous as we may think it is – it’s not as useful as it could be because you can’t get sms’s sent to your phone in the Caribbean, but you can send and your colleagues can get them instantly online – working on a project and need to send a quick question to someone in your island or someone in Japan? Tweet it. It ain’t gonna cost you anything worth worrying about.
- I can’t talk about Pod Casting because I’ve not tried it yet, but I know it’s there and I know it’s a good tool just waiting for me…
- And for more networking, good ol' Yahoo Groups, or trade specific ones like for jewelry nothing beats Orchid Digest. Creativity Spotlite is featuring artists each week and has loads of tutorials.
Um. There have to be some. Oh, yeah, we get to say what we want, we speak too freely and then the Government doesn’t want to hire us anymore because we’re troublemakers. Yes, it could happen – lets face it, we all don’t speak freely at one time or other partly because we all need to get this or that consultancy or grant funding or such from one department or other of our Governments – and we don’t want to be left out because the person with the purse strings is vex with us.
My attitude has always been and will always be that criticism is a constructive tool – or at least it can be and it should be. We’re all guilty of firing off the occasional un-thought-out lashing, but I think the opportunity here is far more important than the threat. The threat is a perception, a worry of what might happen, to me Web 2.0 is an opportunity for us all - we can all exercise responsibility; to speak up constructively including criticising where needed, work out what we need, what we can do, to act for ourselves and build up our world by bridging gaps that prior to this, have been unbridgeable.
Get on board –let’s get to know each other, lets do business together, let’s shrink the Global Divide.
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