Work For Hire: Proper Attribution Vs. Blatant Content Theft

There...  Now It's Mine!

Kids, just because you say it’s yours does not make it so.

There’s a disturbingly large contingent of delusional people that feel that a consultant’s work is automatically “work for hire”.  These are the folks that feel they can buy an image for $5 and maintain exclusive rights or pay a web developer $100 and have a web site that is unique, professional, and functional.  What’s worse is that they assume that ownership of rights of use (think Creative Commons licenses) means full ownership – there’s a world of difference there, kids!

Personally, I feel the term work for hire is a dirty phrase.  The average client has tight budgets and can’t pay for full ownership and exclusivity yet the expectation is that a consultant or freelancer always offers their services as WFH.  This is simply not true, nor is it fair.  It’s bad business for all parties involved.

So, WTF is “work for hire”?

I’m no lawyer but I’ve dealt with lawyers and legal jargon enough to understand that there are explicit and implicit rules for establishing ownership to intellectual property or content of any sort.  “Work for hire” essentially means you work behind the scenes and maintain no rights.  When I do work as a ghostwriter, I get paid large sums up-front for the right to give up any credit.  This means I can’t make any claims to the work, not even on a resume, unless I keep it anonymous.  Ghostwriting is the exception to the rules stated herein and, unless you sign an NDA or NC contract that stipulates ownership explicitly, the rights to content and end products are shared as far as I’m concerned.  Am I wrong in thinking this?

Consulting is tricky because there are no real standards for billing rates but pretty much every client will try to underpay if they can get away with it.  This is understandable: everyone wants more profits and savings.  The typical assumption is that you do the work, then it’s theirs, and you move on until you’re needed again.  This is what I call “one and done” work – it’s a real grind and rarely worth the effort unless you’re desperate.  These days, I do not bother with work for hire projects because…

  • It rarely leads to referrals or future work (unless maybe I beg).
  • It is not very profitable, nor is it efficient use of time.
  • It pulls me away from things that create long-term value for my brand(s).

I appreciate the fact that everyone is looking for a deal and wants to maximize investments but no one wants to be an indentured servantProject parameters and boundaries must be set to protect all business interests and circumvent any squabbles.  I’m all for giving freebies and value-added services but I’m not going to work for peanuts and neither should you!

…And now for story/rant time with Yogizilla!

Continue reading

Staying On Spec & Other Consulting / Subcontracting Tips

Thanks to Triberr, Twitter, StumbleUpon, and Google+ (okay, sometimes LinkedIn and Facebook too), I have gotten to know many of you in the blogosphere and B2B space. I don’t need to tell you how hard consulting is, especially if you work from home. Understanding our collective challenges and drawing from our discussions and collaborations together, I have compiled some handy-dandy tips and insights. Today, amidst all the buzz about Valve announcements and SteamOS, I’d like to take a look at a subject that I can (and will) write a book about:

Consulting & Subcontracting Tips: How to Play Nice with Cients and Their Contractors / Coordinators

20130926-142119.jpg

Subcontracting is probably the easiest way to bridge the gap between major projects and supplement our existing revenue streams. Consultants and agencies almost always will take help if they have overflow work and feel overwhelmed. The risks and challenges I have experienced firsthand are as follows:

  • Less opportunity to build a relationship with the client.
  • Usually more about tactics than strategy and creative control.
  • As a result of the aforementioned, you essentially have to be a hired monkey.
  • Chances are your relationship will be short-lived regardless of value added.
  • More taking orders than providing proven strategies and complete solutions.
  • Keeping the relationship going usually means stroking several egos.
  • Essentially becoming a ghost or uncredited entity.

In short, you have to do as you’re told even if you have a better, more cost-effective solution. You have to swallow your pride and realize a subcontractor relationship may only serve as a brief income source and, if you’re lucky, it will translate into referrals and full-time roles.

Continue reading

Are You In The Service Industry? (HINT: We’re ALL in the service industry.)

Every now and then, I’ll see someone throw out the term service industry. Now there’s another one of those mis-used phrases and words. From my perspective, we’re all in the service industry.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that small businesses and start-ups are all about service. Yes, I said before that it’s all about storytelling but that’s what carries your service standards (or lack of them) further.

Think about this carefully: customer service is a huge part of what we do.. Without proper execution and end-to-end support, even the best design and systemization will fail. Knowing this stark reality, we see large corporations still getting it wrong and somehow coasting along. They’re always a quarter away from closing doors or being bought out for that very reason, I’d say.

So, yes, this is another one of my rants but I think this is a discussion we need to have, yes?
Continue reading

Triberr Rocks, But Not For The Reasons Most Love It Or Hate It

So here I am doing my usual social media thing when I get mentioned on OsakaBentures.com via Disqus.

Before I go off on a tangent, I want to be clear.  I dig Saul and I appreciate that he sticks by his ideals and principles.  I just can’t agree with his views on Triberr, even if it’s the popular opinion (and I may get some tomatoes thrown at me), because it’s that sort of stuff that has made people hesitant or disdainful towards Triberr, IMHO.

Now allow me to rant about why I feel Triberr ROCKS but most people just “don’t get it”…

As I do my usual SEO schtick, I find tons of mis-representative content about Triberr.  Just Google “Triberr” – it’s rather overwhelming!  I’ll quote Nicole Crepeau’s Triberr article from Coherent Social Media:

In fact, there are things I love about Triberr:

I love the goal for which it was established: to give more exposure to smaller bloggers.

I love that being in Tribes can help keep your blog in front of your network and keep their’s in front of you.

I really like the new headline testing feature.

I like the way Triberr’s founders, Dino Dogan and Dan Cristo are ever present and responsive, and generally keep the discussion positive and professional–even when things have gotten a bit rough.

I like the fact that it’s working for people and increasing traffic to their blogs.

I like Dino’s thoughts about a union for bloggers, to enable bloggers to make a living at blogging.

There’s only one thing, actually, that I don’t like about Triberr:

I don’t like the auto-tweeting. 

I quote this not due to laziness but because I believe there’s no point in regurgitating what’s already out there on the blogosphere, especially when the aforementioned seems to be the consensus.  The automagical part is something folks either love or hate.  We get that.

No Triberr - From Coherent Social Media

"No Triberr.. BAD Triberr!" - Thanks Coherentia.com!

The problem with Triberr is not Triberr..  It’s YOU (shame on you!).  Okay, maybe not *you* specifically, but people that don’t use it in an ethical manner or at least manage expectations properly.

What we have here is an issue with semantics, framing, positioning, or whatever you want to call it.

I don’t get excited about the reach multiplier aspect.  I do SEO and I’ve seen how pure traffic is worthless unless you are engaging and have some decent concept about inbound marketing, authenticity, and conversions thereof.  You need to build trust, help others, and show you care before others do the same in return.

Now, what DOES excite me is what Dino Dogan has often told me in private and in public:

Triberr is the great equalizer.

Yes, I know, we have some a-listers in Triberr and they’re mostly good people.  Truth be told, I’d say 60-80% of the current users on Triberr would likely not be on there if there were not these sorts of social media and online marketing rockstars.   Some folks just want their link juice, so to speak.  In spite of those folks that draw in the fanboys, suits, and bean counters, I still believe in this vision: giving smaller bloggers and thought leaders a chance to find their own captive audience.

Continue reading

The Video Game Industry: Economy Of Gaming And The State Of Video Games

Recently I posted my long-delayed “Economy Of Gaming” article on Duel Pass Online (DPO), citing the driving forces behind video game pricing and subscription fees. The key take-aways were as follows:

  • Video games cost money to make and maintain, so someone has to foot the bill somehow.
  • There are plenty of cheap online gaming options out there.
  • Free online games are not always what they’re cracked up to be.
  • Paid video games are better than free video games usually.
  • You get what you pay for.
  • Gaming companies need to put the gamer at the center of everything.

I’d like to revisit PlayNoEvil’s article on the negative impact of used games and piracy on the video game industry. The author of the articles on PlayNoEvil.com makes some very valid points. He discusses how it’s easier to see how profits shift with the growing popularity of used video games, whereas piracy is mostly a non-issue.

If you do a little digging, you can see that large corporations waste quite a bit of resources with their anti-piracy and copyright efforts, along with virtually pointless interrupt marketing. You’d think it would make more sense to just re-invest that money in research and development. Building innovative video games with incentives for early adopters and long-term supporters seems like a smarter investment of the billions of dollars thrown away with silly business.

Any self-respecting gamer will invest money on their gaming lifestyle and favorite video games, especially if they have strong online components. They want to keep their favorite video game franchises alive so it only makes sense. Surprisingly, even though online gaming has kept many video game companies alive, some fans wish there were video games with only single-player modes. I understand the need for story-driven video games but the money makers and trends point to a better way… Continue reading

Business Analysis: AT&T Offers 1000 Free Rollover Minutes To Loyal Customers

I know the main question many of you fellow AT&T customers have is probably this: is the Free 1000 Rollover Minutes legit or a scam?  The simple answer is: yes, AT&T *IS* giving away 1000 free rollover minutes..  To select loyal customers, that is.  Initially, the belief was that this offer was only being extended to AT&T iPhone customers yet I’ve found reports that Blackberry, Inspire, and other smartphone users have gotten it as well.  I decided to see what a AT&T Customer Service Representative (his name was Solomon, in case you were curious) had to say about it.  Here’s what he told me (or at least what the script told him to say):

Currently, we are only offering the free rollover minutes to loyal AT&T customers.  If you did not receive a text message with the offer, requests will be processed on a case by case basis.

He then went on to add that, if I got the confirmation stating that I would receive my free 1000 rollover minutes in 4-6 weeks, then I qualified.  There seems to be a few discrepancies here, especially since he said it may take 6-8 weeks.  I imagine the demand is rising rapidly, especially since this offer only popped up on the interwebz around Saturday, February 12th 2011.

AT&T Security Guard

Hey, every business needs a gatekeeper.. Why NOT a big, bald guy?

I suppose that is the sort of beat-around-the-bush response you can expect from any CSR (Customer Service Rep in vanilla speak).  You can see the value in having AT&T limit how many people go on to tell their friends.  Quite frankly, I was surprised there was no mention of the free rollover minutes loyalty offer on their web site, prerecorded messages, or even the official AT&T Facebook page.  That said, I have a feeling that they’re going to approve everyone automatically but they’re going to position the offer as a perk for “loyal customers”.  At this point, they’re probably trying to control call volume while not creating any more buzz about this whole thing than there needs to be.

Why is AT&T offering this now?  Why do the loyal customers matter at this point?  For jaded AT&T customers, the Verizon iPhone news, as announced on the magical date of 1/11/11, presents a way out but there’s more to it…

Continue reading

Security Reality Check: Malware, Grayware, and Other Ugly Computer Software

In today’s media and society as a whole, scare tactics run rampant, often causing preemptive reactions and paranoia.  The culture of fear that results can be scarier than the actual threats propagating them but, in the case of computers, there are very real threats to come to terms with.  The face is often obscure and it goes by many names so I’m here to give you a little PC Security & Contingency Planning 101 course.

Malware: A family of critters that can make your day a bad one for computing.

Ewww.. Get it off my puter, plz!

First, let’s get a few things straight: any device that has access to software is at risk.  If such device has Internet access, there’s even greater risk.  You run a risk if you partake in certain activities as well.  What risk?  The risk of compromising your computer’s security.

Security compromises in the computer world manifest themselves in many ways.  There is a wide array of methods for attackers to infiltrate your computers by way of intrusive software programs/applications.  Here are a few symptoms that may hint to possible computer adulteration:

  1. Random performance spikes that cause system unresponsiveness or sporadic slowdown.
  2. Dynamic web content that seems to know a little TOO much about you.
  3. Sudden inaccessibility of known-working web sites.
  4. Overall sluggish system performance, regardless of what you are doing on your computer.
  5. Weird e-mail messages from names that sound foreign or just look like gibberish.
  6. Unexpected pop-ups, desktop icons, and extra stuff appearing.
  7. Your computer does not boot up properly or at all.
  8. Specific programs become unavailable or crash, often including security and diagnostics software.
  9. Memory randomly leaks during long computing sessions, no matter how little you multitask.
  10. Familiar screens suddenly look a bit “off” but you can’t quite pin-point why…

Certainly, there are many other tell-tale signs of foul play but these are amongst some of the most common things I’ve seen first-hand.  The key thing here is to note that malicious software works differently depending what you have.  You can have multiple infections at once or you may just be due for a computer overhaul and/or reformat.  Be wary: some issues are due to lack of ongoing housekeeping and others are caused by unwanted programs.  It’s hard to tell which is which, but that’s why you have tech-savvy friends and tech consultants (hopefully).

Continue reading

*** CONSUMER ALERT: Avoid ACACIA Augusta Public Auto Auction ***

As always, I have a ton of ideas and posts lined up but so little time to do so.  This matter, however, is quite urgent as I start to shift my focus a bit to local issues such as safest neighborhoods, good eats, best deals, and miscellaneous points of interest.  We all know that buying a car can be the best investment one can ever make.  Some of us have learned the hard way that owning a car can also spell unending debt (automobile money pit, anyone?) if you’re not careful.  Avoid buying lemon cars by reading this quick guide!

If you want to be fruit, go to the Augusta Auto Auction; otherwise, go elsewhere to buy a good vehicle.

...What was that about life handing you lemons? o_O

Now, I live in the CSRA (Central Savannah Rivera Area) on the Georgia side.  I know a lot of my main readers are back on the West coast or Northeast but you may want to read on anyway, especially if you’re searching for a car now or in the near future.  This blog entry is about the crooks that want your money and how to read between the lines when making buying decisions.

Continue reading

Microsoft Reminds Us Why They Suck: XBox LIVE Outages and Poor Customer Service

Well, I couldn’t fight the urge anymore. With as much work as I have on the table, I owe it to you, my loyal readers, to bring back the passion and frequency of my blog and what better way than to take potshots at one of the biggest and crappiest pseudo-monopolies out there? That’s right, it’s time to attack Microsoft once again!

XBox LIVE Dies - ZOMG!!!

No, XBox LIVE is not dead but, the way it has been running the past couple of weeks, it might as well be. If you have lived under a rock or are not really a gamer, you may have missed all the scandals regarding XBox LIVE customer horror stories and continued outages. I’m going to give you all a little grocery list of some of these horror stories:

  • XBox LIVE customer support analysts actually laugh and hang up on customers.
  • The ultimate solution for most problems plaguing XBox 360 seems to come down to buying a new system, creating a new account, or hearing “we can’t help you”.
  • XBox 360 units are still experiencing random crashes (surprise), red rings, and other hardware failure.
  • The magical XBox 360 warranty (which comes at an additional cost) does not include much at all; in fact, shipping and even boxes come at additional premiums in many cases!
  • Prepaid XBox LIVE subscription cards are more trouble than they’re worth – some don’t even code with a code behind the silver coating, due to misprints (good luck getting anyone to give you credit or a full refund for that)!
  • The most over-used line of any XBox LIVE customer support representative is “sorry, but that’s our policy”.
  • No one on the XBox LIVE support team seem to speak English natively, nor do they understand the root cause of your issues and what the customer TRULY needs.
  • It is not unlikely for random people to harass you, just for fun, and file false complaints against you which, ultimately, get you terminated. Since the XBox LIVE team doesn’t really understand English, they just go by “what’s in their system” and follow their scripted courses of action. A few strikes and you’re out. Good luck appealing.

If you’re like me, you may be looking at this list with great disgust. Anyone that knows me knows that poor customer service, unwarranted rudeness, and poor product “follow-through”/overall quality are things that I absolutely abhore. As a gamer and someone that happens to be an XBox 360 owner, I feel that Microsoft’s business tactics are completely unethical, to say the least. We shouldn’t be surprised since the XBox franchise is a microcosm of Microsoft’s track record in all other facets of their huge corporate monster.

Continue reading

Marketing No-No’s: How to Scare Away Customers in Five Minutes or Less

With Summer coming to an end soon, I’ve decided to take some R&R and bring some long over-due projects to an end. This year has been quite interesting but one thing never changes: every month or so, I run into at least one over-zealous sales person. Few things turn off customers more than empty words, cliche statements, and typical sales talk yet even the best companies are plagued by individuals that I feel have a sort of diarrhea of the mouth, to put it bluntly.

Oh no - it's the scary sales guy!!

The bad thing about these sales people is that they bring a lot of heat to the rest of us, the few that know better than to use tired scripts and strong-arm tactics. It is something that has hurt the IT field, retail, and many other industries. Today, I want to hone in on the MLM/Direct Sales/Network Marketing industry because these types of business now account for more than half of the businesses in the United States (believe it or not). With these companies growing rapidly, everyone will be exposed, which can spell out good things or bad things, depending on what side you’re on and what sort of training the involved parties may have.

I’ll be clear about this for anyone that may have not read my other articles on the Network Marketing business: these types of franchises work but, like in any occupation, there’s good, bad, and plenty of ugly! If you ask me, many of the MLM folks I have encountered also seem to train with the same few people. Their scripts and systems vary a bit but you can always spot these folks from a mile away. They dress the same, use the same corny jokes, draw the same diagrams, and try to hard to exude positive energy, result-driven performance, and things that they think will attract customers and team members alike. These folks couldn’t be more wrong. Anyone that listens to these folks and has been exposed to a similar business would believe these MLM folks all read the handbook on how to scare away customers as quickly as possible by the way they overwhelm you with robotic sales speech!

Continue reading