There are over 1 billion websites on the web today and 2.3 billion social media users. How does a person build a page that stands out? How do you get your message heard?img_7556

I’ve been struggling with that since I built my first website, I’d written a musical set in the bars of New York and the streets of Baghdad. My research involved interviewing soldiers who had served in Iraq. I fell in love with these men and women — their dignity, loyalty, honor… and the hardship Iraq delivered to them. Soldiers, who were trained for battle, became police, there to win hearts and minds — gun in hand.

They walked around the streets of the cities and towns, not knowing who was friend and who was foe (both carried AK-47’s) and the soldiers, in their American military uniforms, might as well of had targets on their backs. I imagine it felt something like being inside of a video game where, at any moment, you could lose, and that meant die.

Meanwhile, here we sat back at home, our faces lost in our cellphones, mesmerized, as each new version increased in speed. When Obama brought the soldiers home, I made a website where people could send our soldiers thank you notes, and our soldiers could tell their stories. I thought uniting both worlds was a good idea. I thought the world would flock to it. Nobody came.img_7560

This hollow reaction had nothing to do with people not caring. It had everything to do with me not knowing how to promote the page.  My googling began. I learned SEO, thinking that would solve my problem. It didn’t. I did big real-world events for great causes, thinking that would pull people in. It didn’t. I studied branding, figuring my content was the problem. It wasn’t.

Here is what I didn’t do: 1. I didn’t operate consistently with patience 2. I didn’t commit to a single well-formed plan, and 3 — I didn’t spend any money to get the word out.  Three months ago I started doing those things, combining everything I had learned with everything I am. Things are now moving.  I’ve chosen Instagram as my social media outlet. Whatever I post there goes to Twitter and Facebook.  My next adventure: getting a big following.

I quickly learned, through googling and observation, that many of the pages with a 25K+ following bought those followings. It’s easy to do. A few hundred dollars and you can have 77k+ followers in a matter of weeks. People will think you have special value. You will be invited to front events and be on TV. Of course you are deceiving those business that believe you have value. Smart businesses have caught on. You can tell a purchased following by their engagement level in proportion to their followers.img_7644

I bought 1000 followers to see what those kind of followers look like, and to see if it stirred up any activity. The company I bought them from called them “real followers”.  I wondered if that was true. I think I did gain some real people who like what I post and have become friends. But most of those pages looked the same and probably do not have a real person working them. All of them have strange names from all over the world. They have single digit posts, single digit followers and thousands of pges that they are following.  Because a small number did actually engage, I found the $15 investment well worth it. My goal is an engaged following because I want to actually reach people with the things I do. So I don’t see buying followers to be my route to 100K.

My next goal was to narrow down what my page was all about.  To post daily you really need some kind of theme / a story you want to tell.  Basically it’s the amplification of who your dog is, which is the voice you have given him / her. My dogs are grateful rescues, one who is a deep thinker, and the other who is a holly-go-lightly fashion queen.  I started googling, found Neil Patel, read his plan that enabled his rise to the top, and I copied it.  “Wisdom dogs” was born. A contest is next. I’m googling how to best do that.