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What is the Metaverse, Exactly, and How Will it Change Digital and Social Connection?

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What is the Metaverse, Exactly, and How Will it Change Digital and Social Connection?

So what is Mark Zuckerberg’s vision for the metaverse exactly, and how will it take shape?

For all the discussion of the next stage of digital connection, and a theoretical digital world where anything is possible at any time, the truth is that we’re not even close to this being an actual reality, and any business that tells you otherwise, or pitches itself as ‘metaverse ready’ and the like, is simply not being upfront.

Because it can’t be, there’s no metaverse to be ready for as yet. But we are starting to see the framework for the next stage come together, at least from Meta’s perspective, and how it will all align into a broader digital plain, where many people can come together in entirely new environments.

The main concept we have to go on thus far, is this – Zuck’s preview of the metaverse, which he shared at Facebook’s Connect conference last October.

As you can see here, the primary focus is on VR, with Meta’s Horizon platforms (Home and Worlds) facilitating fully immersive digital connection. Meta’s been developing its VR tech for some time, and is arguably the industry leader in the space, and it’s this work that Meta will use as the foundation of the metaverse shift.

Indeed, Zuckerberg noted this himself in Meta’s Q4 earnings call:

Horizon is core to our metaverse vision. This is our social VR world-building experience that we recently opened to people in the US and Canadam and we’ve seen a number of talented creators build worlds like a recording studio where producers collaborate or a relaxing space to meditate. And this year, we plan to launch a version of Horizon on mobile too, that will bring early metaverse experiences to more surfaces beyond VR. So while the deepest and most immersive experiences are going to be in virtual reality, you’re also going to be able to access the worlds from your Facebook or Instagram apps as well, and probably more over time.”

Note the last point – beyond VR headsets, which are rising in popularity, Meta’s also looking to enable people to connect into its Horizon experiences in new ways, with your phone acting as a gateway into these immersive environments, via your 3D avatars, which users can now use across Facebook, Instagram and Messenger in various ways.

Soon, you’ll also be able to interact with VR avatars in Horizon via your device – similar to how people can play mobile games like Fortnite or Roblox on mobile devices and interact with users on PCs, consoles and more.

That’ll mean that some users will be using VR avatars via headsets, while others will be navigating their digital characters around the 3D space via controls on their phone screen. Which is not ideal – while you can play the aforementioned games on mobile devices, the controls are not overly intuitive – which will also likely see Meta eventually expand Horizon access to gaming consoles as well, with users able to control their avatars in the space via their gaming controllers.

Which is another key element – gaming is already hugely popular on Facebook, and Meta has been working to expand on its gaming potential, and attract more of the gaming audience into its eco-system. These users are well accustomed to controlling 3D characters in such spaces, and while gaming is also traditionally associated with younger audiences, really, for anyone under 40, gaming has likely played a significant role in their upbringing, and how they spend their recreational time.

Indeed, according to research, the vast majority of gamers are aged 18-34.

Gaming demographics

A lot of those users would be at the lower end of that age spectrum, but as you can see, 42% of gamers are aged 35 and up, which means that a lot of older people are also well-versed in engaging in gaming worlds. In five years time, that will shift again, and as younger users who are even more attuned to gaming as both a social and explorative tool move into these older age brackets, the potential for these users to connect in new ways will continue to increase.

You can see, then, how Meta’s vision for interoperability and interaction in the space will continue to expand beyond VR alone – though VR will remain the key creative space, and the central experience which Meta will look to promote through these other connective tools.

Which is why digital avatars will also become increasingly important, because all users connecting into the space, from various platforms, will need to take on an identity, and digital avatars will be your profile, and a recognizable character for next-level engagement.

This is where we see things like NFTs coming into play – though the current, initial push on NFTs may be slightly misguided.

Clearly, there is value in visual identity within digital worlds. On Fortnite, for example, someone who has one of the older, rarer skins is more likely to be a good player, because they’ve likely been playing the game for some time, while on Roblox, certain avatar items can only be obtained by reaching certain levels in games, adding an immediate form of recognition, and prestige, to your character.

These types of trends will likely extend into new uses of digital avatars as well, but while NFTs may be exclusive, and rare in many instances, most NFT projects will not be able to facilitate this next shift, as they won’t have the technical capacity to create 3D versions of their characters that people can use in these spaces.

And there’s also a question as to whether users will actually want to be a 3D Bored Ape, even if it is rare. More likely, people will be looking to buy rare items of clothing than to actually be these characters, because again, as we’ve seen in other platforms, while rare skins do have a level of prestige, the most commonly used characters are the coolest looking ones, even if a heap of other players have the same.

Which is where there may currently be a gap in understanding – while NFTs, as a concept, in facilitating ownership of digital items, hold significant potential in this next stage, NFT characters and profile pictures probably won’t hold their value, or interest. Because while you will, theoretically, be able to create a digital art gallery to show off your owned works in such spaces, that’s not what people are going to be wowed by in the Metaverse space, with creators in Horizon Worlds, for example, building fully-immersive, 3D experiences that will take you to all new plains of existence.

Digital items, yes, digital characters, I suspect not. But many people are jumping on board the hype train anyway, in fear of missing out on the next big shift.

But even so, you can see how this is all starting to come together more broadly, and how Meta is looking to take ownership of the next stage. And while Meta has repeatedly noted that no one company will own the metaverse, as such, what we are seeing is that Meta will very likely own the real estate upon which other businesses and developers will be able to build immersive experiences, facilitated by Meta’s various tools.

So there will be various developers and experiences built-in, but Meta will be the gateway, and as it continues to dominate the metaverse conversation – by, among other things, changing its corporate name to ‘Meta’ – we’re all unconsciously buying into the fact that Zuck and Co will be the landlords of the next stage.

The more discussion there is around ‘the metaverse’, the better it is for Meta, because it currently, and increasingly, hosts all the access points, which means that all other interested parties will have to work with them, in order to reach the widest possible audience with their immersive experiences.

Other companies may be developing similar tools, but they’ll need to use Meta’s schemas and APIs to get them in front of the largest possible user base, and as Meta builds in these additional access points, that becomes more relevant, and will help to advance its broader vision.

Make no mistake, of you’re talking about ‘the metaverse’, you’re talking about Meta’s plan, and we’re gradually starting to see how that vision will come into effect.


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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024

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Make money blogging

 

Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.

Conclusion:

Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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