20 Best Affiliate Marketing Software Solutions of 2020

Arbitrary list of popular lights - Summer Solstice 2020 edition

Happy Solstice!
In honor of Summer Solstice for the northern hemisphere, I've made an updated list of popular lights. Today is a couple days after (sorry!) the day you're least likely to need a flashlight north of the equator, but it increases every day after so it's a good time to buy a flashlight.
Because a definitive buyer's guide is too hard, I've made an arbitrary list of popular lights you should consider if you're shopping for a light. There is no best flashlight, so this is not the last word in what's good, but a list of lights that are often bought or recommended here with a touch of my own opinion thrown in. Exclusion from this list doesn't mean a light isn't good. To search more lights by their attributes, try http://flashlights.parametrek.com/index.html
Where possible, official manufacturer URLs are linked here. Sometimes the manufacturer offers good deals through direct orders, sometimes vendors have the best prices. There are coupon codes available that apply to many of the lights listed. I'm hosting a version of this list on my own site with affiliate links because a few people have asked for a way to give me a kickback.
Shipping/availability may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In particular, items shipped from China are often taking 2 months to arrive. Supply chains and warehouse stock also appear to be disrupted as well, so you may have to be more patient than usual if you want certain flashlights, chargers, and batteries.

For those in a hurry

If you don't want to learn much, just get one of these.

All of the lights in this section come with a rechargeable battery and have a charger built in to the light. The battery will be a standard size you can buy online from third parties, and the charger will use USB as its power source, though some options do use a special cable. Aside from the Catapult, all have very good color quality compared to the average LED flashlight, improving your ability to see details.
These are at the top of the list not because they're the best in some objective sense, but because they're easy to own and use, and easy to buy. They score well on most measure flashlight nerds care about while also being suitable for non-enthusiasts.

About specs and considerations

Moved to the wiki due to character limit

Mainstream lights

Everyday Carry Lights

These are selected for pocketability first and performance second, but most of the larger options are perfectly adequate for house/cacamping/etc... uses. This section excludes right-angle designs that double as headlamps, but many people do use those for pocket carry, so see that section as well.

Keychain

AAA battery

AA battery

CR123A/16340 battery

18350 battery

18650 battery

This category is so popular it gets subcategories. If you're looking for a lot of power and runtime that's still possible to carry in most pants pockets, this is your battery.

Dual-switch lights

A tailswitch controls power, a sideswitch changes brightness. The ease of explaning the UI makes these perfect to hand out to others.

E-switch lights

Electronic switches enable shortcuts from off to useful modes - usually lowest, highest, and last-used.

Other by use case

Right-angle lights and headlamps

If I could have only one portable light, it would be a right-angle light that functions as both an everyday carry light and a headlamp. Some lights in this form factor also offer a magnetic tailcap, allowing them to act as mountable area lights.

Small

Medium

All of these use one 18650 battery.

Large

Duty lights

These are suitable for first responders and possibly members of the military in combat roles. The focus is on simple operation, reliability and a good way to make sure the light starts on high.

High-performance lights

Most lights on the list are easy to carry, with performance constrained by size and thermal mass as a result. After all, the best light is the one you have. Here are lights to bring when you know you'll be using them.

Flooders

Turn night into day, but not necessarily very far away

Throwers

What's that over there? WAY over there? The hotspots of these lights tend to be too focused for comfortable use up close, though using a diffuser is an option. These tend to be most useful for search and rescue, boating, and the like.
FL1 throw is the distance at which large objects can be detected in clear air. At half that distance, there's usually enough illumination to see clearly, though with more extreme throwers, the distances may be so great as to require binoculars to see clearly even during the day. Throwers have visible backscatter from the atmosphere even in clear air, which may obstruct the user's view of the target. Warmer color temperatures tend to have less.

Hybrids

Some throw, some flood... probably a lot

Other lights

Stuff that doesn't fit somewhere else goes here.

Enthusiast lights

Enthusiast lights can be subject to a bit of a flavor of the month phenomenon, and this section isn't necessarily going to try to include them all. What you'll find here are enthusiast lights with some staying power. There will probably be an Emisar D4 of some description this time next year, but not necessarily the latest new FW variant or whatever's currently trendy from Nightwatch.

Everyday carry

Jacket pocket, maybe

Big

* BLF GT90 - the GT with a Luminus SBT-90.2 for over 7000 lumens and 2700m throw claimed, but that's going to be limited by heat and power. For sustainable performance, the original may have the advantage. For short bursts, this will be most impressive. 360, but look for discounts

Edit 20200624: added Tool AA, NU25, KR4, KR1
submitted by Zak to flashlight [link] [comments]

Updated list of Global Beermoney opportunities (+180!) - June 2020

Updated list of Global Beermoney opportunities (+180!) - June 2020

Introduction

The current, and now previous, Beermoney Global list started nearly 5 years ago. It’s been updated and has grown over all that time, but it also became a hassle to keep current. It was time to build a new list from scratch based on my experience in the Beermoney world over all these years and all the contributions all of you have been making in this sub.
The lists consist of opportunities that are available in at least one country that is not the US. This means there are sites which only work in Canada or the UK. There’s sites which are open to the whole world, but this does not mean everyone can really earn something on it. It’s all still very demographic and therefore location dependent. This list should give you a starting point to try out and find what works for you. I’m not using everything myself as I prefer to focus on a few, so not all are tested by me. They are found in this sub, other subreddits and other resources where people claim to have success.
I’ve chosen the format of a simple table with the bare minimum of information to keep things clean. It includes a link, how you earn, personal payment proof if available and sign-up bonus codes if applicable. Some of these bonuses are also one-time use codes specifically made for this sub! For the ones I don’t have payment proof (yet) feel free to provide some as a comment or via modmail so others know it’s legit. I am working on detailed instructions for each method that I personally use which will include things like cashout minimum, cashout options, tips & tricks,... For now I’ve split things up based on the type of earning like passive or mobile. Because of this there’s sometimes an overlap as some are both passive and on mobile or both earning crypto and a GPT (Get Paid To) website.
The lists are obviously not complete so I invite you to keep posting new ones in the sub, as a comment to this post, or in modmail. Especially if you have sites or apps which work for one single specific country I can start building a list, just like I did for The Netherlands and Belgium. If you recognize things which are in fact scams or not worth it let me know as well.

Beermoney opportunities

Get Paid To (Surveys, tasks, offers, videos, clicking links, play games, searching)
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
ySense - The best global site Surveys, tasks, offers, videos Paypal /
PrizeRebel Surveys, tasks, offers, videos Paypal Enter code 'beermoneyglobal'
SerpClix Google searching Paypal /
Swagbucks & SwagButton Surveys, tasks, offers, videos, shopping & cashback, games, apps Paypal /
GG2U Surveys, tasks, offers, videos Pending $1.00 if register here
Keep Rewarding Surveys, tasks, offers, videos, PTC Pending $0.25 if register here
Ebesucher Surfing, reading mails Bank transfer /
Reward XP Surveys, tasks, offers, videos Pending $0.50 if register here
Gain.gg Surveys, tasks, offers, videos Paypal $0.10 if register here
Timebucks Surveys, tasks, offers, videos, Tik Tok, Shopping Pending $1.00 if register here
GamerMine Surveys, offers, videos, tasks, Pending $1.00 if register here
Gamehag Tasks, offers, play games, post on forum, writing Pending /
BTCSurveys Surveys Pending /
FruitLab Watch & upload video game clips Pending 100 pips if register here
Clickworker Transcripts, tasks, UHRS (categorizing), surveys Paypal /
FreeSkins Surveys, offers, tasks, videos Pending 100 coins if register here
iRazoo Games, surveys, videos, offers, apps Pending Enter code 'AK7DB2' for 500 points when signing up
EarnCrypto Data entry, surveys, offers, tasks, videos, games, apps Pending /
Blockreward Apps, surveys, videos, tasks, offers Pending $2.00 if register here and earn 20000b + $2.00 if earn 10000b within 30 days
PaidViewPoint Surveys Pending /
GrabPoints Suverys, videos, offers, games, apps Pending 500 points if register here
RewardingWays Surveys, offers, tasks, videos, contests Pending $0.20 if register here
SuperPay Surveys, offers, tasks, videos, contests Pending $0.20 if register here
InstaGC Surveys, tasks, videos, apps Pending /
GiftHunterClub Surveys, offers, videos, apps, games Pending $0.75 if register here
Idle-Empire Surveys, offers, videos, mining, apps, games Pending 500 points if register here
PicoWorkers Tasks, games, apps Pending /
ViewFruit Surveys Pending /
Mobrog (change language if needed) Surveys Pending /
Surveytime Surveys Pending /
Giveaway Pros Offers, videos Pending /
SEO Sprint (Russian, use Google Translate) Tasks Pending /
Earnhoney Surveys, tasks, offers, videos Pending /
Toluna Surveys Pending /
Spidermetrix Surveys Pending /
BeerSurveys Surveys, tasks, offers Pending /
CrowdHolding Co-create with startups Pending /
Diaworkers Tasks Pending /
Presearch Search & Earn Pending /
Univox Community Surveys Pending /
YouGov Surveys Pending /
Spare5 Tasks Paypal /
Rewardia Surveys, polls, games, videos, puzzles, trivia Pending 3000 points extra (when you earn 3000 points) if register here
Earnably Surveys, tasks, offers, videos Pending /
Neevo Tasks Pending /
Rakuten Insight (country specific links) Surveys Pending /
The Panel Station Surveys Pending /
Remotasks Tasks Pending /
Pureprofile Surveys Pending /
UserCrowd Tasks PayPal /
Sruvey Village Surveys Pending /
InboxDollars/InboxPounds Surveys, offers, videos, shopping Pending /
Qmee Surveys Pending /
MicroWorkers Tasks Pending /
Cinchbucks Surveys, offers, tasks, videos Pending /
Rewards1 Suverys, videos, offers, games, apps, polls, contests Pending /
Vindale Surveys Pending /
PointClub Surveys Pending /
TGM Panel Surveys Pending /
PaidPoints Tasks, offers, traffic exchange, ad clicking Pending /
RapidWorkers Tasks Pending /
AnyTask Sell your skills Pending /
Bounty0x Tasks Pending /
Opinion World Surveys Pending /
Lifepoints Surveys Pending /
Passive (desktop & mobile)
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
HoneyGain Desktop & mobile phone bandwith sharing (wifi + data) Paypal $5.00 if register here
FluidStack Desktop bandwith sharing (Linux needed) Paypal /
PacketStream Desktop bandwith sharing Pending /
LoadTeam CPU power sharing Pending $0.20 if register here
Gener8 Browser extension Pending 10 tokens if register here
Kryptex Crypto mining Pending /
Ebesucher Surfing, reading mails Bank transfer /
Honeyminer Mining Pending 1000 satoshis if register here
LazyBucks Rent out your Facebook account Pending /
HideoutTV and link to Reward XP to cashout Videos Pending /
Honey Discounts & Cashback / 500 Honey Gold if register here
Fitplay Games Pending $0.33 if register here
Mistplay Games Pending /
Money SMS Receive SMS Pending /
McMoney Receive SMS Pending $0.22 if using code '60LGG3PR'
SMS Profit Net Receive SMS Pending /
Simcash Send SMS [risky] Pending /
Cash4sms Send [risky] & receive SMS Pending /
ControlMySMS Receive SMS Pending /
Birdchain Send SMS [risky] Pending /
Sweatcoin Walking Pending /
COIN Explore Pending 1000 coins if register here
Panel App Surveys, location sharing Pending /
Phoneum Games, mining Pending /
Crypto (faucets, mining, GPT)
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Cointiply Faucet, surveys, tasks, offers, videos Bitcoin Enter code 'beermoneyglobal'
FreeBitcoin Faucet, lottery, betting, passive interest Bitcoin /
AdBTC Click ads, active window surfing, autosurfing Pending /
Faucetpay Faucet Wallet, exchange, offers, tasks, trading Pending /
Faucet Crypto Faucet, ads clicking, offers, shortlinks Pending /
More Money Faucet, ads clicking, offers, shortlinks Pending /
Kryptex Crypto mining Pending /
Quicrypto Surveys, tasks, offers, games, videos Pending /
Coinpot Faucet Bitcoin /
Honeyminer Mining Pending 1000 satoshis if register here
BitShark Faucet, games Pending /
Publish0x Read & write articles Pending /
Starbits Faucet (need FaucetPay account) Pending /
Coinpayu Ads clicking, videos, offers Pending /
BTCSurveys Surveys Pending /
Blockreward Apps, surveys, videos Pending $2.00 if register here and earn 20000b + $2.00 if earn 10000b within 30 days
Coinbase Crypto sign-up bonuses Bank transfer See links in thread
LBRY.tv Watch videos Pending /
Pi Network Crypto mining Pending (see here) To join you need a referral link
EarnCrypto Data entry, surveys, offers, tasks, videos, games, apps Pending /
Phoneum Games, mining Pending /
Mobile
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Cointiply Faucet, surveys, tasks, offers, videos Bitcoin Enter code 'beermoneyglobal'
HoneyGain Desktop & mobile phone bandwith sharing (wifi + data) Paypal $5.00 if register here
Google Opinion Rewards Surveys Play Store credit /
FreeBitcoin Faucet, lottery, betting, passive interest Bitcoin /
AppKarma Games, quizes, surveys Pending Enter code 'Proim' for 300 points when signing up
CashKarma Surveys, offers, games Pending Enter code 'Proim' for 300 points when signing up
Cash Alarm Games Pending Receive 25% of my earnings if register here
Cash Magnet Games, offers, tasks, videos Pending /
AttaPoll Surveys Pending /
ClipClaps Videos, games, raffles PayPall $1.00 & Diamond Chest if register here
Quicrypto Surveys, tasks, offers, games, videos Pending /
Poll Pay Surveys Pending $0.30 if using code '4CS6L4SQ8D' when signing up
BuzzBreak Read news, videos, offers, surveys Pending Enter code 'B06472489' when signing up
Userlytics Software testing Pending /
WowApp Games, offers, surveys, videos, chat, phone unlock, calling, cashback, shopping cashback, browsing, news reading Pending /
CuriousCat Surveys Pending /
Quickthoughts Surveys Pending /
Fitplay Games Pending $0.33 if register here
TV-Two Make Money Apps, games, Youtube, browsing Pending 555 credits if register here
Mistplay Games Pending /
FeaturePoints Suveys, offers, apps, cashback Pending 50 points if register here
Money SMS Receive SMS Pending /
BIGtoken Suveys, location sharing, social media account Pending Use code 'GMGALLOIA'
McMoney Receive SMS Pending $0.22 if using code '60LGG3PR'
Pi Network Crypto mining Pending (see here) To join you need a referral link
Roamler Mystery shopping Pending /
SMS Profit Net Receive SMS Pending /
Streetbees Surveys, tasks, create videos, take pictures Pending Enter code '6115GF' when signing up
Simcash Send SMS [risky] Pending /
VoxPopMe Video feedback Pending /
Cash4sms Send [risky] & receive SMS Pending /
Citizen Me Surveys Pending /
ControlMySMS Receive SMS Pending /
Birdchain Send SMS [risky] Pending /
Sweatcoin Walking Pending /
COIN Explore Pending 1000 coins if register here
Panel App Surveys, location sharing Pending /
GiftHunterClub Surveys, offers, videos, apps, games Pending $0.75 if register here
Phoneum Games, mining Pending /
Research
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Respondent Interviews, research, surveys Pending /
Prolific Surveys, research Paypal /
User testing
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
TestingTime Software testing Pending /
uTest Software testing Pending /
PingPong Software testing Pending /
TryMyUI Software/UI testing Pending /
Testbirds Software/UI testing Pending /
Pulselabs Voice app testing Pending /
PlaytestCloud Game testing Pending /
Userlytics Software testing Pending /
Investing (revenue share)
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
PaidVerts Ad clicking, offers, revenue sharing Bitcoin /
MyTrafficValue Games, investing PayPal /
Selling (designs on merchandise, skills/gigs)
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Fiverr Sell your skills Pending 20% off on first purchase if register here
Redbubble Sell your designs Pending /
Zeerk Sell your skills Pending /
TeePublic Sell your designs Pending /
Teespring Sell your designs Pending /
Transcribing/Translating
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Rev Transcribing, captioning, foreign subtitles Pending /
Gotranscript Transcribing, translating captioning, foreign subtitles Pending /
TranscribeMe Transcribing, translating, data annotation Pending /
Unbabel Translating Pending /
Others
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Wealthy Affiliate Learn affiliate marketing Pending /
Brave Brows internet Pending /
Andromo Develop apps Pending /
The Netherlands specific
For The Netherlands there are a few very good options next to a bunch of ‘spaarprogramma’s. There ‘spaarprogramma’s are all the same where you receive and click a bunch of e-mails, advertisements, banners,... I advise you to create a separate e-mail address or use a good filter in your inbox as you will be spammed to death. I believe they can be a nice piece of beermoney but they take quite the effort.
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Euroclix Surveys, shopping & cashback, offers, energy/internet providers Bank transfer €1.95 if register here
StemPunt Surveys Gift cards 500 points if register here
Cashback XL Shopping cashback, health insurance discount Bank transfer /
Scoupy Shopping cashback, free products Pending /
Cashback Korting Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €7.50 if register here
Lady Cashback Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €7.50 if register here
Enqueteclub Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €7.50 if register here
Snel Verdienen Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €2.50 if register here
Spaar Actief Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Klik Je Zakgeld Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Zinngeld Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €0.10 if register here
My Clics Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.25 if register here
Direct Verdiend Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €2.00 if register here
Spaar4Cash Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.50 if register here
Qassa Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending /
My Flavours Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Cash Ze Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Geld Race Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.25 if register here
iPay Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.25 if register here
Double Points Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €2.00 if register here
Mailbeurs Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.50 if register here
Qlics Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.25 if register here
Centmail Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.50 if register here
Extra Euro Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.25 if register here
Gekken Goud Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Dutch Euro Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.50 if register here
Nu Cash Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register
Snel Euro Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Cash Hier Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.50 if register here
Betaalde Mails Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €2.00 if register here
Goudmails Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Online Cashen Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Crazy Mails Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Cash Paradijs Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Smart Clix Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €5.00 if register here
24/7 Discount Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending /
Beetje Zakgeld Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.25 if register here
Geldmolen Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.75 if register here
Online Zakcentje Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.50 if register here
Geldcircus Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €0.75 if register here
Lady Clix Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €0.99 if register here
Geldwolf Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Zilvervloot Read mails, click banners, shopping cashback, shopping deals, compare (GWL, data, internet, tv, insurances), offers, surveys Pending €1.00 if register here
Belgium specific
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Buffl Surveys Gift cards /

Sign-up bonuses

The one-time sign-up bonus programs are still to be found here. If you find a new one let me know so I can create the post to keep all the ref links together.

Saving money

Although it’s not really about making money online, it’s still nice to save some money as well when shopping online.
Register here How to earn Payment proof Sign-up bonus code
Honey Discounts & Cashback / 500 Honey Gold if register here
G2A Game keys / /
Kinguin Game keys / /
Allkeyshop Game keys / /
AliExpress Save on online shopping / $24 coupons if register here
Gearbest Save on online shopping / /

Other subs & resources

submitted by Proim to beermoneyglobal [link] [comments]

Stream Guide for Beginners - Updated for 2020!

Hey Everyone,
I decided to update my previous guide on beginning on Twitch. Hopefully this is helpful!
It'll cover a large variety of topics, with a lot of suggestions based on my observations and professional experience streaming for my game studio. It is for anyone who plans to use OBS (or OBS variants), Xsplit is a different beast and I am unfamiliar with it. So before we begin, buckle up, put on your helmet, and get your travel mug cause we're going for a rip!

Creating Your Channel

  1. Coming Up With A Name: Like any product, you want something that is catchy, simple, and memorable. Also, for those who really want to roll with it, you can have a theme! Your name is important because it really sets you up for having solid branding for your channel. Some people just make a channel, and their username is something unoriginal or unattractive "Jdawg2245" or "bigchonkyboi22" or something along those lines. You are trying to diversify yourself in this highly competitive market, so give thought to your channel name because it sets the stage for a lot of future decisions. Think up something that rolls off the tongue and is easy for someone to remember if recommend. For example "JackDavies" or "PapaSmurf". Those are easy to remember and don't require memorizing what numbers or symbols were in there.
  2. Catch Phrases: It may sound silly, but catch phrases are pretty common for content creators. They create branding, and they create a sense of familiarity for fans/viewers to recognize a channel. CohhCarnage for example has his "Good Show!!" when he receives a sub, or for Ezekiel_III, he not only has a whole spiel, he also has a thing he does that is a unique fist bump for when he gets a new sub. When I sign off, I say "Catch ya on the flipside". It feels good to say and is distinctly me. Catch phrases aren't required, but it can build a sense of consistency and fun.
  3. Schedule: Before you stream, know when you plan to stream. This is important in order to provide a concrete, cut and dry, timeline of when you'll be online. This is important for viewer retention. Stream consistently for generating regular viewers as they can't come to watch, if there's nothing to watch! On the flip side, don't stream too much, or you'll burn yourself out, or have no new content. Keep it healthy, and keep it consistent. There are exceptions to this like Bikeman. He didn't have a schedule, he streamed when he streamed, and people would show up. That's an exception, not the norm.

Hardware

This is the most discussed part of streaming, each persons setup is unique, and it's difficult to say there is a perfect setup. What I'm going to do instead is explain to you the necessity of each component, and how it's critical to the stream and your viewers experience.
  1. CPU: The CPU (or Processor) is one of the most important aspects regarding the technical side of streaming. If you are using a 1 PC streaming setup, not only is it running the game, it is encoding your content as it broadcasts to Twitch (if using CPU b. What is Encoding? Encoding is the process of converting the media content that you are uploading (In this case audio-visual content) and converting it into a standard that Twitch will receive. Encoding is CPU intensive (uses a lot of CPU power) and this means you need a fairly decent CPU. I recommend some of the higher end CPUs in order to give yourself both sufficient processing power, and also some longevity. Buying an introductory processor will only mean you get a short time frame of which to utilize it. Higher end AMD/Intel processors will allow you to get the most for your money because even though it's $100 more, it may last another 2 years until needing to upgrade.
  2. GPU: Your GPU (or video card) is essential in running the games that you are playing. The two major players are AMD and nVidia. The better your GPU, the better your graphics will be, and the higher quality your stream will be because of how the game looks. Unless you're using the nVidia nvenc encoder, the GPU isn't super critical on the stream technical side of things, mainly just on the game side. If you are using NVENC, then your CPU doesn't have as much of a load which means more balanced. If you are playing via capture card and on a console, this will mean you can use either without concerns on how it impacts your
  3. RAM: Your RAM (or memory) is all about "short term memory", and the ABSOLUTE minimum I would recommend is 8GB, but I realistically, I recommend 16GB or more as Open World games and Battle Royale games are utilizing more RAM since they are temporarily storing data from servers in your RAM client side in order to display it on your machine as well as all of the visual assets you see. RAM significantly helps with multitasking as you start to run a few applications at the same time while you stream to help boost the quality of it.
  4. HDD/SSD: Your HDD (Hard Drive Disk) or SSD (Solid State Drive) are all about storage. SSD's are great for storing all your main programs and OS on, and running from there, and using a HDD for storing data is handy. HDD utilize mechanical components in order to run, therefore increasing the odds of fairly, so if your data is important to you, have a backup that is typically a bit larger than your current hard drive, in order to make sure ALL your content is backed up. SSD's use flash memory (the same as Thumb Drives, and this allows them to be faster, and more reliable, as the odds of mechanical failure are slim to none. If you are looking to edit your content on your computer, make sure to have a decent sized HDD so that you can record your stream as you stream it!
  5. Monitors: Monitors become your best friend as your stream grows. I currently use 2 monitors, although in the past I used to use three. I know right? I was insane! This allowed me to have the center monitor act as my main action monitor (the game I'm playing), my left monitor is my OBS screen so I can check my frames, uptime, and see any alerts that are broadcast (more on this later ;]), finally my right monitor was for my third party bot/chat which I now use Stream Elements for in OBS).
  6. Webcam: If you are deciding to use a webcam (some people stream without one, but it can help), it's worth getting a decent one right off the bat. A nice logitech webcam is around $100, but should last you for a couple years! The models I'd recommend are the Logitech C920/922 or the Logitech Brio (a 4k webcam). There are cheaper webcam, but you will notice changes in quality. I highly recommend at least something with 1080p and 30fps. A lot of the differences will be FoV (how wide of a shot it takes).
  7. Microphone: This is a more difficult decision. Each person has a different way they want to broadcast their audio to their viewers. Many just use a headset, and eventually upgrade to something else once they've established themselves. Others will use something with more umph right from the get go like a Razer Seiren, or a Blue Micophones - Yeti Mic. And even higher end people will use a digital audio input, a high end studio XLR microphone, and a scissor stand, to record professional quality sound, with more options for effects and the like. As a note, audio quality is a big deal. No one wants to listen to a rough sounding mic that sounds like it was bought for 10 bucks at the dollar store, so this is a good place to focus.
  8. Network: It is important that you have ~5mbps upload speed. This will allow you to upload at the recommended encoding bitrate of 2000kbps or higher. If you are playing an online game, while streaming, it's helpful to have a bit more speed to run. In a perfect world, a higher upload speeds means better quality for your stream if you can afford to increase the bit rate.
  9. Capture Card: for those of you who want to stream console games, a capture card is important. There are a variety of capture cards for old connections and for HDMI. You also have the option of internal or external capture devices. This will reduce the load on your PC as the processor or graphics card is being used just for encoding as the game is being played on the console. Search for the right capture card for you, and see how it goes! Elgato is a great brand for capture cards, as is AverMedia.
  10. Peripheral: This includes mice, keyboard, etc. This doesn't have a major impact on the stream, just get what you like and makes game-play more comfortable for you!

Setting Up OBS

  1. First, download OBS, this is the application that this guide is based off of, and while allow you to broad cast your stream to your twitch channel. There are some alternative OBS versions such as Streamlabs OBS, StreamElements has an addon for OBS, and Twitch has their BETA software, Twitch Studio.
  2. Second, follow the instructions to install OBS on your computer.
  3. Third, go to your Twitch Dashboard, go to Stream Key, and show your stream key. This is important for OBS to broadcast to your Twitch channel. Go to your OBS Settings-Broadcast Settings and input your stream key into the Play Path/Stream Key section, when you've set Mode to Live Stream, and Streaming Service to Twitch.
  4. Fourth, set your encoding bitrate. The golden rule for a non-partnered streamer is around 2000kbps for your Bitrate, but you can go higher, although without transcoding, you run the risk of some viewers having buffering issues. There are two encoding types, x264 (CPU Intensive) and NVENC (GPU intensive). Try testing both to see if you have any bottlenecks. I recently have switched to NVENC since I have been playing switch games, which means my GPU has more wiggle room and it's a bit higher end than my CPU.
  5. Fifth, set your video settings. The golden rule is 1280x720 (720P) with an FPS of 30. As your stream grows, you'll more likely get transcoding when capacity is available. If you are an affiliate, you will get priority access to transcoding for your viewers (the ability to set the resolution lower) as capacity is available, and as a partner, you will always have it.
  6. Sixth, set your Audio settings to how you like them (desktop audio device and what you want your default microphone to be). I personally have a higher quality, stereo microphone, so I force my Microphone to Mono.
  7. Seventh, start creating your scenes. There are two different squares you'll see. Scenes and Sources. Scenes are the unique scenes for say "Stream Starting", "Main Overlay", "BRB", "Stream Ending". Sources are the things that are added together to make a scene. This includes images for overlays, graphics, Browser Sources for alerts/notifications, Text, Webcam, etc. Scenes are very specific to each person, but I recommend checking other streams to see what is aesthetically pleasing to you. From there, you can either make them yourself, commission them, or you can use third party sources for scenes. As mentioned elsewhere, there are groups like Nerd or Die and Own3d.tv that sell overlays. Nerd or Die does have some pay what you want.
  8. Eighth, do a test stream. This is important for you to gauge if your quality settings are at the right place for you, and allows you to fine tune them.

Branding

  1. Logo: Your logo is your face. Find something professional, but at the same time catches the eye and helps draw a theme for you! You can check out certain sites like Fiverr to get a cheap starter logo without breaking the bank.
  2. Overlays: Whether you buy them online, have someone make them, or make them yourself, overlays help enhance your stream scene. Keep it simple, while still adding flair. Recently I removed some stuff from mine so there was more game space for what I am playing, while still displaying the same information for viewers regarding latest follower, donation, etc. There's a lot of Overlay sites such as Nerd or Die, Own3d.tv, and fiverr to get custom overlays. Find what works best for you.
  3. Information Panels: On your channel, you have information panels at the bottom. Use them to your advantage. I highly recommend having a schedule panel, links to your various social media, etc. Creating your own panels, that match your general theme, are worth it to create that Branding we are aiming for. You are the product, you don't want crappy packaging.
  4. Social Media: Try and match all your social media to your channel name. This breeds familiarity with all the folks you are networking with. They will recognize the name across all different social media platforms. Reddit, Twitch, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc. I use PhazePyre for everything.

Streaming! The Good Part!

This is going to be general tips to help you on your path to becoming a great entertainer. There's ALWAYS room for improvement, even the best streamers and entertainers have room for improvement
  1. Don't be quiet: Talk to your viewers, whether it's 0 or 100. Talk to yourself, talk about what your doing, talk about the song, it's awkward at first but as you do it more often, you'll get used to it. Not only will this provide content and dialogue, it'll help you workout your vocal cords so that you can talk for extended periods. The big thing is you don't want to come across as boring. One way to help with this is to add very light background music to the stream. It helps fill the silence a bit in quieter games.
  2. Minimize off screen time: Try and minimize the amount of AFK time that you have. If you are younger, let your parents know you are streaming. Explain to them what you're doing, and hopefully they understand. Let them know how long you'll usually stream for, and if they absolutely need something, to let you know before hand, or via a text message. Nothing is worse than Mom busting in telling you to take your underwear out of the bathroom.
  3. Don't play oversaturated games: Try to avoid what I call the "Top 4", LoL, Dota2, CS:GO, Hearthstone, unless you are REALLY good at those games. They are competitive games, and you are competing with professionals of those games and giant tournaments. This is tough though, as it can be tricky to be found. You'll have viewers coming in and out of your stream, and depending on how you're packaged yourself, they may opt to chat and become a follower. Additionally, there's no perfect game to play. Find something that you know you can play regularly and it'll help you build
  4. Don't call out lurkers: Don't even get your bots to do it. It's tacky, and WILL make most people leave. Some people just want to sit back and see how you are. Lurkers are especially great as they'll help build your viewer count so you can break above the 90% of streams that are under 5-10 viewers.
  5. Don't ask for donations: i don't think I need to really explain why.
  6. Be Confident!: People like seeing someone who's comfortable, confident, and knows what they are doing, or, if you don't, "Fake it 'til you make it!"
  7. Network, Network, Network: The best way to network imo, is to support other streamers, and organically support their endeavours. What do I mean by "organic"? I mean don't force it. Find streamers you actually like and enjoy, who are around your size, and show your support because you care about THEIR stream, not just yours. It's tough though as you don't want to come across as only wanting to interact for their viewership.
  8. Create Channel Competitions: These can breed fan loyalty and help turn people from lurkers to regulars and super engaged community members! Don't worry if you can't afford it though.

Bots (The Good Kind)

I'm only gonna list the major three free bots
  1. Nightbot: A free, web based bot, that provides moderation capabilities, song requests, and custom commands.
  2. MooBot: Similar to NightBot in that it is cloud based. Includes song requests and more.
  3. Streamlabs' Cloud Bot: If you are using StreamLabs OBS, this will be optional to enable while using it. Definitely worth it so all of your settings are in one client. Offers many options like moderation, commands, timers, giveaways, and more.

Security

Doxxing, Swatting, etc, are all bad things that trolls will do to cause trouble. These are some ways to reduce the risk of having your personal information leaked, and to help keep you safe. You may not be worried, which is fine, but I know many people are concerned about their identity and safety, and these are a few tips to help
  1. Create a separate email, that doesn't include your name anywhere. This will create a divide between you and your online persona. Batman doesn't go around telling everyone he's [REDACTED] does he?
  2. If creating a PayPal, upgrade to a business account, and make sure all your information is kept private. Your address may be displayed when you purchase things, but this will protect you when users pay you money and it displays your information. I recommend using the Name of "YOUR CHANNEL NAME's Twitch Channel".
  3. DON'T USE SKYPE WITH VIEWERS, heck unless you 100% trust random viewers, don't even use TeamSpeak. Discord is is a new app that secures your ip to prevents users from obtaining your ip address and causing problems.
  4. Don't give too many details out about your location, and if you invite friends/family (I recommend not doing that so that you create an independent identity) make sure they don't address you by your name. Get a PO Box if you'd like to send things to viewers without worrying about them get your personal details.
  5. Ensure your Steam Profile is changed to your new channel specific email. If you send a game to someone for a giveaway, it will show your personal email unless you change it.

How to grow your channel

  1. Make content on other platforms outside of Twitch. YouTube, TikTok, and other forms of content based social media are great ways to passively grow your audience. Find out your specialty and put that out there. YouTube content should try and be unique compared to what you do on stream in order
  2. Build a community. Get to know the people coming to your streams. If you value them, they will value you and feel wanted in your community. As a smaller streamer this is your strongest tool. I highly recommend making a discord and inviting people to join it. If you integrate Mee6 as your Discord bot, it will notify people when you go live if you'd like, and that can help build retention and viewership.
  3. Roll with the punches. You make get trolls, the best way to deal with them is don't take the bait. Although not super valuable, I've had some trolls follow because of how I rolled with their attempts to troll me. I never saw them again, but the less serious to take them, the better a time you'll have.

DO NOT DO THESE

  1. Don't do Follow for Follow. Followers doesn't mean much. You want a high conversion rate, and these bloat your followers and don't typically result in extra views. The goal is to have as many followers be viewers as possible, a 1:1 ratio. That person following you isn't likely to watch your stream. What do I mean by have as close to a 1:1 ratio as possible? You want to try and have every follow be a viewer. Is it realistic that if you have 25k followers, that you'll have 25k viewers? No, it's not. but what's realistic is to focus on converting every follower into a repeat viewer. Tools like Discord can help bring them into your fold. Some people will follow and only come back infrequently, but over time, you can work to have them become a regular. But if you do Follow 4 Follow, you'll have a bunch of followers who just want you to watch them, and aren't likely to be a regular viewer.
  2. Don't pay for viewers (view bots). It's bad, Twitch will find out, and you'll be hooped.
  3. SupportSmallStreamers, FollowForFollow, and other "growth" hashtags really aren't that great. Everyone is out for themselves. Rather, find like minded streamers and become friends with them. When you care about others, they'll care about you.
  4. Be wary of Affiliate programs (outside of Twitch) as they aren't super beneficial for anyone. Focus on growth to build your influence and viewership, from there revenue will naturally come and you can prepare via agents/agencies, and the like. For now, dedicate your time to building a community. Rather than affiliate programs, use things like Amazon Blacksmith and personally recommend what you want and get some kick back.
  5. Some small streamef4f groups can cause problems for you long term. Studios and companies will blacklist people that aren't focused on quality content creation, and instead are looking for instant fame. Usually it means the quality of your content isn't great, and your influence is not equal to your numbers.

Summary

All in all, streaming is a fun time. It's worth getting into especially if you're charismatic and love to entertain. Charisma is hard to develop for some people, and you may not succeed, that's the reality of things. Do what you can and don't burn yourself out. Additionally, find what makes you stand out in the crowd. Twitch continues to grow for streamers, so you need to stand out in a good way. A solid way to grow is by creating content on other platforms and pushing people to Twitch. Twitch doesn't have great passive growth opportunities, but other platforms do. Funnel those followers to Twitch and you'll see better growth.
This guide isn't all inclusive and covers everything. There is SO MUCH to cover, but this is a beginners guide and enough to give you some tips, hot takes, and instructions to start your journey on Twitch. I have made a previous post about 4 years ago that won some awards, and this is just updated a bit to make it more relevant to 2020 as I still see people reading my post and sending me emails. So here's something freshened up.

Suggestions?

Feel free to pm me, or leave a comment with any additional content you'd like added to this guide, or feel free to comment if you have additional questions and I'll add to the guide! You can DM if you have any questions regarding streaming or any additional inquiries specific to you and not in general! If you were paying attention to my guide, you should be able to find me on social pretty easy as well ;)
Good luck streamers, and have fun!
submitted by PhazePyre to Twitch [link] [comments]

Beyond Ghislaine: The Maxwell Octopus

Robert Maxwell (born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch) was born into a poor yiddish-speaking Jewish community in Czechoslovakia in 1923. When Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia during the Second World War, Maxwell fled to France as part of an underground organization ferrying youth out of his homeland. Still a teenager, this would be his first taste of the world of spycraft, an occupation which would define the remainder of his inscrutable life. After several years spent engaged in underground resistance activities which saw him shuttled across Eastern Europe and the Middle East he eventually found himself back in France, now a member of the French Foreign Legion and an active participant in the French Resistance, utilizing the newly acquired pseudonym of Ivan du Maurier.
After participating in the Allied invasion of Normandy, Maxwell (soon to adopt the name of Leslie Johnson) was shortly recruited by British Intelligence. Already a seasoned veteran of international espionage, the young man's multilingualism and underground connections made him a valuable asset to the British government. He continued to work for Britain in the years leading up to the end of the war and in its immediate aftermath, ostensibly as a press attache to the foreign office in Berlin. His actual assignment was to interrogate captured German scientists, work likely done in conjunction with the Alsos Mission, a branch of the American Manhattan Project which cooperated with British forces to collect and classify information on Germany's atomic weapons program. Though the goal of Alsos was primarily to prevent sensitive information from falling into Soviet hands, Maxwell soon also became affiliated with Soviet intelligence due to his desire to seek out surviving relatives who still resided in his homeland, now under Soviet jurisdiction.
He changed his name for the last time in 1945, and as the newly-christened Captain Robert Maxwell married Elisabeth Meynard, a native of France and the future mother of all nine of his children. Still working for allied intelligence, Maxwell began to anticipate the value his work could have on the private market. He started to gather German and Russian scientific documents and research papers which were unknown in the English-speaking world, with the intention of later selling or publishing them for profit.
Meanwhile, in America, a young scientist and child of Czech immigrants by the name of Frank Malina was establishing an international reputation for himself in the field of rocketry and aeronautics. As a graduate student at Caltech, Malina and his longtime friend Jack Parsons founded the research center that would later become the Jet Propulsion Lab. Parsons, himself a brilliant young rocket scientist, was also an avid follower of notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley. Parsons' involvement with Crowley's Thelema movement was so deep that he would eventually become the leader of the California branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemite initiatory organization whose practices included ritualistic sex magic and the summoning of supernatural beings. Thelemites shunned traditional religion and morality in favor of a belief in the supreme power of the will, an echo of Hitler's Nazi philosophy which was itself rooted in the same spiritualist and theosophist ideas as Crowley's. The supreme goal of Thelema, as with all occult practices, is the ultimate union of mind and matter, the combination of the disciplines of science, art, philosophy and religion into a single comprehensible whole. While continuing to work closely with Malina at this time, Parsons also became closely affiliated with Scientology founder and fellow occultist L. Ron Hubbard.
Malina and Parsons went on to form the Aerojet Corporation, a rocket and missile manufacturer from which Parsons was ousted in 1944. In early 1945, Aerojet was purchased by General Tire, a company whose business included contracts with the U.S. military during the second World War. Later in 1945, Malina's research facility was moved to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where the first Atomic Bomb was detonated that same year.
Leaving the British Army in 1947, Robert Maxwell utilized his military and intelligence connections to go into business as the British and US distributor for Springer Verlag, a Berlin-based publisher of scientific texts which had been taken over by Allied forces after the war. Maxwell soon purchased a majority share of the company, which he re-dubbed Pergamon Press, a reference to the ancient Greek city and center of pagan worship of the same name. During this time, Maxwell also became heavily involved with the newly-designated Israeli intelligence service Mossad, a connection which would arguably remain his primary allegiance throughout the remainder of his life.
In 1947 Frank Malina left rocketry and his native country behind to move to France, ostensibly because he had grown disenchanted with the military applications of his research, although at this time he was also being investigated by the FBI for his undisclosed involvement with American communist organizations in his youth (an ideology Parsons had also toyed with before moving onto more esoteric concerns). Malina took a job in Paris as Secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he worked under famed English eugenicist Julian Huxley, the father of mysticist author Aldous Huxley.
Back in America, Parsons was also increasingly hounded by the FBI. He devised a plan to flee to Israel after he was offered a job working for the infant Israeli rocket program, but a suspicious transfer of documents led to allegations of espionage from the FBI (later dismissed in court). Parsons remained in America until his 1952 death in a mysterious laboratory explosion, the cause of which would never be sufficiently explained.
After his stint with UNESCO, Malina left the organization to pursue his interest in art. In 1968, while still living in Paris, he founded 'Leonardo', an academic journal published by MIT Press which covered the application of science to the arts. The journal remained his primary concern until his death from natural causes in 1981, at which point control of Leonardo turned over to his son Roger Malina.
Maxwell, meanwhile, was busy building his publishing and media empire, amassing a variety of subsidiaries including newspapers, television networks and tech companies. He spent six years as a Member of British Parliament in the 1960s before being defeated in the election of 1970. Though nominally a British citizen, all of his children were born in the wealthy suburbs of Paris, their mother's native land. As his wealth and influence rose, Maxwell remained deeply entangled with MI6, the KGB, the CIA and Mossad.
In the 1970s Maxwell became involved in an intelligence operation centered around PROMIS, a database management software program that could be described as a forerunner to modern internet search engines. PROMIS was groundbreaking in its time, allowing the user to aggregate disparate databases into a single accessible interface. Though initially designed to help prosecutor's offices track and share data, the program quickly caught the attention of intelligence agencies who foresaw its potential for monitoring and compiling information in a variety of fields. In a sense, their plan could be viewed as a nascent version of the information gathering activities which would be exposed by Edward Snowden decades later.
The U.S. Department of Justice hired two men with connections to the Israeli defense forces to infiltrate Inslaw, the company which had produced PROMIS, under the pretense of being potential buyers for the Israeli Public Prosecutor's office. In reality, the men were sent to steal PROMIS and bring it back to their clients in U.S. and Israeli intelligence without Inslaw's knowledge. Their mission accomplished, the thieves soon devised bigger plans for the software than its application to their own systems. They hatched a scheme to sell the software to foreign intelligence agencies with covert back doors, thus obtaining a worldwide database of the intelligence activities of all the major powers in the world. In order to enact this plan they needed a middle-man with deep connections in the global intelligence community, someone who would be trusted as a known quantity by all. Naturally, they turned to Robert Maxwell.
Maxwell used his corporate empire (he had quietly purchased several fledgling Israeli tech companies which served as fronts for the sales) to broker deals with China, the KGB, and anyone else who would be interested in the ground-breaking software. Before long he even began to double-cross his own handlers, helping create new backdoors for China and Israel so that they in turn could spy on the Americans. The software began to find its way into banking systems and government databases worldwide, growing into a vast interconnected network which came to be dubbed "The Octopus". At the head of this Octopus was not any particular state government or intelligence agency, but Robert Maxwell himself, the only man who had been able to game the technology to his own advantage without being taken advantage of in turn.
When Inslaw discovered how their technology was being used they filed a series of lawsuits against the DOJ alleging that PROMIS was illegally stolen from their company. Without these lawsuits, it is unlikely that any of the information regarding PROMIS would have ever come to light. The lawsuits were predictably ruled in favor of the US Government, bankrupting Inslaw in the process. Danny Casolaro, a journalist who was covering the story (the man who coined the term 'The Octopus') was found dead in a hotel room in 1991, his wrists slashed several times in an apparent suicide. Casolaro had complained of threatening phone calls in the days leading up to his death, and his family have long asserted that he was murdered.
Eventually, Maxwell's double-dealing caught up with him. At the behest of China's Secret Service he sold a compromised version of PROMIS to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, birthplace of the American atomic bomb. This modified version of PROMIS installed at the Los Alamos facility was designed to give Chinese Intelligence access to America's nuclear secrets. The affair became the subject of several FBI investigations regarding Maxwell's conduct, documents regarding which have never been made publicly available except in a prohibitively redacted form. Western intelligence agencies, Israel in particular, were incensed at Maxwell's dealings with China, which they saw as a betrayal of his allegiance. For the first time, serious discussion of Maxwell as a potential liability began to take place.
In 1991, while travelling aboard his yacht 'The Lady Ghislaine' (named after his youngest and favorite daughter) Maxwell fell overboard into the Atlantic ocean. His body was recovered the next morning and the cause of his death was officially ruled as a heart attack which led to an accidental drowning. Rumors of his murder continue to persist to this day, occassionally spurred on by daughter Ghislaine herself. Robert Maxwell was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, at a funeral attended by several Israeli government officials and known intelligence operatives.
In the aftermath of his death, Maxwell's empire fell apart. Financial improprieties were discovered and the Maxwell companies were soon bankrupt. The stage was set for a new generation of Maxwells to assume his position.
Twin sisters Isabel and Christine Maxwell moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s, and despite having no apparent formal training in technology, founded the early internet search engine and e-mail provider Magellan. After selling this company, Christine would go on to form Chiliad, a data analysis company with its headquarters in the Washington D.C. suburb of Herndon, VA. An announcement on the appointment of Christine as the company's interim CEO in 2013 boasts
"The company’s Discovery/Alert big data search tool – operationally proven by the US law enforcement community – reaches across information stored in incompatible databases, documents and applications held in separate departments and organizations to provide the proactive, real-time situational awareness necessary for protection and preparedness."
-A perfectly accurate description of the PROMIS software co-opted by her father a few decades earlier. A 2008 article in Business Wire quotes Chiliad CEO Dan Ferranti as saying "In just a few years, Chiliad will be known as principal arms supplier to the information age."
In 1986 Christine married Roger Malina, the MIT-educated son of Frank Malina, and current editor of his father's 'Leonardo' journal. While it is unclear where and when the couple first met, it would seem that there was no shortage of opportunities for the two to cross paths considering their long shared family histories of involvement in Parisian society, technology, government service, and science publishing.
After two failed early marriages, Christine's twin sister Isabel would herself find love with a man named Al Seckel. Seckel was an avid atheist activist and collector of optical illusions, a self-styled intellectual whose academic credentials were overstated at best and non-existent at worst. The source of Seckel's finances were never entirely clear. He described himself as a dealer of rare books, but those who dealt with him in this capacity described him as a con artist and swindler. Seckel ingratiated himself with the academic society around Caltech and was well known for the lavish parties he threw, often packed with celebrities of academia and entertainment. His primary academic concern seemed to be the field of cognitive psychology, specifically the psychology of perception. It was a subject which surely overlapped with the interests of his brother-in-law, editor of the 'Leonardo' Roger Malina.
Many of Seckel and Malina's interests would also be shared by the longtime companion of their wives' younger sister Ghislaine, the namesake of the boat from which their father fell to his death. This man, Jeffrey Epstein, is likely already well-known to the reader. Ghislaine allegedly met Epstein in the early 1990s, a time when she was still heavily involved in her father's business dealings. Suffice it to say that Epstein would seem to fit right in with the Maxwell archetype- a shady cosmopolite of mysterious origins with unaccountable finances, questionable morality and deep ties to the worlds of scientific academia (especially at Caltech and MIT), technology, finance, French society, and, perhaps most importantly, international intelligence- specifically as related to the state of Israel. In 2010, two years after Epstein's conviction on charges of soliciting a child for prostitution, Al Seckel hosted a "private scientific conference" on Epstein's island which was attended by numerous superstars of scientific academia. As a side note, Epstein's island is known to contain a mysterious temple, the design of which makes use of optical illusions, labyrinthine motifs, a statue of Poseidon and twin golden owls, figures associated with occult and pagan symbolism. The purpose of the temple has never been fully explained.
Al Seckel would eventually be found dead in 2015 near his home in France after having apparently fallen off a cliff. After his death it was discovered that his marriage to Isabel Maxwell was never legitimate, as Seckel had still been legally married to a previous wife. In the last years of his life Seckel was reported as having been trying to sell the personal papers of his late father-in-law Robert Maxwell.
With Epstein apparently dead (typically, under mysterious circumstances) and Ghislaine Maxwell arrested, one might be tempted to feel a sense of closure regarding their crimes. The truth, as outlined here, is far more complicated. In all likelihood, the activities of the youngest Maxwell and her notorious associate were actually just a small branch of a much larger story, one with deep roots in the history of post-WWII academia, society, international espionage, and perhaps even the occult. It is difficult to draw conclusions from such disparate facts, and it is unlikely that the questions which arise can be easily answered. At a bare minimum, it seems fair to suggest that there is far more to the story of Robert Maxwell and his extended family than meets the eye.
submitted by evil_pope to Epstein [link] [comments]

Beyond Ghislaine: The Maxwell Octopus

Robert Maxwell (born Ján Ludvík Hyman Binyamin Hoch) was born into a poor yiddish-speaking Jewish community in Czechoslovakia in 1923. When Nazi Germany invaded Czechoslovakia during the Second World War, Maxwell fled to France as part of an underground organization ferrying youth out of his homeland. Still a teenager, this would be his first taste of the world of spycraft, an occupation which would define the remainder of his inscrutable life. After several years spent engaged in underground resistance activities which saw him shuttled across Eastern Europe and the Middle East he eventually found himself back in France, now a member of the French Foreign Legion and an active participant in the French Resistance, utilizing the newly acquired pseudonym of Ivan du Maurier.
After participating in the Allied invasion of Normandy, Maxwell (soon to adopt the name of Leslie Johnson) was shortly recruited by British Intelligence. Already a seasoned veteran of international espionage, the young man's multilingualism and underground connections made him a valuable asset to the British government. He continued to work for Britain in the years leading up to the end of the war and in its immediate aftermath, ostensibly as a press attache to the foreign office in Berlin. His actual assignment was the interrogation of captured German scientists, work likely done in conjunction with the Alsos Mission, a branch of the American Manhattan Project which cooperated with British forces to collect and classify information on Germany's atomic weapons program. Though the goal of Alsos was primarily to prevent sensitive information from falling into Soviet hands, Maxwell soon also became affiliated with Soviet intelligence due to his desire to seek out surviving relatives who still resided in his homeland, now under Soviet jurisdiction.
He changed his name for the last time in 1945, and as the newly-christened Captain Robert Maxwell married Elisabeth Meynard, a native of France and the future mother of all nine of his children. Still working for allied intelligence, Maxwell began to anticipate the value his work could have on the private market. He started to gather German and Russian scientific documents and research papers which were unknown in the English-speaking world, with the intention of later selling or publishing them for profit.
Meanwhile, in America, a young scientist and child of Czech immigrants by the name of Frank Malina was establishing an international reputation for himself in the field of rocketry and aeronautics. As a graduate student at Caltech, Malina and his longtime friend Jack Parsons founded the research center that would later become the Jet Propulsion Lab. Parsons, himself a brilliant young rocket scientist, was also an avid follower of notorious British occultist Aleister Crowley. Parsons' involvement with Crowley's Thelema movement was so deep that he would eventually become the leader of the California branch of the Ordo Templi Orientis, a Thelemite initiatory organization whose practices included ritualistic sex magic and the summoning of supernatural beings. Thelemites shunned traditional religion and morality in favor of a belief in the supreme power of the will, an echo of Hitler's Nazi philosophy which was itself rooted in the same spiritualist and theosophist ideas as Crowley's. The supreme goal of Thelema, as with all occult practices, is the ultimate union of mind and matter, the combination of the disciplines of science, art, philosophy and religion into a single comprehensible whole. While continuing to work closely with Malina at this time, Parsons also became closely affiliated with Scientology founder and fellow occultist L. Ron Hubbard.
Malina and Parsons went on to form the Aerojet Corporation, a rocket and missile manufacturer from which Parsons was ousted in 1944. In early 1945, Aerojet was purchased by General Tire, a company whose business included contracts with the U.S. military during the second World War. Later in 1945, Malina's research facility was moved to the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico where the first Atomic Bomb was detonated that same year.
Leaving the British Army in 1947, Robert Maxwell utilized his military and intelligence connections to go into business as the British and US distributor for Springer Verlag, a Berlin-based publisher of scientific texts which had been taken over by Allied forces after the war. Maxwell soon purchased a majority share of the company, which he re-dubbed Pergamon Press, a reference to the ancient Greek city and center of pagan worship of the same name. During this time, Maxwell also became heavily involved with the newly-designated Israeli intelligence service Mossad, a connection which would arguably remain his primary allegiance throughout the remainder of his life.
In 1947 Frank Malina left rocketry and his native country behind to move to France, ostensibly because he had grown disenchanted with the military applications of his research, although at this time he was also being investigated by the FBI for his undisclosed involvement with American communist organizations in his youth (an ideology Parsons had also toyed with before moving onto more esoteric concerns). Malina took a job in Paris as Secretariat of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), where he worked under famed English eugenicist Julian Huxley, the father of mysticist author Aldous Huxley.
Back in America, Parsons was also increasingly hounded by the FBI. He devised a plan to flee to Israel after he was offered a job working for the infant Israeli rocket program, but a suspicious transfer of documents led to allegations of espionage from the FBI (later dismissed in court). Parsons remained in America until his 1952 death in a mysterious laboratory explosion, the cause of which would never be sufficiently explained.
After his stint with UNESCO, Malina left the organization to pursue his interest in art. In 1968, while still living in Paris, he founded 'Leonardo', an academic journal published by MIT Press which covered the application of science to the arts. The journal remained his primary concern until his death from natural causes in 1981, at which point control of Leonardo turned over to his son Roger Malina.
Maxwell, meanwhile, was busy building his publishing and media empire, amassing a variety of subsidiaries including newspapers, television networks and tech companies. He spent six years as a Member of British Parliament in the 1960s before being defeated in the election of 1970. Though nominally a British citizen, all of his children were born in the wealthy suburbs of Paris, their mother's native land. As his wealth and influence rose, Maxwell remained deeply entangled with MI6, the KGB, the CIA and Mossad.
In the 1970s Maxwell became involved in an intelligence operation centered around PROMIS, a database management software program that could be described as a forerunner to modern internet search engines. PROMIS was groundbreaking in its time, allowing the user to aggregate disparate databases into a single accessible interface. Though initially designed to help prosecutor's offices track and share data, the program quickly caught the attention of intelligence agencies who foresaw its potential for monitoring and compiling information in a variety of fields. In a sense, their plan could be viewed as a nascent version of the information gathering activities which would be exposed by Edward Snowden decades later.
The U.S. Department of Justice hired two men with connections to the Isreali defense forces to infiltrate Inslaw, the company which had produced PROMIS, under the pretense of being potential buyers for the Isreali Public Prosecutor's office. In reality, the men were sent to steal PROMIS and bring it back to their clients in U.S. and Israeli intelligence without Inslaw's knowledge. Their mission accomplished, the thieves soon devised bigger plans for the software than its application to their own systems. They hatched a scheme to sell the software to foreign intelligence agencies with covert back doors, thus obtaining a worldwide database of the intelligence activities of all the major powers in the world. In order to enact this plan they needed a middle-man with deep connections in the global intelligence community, someone who would be trusted as a known quantity by all. Naturally, they turned to Robert Maxwell.
Maxwell used his corporate empire (he had quietly purchased several fledgling Israeli tech companies which served as fronts for the sales) to broker deals with China, the KGB, and anyone else who would be interested in the ground-breaking software. Before long he even began to double-cross his own handlers, helping create new backdoors for China and Israel so that they in turn could spy on the Americans. The software began to find its way into banking systems and government databases worldwide, growing into a vast interconnected network which came to be dubbed "The Octopus". At the head of this Octopus was not any particular state government or intelligence agency, but Robert Maxwell himself, the only man who had been able to game the technology to his own advantage without being taken advantage of in turn.
When Inslaw discovered how their technology was being used they filed a series of lawsuits against the DOJ alleging that PROMIS was illegally stolen from their company. Without these lawsuits, it is unlikely that any of the information regarding PROMIS would have ever come to light. The lawsuits were predictably ruled in favor of the US Government, bankrupting Inslaw in the process. Danny Casolaro, a journalist who was covering the story (the man who coined the term 'The Octopus') was found dead in a hotel room in 1991, his wrists slashed several times in an apparent suicide. Casolaro had complained of threatening phone calls in the days leading up to his death, and his family have long asserted that he was murdered.
Eventually, Maxwell's double-dealing caught up with him. At the behest of China's Secret Service he sold a compromised version of PROMIS to Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, birthplace of the American atomic bomb. This modified version of PROMIS installed at the Los Alamos facility was designed to give Chinese Intelligence access to America's nuclear secrets. The affair became the subject of several FBI investigations regarding Maxwell's conduct, documents regarding which have never been made publicly available except in a prohibitively redacted form. Western intelligence agencies, Israel in particular, were incensed at Maxwell's dealings with China, which they saw as a betrayal of his allegiance. For the first time, serious discussion of Maxwell as a potential liability began to take place.
In 1991, while travelling aboard his yacht 'The Lady Ghislaine' (named after his youngest and favorite daughter) Maxwell fell overboard into the Atlantic ocean. His body was recovered the next morning and the cause of his death was officially ruled as a heart attack which led to an accidental drowning. Rumors of his murder continue to persist to this day, occasionally spurred on by daughter Ghislaine herself. Robert Maxwell was buried on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem, at a funeral attended by several Israeli government officials and known intelligence operatives.
In the aftermath of his death, Maxwell's empire fell apart. Financial improprieties were discovered and the Maxwell companies were soon bankrupt. The stage was set for a new generation of Maxwells to assume his position.
Twin sisters Isabel and Christine Maxwell moved to Silicon Valley in the 1980s, and despite having no apparent formal training in technology, founded the early internet search engine and e-mail provider Magellan. After selling this company, Christine would go on to form Chiliad, a data analysis company with its headquarters in the Washington D.C. suburb of Herndon, VA. An announcement on the appointment of Christine as the company's interim CEO in 2013 boasts:
"The company’s Discovery/Alert big data search tool – operationally proven by the US law enforcement community – reaches across information stored in incompatible databases, documents and applications held in separate departments and organizations to provide the proactive, real-time situational awareness necessary for protection and preparedness."
-A perfectly accurate description of the PROMIS software co-opted by her father a few decades earlier. A 2008 article in Business Wire quotes Chiliad CEO Dan Ferranti as saying "In just a few years, Chiliad will be known as principal arms supplier to the information age."
In 1986 Christine married Roger Malina, the MIT-educated son of Frank Malina, and current editor of his father's 'Leonardo' journal. While it is unclear where and when the couple first met, it would seem that there was no shortage of opportunities for the two to cross paths considering their long shared family histories of involvement in Parisian society, technology, government service, and science publishing.
After two failed early marriages, Christine's twin sister Isabel would herself find love with a man named Al Seckel. Seckel was an avid atheist activist and collector of optical illusions, a self-styled intellectual whose academic credentials were overstated at best and non-existent at worst. The source of Seckel's finances were never entirely clear. He described himself as a dealer of rare books, but those who dealt with him in this capacity described him as a con artist and swindler. Seckel ingratiated himself with the academic society around Caltech and was well known for the lavish parties he threw, often packed with celebrities of academia and entertainment. His primary academic concern seemed to be the field of cognitive psychology, specifically the psychology of perception. It was a subject which surely overlapped with the interests of his brother-in-law, editor of the 'Leonardo' Roger Malina.
Many of Seckel and Malina's interests would also be shared by the longtime companion of their wives' younger sister Ghislaine, the namesake of the boat from which their father fell to his death. This man, Jeffrey Epstein, is likely already well-known to the reader. Ghislaine allegedly met Epstein in the early 1990s, a time when she was still heavily involved in her father's business dealings. Suffice it to say that Epstein would seem to fit right in with the Maxwell archetype- a shady cosmopolite of mysterious origins with unaccountable finances, questionable morality and deep ties to the worlds of scientific academia (especially at Caltech and MIT), technology, finance, French society, and, perhaps most importantly, international intelligence- specifically as related to the state of Israel. In 2010, two years after Epstein's conviction on charges of soliciting a child for prostitution, Al Seckel hosted a "private scientific conference" on Epstein's island which was attended by numerous superstars of scientific academia. As a side note, Epstein's island is known to contain a mysterious temple, the design of which makes use of optical illusions, labyrinthine motifs, a statue of Poseidon and twin golden owls, figures associated with occult and pagan symbolism. The purpose of the temple has never been fully explained.
Al Seckel would eventually be found dead in 2015 near his home in France after having apparently fallen off a cliff. After his death it was discovered that his marriage to Isabel Maxwell was never legitimate, as Seckel had still been legally married to a previous wife. In the last years of his life Seckel was reported as attempting to sell the personal papers of his late father-in-law Robert Maxwell.
With Epstein apparently dead (under typically mysterious circumstances) and Ghislaine Maxwell arrested, one might be tempted to feel a sense of closure regarding their crimes. The truth, as outlined here, is far more complicated. In all likelihood, the activities of the youngest Maxwell and her notorious associate were actually just a small branch of a much larger story, one with deep roots in the history of post-WWII academia, society, international espionage, and perhaps even the occult. It is difficult to draw conclusions from such disparate facts, and it is unlikely that the questions which arise can be easily answered. At a bare minimum, it seems fair to suggest that there is far more to the story of Robert Maxwell and his extended family than meets the eye.
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A step-by-step guide of how I would build a SaaS company right now - part 2

This is part 2 of 5.
Part 1
LET'S DO THIS!
Big thank you to everyone that upvoted and commented on the last post.
I’m pumped, this is part 2 of 5 for those keeping track at home.
  1. Start with your revenue and monetization plan (are you targeting a sector that has money and can/will pay - Part 1)
  2. Align yourself with others in your space (cheapest way to get traction/credibility)
  3. Work on road mapping your product to align with what complements your partnerships (cheapest distribution)
  4. Work on building a marketing strategy that can help expose and align your brand while strengthening its recognition with your partners (will this make us both look good)
  5. Build customer advocates along the way, tell their stories (lead with examples)
Early traction, everyone wants it, very few people know how to do it effectively. Hell I’ve seen it all, run all the experiments, all the tests and I can tell you from experience if you have the patience, slow, steady, and surgical is the way to grow. Especially in the beginning.
In part one we spent a lot of time asking some basic fundamental business questions. Including, an exercise in the importance of being able to niche down.
We’re going to expand on the niching down because it’s how you gain clarity and find people to align yourself with early on.
The goal of this will be to understand:
  1. How to niche down
  2. How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
  3. How to position within that market
  4. How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
I’ve chosen to outline these in all our steps for niching down.
You’re going to see these steps move from research to market evaluation to list building stopping just short of outreach. We’ll touch on this in part 3.
Last week I took a call where someone told me their target market is males 25-45 that like sports.
This is the most important part of your entire business. I’m serious.
Let’s rock through this together so we can get you super focused and know where and how to spend your time and money.
(The below was laid out in part 1 and was the layered niching exercise)
LEVEL 1: We’re a helpdesk product.
How to niche down
The big question is “for who”?
So you’ve picked the type of product you are building and a use case, the problem is there are lots of people like you out there and this doesn’t tell me much about your market, it’s too broad.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Because this is so broad, it’s impossible to actually target a market and without being able to do that, it’s not possible to recognize opportunities, there’s just too many of them.
How to position within that market
Competition is good and bad, but it’s always better to be a big fish in a little pond, the best way to reduce the size of your pond is to niche down as much as possible while still understanding a large enough TAM (total addressable market).
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
No wasted effort. Every idea, concept, must have a small goal attached to it.
It’s too expensive to try to be everything for everyone and when you take this approach you end up failing at doing any one thing well enough for people to switch.
Let’s build on this.
LEVEL 2: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies.
How to niche down
Pick an industry or trend that is on the rise - look towards a shift or something that relates to changes people are making in their daily routine.
In this case we picked eCommerce because it’s on track to hit over $7 Trillion worldwide this year and has steadily been increasing across all brands. So we have an industry with a large enough economic driver to let us start niching down.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
We now buy things online that we never would have thought to do so even just a few years ago. Amazon is selling Tiny Homes now, seriously, if you can buy it, odds are you can do it online. There are massive opportunities to bring goods and services to people through convenient online shopping. And with that increase they will all need a help desk platform to provide the best experience for their customers.
Customers today don’t want to speak with people, they want answers quickly and easily. It’s all about reducing friction.
How to position within that market
Narrow down within the market. eCommerce is a good starting point, there are different industries, subsets, and categories. Go narrower. Start thinking about where the friction exists in the industry and for what subsets.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
In the beginning, it’s going to be an uphill battle, picking the right trending industry will give you the best chance of success. Something that is rising up to the right in popularity is way easier to sell into than a trend that is declining.
Know your competitive landscape.
Everyone has a competitor, whether direct, partial, or mildly related. Spend a lot of time on understanding this and knowing that your product is part of a very large landscape or landscape of potential competitors. Any one of the existing partial or mildly related competitors may be building something to more directly compete with you down the road.
Practical advice
Most companies stop here and hope for the best.
Unfortunately, this isn’t a go to market plan or a sustainable business model.
There’s an important bit worth mentioning here as it will become a theme of this entire post.
Great products enhance workflows through features, the focus isn’t on the product but what the product enables people to do. Success in the software business is all about understanding existing workflows and simplifying the experience.
As you do this exercise to niche down ask yourself:
What does the current workflow look like?
What are they currently using?
How are they currently using it?
Where are the gaps?
What are the best practices for creating workflows?
Always seek to understand how your product works in a workflow - what role it plays, how it best optimizes - this is the data play referred to in Part 1.
What are the things that matter most to people in the eCommerce space?
That’s a lot of questions with even more answers, when you peel everything back it becomes very clear that it’s not possible to answer all of them without going deeper.
Too many people to talk to, too many industries, too much everything.
Let’s take a different approach - how I got to Shopify in the next niche down.
No successful new SaaS company today launches without an integration.
So let’s find an eCommerce platform to integrate with.
We have to look for a stable player that has an app store and is a market leader.
As a starting point, my goal is to be a help desk for ecommerce companies.
  1. I need a list of all eCommerce platforms
  2. I need to understand which help desks they already integrate with
  3. I need to understand what people like and don’t like about them
  4. I need to find out which platform is going to be the best fit for my product
There are lots of sources for this and even more articles, google and read.
If you’re looking for numbers though and data, use BuiltWith and run a search on the platforms after you have your list to figure out which is the most popular.
Ok so we have our list of eCommerce platforms, we’ve analyzed the data, made sure they tick all the boxes and we’ve run our reports and found that Shopify powers 1.2 million stores.
Let’s lock it in as our next step in niching down.
LEVEL 3: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify.
How to niche down
It’s more than just market size. Going with a market leader is always a safe bet but it also provides the most competition. Sometimes going with a smaller platform that doesn’t get all the attention is a worthwhile research project.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
There are two sides of the opportunity and this is something that I didn’t touch on in the original niching down. Shopify and BuiltWith categorize the types of stores that are on the platform, so you can niche down to a certain type of store, for example just cosmetics or just apparel.
The other side of the opportunity is putting together your list of companies currently operating in the ecosystem.
How to position within that market
Smart people are really good at collecting data and interpreting it.
Let’s get some data.
  1. Go to the shopify app store
  2. Type in “Support”
  3. Click paid on the left margin and click the “Support Category”
  4. Use something like Simple Scraper ( a great chrome plugin, no affiliation)
  5. Get your scrape on, this shows 87
  6. Time to get busy - categorize them
  7. Pick the ones most similar to your offerings
  8. Click on them, look at their reviews - all of them on shopify Scrape them
  9. Go to G2 and Capterra and look through all those reviews as well
  10. Put them all in a spreadsheet, read them all, highlight those that stand out
  11. Find the ones that are popular, others that have features people like etc.
  12. Document, and integrate the baseline features into a trello board on your product roadmap
  13. Take all the bad reviews and complaints - look for gaps that you can fill
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
So take a look above, we went from a bunch of questions to being able to do a ton of market research to do product research and understand the current market offerings and where we might be able to gain some ground and offer something people might be interested in and ARE PAYING FOR.
How do you stand out?
You need to have a workflow that is 10x better than a current competitor in the market with a strong roadmap that lays out how you intend on optimizing this workflow. Features are built to augment the workflow and simplify the work of your clients employees, less work, more data, better understanding.
Ok so we’ve narrowed it down to eCommerce and Shopify and we have a list of other products that are currently playing in the space. We’re now looking at workflow - let’s figure this bit out.
LEVEL 4: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation.
How to niche down
Add another variable - it doesn’t have to be Shipstation, but it’s a good example as for eCommerce you’re likely shipping products places. By adding another variable, we’re shrinking our population to target.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
The biggest problem for all companies these days is combining different one off services and getting them to play nicely together. Stand alone products usually outclass all in one products as stated above because the focus is better. This is generally always going to be where you can find a gap in the market as the integrating of products is an afterthought rather than something contemplated in the very beginning.
How do you decide on the technologies you want to work with?
How to position within that market
Don’t guess. Understand the workflow of an eCommerce company and how it relates to support. For instance, most support tickets relate to order status, tracking, and returns. These all involve the store, transaction, the service desk, and the shipping carrier. Look for ways to streamline the experience for the service rep - for instance if refunds require approval, build a system that allows for all those tickets to be queued up with an easy interface for approvals or different color tagging to allow for them to be easily sorted by type.
By focusing on two technologies you can start by creating a better visual collaboration between tools to improve overall experience.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Stack the deck in your favor.
Focus on where you can drive early alignment between your product offering and the audiences of your now two products. When you reach out to both companies especially the smaller ones like a Shipstation, you can collect more information about who they are catering to, volumes etc.
Most companies have a partner program - look into connecting with the lead.
When the time is right you might even get a shoutout on their social or blog or you can decide to co-publish some research report together. Lots of options.
Let’s double down on what being niche allows us to do:
  1. Know our audience
  2. Research with purpose
  3. Personalize outreach with early feelers
  4. Better understand a realistic TAM (total addressable market)
  5. Understand overlap between products
  6. Early alignment with bigger names
This whole topic is about alignment, alignment with partners, customers, and your product.
We have a list of potential customers now, but we need to segment them down further.
LEVEL 5: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus.
How to niche down
Why less than 100 skus?
This means they are small enough to try a new product. It also means you can see what works and what doesn’t work on a potentially smaller store. When you’re managing a store with more than 100 skus, things get a little complicated, it’s an arbitrary number but changing internal processes and workflows when you get to that level means that your staff is coming from a place of having used a system before that could handle the volume and trying out something newer or unproven is a tall order.
This process can be applied to anything, if your product does better project management look for people that run less than 20 projects at a time or projects that are less than 6 months, whatever it may be. We’re starting small.
Always default to the path of least resistance. Work smarter, not harder.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
I’m sure this could be automated, but in lieu of it being automated, you should start by manually figuring this out for yourself.
That list you have from BuiltWith that has urls, yeah we’re going to use that one.
Put the websites in the spreadsheet you downloaded, then create a new column and add “products” to the url - so you have the website in cell A, the word “products” in cell B then in blank cell C write “=CONCATENATE(A:B)” congratulations now you have cell C that will take you straight to the product page to see how many skus they have.
Update this hack doesn’t work on all shopify websites like I had hoped and after some research it seems like this is a bit of a struggle point for others as well.
I’m sure someone could write a script to scrape this information.
Go find an intern or hire someone to do all the lookups for you or find someone to write a script to automate the results - remember always work smart.
Run this and you’ll come up with your go to target list.
How to position within that market
The best helpdesk for stores on Shopify using shipstation with less than 100 skus - all of a sudden this starts to sound like something someone would almost search for. That’s the point.
We’re working our way down where it becomes a simple checklist if someone was searching for things.
Shopify - check
Shipstation - check
Built for smaller stores - check
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Remember you’re not building a product for everyone yet, your goal is to dominate a niche. You can always expand from there.
So we’re about half way through and we have figured out our potential partners and now we’re working on narrowing down this customer list. Before we dive in and start reaching out we need to really understand who we’re targeting and we need to start small.
Let’s narrow this down even further.
LEVEL 6: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue.
How to niche down
Why the less than $10 million in annual revenue? The only reason I would say this in the beginning is that they won’t have as much traffic and ticket volume, they make for better early clients, you can learn a lot more from their use cases and improve the product without worrying about something going wrong and a larger client really getting mad and churning. You also usually have greater access to work with their staff to improve your product.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Unless you’re currently on the front lines, you need to find some early providers of feedback that are on the front lines. In essence, this is the starting point of a community and information play.
There aren’t a lot of data points available about companies in the early stages. People always have questions and there are limited resources in the early days, even across similar companies.
(Just look at reddit there are tons of repeat answers and questions.)
Someone answering tickets all day is the last person that wants to provide feedback, as much as they would like their job made easier, they don’t have the time.
How to position within that market
“But I need a big logo to let people know that I’m real.” You don’t, not in the beginning. All you need is a few good customers that are open to lending you the feedback you need to get better. A lot of smaller brands do a good job of branding, play the long game, find brands that are growing and try to get in early - grow with them.
Logo hunting has its place but you need to find product market fit before you can really make that happen.
By now you have probably figured out that whenever possible you should automate things. The way you do this is through data collection.
Using logic, math, and a spreadsheet you can do enough to be dangerous.
Use a service to figure out what their unique traffic is, take a look at their products and assume that their cart value is around 2-4 products per order then take the conversion rates by industry - you can find these online they are openly listed.
Your sheet will look something like this:
Company, Traffic, Conversion Percentage, Order Value, Sales Percentage, Revenue
eCommerce blended average is 2.2% - go use a spreadsheet and some formulas and bam you now have the revenue numbers. We’re not looking for exacts here, but more generally a good estimate.
I’ve actually run these numbers, if the products are sold through other channels, Amazon, retail, etc, then a rough estimate would be around ~33% of the revenue will come from the ecommerce store.
Factor in a range based on the size of the brand and it’s channels this should give you a rough estimate of the revenue even if they don’t publish it.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Provide value - the most overhyped phrase but still true - the question then becomes, with something as subjective as “value” rather than just create, instead ask and create. This part is coming up, we’re almost ready to turn this on.
We’ve started to move from who are partners are to who are our potential customers. This is on purpose - my stance is that your first customers are really your partners and you should work on aligning yourself with those that are the best fit for your product.
You want your first clients to buy into your vision and invest the time to help shape it.
Ok on to the next -
LEVEL 7: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people.
How to niche down
So now we’re getting into the easier stuff - this is just a simple LinkedIn Search - small teams are usually before the real deep process point, they are also really good at providing feedback on tools that can actually help them out.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
If you have less than 5 people on a team, it’s a small enough number to target the entire team - multi prong approach to product awareness.
For customer support they are often the least paid and they have the most stressful jobs - it’s an all around shitty position to be in, so if you can provide them joy, you’re going to make fans quick. Also, they aren’t usually sold into, they are rarely asked their opinion, etc.
How to position within that market
Give them a voice. The same goes for any lower level positions as well by the way. When people are getting started in their careers they are looking to hear about the jobs people have even at the lower levels but the resources just aren’t there. Even for more senior roles, it’s hard to get a beat on what the current status is of their projects, people don’t like sharing - I still don’t know why.
We’re seeing communities around Sales popup SalesHacker, sales, Bravado etc. We don’t see as many for other roles, there is a wide open space in this. I don’t see any places for people to better understand customer support/success which is THE ONLY INBOUND TOUCHPOINT WITH CUSTOMERS POST SALE.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
This is part of the philosophy and psychology of understanding human dynamics. Find a persona that you can relate to immediately and build your product around fixing their problems, be obsessed with this.
They get paid nothing, but they’d like less tickets, how do you reduce that ticket count, how do you bring other parts of the business that they may need to have access to more prominently in your support system so they don’t have to have multiple windows open. How do you build something to maximize their efficiency?
Better yet, how do you tag someone in the CRM and flag it over to the sales system to see if they purchase more product as a result of a good interaction with support - this is how you turn a cost center into a revenue generator. This is a killer feature that I’m not aware of out of the box.
This could unlock a commission structure and reward system for what is arguably becoming a dealbreaker for most companies.
Which is a great segway to the next drill down - you should be starting to see how this all really blends together if done correctly.
LEVEL 8: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes.
How to niche down
They have to be looking to automate their process or improve their workflow. When people find a tech stack that works, oftentimes new technology doesn’t stick around very long, we’re all creatures of habit.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
You’re only looking for people that are talking about processes or a company that has something related to the pride they take with their process - you can check out BuiltWith and see a list of products they have tried over the last 18 months.
When a company is testing a bunch of different products it means they are looking for a better process. This is your sweet spot.
How to position within that market
You’ve seen me sprinkle “workflow” into this post. This is pretty much a preview of Part 3 and the importance of product design.
Your product must improve someone’s existing workflow. If it doesn’t it’s not a viable product.
There are two parts to this, does your product improve an existing workflow AND how easy can your product be inserted into that workflow?
Remember, this is their business and they need to make a transition as smoothly as possible with as little disruption as possible. This goes for any product you’re selling. Change is hard.
Understanding a company’s process really is everything.
If people aren’t looking to automate or improve their process, there’s a good chance you should change your approach immediately and work towards more of an education campaign and double down on what it would take to let people quickly switch over from an existing platform. Focus on reducing friction.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
Looking for people that are interested, not those we need to educate early on.
Data migration and implementation is one of the main reasons people don’t want to switch or entertain new products. There is always a fear of lost productivity.
Everyone is looking to automate right now, but the price has to be right, and that includes not the subscription amount, but the training, the migration, the new workflows, the time to adopt, the willingness to adopt, etc.
During almost any transition, the company will be paying for two systems at the same time during that handoff. This is rough, not enough companies actually address this in a meaningful way.
The argument is that a pure SaaS play doesn’t exist or shouldn’t exist for an early stage company, there should always be a service and consulting component. Hold everyone’s hand, understand their problems and make them feel like you’re building a product just for them.
Ok we’re almost there -
LEVEL 9: We’re a helpdesk product for eCommerce companies using Shopify and Shipstation that have less than 100 skus and do less than $10 million in annual revenue with support teams less than 5 people who are looking to automate their processes who are currently using Zendesk.
How to niche down
Let’s spearfish.
Zendesk - great platform - but has its limits that only show up based on workflows. Zendesk will work great until you have a workflow that incorporates other tools - then it starts to struggle.
This is true of most large legacy platforms. As legacy platforms moved up market to Enterprise for revenue reasons, they usually forget about smaller teams. Instead relying on dev house partners to do customizations.
This is where industry experience really comes into play - knowing the goals of a company or team, their workflows, and where you can create a better solution for those with those workflows for things that the legacy platforms prefer to source out to their dev house partners.
How to use this to target a market and recognize opportunity
Your calls can now go from generic to focused with questions that can hone in on workflows and gaps. For example, Zendesk’s UX/UI sucks for partner integrations, we’ve seen companies like Kustomer, Gorgias, and others become more popular because of a better UX/UI that supports the whole customer experience and journey. This is a fundamental switch in approach.
From one of our earlier research steps we found 87 companies that people were using for support with shopify, we have them in a spreadsheet, we then could take those and put all the competitors in builtwith to run some reports to understand market penetration (you can do this with number of reviews as well by the way if you’re lazy - don’t be lazy).
Download your list - populate your CRM - you now know what people are using, how long they’ve been using them.
Narrow down your list to the top 20 clients - yes only 20.
Even if you have 100 clients or a thousand clients at this point, this process works for every single Sales rep you have - and I’m going on a 95% chance none of them are doing this stuff. And if you tell me they are, I know from the amount of generic ass emails I get regularly spewed out to me they aren’t doing it well and I guarantee you money is being left on the table. (Topic for another day)
How to position within that market
You know what software they are using, you know their tech stack, your goal is to figure out their workflow. If you don’t know, ask. You should understand the general business workflows for the industry - again industry knowledge is required.
Engage them with conversation and find out. Base your questions on conversations you’ve had with other people in the space and be a source of information about how other people are doing it.
The above is completely able to be put into a human measurable process, one based on quality over quantity, relationships over transactions, and geared towards long term growth.
Be about the things that other platforms are not. Focus on changing the narrative from cost center to revenue generator.
The helpdesk for Shopify and Shipstation customers looking to streamline their processes and free up their support teams to become revenue generators in an organic and measurable fashion.
How to give yourself the biggest chance of success
It’s all about workflows, data, and automation.
Niche down, learn from the inside out, follow the trends and work on being able to tie back data to creating more revenue no matter what your product does and you’ll be able to start conversations with people actively looking to create more optimized workflows.
Focusing on a legacy product and small businesses usually allows you to find a sweet spot, they don’t find value in all the features because they won’t use them all. But they do want the more advanced features like automation and workflow help. These are usually cost prohibitive in the platform.
This is why you focus on workflow over features, you’ll never catch up with the big guys in terms of features, but there are always ways to compete on workflows, because everyone has their own independent goals around them. There aren’t standards, only best practices.
Side note - there are entire companies that are hired to implement systems like Zendesk and build integrations on top of it and it’s a market leader. The same goes for any market leader.
LEVEL 10ish: You can add location to the end of our narrowing down. A company physically local to you (at least this was the case prior to COVID-19) can allow for an in person visit which has been massive in building trust with early clients. Makes it easier to have a conversation as well.
That’s it. Go through this process, substitute your values, keep drilling down and recognize opportunity along the way. When you do it correctly you’ll see massive improvements for your initial outreach.
Emails go from:
We’re a new helpdesk company.
To:
We’re a new helpdesk company for customers that use Shopify and Shipstation. We help agile support teams that are looking to better automate their workflows. Our integrations also allows your support team’s interactions to be directly tied into future revenue generation.
___________
I can tell you from experience I’m visiting the url for the second email even if I’m not looking to make a change.
This is a good place to stop, we hit question 2 of 5 and we’re almost at the halfway point.
If you have more specific questions about this part just drop them in the comments and I'll respond to them.
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