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An Update on Some Projects I’ve Been Working On

A few days ago, I sent an invite out on Twitter to play a game of Words with Friends. I had just finished a good game and wanted to branch out a little bit. Call me a nerd, but Scrabble scratches an itch for me.

The invite went out and within 10 minutes, I had 12 new games going. I love me some letter games, but that’s a whole lot of words with a whole lot of friends. Oops. Seems I either needed to be a little more cautious about inviting people to play or just stick to the few friends I already had been playing.

Similarly, when you’ve been bitten by the entrepreneurial bug like I have, life can begin to look like an all-call to Words with Friends. Over the course of the past year, I’ve started a lot of projects and want to make sure I’m keeping you up-to-date on most of them. Some of you have expressed interest in them, so I owe you a “progress report” of sorts.

Here’s what I got cooking:

Speaking Gigs: I’ll be at a few events this year and I couldn’t be more excited to connect with some of you in person. To see a full list of where I’ll be, check out, in Scott McClellan’s words, my International Speaking Tour!!!

BeDeviant Social Media Summit: I’m taking off on Monday to head down to Kansas City. I’m meeting with some fine folks about the possibility of holding a Summit down there. I’ve also just started turning the wheels with Social Media Summit alum, Josh Larson, for a new Summit here in Des Moines.

Digital Ministry Intensive: Scrapped due to low interest. Experiments are helpful, even when they don’t work. The demand isn’t there just yet.

Deviant Apprenticeship: I was most surprised by the response to this. A funny thing happened when I announced this: I got super busy. Just a few weeks after the interest emails started coming in, I became co-director at the Center for Church Communication. Mark my words: This will happen. I want to bring people along with me as I learn about the intersection of social media and ministry. This field is too important to pioneer alone.

A Simple Guide to Blogging: I will have this shipped by Easter. That’s technically still Spring, which is when I wanted to have this thing out the door. Trust me, my loyal deviants, you will be the first to know when this thing drops. As a side note, I cannot wait for you to get your hands on this!

Online Office Hours: Still going strong. We’ve picked up steam and there’s a fun little community that’s been forming every Wednesday from 2-4 pm CST. We talk blogging, social media, pastoring in the digital age–even sweater vests!

My goal is to finish these projects strong, even if it takes a little longer to get them out the door. Know this!

I have to thank this community, first and foremost, for giving me the freedom and encouragement to experiment with this site and what we’re all about at You’re the best!

Core Values

I’m taking part in Dream Year for 2010. Dream Year is a collection of individuals (led by the one and only Ben Arment) who want to make big things happen. So far, it’s been awesome. Whether you’re aware of it or not, you’re seeing (or will see) a lot of what Ben has been coaching us to do at work on this site.

As a part of Dream Year, we get weekly emails from Ben that end in an action step. This week’s action step: Defining your core values. Ben writes:

What are your core values? What makes up your dream’s “style guide”? And no corporate babble language! =) Real words, real meaning, real heart.

I thought I’d define the core values for Deviant Media Group,’s “umbrella” corporation.

  1. Constant Engagement. This site is nothing without you, the reader. As a result, I want to make sure the comments, emails and tweets about what happens here never go unnoticed. If you take the time to interact here’ you deserve a response.
  2. Open. Deviant will always be a place where people of differing opinions can converge. Those who can’t embrace this don’t last very long here. They either get so mad they never come back, or they silently lurk in the background with the words, “This guy’s an idiot
  3. Branding. 100% Magenta, 90% Black, and 5% Black. Those are the colors we use here on the site and throughout the Deviant brand. We will always use a big, giant heart as the, well, heart of our design. It will be clean, classy and easy on the eyes.

Those are the first three that jump to the top of my mind. I want to be consistent with these as much as possible.

  • Chic-Fil-A has the “my pleasure!” after a “thank you.”
  • Steve Jobs has the mock turtleneck when he presents.
  • Chino Latino in the Twin Cities has the hot towels after you’re done eating.
  • Deviant has a pink heart. It’s like clockwork.

I have to be honest and say that I had never really given these a thorough think-through until Ben challenged us. But I’m glad he did. Being more intentional, in any small way, can never be a bad thing.

Do you have any core values for your life? Business? Blog? Church? If so, care to share?

Here’s a Quick Way to Make Money on Amazon

I’ve been using the Amazon Affiliates program when linking products on this site for a year or so. Basically, every time you link to a product on Amazon they give you a percentage of the sales if someone ends up buying a product you referred. It’s not going to pay your bills, but it gives you some coin for doing something most bloggers do all the time: Link products.

Amazon just took their affiliate program to another level by adding Twitter integration. Yes. Now you can share links from products you find useful with your tweeps and make a little coin on the side. It’s a win-win.

Want to give it a try? It’s easy.

1. First you need to sign up as an affiliate.

To do this, go to Amazon and look in the upper right-hand corner. You should see a little “Amazon associates” link that looks like this:

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Click on it (or you can just click this link) and go through the quick sign-up process. After you sign up, you’ll be given an individual “affiliate ID” that’s unique to you. It shows Amazon who you’re referring and what they buy.

There’s a lot you can do with the options on the other side of the sign-up, but for the sake of simplicity we’ll focus on the Twitter integration.

2. Find a product you like.

For demonstration purposes, I’m going to pick the latest album from Discovery, “LP” (and yes, this is linked to my affiliate ID). After you’ve signed in as an affiliate, you find the page of the product you want and click on the “share on Twitter” button on the affiliate “stripe.”

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This will open up a new link that will take you to Twitter. Which brings us to the next step…

3. Share it on Twitter.

The hard part’s over. Amazon built a script that allows you to share the link of the product you chose with you affiliate ID already built-in. Alter the message as you see fit and share it with your tweeps.

Screen shot 2009-11-04 at 4.22.06 PM 2

Done and done. Hopefully someone will find it useful and “buy what you’re sellin’!”

A few tips in closing …

Don’t be “that guy/girl.” Share stuff that you truly find useful or exciting. Spamming your Twitter friends with useless junk will get you unfollowed faster than sending an auto-reply DM.

This new feature from Amazon can be a great way to let people know what you’re buying while making some cash on the side. Sign-up, have fun and make that dough!