First Chapter of Introducing SharePoint 2013 Published – And It’s Free of Charge!

As you know, if you’re a reader of my blog, I announced that I was writing a USP Journal series on SharePoint 2013 called Introducing SharePoint 2013.

The series is really a book, or will be, that I’m writing, chapter by chapter, and publishing to subscribers of that list. After all the chapters are done, and I think I’ll end up with six chapter, I’ll compile all the chapters into a single book and, when SharePoint 2013 is generally available, I’ll update screenshots and information and publish it.

This model has worked great before, I’ve done it three times already (SharePoint 2010 Beta, Introducing SharePoint 2010, and SharePoint 2013 Beta), and it’s a great way both for people to get early access to information and as a way for me to learn and share about a platform I love.

Well, I’m happy to announce that I’ve published the first chapter as of a few minutes ago. The first chapter, spanning 54 pages, focuses on getting a testing and evaluation environment up and running, as well as giving some initial guidance on things to see and where to find familiar items. I’ll walk through understanding hardware and software requirements, installing active directory and SQL server, and of course, setting up and configuring SharePoint 2013.

Rather than just give you screenshots and tell you what to click, though, I also offer guidance on what the choices mean, as well as highlight where one needs to be careful about differences in evaluation environments and production environments.

The book is targeted at people who have existing experience with SharePoint, so if you’ve never worked with the platform before, you may want to look elsewhere.

However, for those that have experience and want to learn SharePoint 2013, I focus chapters on the various disciplines to make sure everyone gets up-to-date on what they need to know and learn about the new version.

So far, I’ve outlined five chapters:

  • Chapter 1: Welcome to SharePoint 2013 (described above)
  • Chapter 2: Exploring SharePoint 2013
  • Chapter 3: SharePoint Designer 2013
  • Chapter 4: The New SharePoint 2013 Developer
  • Chapter 5: SharePoint 2013 Administrator Updates

I’m also thinking about a sixth chapter, but I haven’t decided on which of several topics I should choose. The very cool thing about writing a book as a series is that you can interact with your readers while you write and get their feedback, comments, questions, and suggestions, and integrate that in the final product.

The entire series, which includes all the chapters plus the final and updated book costs $14.95. As a teaser, I’ve uploaded the first chapter, free of charge, to the free content section of USP Journal, available to members of the USP Journal mailing list only (you can sign up for free, though).

If you want to read more or buy a subscription, you can do so from http://introducingsharepoint2013.com/.

Enjoy!

.b

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Making a Living as a SharePoint Blogger

Several people have asked me recently how much money I make on my blog. I can answer that extremely quick: In terms of pay per hour, it’s close to minimum wage (and in Norway, we don’t have one). SharePoint blogs is no way to luxury living.

I don’t blog for money, I blog to learn and to share what I learn, and sometimes to piss people off enough that they take a stand on important issues (even if they just flame me back).

Oh, and I also live in Norway. We pay $10-15 for a beer. What will yield maybe a dozen roses for my wife may pay the rent for someone elsewhere in the world.

That said, I’m happy to disclose the inner workings of my blogging empire and teach you a bit about what it takes to run a blog like mine.

SharePoint Ads

My main direct source of revenue from the blog is SharePoint Ads. Inna Gordin has done the community a bigger service than I think many realize. Through her efforts, bloggers suddenly have a reasonable chance of getting income, which is far more than one can say about other ad networks.

On my blog, you see mainly three ads, on at the top just under the header, one on the right sidebar, and one at the beginning of an article. In addition, I have a few recommended text links in the side bar that is a combination of ads and sponsors that I hand pick myself.

With SharePoint Ads, publishers (that’s us bloggers) get paid US$2.8 every time someone clicks those ads.

BlogAds

That is usually more than you’ll earn from Google Adsense on clicks, at least on average, but there are further huge benefits of SharePoint Ads above other networks.

First, as a blogger I can decide which ads to display. Because I write a lot of developer stuff here, I can choose the developer targeted ad channels. That’s important because it allows me to prioritize the ads that make sense to readers.

Second, the advertisers are from respectable companies that deliver valuable SharePoint tools, products, and services, so I know I get quality ads. Again, this is important because I don’t want to be associated with questionable advertisers.

I am hugely grateful for the advertisers too. They help make the SharePoint blogging world better and I honestly believe they are worth visiting. In fact, I encourage you to Google their names if you don’t want to click the ads, just to see what they are all about. That’s something I probably wouldn’t be able to say about advertisers from other networks.

Third, the ratio that I get compared to what the advertisers pay is much higher than in other networks. SharePoint Ads charges the advertisers $4, of which I get 70%. Important, because it means that those that deliver the value (bloggers) get most of the benefit without the hassle of having to sell their own ads, collecting payments, setting up and maintaining the infrastructure, and so on.

Although not unique for SharePoint Ads, I also very much enjoy the reports I can get, which tells me on an ongoing basis how my ads are doing. I can drill down into individual clicks to see which articles generate clicks, I can see which advertisers generate clicks, and I can pick up on any issues quickly, for example if there are people repeatedly clicking on the same ad, which can tell me that there is a problem with ad delivery.

Here’s a typical report from today that I can get with a few keyboard shortcuts.

QuickReport

Enough Marketing, Show Me The Numbers!

OK, OK, but note that these are numbers that are current at the time of this writing, so they will likely not be very relevant. Thus, I’m focusing more on ratios rather than actual numbers.

During a typical month, Google analytics shows me that I have somewhere in the area of 10-20,000 unique visitors with somewhere in the area of 30-50,000 page views.

GAStats

This screenshot was taken on the same time as the above stats from SharePoint Ads, and are fairly representative. This means that on average, I need 327 page views or 153 unique visitors to get a single unique click.

That is a click-through ratio of 0,6% in terms of visitors and 0,3% in terms of page views. This is in the high end of average for ads in general, at least according to Wikipedia (0,1-0,3%), although it is lower than Google has claimed should be average goal (2.0% average CTR as goal, not as real number).

Of course, CTR isn’t very useful on its own. Unless you know the cost-per-click (CPC) it isn’t useful at all to publishers. I stick with SharePoint Ads still, after reviewing the alternatives and that may tell you enough.

I actually do keep some AdSense stuff running, mostly because I’ve forgotten to turn it off. However, the usage policy forbids me from discussing actual number or performance, but I’ll dare to say I’m not getting what Google claims.

I despise secrecy clauses, as I have written several times. When I asked Inna, however, whether she would be OK with me disclosing my figures, she was very forthcoming and even encouraging. Good attitude in my book!

So, How Do I Start?

Hold your horses! It’s not that simple. It never is.

If you are not blogging already, then you need to carefully consider your expectations and the amount of work involved. I’ll tell you a few of the pros and cons.

First, starting a blog to earn money is stupid. You’ll earn a lot more money per hour invested by flipping burgers, not to mention working actual work on SharePoint.

To put that into numbers, writing an article like this usually takes 4-5 hours of planning, research, and writing. I can probably expect to get somewhere around 20-30 clicks over the first year on it. That puts my revenue at a maximum of around $16 per hour. Most articles get less, some get more. It’s not lucrative, at least not compared to what I could be doing as a SharePoint consultant.

Second, I’ve reached those numbers as a result of years of hard work. Compare what I can now make with that of the time spent getting here, and my revenue per hour will not be above minimum wage. You will not turn your blogging into usable revenue for a long time, even if you start now, unless you happen to hit one of the very few sweet spots.

It’s not all bleak, though. Blogging is a learning experience, and I learn an insane amount from researching and writing about SharePoint. By doing so I have gained some reputation in the SharePoint world which leads to client work, which leads to revenue. I’m not going to even attempt to speculate what I’ve gained from my blog in terms of client work, but I can assure you that SharePoint can be very lucrative if you are able to find and do good work, and my blogging has certainly helped with that.

It is also a great way of getting in touch with people. When you blog something interesting people will comment, expand on, or criticize you, and from that you learn even more. I’m a learning addict, which is why I blog, even if it doesn’t make financial sense to someone in my situation.

Finally, if you are already a blogger, and especially if you are using other ad network, I highly encourage you to check out SharePointAds.com. I’m almost certain you will see a better revenue, possibly even to the point where you can make a living as a SharePoint blogger 🙂

.b

PS: Yes, I left the link to SharePoint Ads at the end so you’d actually have to read the whole story. I’m evil that way.

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SharePoint 2013 System Requirements: The Real Story (And They’re Out Of This World)

OK, I know I’ve promised to be quiet and let the NDA-bound community have and enjoy their first taste of freedom, but this is so serious I have to breach radio silence. Yes, you will want to sit down for this one. Also, please do not read on if you have an existing heart condition. Always consult your physician before undertaking activities that will put a strain on your heart, and so on.

Short story: If you plan on doing development work on SharePoint Server 2013, you need a minimum of 24 GB of RAM. That’s assuming you are NOT going to need Visual Studio, which will only add to that number.

Yeah, I know. Shocking, right? Especially after tons of MVPs blurted out that “there are no hardware requirements changes, woohoo!” yesterday. Turns out, what was likely a DNS lag issue meant that they had the wrong information and they didn’t bother checking the facts before their verbal diarrhea came on with full force.

Lesson learned: Just because you have ‘inside’ info doesn’t mean you shouldn’t check your facts or qualify them as speculation.

OK, so here’s what happened.

Up until yesterday (which was the big launch date of July 16, if you’re reading this later), the NDA crowd had only a single presentation and a couple of documents from which to deduce hardware requirement. That presentation, which was made for the Ignite SharePoint 15 training, even highlighted the fact that there were no changes, and thus said that the minimum requirements for SP2013 was 8 Gb and even 4 Gb for developer and evaluation use.

SP15IgniteHWRequirements

On the day of the launch, even the public Microsoft pages said that the requirement were the same as for SharePoint 2010, so I guess the NDA crowd will argue that they only said what Microsoft said. However, even that would be wrong, not just because parroting everything you read is a huge waste of bandwidth, but because even the most basic of brain activity would make you deduce it was just plain wrong. Oh, and actually, Microsoft didn’t say it either.

Before we move on with this little rant, which concludes with me being right and everyone else, mostly, being wrong (and proven so), you should read up on the facts yourself on Microsoft’s Hardware and software requirements for SharePoint 2013 Preview document. That document should have the title in the previous link and be dated no earlier than July 16 2012. If it has a title referring to SharePoint 2010 or is dated earlier than July 16, you’ll fall into the same trap the MVPs did.

Update: *sigh* There’s a link there. It you click it, you will see for yourself. In case that’s too much work, here’s a picture of it. I’ve even highlighted the text you should read. Now, stop the “I don’t believe him” and “This cannot be true” comments.

Ahem

To summarize the document, as it relates to the setup that most developers will use (a single machine, running SharePoint Server 2013 and SQL server on the same server) you need a minimum of 24 GB RAM (CPU and hard drive requirements seem to remain the same for now). That is before you add Visual Studio 2012 (or 2010 if you are so inclined), which would probably add a few extra gigs. Oh, and these are minimum requirements. Similar to the minimum requirements for SharePoint 2010, which was 4 GB before Visual Studio. In other words, SharePoint 2013 requires 6 times as much RAM.

Go ask your boss (which may or may not be your wife or husband) for a new laptop after all. Sorry to burst your bubble.

Note: Because this is my blog, and I’m not too shy to blow my own horn, I did actually warn people about this over a month ago over on TechNet, but because TechNet is now a political forum more than real help, my answer to the question on hardware requirements was the only one not accepted. Go figure.

So, back to what happened.

On the day of the release, the above document actually lead to an old version of the hardware requirements that was written for SharePoint 2010 and not for SharePoint 2013. Thus, it was perfectly natural that the requirements would be the same; it was simply an old document with a couple of name references updated.

Microsoft did actually update the document, but apparently due to either caching or DNS issues, only some people did see the updated document. The existing document still read “Hardware and software requirements (SharePoint Server 2010)” but that didn’t seem to bother those that needed to blurt out whatever they had as soon as possible.

Of course, not being able to hold back, a lot of MVPs then had an early verbal ejaculation and happily yelled out that “there are no hardware changes”.

Here’s what bothers me…

1. Over the previous months, I’ve been doing massive amount of research into SharePoint 2013, to a unison moaning sound from the MVPs that you cannot possibly trust my research because it’s just pure speculation. When these holier-than-thou people then get their chance to dispense “the truth”, look at what happens. Lesson: You need to do your research, not just repost whatever you read with no critical thinking. Yeah, that apparently is a lesson lost on those that so valiantly state that you can’t trust information that someone has researched, but instead that you should rely on what you find online.

2. The MVPs knew very well the massive changes that were coming. Did they really think that these changes would come at no cost? How incredibly naïve is that? how can they possibly not understand that when you put five times as much cargo into a vehicle, that it’s going to need a massive amount of more power? Lesson: When something sounds too good to be true, it may be true, but you should still do your research. Another lesson lost.

Note: Horn blowing again: I wrote a similar post back in 2009 for SharePoint 2010 and the unison voice then was “Bah, you’re just trying to scare people. You’ll never need as much as 4 Gb RAM to do SharePoint 2010 development. It’s overly excessive, you can work just fine with only a fraction of that RAM amount”. Strangely, the same voices now seem to say something to the effect of “Don’t worry, it’s overly excessive, you can work just fine with only a fraction of that RAM amount”.

3. How on earth can you not realize that the document is old and refers to SharePoint 2010 when it’s written in huge bold letters at the top? Lesson: Well, apparently not a lesson on reading. If you’re going to report something as fact, at least read the title of the documents, if you can’t be bothered to research or deduce the actual facts.

So, who should you trust? Nobody. Use your brain, read up on claims, verify the facts that matter to you. If something is qualified as speculation or rumors, treat it as such. If something sounds too good to be true, then research. Don’t trust me, don’t trust random web pages, and apparently, don’t trust many of the MVPs.

.b

PS: I’m leaving names out of this so that those that feel hit can comment without having to defend themselves. I realize many of them are simply naïve and think that all free information is right and valuable, which is a childish thing to believe, but I’m not going to hold it against them.

Update: I’m not trying to plant fear into developers here. Yes, you’ll most likely want 32 GB of RAM. However, RAM is cheap, and you can get 32 GB for around $200 if your laptop supports 4 DIMMS (and that much RAM). If not, a brand, spanking new laptop that does will only set you back around $2,000.

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