Save Social: Walk The Talk

Many of us have been following along, reading the rash of articles being published and shared, all dealing with how to best “do” social. One of these articles, an op-ed piece on Mashable, got a lot of shares across the social media sphere this morning. The author compares the unknown, hopefully waiting in the wings, good guy to Jerry Maguire, which is a nice comparison, but it leads to the impression that there isn’t a force already mobilized to “take back” and save social business. Steamfeed, in fact, is a bastion of strength and ideas for social “done right”, as the bulk of the posts focus and target the very topics that seem to bring out the social naysayers.

social Publishing

photo credit: william couch via photopin cc

My own November theme was “Walk the Talk” and within that theme I posted about and hosted discussion on the variety of ways some “big names” and “popular experts” were being less than socially correct with some of their behaviors and actions. These topics and discussions ranged from Terms of Service violations to buying and trading likes. I thought it fitting to share some of the most “talked about” topics here.

They’ll Never Notice | Those Rules Don’t Apply to Me: Though I probably shouldn’t be, I am still shocked to see how many social solutions “names”, be they big or small, feel that there’s nothing wrong with blatantly ignoring Terms of Service (ToS), especially on Facebook. Contact information in their cover images, no big deal…it’s not like Facebook is really searching it out, so who cares? Right? Wrong. Those pages lost my like. Did that impact them much? Probably not. But I share A LOT of information, from a variety of sources, and those pages shall no more share in my sharing proclivity.

And some of the ways these folks try to get around the rules? Priceless. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen a company owner post a side view of their car, complete with door panel graphics so they can get that phone number front and center. Nice try, still in violation. And how is that a cover image that represents your business in the best light? And, please, don’t get me started on the QR codes in cover photos. I’m not pulling out my phone to scan my computer screen, SERIOUSLY. Plus, yeah… kind of contact info and a call to action all rolled into one.

I’m A Little Guy So It Won’t Hurt Anyone: Back to Facebook and TOS, sorry, but a wide variety of infractions take place on the biggie platform. This time we’re talking contests and giveaways. Although it has been blogged and shared and promoted and shared and broadcast and shared time and time again, folks just can’t seem to grasp that they can’t run a contest directly on their page. But, it’s a random drawing, so that’s okay, right? Wrong. That’s a giveaway which falls under the same ToS rules and regulations.

Follower Fixation | Failure to Follow: How often do we see big name experts with tens of thousands of followers who only follow a minuscule 2-300? I see it all the time. What do I “see” when I see this? I see someone who doesn’t see much value in keeping abreast of the thoughts of others. I see someone who is interested in broadcasting their own content and ideas rather than sharing the best content and ideas with their followers. I see someone engaged in a one-way broadcast rather than taking part in a conversation, someone interested in shouting rather than listening.

Love for Sale: Also known as Back Scratch Fever. Likes, follows and the act of circling aren’t commodities to trade like baseball cards or beanie babies. I can’t tell you how many times a day I see something resembling this statement showing up on walls or in private messages:

I have liked your page as myself and as my page, and I would really appreciate it if you would return the favor.

Yeah, ummmmmmm, your business and, thus, your page is ALL about parakeet grooming in Redwood City, CA. I have three cats and I live in Tucker, GA. Where’s the draw, the value, the impetus for me to like your page? And if I was even slightly intrigued, that message, which is basically begging, would quickly change my mind.

The One Way Highway: Also known as Me Me Me Me Me! This behavior shows up on every platform, so there’s really no hiding from it. It showcases itself in a variety of ways, including:

  • Blast Posting | Feed Takeovers | Digital Diarrhea – you know, 15 tweets within 15 seconds, etc.
  • Inspirational Quotes with no “introduction” or follow up from the poster as to why they find them important. So, why should I?
  •  Caption this photos trying to take advantage of the extra engagement that photos are prone to get, except the photo is lame and has nothing to do, whatsoever, with your business or your audience.
  • Fill in the blanks of the same type in order to get the most “reach”.

My little list barely skims the surface. So come on, help me “fill in the blanks” a bit. What gets your goat when it comes to the “names” that seem more intent on remaining a name than in actually working within the proper social circles. Everyone loves an opportunity to clear the air and even get a little rant on, so have at it!

In closing, I removed the “Like” from a lot of Facebook pages, unfollowed a lot of Twitter accounts and even disconnected from a handful of Linkedin accounts. Did my own numbers plunge? Nope. On the contrary, they rose! People like seeing someone take a stand, even a small one. If we each take these small stands, we will “save” social. We all walk the talk, every day…it’s going to get us to a valuable and viable destination.

#SMRebelsHelp TweetChat- (Mon)12/3: Cyber Bullying

Have you been bullied online or know someone who has? Maybe you just want to learn more about it so that you can be prepared if it happens to you.


Join us on Monday, December 3rd at 9PM EST for our weekly TweetChat: #SMRebelsHelp.

Hashtag: #SMRebelsHelp
Guest: Elizabeth Traub (Twitter:@elizonthego) (Website: http://www.elizabethtraub.com)
Topic: Cyber Bullying
Date: Monday 12/3
Time: 9PM EST
Host: @SteamFeedcom

Elizabeth has recently experienced a personal case of online bullying, and she wants to share her story. She’ll let us know how she coped with the bullying, and wants to raise awareness on how to deal with cyber-bullying.

Click here to learn more about #SMRebelsHelp

 

 
[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hKXVqO4J8oc&w=560&h=315]

Want to know the secret to following 7077 people on Twitter?

I love Twitter! I’ve been using Twitter since 2006, back when everything you said got a response from someone, and there were no automated direct messages, and no spammers trying to get you to click their links and buy their junk.

Over the past few years, a lot of people have started following me. A lot of interesting people have started following me. Many of these are people who add value to my life, and thus to the lives of my readers. And many new interesting people have joined Twitter, so I’ve started following them. I used to think I couldn’t follow them all, so I kept my follower count down low. Has that ever happened to you, where you’ve felt you couldn’t possibly follow even 1 more person, or you’d never be able to keep up with it all?

I’ve got a secret for you: You can’t! That’s right – you can’t! You can’t possibly keep up with 2000, 5000, or 7077 people on Twitter.

At least not without help.

No, I’m not saying hire a virtual assistant to read you your Tweets. I am saying you need a better system for using Twitter. And it starts right here.

Getting Started Following 7077 People on Twitter

Before you begin, write down or type up a list of all the types of people you want to connect with on Twitter. My people include Milwaukee people, Chicago people, social media people, authors, speakers, and small business owners, to name a few. It’s important you make this list FIRST, and you’ll see why in a moment.

Next, go to Twitter.com and create some Twitter lists for these buckets. You’ll find the lists feature underneath the gear in the upper right corner of Twitter.com.

twitter listsOnce you click the Lists link, you’ll see a screen that says Create List. Make a list for each of these lists. It’s up to you whether you make the lists public or private.

creating twitter listsNow every time you follow someone new on Twitter, think about why you’re following them. Do they fit into one of these lists? If not, take a deep breath and ask yourself “Why am I following this person?” If they’re a truly interesting person who deserves to be followed, create a new Twitter list called Interesting People and add them there.

Then, when you have time on a snowy Sunday afternoon when nothing else is going on, go back and fit all the people you’re already following into one of these Twitter lists.

Just adding people to a Twitter List is not enough

Good work! Now you’ve created your lists. Now what?

Every time you use Twitter, limit yourself to looking at only the list you wanted to look at. Set a timer for 10 minutes, 20 minutes, whatever time you have, and get your work done. Don’t let yourself drift off into “playing” on Twitter when you have other work to do. Focus your attention on the one bucket, and work on that and only that bucket for the time you have. Repeat as needed for the other buckets so they all get your attention.

One last thing about Twitter lists

Remember  that bucket of interesting people you just HAD to create? After 30 days, try to think about how many times you’ve actually looked at that bucket. Was it often enough that you need to keep that list? Was it profitable for you, or did it provide the break you needed to be even more productive? Or was it just a time suck, a distraction from doing your real work?

So that’s the secret to following 7077 people on Twitter. Create some Twitter lists. Add everyone you follow to the lists. Be disciplined enough to only look at those lists.

What’s YOUR secret for using Twitter? Please leave a comment below!

How to Grope in the Dark and Find Your Writing Mojo

Wow isn’t there a wealth of information out there on how to write, so many e-courses, e-books and membership sites full of useful shortcuts and advice to help. For many, they’re just an unconscious excuse not to get started. It all lends itself to be a modern form of procrastination.

writing

photo credit: kpwerker via photopin cc

Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with taking a writing course to improve your skills. Just make sure it’s one you commit to and are held accountable for turning in assignments.

Writing and putting yourself out there is scary because it lays you bare. It is something of you, wholly produced by you, which allows you nowhere to hide. Harnessing that fear and those nerves are what will fuel you to write some of your most engaging content, but first you need to learn to control your fears.

As a teacher and mentor, it is something I have to help people with a lot. You can check out my thoughts on overcoming these fears on my blog.

As for actually finding your writing mojo, you need to find what suits your natural process. It’s a bit like groping around in the dark for something that you’ve misplaced, but keep searching and you’ll hit upon it. Everyone is different. There’s no right way, but there are many ways. You need to experiment to find the right one.

It’s just like a parent learning how best to get a baby off to sleep. Some need music, some need constant motion – driving around, rocking or pushing in their strollers and some need total silence, whilst others need human contact. Each one has their own needs in order to achieve the same results.

Writing is the same – you need to find the routines and environments that suit you best. Once you’ve found your groove, you’re consistently practising, and exercising your writing muscle you’ll be able to train yourself to write almost anywhere.

Just remember that we’re all very different people and we all have very different ways of doing things. Certain hacks in life work for some, but not for others. Generalizations are nonsense and can lead you up the garden path. For instance, egg timers are useful, especially editing in my case, but they don’t suit everyone. If you don’t work well under pressure they can be your worst nightmare not conducive to writing.

What I’m saying is don’t set yourself up to fail. Don’t try and make yourself do it one way just because someone has told you that it’s the right way to do it. There simply isn’t a right way!

Have a go at writing on the train, bus, in the lunchroom, at the park, in the car, in bed, on the sofa, in the garden, on the balcony, at the beach, in the kitchen, in a café and even at your desk. You don’t need a computer to write, try pen and paper, a laptop, voice to text,  your smartphone, or a tablet. In fact, technology is never my first port of call, all my drafts start as the written word on good old-fashioned paper!

Anything goes, do it your way. Get started and you’ll get it done. How have you found your writing flow and where do you find it easiest to write? Share your experiences in the comments sections.

 

 

How to Use Social Media as a Job Seeker

Common sense would dictate that if you are seeking employment and you use social media, you would use that network to locate your next job.

social media for job seekers

photo credit: Robert S. Donovan via photopin cc

Yeah, I would think that too. But it seems that people are either afraid to reach out to their social network (out of fear of looking weak or whatever) or simple lack of understanding how social media can help. As the marketing manager for a group of staffing agencies, I’m posting job seeker ideas, job postings and other resources out there on our various social media to help. While those posts seem to have some reach, I wonder how useful it is to someone looking for work. I wonder if the reason those posts aren’t helping as many people as they could is because job seekers simply aren’t using their social media that way. They’re doing themselves a huge disservice.

There are lots of articles out there about job seekers’ social networks being viewed as a recruitment tool. If a person is interviewed, generally, their social media is looked up and reviewed for anything that could harm their chances of getting hired. We don’t need to debate the ethics of this, but it IS happening and if you’re a job seeker you have to do what you can to limit any negative exposure.

Here are some simple tips for job seekers to use social media to help them land a job:

  • Facebook.  Go through your timeline and profile. Are there any party pics or posts that might be used against you in an interview? Adjust your settings to hide as much as you can. It IS your page and you can have what you want on it, but you should hide anything that would risk a potential job.
  • Twitter. If you have a Twitter account you’re probably safe with whatever you post. You will want to clean up your profile if you have the “egghead” image or don’t have a Twitter header image. Make yourself as presentable here as you would in a job interview, professional.
  • Blog. Your blog is the expression of who you are and everything about you. Unless you have a ton of profane laced posts, highly controversial subject matter, tons of nude pics or other questionable material you are probably safe. But just to be sure, you may want to go through past posts and see which ones could be used to keep you from getting a job. Again, I don’t want to start the ethical debate about this here. This is a tip that could be the difference between getting a job and staying unemployed. Also, you can use a few of your posts on the blog as a makeshift online resume; sharing your skill sets, proving you know your industry, and sharing info about how you might solve a specific business problem.
  • LinkedIn. Ah yes. LinkedIn. I’ve blogged over and over about LinkedIn and how to use it effectively. If you are an active job seeker there is NO excuse for not having a LinkedIn page. Seriously, if you don’t have one, go get one. Right now. Do it. I’ll wait. Use every resource you can find to put up a professional image of yourself, fill out every section completely and find contacts. Make it very clear that you are seeking a job and join as many local LinkedIn groups you can find. There are plenty of job seeker groups in LinkedIn which will help you in your job search. Just Google “using LinkedIn to get a job”, and you’ll find a ton of resources.

If you have a professional headshot, change your profile pic on ALL your social media accounts to this professional shot. If you don’t have one, go to WalMart or some other low cost option that shoots portraits. For $10, you can get a professional headshot. It’s worth the investment. Don’t settle for a camera phone pic in front of a white wall. That’s just lazy and lame.

If you are seeking a job, I’m sure it’s not always fun and it can be easy to get frustrated. I’ve been there, recently, and I know it sucks. But if you use your social network to help find a job, it could help ease the stress knowing you’re using every available tool. Did I miss anything? What other ways can you think of to use your social network to help find a job? Leave your comments below. Thanks!

How to Teach Social Media To Others

Quite often I am approached by friends or referrals with the request to teach them about the world of social media. Some just want to learn more about the industry I work in and others are dissatisfied with what schooling has taught them and want to know how social media and spending time on a social network can be something turned into a career. Whichever the case I am usually glad to sit down with them in person or over Skype and discuss what it is that I do exactly – with mixed reactions, but overall quite positive and inspired.

Here’s how I usually like to approach the conversation:

1. There’s No Such Thing as a “Social Media Expert” – quit calling me one: This is the one that comes up even before we have our first conversation. Usually the first line is “I heard you’re a social media expert” followed by “can you teach me how to do what you do?” For me I always tell the person to backtrack, then follow up by saying that there is no such thing as a social media expert – because there truly is none. The industry is changing by the second, so how can anyone be an expert? You can be an expert at the English language, at baking a cake or at organic chemistry compounds, but not social media. We are all learning on a daily basis, and will continue to do so, and I don’t think we’ll stop.

2. Relate the topic to something understandable: I like to relate one topic to another because it’s important that people are able to see parallels with how social media is to how their life is. Remarkably there are many similarities. One I like to use is to compare the social media ecosystem and the aspects involved there into the dating world. When you’re able to make sense of a familiar thing (dating) with the unfamiliar (social media) people catch on, and you can guarantee a few laughs too.

3. Emphasize the Process but Don’t Forget the Experience: In my young social media career I’ve been asked if I spend time on Facebook and Twitter all day. The answer is a clear and obvious no as my job involves enterprise communities but even if I did, I would also be spending time blogging, targeting who I follow and preparing analytics to see how well social media is doing. In teaching social media to others I like to emphasize the process of social media, from scheduling content to preparing content calendars to analyzing important data indicators. In the same sentence I also tell those learning not to forget the experience, namely the valuable conversations and relationships built over social media.

4. Introduce them to the community: The social media world is big and overwhelming from someone who might be a newcomer. I always take time to ask if they would like introductions to folks in the space already who are running their own businesses, have a day job in the industry, are engaging thought leaders or are new just like them. Finding someone to relate to can be one of the biggest pluses for staying in the industry once someone has joined.

I do find definite joy in being able to share my career with others. If there is any aspect of what I do that I can share with you please do let me know! I’d be glad to chat – and of course, explain how social media and dating have anything in common!

What’s Luck Got to do With It?

In a recent post by my buddy @jamesoliverjr, founder of WeMontage, he asked if successful entrepreneurs are just lucky. He concluded success boils down to luck, and he is not alone.

From a distance, some success stories defy logic, but a consistent pattern emerges upon closer examination. This is true for a number of successful entrepreneurs and peak performers of all types.

luck

photo credit: wilhei55 via photopin cc

Let’s see if we can uncover this mystery by dissecting one of these “lucky” individuals. For this experiment, Bill Gates is the perfect specimen.

So, what is the pattern?

Obsession

Many talk about following your passion but the ultra successful have something closer to obsession. To understand the difference, study the lyrics of the 1980s hit “Every Breath You Take” by The Police:

Every breath you take

And every move you make

Every bond you break, every step you take

I’ll be watching you

 

Every single day

And every word you say

Every game you play, every night you stay

I’ll be watching you

 

Oh can’t you see

You belong to me

How my poor heart aches

With every step you take…

 

Clearly, this guy needs a restraining order.

A passion is something you love but can do without, while an obsession is something you have to have now and will do almost anything to get. The word obsession carries a negative connotation, but how else would you describe someone like Gates? Judge for yourself.

In interviews, Gates describes his early exposure to programming and how he coded for up to twenty to thirty hours a week in his early teens. While his parents slept, he would sneak out in the middle of the night to code at a nearby university. The fact he did not have permission to use the university computers was not enough to stop him. He needed to code. By the time he was seventeen, Gates logged thousands of hours of programming experience. This during a time when few others had access to computers at all.

Passion? This behavior sounds like something much stronger and puts the next trait on autopilot.

Insane Effort

This is not ordinary effort but painstaking, tedious work that would make most people want to yank their eyeballs out. You would think this obsessed group has a special contract with the universe granting them 30 hours in a day. The difference is they steal time where others kill it. Instead of playing Farmville while standing in line at the DMV, they read, research, plan and write. They start the day hours before everyone else and stay up long after their friends enter dreamland.

Quick Action

An obsession is difficult to hide, because the obsessed become so consumed in the activity. If the need arises for someone with his or her skills, everyone knows whom to call.

This happened with Gates during his senior year of high school when he was asked to work on a project with TRW. He jumped at the opportunity to further pursue his obsession. He spent the spring coding under the tutelage of a much older and seasoned programmer, like the young padawan Sky Walker learning at the feet of Yoda.

Surely, those around him marveled over his stroke of “luck,” but he was not lucky. He was ready!

When opportunities come along, there is no need for the obsessed to get ready or prepare. Preparation happens years in advance.

Balance

Though this group is anything but balanced, they recognize the need to have others around them who are. Gates started Microsoft with Paul Allen, who was three years older and more mature. He later hired his friend Steve Ballmer to manage the business side of Microsoft. Would Gates have been as successful without his team of balancers? We can never know for sure, but I doubt it.

What’s Luck Got to do With It?

Even Gates describes himself as lucky because of the access he had to computers, but his small group of piers had the same access. What they lacked was the obsession.

We can all learn a lot by studying the lives of the so-called “lucky” instead of attributing their success to the alignment of the planets. Then, we need to analyze ourselves to see how we measure up.

If your obsession involves standing outside of Macy’s for hours watching the girl at the counter, seek professional help. If it is a skill or talent with the potential to provide value or solve problems, go for it. But find some strong personalities who can pull your head out of the weeds and provide you with a balanced focus.

Godspeed and I look forward to seeing you in The Players Lounge.

What do you think, is success dependent on luck, or the right sequence of actions? Please leave your comments below!

Gonna Get Me Some Action (Movie FX)!

Have you ever looked at the video that you took with your iPhone or iPad and wonder what you could do to give them that little bit of pizazz? You know, like rather than take that hum-drum Christmas dinner video that you take every year, instead take one that has aliens dropping in and blowing up the Christmas turkey. How about blowing up that beat up old car of yours with a sidewinder missile, without having to wonder how you are getting to work in the morning?

"Action movie

photo credit: openDemocracy via photopin cc

Enter Director / Producer J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Lost) and his special effects company Bad Robot Interactive, with an iPhone / iPad app that turns your hum-drum mobile device videos into epic, special-effects filled, clips of awesome! Enter Action Movies FX!

It’s Da Bomb! (plus MUCH More!)

The first time I used this app was to give my kids a giggle when they where hanging out in the backyard with the neighbour’s kids, bored on a Summer’s day (if that is possible). Standing there I narrated the lead up to dropping a giant ball of steel on all four of them. Next I had fun with a client that I had been working on a Twitter project for, by crashing an F/A-18 Fighter Jet into his SUV crossover. Each one took less than a minute to film and less than that to add the desired effect. The reaction to these videos is always the same; laughter, followed by “WOW! That is so cool!!”

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SA9DnUlLff4&w=560&h=315]

 

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IxeeiJAO8EM&w=560&h=315]

What you get is a pretty straight forward app that allows you to pick the special effect you want in your video, a target on your video screen to ensure that you have the camera positioned perfect, and a few moments to render your special effects filled video clip. Just like that you can have a video that is the envy of your friends (well, at least those who don’t also have Action Movie FX). You even get some mayhem from some of the combat gadgets found in the video game Call of Duty: Black Ops 2!

It’s Fun, But Is It Business Friendly?

Was there something written in the Holy Bible of Marketing that says that you have to create videos to attract people to your business product or service with videos that are actually about your product or business? Think about this. Do major name brands pay to make a movie, or do they pay to have their product IN the movie. Use this app to have some actual fun promoting your business. Create an action filled clip for YouTube that has your product or service in the movie. It may not win you an Oscar, but it will get you noticed.

…. aaaaaaand ACTION!

 

I LOVE My Website (Part 1 of 7)

Every business owner wants to say, “I love my website!” Thankfully many do, but sadly some don’t. On a scale from 1 to 10, how would you rate your website love?

what to love for your website

In my experience with clients, and in talking with numerous business owners, I’ve narrowed down 7 things you need to love in order to truly love your website. You need to love how it looks, love the way it works, love its ability to serve your business, love how secure it is, love using it and love how much your visitors love it. You also need to LOVE your website designer!

Part 1 – Love how it looks

Professional Design

“Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.” -Steve Jobs. When I was choosing a name for my web design company I choose ArtSci Designs to reflect both sides of professional design.

I had some fun trying to turn it in to a dictionary definition.

ArtSci (art-see) adjective
1. the state of being in which a thing is simultaneously appealing to the visual senses and fully effective in it’s technical aspect
2
. harmonious fusion of creativity and organization
3. fun and functional
Origin: 21st Century Geek.

Here are a few things to ask yourself, or your website designer: Is my website designed to work well with all modern browsers? Are we using table-less design with well coded html and CSS styling? Does the overall design work well with the page content? This list could go on and on.

Your Company Logo

Can you picture the logos of these companies? Apple, Nike, Bank of America, UPS, Amazon, PayPal and WordPress? These companies have logos that we remember. Does your company have a memorable logo or signature graphic? Developing one is not an easy task, and if you need help with this there are some great logo design companies who can assist you.

Color Theory 101

website colour“Color is so powerful – it creates emotional impact, makes your designs more memorable and even makes a statement about what your brand stands for.” – Erin Ferree, Brand Style Design.

Whether you are simply adding colored text to an image or creating a new color scheme for your brand or website, a better understanding of color theory and the importance of color will serve you well.

Does your business “own” a color? When we think about the companies above with memorable logos, we can also envision the colors used in their branding.

I think the emotional impact that color can make is fascinating! Here is a short list of colors and feelings associated with them. We all have our favorite colors when it comes to home decor or how we dress, and it is important to consider more than personal preference when selecting business colors. You can read more about the meaning of color at the Color Wheel Pro website.

  • Red: Passion, Love, Anger
  • Orange: Energy, Happiness, Vitality
  • Yellow: Happiness, Hope, Deceit
  • Green: New Beginnings, Abundance, Nature
  • Blue: Calm, Responsible, Sadness
  • Purple: Creativity, Royalty, Wealth
  • Black: Mystery, Elegance, Evil
  • Gray: Moody, Conservative, Formality
  • White: Purity, Cleanliness, Virtue
  • Brown: Nature, Wholesomeness, Dependability
  • Tan or Beige: Conservative, Piety, Dull
  • Cream or Ivory: Calm, Elegant, Purity

A Match Made in Heaven

Have you ever known someone who was color-blind, or with little fashion sense, who just couldn’t seem to put the right colors together? The human eye seems to just “know” when certain colors look right together.

From Art 101, you may recall the color wheel. Harmonious color schemes are those where the colors are equally spaced around it. You don’t have to guess which colors to use together. There is a mathematically relationship between those that “belong together.” I think it’s really awesome how so many colors found together in nature are also a perfect match mathematically.

Thankfully, we don’t have to pull out our calculators or actually “do math” here because there are several free, fun and easy to use tools online that do the hard work for us. Many of them will help you develop a perfect color scheme from either a starter color or an image. Here are some of my favorites:

Cheri’s Short List of Online Color Tools

Images and Graphics

A webpage with some images on it is certainly more interesting to look at than one that’s simply text. If a picture is “worth a thousand words,” then we need to be sure those 1000 words are saying the right thing. Here are some things to keep in mind when choosing images for your website.

  • Tone – Know when to use serious, playful or humorous ones.
  • Uniqueness – Be careful with stock images. Customize them.
  • Relevance – Make sure that your image supports your written content.
  • Audience – Choose images your website visitors can relate to.
  • Image Rights – Always check licensing information.

Sources for stock images:

Font and Typography

website typographyThe day my family came home and found me watching a movie on Netflix called “Helvetica” that I was totally enjoying was one of those days that confirmed that I really am a geek!

Earlier this year Smashing Magazine published an article called, “Typography Guidelines And References” that compiled several of their posts on this topic. If you want to learn more, I suggest reading it. Or, you could watch “Helvetica” and post a movie review!

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is not to mix and match fonts. Choose one font you will use consistently across your website. A common exception to this rule is using different fonts for page titles and headlines.

If you haven’t explored Google fonts yet, check them out! They are “easy” to add to your website and open up a whole new realm of possibility. Caution: these can take as much time playing with as the color scheme tools.

Website Love…

My goal at the end of all web design projects is for our clients to say, “Wow, Cheri, I LOVE my website!” If you aren’t feeling enough website love, we’d be glad to help you. The first step is to request a Website Checkup.

What do you love about the look of your website? Please leave a comment below!

Two reasons to get stoked and make an ebook

Happy Cyber Monday (by the way, I hope you had an amazeballs holiday weekend)! People will be buying new tablets – iPads or their mini-mes, Kindle Fires or Droids and join the growing tablet consumer base.

Ebook

photo credit: Jules Holleboom via photopin cc

You can write. We write on a daily basis in text messages, blogs, emails, Facebook and Google chats, the rare snail mail, and we write in the air when we speak or sign.

So…why don’t you write an ebook to adorn these new tablets? I suspect some of you are groaning and I feel you. But you can. There are two key reasons why business owners, community managers or website owners should consider writing an ebook. Woot! Let’s get the fire under your tush going, no?

Lead Generation

Ebooks are an effective way to get subscribers to your blog, newsletter and increase exposure. When you build a base of loyal subscribers over months and years, your chances of revenue increases (i.e. customers will be inspired to call you for consultations, buy more books in the future, or refer you to someone in their network).

Short and appealing ebooks are easily shared and saved, leading more unique vistors or repeat ones to your website. I have a folder on my desktop full of helpful ebooks at my disposal and I love it. Repeat exposure is positive. We reread books, watch our favorite movies more than once because we love them.

You can read this great how-to blog from Aweber (one of the most popular email marketing tools) to send free ebook to your subscribers. I know there are other ways to achieve the same goal for your blog, including MailChimp (free for beginners!) and I’d be tickled happy to have you share your tools and experience in the comments.

Digital Books are Smarter (and you’ll get smarter too)

TED is about ideas worth spreading and golly have I got one for you. I got to attend a TEDx event recently and one of the speakers was Dominique Raccah from Sourcebooks.  I will say I didn’t expect it to be one of the most memorable speeches. When the printing press came out, it was revolutionary. In the old days the technology enabled ideas to act as change agents and circulate in mass publications. Now, digital books are today’s most compelling change in how we interact with literature and the ideas are shared much more rapidly.  Read about a killer example from the Sourcebooks blog: Shakesperience - how the user interface improves the learning of Shakespeare.  You can include social media for sharing or links to relevant context to help the reader and enrich knowledge for all, including yourself as you write and research to prep for your author debut(s)!

Bonus: Even there is a Google analytics for ebooks – Hiptype. Sign up for their beta version!

Hold your horses…a few tips before you make an ebook:

  • Do not make it too long. Two to ten pages would be fine (but if it’s on the longer end, it should have a lot of visual breaks and comfortably sized text). People want to digest ebooks easily especially for free. Paragraphs, short sentences, quotes that take up half of the page can work. If the reader is serious about investing time and learning, they’re more likely to look for a book to purchase or read longer books and you don’t want to shoot for this the first time.
  • Eye candy. Pictures, quote bubbles and a few bold colors.
  • Ponder about the audience. What problem does your ebook solve? How will it better their lives or business?
  • Have a tweetable and epic title that makes everyone else 1) wish they had thought of it and 2) feel they’re missing out if they don’t download it.
  • Worry about the format later. Get the important stuff out. Hijack your creativity.
  • It HAS to convert to PDF before it’s universally downloadable. Open Office or Word can work just dandy!
  • Good content won’t get anywhere without design to enhance its appeal and readability. Blurb is a stunning hub for self publishers and even includes Instagram, Blog, Facebook or Wedding print books and ebooks.
  • Our own Phil Gerbyshak, a new Steamfeed member, recently came out with an ebook of his own. Check out The Naked Truth of Social Media and you’ll see why a catchy title and graphics will make you go “Oh, I’m SOLD.”
  • Write when you’re actually stoked about the topic!

Who’s excited?? I think ebooks also make a fitting New Year’s resolution…