Summer Pie-Days (Bushwick Edition)

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Friday, I planned to do my usual, hit Four and Twenty Blackbirds for a new tradition I’m calling Summer Pie-days.

It’s a chance to sit down and think about small business marketing — what I can write, what resources I can create, how I can build connections.

This Pie-day had different plans for me however. I ended up miscalculating my way to Bushwick, wandering down brightly lit industrial streets in the summer swelter looking for 3rd Ward.

This place was slightly the Wonka’s Chocolate Factory of creative spaces for me — intimidating and inscrutable.

What I found inside was a pleasant surprise. An amazing space, and an incredible incubator for Brooklyn makers. Woodshops, artists studios, classrooms, coworking spaces — the place seemed to faintly hum.

I really enjoyed talking to the folks at 3rd Ward about their community, many of them local Brooklyn businesses, exactly the sort of passionate people I most like to work with.

Of course I made it a Pie-day, at Roberta’s. Man I had forgotten how good this was.

I hadn’t imagined my Pie-days being this adventurous but what can I say?

Summer Pie-Days

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Summer Fridays are a beloved New York media company institution.

I remembered when I first heard about them. It was likely my first full time job, slinging copy for the Quality Paperback Book Club. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, all of Friday afternoon gloriously off!

Now that I’m indie, I have to be more conscious about not falling into a work hole. So I’ve been thinking a lot about “Summer Fridays” — what would it mean if I took them?

I think I’d like to use the opportunity to work on something that’s more of a lark, something fun.

I thought a bit about holding office hours at my favorite pie store, Four and Twenty Blackbirds. But I’m also on a crusade to stop spreading myself too thin. And once I start hearing about cool business challenges, I get obsessed. What can I say?

So I think I’m going to use my summer pie days to start working on a marketing resource for small businesses that I’ve been toying around with in my head. Guidance on being authentic and social and unmistakably you in your marketing efforts. How to master the basics like online advertising and showing up in search while building your fledgling brand.

I’ll need help with this. So if you have a small business and need to boost your marketing efforts, leave me a comment or drop me a line. I just might enlist your help as a “beta tester.”

Now, back to this pie!

Should You Tumblr?

Image via Marissa Mayer’s Tumblr!

I just spent the last weekend grilling my friend’s fourteen-year-old niece about her cohorts’ use of digital media.

Did you know that teenagers don’t use email?

They love Snapchat and something called Kick?

And Facebook — never, ever Facebook!

Everything changes so fast. Even my opinions about Tumblr. You may have heard a thing or two in the news about the blogging platform/social network Tumblr since it’s recent acquisition by Yahoo. For like more than a billion dollars. Obviously someone was impressed by the 100 million strong blog network.

I, on the other hand, was initially very put off by the service’s poor reliability and its incredibly bad performance in search.

Now I’m starting to explore what it can do for brands and I’m starting to like it a lot more.

Why? Because while it is a lot like a blogging platform, it’s also as fast-moving and mobile friendly as Instagram, and relationship-driven like Twitter.

Marco Arment (who basically cofounded Tumblr with David Karp) wrote an insightful blog post over the weekend:

MySpace was where you went in the past, WordPress and Movable Type were where people went if they had the patience and writing output to maintain a traditional blog, Facebook was where you went to define yourself by schools and checkboxes, and Tumblr was where you went to make your own identity and express your creativity.

So that’s how I came to appreciate Tumblr, because it’s a little bit like platforms I like for marketing, and yet a little bit different. I am trying it for a restaurant client after perusing how many restaurants are using Tumblr successfully. Here’s a good list.

So, do you Tumblr for your business?

Here’s a few reasons you might consider it:

You’re in a Tumblr sweet spot

Obvious categories include food, retail, fashion, books, creative fields. Here are some ideas to get you started.

Your product is highly visual

You either have or can produce a number of visual assets (see Cirque de Soleil). Or, like Sharpie, you have a product used and beloved by many.

You use Tumblr for a clever campaign

Maaco is a great example of a business that is not particularly interesting or visual on its face. Yet they are doing a very clever and interactive campaign called “Maacover” on Tumblr right now, prompting fans to submit their own photos of junker cars that need new life. Which just goes to show a little creativity goes a long way.

Getting started on Tumblr

1. Pick a good name. Your business name is a great place to start.

2. Find and follow blogs in your niche

3. Pay attention to what’s on your Dashboard — that will be other blogs’ posts relevant to your business category.

4. Participate in the community. Be sure to reblog and look at other blogs.

5. Tag your posts with relevant keywords so people can find you!

6. Publish great content regularly — especially pictures!

[GIVEAWAY!] Introducing Brand Yourself with a Custom WordPress Site

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As you guys know, I recently launched a brand-new online class, Brand Yourself with a Custom WordPress Site. 

It’s a quick, practical, no-nonsense overview for small businesses and creatives meant to get you jump-started on building your own website without having to “learn to code” or pay a bunch of money for a designer or to a random theme directory. Just the good stuff, folks. You will end the sell-paced class with a custom, branded website that puts your best foot forward – and feel empowered to continue refining and improving.

And to celebrate the launch, I am giving away not one but TWO free passes to the class. To enter, all you need to do is leave a comment on how you use the web for your business or creative career. I’ll choose winners next Friday March 15th.

Don’t you wish getting your brand out on the web could be easy?

Everywhere I go I get the same sort of questions and comments from creative people, authors, filmmakers and small businesses.

know I need a website to showcase my (business/portfolio/startup) but where do I start?

My cousin set me up with a WordPress site but I don’t like the template and I feel like my hands are tied in terms of customizing it.

My website feels out of date but I don’t know how to approach a redesign.

“Learning to code” is super trendy right now but I have my hands full running my business!

The good news is there’s a brand-new free WordPress theme, Twentytwelve, you can make a completely unique, branded website, without using Photoshop, hiring a designer, or spending hours of sweat and toil on your site.

Part of my blog’s raison d’etre is to empower you to understand and fully harness the low cost technological tools that can help you take your brand to the next level. That’s why I’m thrilled to announce that I’ve developed an online course that will take you from idea stage to completely custom, branded website in no time at all. 

brandyourself

This course is for the entrepreneur, small business owner or creative who wants to know *just enough* about WordPress to create a killer website all their own.

Because it’s completely up to date on all the features of WordPress 3+, and the brand-new default theme Twentytwelve, it’s a great course for those who have some familiarity with WordPress but want to take their skills to the next level.

By focusing not only on building you a great site but also on branding, it will further help you launch a site well positioned stand out and get surfaced in search.

In the course, you’ll follow along a set of short online lectures while building your own website.

What you’ll have at the end of the course:

A cool-looking, mobile-responsive website that has custom web fonts and a strong, branded positioning without a lot of muss or fuss.

What you won’t get:

  • A cookie-cutter site based on a theme that looks like everyone else’s
  • A better understanding of Adobe products like Photoshop and Illustrator (though they are helpful, you don’t need them and they aren’t covered)
  • A course in “how to code” (because truthfully, that is extremely time-consuming and probably better left to the experts)
  • A deep look at theme functions in PHP (because all the customizations we’re doing can be done in CSS)

The course launches on Friday, March 1st, but as a reader of my blog, I’d like to invite you to enjoy a special discount off the full price of $79. Sign up here, and you’ll get advanced access to the course and the best discount possible.

I can’t wait to see what you’ll create!