Hi Everyone, I know it’s been a long time since my last post. I am still on maternity leave (and enjoying every minute with our new son) but I do plan to attend Canada 3.0 2013 in Toronto next week! I’ll be there on Tuesday to check out some amazing speakers like Amber Mac, Chris Anderson, Michael Serbinis, Reed Hastings and many more. You can find the full list of speakers at www.canada30.ca.
I hope to see you all there so we can catch up! Also, look out for my summary post from the event in the next week or so. I look forward to sharing even more posts with you in the near future.
Happy 2013 everyone! I’m excited to start another great year of blogging and sharing my personal
business stories, challenges and ideas with you. This is a very special year because my husband and I are expecting our first child. I am extremely excited and can’t wait to meet our little one.
While I plan to take some time off to bond with my newborn when they arrive (thanks Canadian government for providing EI for the self-employed), I do intend to continue to blog on this website, albeit a little less frequently at first. I will also continue to participate in social media discussions on Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
It’s was a tough decision to take a break since I just started my business two years ago. However, I know that I would regret not doing so.
I really appreciate all of the people who continue to read and share my stories online and I thank you in advance for your patience while I am a little slow responding to e-mails and comments. Please continue to send me your story ideas and I will get back to you as soon as I can.
I wish you all a very successful new year!
Wow, I can’t believe another year has passed! Where does the time go? During the holiday season, I like to look back and appreciate all of the things that I am thankful for having received and accomplished in the past twelve months.
I am so thankful for the opportunity to share my stories with you on this blog. I plan to continue to share my insights, ideas and personal challenges and successes as I work to grow my business. I am so grateful that you read, share and comment on my posts. It definitely keeps me motivated.
I am also thankful for all of the new people and clients that I have met and worked with in the past year. You have pushed me to work harder and to do things that were often out of my comfort zone. Thank you for inspiring me and teaching me new things about digital media, startups, small businesses and about myself.
Finally, I am thankful for having the privilege to work for myself and to be able to experiment and to drive my career in whatever direction I feel that it needs to go next.
I want to wish you all a very happy holiday season and best wishes for a successful and exciting New Year! See you all again in 2013.
I’ll leave you with my favourite holiday 2012 viral video, courtesy of Jimmy Fallon, Mariah Carey and The Roots. Warning: This song might inspire you to put on an ugly Xmas sweater, drink some boozy eggnog and generally feel warm and fuzzy. Enjoy at your own risk!
I apologize for not posting on my blog last week. I threw my back out with a herniated disc and have been placed on bed rest for a few weeks. This has definitely been the first major set back to running my own business. Luckily, I have amazing friends, colleagues, family members and clients who have all given me their support as I take time off to heal.
The experience has definitely taught me a lesson that help and understanding is really there if and when you ask for it. It has also humbled me as I realize that I really do need to ask others for assistance when I’m in a jam.
I appreciate your patience in the next few weeks as I recover from my injury. I continue to learn what it means to run my own business and am so thankful for your continued support.
All the best,
“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” – Eleanor Roosevelt
Yesterday, I stumbled upon details of a new book coming out from John Battelle, the co-founder of Wired entitled What we Hath Wrought which will, according to his blog, “give us a forecast of the interconnected world in 2040, then work backwards to explain how the personal, economic, political, and technological strands of this human narrative have evolved from the pivotal moment in which we find ourselves now.” So, I tweeted out an interview from 2011 with Brian Solis asking Battelle about the book.
Then, to my surprise, someone on Twitter commented that 30 years into the future is too “far-fetched,” as he believes that we really can’t correctly predict what’s going to happen in 5 or 10 years in the technology industry. Fair enough. But with 2012 drawing to a close, I’ve already noticed some of the 2013 technology prediction blogs surfacing on the web. So, it’s got me thinking. How far into the future can we really predict what’s going to happen with emerging technologies?
Should we even bother trying to predict what’s going to happen (even a year from now) at all? Or, are all prediction articles, books and blogs merely “sex and fluff,” as my Twitter commenter put it, that sell well or get re-tweeted frequently (guilty as charged)?
I still think it’s worth it to provide a vision of what might happen. It can only help others to dream up new ideas that push the envelope even further. But maybe I’m just one of a small few who likes to think about that stuff. What are your thoughts? Please share your comments below.
Last week, WSJ.com published a story on how the education system is facing a massive shift due to the impact of the web. The fact that do-it-yourselfers can promote their own services online today (like the guitar teacher mentioned in the article who streams free video lessons to up to 1,500 people from his basement), coupled with the new ways that young people learn in a digital age, poses a potential threat to the number of teachers and educational institutions that will be needed in the future.
Yet, it appears that almost every major industry has been impacted by the web in some way – from music to publishing, banking and business, healthcare and education. But does this mean that there will be fewer jobs in the future? Or, will jobs simply change and adapt as a result of new technologies?
The CBC.ca recently posted a video from its 1960s archives which discusses automation and how computers could eventually wipe out millions of jobs in the future. But that’s not exactly what happened. Instead, many jobs that existed in the 1960s simply shifted and evolved as new technologies made way for different career paths. Thankfully, the “calamitous unemployment” crisis, as the video suggests would happen by 1970, was averted.
The publishing industry is an interesting example of how old jobs (like those of long-form feature writers that have disappeared to a certain extent) may simply be transformed as a result of new digital technologies. Over the past ten years, news publications were pressured to offer their web content for free because online advertising revenues were skyrocketing and the expectation was that digital ads would supplement a sharp decline in print subscriptions (because everyone was going online). As a result, online content shifted to a shorter, more blog-style format – partially due to the timeliness of the web, users’ attention spans and competition from people who were publishing their own blogs for free (using new self-publishing platforms like WordPress).
However, thanks to the introduction of social media and tablets, which played a role in the increase in readership of publications like The New Yorker, the demand for longer form content is growing online, as this PandoDaily story implies. Consequently, an entirely new generation of long-form feature writers may soon emerge to produce “New Yorker-style” content for publications that might soon be able to pay for it.
You see, because online advertising revenues have not kept pace with the needs of news publications to stay afloat, pay walls are about to go up on almost all of the major online Canadian news publications (TheStar.com is the most recent publication to announce that it will follow suit). And if these publications see a turn-around in subscription revenues, as the New York Times has recently achieved, people may finally be forced to pay to access content on the web – as they did in the past with newspapers. Although, I believe that the way that people pay for online content could still evolve.
So, it seems that the more some things change because of the Internet, the more they may return to the same as before – just slightly altered or enhanced for a digital audience. Do you agree? Will the Internet wipe out jobs or just create new demands for skills that have been temporarily lost? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Felix Baumgartner’s space jump got a lot of press this week because of his heroism and his contribution to science. But it also received a lot of coverage from traditional media and on social media channels because of Red Bull’s genius sponsorship of the jump and their content marketing strategy before and after the leap occurred.
I’ve written a lot about content marketing on my blog in the past two years. And I continue to observe what stands out in a sea of social media content creation and sharing – both for client strategies and for stories about good content marketing. But few stories ever receive the praise from marketers that this stunt achieved.
So, it seems that Red Bull’s leap of faith in sponsoring Baumgartner’s jump certainly paid off and will continue to do so. Meanwhile, it has raised the bar as far as what it takes to catch people’s attention both online and offline.
If you don’t have millions of dollars to sponsor such an event, here are some great summaries of how any business can learn from Red Bull’s strategy:
- Five content marketing lessons from the red bull stratos jump (via Econsultancy)
- 6 Ways That Red Bull Absolutely Killed It With Stratos (via Business2Community)
- What Red Bull can Teach Content Marketers (via Digiday)
- How Red Bull Stratos Successfully Soared Across Social Media (via Salesforce)
I’m always looking for inspirational stories about content marketing. If your business has done something daring in the name of great content, please share your story in the comments section below.
Earlier this year, I wrote a story for TORO Magazine entitled “Are Tech Devs the New Rock Stars?“ Well, it seems my hypothesis in that story has not only come true but it has now reached “X Factor” status. According to this story from BetaBeat, even Simon Cowell and Will.I.Am are jumping on the tech startup bandwagon.
I know that Will.I.Am is a big supporter of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) education for youth. But will an “X Factor” type of show really send the right message?
Likewise, as the BetaBeat article suggests, how can one really test the skills and success-potential of a tech entrepreneur in that type of an environment? And who will judge this talent competition?
The details aren’t out yet. So, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.
I’d be interested to find out what type of companies try out for the show and how it will fare compared to a Shark Tank or Dragon’s Den format. I’m also curious to see what else transpires as the popularity of tech startups continues to explode.
As always, your comments are welcome below.
Canadians have often been stereotypically described as apologetic and passive. But according to a recent CIBC study, reported yesterday in the Globe and Mail, that perception may be in need of an overhaul.
According to the article, “more than half a million Canadians said they had begun their own business over the past two years.” This is apparently a “record number” that is expected to increase in the next ten years. Likewise, the Globe and Mail article suggests that “80 per cent of those who started their own business, did it willingly – not because they couldn’t find a job.”
So, what does this say about Canadian stereotypes?
It takes a lot of will power, stamina and determination to start a new business. Plus, it requires that you be bold and unapologetic for trying to succeed on your own. I like to think that the recent increase in risk-taking by Canadians reflects the desire to no longer passively let someone else decide the fate of their careers. Instead, they are taking their future in their own hands – in turn, creating new jobs and opportunities for others.
Now, that’s a stereotype I can stand behind.
Do you agree? Please share your comments below.
Have you read about the new Twitter profile changes that were announced yesterday? According to Mashable.com, the new re-design puts your profile photo front and center – pushing your Tweets downwards – to make room a bigger background image that looks a lot Facebook’s timeline feature. While I like the idea that Twitter is all about promoting yourself (especially if you run your own business), sharing your thoughts and ideas and connecting with other businesses and colleagues in an immediate fashion, I’m not so sure I need my photos to be bigger and more prominent in order to do so – especially my profile image.
I suspect that this change has much more to do with competing with Facebook’s timeline features, rather than it being about “adding more personality” to a profile page. Isn’t that up to me to add personality through my tweets (the content that I want to share) – which have now been pushed further down the page? Don’t get me wrong, I do love Twitter. It’s one of my favourite social media platforms. However, I’m just not sure that the changes will really reflect more of me than it already does.
I guess I’m now one of those people who’s complaining about changes to a free service that I willingly opt-in to using. I just liked Twitter for what it already was – is that so wrong?
Do you agree? Please share your thoughts below.
While preparing and unpacking from a move is hard work, I’ve come to realize that it’s a lot like starting a new business. It’s not that long ago that I launched The Running Start. So, here are five ways that I’ve found that moving and starting up are similar:
- Put together a plan but be prepared for the unexpected. When I first started my business, I drafted a rough business plan. While I didn’t end up doing all of the tasks on my list (some of my priorities changed along the way), I did stick to my key goals and adapted the plan whenever necessary. The same can happen when moving – put together your list of things to do but be prepared to switch gears when things change (i.e. the landlord wants to show your old place while you’re in the midst of packing, etc.).
- Weed out unnecessary tasks (less is more). A key lesson that I’ve learned in running my own business is that there are only so many hours in the day. So, it’s important to focus on the “must haves” and let everything else fall into place when you have time. It’s the same challenge when moving. You know that it’s important to pack-up all of your boxes before moving day or you’ll run out of time. If you focus on being prepared for the move, you can deal with changing your address with Canada Post and other tasks the day after.
- Take it one box (or day) at a time. It can be pretty overwhelming to move into a new place (or start a new business) and look at all of the boxes (or tasks) that you need to unpack/tackle. If you just take it one box (or project) at a time, you’ll feel a lot less overwhelmed and will be amazed by how much you can accomplish in just one week.
- Collaboration is key – accept that you need help from others. My husband and I decided to hire movers this time, as we had accumulated a lot more stuff (i.e. wedding presents, new furniture, etc.) over the past two years. It was such a wise decision as the move went a lot faster. Over the past year and a half of running my business, I have also learned that you need to work with others (either outsourcing or being the person outsourced to other freelancers) to complete projects that have a tight deadline. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and build that into your project budget.
- Adapt and move around obstacles. If there is one guarantee in business, it’s that you’re going to face some obstacles. Whether you’re moving or starting a new business, be flexible and ready to change paths on the fly. For example, we didn’t expect to have to remove the door in our new place to fit our couch through but poop happens. Luckily, our movers were very skilled and they got everything in without making a scratch. Be prepared to move around perceived barriers (there’s always a solution) in your business and you’ll be just fine.
It’s been a while since I’ve shared a personal story on my blog and I feel the need to explain who I once was and how I became a content marketer and freelancer writer. The funny thing is that I didn’t set out to be a writer when I first launched my business.
In the summer of 2010, I quit a cushy job in digital advertising sales. Although it was an extreme decision, I listened to my gut which was telling me to get out of a job that was making me miserable – immediately! It was a really tough thing to do and I second-guessed myself incessantly at the time. But today, I know for certain that it was the right decision.
After I quit, I was feeling very lost. So, I turned to friends and colleagues for advice. I even went to see a career coach to try and gain some perspective on how to find the right job for my expertise and talents.
The best thing that happened to me was that a friend of mine, who had just started-up her own online business, asked me to help her with her digital advertising sales “go to market” and B2B marketing strategy. I loved working with her because I felt like I was really making a difference to her business and enjoyed watching a fledgling company grow.
So, I decided that I was going to start my own business, consulting with emerging digital media and technology companies to help them “get a running start” with their online advertising sales and B2B marketing efforts. I did make some money doing this for a while but along the way, I discovered a hidden career that was better to suited to what I enjoy doing the most – writing and talking about digital media trends, entrepreneurship and emerging technologies.
You see, to promote my ad sales and marketing consulting business, I started a blog and experimented with social media platforms to reach out to potential customers. With a strong background in B2B marketing for digital media businesses like AOL and Google in Canada, I knew I needed to write about trends and insights that prospective clients would find intriguing enough to want to learn more about who I am and what I do. Once I started t0 gain traction by writing stories about the digital media and marketing industry, people began to ask me to write for their websites and blogs. That’s when I discovered how much I love the writing process and coming up with creative ways to help businesses attract new customers and partners through compelling online content.
So, I eventually pivoted my business away from digital advertising sales to focus more on B2B content marketing. It’s been a very exciting journey and I continue to learn new skills and strategies to perfect my craft. Most importantly, I’ve seen first-hand how taking a leap of faith in myself and in my career can pay off.
I would encourage anyone who knows in their gut that they are in the wrong place to take a chance and change paths – knowing that the right support system will make itself available to you if and when you need truly need it and ask for it.
I love hearing personal career stories and would enjoy yours if you’re willing to share. Please post your thoughts in the comments section below.
Digital storytelling, also known as content marketing, has become the foundation of a strong social media strategy.
It helps businesses attract more followers, people to link back to your blog and website, and generates word of mouth and sales leads.
A blog, for example, is a great way to have a continuous dialogue with new, potential and existing customers, while positioning your business as a trusted resource in your industry.
For instance, let’s say your company sells automotive parts. Rather than just writing posts about the products you sell, you can share do-it-yourself (DIY) stories about automotive maintenance, provide your readers with tips on finding a good car mechanic, and much more.
The key is to position your business as an authority on all subjects related to your product/service, and to provide interesting and engaging stories that educate your customers and keep them coming back for more.
The New Thought Leadership
Before social media existed, this type of educational content was often referred to as thought leadership marketing. Webinars, in-person customer events, and e-newsletters have traditionally been part of the thought leadership marketing mix. Now, with the added bonus that social media provides to spread stories through word of mouth, the concept has evolved.
It’s important to be aware of the pros and cons to developing a successful digital storytelling strategy. Here are a few things to consider if you’re just getting started:
- Great stories build trust and loyalty with your customers
Through digital storytelling, you are not seen as trying to selfishly push your products. Instead, you’re supporting and empowering your customers to become more informed consumers or users of your product(s). You can also have an open conversation with your customers about their concerns or needs for future product enhancements, which will help you become a leader in your industry .
- Content marketing improves your search engine rankings
Search engine optimization (SEO) is reliant on providing relevant keywords in your content and having many links back to your website from valuable sources. Digital storytelling therefore helps to boost your efforts in this area by enabling your stories to be shared through social media platforms.
- Your stories have legs
Why tell a good story just once when you can cross-promote your content in your newsletter, via e-books, webinars, events and more. And as your story spreads, so will the word of mouth about your product.
- It takes time to build an audience and search engine rankings
The impact of digital storytelling does not happen overnight. At first, you’ll feel like you’re speaking to a very small audience (maybe just your friends and colleagues). But if you’re patient, the rewards will be tremendous as you’ll start to generate more and more sales leads and have the opportunity to truly connect with customers across the country or globe.
- Good content is not free
Just because you can start a blog, Facebook page or YouTube channel relatively cheaply does not mean that you will instantaneously drive people to those platforms. Whether you are developing the content for those channels in-house, or outsourcing to another person or business, there are costs (i.e. time, money and resources) involved to produce great content that builds an audience.
Do you have a content strategy that works well for your business? If so, please share any tips or insights about good digital storytelling strategies in the comments section below.
A version of this post was originally published on the Jugnoo blog in July 2012 and has been republished with permission.
Everyone loves a good underdog story. In the tech world, we adore small startups that take on big companies and win. But what happens when a startup grows and starts to look a lot like its Goliath-like competitors? At some point, our perception of that company changes and we sometimes lose the love that we once felt for them.
When a big company starts to fall, the media and investors/industry analysts begin to examine what went wrong and criticize their leadership – as is the case with companies like RIM and AOL. In both instances, those businesses lost their entrepreneurial edge and didn’t innovate as quickly as their competitors – resulting in the loss of millions of customers to the competition. And down with those customers went AOL and RIM’s stock and media praise.
But sometimes those companies make a comeback and, in the case of AOL, they start to regain the media, analysts’ and investors’ love for them.
Earlier this year, I wrote a post about whether AOL was making a comeback. Well, it seems that my assumptions might be right – and I’m not the only one to think so. Just last week, Mitch Joel commented on a recent Business Insider story which confirms that AOL’s stock and media love is on the upswing.
After years of changing strategies and trying on different CEOs for size (finding a fit with former Google Executive Tim Armstrong), AOL finally got its groove back. So, it seems that with time and the right vision, a behemoth company can reclaim its underdog status. I, like Mitch Joel and many others, am rooting for an AOL victory.
I also hope that in time RIM will make its way back onto the right track. But its future is still a little cloudy right now. Like AOL did in the past, RIM will likely shrink in employee size and re-think its direction in the years to come before growing again. So, let’s not lose all hope in the Canadian company just yet.
What do you think? Can former underdog companies be re-born? Please share your thoughts in the comment section below.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
We all know the story of Gary Vaynerchuck (@GaryVee on Twitter), and how he grew his parents’ wine business by sharing his dynamic personality with the world through social media and his WineLibrary TV video website.
(And if you don’t, check out the Social Mix 2012 conference web site for more information).
But Gary is not the only person to use the power of social media and our generation’s love of booze to grow an incredible personal brand.
Canada’s very own Dee Brun (@CocktailDeeva on Twitter) is an award-winning author, TV personality, celebrity event planner, Cocktail’ista, food & drink stylist, home entertaining maven, writer, humorist, wife, mother of 4, TV junkie, shoe-aholic, borderline George Clooney stalker and so much more.
She’s also a sucker for a good Mojito cocktail.
How do we know all of this about Dee? Because she lives those personal brand characteristics on her social media profiles, blog and TV appearances, every day.
We caught up with Dee to get the scoop on how she built her personal brand and what advice she has for others who are trying to craft a persona for themselves online.
Q – Why did you decide to become a Cocktail Deeva?
A – Before becoming the Cocktail Deeva, I was working in sales and marketing in the consumer packaged goods space for companies like Coke and Mars.
When I fell in love with my husband, he convinced me to go after my dreams. So, I quit my job in 2005 to write my first book, Libations of Life – a Girl’s Guide to Cocktails.
It was actually on my book tour in 2006 that a Breakfast Television host in Calgary gave me the idea for my personal brand name. I was breastfeeding my six-week-old child at the time and wanted to look good for the camera. So, I got all glammed up for the interview – wearing diva’d up bold earrings and makeup.
The host said “wow, look at you. You’re a cocktail diva.” The name stuck. I went home that day and bought the URL and signed up for all of the social media profiles with that name that I could get.
Q- Can you describe the process of how you built your brand?
A- Changing the name of “diva” to “deeva” was a really big part of personalizing my brand – because it represents my name.
A lot of business people actually told me not to change the spelling because it would make it hard for people to find me. But I ignored their advice because I believe that as long as your name says what you do, you can make it work.
I also really wanted to live the brand that I’d created for myself within my book.
In 2005, the Sex and the City TV show was really popular and I was inspired by how Carrie Bradshaw had built her brand as a writer.
I really saw myself in her. I built my persona around three things that I love: booze, shoes (just like Carrie) and George Clooney. People know that’s what I like because I talk about it all the time.
It’s amazing how people now want to share links to stories on my Facebook page about those topics. So, I’ve learned that it’s really important that people know everything about you in one to two clicks. Society has no attention span.
Q – What social media tools and platforms do you use to share your brand story and attract new followers/fans?
A- There are so many new tools coming out. But I don’t think you need to be on everything. I say, pick your three favourites and give 100 per cent to what you choose to use.
Twitter is huge for me because I can say what I want and be myself.
Whatever products that I Tweet about are 100 per cent what I use. It’s important to be honest in social media, and I don’t work with anyone except great brands that I love. I’m also a big fan of Facebook and YouTube for sharing my videos and videos from others.
Pinterest is also a great tool for sharing home entertainment tips and ideas.
Q – What are some simple steps or best practices for anyone who is just getting started in building a personal brand?
A- You get one shot to make a first impression and you need to stand tall on your stilettos from the start.
I recommend putting together a uniform package (i.e. your logo, your website and your social media profiles and bios) and launch everything all at once. Get everything uniform and always speak with the same voice.
Also, don’t pay someone to write your bio/social media profiles because it has to come from you and sound like you to give it the full effect. In addition, make sure that the URL that you’re linking to from your Twitter or Facebook page is your website.
I want to know what you do and what you’re all about. Send me there directly. Don’t waste the clicks.
Q- What lessons or mistakes have you learned from along the way?
A – Ha! I often say that the reason I wear fabulous shoes is because I always have my foot in my mouth. So, I’ve learned a lot of lessons.
I guess my biggest challenge when I got started was that I didn’t reach out for resources or ask other people about building my brand. I just didn’t know who the right people to ask were at the time. Now, I use social media resources and connections every day.
I say that if you really like what someone is doing, ask them how they did it. Get as many tips as you can. Again, don’t pay someone to write or Tweet for you. Just get feedback from the people in your social network to help you refine your story.
A version of this post was originally published on the Jugnoo blog in June 2012 and has been republished with permission..
Yep! It’s actually gonna happen. Over the next week, I’m going to do what once seemed unthinkable as someone starting her own small business. I’m going to (gulp) take a vacation. It’s been long overdue and I’m so excited that I just had to share it with you.
I’ve been told by many of my colleagues that taking a break is an essential part of running your own business. Without stepping away for a while, it’s sometimes hard to envision what you need to do next. So, I’m taking their advice and unplugging (as much as I can) from the digital world. Although, I can’t imagine not having my mobile phone with me. But we’ll see how it goes
So, I will admit to you all that next week’s post might be a bit late. But I promise to continue to share weekly posts with you as soon as I return. I hope that everyone has a fantastic August long weekend and I look forward to connecting when I return!
In May, I wrote a post about whether or not The Globe and Mail should adopt an eMarketer style content marketing strategy. In that blog, I suggested that the popular Canadian news publication should sell short, downloadable eBooks – especially for its business and technology readers. This could potentially help to attract new readers and supplement revenue shortfalls from paper subscriptions and advertising.
Well, it looks like The Globe and Mail is, indeed, experimenting with that format and is testing it out with its Report on Business (ROB) publication. I just downloaded “The Lunch” for $2.99 CAD which is now being sold as an “eBook featuring lunchtime interviews with the world’s top business minds” and is a collection of the most popular interviews from the Globe’s Report on Business column.
I have to say that I love this concept because gives legs to stories from The Globe and Mail’s ROB archives which readers may not have previously seen. I really hope that this format takes off as it will provide a new revenue stream for the news publication. In addition, as I mentioned in my previous blog post, I hope that The Globe and Mail continues to experiment and tries offering deeper analysis reports for its popular technology, finance and politics sections for use by business and political analysts.
What do you think? Could custom eBooks and reports help to save the newspaper industry? Please share you perspective in the comments section below.
For the past few weeks, media publications have been promoting today, July 4th, as the day that researchers from CERN in Switzerland would announce the discovery of the “God Particle,” also known as Higgs boson which has been touted as “one of the biggest scientific discoveries of the 21st century.” But the scientists who developed the presentation forgot to consult a marketer or PR professional to help with the design and delivery of their message. Instead, they used their own judgement and crafted the presentation using Comic Sans font. According to this story from CBC.ca, their poor taste in graphic design sent the Twitterverse into a frenzy. Just check out the screenshot of today’s trending keywords on Twitter (to the right) to see what I mean.
While the announcement was remarkable, the message got lost (in some people’s minds) because it was delivered in an unprofessional manner with the use of a font reserved for kindergarten classrooms and children’s birthday parties. It’s a reminder that god is in the details – especially when you’re announcing such a huge accomplishment to the world. While your story is important, it’s also necessary to ensure you are delivering it in the right format. Otherwise, the message may get lost in translation.
If you’re not 100 per cent sure about your message delivery, make sure to ask someone who specializes in that area. Do you agree? Please share your thoughts below.
I know that I usually write about digital media, startups, marketing and social media but it just wouldn’t be write not to address the fact that I am and always will be proud of my country. Besides, all of the examples that I am sharing are available online, so I’m technically still writing within my genre.
1. I know that you want to be “Canadian, Please.” This video is a few years old but I still get a kick out of it:
2. “Shit Canadians Say, Eh?” This video from earlier this year follows in the footsteps of the ever popular Shit Girls Say meme:
3. Molson’s “I AM CANADIAN” video. This one is an oldie but still a goodie:
4. In the spirit of the video above, and to celebrate one of Canada’s most famous techie-related celebrities (I’m talking about Star Trek of course), here is William Shatner with his version of I AM CANADIAN:
Do you have a favourite video or website which celebrates being Canadian? Please share the link in the comments section below. Happy Canada Day everyone!
As the weather in Toronto is expected to reach a balmy 34 degrees celcius today, I thought it would be a good time to write about entrepreneurship and summer vacations. The kids are out of school and the beach is calling but does that mean we small business owners will be taking time off? If you can’t take a true vacation, you do have some options.
According to Regus Canada, “a recent survey that found 41 per cent of entrepreneurs will be dealing with email, making calls and attending to significant pieces of work while on their summer vacation.” This is often described as a “workation.” But in order to do this, you need to be well-prepared. Below are some tips and tools you can use to support your workation:
- Be prepared with virtual office tools. Here’s a recent blog that I wrote about how to setup an “anywhere office.”
- Set expectations with customers that you will be away and that you might be a little slower to respond to e-mails and calls. Or, let them know far enough in advance that you can deliver on major projects before-hand.
- Have a back-up plan in case you wifi or computer goes down. Is there an internet cafe or library nearby that you can use to check-in on your e-mail? Also, back-up your files on a USB stick or in the cloud so that you can access them on another device.
- Try to win a free virtual office! Regus Canada will be giving away five virtual offices until the end of 2012. Visit the Regus Canada Facebook Page to enter the “I’d rather work virtually anywhere than the office this summer” contest.
Do you have a workation tip for other small business owners? Please share in the comments section below.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog for TELUS about the benefits of working from what I call an “anywhere office.” Because of new innovations in mobile and cloud-based collaboration technologies, small business owners can now work from almost anywhere – eliminating the need to be in a physical office space or to have physical documents and files. So, does this mean that we will soon live in a truly paperless society?
Today, PayPal Canada shared the results of a Leger Marketing study which indicate that ”71 per cent of Canadians are comfortable with never having to handle cash to make a purchase, up 27 per cent from 2011.” In addition, “a full quarter (25 per cent) of survey respondents go more than a week without using cash.” So, it would seem that the more we become comfortable relying on digital tools to process our payments and save all of our information, the more likely we are to reduce the amount of paper (or cash) that we use.
Yet, banking “paperwork” in its most literal form, is still a necessity. When I first signed up for a small business account with my bank, I decided that I’d go paperless and rely on my online account for all of my monthly statements. However, when tax season came around, I still needed to print out all of my monthly statements to give to my accountant. Ironically, I might as well have had my bank statements mailed to me in the first place.
So, until the banks and the government can allow me to access all of my statements online (without having to print-out copies down the line), I still need to keep paper files of all of my expenses for auditing purposes. Even though I’m very pro-digital, I’m still skeptical as to whether the world can truly go paperless. I do carry less cash around these days but still feel that I need some cash on hand for using the subway or for when I need to lend someone ten bucks. Maybe having a little cash/paper around is a good thing for now – especially in case of a zombie apocalypse. What do you think? Please share your perspective in the comments section below.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
I am excited to announce that today marks my 100th blog post on this website. As I look back over the past year and a half since I started this blog (and my own business), many exciting things have happened. It truly is amazing to see how my small business has evolved as a concept and through relationships with new and existing customers. And I have so much more to look forward to in the future – all because I simply started a blog.
Because today is such a momentous occasion, I think it’s necessary to look back on what has been accomplished since my first post. Without trying to sound like I’m to0ting my own horn, here are the top five things that I’ve been pleasantly surprised by and am proud of having experienced since my very first blog post.
1. Meeting and connecting with amazing people in the Canadian digital media industry who share the same passion and drive for entrepreneurship and a better digital world. Again, I don’t want to brag but Canada has a remarkably close-knit community of startups, freelancers and consultants who all want to see our nation become a global leader in the digital economy.
2. Either discovering or being discovered by new customers who also share the same interests as I do and using my blog and their blogging platforms to share that enthusiasm and knowledge.
3. Being inspired to go back to school to get a Certificate in Freelance Writing at U of T to continue my new-found passion for writing and discussing digital media trends and key issues that shape my world.
4. Working with creative and intelligent Canadian startups, small businesses and small business supporters in the digital space who seek to tear down walls/barriers and replace them with their own unique solutions.
5. Continuously being pleasantly surprised that where I initially thought I’d be at this point in the game is much different from where I thought I’d end up. However, I am ecstatic and optimistic that where I am is exactly where I should be.
Thanks to everyone who reads my blog and for your encouragement via e-mail, Twitter/LinkedIn and in-person comments. I appreciate your support and will continue to share my thoughts, tips and ideas with you on this platform.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
Last week, one of Canada’s most prestigious national newspapers, The Globe and Mail, announced that the business was moving to a “metered pay wall system this fall, asking online readers to pay if they read more than a certain number of articles each month.” This bold move by the Toronto-based publisher follows a trend that was started by the New York Times last year.
Many critics and loyal Globe and Mail readers were obviously outraged by the proposed changes. Some argued that they “would not pay unless the content is unique and valuable.” This got me thinking about successful strategies where publishers have provided some of their in-depth research and objective analysis for free, while also charging a premium for deeper, extended coverage. The best example that came to mind was eMarketer which offers research and analysis on Digital Marketing and Media from 4,000 sources worldwide.
eMarketer content is distributed to its customer base for free through newsletters and blogs – both of which have high readership and subscription levels. These free stories provide objective, analytical perspectives from eMarketer consultants and writers who cover hot trending topics or breaking news stories in the online marketing world. The blogs and newsletters often use research snippets from eMarketer’s premium, pay-per-download reports to help support the story.
Not only do these channels inform eMarketer customers of newsworthy trends and topics, they also spark the reader’s interest to then purchase reports which provide deeper coverage and context for the stories. The downloadable PDF reports can range in length from a few 8.5×11 printable pages to a mini e-book for which customers pay premium price.
The Globe and Mail is in a unique position to follow this model because of the popularity of their Report on Business (ROB) Magazine and Technology coverage. The heavy readership and quality content of these channels make The Globe and Mail a national resource for in-depth analysis on business and technology trends and issues in Canada. And the publication is already on its way to becoming an eMarketer-type service by hiring consultants, like Duncan Stewart from Deloitte Canada, to write about Canadian and global technology trends.
If The Globe and Mail was to provide even deeper analysis (i.e. custom research studies and eMarketer-style aggregated reports from partner consulting firms) on a particular tech or business trend, readers would very likely pay more money for access to that information.
Of course, the news must always be the news. And the Globe ROB and Tech (possibly even Politics) reports would have to be slightly more evergreen in style and content – providing context where needed for breaking news stories.
I do realize that my suggestion goes against traditional journalism values. But in a world where news breaks faster on Twitter and Facebook than the print publishers can cover the story, I think it’s time to re-think the news publication and reporting model all together. Perhaps the solution is not to charge your readers to pay to read a news story. Instead, consider opportunities to provide deeper insights and data that no one can truly get anywhere else.
This idea would ultimately transform a publication like The Globe and Mail into part consulting firm, part news resource. But the upside is that it could create a reporting service that business, technology and political analysts can use to do their jobs better. It also takes the burden away from relying solely on advertising and creates a product that The Globe’s already loyal readers might actually want to purchase.
I think that the pay wall model is a short term solution for an industry in serious distress. Long term, I think newspapers need to experiment with new business models that will provide a different kind of service to their readers – just like what eMarketer and GigaOm are already doing. Do you agree or disagree? Please share your thoughts on other ways that The Globe and Mail could charge their readers for content that is unique and valuable.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
Yesterday, I read a blog entitled “Ten Brands Doing Post-Advertising Right.” I recommend that you check it out to see how companies around the world are using digital storytelling platforms to spark conversations and generate awareness of their brands.
The example that I enjoyed the most was a series of videos from Coca Cola, describing their goals for global content excellence by 2020. I loved the storyboards that Coca Cola used to illustrate, rather than just tell their story about digital storytelling and conversations. It’s so simple, yet so creative. I’ve re-embeded the videos below for your viewing pleasure.
What I love about their strategy is that even though Coca Cola is a big, global brand, even a small business can easily adopt some of the tools and tactics that they are using. I also dig that they are being completely transparent about their plans, letting the world know their intentions to use technology to enable consumer empowerment, build emotional connections and meet the needs of an on-demand culture.
Check-out 2:45 in the first video (Chapter 3) for Coke’s rendition of “The Evolution of Storytelling,” and the different types of storytelling that Coke will use to build their brand in the next 8 years. But it’s also worth taking the time to watch both videos in their entirety, if you can. Enjoy!
Yesterday, CNET posted a story entitled Frustrated advertisers to Facebook: Take our money — please! The article explained that many large advertisers are annoyed because (a) there aren’t bigger display ad opportunities available on Facebook (think homepage takeovers and big box banners), and (b) they do not always get the same level of service with Facebook that they currently experience with other large, more established media companies.
“The problem is that Facebook isn’t willing to do anything different for the client that wants to spend $10,000 versus $10 million,” said a NYC ad executive to CNET.
As a former Google sales employee, I think that Facebook is just at a place where Google was about five years ago. The company is growing so quickly and probably has to achieve a certain level of revenue to justify hiring more sales people to support their ads. So, I definitely feel for their growing pains. However, I still question whether advertising has a place in social media.
I don’t need to quote statistics to explain that people trust brand and product referrals from their friends and people they know and trust, over ads they see on a website. Facebook has been very careful so far to make sure the user experience is as “ad intrusive-free” as possible - knowing that users want to hear from the people in their lives, not advertisers, on their platform.
But if a brand is looking to engage in a dialogue with their customer on Facebook, that’s a different story. So far, the conversational approach has been somewhat successful as many people “like” their favourite brands and are willing to share feedback with companies when prompted on Facebook. But are all brands spending the advertising/marketing dollars they should to capitalize on that dialogue? Of course, that money wouldn’t currently go to Facebook but rather to people who manage those conversations. Still, those marketing dollars could be maximized by supporting the creation of engaging Facebook conversations all the same.
In a media world where niche targeting is everything, and algorithms are focused on helping people to refine the reach of those niches, it’s surprising that advertisers want to spend so much money on the website – just because it reaches 900 million people. Hasn’t the ad world been preaching targeted vs. mass reach advertising over the past 10 to 20 years anyhow?
Still, to make those mass reach advertisers happy, perhaps Facebook could offer more premium customization of their timeline profiles – similar to how YouTube provides advertisers with premium brand channel opportunities in exchange for a bigger ad spend. I also wouldn’t be surprised to soon see the opportunity for brands to pay for richer customer dialogue and analytics features in the near future. But when it comes to increasing big brand ad exposure alongside user-to-user dialogue, I think Facebook is wise to keep the user experience focused on the “social” rather than the “media.”
What do you think? I’d love to hear about your experience in advertising vs. engaging in customer dialogues on Facebook.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
I just got back from two invigorating days at Canada 3.0 2012 in Stratford, Ontario. During the keynote presentations and break-out sessions, I was inspired by two very important events:
- A Canadian indie rocker named Hannah Chapplain, who performed on the first night of the conference, competed in the Road to Banff startup pitch-off competition that was happening in tandem with Canada 3.0 2012. She was there because she considers herself a digital media entrepreneur. It makes sense since she is publishing and marketing her own content to promote her talents.
- A break-out session in the Content stream at Canada 3.0 2012, featuring GigaOm’s Sr. Writer, Mathew Ingram, and The Globe and Mail’s Editor-in-Chief, John Stackhouse, raised an important issue: just like with music, people might want to pay for access to certain writers in a newspaper. Apparently, the Globe and Mail has been researching the pay wall model – where people might be willing to pay on a per-article basis – just like a music download.
What this made me realize is that Canadian writers, musicians and artists should adopt a more entrepreneurial mindset. In the world of journalism, newspapers are struggling to develop a business model that attracts more viewership, and ultimately more premium advertising dollars. Right now, news publications are relying heavily on columnists and popular writers to help them do this. Whether they like it or not, journalists now need to learn how to market themselves online in order to attract a following.
The same is obviously happening in the music world. We already have great examples of Canadian musicians (think Justin Bieber) who have proven that this model works. Ms. Chapplain is very smart to be pitching herself like an entrepreneur as well.
This is the new world that we live in. Old business models, which relied heavily on distributors and corporate marketing to do the selling for musicians, writers and artists are slowly declining. The content marketing tools are there, at your disposal, for free. Your success lies in your own hands.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
I’m very excited to be participating once again in the Canadian Digital Media Network‘s (CDMN) Canada 3.0 Digital Media Forum on April 24th and 25th in Stratford, Ontario. This year, CDMN is focusing on five key industry streams: Capital, Connectivity, Content, Productivity and Talent – all of which will help to achieve Canada’s Moonshot goal: To ensure that anyone can do anything online by 2017.
Over the past few months, I’ve written a series of blog posts which examine some of the key trends and issues surrounding each of the industry themes. You can read those posts on the CDMN and Canada 3.0 websites.
There are some amazing speakers scheduled to attend this year’s event, representing Canadian industry, government and academia. I hope that you can attend Canada 3.0 2012 and play your part in ensuring Canada’s place at the forefront of the global digital economy.
If you’re a startup, you might also want to take a look at the Road to Banff Pitch-Off Competition that is happening simultaneously with the conference. The winning team gets an all-expense paid trip to the Banff Venture Forum in October. Sweet!
I can’t wait to see you in Stratford!
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
As the sole proprietor of a small business, you get to be your own boss. But this privilege can also be a curse. It all really depends on
how hard you are on yourself. If you’re a bit of a type A personality (like I personally am), then you may start out being harder on yourself, as your employee, than you would be on anybody else.
Here are some tips that I’ve discovered about being the boss that I have always wanted for myself:
Be gentle on yourself
To be a small business owner, you have to be self-motivated and work hard. But that doesn’t mean that you need to work yourself into a frenzy (which I learned the hard way early on). It’s important to know your limits and seek support and help from others when you know that things are becoming too much for one person to handle. After all, you are the guardian of your own personal health and happiness – which leads nicely into my next point.
Reward yourself and celebrate your achievements
This doesn’t necessarily mean going out and spending a ton of cash when you win a big client or reach a new milestone. However, you should recognize that you have reached your goals and do something good for yourself – like treat yourself to a small indulgence. I sometimes take “my team” out for ice cream on a Friday if I have something to celebrate – or for a $20 pedicure. I also make sure to go to the gym regularly to keep up my spirits and motivation if I’ve had a tough day.
Continue to raise the bar
It can be easy to be satisfied with the way things have been rolling and get into a routine. But you need to remember that a good boss pushes you beyond your comfort zone. So, be sure to set goals for yourself to stretch to the next milestone.
Have a tip for being the boss you’ve always wanted? Please share in the comments section below.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
Over the past few months, I’ve made it my mission to meet with other freelancers in my industry to learn how they manage their own businesses and get their feedback on what I’m doing right or wrong. The more I meet with other freelancers, the more I realize that no one can run a business completely alone. That’s why I truly believe that freelancers are stronger if they work together.
So, if you’re just getting started in the freelance game, here are some recommendations that I have collected and learned from my first year of running my own small business:
1. Grow your network and form a support group.
It’s important to meet regularly with other freelancers or small business owners to share ideas and get advice on how you can improve your business. There are now plenty of events and conferences in Toronto that facilitate meeting other like-minded professionals. A few examples are SproutUpTo, FreelanceCampTO, Enterprise Toronto and more.
2. Follow and engage with other freelancers through social media.
Building online relationships is just as helpful as building in-person relationships. It’s important to develop a good rapport with a few other freelancers on platforms like Twitter, Quora and LinkedIn so that you can pose questions to your colleagues when you’re in a jam and/or can’t find the answer yourself. To find other freelance professionals, you can use tools like Search.Twitter.com (search for keywords and hashtags related to your profession), or search for other freelance professionals on LinkedIn. But always remember that your relationship will grow even further if you eventually meet in person.
3. Read and comment on blogs and articles from other freelancers.
Many freelancers (including myself) write about their experiences to share with others. So, make sure you visit and comment on their blogs and articles to build a relationship with them (and even share your own advice). Here’s a great resource that was recently Tweeted by one of my social media friends
@thecoffice: The Ultimate Guide to Becoming a Successful Freelance Marketer http://freelanceswitch.com/freelance-marketing/beginner-freelance-marker/. Even though the guide is geared to marketers, there’s some useful information in there for any freelance professional.
Have a tip on another way that freelancers can work together to help each other grow their business? Please share in the comments section below.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
When a man or woman is dating, their friends will tell them to just keep themselves busy, do activities that they love, and show the world that they are fun, well-rounded and approachable. But this strategy takes time as a person builds up their confidence, gets out there to meet a lot of potential suitors, and inevitably makes the right connection, at the right moment, with the right man or woman.
The same can be said for digital storytelling through social media and blogs. When a company is trying to attract new customers, it’s extremely important to peak your target audience’s interest. This requires that the business shows the world not just what its key product features are, or where you can buy the product — it’s necessary to make a lasting impression with that audience by sharing what really makes the business, and it’s people tick. This involves telling many different stories and sharing many different details about the business, and its industry, through a variety of channels and touch points.
In a real-world situation, you would never walk up to a perfect stranger and tell them all of your personality traits and your interests without getting to know the other person better. You would ask them questions to find out who they are and where their interests lie. From there, you would naturally share information and personal stories that relate to them specifically.
That’s what makes digital storytelling through social media and blogs such an organic way to attract new customers. As you share stories that describe the heart of your business and your industry expertise, your customers will share their interests in specific topics (via comments and social media channels) – to help you create and share even more stories that inevitably attract the right customer, at the right time.
So, when you’re crafting your next corporate story, think about how you would want to tell it to someone on a first date – it might just be the spark of a new customer connection.
In the past year, a number of new online tools have emerged to help catalogue and track a user’s digital memoirs. From the launch of Facebook’s new timeline feature, to the growing popularity of pinning our hopes, memories and dreams to Pinterest, to the ability to collect and weave your favorite photos, Tweets and social streams into a tale on Storify, the possibilities to recount a sequence of events seem endless.
But these digital scrapbooks of one’s personal history likely do not reflect the real, or whole story. I see it more like users are revealing a scattered collection of moments online. If this isn’t the case, then many of my friends’ lives could be summarized on Facebook timeline as follows: you are born, you attend university and a few major events, you randomly “like” some cat videos, photos of friends’ vacations and children, to be continued…
As privacy concerns grow online, my compulsion to share personal experiences and memoirs on sites like Facebook and Google+ seems to be fading – especially when I know that these companies plan to share my personal data to advertisers.
Therefore, like true human memories, there are many holes in my digital story. And until my online privacy is better protected, my timeline will remain a mystery, rather than a biography. Let me know your thoughts about sharing your personal story online via social media.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
When I played competitive soccer growing up, our club coaches would sometimes share their best players up an age group if they were short on numbers for a game. The same rules can apply to digital storytelling.
I often link to competitive blogs, videos and presentations when doing content marketing for my business. You may think that it’s wrong to send your social media followers and blog readers to competitive stories or websites but I see it differently. Here are my main arguments for why you should promote the competition via digital storytelling:
- Focus on growing your market. As a small business owner, it’s in my own best interest to grow my market. If my competition is contributing to the conversation about digital storytelling and B2B marketing, then I feel that it is necessary to share links to their stories with my potential customers and followers. The more that your customers and industry are informed and interested in your services, the better it is for everyone. This leads nicely into my second point about collaboration.
- “Collaboration is the new competition.” This statement has been discussed a lot lately in blogs, keynote presentations at events and social media. What this statement means is that we can no longer work in silos. We all need to collaborate on occasion in order to complete a project or achieve a goal. In fact, I’ve personally started reaching out to other professionals who do the same kind of work as I do in order to find partners for future projects. So, by promoting your competitors, I believe that you are leaving the door open to attract future collaborative efforts.
- Your customers will thank you for it. I often share competitors’ blogs, research and whitepapers with my current and potential customers. If there is data out there that will help your customer to succeed, then it doesn’t matter who the information came from. Yes, there’s a risk that your customer might leave you for the competition – that is always a risk. But if you put the customer’s needs first, you are setting yourself up for success.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
Over the past few months, I’ve read a number of articles about the female obsession with the popular social photo sharing tool called Pinterest. A recent Washington Post article dubbed it “crack for women.” So, I was reluctant to try out the new platform for myself, thinking that the last thing I need to worry about is another social media platform to manage.
However, after dedicating a few hours of my holiday Monday to playing around with the tool, I am now hooked. Although I know that there are more productive things I could be doing with my time, I predict that I will spend many more hours completing and updating all of my virtual Pinterest pin boards – selecting images of my favourite recipes and home decor items to stick under different category headings.
But why did I so quickly become hooked on Pinterest? Basically, I see it as a virtual scrapbook which allows me to arrange all of my favourite hobbies and interests in one place. So, if you like to organize and categorize your life in a visual fashion, this platform is definitely for you. It’s just like rearranging your closet by colour coding – something that many women enjoy and attempt to maintain.
While there are other social media tools and apps that enable people to arrange and share photos, Pinterest is extremely user-friendly. Plus, many people have now enabled their “pins” (i.e. images they’ve attached to their virtual pin board) to be shared in their Facebook timeline. So, the Pinterest user base is growing rapidly as women share their interests with all of their Facebook friends.
I predict that consumer packaged goods (CPG) manufacturers and marketers will be flocking to this tool in droves to better understand their customers. That’s because I believe that Pinterest enables you to capture a glimpse of a person’s psyche – identifying the items and activities that they covet and enjoy.
As a blogger and small business owner, I see a lot of promotional benefits to using Pinterest. I can organize and promote stories that I have written, or link to ideas and images that have inspired me to write future stories. I can also see what my followers or the people I am following are interested in and then tailor stories and images to suit their curiosities. One important caveat to note is that the image that bloggers use to promote stories on Pinterest needs to be extremely visually compelling. It’s just like judging a book by its cover – you need to entice people to find out more.
It’s also important to note that you need to copy and paste the URL of the blog post or website that you’re referencing into the comments section when you pin your image. Unfortunately, the images that you select don’t automatically link back to the website from which you’ve pinned them to your board.
So, if you’ve created a Pinterest board worth noting, please send me a link. I’d love to find out how other people are using Pinterest to share ideas, products and more. In case you’re interested, here are the boards that I’ve started. Stay tuned for more photos as I visually make sense of the things that Pinterest me.
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
Part of my decision to run my own business was to have flexibility and control over when, where and how I do my work. But the busier that I get, the more I find that I need to become what I call “hyper-organized.” That means, I want to be so insanely organized that I get every task done without sacrificing my work-life balance.
So, over the past few months, I’ve been speaking with friends, colleagues and mentors to find out how they manage their time efficiently.
I find it fascinating that everyone has their own personal system for managing their time. Some people only check e-mail at specific times of the day – in order to avoid spending all day in their inbox. Other people only make phone calls at the time of day when they are the least productive.
Since I found it really useful to hear other people’s advice on what they do to stay on top of their game, I thought I’d share my own tricks for keeping myself organized.
1. Block off specific times in your calendar for specific projects. If you stick to these times and don’t do anything else, you’re more likely to finish each task. When I used to work for larger companies, blocking off my calendar also forced people to come to me to find out when I was free to meet – rather than having an open calendar where anyone can book a meeting with me at anytime. It definitely made me feel more in control of my meeting times vs. work time.
2. Set regular times to do weekly tasks. For example, I schedule Wednesday afternoon/early evening to write my weekly personal blog. If I get to it sooner than that time great! If not, then I know that Wednesdays are blog days. So, I dedicate that time to getting that task done. This definitely helps me to stay consistent and dedicated to my blog.
3. Plan out and track your hours at the beginning, middle and end of each week. I start a weekly project list every Monday morning and assign estimated hours to complete each project. I then check-in again mid-week to see how I’m tracking against each goal. Then, on Fridays, I try to anticipate what needs adjusting for the following week. Using a tool like Freshbooks.com is a huge help in this area. Their “time tracking” feature for projects is my saving grace!
4. Schedule breaks. When you’re super busy, it’s extremely important that you set aside time to take a breather. I’m notorious for working straight through a day without taking a break. However, since I started putting reminders in my calendar to take a break, I’ve found that I am way more productive. Make sure that those breaks mean time away from the computer – like going for a walk outside, or going to the gym. This is much better for me than watching a bunch of funny YouTube videos. But everyone is different. Just make sure that you do something that will get you re-energized and re-focused.
5. Weed out the “must-haves” versus the “nice-to-haves.” Of course, there are a million things that I’d like to accomplish each week. However, it’s very important to weed out what’s going to help you to get where you need to be today versus a month, six months or a year from now. Being realistic about what you can accomplish, and breaking goals into daily or weekly chunks, will make life a lot easier and happier for you
These are just some of the ways that I’ve been able to stay on top of my work when I’m super busy. I’d love to find out what works for you?
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
About a year ago, I posted a story about AOL’s new large display ad format called “Project Devil.” In that blog, I speculated over whether this new format would help change the game for the online media company.
Today, it appears that my predictions may be coming true. According to Marketing Magazine, AOL managed to see growth in the fourth quarter of 2011 - “with display ad revenue – the present and future of its business – up to $363.8 million, up 10% from $331.6 million a year ago.”
With the recent acquisitions of online media heavyweights like The Huffington Post and TechCrunch, I think this is going to be the year that all of AOL’s hard work finally pays off. Tim Armstrong, CEO at AOL was quoted in the Marketing Magazine story — saying that “the hope is to return all of AOL to profitability by the end of 2012.” I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if he’s right.
As a former employee of AOL, I am definitely hoping that they do turn the ship around. My colleagues and I all saw the potential for the company to be great again one day.
AOL and other Internet pioneers, like Microsoft, have been playing second fiddle to heavyweights like Google and Apple over the past five years or so. However, I predict that we may see a comeback from both of these giants in the next few years. Only time will tell whether I am right.
Which other online media or technology companies do you think are headed for a comeback? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
Earlier today, I read a great blog post entitled “Nice People Don’t Change the World,” by Joel Runyon on his Blog of Impossible Things. I love his message that we are trained from a young age to learn how to be nice. But the act of always trying to fit in and go with the flow often gets you nowhere fast. In order to “do something that matters,” you need to go against the grain and take a chance. This means that you may not always be perceived as “nice” or “compliant” in some peoples’ eyes.
As a small business owner, one who has only been self-employed for about a year now, I have learned that being courageous doesn’t happen overnight. Instead, it happens in small, tiny steps. Each time I push my own boundaries, I gather-up the courage to go one more step beyond.
In the meantime, I’ve faced many naysayers and people who have told me that I am “too nice” to run my own business, that “I don’t strike them as a hunter,” that what I am “trying to do is hard,” or that “I’ll just see that it can’t be done.” To that, I say, I’ll do it anyhow.
While I won’t say that I am changing the world just yet, I have managed to create a new reality for myself — within a career of my own imagination. I wouldn’t trade the experiences that I’ve had in the past twelve months for anything.
Likewise, I certainly wouldn’t have the courage to keep going today, had I not taken the initial first step to go against the traditional way of earning a living.
A friend of mine has recently started her own small business – selling unique paper from all over the world. Yesterday, she told me that she is going to exhibit for the first time at a wedding tradeshow. She wants to target her product to brides and wedding invitation designers – an excellent place to start. Her biggest fear is that no one will like her product and that she won’t succeed. However, by never taking the chance to find out if people like her product, she might never learn what works and what doesn’t. Just by going through the experience for the first time, she will learn so much about what she needs to do next in order to succeed. I know she’ll be a great success if she just takes a chance.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s a new year and a new opportunity to finally take that tiny first step. If you do one small thing that gets you closer to that goal that you keep postponing, you’ll have the courage to go even further. As my old competitive swim coach used to tell me, “feel the fear, then do it anyways.”
Image source: iStockPhoto.com
Yesterday afternoon, I read that many Canadian websites would be joining in the US online protest against proposed anti-piracy laws today. Here’s a link to an article from the Winnipeg Free Press that lists some of those Canadian websites and why they’re joining in the cause.
Such laws terrify me as a participant in the social web. Although I am not turning my website off today, I do want to show my support for my fellow Canadians and US colleagues. Why? Because if the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) passes in the U.S. House of Representatives, and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA) passes in the U.S. Senate, to quote Wikipedia “it would seriously damage the free and open Internet.” That’s enough reason for anyone to support this protest.
Here’s the message from Wikipedia explaining why their English website has gone dark today: http://wikimediafoundation.org/wiki/English_Wikipedia_anti-SOPA_blackout. Please share your support and stand up against SOPA as well.
In the spirit of sharing, here’s a great video which explains SOPA in more detail: