Writer, Christian, SEO/Social Media Marketer, Book Reviewer, Deaf and Loud.

Monthly Archives: December 2012

As an intern for CloudItGuru.com, my current assignment has been to work on creating the first ever Cloud It Guru E-book. One of the sections I have been focusing on for the past few weeks has been devoted exclusively to various forms of digital marketing. In order to learn how small businesses can benefit from marketing on Pinterest I have been reading Hub Spot’s E-book, How to Use Pinterest For Business. As I was reading some of the suggested Pinterest marketing strategies I was reminded of the ways that individuals market themselves online. I really liked many of Hub Spot’s ideas on how to best use Pinterest for business marketing and I believe that many of their ideas can be applied to how we market ourselves and strive to create our own personal web presence. Here are 5 things we can learn from Pinterest about building an online web presence and marketing ourselves online:

1. Show, don’t tell. Pinterest operates largely with visuals. Yes, there is some text, but look at this screen shot of my Pinterest dashboard:

Screen-Shot-Of-Pinterest-Dashboard

 

While there is certainly some text, the pictures are what catches your eye first. It is important for Pinterest users to “pin” visually appealing content. In terms of our website and general web presence, it is important for us to show what we can do rather than say it all in text. On my website’s index page I have three “feature” articles, showcasing some of the actual articles I have written rather than simply saying “I have written this and this…”.

 

2. Create content for a target audience. On Pinterest users can create various “boards” featuring a variety of topics. HubSpot’s E-book suggests that businesses create boards that reflect their company’s values, beliefs, or motto. When we market ourselves online it is important that we keep our target audience in mind and write or post content for them. For example, on Twitter I follow many people involved with both social media and creative writing. They post information relating to these fields and I do the same. This information includes where I am in my progress with social media and my creative works, links to interesting articles, and other general related comments.

 

3. Don’t be  just a “self-follower” or “self-promoter” — be engaging! It is important to engage with others. On Pinterest, Hub Spot warns against companies that strictly post their own products/company info as Pinterest boards. One example they give is of a shoe company. While it may be beneficial for shoe companies to have boards featuring their own shoes and related products, they should also create boards that can engage their users such as a board for places to wear said shoes, activities to participate in wearing certain shoes, etc. Instead of merely talking about the work we have done online, we should engage with others about it and ask what they are doing, gain feedback on our work, swap advice, and comment on where we are now or hope to be in the future. Our online presence isn’t a one way street; in order to work most effectively we should be willing to engage with others who cross our path.

 

4. Give people a reason to follow you. Keep the content you post online fresh and new. Give people a reason to keep coming back to your website or social media pages. Be fun, informative, and approachable. On Pinterest many companies have chosen to hold contests to engage with other users and to give them a reason to follow them and stay engaged. You don’t have to have a contest, but you do have to be interesting and engaging in order to gain an online following.

 

5. Build Connections both with individuals and the web. Link your social media pages together. Posting on Twitter? That’s fine, but don’t be afraid to include a link to Pinterest or your website or another online channel that you’ve built a web presence for. Connect with other individuals, too. Comment not only on their tweets and Facebook posts, but their actual blogs as well. Remember to include links to your website and social media pages whenever applicable. By doing this you will not only build connections, but help to build up your overall web presence which will make it easier for others to find you online through search engines.

 

What is your strategy when it comes to marketing yourself online and building a web presence? Have you tried any of these tips?

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My second website conference with Dr. Wolff was immensely helpful. I realized one of my biggest problems was in font size/design. My font size was way too big for pretty much everything on my website and it was making things look really cluttered. I may also want to consider changing my font. Right now it’s Trebuchet, but I may want something a little bit more simple so it keeps it from looking too cluttered as well.

I felt the need to have my font size really big and to use colors throughout to make things stand out more, but it wasn’t really working. It just made everything look like a cluttered mess full of text and boxes. I am learning now to use the boxes to my advantage. By adding padding to the inside text and margins outside the box I can separate the different boxes and the text to make the content stand out more and not run together without seeming too “loud”. The orange titles look nice, but with the smaller font it can be difficult to read. I have been using the orange because it matches my blog, but maybe I should reconsider using black or another color or even a darker shade of orange.

My widgets were another problem. I felt like they were overbearing and taking away from my articles which I wanted to be the main attraction on my website. The GoodReads widget wasn’t really necessary. Twitter is important to have, but I may keep it off of the first page and just include it on all of the other pages instead. I think I should tweak with the code a bit to make it look more natural on my website though. Some other things I need to do with my sub-pages is delete the content on the About page and replace it with the content on the writer’s statement page, change the name of the writing samples page, and working on how the content is displayed. Professor Wolff suggested for my writing samples page to feature the articles with the title and date in order from most recent to least and to have that contained in one large box with the twitter widget off to the side. I think this may be a better way to display it so that it  looks less overwhelming and the text is easier to read.

I feel like I have a much better understanding of what to do for my website and what changes need to be made and why now. I feel a lot more confident about how to approach my website and I’m  eager for the final designs.


Lately I’ve felt a bit stuck on the whole coding/web design thing. I had a lot of trouble figuring out how to get the boxes/content to work well together. I have everything with that “working” now, but I can’t truly say I’m happy with how it looks. I feel like everything is really cluttered and squished together. Responsive? perhaps. Emotional web design? No, not really. I don’t think it’s doing much justice for my work at all or showing much of who I am as a writer.

My problem seems to be that I don’t really know what to do or how to do it at this point. I just kind of feel stuck in the stage. In time I suppose for project 3 I’d like to add a carousel of my articles. Something similar to how the Rowan website alternates between different articles relating to the University, but I feel like I don’t know where to go prior to that stage.

I’m starting to consider removing the Twitter and GoodReads article so I have more room on the grid for a third article or to increase the width of the articles. That might work better. I think it’s more important to have the articles stand out and look better than the widgets anyway. Instead of using the widgets I could always link my social media pages to a different page on the website.

I have been trying to look at different websites for blogs that I have worked with in the past or that I feel resemble what I might like to do with my website such as BitRebels.com, AroundPhilly.com, and CloudItGuru.com for inspiration. I’ve always been a big fan of the design featured throughout BitRebels.com, but I know that it is really complicated. When I view the css/html involved it makes my head spin with all of the various codes. I am afraid that it is well beyond my skill level at the moment.

I am looking forward to my next conference with Dr. Wolff on Thursday afternoon to hopefully gain some new ideas and insights so that I know what to do and where to go with my website. I know that although I feel stuck now, this feeling will soon past as I gain inspiration and skills needed to take my website to the next step of web design and make it more professional and reflective of my skills and who I am as a writer.


philip-roth-the-counterlife

 

Image Credits: Silverseason.Wordpress.com

 

I loved Philip Roth’s The Counterlife. It was one of those rare books that could make me feel a multitude of emotions and it took me by surprise. It is rare that books truly take me by surprise and have unexpected twists in the plots. This book did everything.

In the beginning this book offended me. I was outraged by the raw, raunchiness of it. I hated the character of Henry. He disgusted me. I hated the way he left his family to have an affair. I hated the way he risked his life to have a dangerous and unnecessary heart surgery just so he wouldn’t be impotent anymore so that he could continue his sexual affair with his dental assistant. I hate how immoral he was. I hated the way the book seemed so raw and sexual as well. I’ll admit I may be a bit biased in thinking that as my initial reaction though. I read this book as part of required reading for Dr. Jesse Zuba’s The American Novel class. The first week we began reading this book I was chosen to lead the class in discussion about it. The chapter, Basel, discussed Henry’s sex life (or lack thereof) in detail, making for a rather awkward class discussion, to say the least.

The second chapter, Judea amused me and broadened my way of thinking. I found it interesting the way that Henry decided to go to Judea after his surgery to try to recreate himself into an overly zealous Jew, abandoning everything in life just for his religion and for a chance to connect with his born heritage. I liked the arguments about identity and the questions raised. Does our ancestry or heritage really matter? How do we identify ourselves? Is our identity in our blood or is it in our lifestyle? I never really gave this much thought, but Roth makes an interesting point. Yes, I have Irish, Scottish and Germany blood — but is this really part of my identity? I’m proud of my heritage, but I’m not sure I’d say I identify with it. My identity is that of an American. America is all I’ve ever known. I’ve never been to Scotland, Ireland, or Germany. I can’t begin to tell you anything about it because I’ve never had any experiences with it.

Gloucestershire  served as the climax of the novel and the point where I realized just how much of a gem this novel truly is. In this chapter we learn that everything we were previously set up to believe was all a lie. We were never reading about Henry’s life at all, but rather, Nathan’s life fictionalized to be Henry’s. We were reading the first few chapters of Nathan’s novel. Suddenly Nathan didn’t seem as innocent or revolutionary to me anymore. I HATED him. How dare he write such things about all of his family members! I was outraged! But then I thought to myself — he is a writer. This is what writers do — they write fiction. They make things up. But was what he was doing ethical? Was it right?

I am a writer, just like Nathan. When I read about the way that Nathan disguised his own life in his writing by pretending these things happened to others in his life, I began to question the ethics of writing. Would I have done the same thing? It’s hard to say. Mostly everything I write, whether fiction or non-fiction, has been influenced by people I know in real life. I have written fiction stories with real people doing extreme things. I have written fiction stories based on real life events that were exaggerated  just like Nathan did. Although I am outraged and offended by Nathan, I realize there’s many times that I’ve done very similar, if not the same, things as Nathan. Nathan is just the typical writer using his writing as a way to express himself and maybe say things he wasn’t to say but doesn’t know how to. With writing a person can wear a mask. They can change life and cater it to be exactly as they see it or want to see it. Looking back, although at first I was initially offended by it, maybe this isn’t such a problem afterall. Writing is creative. It allows us to make ourselves and those around us into anything we want them to be. The danger doesn’t lie in writing, but rather, life when it comes to role playing and identity creation. When we try to be or make others into things that they are not in real life, that’s a real problem. It’s best to just let those things stay in fictional worlds in the written word.

The Counterlife gets a full five star rating from me for raising interesting questions about life and ethics that I have not previously considered, taking me by surprise in ways I never could have imagined, and helping me to re-examine and re-evaluate my own life. Not many books have as much power as this one does, making this one a true stand-out gem.



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