WordCamp Albuquerque 2016 talk: Marketing Your Business With WordPress

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Thanks so much to everyone who attended my WordCamp Albuquerque presentation this morning on Marketing Your Business with WordPress! If you’d like to see the rest of the presentation, or just want a copy of the slides, here’s the original Keynote:

Marketing Your Business With WordPress

And if you’re more of a PDF person, I’ve got you covered:

Marketing Your Business with WordPress – WC ABQ – April 2016

Wine Tourism Conference Presentation

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If you’re visiting my site after attending my presentation on Designing Websites for 2016 and Beyond, thank you and welcome!

If you would like to download a copy of my Keynote, here you go:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

If you’re more of a PowerPoint aficionado, I’ve got you covered:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

And lastly, if PDFs are more your thing, I’ve got that too:

Wine Tourism Conference 2015 Presentation

It was lovely meeting everyone and sharing stories over such wonderful wines and food!

 

Ten Years of Automattic | Matt Mullenweg

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I’ll remember the days before I knew everything.

— The Automattic Creed

via Ten Years of Automattic | Matt Mullenweg.

When I was still running my old business, I always had in my back pocket the idea that if I were to ever close up shop and work for The Man again, there would only be one man I’d want to work for, and that’s Matt Mullenweg. I’ve been a WordPress user and fan for years, but I’ve also been kind of a Matt groupie, ever since I read his “How I work” profile in Inc.

It’s kind of weird now to actually be working for Matt, be on a first-name basis with him, and even get to chat with him now and then. But now that I’ve been here for just over a year and have become a part of the Automattic, I’ve come to realize that the WordPress and open source communities are bigger than any one person. While there’s a part of me that will always be a tiny bit starstruck by Matt, I’m in even greater awe of how much this little software project has grown to power nearly a quarter of the Internet. It lets everyone from giant media organizations like the New York Times and Fortune to mom bloggers with hyperlocal audiences have a global platform from which to share their ideas, their vision, their message with the world. And heck, you can even do it for free.

Remember the days when you needed to get the word out about anything, even if it’s just your neighborhood yard sale? Or when beautiful, innocent animals would perish in local shelters, forgotten because they received so little attention, and municipalities and volunteer groups struggled to get any kind of media attention? Now, if you have a message, you have the means to blast it out to the world, and at no cost to you other than your time. I’m still in shock that this has all come about in such a short period of time, but most of all I’m so incredibly proud to be a part of the company driving this forward and inspiring so much change.

We’re celebrating 10 years of being in the biz this week, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 will bring.

Ten Years of Automattic | Matt Mullenweg

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I’ll remember the days before I knew everything.

— The Automattic Creed

via Ten Years of Automattic | Matt Mullenweg.

When I was still running my old business, I always had in my back pocket the idea that if I were to ever close up shop and work for The Man again, there would only be one man I’d want to work for, and that’s Matt Mullenweg. I’ve been a WordPress user and fan for years, but I’ve also been kind of a Matt groupie, ever since I read his “How I work” profile in Inc.

It’s kind of weird now to actually be working for Matt, be on a first-name basis with him, and even get to chat with him now and then. But now that I’ve been here for just over a year and have become a part of the Automattic, I’ve come to realize that the WordPress and open source communities are bigger than any one person. While there’s a part of me that will always be a tiny bit starstruck by Matt, I’m in even greater awe of how much this little software project has grown to power nearly a quarter of the Internet. It lets everyone from giant media organizations like the New York Times and Fortune to mom bloggers with hyperlocal audiences have a global platform from which to share their ideas, their vision, their message with the world. And heck, you can even do it for free.

Remember the days when you needed to get the word out about anything, even if it’s just your neighborhood yard sale? Or when beautiful, innocent animals would perish in local shelters, forgotten because they received so little attention, and municipalities and volunteer groups struggled to get any kind of media attention? Now, if you have a message, you have the means to blast it out to the world, and at no cost to you other than your time. I’m still in shock that this has all come about in such a short period of time, but most of all I’m so incredibly proud to be a part of the company driving this forward and inspiring so much change.

We’re celebrating 10 years of being in the biz this week, and I can’t wait to see what the next 10 will bring.

Column Comments

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I’m frequently amazed at how often I get compliments and raves on columns I’m not particularly happy with, style-wise, while those columns I think are so freakin’ awesome they should be immediately awarded the Pulitzer get nuthin’.

I wrestled quite a bit with this week’s column, “A President for All Americans,” not because it was an especially difficult topic but because I couldn’t quite figure out the flow of it. In the end I did finish it well before deadline, but I still felt that I hadn’t totally gotten a handle on my position. And you know what? I’ve gotten a lot of compliments on it. Weird, huh?

If you’re interested in reading some “testimonials” on my columns/writing, feel free to check out the new section on my Web site. Good for some laughs, anyway.

News flash! Corporate blogs are freakin’ dull!

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No duh.

I rarely, rarely read corporate blogs. The only ones I have in my Google Reader at the moment are those belonging to Red Hat and Soft Skull Press (although I doubt the latter would look too kindly at my referring to their blog as “corporate” in nature). I like Red Hat’s not just because it’s related to some work I do for an online IT publication, but also because they just have really interesting notes about their programming. They’re not just regurgitated press releases or self-serving news (although in essence, that’s what they are). They obviously put a lot of effort into ensuring that they provide useful info on their blogs for their readers, and I appreciate that.

Otherwise, corporate blogs are so tired, most often it’s in the company’s best interest to just get rid of them. I associate boring corporate blogs with a boring, non-innovative corporate structure. If they’re not willing to invest in the resources to engage actively with their customers and fans in the most user-friendly way possible, then how could I possibly think that they’d be willing to make any effort in ensuring that my business with them will be pleasant and productive for me?

So if any corporate entities are reading this post (or that article I linked to above) and are wondering what they can do to ensure that their blog reflects the dynamism and customer service-orientation of their company, ask me. I’d love to help you figure out if your communications/marketing efforts in your blog(s) are optimized and reaching your target audience.

News flash! Corporate blogs are freakin' dull!

Standard

No duh.

I rarely, rarely read corporate blogs. The only ones I have in my Google Reader at the moment are those belonging to Red Hat and Soft Skull Press (although I doubt the latter would look too kindly at my referring to their blog as “corporate” in nature). I like Red Hat’s not just because it’s related to some work I do for an online IT publication, but also because they just have really interesting notes about their programming. They’re not just regurgitated press releases or self-serving news (although in essence, that’s what they are). They obviously put a lot of effort into ensuring that they provide useful info on their blogs for their readers, and I appreciate that.

Otherwise, corporate blogs are so tired, most often it’s in the company’s best interest to just get rid of them. I associate boring corporate blogs with a boring, non-innovative corporate structure. If they’re not willing to invest in the resources to engage actively with their customers and fans in the most user-friendly way possible, then how could I possibly think that they’d be willing to make any effort in ensuring that my business with them will be pleasant and productive for me?

So if any corporate entities are reading this post (or that article I linked to above) and are wondering what they can do to ensure that their blog reflects the dynamism and customer service-orientation of their company, ask me. I’d love to help you figure out if your communications/marketing efforts in your blog(s) are optimized and reaching your target audience.

I have a Web site!!!

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I’ve been putting off getting my Website up, mostly because from previous experience setting up my old one, I know how time-consuming (we’re talking days of working on it for 6-8 hours on end) it can be for someone without a lot of programming experience. Even a super-easy template like FrontPage (not recommended, by the way) can be daunting, especially if you’ve no familiarity with it. My previous Website was so dinky that I gave up on it soon thereafter. Better to have no presence on the Web than to have one that distracts from the professional image I want to convey.

Enter VistaPrint. I’ve ordered most of my personal and business stationery (business cards, letterhead, envelopes, address labels, even postcards) from them for years, both for my writing biz and for my and B.’s old wedding photography biz. They’ve been super-easy to work with, have great rates for small businesses, and a ton of free graphics for you to choose from so that you don’t have to worry about uploading your own. (Although you can certainly do that for a minimal fee. B. and I did that for most of our wedding photography stuff, since that would obviously allow us to advertise the work we do on our business cards and postcards.)

I hadn’t logged on to their site in months, though, so when I did just that this morning to order another round of business cards, I was surprised to find that they now offer Web hosting services. Plus, you can even use the same graphics you already use for your stationery, allowing you to maintain a consistent image for your business.

I was already thinking of changing the design of my business card: an image of a sailboat drifting across a blue-green sea, with a lush, green island serving as the backdrop. I thought, You know, do I really want to look as if I’m all about slacking in the Caribbean? Then I realized just how important that image is to me, how it speaks to the part of me that loves the ocean, sailing, endless blue sky. It doesn’t mean I’m lazy — anyone who knows me will be familiar with my workaholic ways — but rather that the ocean is my talisman. Nothing wrong with that.

Anyhoo, I found the perfect Website template on VistaPrint to match my cards. No sailboat here, just a graceful palm tree and that ever-present blue sky. You get a free, 30-day trial, although you have to provide your credit card info when you sign up. The Site Builder allows you to customize your site using a few templates as a guide. I was able to set mine up in about two hours. It would’ve taken me even less time, except I’m kinda picky about font and things like that, so I played around with it to see what size and style font would look best. That time frame also include the time I spent writing my bio, Contact Me, and Portfolio pages, plus the Home page itself.

All in all, I daresay it was a fun experience. Definitely beats the week or so I spent putting together the Website for our now-defunct wedding photography business. (Although in all fairness, that was very heavy on graphics and included photo galleries, which can be tricky.) Since I really only need a basic Website that will highlight my published clips, I just wanted a simple, clean, attractive, and easy-to-read-and-navigate format. No Flash, Flickr pages (although I may include that sometime), or anything else fancy.

I highly, highly recommend checking this out if you haven’t already. Like many writers, I’ve been relying too heavily on my blog to claim my share of Internet real estate, but that’s very limited in terms of what I can offer potential clients. Plus, unless you’re highly skilled in HTML programming, you’re very likely not going to be able to add very many additional options to your blog if you’re just using one of the many templates out there (e.g., Blogger, WordPress, etc.).

If you do decide to opt for the free, 30-day trial, make sure that you post a reminder somewhere in your calendar of the date on which to cancel your subscription if you ultimately decide to discontinue it. Otherwise, they’ll start charging you for your monthly dues. I opted for the Professional package, which offers an unlimited number of pages and 500MB of disk space for $14.97/month. The Standard package gives you 5 pages and 100MB of disk space for $9.98/month. The Basic package gives you 3 pages and 25MB of disk space for $4.99/month.

Right now I only have 5 pages, but 5 I expect to expand that soon with other options. At about $15/month, that’s a bargain. I paid about that much for my previous Web host, but I had to pay for the entire year upfront and design it myself. This was super-easy, plus I could just use the same designs I use for my stationery. Win-win.

I’ll give it the full 30 days to see how I like it. At the moment my prediction is that I will love it, but I still have a month to really decide. In the meantime, if you want to check out the initial layout (I’m waiting for my Domain Name Registrar to begin pointing my URL — http://www.marjorieasturias.com — to the new site, which should take about 24-48 hours.), knock yourself out. I’d love your honest-to-goodness, no-holds-barred feedback!

Name change

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I’ve been trying to figure out what domain name I should use for my business Web site. I actually had one for awhile under http://www.marjorieasturias.com. I initially used Microsoft Publisher and used one of its few templates, but then realized how incredibly limiting it was. It looked awful and elementary, very primitive in an early 1990’s kind of way. Plus, it didn’t always look good, depending on the size of one’s monitor or the browser one was using.

I eventually taught myself FrontPage, but I didn’t learn everything I should have. Didn’t have the patience for it. I learned enough to set up a site and even put together some photo galleries. (This was for another business I had, a wedding photography company B. and I co-owned, so an extensive, high-quality portfolio online was a must.) I never did get around to doing the same thing on my writing Web site, though. My day job sucked up all the available time I had (travel, conferences, etc.), so I let the Web site languish while my freelance writing career went on hiatus.

Now that I’m back in business, though, I need to recharge my Web site again. I still own the domain name, of course (never, ever, ever lose your domain name, especially if it’s based on your actual name), but since I’ve been writing in this blog for awhile I’ve been a bit lazy about putting the site up again. I’ve forgotten most of FrontPage, which might be useless now anyway with all the new tools and bells and whistles available for Web designers out there. I do have a wonderful friend in Scotland who will do a basic site for me, so at least I don’t have to worry about it.

The question I ponder, though, is what URL to use. As I mentioned, I still own my domain name, but knowing that even my best friend misspells my name on occasion (on print, no less, which you’d think would be less likely since it’s right there in front of you in black and white), I sometimes wonder if I would be better off getting a more user-friendly URL, while still doing actual, official business under my given name. I also still own the domain name of our wedding photog business (Blue Volcano Arts), which might be something to consider since it was originally purchased with the intent of using it as an umbrella site of sorts for the many different creative projects B. and I had in mind (my freelance writing, my novel-writing, a zine project I’d been working on for months, and B.’s photography). Still, I wasn’t sure if that was a good idea either, as it’s rather vague and doesn’t really convey the kind of image I want to project as a freelance journalist/writer.

What do you think? If your name is unusual, rather long and difficult to spell (I sometimes mis-type my own first name in my rush to get something out on paper), would you use something else for your domain name? Or would you still use your own name?

Writing Update 2

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A post in a fellow writer’s blog inspired me to list the things I’m going to focus on in the coming months with regard to my writing:

  • Submit at least one query a day.
  • Submit at least two queries each week to a high-paying market.
  • Write at least two pages a day in The Novel.
  • Update blogs at least every other day, if not every day.
  • Join a writing group.
  • Re-vamp Web site.

I’ve already submitted one query today, albeit a very short one. I may try and crank out another this afternoon. I also have been very guilty of targeting the lower-paying markets ($50 here, $25 there), which does wonders for the portfolio but little for the bank account. I need to strike a balance between the two ends of the writing business spectrum so that I can build both my portfolio and my income!

I’ve been dabbling in some copywriting lately, specifically doing advertorials both for local businesses as well as for the local paper. It can be lucrative work, although as it’s still a small market, the pay is very small compared to what I could make elsewhere. I tentatively checked out this site where you can sign up to bid on freelance writing projects posted by various companies. I won’t even mention the name of the site, not just because I can’t remember it (natch), but also because the rates the companies offer are positively abusive. The only people who can afford to bid on them are those who live in places like India, where $20 can go a long way. Otherwise, fuggeddaboutit. The vast majority of projects I saw up for bid quoted ridiculous rates like $1-2 per 500-word article. Nope, that’s not a typo. And most companies required at least 10-15 articles a day.

Which means that I could bust my ass writing for 5-6 hours (most of the articles would require a bit of research on the part of the writer) and get a whopping $30 at the most. Uh-huh. Right.

So no, I’m steering clear of those kinds of projects for now and am focusing on magazine and newspaper writing instead. So far, things are humming along, but I don’t plan on taking anything for granted, as the work could disappear at any time.

The Novel has been stagnant of late, but I’ll be returning to it this afternoon. I hear my characters screaming at me (“Good God, why have you abandoned me in this freakin’ limbo??? Get me out of here and start the damn war already!”), and it doesn’t help that my self-imposed deadline of finishing the first draft by December 31, 2007, is looming ahead. So far I’m at about 100 pages, but with the way this is going it’s liable to be a monster epic to rival The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Oh well. Deep breath.

And yes, I have more than one blog. The other one, Pinay Journal, I mentioned earlier, but I’ve two others that I write under a pseudonym for a variety of reasons. They’re not difficult to write, as they’re about subjects I’m passionate about, but they still take time.

I had a Web site for a few years that I designed using Microsoft Publisher, which was a mistake. The software can be used for Web design, but I wouldn’t recommend it for anything other than simple desktop publishing like newsletters and flyers. In any case, I took the site down last year and have yet to do anything about it. Of course, my business card still has the URL listed, so I try to remember to tell people I give the cards to that the Web site is still Under Construction. Otherwise, they visit and discover this rather ominous-sounding page screaming: “Bad Request (Invalid Hostname).” Eek. Must. Get. Site. Up.

MRA