Seth Godin’s Head: Baldness as a Brand

As a designer, marketer and all-around cultural observer, I must say that I love Seth Godin. But it is not his trim physique that attracts my attention, it is his head. Particularly the top of his head.

There it is in every photograph, in every video, like a shining beacon of intelligence and humor. I wonder if he has ever had hair, or perhaps he has a full, luxuriant growth that he has to secretly mow everyday.

Seth Godin made a brand out of baldness.
For this image to work as an icon he has to be totally, unabashedly, and completely bald. Not a glimmer or hint of living follicles can grace the top of his cranium, not one hair can survive the razor’s edge of his intellect and drive to be remarkable. He has to be proud of being bald, no hiding it or combing it over.

His head resembles a light-bulb.
When a man is truly bald, he cannot help being noticed. As an idea-man, I am sure that he knew that the best way to show that he is a genius was to have his head look like that icon of idea-generation: a light-bulb. Why not use baldness as a way to take over the (marketing) world?

Baldness as a brand is not new, in fact, it may be the Idea-Virus that Seth caught as he tussled with how to make himself a Purple Cow in the eyes of the public and peers. Seth had a historical precedent: movie star Yul Brenner struggled to become famous, and couldn’t make any headway until he allowed his razor full access to the top of his cranium. A shiny skull made Yul an icon in the movie world, making him somehow irresistible to female fans, but it didn’t convey the idea that he was the Mensa of Marketing.

godin-2How did Seth ever hit on the brilliant idea of turning what most men might think of as a liability into a memorable brand? I like to imagine a thought bubble emanating from his celebrated cerebellum:

“Now, what can I do to make my image remarkable?” “How can I convey the idea that I am a marketing genius just by using my head?”

The solution is now history.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

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How Do You Like Those Upside Down Apples?

I, like a lot of designers, own a MacBook. Every single time I take my computer out of its case, I have to remember to place the laptop with its logo upside-down, so I can open the lid.

Of course, as a graphic designer and marketer, I like to reflect on why Apple placed their logo upside down for me, a loyal customer, and dedicated user.

Apple has always been an example of great branding and marketing. Of course, the Apple logo has to read right-side up for the potential buyers of the brand, not for the already-convinced users. The rule of repetition in marketing is operative here; the more often a potential customer sees the logo, the more the idea of owning an Apple is implanted in his subconscious mind. So, the logo needs to be upright for him, not me. So, my owning a computer with an apple on the cover makes me into a quiet evangelist for the brand. I don’t mind evangelizing a brand that I like so well.


For more ideas on how to “market without marketing” please read my book, Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird.


And I am not alone. Convinced Apple users are more than just computer users who bought a certain kind of computer; many are evangelists for the brand. Why? Because Apple is the computer that fulfills the original promise of the personal computer: it makes your life easier. But more than that, it is a computer with style. The higher price point reinforces that point, rather than detracting from it: only those who appreciate the beauty, style, and design of a utilitarian object will ultimately buy Apple. Apple fans WANT Apple products to be more expensive so that they can join an elite market that shares the same refined design values. The higher price point keeps the riffraff of the dull utilitarian user who doesn’t appreciate art and culture out of the store.

I call this phenomenon “Elite Marketing,” a term that defines a type of market share of users who see themselves as belonging to a smaller group of individuals who share common values, in this case, they value beautifully-designed utilitarian objects. The same difference separates the buyers of Chrysler Sebring’s and Jaguars: both cars share the same purpose and will get you where you want to go, but one of them does it in style.

One of the major reasons that people buy Apple products is that Apple leads in computer style and design. But, if they didn’t know it when they bought the product, they soon find out that they bought better-designed hardware and software; a computer that won’t get many—if any—viruses, and one that almost never breaks down. Good design again.

Now, like any style leader, Apple has had its imitators. But, without exception, these copycats see only the exterior of the brand. They try to compete with the outward style, but they lose the main point: Apple products are designed well inside and out. Every detail is thought out from every design standpoint. Apple employs design leaders in every field: marketing, hardware, product design, UI/UX design, web design, graphic design, GUI, etc.

I won’t deny that sometimes they miss the mark, like the weird-just-incrementally-smaller-than-normal keyboard that shipped with the G4 towers. I had to buy a new keyboard because it made me miss all the keys when I typed. My personal favorite faux-pas was the Cube, one of the most beautiful, classic computer designs that I had ever seen in my life. I actually lusted after this computer — I think a lot of my fellow designers did too — until I realized that the design was severely limited: it was impossible to add any hardware to the CPU. So it became, instead of a cherished classic, a paperweight or doorstop.

A well-designed, recognizable logo is the best kind of advertising. Every time I go to a cafe or to the local library, it is hard not to notice a field of illuminated Apples at the tables; it’s a testament to the growing market-share of my favorite platform. As a branding technique, the simplicity of the softly-glowing iconic logo cannot be denied.

I have owned Macs for my entire career as a graphic designer, and, I have to admit that one of the draws to buying this computer is that Apple — as opposed to every other brand of computer hardware manufacturer — pays attention to those kinds of design and branding details that make the computer and the brand appeal to people like me.

From the time I opened the lid of my first Mac, I have been impressed by the genius of this brand. Even the packaging is not overlooked; ease of use is emphasized, the brand carries the idea that Apple makes your life both easy and beautiful. A Mac computer, like any well-designed object, is a thing of beauty and a future classic collectible.

I have been a Mac enthusiast since the days when I taught software packages through online videos; I had to show how to use the same software on both Macs and PCs and used to grit my teeth whenever I had to get on the PCs to do my work. Everything about the PC was clunky, insulting, primitive, childish, or just plain wrong. I found this essential difference impossible to describe to an avowed PC advocate. Since they belong to another group of evangelists who don’t share my design values they simply couldn’t see what I was talking about.

Years later, I had the chance to work for Apple in the educational division. I would have been employed in teaching users how to use the interface without having to crack a manual. Since the early days of interactive design, expert usability designers have known that the best design is the one that “teaches” the user how to use it without the user realizing that he is being taught. The user doesn’t even notice the design or realize that he has had a question, it is answered so fast by the presence of the “transparent” platform. Again, another, case of good design. Apple is the king of transparent design.

To a large degree, I buy Apple because the design of the computer puts me in a smaller elite class of computer users, those who appreciate the good design, both outside and inside, that the brand “Apple” has come to represent. There are many other reasons, of course, and they mostly have to do with the fact that the design itself makes the computer easy for me to use.

Design today is so much more than visual design: it now stands for several kinds of design at once:

  • visual communication
  • branding
  • usability
  • transparency

The question I have to ask myself is: if tomorrow another company started making computers as good as or better than Apple, would I switch?

And my answer? Only if Apple dropped the ball and I could no longer believe in their collective genius. For now, I have nostalgia to add to my evangelism; after all, I have seen my career develop on their platform, in fact, I would go so far to say that I would not have become a graphic designer if I had had to do it on a common PC.

Copyright Aliyah Marr


Aliyah Marr is the author of The Avatars of Eden and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

 

#CreativeDirector #Branding #CareerDevelopment #HuffingtonPost #FastCompany

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What Happened to WordPress​ “Press This”?

If you are a long-time blogger like me, chances are that you have discovered a handy little tool called Press This.

If you are a new blogger/website owner, you may want to learn how to install and use Press ThisPress This provides a lightning-fast way to publish a link to a page or post from any website to your blog without ever visiting WordPress.com. It’s as easy as clicking the Press This bookmarklet while you’re viewing the page or post you want to share.

This morning, I went to use Press This and I got a “this tool is depreciated” message. Huh?

Sick WordPress blog or website? The WordPress Doc is ready to help!

I searched to see what happened and couldn’t find any documentation except via WordPress.org (not .com). A longer search returned this page. Apparently, Automattic changed the tool without telling us. It isn’t even here in this documentation.

If your Press This applet is no longer working for your WordPress blog, I recommend that you follow these instructions.

  1. remove the old Press This bookmarklet
  2. select Settings from the blue interface
  3. select Writing from the menu at the top
  4. drag the Press This link to the bookmarks or favorites area of your web browser

A little trick: I tried this first in my blog’s “black interface” (accessible from “Admin”) but it didn’t work until I tried to access it in the “blue interface”* Not exactly the same as before, but I can at least breathe a sigh of relief…

Need help with your WordPress blog or website?

via Press This — Support — WordPress.com

Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes : What is the difference in usage between an em dash and an en dash?

Most people don’t know how to generate an “em” dash in Word; most don’t know the differences between the kind of dashes either. There are three: the hyphen, the “en” dash, which is a bit longer, and the longest, the “em” dash.

The “em” dash is generated on the Mac in all programs by hitting three keys at once—

shift + option + dash (I do this so automatically that I had to look at the keyboard when I did it just now.)

I wasn’t sure how the en dash is used so I looked it up and learned something new:


Q. What is the difference in usage between an em dash and an en dash?

A. I will try to condense the various bits of information scattered throughout CMOS. First of all, there are three lengths of dashes: hyphen (-), en dash (–), and em dash (—). I frame it this way because the work they do is roughly related to their length (though I don’t think CMOS puts it this way outright).

The hyphen connects two things that are intimately related, usually words that function together as a single concept or work together as a joint modifier (e.g., tie-in, toll-free call, two-thirds).

The en dash connects things that are related to each other by distance, as in the May–September issue of a magazine; it’s not a May-September issue, because June, July, and August are also ostensibly included in this range. And in fact en dashes specify any kind of range, which is why they properly appear in indexes when a range of pages is cited (e.g., 147–48). En dashes are also used to connect a prefix to a proper open compound: for example, pre–World War II. In that example, “pre” is connected to the open compound “World War II” and therefore has to do a little extra work (to bridge the space between the two words it modifies—space that cannot be besmirched by hyphens because “World War II” is a proper noun). Now, that is a rather fussy use of the en dash that many people ignore, preferring the hyphen.

The em dash has several uses. It allows, in a manner similar to parentheses, an additional thought to be added within a sentence by sort of breaking away from that sentence—as I’ve done here. Its use or misuse for this purpose is a matter of taste, and subject to the effect on the writer’s or reader’s “ear.” Em dashes also substitute for something missing. For example, in a bibliographic list, rather than repeating the same author over and over again, three consecutive em dashes (also known as a 3-em dash) stand in for the author’s name. In interrupted speech, one or two em dashes may be used: “I wasn’t trying to imply——” “Then just what were you trying to do?” Also, the em dash may serve as a sort of bullet point, as in this to-do list:

—wash the car

—walk the dog

—attempt to explain em and en dashes

This explanation is not intended to be exhaustive (for much more, see chapter 6 in CMOS 16), but I do hope that it helps to frame the different potential of each length of dash.

via Hyphens, En Dashes, Em Dashes : What is the difference in usage between an em dash and an en dash?.

How to Publish Your Kindle eBook ~ a Cheat Sheet for Designers / Authors

PUBLISHING CHEAT SHEET

I am a professional designer and published author. Here is my publishing process in a nutshell:

  1. Research a good title.
  2. Design a cover.*
  3. Write the document in Word.**
  4. Check it for formatting, spelling, and grammatical errors.
  5. Convert the document to an epub file.
  6. Write a description for the book in a TextEdit document (Notepad on the PC)
  7. Log in to Kindle; create the title and fill in the info they require.
  8. Upload the book interior (the epub) and cover.
  9. Check that the book looks OK in the Preview on KDP. Submit for review.
  10. Approve it or go back to correct errors (step 4), redo steps 5-9.

* I design my cover for the print edition, save it for the later CreateSpace print edition, and then reduce it for the ebook/Kindle edition.

** I format the Word doc before I start writing to streamline it for eventual ebook/Kindle production.

A lot of skills are involved in publishing a book; it can be overwhelming for the first-time publisher.

I have written a book that makes publishing on Kindle a snap, taking you through the process step-by-step; it can help you streamline the process and remove a lot of confusion.


HOW TO GET A GREAT KINDLE BOOK COVER

I recommend hiring a professional designer, who has a proven track record in book cover design. Hire one who designs for your genre; for instance, I specialize in designing book covers for certain genres. Ask the designer to design your cover for a print book (includes enough image for a back cover and spine), and then output a version for your ebooks and Kindle editions.

PRICING  YOUR BOOK

Kindle offers a great service that allows you to determine how to price your book. It is still in BETA at the time of this writing. Currently, a book at 70% royalty option maxes out at $9.99, and can be set at a minimum of $2.99. You can set it higher or lower if you take a 30% royalty instead.

HOW DO YOU PUBLISH A BOOK ON KINDLE?

Establish an account on Kindle here: https://kdp.amazon.com You will have to give them your tax information, address, and other account information. They will then let you establish an account, and you can upload your book contents and cover when you are ready to publish. (Don’t forget to save your password and user name!)

COPYRIGHT AND ISBN NUMBERS

Your manuscript is automatically protected under US copyright laws, but you might want to record your copyright here: http://copyright.gov/. This gives you more legal leverage should you encounter any problems. The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a 13-digit number that uniquely identifies books and book-like products published internationally. In a nutshell, whoever owns the ISBN number is the publisher to your book and owns the rights to publish that edition. ISBN numbers cannot be transferred, so if you are using any POD publisher’s number, they are the publisher, not you. Each version of a book must have its own ISBN number, meaning the digital version and the print version each must have an unique identifier.

Don’t worry! An ISBN number will be assigned to you on KDP and on CreateSpace should you publish a print edition using their service. Or you can buy your ISBN numbers from here: http://www.isbn.org/

HOW DO I CREATE AN AUTHOR’S PAGE ON AMAZON?

Anyone can create an author’s page, go to https://authorcentral.amazon.com. Once you have an account, then you can submit a bio, claim your books, and track your sales.

WHAT IS AN ASIN NUMBER?

“ASIN stands for Amazon Standard Identification Number. Almost every product on our site has its own ASIN, a unique code we use to identify it. For books, the ASIN is the same as the ISBN number, but for all other products a new ASIN is created when the item is uploaded to our catalogue.” ~ Amazon

SUPPORT FOR KINDLE BOOKS

KDP support for Kindle books: https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/contact-us

Author Central support: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/help/contact-us?

SUPPORT FOR CREATESPACE

If you’re using CreateSpace for Print-On-Demand (POD) publishing services, contact support here: https://www.createspace.com/pub/services/contact.request.do


https://www.amazon.com/Yourself-Kindle-Publishing-Publish-Steps-ebook/dp/B017MDHQDG

Tip for Easy Secure Backups

This may not be a sexy subject, but I guarantee that if you have been working on the computer for more than a year, you have probably experienced a backup failure. But beyond installing a backup system and integrating it into your routine, there are still loopholes that can ruin all your hard work.

I back up onto a hard drive with TimeMachine. Since I work outside my home, this backup gets done maybe once a week. This is good if your computer ever crashes and you have to reinstall everything. It has saved my files on more than one occasion, but this backup is not an incremental backup.

For that, I have a cloud-based system. I keep the files I am working on in the folder that is linked to the cloud. Whenever I save a file, it writes over the one on my backup. But what happens if you need to go back to a former version or if that file gets corrupted?

Once, years ago, my project became corrupted, and I lost months of work. I had not saved a duplicate version.

So now I have a very simple technique: it involves two folders, both on the cloud. One folder is called “Older Versions” and the other is named by the project. The Older Versions folder is inside the Project folder.

In the Project folder, I have two files: my main project file and one that is a dupe of that file from the day before.

Whenever I start my workday, I take the dupe and dump it into the Older Versions folder, and let it replace the older copy of the same name in the folder. Then I make a new dupe of my working file (on the Mac, this is as simple as hitting “Command – D” on your keyboard).

Then I start to work on the project file. If for any reason, I lose my original file I have a dupe in the same folder from the start of the day. If that is corrupted too, I can go back to the old version in the other folder. I can never lose more than one day of work.

Try this method and you will be securely protected against the loss of your work.

Self-publishing: What You Need to Know About the ISBN

cropped-fresh-aslum-logo-blask51.pngCreateSpace has free ISBNs to offer authors. The ISBN is the unique identifier used in all traditional systems for identifying books. Amazon has a unique number of its own called an ASIN. The person or company that holds the ISBN has the publishing rights to your book, at least in that edition. This was usually the publishing house. In effect, when you buy your own ISBN (Bowker.com), you are now the publisher of your book.

ISBNs cannot be transferred or resold. So any vanity publisher like LULU or CS is not giving you an ISBN and they actually hold the publishing rights to your work, in that edition that is identified by the ISBN.

I originally started in 2007 with Lightning Source. I bought a package of 10 ISBNs and published a few books under my own ISBN numbers. However, when CreateSpace came along, I realized that my publishing process needed a way to submit changes without incurring additional charges. And then, a couple years ago, I decided to redesign and retitle all my books. Some of them I had to retitle several times, since I would get them out on Amazon after a week or more of work, and I already had a competitor with almost the same title.

ISBNs are linked with the title, subtitle, the physical size of the book, and the number of pages. Every time you make a change to one or more of these elements, you have to publish under a new ISBN. So, these changes would have cost me not only time, but money and my precious ISBNs!

This is why I publish under CreateSpace now.

The advantage in using your own ISBN numbers is that you “own” the publishing rights in that edition. However, if you make a lot of changes to your book after you have approved it for publication, you might want to use free numbers.

Copy that Robots and Humans can Read

Search engines are automatic programs that “index” the material on the web, and store this information in a database. These so-called spiders crawl out on the web and search the text on a site, so the copy in your site or blog is very important to the web crawler. SEO or search engine optimization requires that unique copy be written for each page of your site. However, copy that is written solely for search engines can be difficult for a human viewer to read. If a search engine does land a human searcher on one of these pages by accident, he will soon get disgusted and leave. Everyone is spam-sensitive these days.

The SEO or search engine optimization game is to try to get at the top of the search engine’s list of relevance or ranking for each keyword search term. Marketers have tried various ways to fight their way to the top of this heap or words: repeating a keyword in the text, including it in the title of the page, using metatag keywords or metatag descriptions, hiding the repeated words on the page in copy the same color as the page, or in the alt tags descriptions. Some of these are still valid marketing tools, others are now disqualified as “spamindexing” techniques. Search engine developers try to stay one step ahead of the marketers who hope to trick them. Therefore, it is best to prepare copy that truly represents your product or service, while including the more obvious keywords that people may naturally use to find you.

Good copy depends on saavy and honest marketing skills, and should be written for the target audience. Copy that is pertinent to your product or service makes it easy for the user to buy from you. This has always been the best way to advertise, and makes your copy “evergreen” because you are not trying to stay ahead of the constantly evolving search engine algorithms.

Many websites deliver content that is badly written, or they deliver too much copy on each page, resulting in a confused and overwhelmed viewer. This is where good site architecture can be combined with good copy for outstanding bottom-line results. Editing, organizing, shifting, and redistributing your content enhances good communication, which results in happy clients and increased profits.

Copyright Aliyah Marr


Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird
and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

Publishing a Book? CreateSpace vs. Lightning Source

Years ago I published my first book, Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity through Lightning Source, then the premier POD (print on demand) printer for books. All the big publishers used Lightning Source. I encouraged my consulting clients to use Lightning Source as recently as 3 years ago.

Then I found CreateSpace. I haven’t looked back: last year, I celebrated my 7th year of book design when I published my 11th book, The Avatars of Eden. All of my books are now printed by CreateSpace and available on Amazon: Aliyah Marr.

avatars-unfurled-sm

Here is the record of a chat I just held with LightningSource.

–begin chat–

Aliyah Marr
I published 3 books through you, but I have republished all those books (some of them several times) through CreateSpace. Now I have 11 books on Amazon, the print versions throughCreateSpace.

First understand that I am a professional graphic designer who is a published author. I design all my books and design my client’s books. In fact, I sent some of my clients to you and they have become book publishers in their own right. Now, however, most of them are on CreateSpace.

May I state why I decided to switch my business to CreateSpace?

Becky
You may.

Aliyah Marr

1. CreateSpace doesn’t charge any setup fees.
This is important when you find that you have a small or large error in your book and you have to correct it.

2. CreateSpace has an astounding user interface.
This allows a professional such as myself a seamless way to upload my files.

3. CreateSpace is Amazon.
Enough said.

4. CreateSpace has distribution world-wide.
They have deals with printers in various countries.

5. CreateSpace connects the reviews of my ebooks (Kindle) with the printed versions on their site.

6. And most important: CreateSpace has better print quality.
I once tried to talk to the tech department at LS about the lack of print consistency from page to page. They were able to tell me that this is due to different toners on the heads, but they were not able to correct the problem.

Another time I tried to talk to a printing professional at LS about how to up the quality in the books from my end. They had no idea what the various printing terms meant. They are not printing professionals, they can only run the book making machines, IMHO.

7. CreateSpace has great turn around too.

8. Lastly, I was never able to really talk to anyone down at LightningSource.
It seemed that my account manager was never in the office, and never returned my calls. Have any of these items changed? I mean, I haven’t really dealt with LS for years.

Becky
We do have support available 7 days a week.

Aliyah Marr
Have any of the other items on my list changed?

Becky
CreateSpace and LSI are very different platforms for differing types of publishers who have different needs.CreateSpace does use Ingram Distribution and printing. They are a customer of ours. Some publishers feel that the services that come along withCreateSpace better suit their needs as self-publishers.

Aliyah Marr
Yes, I know that CreateSpace is a customer of yours. I assume that I cannot control the quality of a book outside the US, but those that I see from CreateSpace are excellent in quality inside and out. Whereas the ones from LS were not consistent at all.

Becky
I’m sorry, but chat serves as a way for publishers to ask quick questions concerning their LSI accounts. If you are interested in discussing CreateSpaces’s services compared to our own, you are welcome to give us a call for a more thorough and satisfying exchange. Do you have any questions concerning your account?

Aliyah Marr
Will you please submit my list of observations to whomever may care to receive feedback?

Becky
Yes. I will.

—end of chat—

I assume that my feedback won’t have any effect. But I hope that this helps others who want to publish their books.

via The New and Improved Ingram’s Lightning Source

9 Killer SEO Tips Worth 1K or More

The world’s best online businesses do two things really well:

First, they put huge amounts of time and effort into dominating search engine results.

Second, they offer unique, convincing sales pitches to their new visitors.

But you’re probably thinking:

“How do I dominate search engine results?”

If you’re a small fish in a big pond, it can seem impossible – but don’t despair.

I’m going to share with you the 9 SEO tips and tricks our experts use every day to rank small businesses at the top of their industries. And I’m also going to include the estimated lifetime value of these tweaks.
Continue reading “9 Killer SEO Tips Worth 1K or More”

PSA: OneLogin Breached. Here’s What You Need to Do.

This is a public service announcement from Wordfence. We are sending this notice to the WordPress community due to the widespread nature and potential severity of this security issue. It has a high likelihood of impacting some of our readers and requires immediate action on their part.Single sign-on provider OneLogin has experienced a breach. If you or your company uses OneLogin to sign in to applications, or if you use any of their other services, you need to be aware of this and may need to take several actions immediately…

Source: PSA: OneLogin Breached. Here’s What You Need to Do.

Found: Interactive Design at Grocery Store

~ or A Rose is a Rose is a Rose, Except When it’s Trash.

In California, we have three different ways to discard trash: landfill, compost, and recycling; there is a lot of confusion regarding what goes where. Americans are always in a hurry; so when asking people to responsibly discard their trash into the proper bin, time is of the essence.

The twin disciplines of information design and interactive design rely on fast communication. Often we use pictures or symbols to provide instruction and make it easy to interact. But pictures introduce a teensy-tiny delay in comprehension: after all, we have to convert the symbol or picture into the “thing” or concept that it represents.

Enter this unique solution: bypass all possible misinterpretations by simply posting the very objects that belong in each trashcan in a tableau above each can. Label them with the proper categories and use the same color as the respective can. Outline some of the dark objects with white lines to make them more noticeable. This elegant and deceptively simple solution teaches the user how to dispose of their trash while making them aware of how much of their personal consumption still goes in the landfill.

Copyright Aliyah Marr


Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird
and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

Recommended: WordPress Simple Firewall Plugin

wordpress-simple-firewall-bannerThe WordPress Simple Firewall is our answer to WordPress security management.

We built it to solve a few key issues we found with WordPress security and existing WordPress security plugins, namely:

Ease of use (or lack thereof)
WordPress and web hosting compatibility (or lack thereof)
Effectiveness combined with simplicity (or lack thereof)
In this article I’ll give a bit of background to the ethos and motivations behind the WordPress Simple Firewall, and what exactly drives the development of features.

I want to answer some questions, such as why we set out to make this plugin in the first place, and where do we see the plugin going in the future, and why you might use this plugin over some of the more established alternatives.

Hopefully all these questions will be cleared up by the time you reach the end. Buckle in. 🙂

Why did we build the WordPress Simple Firewall Plugin for WordPress?

Basically it came down to being unhappy with the current state of WordPress security plugins on the market.

Let me first be clear, there is no way to fully secure your sites against all of the many different attack methods out there, and WordPress security should be only 1 part of your security plan. All you can do is reduce surface area to attack.

The best way to understand why we built the Simple Firewall plugin is to see the principles upon which it is constructed. We found many of the pre-existing plugins didn’t meet our requirements for a security plugin, and felt we had a role to play in making WordPress security more accessible, more compatible, and above all… more secure.
Continue reading “Recommended: WordPress Simple Firewall Plugin”

Kindle Publishing Do It Yourself

Publish Your Book on Kindle in 7 Easy Steps

Kindle version | Print version

This book  is a “cheat-sheet” for those who wish to learn how to publish on Kindle.

Even an ebook can be beautiful, if you know how. Book designer and bestselling author Aliyah Marr reveals some super-simple techniques that she has developed to streamline the publishing process for herself and for her clients. This is a step-by-step guide that will enable you to easily and quickly produce the kind of ebook that will look great on Kindle. You worked hard writing your book; you shouldn’t have to work hard to publish it. 

Are you ready to be a published author?


Razzle Dazzle: The Hidden Story of Camouflage – OMD concert special on Vimeo

via Razzle Dazzle: The Hidden Story of Camouflage – OMD concert special on Vimeo.

Self-Sustaining Floating Home Offers a Perfect Off-Grid Getaway | The Mind Unleashed

We all need some time to relax and get away from everyday troubles and worries. Traveling is undoubtedly one of the best ways to escape from the routine of daily life. What can be more calming and relaxing than a weekend spent somewhere quiet in nature? It seems that there is a new innovation that could interest the lovers of quiet getaways, as well as off-grid enthusiasts.

A new innovative design called Floatwing allows you to enjoy a perfect off-grid getaway! Floatwing is a floating home which can move at a speed of 3 kt (3.5 mph / 5.6 km/h) using two small outboard motors. Thanks to the modular design, it can be easily stored and shipped to almost anywhere around the globe.

Created by the Portuguese engineering company Friday, this amazing self-sufficient home is aimed to achieve maximum energy efficiency by using environmentally friendly materials and taking advantage of green energy. Thanks to this, the Floatwing has a very low carbon footprint and covers 80% of its energy needs through renewable sources, mainly solar power. In fact, it can generate up to 100% of its annual energy demand in just six months. When fully charged, the watercraft is completely self-sufficient for at least seven days, including the energy needed to power the onboard appliances.

There are four configurations of Floatwing, which provide different levels of self-sufficiency. The best-equipped model is powered by solar and photovoltaic panels and has an advanced wastewater treatment system.

It is also possible to customize the layout of the floating home. It has a fixed width of 6 meters (20 feet) but can be stretched in length from 10 meters (33 feet) to 18 meters (59 feet). The interior area can also be configured between 28 square meters (301 square feet) and 52 square meters (560 square feet). Thus, being fully customizable, the Floatwing can become literally anything – from a daytime cabin for a weekend trip to a comfortable place for a long-term stay, equipped with up to three bedrooms and two bathrooms.

“A romantic gateway for two, or a mobile house in the middle of a lake for the entire family or a group of friends, the possibilities are almost endless,” the Friday team told Dezeen.

Other facilities include a fully equipped kitchen, air conditioning, wine cellar, and a barbecue in the upper level of the watercraft. The heating is provided through a heat pump and AC generator, as well as a pellet stove. So the floating home is good not only for summer vacation but can be used in the cold season too.

Just like the tiny house movement, which has become extremely popular lately, the Floatwing offers a great concept of off-grid living, only that this time it is about living on the water.

via Self-Sustaining Floating Home Offers a Perfect Off-Grid Getaway | The Mind Unleashed.

LinkedIn: The First Step in Building Your Online Reputation

If you want to be known professionally, use a service for professionals. Bad design does not help your professional image. Social networking services such as Facebook are not good for your purposes.

Register on a professional networking site such as LinkedIn. This free service allows you to build your profile, find connections from your address book, and make and receive recommendations. I have been using this service since 2008 and now have over 500 direct connections. I even was able to make contact with some people who I hadn’t been able to find otherwise. I have received five recommendations from clients and associates.

Once you have entered some of your connections, then go back to your profile page to see happened to your information. When I did this, I saw that each of my connections have links to other people, the number of mine range from 1 (me) to an outstanding 182 for my associate Aaron Marcus, an expert on User Interface design.

The person who has the most connections wins in the networking game; here it is visible to the eye: the more connections your connections have, the more opportunities can come your way.

The recommendations other people have submitted for me enhance my reputation online. I network at events and parties. Anyone who may want to employ me for my expertise in public relations and communications will want to check my reputation before they hire me; all they have to do is check my Linked In profile. There they can read my professional profile, see my photo, and read the recommendations from satisfied clients and associates that show me to be a professional who knows my field, has integrity and gets the job done.

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Aliyah Marr owns several groups on LinkedIn, including Caffeinated Creatives, which has over 5200 members, mostly advertising executives and design firm owners worldwide.

Copy that Sizzles

Your copy can make or break your website; the content on your site should support your product, company or service. When it doesn’t, sites don’t work. Common content errors include:

Endless Sand and not a Drop to Drink.

Lost in an unending desert of words and the endless scrolling page, your readers expire from exhaustion before they can reach the oasis of truth.

The Three Second Countdown Extended to a Twenty-Second Download.

On the web, we have three seconds to grab someone, but your page takes a full twenty seconds to download.

Your Readers Feel Like They Are on a Bad Date.

The user can’t figure out why they should stay on your site. It’s so boring that they can’t wait to leave.

…Or on a Blind Date.

The keywords on your page do not reflect your content. The search engine sent them here, but they don’t know why they are here. There is no “duh” page that lets them know that they are where they want to be: with YOU.

No, Toto — We’re Not in Kansas Anymore.

The search engine landed the user in your website, otherwise known as Terra Incognita. Nothing resembles anything on THEIR map of familiar landmarks and desired vistas. They are disoriented and decide to leave quickly before the flying monkeys arrive.

“Lost In a Dark Forest Wandering.”

Meandering, pointless phrases or countless buttons confuse your reader with too many choices. They are lost in a forest of choices.

You Have Too Many Keys to the Same Door.

On the other hand, the writer who tries to fit in as many keywords as possible makes a meaningless mash for the human viewer.

Confronted with A Maze of Information, the Player Gets Discouraged and Leaves the Game.

A reader gets tired easily from information that is not presented logically and from the user’s point of view.

Copyright Aliyah Marr


Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary BirdShare

How to Create Your Own Affiliate Program with WordPress | Elegant Themes Blog

For years now WordPress has been perhaps the best platform in the world for creating affiliate blogs and websites. Affiliate marketing is one of the key ways many professional bloggers generate revenue. But there are two sides to the affiliate marketing coin–the side of the affiliates themselves who sell others’ products to turn a profit and that of the product creators.

via How to Create Your Own Affiliate Program with WordPress | Elegant Themes Blog

Packaging is King

"Agoncillo - Würth Rioja, Museo 30 - Christo" by Zarateman - Own work. Licensed under CC0 via Wikimedia Commons - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Agoncillo_-_W%C3%BCrth_Rioja,_Museo_30_-_Christo.JPG#/media/File:Agoncillo_-_W%C3%BCrth_Rioja,_Museo_30_-_Christo.JPG
“Agoncillo – Würth Rioja, Museo 30 – Christo” by Zarateman

How Do YOU Package Yourself?

Many people make the mistake of assuming that creativity or originality is what sells. This is so not true. If it were, people would be buying original paintings instead of cheap reproductions. They would value a hand-knitted sweater over a cashmere name brand. Instead, people have values that restrain them to the known, to what other people value, to what makes them look good, and to what is useful to them

In a recent coaching session, a client of mine revealed that she was concerned about what exactly she was selling. I realized that she is ready to market herself, but like many of us has trepidations about committing herself to her path. The excuse that she is using to keep herself from moving forward is that she doesn’t have a product or service that is exclusively hers. This is just an excuse: after all, how many products out there are truly original or exclusive? New companies would have a very hard time starting for tripping over all the trademarks and patents out there.

One of the prime precepts of marketing success is “knowing your customer.” But how does one reconcile monetary success with following one’s heart: doing what one loves? I know many, many artists who do what they love and make not one penny from their art.

All else being equal, what is it that makes one idea successful and another not?

It boils down to one thing: the packaging. In the final analysis, it is not the content that sells, it is the packaging. I am not suggesting that one should not provide good content, but no matter the quality of your product, if you do not know your customer, you do not know how to present your content in a way he can value.

It is rather like a good date or marriage: you and your potential customer are in a relationship. You can paint a portrait of your ideal client, you know him so well. Thus, you know what he prefers in the way of imagery, colors, words, style, “look and feel.” These qualities are what a good designer can define: every communication, publication, brochure, press release, and website should adhere to the communication style and preferences of your consumer.

In order to effectively self-promote, you have to create a package that is you.

It is not important that you be original—although great original packaging is worth its weight in gold—think of the countless jean brands out there. What sells the high-priced designer brand over the low-priced generic? Some people will claim it is the designer; and that is often true, but it is the successful image imparted in the advertising: it is the packaging or marketing that is really selling those cloth pants.

In figuring out how you are going to package yourself, your product or your service, it is important that you know who you want as a client and how what you want to do coincides with that client’s hopes and desires. The benefits of knowing you, of your product or services, are perfectly matched with that client’s style of communication, preferences and secret dreams. How well you match these will be the measure of your success.

The perfect client with the perfect package is a match made in heaven!

Copyright Aliyah Marr

Margins and Gutter Tips for Creating a Book

the-empress
A spread from The Tarot Key

The two leading POD (Print On Demand) printers might use similar equipment, but you must take into account their quirks when you design your book interior. I started out using Lightning Source and migrated to CreateSpace about two years ago. Now I use CreateSpace for reasons that belong in another article.

This post is about how to design a good-looking book for CreateSpace that takes into account the printer handles gutters and margins (the gutter is the space between the two pages of a spread, and the margins are on the outside of both pages—top bottom, right, and left sides). I tend to put a bigger gutter than any of the margins. I do this so that the text doesn’t get lost in the fold when people try to read the book. Some books have such a small gutter that you have to fold it flat to read it. Logic would seem to dictate that the thicker the spine (length of the book), the bigger that margin would have to be. Not so!

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The gutter in InDesign includes the blue gutter area and the inside margins on each page.

The strange thing about this in CreateSpace is that the proportion of gutter required is actually the inverse of the length of the book! I noticed this when I designed the first version of The Tarot Key. I put a huge gutter in it, but the weight of the pages (400) made it open itself. On a book of a smaller length, CS puts a crease on the cover at 5/16 inch in which makes the cover open there, effectively cutting off that much space in the gutter.

I don’t like small outside margins; anything below .5 inch looks bad to me. Of course, this is a visual decision that has to be balanced in consideration of all the visual elements: the type size, the leading, the other margins, image sizes, etc. CreateSpace tends to need an additional 5/16 of an inch on the inside gutter per side. This is easy to set up and also change in InDesign.

The gutter and margins are considered “white space” and as such, balance the rest of the design. In the field of graphic design, the negative space or “white space” is considered an important element of the design:

In page layout, illustration and sculpture, white space is often referred to as negative space. It is the portion of a page left unmarked: margins, gutters, and space between columns, lines of type, graphics, figures, or objects drawn or depicted. The term arises from graphic design practice, where printing processes generally use white paper. White space should not be considered merely ‘blank’ space — it is an important element of design which enables the objects in it to exist at all; the balance between positive (or non-white) and the use of negative spaces is key to aesthetic composition. Inexpert use of white space, however, can make a page appear incomplete.

When space is at a premium, such as in some types of magazine, newspaper, and yellow pages advertising, white space is limited in order to get as much vital information on to the page as possible. A page crammed full of text or graphics with very little white space runs the risk of appearing busy or cluttered, and is typically difficult to read.[1] Some designs compensate for this problem through the careful use of leading and typeface. Conversely, judicious use of white space can give a page a classic, elegant, or rich appearance. For example, upscale brands often use ad layouts with little text and a lot of white space. For publication designers, white space is very important. Publications can be printed on a variety of different papers, which can have different colors, textures, etc. In these cases, white space is used for good presentation and for showcasing the different stocks. ~https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/White_space_(visual_arts)

Copyright 2015 Aliyah Marr

About the author:

Aliyah Marr is a visual designer, specializing in books, and other media. She has now produced 9 books of her own in print and ebook editions and helped many other authors publish their books.

You are free to share this article as long as you include the credits and provide a link back to this blog.

SHoP Architects Will Build 50 Resilient Schools In Nepal (And Share The Designs)

3055124-slide-s-8-shop-architects-to-build-50-public-schoolsIn April 2015, a magnitude 7.8 earthquake hit Nepal with an epicenter 50 miles outside of the capital, Kathmandu. Natural disasters of this scale are devastating, but some experts argued that unregulated construction compounded the damage and death toll. The New York-based firm SHoP Architects recently announced a partnership with two socially-driven advocacy organizations, Kids of Kathmandu and the Asia Friendship Network, to aid in the rebuilding process by constructing 50 new schools in the hardest-hit areas.

via SHoP Architects Will Build 50 Resilient Schools In Nepal (And Share The Designs).

Security Breach in Popular Plugin “User Role Editor” – User Can Become Admin

There is a major vulnerability in a popular plugin with over 300,000 active installs: User Role Editor 4.24 and older.

The vulnerability allows any registered user to gain administrator access. For sites that have open registration, this is a serious security hole.

If you are running User Role Editor, upgrade to the newest version which is 4.25 immediately.

Looking at a diff of the newest plugin release, the author was checking if users have access to edit another user using the ‘current_user_can’ function and checking for the ‘edit_user’ (without an ‘s’ on the end) capability on a specific user ID. The green code below was added.

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 9.58.02 AM

A user can edit themselves, and so sending data to the plugin that supplies the current user’s ID to this access check would bypass the check.

The fix released in version 4.25 (new code shown in green above) checks if the current user has the ‘edit_users’ capability which is a general access check that would fix this vulnerability.

The edit_user check that was being used is undocumented on the Roles wiki page, but it isused by WordPress core (in a secure way). So if you are using this check in your plugins, it is important to realize that it can be bypassed if used as a general access level check.

As always, please make sure that the rest of your plugins are at the newest version because we have seen several, less impactful vulnerabilities emerge during the past month.

Regards,

The Wordfence Team.

via Vulnerability in User Role Editor – Users Can Become Admins – Wordfence

How to Make Your Phone Battery Last Longer

We’re a smartphone society now — people do everything on their phones, from checking e-mail and Facebook posts to watching video and surfing the Web. All that comes at a price, though: bear attacks and woefully short battery life.

While there’s little I can do about the bears, I can offer a near-dozen practical tips for extending the battery life of your phone, which reduces the frequency of charges (and hopefully let’s you make it home at the end of the day before the juice runs dry).

Adjust the screen brightness. The default setting for your screen is probably brighter than it needs to be, and the display is the single largest consumer of battery power on your phone. Turn it down to the lowest level that still comfortable to see.

Sleep sooner. Your phone lets you specify how quickly to turn off the display and put the phone to sleep. You can extend the life of your phone significantly by ensuring the phone turns itself off quickly rather than staying on for several minutes every time you check the time.

Turn off notifications. Many apps enable display notifications. Most of the time, these are pointless and a waste of battery power since they force your screen to light up briefly many times throughout the day. Disable apps’ notifications to extend  battery power.

Disable any antennas not in use. Never (or only rarely) use Bluetooth. Make sure it’s turned off in your settings. The same is true of Wi-Fi, though if you’re like most people, you probably use that quite a bit. If your battery is near death, though, and you need to keep it alive as long as possible, you can enter Airplane Mode (which turns off all the radios, including voice).

Minimize the gadgets your phone syncs with. The new Pebble smartwatch is great, but it imposes a battery penalty on your phone to the tune of about 10 percent of battery life per day. There are also Bluetooth headsets, your car and other high-tech conveniences that consume power. If you want to maximize battery life, minimize the number of gadgets you connect to.

Say no to location requests. Many apps ask permission to detect your location so they can provide more targeted information. That might be useful, but every time an app has to ping your GPS chip, it uses power. Unless you really need that location function, just say no.

Sync less frequently. Most smartphones are designed to check for e-mail and apps data every 15 or 30 minutes. If you can live with less frequent updates, extend those minutes to a full hour. This will have a noticeable effect on battery life.

Lower the volume. Turn down your phone’s overall volume, including the ringer.

Turn off vibrate. You might need this feature — especially if you leave your phone in your pocket all the time — but making a mechanical vibrator jiggle takes a lot of juice. Turn it off for more runtime.

Keep it cool. A hot battery drains faster than a cool one — so if your phone is hot to the touch, it’s running inefficiently. That can happen when you leave it in your car, in your pocket or on top of another hot gadget, like a laptop. Running the phone continuously can also make it heat up.

Turn it off completely. If you know you won’t use your phone for a while — like in a meeting or at the movie theater — shut it off rather than just quieting the ringer.

via Making your smartphone battery last longer – Yahoo!.

What Do You Want? Making a Life Plan from a Vision Statement

The following is intended to help you envision what you want, so you can figure out what you have to offer others. Before you promote what you are, you need to know what you want. Once you know what you want, and what pleases you, you can figure out everything else: what you can offer others, who your market is, and how you are going to go about achieving your dream.

VISION LIFE PLAN

A tool to help you envision your life: here you identify what you want so that you can ask the universe for the support you need. Without knowing what you want, how can you achieve it? I have adapted this from the commercial world.

Life Plan Summary

  • Description of what you offer to the world

RIGHT BRAIN: what is your dream/idea

LEFT BRAIN: how is your dream grounded in reality

  • All material aspects
  • The amount of money you are looking for and what it is for.

The Dream Team

  • Visualize your Dream Team
  • Use Existing Models of People You Admire

Products or Services

RIGHT BRAIN
What inspires you? Serving others? Teaching? This is the real energetic/emotional componet of your product/service. You should feel very clear and enthusiastic when thinking of what you want to acheive.

LEFT BRAIN

  • What service / product do you offer the world?
  • What are the benefits you bring.
  • Why your product or service?

The Market

  • Customers (partners/allies/neighbors/extended family/tribe)
  • Paint a potrait of who will buy from you

Competitors (cooperators/symbiotic partners)

  • Lists their names, their strength and weaknesses.
  • How your product or service differ from their of your competitors.
  • Strategic Planning
  • Given the stated vision stated above, what are you asking for specifically and when?
  • Identify the stages in your plan.
  • Set reasonable deadlines for these goals.
  • What is the logical next step?

Copyright Aliyah Marr


Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign Keyboard Shortcut Visualiser | FastPrint.co.uk

Editor’s note: This post was written by John, a design enthusiast with a passion for blogging, too. He regularly writes on the subject of design on his own blog, along with a number of other popular publications. He is also a design freelancer.

If you’re a photographer, web designer, developer, blogger, magazine designer/editor, or even a print designer, chances are that Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign are three applications you couldn’t live without.

I’ve been doing graphic design for a few years now, and there’s no way I could live without these three applications (at least not without Photoshop and Illustrator); I simply couldn’t produce such quality work without them, as they’re just so powerful and feature-packed.

While these three applications are ridiculously powerful, however, I’ve realized over the last few years that power isn’t everything: you’ve also got to know how to harness that power in a way that makes financial sense.

Let me give you an example of what I mean: I do a lot of graphic design work on behalf of clients, and recently, I realized that simple, somewhat mundane tasks were taking up a lot of my time.

I charge most of my clients on an hourly basis, and therefore, time is money, literally.

So, I started investigating ways to cut-down the time I spent on these tasks, without it affecting the quality of my work, and I stumbled across a whole host of keyboard shortcuts that I hadn’t been using.

After integrating these shortcuts into my workflow, I cut my time down (on average) by around 17%.

The problem was that it took me hours of sifting through boring documentation to find the shortcuts that were useful to me.

So, I started looking for a better way and stumbled across this incredible tool from FastPrint.

Introducing: Interactive Photoshop, InDesign, and Illustrator Shortcuts

If, like me, you’re interested in increasing your productivity through the use of keyboard shortcuts, the shortcut visualizer for Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign is the tool you’ve been looking for.

What does the tool do? It maps the hundreds of available keyboard shortcuts for the applications onto a virtual keyboard (displayed on-screen through your web browser of choice).

Why is this useful? Because it means that you don’t have to sift through pages of boring documentation to find useful shortcuts: instead, you can search for them in a visual manner on a virtual keyboard.

Here’s how to get started with the tool:

1: What are you using: Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign?

adobe keyboard mapper

As mentioned, the virtual tool actually maps shortcuts for all three applications, so the first step is to choose the application that you’re actually using.

To do this, navigate to the drop-down menu at the top of the tool and select from Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign.

You’ll see that the colour scheme will change to reflect your choice (i.e. blue for Photoshop, pink for InDesign, etc.).

Once you’ve done this, you’ll see a number of shortcuts corresponding to your chosen application appear on the on-screen keyboard.

2: What are you using: Mac or PC?

adobe keyboard mapper

You’ll notice that if you’re a Mac user, you use the command key rather than the control key in most instances.

On Windows, it’s the other way around.

So, you need to tell the tool which operating system you’re using so that it can make sure to map the shortcuts correctly.

Again, this is done via a selection menu at the top of the browser window.

You’ll notice that the command key disappears if you choose Windows or Linux, but remains if you choose Mac OSX.

3: Where are you? US, UK, or a different country?

adobe keyboard mapper

It’s also important to tell the tool which part of the world you’re in, and which language you’re using, as doing so will ensure that the on-screen keyboard is arranged correctly.

Depending on where you are, there may be subtle differences in the arrangement of certain keys, so make sure to select the location that applies to you.

These are a few locations/languages available, which can be selected via the drop-down: there’s English US and UK, along with a few other choices.

Once you’ve done this, you’re ready to go.

4: How do I view more shortcuts?


adobe keyboard mapper

While you will see a number of shortcuts displayed on the on-screen keyboard by default, you’ll notice that this is only a handful of the total number of shortcuts available for each application.

To view the others, you’ll need to toggle so-called modifier keys (i.e. Alt, Command/Control, and Shift).

Toggling these keys (in any order, might I add) will change the shortcuts mapped to each key.

E.g. If you toggle the Command key (or Control key on Windows/Linux), you’ll notice that the “Z” key now shows the shortcut “Undo”.

5: How do I search for a particular shortcut?

adobe keyboard mapper

Are you looking for a particular keyboard shortcut?

No worries, as there’s search functionality built right into the application.

You’ll notice that this is located just below the virtual keyboard (scroll down if you can’t see it).

To start searching, just start typing in the search bar and you’ll see a list of suggestions appear within milliseconds.

It certainly saves time perusing those lengthy PDFs, doesn’t it?

6: I’m struggling to read the small text, what do I do?


text size

With such a crazy amount of shortcuts mapped onto a single tool, you’ll notice that a lot of the text is pretty small.

If you’re struggling to read this, there’s a quick and easy solution.

Grab your mouse, and roll your cursor over any of the keys on the virtual keyboard: you’ll see the text duplicated in a large font size just below the keyboard itself.

Don’t forget to download the wallpaper(s)

wallpaper

Not only have FastPrint produced the interactive browser-based tool mentioned above, but they’ve also created a series of desktop wallpapers which showcase some of the most popular keyboard shortcuts for each of the applications.

These are available to download from their website.

You can grab the Photoshop, Illustrator, or InDesign wallpaper, all of which are available for PC and Mac.Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign Keyboard Shortcut Visualiser | FastPrint.co.uk.

Marketing Tips for Everyone

Whether you are simply applying for a job or starting a new company, basic marketing principles still apply. If you haven’t already, go to earlier articles on this blog to complete your vision/mission statement and life plan.

Now that you know who you are and what you offer, use the following basic questions to help you focus your marketing efforts:

Who

Who is your target market? Even if you are a job seeker, it is a good idea to make a portrait of your client. Say you are looking for a job as an IT tech; it would be a good idea to use keywords in your resume that pertain to those interests. You will be writing your resume to appeal to your ideal employer (target market), use his language, make sure you write your resume to fit his expectations. A good deal of marketing depends upon an accurate portrait of the target client. You have to match your ad to the expectations of the potential client, otherwise, you will have lost him before you can even get your message heard.

What

What product or service are you offering? This involves knowing yourself. Only offer what you want to do, not what you are experienced at, otherwise you will find yourself in an unhappy position. You can use your ad writing experience, or use a professional, to phrase what you do in the most favorable light. If you know what your target wants you can figure out how to offer it to them.

Where

Where are you offering it? In a retail store, on the web, on eBay, on Amazon, etc.

Why

Why are people going to buy from you? Why you and not someone else? What distinguishes you? What is your brand? This is where the mission statement and your slogan or sound bite comes in handy (see next article).

How

How is your product/service different? How are you going to deliver that product/service? By email, mail, going onsite, etc.

Copyright Aliyah Marr


Aliyah Marr is the author of Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird and Parallel Mind, The Art of Creativity: The (missing) manual for your right brain

This House Costs Just $20,000—But It’s Nicer Than Yours

3056129-inline-i-1c-these-beautiful-small-houses-were-each-copyFor over a decade, architecture students at Rural Studio, Auburn University’s design-build program in a tiny town in West Alabama, have worked on a nearly impossible problem. How do you design a home that someone living below the poverty line can afford, but that anyone would want—while also providing a living wage for the local construction team that builds it?

In January, after years of building prototypes, the team finished their first pilot project in the real world. Partnering with a commercial developer outside Atlanta, in a tiny community called Serenbe, they built two one-bedroom houses, with materials that cost just $14,000 each

via This House Costs Just $20,000—But It’s Nicer Than Yours.

How to Easily Post an Article From the Web on Your Blog

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: Get a blog at WordPress, if you don’t have one.

If you want to post things that you see on other websites, I recommend the tool called “Press This.” You need to add it to the toolbar in your browser.

Press This is a bookmarklet: a little app that runs in your browser and lets you grab bits of the web.

Use Press This to clip text, images and videos from any web page. Then edit and add more straight from Press This before you save or publish it in a post on your site.

• To add the tool, select “Tools” in the sidebar to the left when you are in the WordPress shell (what you see after you log in).

• Drag-and-drop the following link to your bookmarks bar or right click it and add it to your favorites for a posting shortcut.

• When you see something you want to grab for blogging when you are on the web, just select whatever piece you want — text, images, video — and then click on the Press This icon on your browser’s toolbar.

• A dialog box will show up that will allow you to post what you grabbed, add tags and categories; in short, everything that you would have to do if you were inside WordPress.

• If you want to include any picture on the page, just click on the picture icon at the top of the dialog box.

• Click “Publish” when you are done.


 For more on social media marketing, read: Squawk! Social Media for the Solitary Bird