Small biz : How to market your webinar
 How to market your webinar
communication - inner child by andy westface society6
{artwork by Andy Westface via here}

{Guest post from Gemma Falconer}

 

It’s a fresh new year, full of potential and promise. It’s a time to look back on everything you did in 2014 and search for improvements to make 2015 your year to shine. With the benefit of hindsight, you can evaluate what did or didn’t work within your company last year, and change your tactics accordingly.

When done right, webinars are a great way to spread information and promote brand awareness. In fact, back in August 2011, HubSpot achieved the Guinness World Record for Largest Online Marketing Seminar with 10,899 participants. An enviable number, to say the least. If you’ve ever hosted a webinar before, you’re already familiar with that nagging fear: what if no one tunes in? What if you’ve spent weeks (perhaps even months) planning your presentation and there’s no one to see it? Here are a few tips and tricks to make sure that your next webinar gets the attention and attendance it deserves.

 

1. Creativity above all

Original content will always triumph over irrelevant or redundant ideas. If your topic isn’t fresh, you won’t get a great turn-out, no matter how killer your marketing strategy. You need something that’s general enough to gather a large following yet specific enough to be of use to your attendees.

One way to create a special, intriguing webinar is to partner up – reach out to a brand you’re interested in or who is perhaps doing something similar, and join forces. Not only will this increase your possible audience, it will be an opportunity to make truly unique content.

 

2. Nail your email marketing

The bulk of your webinar prep work will be simply getting the word out there. Make sure that your emails stand out visually and entice the reader into action. Email out invitations and reminders on Tuesdays, Wednesdays or Thursdays as Mondays and Fridays are usually spent catching up or hustling to finish a project last-minute, meaning a greater chance that your email will go unread.

 

3. Be social!

As important as email marketing is to your webinar, you shouldn’t be only relying on that one tactic to gather an audience: you need to create a social media presence. A great way to generate buzz around your event on Facebook, Twitter and Google+ is to create its own hashtag and regularly post about it, especially as the date draws nearer. You can even host a giveaway or a competition (with one of your services/products as the prize) to get people really involved.

 

4. Less is more

If you make the sign-up process lengthy or confusing, many people will be turned off and chances are you will lose many potential attendees. So simplify everything for them: clearly lay out the webinar details (date, time, time zone, whether it will be live only, on-demand, or both, how to join on the day, etc.), spell out your objectives and limit the number of form fields attendees have to fill out.

 

5. Build your reputation

Don’t let the relationships you build with attendees go cold – you don’t want negative sentiment to affect any future webinars you might want to hold. Send a follow-up email as a thank you, and always be on the constant look-out for ways to improve your technique!

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Author’s Bio:

Gemma Falconer is a member of the Demand Generation team at Citrix and GoToMeeting, a cloud computing company that enables mobile workstyles. She has been using collaboration tools/video conferencing/online meetings for the past 6 years and splits her working time between the office and home. Having experienced the flexibility and various advantages of using such technology, Gemma would love for employers to seriously consider offering collaboration tools and flexible working for their employees so they too can truly benefit. Gemma is a mother, keen volleyball player and writer. Find her on Twitter on LinkedIn.

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{Disclaimer : tractorgirl worked in collaboration with GoToMeeting to provide this post. I hope you find it helpful!}

 

Making Blogger pretty: adding social media icons (and other tricks)
chulabird pattern

{background pattern Autumn Swirl by Chulabird, here}

 

If you have any kind of a blog that is connected to your business in some way, you absolutely need to include links to your social media accounts. Using social media icons is the most popular and the most obvious way to do this. It’s best if they’re somewhere towards the top of your blog page – whether they’re above your header or below, or over on your sidebar is really up to you and how you want your blog to look.

If you want to add in some buttons for your social media, you’ll first have to have some appropriate icon images for the social media you need – either purchase some, or make them yourself.

There are lots of free ones – just google “free social media icons” and look through the images until you find some you like (always check the licence conditions!) – and you can always alter colours and other effects. Of course you can always create your own too.

OR, here I’ve included a zip file of the 5 most popular icons – Google+, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram – as .png files. They’re black  on transparent backgrounds, but you can easily change the colour using Photoshop or Picmonkey. They’re all 64 pixels square – a bit larger means they’re easier to work with if you intend changing colours etc, but I would recommend you resize them to something a bit smaller if you’re putting them on your blog – somewhere between 30 – 50 pixels wide is good.

 

the lot

Download the icons here.

 

There are a couple of reasons I prefer to use .png files rather than .jpegs. Although .jpg files are compressed so that they’re quicker to load, the compression also means that they lose clarity, and sometimes they can end up looking quite blurry. Another reason for a transparent background is that if your blog has a coloured background, your icons can sit there happily without an ugly white square around them.

OK. So now those images need to be hosted somewhere (i.e. they need a URL where Blogger can find them), and if you’ve bought some webhosting, there’s no problem – just load up the files. But if you don’t have your own webhosting,  I found a great work-around tutorial on YouTube showing you how to add them directly to Blogger so you can use them on your site. (The full video is here).

In the video, Emily of BlogaholicDesigns.etsy.com suggests simply creating a new post, which is named something to remind you that it is not public, such as “DO NOT PUBLISH OR DELETE”. In that post, click on the HTML tab (circled in red below), as this gives you control over the spacing of the images. Then load up your images, by clicking on the picture icon (also circled in red). Then click on Compose, so that you can align the images (probably centred is best).

Save it (don’t Publish!). Click back into HTML, then copy the code that appears – it should look a bit like the image below. Highlight all that code to select it, and then Ctrl C to copy it onto your clipboard.

 

how to blogger - sm icons

 

Next, close that window so that you’re back on the main Dashboard. Go into Layout (circled in red below), and click on any box labelled “Add a gadget” in the area that you want it – usually best at the top of the sidebar, or above your menu.

 

how to blogger - sm icons 2

 

The pop-up window will give you a bunch of different types of ‘gadgets’ you can add in – click on “HTML/Javascript”, and paste all the code into the Content box. Your screen should look a bit like the one below. Save, and you’re done!

 

how to blogger - sm icons 3

 

Happy blogging!

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Do you have any burning questions about Blogger? Any specific problems? Anything in particular you’d like to change on your blog but don’t know how? Let me know in the comments, and I’ll find you an answer!!

Or, are you proud of your blog? Share your link, so the world can see :)

 

Julie x

 

Inspiring : Ruchika {ceramics}

 

ruchika - tile - two potted plants

ruchika – tile – two potted plants

 

Ceramicist Ruchika Madan learnt to say no the hard way, but it was one of the best realizations she ever had. “I was initially so eager for work, I found it very hard to refuse projects that I didn’t want to do, or wholesale production orders.

“Eventually I figured out that if I just worked on what I really wanted to, stayed true to my own pursuits and values, the work sold just as well or even better, and I was so much happier.

“I still don’t do much production or any wholesale and only take commissions that fall into my current way of working and style. I want to go into the studio excited to work, not dreading the slog through some tedious project.”

 

ruchika - leaves and vine mug

ruchika – leaves and vine mug

 

Ruchika’s career has taken a few twists and turns, but always the focus was on creating something. Originally studying metalsmithing, she changed focus to ceramics early on in her studies, and graduated from Maine College of Art in Portland. Wanting to work as a studio potter but stuck without a studio meant working as an assistant to another ceramicist (which she says was great for honing skills), while doing restaurant jobs on the side and textiles at home to support herself.

 

“I have always been a maker – it’s just what I have always done and in some ways, my career has just been a long continuation of the same person I was as that little kid.”

 

Over the past 20 years, she has split her time between teaching, making and exhibiting, and for the last 10, had her own retail studio space next to her friend and jeweller, Jade Moran in Somerville, MA. During that time, she also worked as product developer and designer for her family business, Achla Designs, a manufacturer of garden products. “At one point we had a ceramic line, which I worked to develop with a factory in Poland. It was a great experience to trouble-shoot and learn more about designing for specific production methods.”

 

ruchika - tile - two fish

ruchika – tile – two fish

 

ruchika - fish and waves plate

ruchika – fish and waves plate

 

With the arrival of her second child at the end of last year, Ruchika decided to close her retail space. Now she continues her work from home, with an office upstairs and a clay studio in the basement. “I have plenty of space and my garden right outside.”

It’s her garden and what happens in it that provides much of the inspiration for her work – birds, worms, baby carrots and fresh sprouts all make their way onto her platters and tiles. Strong clean forms come through, with plenty of emphasis on line and texture. “I love to work in series, creating a body of work with images that come from a theme, or recurring preoccupation I have.”

“Most of my work is made from white stoneware and porcelain clay using a variety of forming techniques, including wheel-throwing, slab-building and slip-casting.  The surface is created by incising and carving, and brushing, stenciling, and trailing slip. The glaze and underglaze materials vary the line quality and colors. By applying the glazes to selected areas with a brush, some areas can be shiny, while others remain softly matte.”

 

ruchika - little oval dish - peapod

ruchika – little oval dish – peapod

 

ruchika - carrots

ruchika – carrots

 

“I think the hardest thing as an artist is having to just muddle along and make your own way. You have to have drive to become reasonably successful and/or financially solvent. You are a one-man-band – production, marketing, accounting, janitorial…

 

“Sometimes people have mentors, but I didn’t so much, and 20 years ago there were no fabulous tools like Etsy or Squarespace or mobile phone credit card readers that make tasks manageable, even easy.”

 

“Just learning to take photographs – (slides!) of your work was such a huge obstacle before you could even move on to the next thing. So I just buckled down and figured it out. Now it’s so much easier to hang a virtual shingle out and you’re open for business, and I’m happy to be able to take advantage. Outsourcing and hiring help is also possible once you are more established or have a bigger budget, but watching my parents in the family business doing it all and building up to the successful business they have today, taught me what could be achieved on your own.”

 

ruchika - box tile - nestbuilders

ruchika – box tile – nestbuilders

 

Throwing children into the mix was a hard adjustment. “Being a studio artist is a solitary life – I mean mentally more, but physically too. I spent so many hours working full-time alone in my studio for many years before kids came along. It was hard to adjust and I go crazy when I can’t carve out any time for that. I resort to dead of night when everyone is in bed. I figure I’ll sleep when I’m dead! Right now with a 1 and 5 yr old is the biggest challenge. I often feel I am running on a hamster wheel.”

But of course the children are inspiring too. “It’s interesting to see what my 5 year old seems to have inherited genetically. He spends hours at our kitchen table, “his workshop” cutting things out with scissors and doing various projects. At my parents house, he has commandeered the shoe closet under the stairs as his “studio” and set it up with a tiny table and chair and suitcase full of supplies.”

They spend a lot of time as a family making art together. “My husband is an artist too and we draw a lot in our family – we have a giant sketchbook we work on together and really, we spend a lot more time doing art purely for fun. My inspiration has always come from my activities – my garden, my time in Maine etc., and the stories we read and animals we study, projects we do – all of it percolates into my studio work.” Ruchika also uses the time with children to focus on aspects other than studio work, like setting up her website and some other side projects in design, including fresh products for Achla, as well as patterns through Spoonflower. And of course, working in her garden.

 

ruchika's garden outside her studio

ruchika’s garden outside her studio

 

You can find more of Ruchika’s beautiful ceramics in her Etsy shop, ruchika.

 

Inspiring : Whimsy Milieu {craft}
whimsymilieu - intense euphoria

whimsymilieu – intense euphoria

 

Jacqueline Chan finds inspiration everywhere, from the curiosities of the natural world to delectable French patisserie and everything in between. Wooden rings with painted diamonds, colourful leather concoctions of necklaces with names like “Sweet Success” and “Intense Euphoria”, illustrations of dogs and sharks and pouches with handprinted abstract patterns all find their way into her repertoire. She never stays focused on one medium (“my heart is pulled into many different directions and I love working with different materials”); so it’s really no surprise that she calls her business Whimsy Milieu.

 

whimsymilieu - wooden diamond rings

whimsymilieu – wooden diamond rings

 

Working out of her home studio in Orange, NSW, Jacqueline has made it her mission to spread happiness to the world; and what she makes is designed to do just that. Her aim is for you to “surround yourself with whimsical things that make you happy.” Producing work that achieves this goal makes her happy too.

 

“I love it that this job of spreading happiness doesn’t feel like work at all, as I wake up every day to do what I love and fall asleep at night thinking about more ideas for my business.”

 

Materials and process are a joy for her, even more than the designing. “What I love most about making is the process. Although I always feel intimidated before I start, when I actually do start, it is just exhilarating. It’s also enlightening when I make mistakes but work out how to overcome them.”

 

whimsymilieu - sweet success

whimsymilieu – sweet success

 

whimsymilieu - blockprinted pouch

whimsymilieu – blockprinted pouch

 

For someone who is as consistently inventive across wildly differing mediums as Jacqueline, it is surprising to realise that her life has gone in a big circular loop. She grew up in a very creative household in her home country of Malaysia, always drawing and crafting. “I remember making cards with my mother to sell at the school fair, and also representing my school in many art competitions.”

 

 

But life shifted, and “somehow, I ended up studying engineering at university and eventually became an engineer.”

 

However, you can’t suppress your true self forever. “The urge to lead a creative life started bugging me incessantly and I went back to university and obtained a degree in design. It has certainly enabled me to look at the world with new eyes.” During their studies, her and her friends started making things to sell, and it was this small taster that fuelled Jacqueline’s dreams to start her own business. Whimsy Milieu became a reality in 2012.

 

whimsymilieu - blockprinted pouch

whimsymilieu – blockprinted pouch

 

whimsymilieu - amazingly awesome

whimsymilieu – amazingly awesome

 

“I have learnt a lot through this journey – not only in terms of creativity and business, but also about life and relationships. It is such a blessing that doing something I love also enables me to live a more meaningful life and to spend more time with my loved ones, wherever they may be in the world.

“However, one of the most important things that I learnt is not to compare myself with other designers/artisans – we are all different and we satisfy different needs of all our lovely customers. I am very happy to create things that make people happy, and I also hope to prompt awareness of living a more creative and meaningful life.”

You can find more of Jacqueline’s creativity in her Etsy shop, WhimsyMilieu, and on her own website.

 

whimsymilieu - snowy mountain wooden rings

whimsymilieu – snowy mountain wooden rings