The Big Four: What Wealth Looks Like

I’m back! It’s been a while and I’ve missed you dearly but I’ve been pretty busy between homeschooling the little one, starting the business and grad school. But here I stand……uh, sit on the floor writing to you about this new book that I am reading called The Wealthy Freelancer. It’s actually pretty late and if I plan on getting to the gym in the AM I should probably make this quick.

The part of the book I am at, which is not to far from the front cover, is talking about what it means to be successful and defines it as these four criteria:

1. The projects you want

2. The clients you want

3. The income you want

4. The lifestyle you want

Maybe criteria was not the appropriate word to use. These are more goals that you have in mind, the way that you envision yourself doing business and how these would be defined in your model. I’ve decided that I really need to hash these out. Though I could do it in my handy dandy notebook, I have decided to share my brainstorming of what my wealthy freelancing venture would look like with you. Here we go!

Projects: Well, I’m in PR. I want to be creative. What I would really like to work on are marketing events and press releases to announce new products, people and ventures. I love events and feel that there is nothing better than a well executed event but I also love to write. Though it sometimes feels a little bit tedious gathering the information, the story-telling process is amazing. Obviously for the sake of pitching I should keep my head from going too far into the clouds but this perspective keeps me entertained with what I am trying to do.

Clients: I like to be inspired by people and honestly work off of their zeal for their company. If you love what you do, more likely than not, I will too. I want to work with those that are excited about their ventures and have something awesome to offer. Maybe this is full idealism, but I would like to work with people that understand the time and care it takes to create and conduct a full campaign and that there is a reason I should be paid for what I do. I’ve heard horror stories.

Income: I’m going to be a little vague about this one and not use actual figures for the simply sake of privacy, but I would like to be able to support myself with what I make and be able to save enough for retirement and college for my little one. (I mean, we have 11 years until college…..gotta get a move on)

Lifestyle: I want to be able to homeschool my son and take the time with him that he needs, while being able to go on vacation to Disney World once a year. I want to be able to get my work done in a comfortable place, meet clients at nice locations where I can offer to buy them coffee or croissants (preferably chocolate chip ones) and have good laughs and relationships with them. I want to be able to get things for my family and friends, donate time and other things to charities and enjoy the life that I’ve been given. Maybe have an employee or two to help with certain projects. Another thing that I would really like to do is tuck my son into bed every night. I don’t want to be so overtaken by work, projects and deadlines that I can’t do that. I value the time I have with him. He won’t be 6 forever.

Though these are truly the things that I would look for in a wealthy freelancing career, I am not quite sure if I am finished hashing out what it is I want. I was planning on having a goal setting party all by myself on Saturday where I would name the goals and the steps it would take to achieve them so I guess I’ll add this to my festivities. Woo hop weekend fun!

Good night and happy goal setting!

Time is of the essence

My professor assigned this reading. It all makes sense. It’s not really a new lesson but it’s always something to consider with planning. 

Perhaps the greatest single problem that people have today is “time poverty.” Working people have too much to do and too little time for their personal lives. Most people feel overwhelmed with responsibilities and activities, and the harder they work, the further behind they feel. This sense of being on a never-ending treadmill can cause you to fall into the reactive/responsive mode of living. Instead of clearly deciding what you want to do, you continually react to what is happening around you. Pretty soon you lose all sense of control. You feel that your life is running you, rather than you running your life.

On a regular basis, you have to stand back and take stock of yourself and what you’re doing. You have to stop the clock and do some serious thinking about who you are and where you are going. You have to evaluate your activities in the light of what is really important to you. You must master your time rather than becoming a slave to the constant flow of events and demands on your time. And you must organize your life to achieve balance, harmony, and inner peace. Taking action without thinking is the cause of every failure. Your ability to think is the most valuable trait that you possess. If you improve the quality of your thinking, you improve the quality of your life, sometimes immediately.

Time is your most precious resource. It is the most valuable thing you have. It is perishable, it is irreplaceable, and it cannot be saved. It can only be reallocated from activities of lower value to activities of higher value. All work requires time. And time is absolutely essential for the important relationships in your life. The very act of taking a moment to think about your time before you spend it will begin to improve your personal time management immediately.

I used to think that time management was only a business tool, like a calculator or a cellular telephone. It was something that you used so that you could get more done in a shorter period of time and eventually be paid more money. Then I learned that time management is not a peripheral activity or skill. It is the core skill upon which everything else in life depends.

In your work or business life, there are so many demands on your time from other people that very little of your time is yours to use as you choose. However, at home and in your personal life you can exert a tremendous amount of control over how you use your time. And it is in this area that I want to focus.

Personal time management begins with you. It begins with your thinking through what is really important to you in life. And it only makes sense if you organize it around specific things that you want to accomplish. You need to set goals in three major areas of your life. First, you need family and personal goals. These are the reasons why you get up in the morning, why you work hard and upgrade your skills, why you worry about money and sometimes feel frustrated by the demands on your time.

What are your personal and family goals, both tangible and intangible? A tangible family goal could be a bigger house, a better car, a larger television set, a vacation, or anything else that costs money. An intangible goal would be to build a higher quality relationship with your spouse and children, to spend more time with your family going for walks or reading books. Achieving these family and personal goals are the real essence of time management, and its major purpose.

The second area of goals are your business and career goals. These are the “how” goals, the means by which you achieve your personal, “why” goals. How can you achieve the level of income that will enable you to fulfill your family goals? How can you develop the skills and abilities to stay ahead of the curve in your career? Business and career goals are absolutely essential, especially when balanced with family and personal goals.

The third type of goals are your personal development goals. Remember, you can’t achieve much more on the outside than what you have achieved on the inside. Your outer life will be a reflection of your inner life. If you wish to achieve worthwhile things in your personal and your career life, you must become a worthwhile person in your own self-development. You must build yourself if you want to build your life. Perhaps the greatest secret of success is that you can become anything you really want to become to achieve any goal that you really want to achieve. But in order to do it, you must go to work on yourself and never stop.

Once you have a list of your personal and family goals, your business and career goals, and your self-development goals, you can then organize the list by priority. This brings us to the difference between priorities and posteriorities. In order to get your personal time under control, you must decide very clearly upon your priorities. You must decide on the most important things that you could possible be doing to give yourself the same amount of happiness, satisfaction, and joy in life. But at the same time, you must establish posteriorities as well. Just as priorities are things that you do more of and sooner, posteriorities are things that you do less of and later.

The fact is, your calendar is full. You have no spare time. Your time is extremely valuable. Therefore, for you to do anything new, you will have to stop doing something old. In order to get into something, you will have to get out of something else. In order to pick something up, you will have to put something down. Before you make any new commitment of your time, you must firmly decide what activities you are going to discontinue in your personal life. If you want to spend more time with your family, for example, you must decide what activities you currently engage in that are preventing you from doing so.

A principle of time management says that hard time pushes out soft time. This means that hard time, such as working, will push out soft time, such as the time you spend with your family. If you don’t get your work done at the office because you don’t use your time well, you almost invariably have to rob that time from your family. As a result, because your family is important to you, you find yourself in a values conflict. You feel stressed and irritable. You feel a tremendous amount of pressure. You know in your heart that you should be spending more time with the important people in your life, but because you didn’t get your work done, you have to fulfill those responsibilities before you can spend time with your spouse and children.

Think of it this way. Every minute you waste during the waking day is time that your family will ultimately be deprived of. So concentrate on working when you are at work so that you can concentrate on your family when you are at home.

There are three key questions that you can ask yourself continually to keep your personal life in balance. The first question is, “What is really important to me?” Whenever you find yourself with too much to do and too little time, stop and ask yourself, “What is it that is really important for me to do in this situation?” Then, make sure that what you are doing is the answer to that question.

The second question is, “What are my highest value activities?” In your personal life, this means, “What are the things that I do that give me the greatest pleasure and satisfaction? Of all the things that I could be doing at any one time, what are the things that I could do to add the greatest value to my life?”

And the final question for you to ask over and over again is, “What is the most valuable use of my time right now?” Since you can only do one thing at a time, you must constantly organize you life so that you are doing one thing, the most important thing, at every moment. Personal time management enables you to choose what to do first, what to do second, and what not to do at all. It enables you to organize every aspect of your life so that you can get the greatest joy, happiness, and satisfaction out of everything you do.

 

The Best Brand Content

Let me preface this by saying, I think I am in love with Crosby Noricks. Any time I see her name, I am taken with whatever the content of the piece might be because I think she’s a genius. With that I present you this article found on FastCo:

Instead of a traditional business plan, Holstee cofounders and brothers Dave and Mike Radparvar, along with friend Fabian, created a manifesto, a typographical “reminder of what a successful life could be in non-financial terms.” And then they went about the business of making their first products, T-shirts made from recycled bottles, and a wallet made from plastic bags collected off the streets of Delhi.

On a bit of a whim, so the story goes, Holstee put the manifesto up on their website to share the mission of the company with customers. The founder’s feel-good maxims about life and the pursuit of personal happiness spread across the Web, appearing on blogs, across social media and of course, causing a repin/reblog frenzy on Pinterest and Tumblr. They quickly sold out of their first run of products as well as a poster of the manifesto, which accounted for about 50 percent of revenue in 2011. Today, you can purchase the Holstee Manifesto, on recycled paper, as a poster or greeting card.According to Mike, “80 million+ views later [the Holstee Manifesto] has transcended borders, religions, political views and cultural divides. The Holstee community alone has posted over 14 translations.” The manifesto, pardon the cliché, went viral.

This, in and of itself, is a remarkable story about the power of branded content to drive brand awareness, affinity and sure, sales. But the story doesn’t end there. The manifesto acted as a sort of permission slip for individuals to live more fully, and people throughout the world were inspired enough by its words to change direction, to make different decisions. And the stories began to pour in. Now, in a brilliant campaign extension, Holstee has invited those impacted by the manifesto to share their stories with one another through My Life, a Tumblr-hosted platform that allows those touched by the manifesto to share their stories via a combination of text, image and video. From manifesto to movement–I’d give these guys an award for taking a single piece of authentic, remarkable content and evolving social-share into a brand-allegiant community.

Successful branded content must balance brand awareness and education with entertainment and timeliness. One of the ways to do this is to jump on an existing trend, the way that mala jewelry company Tiny Devotions did with its Holstee-inspired “Boho Manifesto,” available when you sign up for email. Or, how casual footwear brand Sanuk and luxury fashion brand Oscar de la Renta did with their completely different, yet perfectly on-brand individual takes on the “Shit Girls Say” meme.

Fashion brands often get a bad rap for being a bit behind the curve when it comes to digital marketing, but brands in all sorts of verticals have something to learn from their strategies.

Co-create Campaigns With Customers

Fashion designer Rebecca Minkoff is at the center of content-driven commerce that mimics the brand’s eye for style. Its engine is a website called Minkette driven by a group of bloggers and loyalists referred to as the “Minkettes.” The designer’s long list of digital integration includes Tumblr, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Polyvore, LookBook, Chicotpia, MYFDB andInstagram, where one lucky fan’s photos were chosen to appear in Minkoff’s first print ad campaign.

Repurpose Existing Content

Independent fashion bloggers (IFB) is a daily read for aspiring and established bloggers alike, and its biannual fashion week conference always sells out, attracting sponsorships from big brands eager to be a part of the conversation and connect with rising influencers. Much more than just a blog, IFB is a resource center, and uses image-share platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to drive traffic, community growth and brand awareness, snapping pictures of press coverage to share on Instagram and posting intriguing headlines of blog articles to images on Pinterest.

Invest in Influencers

When it came time for J.Crew to do something different with their digital presence and promote their global launch into more than 100 countries, they turned to iconic street style photographers and fashion bloggers Scott Schuman (The Sartorialist) and Garance Doré to carry their vision for Hello, World! forward, photographing, filming and narrating an international tour. The duo met up with other tastemakers in each city and the result is a content feast of images, video and quotes like, “if I could only wear one color it would be neon pink,” from Hilary Tsui in Hong Kong. The feature also includes an invitation for customers outside of North America to become J.Crew Insiders and receive VIP member benefits including complimentary expedited shipping through the end of the year, priority access to J.Crew’s team of International personal shoppers as well as duty free shopping through August 31st.

Lead with Lifestyle

According to Tory Burch’s CMO, the fashion designer has “not bought traditional advertisements in U.S. magazines,” relying instead on an aggressive digital-first strategy that generates more revenue than any physical store. Reasons why? Tory Burch is perhaps the only fashion brand to have an editor-in-chief position within the company, and the Tory blog is a great example of exploring brand lifestyle. In the spirit of summer (and resort wear) she’s currently featuring content about vacation musts, surf culture, and the color blue.

Uncover Unique Partnerships

A beautiful marriage exists between the creators of Wildfox Couture and young adult author Francesca Lia Block. At the epicenter is Magicalcreature.com, a blog that tells a story of friendship and hope between three girls. Together, the designers and author have illustrated a collection of dreamy T-shirts based on these characters. The emotional attachment gleaned from Lia Block’s words connects beautifully with the gorgeous images on the shirts.

Engage Through Experience

In March 2012, when most brands were still on the fence about joining Pinterest, Calypso St. Barth tapped mega-pinner Christine Martinez, a fashion blogger who was, at the time, the fourth most-followed Pinterest user in the world, to act as both brand ambassador and pinner on an actual trip to St. Barth. According to coverage in Mashable, the brand wanted to “piggy[back] on Martinez’s success on the social network to attract more attention to its boards and website.” Did it work? Currently, the luxury brand has more than 6,000 followers.

Educate and Entertain

Capitalizing on the nail-polish trend as well as its 15th anniversary working directly with designers at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Red Door client Creative Nail Design (CND) created “The History of Nails at Fashion Week,” an infographic that combined facts about fashion week with CND’s own history and evolution, including the revolutionary product release of Shellac. While infographics are widely used in many verticals, fashion and beauty brands have been less likely to produce and promote information in this way. As a result, the content piece was a valuable resource for journalists and bloggers alike as they competed for views during fashion-week coverage. By posting the Infographic to their fashion week blog and Pinterest, CND was also able to educate customers about the CND’s leadership position, and connect CND more closely with their Shellac product.

Allow Access

We’re all a bit curious about what other people are buying online. Net-A-Porter makes full use of this through a real-time feed that relays what other stylish women around the world are adding to their shopping bags and sharing with friends. Quite mobile, with an app for iPhone and Android to access luxury fashion on the go, fans can also read the weekly Net-A-Porter e-magazine on their iPad which includes everything from how to wear a particular trend to intimate Q&A’s with leading designers. Best of all, Net-A-Porter makes it easy to get a quick snapshot of all of its digital efforts on The Social Hub (live Twitter feed, Photo diary, Facebook, YouTube, Google alerts).

Bonus Resource

The Digital Naturalist is a forum for video, film, and multimedia aimed at analyzing what makes digital storytelling successful in order to establish helpful guidelines for advocacy groups. Solicited causes, such as Charity: Water, have recently gone under the microscope dissecting the elements that make their content succeed or fail. Digital Naturalist founder Amy Marquis said, “If more good people behind these good causes could learn to meet the most basic criteria of good digital storytelling, their work might actually start to turn heads.” Whether you’re into social advocacy or not, these tips can teach any company how to tell a good tale.

This is the kind of content that inspires me. Who makes your “favorites” list?

Crosby Noricks is Director of Social Media at Red Door Interactive, Founder of PR Couture and author of Ready to Launch, available on Amazon. With offices in San Diego, Carlsbad and Denver, Red Door Interactive, Inc. is a strategic partner dedicated to ensuring businesses acquire, convert, retain and engage their customers wherever they are. The firm holds more than a decade of expertise in successfully developing and executing communications initiatives across all touch points to deliver real, measurable results. Clients include Cricket Communications, CND (Shellac), Smith+Noble, Rubio’s Restaurants, Inc. and Charlotte Russe.Crosby can be reached at cnoricks@reddoor.biz or @PR_Couture.

 

The Audience Rules…and that’s that!

All good stories are tailored to an audience. Know your audience. Write for them and only them.

Read at Frause:

Social media and traditional public relations really aren’t all that different. Yet many organizations still struggle quite a bit in navigating the landscape. Sure, there is plenty to keep track of with seemingly constant technology challenges and ever-changing platforms. But in my mind, there is one difference between public relations and social media that is more important than all the rest. The editor.

To get straight to the point, the biggest missed opportunity for organizations in utilizing social media is they don’t put themselves in the shoes of an editor.

PR professionals have traditionally played the role of ambassador between clients and the media. Every media outlet has its own specific audience and the journalist’s goal is to meet the needs of that audience as best as possible. For example, Wired Magazine knows exactly what its audience wants and does an amazing job of creating content to match. The result is a well-read, powerful and influential magazine (and one I know several of our clients would kill to be featured in).

The role of PR folks is to take our clients’ messages and shape them into appealing, topical, and timely stories and news. Then we tailor those messages for the journalist and his/her specific audience. When we do our jobs well, the idea sells and our clients’ messages make it into the media and in front of the readers they want to influence.

The challenge with social media is that organizations control their own Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogging pages. Who is the gatekeeper with independent power to shoot down story ideas or edit articles to make them a better fit for the audience? I think you know where I’m going with all of this. Not surprisingly, lots of folks miss this step or do a poor job of it.

Want another way to think about all of this?

Your Facebook page doesn’t belong to you. Neither does your blog or any of your other social media properties. They belong to your audience. And if you are not giving your audience what they want or need, they won’t pay attention to you. However, figuring out what they want and need is a completely different subject. A good starting point is realizing that pushing every boring morsel of information about your company’s product or service is not a great idea.

Just remember: it isn’t all about you or your organization. The sooner you start thinking about the needs of your audience instead of the needs of your own marketing department, the better off you will be.

Please, update strategically

More great advice brought to you by PR Daily:

What were you doing yesterday?

Tweeting and updating your company’s or client’s Facebook page, I hope.

On Twitter and Facebook, Tuesday is the best day of the week for engagement, according to a new report from Yesmail. Unfortunately, the brands in the study most often tweeted and updated their Facebook pages on days when engagement among followers was at its lowest.

Are you making the same mistake?

Yesmail, a company that makes email-marketing software, tracked and analyzed the Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and email campaigns of leading retail brands during the first quarter of this year. The brands studied include Abercrombie & Fitch, Gap, H&M, J. Crew, and Ann Taylor. (You can download the study here.)

The study examined the campaigns—which is a generic term for tweets, Facebook updates, and YouTube videos—and compared the days and times when brands are most frequently using these platforms against engagement rates among consumers.

Engagement in this study refers to Facebook “likes” and comments, retweets on Twitter, and views, comments, and ratings (likes and dislikes) on YouTube.

The study emphasizes that it’s important for companies to test the success of the times and days on which they communicate on social media, but that retail brands will see the most engagement from tweets and Facebook updates on Tuesdays. Meanwhile, YouTube videos garner the most views, comments, and ratings on Mondays.

Jason Warnock, vice president of market intelligence and measurement at Yesmail, said the findings apply across industries, not simply to retail.

“We’ve looked across other verticals, and we’re seeing the same things,” Warnock told PR Daily. “Marketers should pay attention to what their competitors are doing on these channels and what consumers want from these campaigns.”

Facebook

Although Facebook updates get the most engagement on Tuesdays, brands posted the majority of their content to the social network on Fridays. As a result, the deluge of Friday updates had created what Warnock calls “messaging madness.”

“Too much happens on Friday,” he said.

The second-busiest day among brands on Facebook was Wednesday, followed by Thursday and Tuesday. The least busy days were Saturday and Sunday.

This chart shows how often brands updated Facebook on specific days, as well as the level of engagement they garnered:

Updates between 10 p.m. and midnight Eastern Time were “an engagement gold mine,” according to the study. The likely reason, the study noted, is because many of these brands are popular with college students, who are often awake and online during these hours. For the most part, brands in this study were not taking advantage of this time slot.

Meanwhile, 1 a.m. to 4 a.m. ET was the least-engaging time on Facebook.

The most common time to update Facebook among the brands studied was from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. ET.

In terms of frequency, the five most-engaging brands studied—Ann Taylor, Limited, Ralph Lauren, Eddie Bauer, and Banana Republic—posted Facebook updates 20 to 32 times per month. The five least-engaging brands averaged 54 updates per month.

The most-engaging content included pictures and videos. Sharing links in status updates is seeing declining rates of engagement, the study noted.

Twitter

On Twitter, meanwhile, the days when brands saw the most retweets were Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (with little difference among them), yet 20 percent of tweets are sent on Fridays, which is the least-engaging day, according to the study.

Most tweets were sent during regular working hours, even though the most-engaging time is during early morning hours, from 5 a.m. to 6 a.m. ET, and 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. ET.

The five most-engaging brands tweeted 45 to 70 times per month, whereas the five least-engaging brands averaged 95 to 115 tweets per month, according to the study.

YouTube

Posting a video to YouTube on Monday will garner the most engagement, according to the study. Tuesday is the second-most-engaging day for YouTube videos. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, most videos are uploaded on Fridays and Thursdays. Few videos go live on YouTube on Saturday, even though the study shows strong engagement occurs that day.

As for time of day, 68 percent of YouTube videos were uploaded from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. ET, whereas—and this is surprising—the 2 a.m. to 3 a.m. ET time slot saw the most engagement. From 6 a.m. to 7 a.m. ET is the second-most-engaging time for YouTube videos in this study.

A key finding for brands on YouTube is that the length of a video is pivotal.

According the study, 33 percent of the top-performing YouTube videos were less than 30 seconds long; 28 percent ran 60 to 90 seconds; 17 percent were 120 to 180 seconds long; 11 percent lasted longer than 180 seconds; fewer than 10 percent ran 90 to 120 seconds.

Across all three platforms, email campaigns can help boost engagement, according to the study.

(Image via)

They don’t want to hear it!!!

I am one of the most talkative people in the world. I mean, I can ramble. Like seriously, I can go on and on and on and on…..see? Somewhat kidding. Anyway, this was found at Pro PR Tips:

Tip #98: Make it snappy, Sweetheart

Emailing a pitch? Put your company or product name in your first paragraph. Better yet, first sentence. Best: first word. I’m not reading to the end of your pitch regardless, so why take chances?

Olivia says, “Short and sweet. What great advice!!!”