Launching “How I Made It”

Yesterday I launched a new series for my job (job? yes–I have a job! more on it later—I’m too busy working). It is called “How I Made It” and it profiles Black women who have made it in the fashion and beauty industry. Our first episode features Mikki Taylor, former Beauty & Cover Editor for ESSENCE Magazine. Mikki is a pretty awesome lady. Shooting this was the first time I have experienced her in the flesh, and I enjoyed every minute of it!

This is the third series I’ve launched for the job so far. Each project is special to me for one reason or another, and every new series is my new favorite. I am pretty proud of this piece, which is saying a lot–I am hardly ever proud of my work for longer than 10 seconds immediately following launching. The team I put together to pull all of this off was amazing. From the makeup artist to the motion graphics team to the director, editor and DP, to the producer, the musician who created the music and of course our regular staff who had lots of input. I think this may have been the first piece we’ve done that I couldn’t stop watching over and over again. I think my favorite part of this whole thing is I got it done right under budget, ha!

I really enjoy producing video content for the web. It’s happening for me really quickly, but being able to tell visual stories that you can’t find in mainstream media–especially those about and for Black people is kinda….cool. I am loving the opportunity to be able to do this.

Watch the video below. Continue reading “Launching “How I Made It””

Branding Myself Without Losing Myself

Personal Branding
Getting personal with branding

In case you didn’t notice, I am in the middle of a redesign or reorganization of my blog.

After a year or more of collecting dust with a very lazily-modified Thesis theme (basically, I just changed the link colors), I decided I needed to make my website a little bit more personal. So, this is a work in progress. I might fire up Ye Olde Photoshoppe and design a header graphic one of these days. I may add some other icons or graphics here and there. I may leave it alone. We’ll see. What I’ve done so far is a result of a few hours of work late Saturday night while chair dancing to my Keri Hilson Pandora channel. (No, I don’t want to hear your judgements.) Besides, who knows when I’ll have free time again, given my exhaustive social calendar?

Feeling Dirty

I often struggle with branding myself online. It’s not that I don’t know what to do. I know what to do–I do it for my clients all the time. It’s just that I don’t want to do it for myself. Marketing myself makes me feel dirty. I feel at odds about there being a gigantic photo of myself in my sidebar. But I know something like that needs to be there.  Even though that photo is somewhat old, it’s the only one I have of myself looking sincerely into the camera (pro-tip: eye contact builds trust with the viewer). So, up it goes until I find a new photo to replace it.

Writing my bios (short and long form) are a gruesome process for me. I have no problems writing copy for clients about themselves, their business or product. Solving these problems for my clients are always so obvious, and come naturally and easily. But for me? The negative self-talk overwhelms the sane strategic advice I use with clients. Perhaps this is because I struggle between wanting to be something society thinks I should be (typical American Rat Race at work), and being my authentic self.

That sidebar bio? It originally began with something dry and generic. I hate the idea of my job defining who I am as a person. I am so much more than a job title, self-employed or not. Yet, my bio statement opened up with what I do for a living. So, I flipped it. The revised statement is a nod to Romy and Michelle, and guess what? It’s sarcastic. But, I’m sarcastic.

The Future of My Blog

Recently I completed some blog re-organizing and SEO work for a client, BrothaTech. I had an exhaustive checklist of things I knew I needed to fix  on his blog, and I gave him a list of things to do. After checking my list twice and reviewing my completed work, I realized I don’t do half of these things on my blog. Not even close. Basic SEO strategies were being ignored. Advanced strategies as well. Meanwhile, this place is collecting dust, and my tumblr has surpassed my main blog in traffic. That’s when my wheels started turning.

One thing I’ve struggled with this blog is the idea of turning it into my “business” blog where all I do is write about tech. I love tech. I love being a nerd. But that’s not all I am. I like to travel. I like writing. I like media and entertainment. I love documenting and sharing. The idea of turning a site named after me into a blog solely about tech and social media feels like a disservice to who I am. Everyone else does it, but I can’t. It’s not me. I considered opening a new blog, and writing only about tech over there. I thought this was a good idea because then I could be a “founder” of a dotcom, since I see people being listed as founders of dotcoms. But these dotcoms are typically basic blogs (dusty ones, if you ask me). Anyway, I decided against that. I don’t want to segment myself and my audience. The title isn’t worth it, and I think this approach is somewhat obnoxious (for me).

I found a solution. Write about everything I love, and be my authentic self. Here. I’ll have a business site for business/portfolio purposes I can refer people to if I have to. But everything can coexist here, with some fancy organizing. I’ll make re-organizing my content a priority over design tasks, and I’ll work towards pumping out content regularly here. After all, being and writing as my authentic self is what brought me my original clients years ago when I had no idea what being a new media consultant was or would entail.

Hope you can keep up.

So. What Are You Doing With Your Life?

I’ve been pretty quiet for the last 3 months or so because I am trying to figure out what is going on with my life. I know, I’m deep with these blog thoughts on a Friday morning, right? The truth is, I often ask one of my best friends what she’s doing with her life because I know she will ask me the same thing. It’s a little game we play because we know we don’t have the answers. Sure, we have our MIT degrees/USC masters degrees (we met in undergrad then I followed her to USC), a career (that we love or hate, depending on the day of the week), money in the bank and a roof over our heads. But it seems like there would be more to life by the time we reached this age. I remember when I was 18, I couldn’t wait to be 28 because 28 was going to be the best time ever. It’s not. It’s…confusing.

It’s not that I am growing tired of new media consulting, but I am feeling less like everything is working together, and that gives me reason to reevaluate what’s really good. Maybe it’s my projects. Maybe it’s me. Maybe I am fatigued. The moves I’ve made in the past all felt right because things happened so effortlessly. Getting started in new media consulting? Came out of thin air, and happened easily for me. Same goes for my work with startups. I used to be afraid to move into the next phase of my career because I grew comfortable with the previous phase. But now? I can’t wait to move into the next phase of my career….if only I knew what that phase is supposed to be. Getting new clients has been a strain, to the point where I imposed a moratorium on actively finding new clients. Instead I am focusing on building out my portfolio/company site, and taking projects that are being directly referred to me.

So, I’ll tell ya what I’m gonna do. I came up with two ideas to shake things up, and hopefully something will shake out and point me in the direction of my next frontier: 1) I am going to take it back to basics and 2) I am going to devise and execute a Before 30 List.

Back to Basics

I came into this game coding and designing in my free time. I wasn’t the best designer ever, but I have a natural eye for design, which has helped me greatly as a consultant. However, I feel like I’ve gone soft. When’s the last time I designed something complex, all by myself, from start to finish? I can’t remember. I was digging through my portfolio the other day and it’s so dated. The most recent thing I have in there is probably from 2007? Sheesh. That’s dog years in Internets time. I am going to be doing more hands on things, to get myself more inspired and to keep my skills sharp.

I am also going to do more coding. That means getting back in the swing of things with CSS/HTML (and really figure out what the heck CSS3 and HTML5 are really about), and learning some advanced PHP/MySQL and Ruby on Rails. I know enough PHP to make my life easier, but not enough to build something on the fly, should I come up with a genius idea. I’m beginning to feel like a lazy coder (hence this very out-of-the-box blog design I have going on here). Also, WordPress has grown leaps and bounds since I last attempted to hack a very customized site, so I am getting back into things by reading WP documentation and my favorite design/code blogs.

The Before 30 List

I am going to be turning 30 in a little over a year. Where did the time go? I’ll tell you what I did during most of my 20s: told myself I couldn’t do XYZ for ABC reasons. So many things from getting healthier, to writing a book, to traveling to another country alone, and everything in between. I know you may think I’m superawesome (obviously), but I doubt myself all the time, and let fear get the best of me more often than it should. I figure I only have my 20s for one more year, I might as well knock out my biggest fears of the last decade so I can say at least I tried. No regrets. And hopefully, this means I’ll enter my 30s with a bang, no? My first project needs to be completed at the end of June, so I hope to be able to check into my blog at the end of next month to report Mission Accomplished!

Some Other Methods on the Hush

Aside from going back to basics and working on my Before 30 List, I have some other things in the works to help jumpstart some enthusiasm into the next phase of life. I took a part-time(ish) position with a startup here in NYC. I’m learning a lot, but hopefully doing a lot as well. I’m also actively working on a few projects and getting them developed and mature. Tres exciting. I don’t think I’ve been using NYC as a resource as much as I could be, so I am working on that too. I have a list of people I want to network/meet up with, events I want to go to and I am beginning to branch out and connect with people in the City.

Other than that, I am trying to address my fears by thinking about them in more concrete ways, so I can eliminate them. This e-book, called fear.less helped put some things in perspective for me. The last story in there by Danielle LaPorte was especially great for entrepreneurs.

So. What are you doing with your life? And how are you planning to get to the next phase?

Dusting this thing off

I know it’s been a while since I last blogged, especially regularly. Most of that has to do with my bright idea that I would wait for the new Movable Type 5 to be released so I could have an excuse to migrate my blog to a new directory (which I did) and set up a new installation of MT. My old installation appeared to be moving pretty slow, and I just wasn’t happy with everything. Anyway, pardon my dust. I did some mod_rewrites of my old URLs, so hopefully everything should be in order. I still have some things to add to the site, but I will fix those later today.

As for me, I literally spent two months in LA (mid Nov – mid Jan) because I was hiding from the weather. I cannot stress how much I do not like snow. I’ve been back in NYC for a week now, and so far we are in the extremely warm (for winter) temps of the mid-40s. Break out the tank tops and shorts. Never one to stick around for possible snow happenings, I am on my way back to LA this weekend for some fun in the sun, medical appointments, and hopefully a week or so in San Francisco with one of my best girlfriends from college. Yes, running your own business online affords you the comfort of last minute, flexible (and cheap) flying, as well as the opportunity to work from anywhere with an internet connection.

I have some exciting things coming up, which I will be writing about later on this week (or later today). More, soon…