Happy Thanksgiving From Shadowbend Studios

Happy Thanksgiving From Shadowbend Studios

Good morning Clients and Friends of Shadowbend Studios.

Yes, I know it’s Thanksgiving morning.  Yes, I know I shouldn’t be working.

However!  I’m so very thankful and grateful for all of the upcoming changes happening here at the studio that I just wanted to take to my blog before I start my holiday and let you all know that I am extraordinarily thankful to have such an amazing tribe of past clients, existing clients and friends!  It makes stepping into the studio every morning that much better!

So, from all of us here at Shadowbend Studios, we would like to wish all of you a very joyous Thanksgiving filled with contentment, happiness, family and joy.

See you tomorrow for a big surprise! 🙂

Take care,
Skip

Shadowbend Studios’ Client Showcase

Shadowbend Studios Weekly Client Showcase…

Web Design Development Client Showcase

“A PERFECT PLACE”

I have known Wyletta over at “A Perfect Place” for almost 5 years now I have have to say I’ve never seen her without a smile on her face or a lovely “Hi Darlin'” greeting.  Wyletta has been a joy to work with and I am very happy to be able to have the opportunity to share her website with a greater audience.

From the “A Perfect Place” home page:
“Wyletta’s A Perfect Place is Danville’s most soothing spot for massage & bodywork services. Wyletta offers an array of modalities which will send you on an hour’s “vacation”, soothe the soul and ease your stress.

“An Individualized Experience”

By focusing on each person, she sees more than just stress and muscles. Wyletta makes it a point to get to know you so she can give you exactly what you really need and expect from each visit. Wyletta has a variety of techniques and skills to choose from that will improve your quality of life.

Visit Wyletta in Danville, California, for the finest in relaxation massage or pain relief bodywork.”

http://www.aperfectplaceforyou.net/index.html

Four Online Tips for Offline Companies

webdesign_best_practicesWe live in an age when many companies have an online-only presence. “But for most enterprises, a website serves a slightly different purpose—augmenting an already well-established business that conducts the lion’s share of its merchandising offline,” writes Bill Post at MarketingProfs. These brick-and-mortar companies often struggle to adapt their messaging for an online audience, and their sometimes-clumsy web presence might actually hinder the image they want to project.

To avoid that fate, Post has this advice:

1. Maintain a consistent look and feel. “When customers look at your website,” he notes, “it should be crystal clear to them that they are ‘entering’ the online establishment of [a business with which] they are already at least somewhat familiar.” In other words, use the same logos, fonts, colors and lingo that they encounter in your store.

2. Make clear what you provide. Don’t take for granted that an online visitor will instantly understand what your company does—instead, assume they’ve never heard of you. Describe your business, list your top products and services and provide links to in-depth descriptions, an FAQ page and a page with contact information.

3. Show visitors the faces behind your URL. “Let your customers know all about your team, your staff, your management, and even your pets,” he suggests. “Don’t be afraid to include pictures.”

4. Don’t let your website get stale. If your homepage still trumpets an event or sale from 2010, a visitor will know she has just entered an online ghost town. So keep your site—both content and technology—up-to-date.

Build online business for your offline company by making your website an obvious extension of your brand.

Source: MarketingProfs enewsletter.

Three Rules for Ideation Suceess

Brainstorming TipsHow often do you gather your team for a day of brainstorming? Jeff Hirsch calls these freewheeling powwows “ideation sessions,” and they might just produce an idea that leads to your company’s next great feature, product or service. “You’re in the moment, sparks are flying, your brain’s going a mile a minute,” he notes at MarketingProfs. “The friendly competition from a diverse range of bright, talented colleagues stimulates original ideas that you never thought you could have.”

If you want to get the most from an ideation session, Hirsch recommends rules like these:

  • Jump right in. Lengthy preambles and presentations will kill the energetic buzz you’ve stoked with a buffet table of caffeine and carbs. “Say hello, state the target problem in one sentence, and then start with a crazy creative exercise,” he says.
  • Bring in a few ringers. Hirsch likes to recruit creative non-marketers—e.g. actors, musicians, writers and artists—who keep the conversation going during natural lulls. “They might not know ‘the business,'” he allows, “but they do understand, intuitively, how to communicate and connect with people.” The outside perspective can also challenge your company’s usual way of thinking.
  • Give concepts the benefit of the doubt. Some ideas might grow on you; some might lose their appeal in the light of day. “So if there’s even just an inkling of something you like about an idea, keep it around for a while,” he suggests.

The best ideas happen when you create a conducive brainstorming environment and give them a chance to develop.

Source: MarketingProfs email newsletter.

Five Tips for Creating Emails That Subscribers Want to Share

Email Customers Want To ShareWhen email subscribers share and discuss your content with friends and social networks, they start to sound like insiders. “Others will want to be insiders, too,” says Stephanie Miller at MarketingProfs’ Daily Fix blog. As a result, your list will grow—and so will your reach. “Customer-instigated sharing acts as a force multiplier that can significantly ratchet up the effectiveness of an email marketing campaign,” she explains.

So how do you optimize an email campaign for social sharing? Miller offers advice like this:

Identify which social media channels produce the most conversions. You’ll likely find most of your customers clustered in three or four services and networks; focus your efforts there.

Cozy up to influential brand advocates. They already like your product or service; heighten their enthusiasm with special treatment that acknowledges their status.

Learn from the offers that go viral. These days, consumers “expect and share only the most daring of offers,” Miller notes. Pay attention to the traits that seem to seize their interest.

Make sharing and registration easy. Remove any obstacles that prevent a subscriber from sharing your content and discouraging friends from signing up for your email campaigns.

Play by the rules. “Brands that overstep, spam and/or fail to disclose their intentions risk customer backlash,” says Miller. Bad behavior is a great way to generate negative social media buzz for your product or service—exactly what you don’t want.

Make it worth their WOM. Increase your reach and effectiveness by enhancing your email strategy with a social-sharing strategy.

Source: Marketing Profs Newsletter.

Are You A Micro-Entrepreneur?

As someone who left his corporate job for many of the reasons listed… this article REALLY resonated with me!  Enjoy.

The Rise Of The Micro-Entrepreneurship Economy

(by Jamie Wong on FastCoexist.com)

Years ago, Russell Howze was working as a creative at an advertising agency in Atlanta when he got laid off due to budget cuts. He then spent years piecing together work through various corporate jobs, until he decided to follow his heart. He founded a nonprofit organization for artists, and now supplements his income running street art tours through Vayable, the company I founded, in his extra time.

The first part of this story is one that has come to define the reality of so many in the wake of the recession. But the second part–where the discontented worker leaves behind the “security” of a corporate job in favor of his or her passions–is a new and growing behavior in post-industrial countries, particularly in the United States, Europe, and Australia.

The media has named the growing trend toward micro-entrepreneurship “the Rise of the Creative Class,” “the Gig Life,” or “the freelance economy.” All of those refer to the nearly 4.1 million workers (that’s 14 out of every 100 workers) who were self-employed this past year, according to the Office for National Statistics, and millions of others currently supplement their income with freelance work. While the trend has been spotted before, there’s one stark difference between micro-entrepreneurs today and the “Free Agent Nation” citizens of the late ’90s: technology.

Data on self-employment and freelance is limited because labor reporting has yet to adapt, but one indisputable metric is the rise of micro-entrepreneurship platforms and its contribution to a Do-it-Yourself Economy. During the past year, startups such as Airbnb (vacation rentals), Taskrabbit (home services), Uber (car service), and Etsy (handmade goods), have catapulted from niche use to household names. And a handful of newbies including Skillshare (education), LooseCubes (co-working), Getaround (cars), RelayRides (cars) and my company, Vayable (tours and activities), are also growing month over month.

What defines this new economy is that it’s built on the empowerment of individuals and the technology that enables this. It’s allowing individuals to create their own jobs. It’s a celebration of life and time, and a shift in perspective of money. Technology now provides an opportunity for people anywhere in the world to monetize their passions. And it’s not just the artists and under-employed flocking to these platforms, but professionals who seek a higher quality of life, greater flexibility, and more time with their families.

There are five main reasons that I think make micro-entrepeneurship so appealing:

  1. Flexibility: The ability to focus on what’s important (family, health, self-care) is not only about have having more time, but also about having more flexibility in your schedule.
  2. Following your heart: The opportunity to spend more time doing what you love.
  3. Making money: Being able to cash in on the goods, knowledge, places, skills and passions that people already have.
  4. Enrichment: Many people, especially those who have been in the workforce for a long time, are looking for new, sustainable ways to enrich their knowledge, skills and experience in life. Those who are retired or unable to work full-time love an alternative way to stay active.
  5. Creativity: Being your own boss means being the visionary behind your own business, rather than merely following marching orders.

The value proposition of self-employment is so compelling that it’s precisely what drove the corporates-gone-creatives entrepreneurs behind the aforementioned companies to empower others to strike out on their own, while providing a business structure, resources, and guidance through the platforms that are otherwise unavailable to the self-employed trying to do it solo.

But of course, as in every economy, the growth and survival of micro-entrepreneurship will be determined by the market. Do customers have a palate for the smaller, more custom, and unique experiences that these platforms offer? So far, the verdict is a strong yes.

As our appetite for labor swings away from the corporate culture and structure, so does our taste in buying. Customers use micro-entrepreneurship platforms for many of the same reasons that the entrepreneurs themselves do:

  1. Price: Buying from individuals on these platforms often means getting a much better deal than buying from a large company or professional service.
  2. Flexibility: Customers crave greater personalization and customization in goods and services than ever before. They want to choose when they get it, how, and for how much. These platforms accommodate individual needs much more than old ways of buying.
  3. Ease of use: One of the top reasons people like these platforms is because they make it easy to search, find, and purchase exactly what you’re looking for in once place. And user-friendly design makes all of these platforms easier to use than many e-commerce sites.
  4. Authenticity: Buying directly from the individual artist, homeowner, painter, or food enthusiast often provides greater quality and the confidence that you’re getting the real deal.
  5. Unique experience: Transportation, accommodation, getting groceries, and visiting local sites are no longer commodities but memorable, enriching experiences that last forever.
  6. It’s good for the world: Responsible commerce is important to a growing number of consumers, and with these platforms they have the satisfaction of knowing that money goes back to small business owners and the local community, thereby fueling the economy and reducing waste.

Certainly the move away from the 9 to 5 and toward self-employment invokes a host of ideological, political, and social enthusiasm that have helped give rise to a movement. The Occupy Movement and a growing mistrust in government further swells the fervor around a new economy, amplifying the message that change is imminent and necessary. But the reason micro-entrepreneurship platforms are growing in size and variation is because it’s an economic imperative.

This new freedom economy is working because it’s good for economic growth, and it’s growing because it can lead to better lives. But this technological revolution that enables greater autonomy and flexibility will also require a humane infrastructure to survive.

What’s necessary to make a DIY economy work:

Trust: Trust in big business has been on the decline, but the collapse of the financial sector may have been the final straw for many (especially those who lost their jobs). As we shape the freelance economy, building and maintaining trust between buyers and sellers is critical to the success of its growth.

Collaboration: Even employees of large companies cannot always depend on them to provide for benefits, quality of life, and ensure that basic needs are met. Instead, we rely on each other, on our community. As the DIY economy grows, we will need to work with government to ensure that policy and practices take basic needs such as health care, disability, and retirement into consideration

Accountability: New forms of accountability are required, instead of outdated accreditations, licenses, degrees, and other credentials that are increasingly losing relevance. People will accredit one another through reviews, repeat business, and other forms of reputation tracking and social buying.

Security: Both online security (secure payments, personal information) as well as offline safety are imperative to empower the growth of micro-entrepreneurship.

Technology: This is really at the heart of the freelance economy. Continuing to fuel technological innovation and creative application of technologies is the most important thing for future growth and sustainability.

New companies that empower individuals to become micro-entrepreneurs not only stimulate the economy by creating new revenue streams and disrupting outdated models of business, but provide individuals access to more fulfilling, rewarding, and authentic lives. As my late grandmother used to say: “Life is how you spend your time.”

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