Category Archives: The Etiquette Shop

Content: Curators, Creators & Stealers

ContentCreation

I have a confession: Every time I sit down to write about my business, my clients, and what I’m lucky enough to be able to do for a living, I find myself repeating the same thing my clients do when it comes to creating their own digital content– “But I just don’t know what to say!” Whether it’s for Twitter, Instagram, or your blog, online sharing can feel like a daunting, time-consuming task  But– da da da!–  I’m here to help!  Today, let’s talk about Content Curators, Creators, and Stealers and then you can tell me which one you want to be!

CurateContent

one  //  two  //  three

Curators: Remember when you were little and you’d say to someone “I love vanilla ice cream” and then they’d say, “I love vanilla ice cream, too!” and then you’d become best friends?  Even though we’re adults now, the world is still this simple and we’re still attracted to people who like the same things we do. Lucky for us, the internet is full of gems on just about everything and anything you could possibly enjoy, so if you’re a digital treasure-hunter, creating a space and plan to curate these findings may be an ideal form of content generation and sharing for you and your business.

My suggestions for Curators is to start a bookmark folder or Pinterest board (keep it secret if you’d like) to organise on-brand, sharable content.  When you have free time or need a break from another task, write posts for this content and use what you’re sharing as a frame for your own story and work. Wherever you choose to share, make sure the content you’re curating is on-brand, accompanied by text that explains why you’re sharing it, and is properly sited. Sharing is caring, after all!

Some of my favourite Digital Curators: The Fox is Black, Andrew Sullivan, & Jay Parkinson

CreateContent


Creators:
Many creators will have a very clear idea of how they want their content to look, sound, and feel and will therefore choose to create it themselves.  They’ll have an aesthetic and model that they conform to and the ability to shape their own experiences to tell a larger story. A talented Content Creator can turn a photo of their flat white into a story about their love for local businesses, an anecdote about client meetings, or an account of their morning routine, and in so doing will attract other like-minded partners and customers to them.

A tip I like to give to Content Creators is to always push yourself to experiment with what and how you share. You don’t want anyone to get bored– least of all yourself!– so focus your content on moving forward and staying creative. An entire blog composed of posts sharing “5 Tips for Businesses to Fill-in-the-Blank!” will become stale  quickly, so try to offer a varied mixture of engaging– and sometimes surprising–  content.

If you’re just starting out, don’t be discouraged if all the pieces aren’t coming together perfectly right away; remember that practice makes perfect, even when it comes to sharing!

A few of my favourite Content Creators: Tales of Endearment, And Kathleen, Park & Cube, & Kate Miss.

Curate+Create


Whoa, hold on a minute, what if you want to be both a Creator and a Curator
?! 
Great question and good news– you can be!  An ideal digital content strategy will include curating and creating.  Create on-brand, unique content to tell your customers about what you do, how to hire you, where to buy your products, and why your services are valuable. In addition to that, curate engaging/inspiring/interesting content that will make your customers say YEAH!

For instance, let’s pretend that you have a store and maintain a blog to help you sell your products.  Two or three times a week, you may want to curate content that you and your customers will identify with to keep a dialogue going and reinforce just how impeccable your taste is. This content could be a Spotify playlist, a photoshoot in a magazine, or an article you found inspiring.  In addition to this, you may want to create and share photos of new products and exciting updates about what’s going on in the store.  Mixing the two types of content works incredibly well and creates a robust strategy. If you decide to try this and need a model to follow, look no further than one of my favourite brands, Huckberry.  They’re so cool and Kings of Content Creation.

Stealers: Stealing is wrong, we all know that, and yet so many people feel comfortable stealing the work of others to promote themselves and their businesses online.  This is not okay.

But at the same time, I get it. Finding time to responsibly source content, edit it, and say something genuine about it can be time-consuming. Plus, it’s not something that comes naturally to many people. Luckily, there is help.

If you’re someone who feels they could use some guidance in setting up a digital content strategy, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me at kate(at)ladykatherinesims.com. I’d love to help you shape your content, tell your story, and grow your business. Aaaaaand, it just so happens that now through November 15th, I’m offering complimentary 30-minute Skype consultations with potential new clients.  Email me, tell me what you do, and then let’s chat about what you can share and how you can share it. It’ll be really fun! Promise.

Things I Believe About Open Hearts & Open Minds

sadtimes

#Sadtimes
There isn’t a Tuesday With Vous today, again.  Maybe this project is turning into a failure (oh, that word!, it makes me sad) or maybe I just need to reassess my expectations and re-think the turn-around time for contributors.  Probably the latter.  No, definitely the latter.  Either way, I’m sorry for letting you down.

That being said, my lovely contributor and friend who was scheduled to post today is simply having one of those days.  You know, one of those days where everything at work feels really urgent and you hardly have time to refill your coffee cup, much less send Kate Sims an email full of Tuesday snapshots.  So, I get it.  I’m bummed, but life happens, so please bear with me and I will post the photos when I have them later in the week.

#Happytimes
This lack of a TWV allows me to tell you about my goal for May today, at the very beginning of the month, so really it’s quite serendipitous the way this has unfolded.  As some of you may have noticed, I’m not always great about taking my own business advice. I mean, I love coming up with creative and authentic ways for my clients to toot their own horns, but when it comes to my own self-promotion, I’m kind of shy.  Even silly things like sending an email to an acquaintence I’d like to have coffee with or leaving a comment on a blog whose author I’m totally girl-crushing on can leave my fingers a little tongue-tied.  No bueno, so this month, I’m going to reach out in a way that scares me every. single. day.

How?  Well, I’m going to send emails to people I admire, I’m going to contact dream clients, and pick the brains of my peers.  I’m going to be bold and stop worrying about the whats and the ifs.  I believe that open hearts open doors and open minds are keen to grow but I also believe that we often have to take the first step to develop opportunities, that we have to reach for what we want.  I believe this is true in all aspects of life– our careers, love lives, spirituality and friendships are all contingent on the fact that we reach out and connect, engage, grow.

I’m not one to subscribe to the idea that ‘If you build it, they will come,’ instead, I believe that we need to build it, promote the hell out of it, and then, if we’re genuine and enthusiastic, if we have something valuable to offer, maybe they will come.  And that promoting, that connecting, it can be scary.  But it can be a lot of fun, too, and I’m excited to see where it leads. xx

The Power of Social

ThePowerOfSocial

I’ve been really thankful for social media this week, and not just because I get paid to help small businesses excel at it.  Sure, our social feeds sometimes feel over saturated with iPhone photos of lattes, unimaginative promoted content, or memes, but the times that these platforms allow us to organise, educate, and meaningfully connect with one another far outweigh any of the grievances I’ve heard from people opposing their use.

On Monday, I learned about the explosions at the Boston Marathon the same way I’ve learned about most major news events in the past five years, through Twitter.  Moments after the bombs went off, my social feeds were full of photos and updates from people near the tragedy.  With my heart in my throat, I read Facebook updates from friends assuring their loved ones that they were shaken, but safe.  I kept a close eye on Twitter for updates from my favourite news agencies and scrolled through eye-witness images in real-time on Instagram.  It was harrowing and it was powerful and it made me realise how truly lucky we are to live in such a connected world.

In addition to the marathon news, since Monday, I’ve learned about the earthquake on the border of Pakistan and Iran, the fertiliser plant explosion near Waco, Texas, and the touching applause at Thatcher’s funeral, all through social media.  I’ve also learned that The Mount Edgcumbe has a delicious-looking burger on their menu this week, that someone has re-invented the wheel, and that David Sedaris advocates for one of my favourite writing tips AND has a new collection of essays out soon.  All this information has been unsolicited but illuminating and I’m pleased to be aware of it.

For the nay-sayers out there, sure, social media can be trivial, and sometimes it takes a lot of work to cut through the b.s. and create a meaningful connection.  But when it does, social can be powerful, too, and this week, I’m extra thankful for the ability to carry my friends, my favourite informants and my go-to web curators easily in my pocket.  This week, I’m especially thankful for social.

Photo of my phone displaying Justin Erswell’s latte from Basil, shared via Instagram on Tuesday.  You may remember Justin as my tech shaman and you can look forward to seeing more from him in the next couple weeks.

Making Fetch Happen

Google+Plus

Okay, so.  Lately, I’ve been hanging out on Google+ and you know what, you guys?  It’s totally the future.  Facebook?  Too cluttered, unorganised, and self-involved (Facebook Home– you’ve got to be joking).  Twitter?  I love Twitter, but what it gains in brevity is lost in the way of visual interest.  Google+ is the best of both worlds (plus more).  It allows you to share ideas both big and small, pair your text with beautifully formatted photos, and easily network with others.

After hanging out on Google+ for the last couple days (you can find me here) and learning lots and lots, I’m ready to declare it the way of the future.  Why?  Because:

  • Circles! Organise your circles however you like, name them what you want (nobody sees them but  you), and easily share information with the people who will actually find it interesting.  Want to share your engagement photos?  Share with your Close Friends & Family circle.  Want to share an article on astrophysics?  Share it with your Geek circle.  FUN!
  • Follow Strangers! Like Twitter, you can choose to follow whomever you please.  This allows you to connect with people from all over the world, regardless of whether or not they’re in your network. Take advantage of this feature and follow brands, artists and movers-and-shakers that you’re genuinely interested in learning from and engaging with.  Then, do exactly that: learn from them, engage them, and build digital relationships.
  • Google+ App!  It’s sleek, it’s easy, it’s awesome.
  • Be Found on Google!  Posting to Google+ can boost your Google search rankings and better lead searchers directly to your content.  For anyone with an idea to sell, this is huge.
  • Communities!  Find your tribe, beat your drum, be with your people.

I know, I know. You’re all like, “Gretchen, stop trying to make fetch happen. It’s not going to happen.”  Except that it is happening.  Still don’t believe me?  Check out these great articles by people who know what’s up and let them convince you.  And then set up your profile and circle me in– providing I’m not in the Geek circle, of course…

  • David Masters tells you how to create a great profile, organise your circles, and connect with others
  • Mark McGuinness shares 4 reasons why creatives (or anyone with an idea to sell) should be using Google+

Things I Believe About the Work / Life Balance

Run+Your+Business+Don't+Let+It+Run+You

In the last four years, I’ve learned a lot about how I work, how I want to work, and how I play.  And now that I’m freelance, the difference between my time on the clock and time off has become a little bit blurry (all you freelancers and small business owners out there, I know you feel me).  To ensure I maintain a healthy work/life balance, I’ve created a few guidelines to keep myself on track and help me run my business without feeling like I’m being run by my business.  These are principles I believe in and am constantly reminding myself of.  I find them helpful and I hope you will, too.

  1. If you want others to respect your time, you need to respect your time.   When you’re at the helm of your business, its success relies on you, and it’s all too easy to cave into the pressure or doing everything for everyone– everyone except yourself.  Luckily, it’s pretty easy to give your personal life the TLC it needs; all you need to do is declare when you’re unavailable, and then disappear (for real, put the phone down!).  If you’re like me and don’t believe in answering emails on the weekend, let your clients know.  If you take a yoga class in the mornings or take Fridays off in the summer, let people know.  And when they call on a Friday, don’t answer.  You’ll be surprised by how often the world will wait for you.  You’ll also be surprised by how nice it feels to take the time to focus on yourself.

  2. Manage expectations.  Like all relationships, the key to a successful business relationship is to manage expectations.  Tell your clients when you’ll deliver the goods and then do it.  Be realistic about what and when you’ll deliver and you’ll never let your clients down.  Similarly, tell people when you need things from them and hold them accountable.  This will help you feel in control of your business relationships and allow you to produce better work on time and with minimal stress.

  3. Say yes. I say yes to many opportunities that come my way.  You want me to give a talk about social media at your networking event?  Okay!  You want me to snap some photos for an article you’re writing?  Absolutely!  You want me to be a brand ambassador for your clothing line?  Great, tell me more!  Be open to new experiences, new projects, and new adventures, they can lead to fantastic places.

  4. But say no, too.  As it sometimes goes when you jump at a new opportunity, you realize the initial offer was a lot sweeter than the nitty gritty details.  Perhaps the payment you’re being offered for the set of photos will be “a link in the article” when the guy writing the article is being paid with, you know, real money.  Or maybe the brand you’ll be representing struggles to email you back in a timely manner which makes you question whether they can actually deliver the important things, like inventory.  In these situations where the integrity of your work is being negatively effected, your standards are not being met, and you’re compromising and feeling uneasy, by all means say NO.  It will be difficult, but it’ll be so much better for you in the long run.  Trust.

  5. Remember, everyone is busy.  When you’re feeling under pressure and need something done, it’s all too easy to send a frantic email and ask for it Now, right now!  But, before you hit send, ask yourself how you’d feel receiving that email.  Remember, all of us are busy.  We all have lives, worries, goals, and external pressures.  In these moments of stress, take a deep breath and remember to be respectful of others and their time.  Especially if you want them to be respectful of yours.

So here’s what I’m proposing: Let’s create a positive feedback loop of mutual respect and consideration so we can all create comfortable and happy work environments.  I don’t care if you’re a freelancer, start-up entrepreneur, CEO or secretary, let’s be open with our communication, honest and respectful.  Who’s with me?

>>> If you want some extra organisation tips for running your business, check out these 8 Gmail Features You Should Be Using by Jessica Sutton.  I’m a huge fan of Boomerang, which is perfect for sending 12:30 AM emails at 10:00AM, instead.

‘Appy ‘appy joy joy!

Are+You+AppyThis is Justin.  (Hi, Justin.) Justin is my tech shaman and the man I go running to when my MacBook/iPhone/iMac has a problem.  I also call (or Zello) him when I need help with WordPress or can’t figure out why the $*!@ my photos aren’t uploading properly!!!  No matter what the situation, Justin makes it better.  He also makes apps with Create DM and is always telling me about the next app that will totally. change. my. life.  As such, I asked him to share some of his favourite apps with you guys.  Again, he delivered.  Enjoy!
                                                                                                                                                           

As a developer of mobile apps, I get asked regularly “What are your top ten apps?”  I always reply that it’s a difficult question to answer as I download a large number of apps for testing, research and fun every day. Consider the following… there are currently somewhere in the region of 1,000,000 apps available in just the Apple app store alone, so picking just ten really is a brain teaser.

Therefore, my method for this post is to write about the ten apps I use the most. Now, before reading further, there is an app on this list that I was involved in building.  While this could be misconstrued as bias, I want you to know that I use this app all the time for its purpose and I’m really proud of it.  So there’s that.  Let’s begin.

Tweetbot for iPhone 1. Tweetbot – I haven’t always been a Twitter fan but the more I use it, the more I like it.  That being said, the native Twitter client on iPhone, although good, isn’t the best experience that can be had, so I use Tweetbot made by Tapbots. This app allows me to manage and interact with Twitter in a way that is engaging and fun, has a really good range of features and a lovely user interface, too. It is £1.99 from the Apple App store - Tweetbot for Twitter (iPhone & iPod touch) – Tapbots

Path for iPhone2. Path – There are two words for this app, Beautiful and Exclusive. Path was built as the antidote to social networks– okay, that’s a little unfair but I like to think of it that way. Path is a members-only social network where you only interact with friends that you want to interact with. Path allows you to share life’s moments with a select few that are special to you and then your friends can comment on your posts. The app integrates to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and Foursquare so you can add content to these networks if you want or just keep it private and between friends. It is a Free app from the Apple App Store - Path – Path, Inc.

Netbot for iPhone 3. Netbot – App.net was started for developers who wanted a focus area to be social and is designed to be a Twitter style replacement. As a developer, it connects me with like-minded people, enables ideas to be shared freely and easily, and keeps me abreast of the latest industry buzz. App.net is a paid service which keeps the social stream focused. Netbot is essentially the same as Tweetbot so it makes my top ten as an app I use regularly. It is Free from the Apple App store - Netbot for App.net (iPhone edition) – Tapbots

Spotify for iPhone 4. Spotify – The Spotify service is revolutionary. There it is, I’ve said. I love this app.  It gives me access to pretty much any music track I could possibly want in the world and, coupled with a great 3G coverage, allows me to stream albums & playlists that I may not have had access to using my iTunes / iPod apps. A thing to remember here that Spotify really is a premium service; there is a free model but it’s full of adverts and you don’t want that, now do you?  It is Free from the Apple App store - Spotify – Spotify Ltd.

Spotify for iPhone5. Drive – Here it is, our app. One fine day, our Front End Developer said “I have an Idea!” and Drive was born. This is the first in-house app developed by Create Digital Media and we are so proud of it. Drive allows you to safely control certain functions on your iPhone phone (when it’s properly docked, mind you) whilst in your car.  It gives you access to your music, audiobooks and podcasts, shows your current location, allows you to set quick call contacts, and let’s you create predefine text messages that you can send in two taps without looking at your phone. It has a beautifully simple and easy to use interface with big friendly buttons. It is £1.99 from the Apple App Store - Drive – Create Digital Media Ltd.

Spotify for iPhone6. Reeder - RSS is one of those things that you either subscribe to or not. And I do! Reeder is the most elegant and easy-to-use RSS reader I have have ever seen or used. It allows me to keep up with all of the news that interests me and does it in a beautiful way. Additionally, they have iPhone, iPad and Mac apps which sync, allowing me to consume my RSS feed on all my devices. The iPhone app is £1.99 from the Apple App store - Reeder – Made@Gloria.

Zello

7. Zello - This little app is a recent discovery. For years the US has been ahead of the UK with a service called Push to Talk (PTT) and I’ve been envious, to say the least. Zello fills that gap and allows the user to use their iPhone as a PTT or Walkie Talkie device. It works really well over 3G and is super simple to use. Why phone when you can Zello! It is Free from the Apple App store - Zello – Zello Inc.

Foursquare

8. Foursquare - Social, Social, Social. I first signed up with Foursqaure to use by proxy so that I could check in using Path. However, as time has gone on, I find myself using this app more and more.  It’s simple, fun and well designed and turns you into a bit of a competitive person in trying to get the mayorships for various places you visit. It is Free from the Apple App store - Foursquare – Foursquare Labs, Inc.

Basecamp

9. Basecamp - When building apps it’s not only important for us to communicate with clients, but also efficiently communicate internally. Basecamp is a great way to do this and allows full transparency when working on a project. This app allows me to interact with the Basecamp projects whilst on the move and follows the great design of the web application that we use. It is Free from the Apple App store - Basecamp – 37 Signals.

Kickoff

10. Kickoff - This is a cracking little app and its simplicity is its master stroke. Kickoff allows our team to have a private instant chat with a live and easily viewable task list along side. Its not complex, it’s just brilliant!  It is £4.99 from the Apple App store - Kickoff – Michael Villar.

So there they are, the 10 apps that I use time and time again.  Of course I have many, many more (over 100 in fact) and some that, dependant on task, would appear on a top-ten list.  However, these are the most used and loved apps I have.

And remember, keep investigating and downloading apps that are available out there.  They’re made by some super talented developers and lots of indie guys like us, so go support them and enjoy your iOS device!

Be Terrific on Twitter

Social media is fun!  But so often, small businesses get a little tongue-tied when it comes to connecting with their customers on social platforms like Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram (to name a few).  Because I don’t like seeing awesome businesses struggle, I started The Etiquette Shop to help small businesses and creative entrepreneurs find their voice and creatively and authentically tell their stories and connect with their customers online.  One way to do this is through social media, and I work with clients to decide which social platforms work best for them, teach them how to utilise these tools, and then create a strategy to help them connect with their customers and grow their business.

After completing a couple Terrific on Twitter courses last week, I wanted to share five of my fundamental beliefs about Twitter with you.  These simple guidelines will help you focus your content, grow your tribe, and make lasting professional- and personal- relationships online.

Be+Terrific+on+Twitter

If you want to know more about developing a social media strategy, creating engaging content, or learning how to use a particular social media platform?  Just drop me an email at kate(at)ladykatherinesims.com.  It’ll be fun!  Promise.

Make Yourself Relevant

Make+Yourself+Relevant

“There is a reason, after all, that Gen. Y–which is only becoming more important as we get older and begin pushing and stimulating our economy–has been dubbed the entrepreneurial generation. Many of us couldn’t land the jobs we wanted, so we just made our own. Sure, the training isn’t traditional but my generation is brilliant; we are over-educated and often over-qualified for the jobs that we do take. Tradition and innovation have little to do with one another and in the battle of success and relevance between the former and latter, the latter has proven itself quite victorious.”

I was catching up on some très important blog reading last night when I came across the above quote in this post by Leandra Medine, the genius behind the Man Repeller.  The sentiment of her post had me nodding my head and saying yes, emphatically, yes!  We are an entrepreneurial generation, we have been blessed with the ability to pull ourselves up by our fetching bootstraps, and we’ve had to make a name for ourselves because no one was there to do it for us; but it’s not just Gen. Y that has felt the need to innovate and make themselves relevant, it’s every entrepreneur.  Whether you’re opening a cafe, starting a fashion line or branching out as a freelancer for the first time, one thing is true- if you build it, they will not come.  Not necessarily, anyway, not unless you entice them.  You can do this by making yourself relevant.

So, how do you do that?  Easy!  Here are 3 Simple Ideas for Making Yourself Relevant by creating something, sharing it with your people (whomever they may be), and growing your tribe.  Let the drum-banging begin!

  1. Respond to something already relevant.  If you’ve recently read an article that made you fist-pump the air and yell, “Yes!”, or, conversely, made your hands start to shake as you muttered, “No, no, no, NO!”, then take a page from Leandra’s book blog and passionately respond to that piece.  Your response could be a blog post, a video, a song– anything that allows you to share your point of view in a shareable and articulate way.  It doesn’t have to be long, but be sure you make a claim and succinctly support it.  Share your piece via social media and encourage others to join the conversation, too.  Sure, some people will disagree with you, but the ones who don’t, the ones who share your feelings, they’re going to become allies, clients, supporters.
  2. Join or start a movement.  Perhaps you’re passionate about clothing designers paying their employees a liveable wage, perhaps it’s recycling to-go coffee cups, or saving the seals– whatever it is, join-up and start sharing your experience.  Not only will you have just joined a ready-made tribe, you’ll also be attracting others who think like you, too.  (Nudie Jeans has done an excellent job of building a tribe of like-minded customers around their economic and environmental initiatives; you can read my post about it here.)
  3. Host an event.  A tea party, picnic, gallery tour or themed walk– anything that will get a group of awesome people together for something out of the ordinary.  Invite everyone: friends, local business partners, mentors, and clients, then share snippets of the day online (via Twitter, Instagram, Facebook or Vine).  Encourage others to do the same and BAM, you’ve allowed your tribe to multiply, your message to spread, and your existing clients to see you in a new light.  Fun!

Of course, there are a bijillion other ways to make yourself relevant, to spark a dialogue and better connect with, and grow, your tribe, but I hope these three suggestions helped to plant some seeds.  I firmly believe there’s more than enough business for everyone out there, it’s just that we need to think creatively to find it, sometimes.

Bonsai, Part II

Bonsai1Bonsai2 Bonsai3 Bonsai4 Almost a year ago, I took these pictures.  I was still learning how to shoot on a manual setting, still teaching myself about light and shutter speed, still holding my breath with every shot and checking the viewfinder to see how it turned out, if it turned out.  These photos were taken in one of my favorite places, The National Bonsai and Penjing Museum at The National Arboreatum in Washington DC, where some of the bonsai trees, manicured and twisted in their small pots, are older than the United States.

Almost a year ago, I posted about my trip to the bonsai garden and compared running a business to a growing bonsai tree in that it’s constantly ‘in training’ and needs to be tended to, trimmed, cared for.  With an ever-changing digital landscape, this metaphor is more accurate now than ever before.  Many independent businesses and artispreneurs have their brand established, they just need help tending to it and making sure it grows strong, healthy, and in the right direction.

Almost a year ago, when I took these pictures, I was still training my eye, I was still learning, developing, cultivating, and you know what, I’ll be learning, developing, and cultivating my skills for the rest of my career.  But I’m also now in a place where I’m able to reach out and help other business owners develop their businesses, too, which is why I’ve re-branded and re-launched with the bonsai garden as my aesthetic and philosophical inspiration.  I’ve started my next chapter, The Etiquette Shop, where independent businesses and artistpreneurs can shop my services and hire me to tell their story, charm their clients, and make a lasting impression.  You can see my service list here, and you can contact me for more information at kate (at) ladykatherinesims.com.

Almost a year ago, I didn’t know what I’d be doing today, but I hoped it was something I loved.  I’m pleased to say that I’ve fulfilled that wish.  I love my office in The Warehouse, where I’m surrounded by inspiring people all day, every day.  I love getting out and meeting people who open my eyes to new delights.  I love working with forward-thinking, passionate people and helping them be even better at that thing that they do- whatever it may be.  And I love you, dear reader, for tagging along.

xx