Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Happy Anniversary and a Big Thank You!


"It is not happy people who are thankful; it is thankful people who are happy!"
- Unknown

Hello, everyone. I hope you have had a great week so far. I am so happy today! Today is the one-year anniversary of my very first blog post. It has been so amazing to have so many of you follow me, share my posts, give me feedback and cheer me on. THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH!!!!! I could not have done this without you! And over 7,000 page views?! (Cue crying emoji!)

Why NK Started This Blog

I started this blog for many reasons. I was extremely frustrated with my job search and wanted a place to document what I was learning so potential employers to see that I really knew what digital marketing entails. I also wanted people who look like me to know that this is a profession they could get into as well. Deep down somewhere, I knew I was leaving a live journal of how I persevered on a career path I love even though the journey wasn't easy.

As time passed, it became a great a way for me to share little tips and tricks that those who were not on this journey would have access to. So I created and shared posts like "Free and Low Budget Ways to Increase Your Digital Marketing Acumen!" and "5 Ways to Brand Yourself as a Digital Marketer!" The blog was also a great way to share the wisdom and advice from the amazing marketers I was having informational interviews with or meeting at events. These spotlights have by far been the most popular posts, so we are going to keep them coming!

What is NK Doing Now?

I am currently working as a Digital Marketing Specialist at a non-profit called LeGen Leaders, helping youth who age out of the foster-care system gain skills in construction. I also work as a Web and Social Media Specialist at the University of St. Thomas. I am also adding a Digital Experience Masters Certificate to my MBA. I am presently enrolled in the Creative Process and Brand Management courses. Next semester, I will be taking Marketing Analytics and the Digital Experience the finish of the certificate. Along with this, I am also still taking online courses to continue to expand my knowledge base in the field on Udemy, Hootsuite, and LinkedIn Learning. (More to come on the latter.)

What is Next for NK and the Blog?

I intend to keep blogging for years to come. There is still a lot of great information in digital marketing for us to explore together. Oh, and let's not even mention the fact that everything keeps changing almost daily in this industry, so, there will not be a loss of things to write about. Please be sure to send requests of anything you would like me to research and write about: I want to make sure this is beneficial to the people who are "the wind beneath my wings."

For the next year, I am going to keep bringing you marketer spotlights, social media platform reviews, course and certification reviews, a new series: campaign reviews, and more. Thank you so much for your support! 

A special thank you to my family, who heard me whine, helped me with proofreading, were my creative soundboard, and held me together when I didn’t think I would get this far! You rock!

Thanks for reading!

Monday, October 17, 2016

That One Time at the Minnesota Blogger Conference


“Don’t focus on having a great blog. Focus on producing a blog that’s great for your readers.”

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to attend my first Minnesota Blogger Conference (MN Blog Con). I went with my sister and a friend. Upon arrival, we signed in and got some conference swag: a notebook, pen, and some stickers. We then went through the sponsors' section before heading in for the keynote address. Before I dive into the event recap, a bit about the conference. The MN Blog Con was created by Arik Hanson and Missy Voronyak in 2010. It is now organized by Mykl Roventine and Jen Jamar, who also organize and manage the Social Media Breakfast Minneapolis/St. Paul

Jennifer Kane, Owner of Kane Consulting, was the keynote speaker. She spoke about "How to Become a Fierce and Fearless Blogger." Kane is a digital marketing consultant and strategist who has worked with companies including Minnesota Business, WCCO TV, KSTP TV, and Metro Magazine. She has also blogged for BlogHer, Steamfeed, and She Owns It. You can read more about her work here. Jennifer gave three tips on how to be FEARLESS in your blogging:
1.   Try new things
2.   Meet your audience on their turf
3.   Get comfortable with failure
Jennifer also gave three tips on how to be FIERCE in your blogging:
1.   Get some perspective
2.   Find and use your voice
3.   Get comfortable with haters

MN Blog Con Sessions

The conference had a total of fifteen sessions, seventeen if you include the keynote and closing speeches. The content presented was suited to bloggers at different points in their creative journey, from beginners to more advanced bloggers. The sessions were:
  • How to Use an Editorial Calendar to Make the Most of Your Content by Devin Joubert*
  • Getting Unstuck: Using Writer's Block to Your Creative Advantage by Abbie Burgess
  • Why Local is Important by Donna Hup
  • Live Video: Kick But and Stand Out by Erica Hanna
  • Mastering the Art of Blogging: 7 Recipes to Help You Become a More Successful Content Creator*
  • Ghost in the Blog: Putting Words in the Mouths of Experts by Brock Ray
  • How Successful Bloggers Monetize Their Site by Larry Adamson*
  • From Blog to Book by Amy Zellmer
  • Shields Up! Security for WordPress Websites and Blogs by Bob Weiss
  • "Hello from the Other Side" - Get Smarter in Working with Small Businesses by Sonal Gerten
  • Hold Your Content Accountable: Use Google Analytics to Focus on Business Goals by Steve Slater
  • Automation for Humans by Jason Rehmus
  • Seek and Leverage Media Opportunities by Jasmine Brett Stringer*
  • What Bloggers Need to Know About SEO Right Now by Ben Sailer
  • Podcasting 101: Develop a Podcast for Your Brand by Michelle Scheuermann
I will write more in-depth about some of the topics discussed during these sessions in upcoming posts, but I’d like to share one key learning point from the conference:

"Don't create content for you, always think of your audience or readers wants, needs, and interests."

My hope is that this blog provides content that my readers are interested in, want, and need. If not, please email me or let me know in the comments. Suggestions and requests are always welcome.

As you can see, there were many great sessions, so picking which to attend was incredibly difficult. I returned to the goals and objectives of my blog to help guide me to topics that would yield the most benefit. I will be sharing some insights from the sessions I attended, so stay tuned. 

Other Conference Benefits

In addition to learning from pros in the industry, I was able to network with speakers and fellow bloggers. I am excited for the mentorship opportunities and the marketer spotlight features that might come from this. (Yes guys, I always think of you!) There was a resource center with experts to help with SEO and other blog questions. Glimpses of Soul, a local photography company, was also there to provide discounted headshots for attendees.

Monumetric also offered blog auditing services, which is an excellent way to improve your blog and meet your goals. I was sadly not able to sign up in time, and the spots filled up. But this would be a great benefit to take advantage of at a later date or the next MN Blog Con. Other sponsors included Verizon, MN Bogger Bash, and Concordia University.

The Closing Address by TopRank Marketing

A team from TopRank Marketing closed out the conference with a talk titled "Learn from the Pros, How TopRank Marketing Takes Conference Attendance to the Next Level." It was presented by Kevin Cotch, Evan Prokop, and Ashley Zeckman. The trio gave tips on "How to Take Your Conference Attendance to the Next Level.” They broke the conference down into three stages: before the event, during the event, after the event. Some tips for how to prep for a conference include researching speakers and hashtags, deciding which sessions you want to attend beforehand, which sessions you are going to live tweet or blog, and what information you want to bring back to your team or readers. 

During the conference, the speakers suggested that you sit in the front, introduce yourself to the speakers, ask questions, request the presentation and take your own pictures. Post conference, be sure to go through the conference hashtag for quotes and tips you may have missed. Reconnect with those you met to build relationships and monitor and assess the value of your attendance, participation, and the knowledge gained.

#MNBLOGCON was fantastic. If you did not make it this year but are interested in blogging or growing as a blogger, make sure to attend next year. There will be a full recap of the day and resources posted Minnesota Blogger Conference website. I hope you enjoyed reading about the experience and take away something that will enhance your blogging experience.

Thanks for reading!

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Meet Gabriela Trejo, Brand Strategist


Creative without strategy is called ‘art.' Creative with strategy is called ‘advertising.’

To say that Gabriela Trejo lives and breathes advertising is an understatement. This creative genius has an extensive history in the field, starting with creative design and art direction to working in branding. She currently works as a Brand Strategist at Carmichael Lynch, on brands such as U.S. Bank, Subaru, and Jack Link's. She was previously a Brand Planning Analyst with the agency. Gabriela graduated from the University of St. Thomas with a Master of Business Administration, Marketing concentration. During the program, she interned as a Vertical & Digital Marketing Intern at Capella University and worked as an MBA Marketing Research Consultant for Minnesota Public Radio. She also taught many of us the art of making simple yet beautiful presentations.

Before her MBA stint, Gabriela worked as a Senior Art Director at Arrechedera Claverol, a Senior Art Director at Leo Burnett, and a Senior Art Director and an Assistant Art Director at Lowe and Partners Worldwide. She also worked as a Freelance Translator for PüR Project at P&G. Gabriela earned her Bachelor of Arts from Universidad Iberoamericana, Ciudad de Mexico. She volunteered as a Creative Mentor/Art Buddy with Art Buddies and is trilingual, speaking Spanish, English, and German fluently. 

What does a typical day in your role look like?

Well, I guess that’s the beauty of advertising: There is no typical day. Things change constantly, and we need to be ready to react in the best possible way. I like to start my day early (or early-ish by ad agency standards) and have time to have coffee while I skim through news and trends. I subscribe to different newsletters (Iconoculture, Warc, PFSK, The Futures Co., etc.) that help me stay on top of what’s new.

What are you passionate about?

I’ve always been passionate about people because there’s always so much to learn from everybody’s stories and experiences. An old boss of mine (from my times as a creative) used to say that I was always “interviewing” people. It may or may not be true, I don’t know, but I do genuinely care about the stories behind everybody around me. I love asking questions about their childhood, their family, traditions, etc. I especially love talking to people with different backgrounds than mine. 

What do you find most challenging about your job/career?

The most challenging part of my job is probably to find the right insights that will help inspire great creative ideas that will then help connect the client’s business goals with consumers’ needs. A good insight can sometimes sound very obvious, but finding that sweet spot requires a lot of work and intuition. In my case also, of course, I do this in a language other than mine, in a culture other than mine, which makes it more challenging but also way more fun.

What do you find most enriching about your job/career?

I think the best part about working in advertising is that it allows you to have a lot of fun with what you do. I’ve met some of the smartest most talented people in this industry; some of them have also become important friends in my life. From my current role, I would say that looking at the final creative and knowing that you helped “planting the seed” that resulted in a great idea is very rewarding.

How did you find yourself in your current career?

Well, my career path has been far from traditional. I’m a graphic designer and worked as an art director for a long time in Mexico City. Three years ago, I decided to move to Minnesota and go back to school to get my MBA—I know, weird combination, right? I originally left the creative world thinking that the only position that would make me go back to advertising would be something in the strategy team but was looking to find something in marketing. Looking for a job as an international student who needs a work visa is tough. I soon realized that ad agencies were some of the few companies that were looking to hire based on talent and that recognized diversity for what it brings to the table and not for the sake of a number. I was lucky enough to find Carmichael Lynch, one of the best agencies in town that was interested in my background and open to hire despite visa issues. I had to go a few steps back in my career and start over from the bottom since my experience in advertising was not on the strategy part of it. Admittedly to my surprise, I found the sweet spot for me on the Brand Planning team: the perfect combination between creative and marketing. I started as an intern, then became a brand-planning analyst and have recently been promoted to brand strategist. It’s been a rocky path, but I absolutely love what I do… (Phew! That was long!)

Words of advice for anyone who wants to pursue this career?

Stay curious. Ask questions. Network. Talk to people on the field, even if they’re not in the exact position you’re interested in. Look for internships, get your foot in the door, work hard, the rest will follow.

To learn about the amazing work Gabriela is doing and has done, check out her LinkedIn profile

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Managing Time and Projects with Wunderlist


"If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail." - Benjamin Franklin/Winston Churchill

Wunderlist is a time and project management application created a German start-up called 6 Wunderkinder in 2011. The app can be used on cellphones, tablets, laptops/desktops and smart watches. Wunderlist is free, with some added features on the premium version. Microsoft acquired the app in June 2015. The app is available on most platforms: iOS, Microsoft, Android, and more.

Free Functionalities

Wunderlist allows to make lists of projects, add to-dos to each list and then add subtasks for each to-do. In addition to subtasks, under each to-do, you can also put in a due date, a reminder, and add notes, comments or files that are essential or beneficial to completing the tasks.  You can check-off subtasks as you finish them and/or complete a to-do when a particular project is done. 

You can invite others to collaborate with you on projects. You can send a request by name if you are already connected on Wunderlist or by email if it is the first time they are using the app. You can also sort or arrange to-dos alphabetically, by due date, by creation date, priority or by assignee. There are a few limitations for the free version: 5MB limit per file upload, assign a maximum of 25 to-dos per list, and 25 subtasks per to-dos.

Paid Functionalities

For $4.99 per month or $49.99 a year, you get all the functionalities of the free version plus unlimited files, unlimited to-do assignments, and unlimited subtask assignments. If you work with a lot of projects or larger projects, Wunderlist Pro may be a good option for you. 

For teams, the best option is Wunderlist for business. It includes all the features of free and Pro versions, but also includes billing functions and simple  but flexible team management. You can try it out for 30 days to see if it is the right fit for you. After the trial, the price will be $4.99 per month or $49.99 a year, per user. 

NK and Wunderlist

I learned about this app almost a year ago and use it diligently for keeping my life on track. I cannot say I am perfect, but Wunderlist has truly helped me improve. Having to sit down and plan out what I need to do, what I need and how I am going to execute said project or task has helped me be and stay focused. I use Wunderlist in addition to my Content Calendar in Excel to plan out my posts and keep on track. 

I also use the app in my personal life for keeping track of grocery needs, planning events like friends' weddings, or setting up a new apartment.

Give Wunderlist a try if you have been looking for a project management tool to help you stay focused and on try to accomplish your goals. Other tools include Evernote, Excel, IFTTT, and Slack. You can also read my article on productivity tools for more ideas on platforms. 

Thanks for reading!