wcmia_2014_badge_speakingI’ll be speaking at Wordcamp Miami this year at University of Miami on May 10, 2014. This is their 5th year anniversary and I feel really honored to be a part of it. This is very exciting for me because WordPress is one of the main platforms that we use to create beautiful and functional websites for our clients.

The topic is E-Commerce and WordPress with WooCommerce. WordPress has been evolved so much for over the last 10 years since it came out. It’s no longer just a blog platform. You can do many things with it including E-Commerce. If you want to sell things on your WordPress blog or website, I’m going to talk about how to do it and also focus on WooCommerce which is one of the most popular plugin to use for E-Commerce.

700+ people have bought their tickets. I can’t get anymore excited! (I guess I can :))

I might be a bit late to the game, but I really found this video very interesting. It’s a video that I got when I unsubscribed from Groupon today. I’ve seen many unsubscribe message because you know emails are being abused all the times. You get all kinds of emails from places that you have signed up and most likely, from places you have never heard of.

There are cute messages such as “We are sad to see you go…”. However, this one from Groupon is probably the funniest and most attention driven. The video is mute so you can watch it anywhere even at work and I think that’s courteous. You still got what they are trying to do or say, which is smart. The video is not longer than 45 seconds I would say, which fits today’s short attention span.

Like I said, I like the idea and it caught my attention. If you ask me how successful, I doubt it. At least I didn’t resubscribe.

Have you seen this video from Groupon? What do you think? Did it make you resubscribe?

Choose Your Customers

seth-godin-marketing-500After starting my own business for quite some time now, I want to share my opinion on how to choose your customers. You might think I’m crazy for saying that. Yes, I literally mean you need to choose who you work with.

As many of you know, I own a marketing and design company in Miami called 852 Creative Marketing & Design. We don’t sell products technically. We sell services. Therefore, our time is very valuable. If you’re in a similar category, here is some of the people you might want to give it a bit more thought or avoid before you commit to them.

1. Start-ups with no back up
I know we were all start-ups at the beginning. We all have to start from somewhere. Yes, but these kind of “start-ups” I’m referring to are the ones that have an business idea without any support. They have no money back-up, might not even have the skill set or the right personality. These people probably think being an entrepreneur or business owner is easy. You work whenever you want and do whatever you want. That’s true in some way, but people who have been there know that’s the opposite. When we get an inquiry from them, they almost seem surprised that we actually charge for our service. They usually negotiate by saying “Well, we’re just starting.” We understand. However, when you go buy grocery at Whole Foods or wherever, I guess you don’t tell the cashier that “well, I’m just starting a business, so can you discount my food.”

If you get a client like that, just friendly tell them that you are not in a situation for a discount and tell them to contact you when they are ready. You can offer a payment plan if this is someone you already know, but make sure you’re in a financial situation that it’s going to be ok if they don’t end up paying it off. If you know of any “free” sources online, tell them. They would appreciate that.

There are also some potential start-ups might not have the money up-front, but you see an opportunity that the company might worth something in the future. Then, discuss a share option. However, be very careful and do your homework. Getting a big pay off does happen, but situation is rare.

2. I’m going to post this job on (a freelance site)
Nothing is wrong with those freelance sites. I have heard good stories, but many bad ones. We have clients that come to us for help because they have used other freelancers and they can’t complete the job or it turns out to be a mess. They end up paying more because they already pay the freelancer and now they have to pay us to either finish the job or fix it. If they would’ve gone to us in the beginning, then they wouldn’t have had spend all that money.

You can kindly advise the client that some of the situations they might encounter. Encourage them to do the due diligence before they hire anyone from any source.

3. Free Brain Pick-up
There was an article on Forbes.com called No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much that came out in 2011, which I loved! Read the article if you haven’t. It basically explains even though it’s flattening for people to come to you for advice and you’re nice enough to help them, you have invested in the knowledge and experience so you need to protect your investment. Especially, those people who don’t want to do their homework and just want to pick other people’s brains for free.

Ok, I understand. Sometimes you need to give out some advice to show your expertise. Then do it on a basic level. Give them a bait so that they want more. When they want more, then it’s time to talk about money! Remember, you’re here for business not for charity (unless that’s what you’re here for)!

Focus your energy and time to the right clients
Your energy and time should be focusing on the customers that value what you do, appreciate your knowledge, skill sets and services, pay on time and refer you. Those are the one who deserve your extra time and attention. On the other hand, trying to persuade people who aren’t interested, servicing terrible clients who don’t appreciate, or focusing on the people who aren’t delivering is really an opportunity cost. You could use that time and energy to service a client who will.

What other types of clients you think companies should avoid?

Speaking at Web Cogress in Miami about SEO on Nov 7, 2013

speaker_banner_final-1I’ll be speaking at Web Congress in Miami on November 7, 2013 from 3:00pm to 3:30pm on Search Track – “Organic Strategies on web, mobile and social”.

Web Congress is returning to Miami for a 2nd edition of this highly successful Tech Events. This time it will be Bigger, Better and More Inspiring, attracting Agencies, Marketers, Businesses, Brands, Investors and media from all over US and Latin America. This edition they cover trending topics such as Social Media, Ecommerce, Mobile & Apps, Digital Marketing, Online Ads & Web Analytics.

You’ll have a chance to meet all the important players of the technology scene and do business with them. Most important of all, you get to listen to me speak about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) with Simon Heseltine, Director in charge of Organic Audience Development from AOL and Gustavo Saientz from Resultics!

Register Instructions:
Go to WebCongress website: http://webcongress.com/miami/register/
Use Promote code: code: speakermia13
(20% discount on: Platinum, Gold, or Combo Bogota tickets ONLY)

 

If you have been following my blog, you know how much I like Steve Jobs. His vision, ambition and skills (business, marketing, technical, etc.) were so hard to find in anyone in this century as least. The Steve Jobs movie is coming out on August 16, 2013. I really can’t wait!

The movie trailer has been released on Instagram exclusively recently. It has totally taken advantage of this new function on the social media platform. They have received over 3,000 likes so far. They do have a longer, original trailer on Youtube.

What do you think of this move? Instagram currently has over 100 million active users. 5 million videos had been uploaded within 24 hours when the new feature became available in June, 2013.

Although Instagram is still a lot younger, has far less users and videos than Youtube, but it does have the photo sharing feature that Youtube doesn’t have. Do you think Instagram will take a piece of the pie of the video posting market from Youtube?

Sony Walkman – Meb Feflezighi Edition Review

szeliu-sony-walkmanDue to my influence on Klout, I have received this perk – a Meb Keflezighi special edition 2GB W Series Walkman® MP3 player. I was really trilled. I still remember the pink Sony Walkman that I had in the 80’s. I loved it. I was listening to my cassette tape everywhere I went.

After using it for a few weeks, I have decided to write a review about it to share my experience. I have to say that Sony only sent me the gadget. They didn’t pay me to write about this.

Pros
You don’t carry anything
I usually use my iPhone as my mp3 player. I like it. I have everything in one. However, once I started using the Sony Walkman, it’s actually a lot easier for your work out or running. You have nothing to carry. The player hangs on your ears and it stays pretty well.

Decent sound quality
The sound quality is not bad. I also have a Beats by Dr. Dre headphone, which costs like hundreds of dollars. I have to say this Sony player is compatible.

Buttons are intuitive
There are only a few buttons you need to play with. The play/pause, forward/backward, volume and on/off. The way they put them on the player is very intuitive. I don’t really need to read the manual to know which one is which.

It’s pretty light
The Sony Walkman is pretty light. Even I wear it for quite a period of time, I don’t feel uncomfortable. And I’m very sensitive and I don’t like things hang on my face, ears or head for a very long time.

Easy to use
Basically, you use the cable to connect your player to your computer, then just drag and drop your music from your music folder to the player folder. It’s just as simple as that. When fully charged, you get to listen to 8 hours of music.

Cons
Windows OS only

Most of you know, I am an Apple fan. However, this Sony Walkman® MP3 player only works with Windows OS. Since I have Windows installed for work, so I was able to make this work. Otherwise, it’ll turn into a nice piece of gadget decoration.

Overall, I really like it. It is perfect for my work out and running. It is also water resistant, so you do not need to worry about your sweat will damage your player.

Do you have a Sony Walkman® MP3 player as well? How do you like yours?

The first time I heard of Vine was on Mashable. I was like another social media app? And they associated it with Twitter, so I was thinking to myself that I got to come back later and check it out.

After a few weeks since the app came out, I came across another article that talked about Vine, so I decided to download it and find out what it is. It was an article about Vine was having issues with people uploading a lot of porn so they had to put a age restriction to it (17 or older). Anyway, here we go.

In case you have no idea what Vine is. It’s a free iOS app for both iPhone and iPod touch where you can record a 6-second video. It starts recording when you press and hold on the screen. It stops recording when you release it. You can do this as many times as you want during those 6 seconds (I mean technically). Of course, you can share your video via Twitter and/or Facebook.

The interesting thing is Vine Labs, Inc,, the company that builds Vine was founded by Dom Hofmann and Rus Yusupov in June 2012. Colin Kroll joined Vine as CTO in July 2012. The company was acquired by Twitter in October 2012 and debuted on 24 January 2013. That’s such a short time (3 months) for a social media start up to be bought. It’s even faster than Instagram (18 months before being bought by Facebook).

I know we all have short attention span. Viddy (another free video sharing app that came out in 2011) has 15-second recording time. Now, Vine has 6 seconds! Are we getting worse with our attention span or we’re just being more efficient?

Anyway, what do you think of this new app? Will you download it?

Today, I have finally made a decision to abandon Facebook. It’s a decision that I should’ve made a long time ago, but didn’t have the encourage. Now, I believe it’s time.

My history with Facebook
I have started using Facebook in the Fall of 2008. I was getting invites from family and friends. I used Friendster and then Hi5, but like most people, I wasn’t really into it. I can’t remember why but I think it had to do with not enough functionality and there weren’t that many people. After getting numerous invitations to Facebook, I finally gave it.

Comparing to the previous social media platforms, Facebook does have more functionality, you could update your status, upload pictures, etc. and people are a lot more active. Shortly after I started, I got hooked. I even told new friends to go on Facebook to add me so I don’t need to give out contact information because I pretty much put my life on Facebook. Yes, that crazy!

Why I did abandon Facebook?
So what went wrong? Well, the honey moon was over. I started getting unsolicited requests from people to add me as friends. What I like about Twitter or Google+ is people can follow you or add you to their circles to see your update. You don’t need to accept anything. Unlike Facebook, you need to accept their “friends” request. What I found is if you don’t accept, you create this thing I called “Social Tension”. Someone sent me a DM (direct message) on Facebook complaining when I didn’t accept their Friend’s request. Someone I barely knew. Moreover, someone I briefly met in a networking event, added me on Facebook. I accepted because of common courtesy. Next thing I knew, I was seeing their friend’s baby picture on my home page. Let me remind you that I rarely know this “friend”, might as his friends. The classic one was telling me that they wanted to do business with me. I accepted their request and asked if there was anything I could help. Guess what? No response.

Plus, I want to use Facebook to share more my knowledge and what I do. Therefore, it’s really time to switch to a business page.

What did I do next?
I did a lot of research and finally switched my personal profile to a business page on Facebook. The problem is you’ll lose all your pictures, so I found a couple of apps online to help me download all my pictures (I can’t recommend any because none of those was perfect). I had to go through all my albums, mobile upload, etc. to make sure I grab all the pictures. Needless to say, you’ll lose all the comments and likes. You pretty much start all over. Your friends will automatically turn into your fans. That’s what it’s supposed to do but I don’t think it converted all. I didn’t count because that’s out of my control.

Anyway, what’s your experience with Facebook? Share with me.

In 2010, I have written a post about Elevator Pitch. I basically touched on what the key components are when putting one together. Today, I want to give you an example that I just did.

I was invited to Women Success Summit. It is an event that is held every year in South Florida for all business women. The topic of this year was The Big Close. I had the opportunity to give a 30 sec commercial on stage to talk about my company. Yes, that is my 30 seconds of frame in front of hundreds of business women.

Needless to say, my focus is my company 852 Creative Marketing & Design. When it comes to talk about my work, I’m not nervous to speak in front of a bunch of people. However, to summarize it in 30 seconds is a bit challenging. It needs to be concise (obviously) and memorable.

Here is my ptich:

“Hi My name is Sze Liu. I’m the president of 852 Creative Marketing & Design. I feel very fortunate to be able to fulfill one of my dreams which is starting my own company to do things that I enjoy, Things that have to do w design, technology, & business. We are a one stop shop that helps u build and/or improve your brand online with web design, online marketing, SEO & social media. I know most of u are here today because you have a dream too. If i can do it, u can do it and we are here to help! You can come to me for my business cards or pick it up on your way out. Thank you!”

My pitch is basically divided into three parts:

1. Who am I? (concise)
I need to state who I am and what I do or my company does.

2. Something they can relate (memorable)
I use the billion dollar word – DREAM. Yes, most of us have a dream. For the audience who pay  and spend time to come to the summit, they definitely have a dream in their business whatever they do. By saying that, I tell them I am just like one of them. I can relate to them. I need their needs and my services can fulfill those needs.

3. How to find me
Contact information is very important. It is like you just see a great TV commercial, but they do not provide contact information. How are you going to use them even though you like what you see.

Of course, I practiced and practiced. I type recorded myself and listened to it over and over again until I felt comfortable. Even that, my heart kept pounding right before I went stage.

Have you done one of these before? How was your experience?

 

 

 

Today, I got my first professional photo shoot done. I wanted some photo shoot for my personal brand. My idea is a young business woman who is a fashionable geek with a great taste of (web) design.

Before the shoot…
Now, I got the concept, I really need to put it into reality. I already have a photographer in mind that my model friend has used before. She really liked her, so I decided to give her a shot. Next, I need someone for the make up. I can do my own make up but never do one for photo shoot. I know this lady from the Chanel counter that I get my make up, so I hire her. One last thing is the location, all I need is a white background, so my friend’s condo in downtown where the pool area is perfect.

The day of…
I bought a couple of outfits to change. Everyone was pretty much on time (Miami time 🙂 Starting with the make up part, never had that much make up on my face. Then came the shooting. Oh boy, it wasn’t easy. I got a bit camera shy. I don’t know whether I should smile or look cool or what. The photographer was trying to help me relax. After a while, my eyes got tired and couldn’t smile anymore. I felt like she took million of shoots of me.

Your avatar, your brand
Anyway, it wasn’t that painful. It’s important to have a nice picture. If you present yourself via social media, the first thing people will look at is your picture and that will become your logo. I have a PR friend that she has her avatar as her laughing like really hard with her eyes closed and mouth wide open. Now, her friends told her if she changes it, they probably would recognize her! Not sure if it’s good or bad, but that’s your brand!

I have seen all sorts of avatars on social media. Most of them are decent. Some interesting ones are those that have their heads cut off the picture. What’s the point? I have seen a lot that has the person next to them cut off. And many others that are a group picture (ok, which one is you?), a flower, a car (transformer?), etc. I know some people are not there to do business, but you never know who would spot you and give you an opportunity of a life time.

What do you use as your avatar? Is it a picture that’s professionally done or just a random picture you took.

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