GET CREATIVES is coming to Propeller on July 13!

Hey, New Orleans business owners, marketers, and entrepreneurs! I’ve been working on this thing with my talented friends Julia Sevin and Frank Aymami, and we want to share it with you.

Get Creatives is a pithy 45-minute presentation that packs in a ton of information you need to know if you’re the one who markets your business. Register now on Eventbrite, or read on for a few more reasons to join us on July 13 at 6pm!

Communication design: What it is, and why it matters

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You’ll learn how your investment in communication design (including copywriting, graphic design, and photography) actually increases your profits and positions your brand for bigger and better things.

You’ll get actionable tips on where to find “creatives”; how much to pay them; what to ask for; and what to look out for.

And you’ll learn how to scrimp smartly so you can save your marketing dollars without sacrificing the end quality of your product.

Register ahead of time >>>

Did you know…

  • 55% of your website visitors will spend less than 15 seconds on a given page
  • Your contract with an independent creative should always specify a kill fee
  • You might not own the rights to the photographs you commissioned

There’s a lot more where that came from.

We’re going through the entire process of working with a “creative”–everything from how and where to find quality writers, designers, and photographers, to contracts and taxes, to the best way to send feedback and get the results you want.

Join us July 13 at 6pm at Propeller Incubator to find out more!

Your Pre-Event Social Media Checklist

Y’all, New Orleans Entrepreneur Week kicked off this weekend, and in between preparing for our presentation and building a new website to go along with it (yes, that’s right, I took that on for some reason), I’ve been thinking about writing this post.

There are lots of “social media checklists” out there–and some of them are super helpful. But there wasn’t one that focused specifically on what to take care of before you attend a conference, talk, or party. Until now.

May I present to you: 5 social media tasks to handle before you step inside the doors of your next event.

1. Update your headshot.

If the last time you got your professional photo taken was more than 5 years ago; or if you’ve changed your look significantly; or if you had a luscious head of hair back then, and now, schoolchildren regularly rub your chrome dome for good luck–it’s time for a new headshot.

Once you’ve got a new headshot, standardize it across your professional profile. You want to avoid having your LinkedIn photo, which says, “Yes, I am a consummate professional!” undercut by your Twitter photo, which says, “Yes, I sure do love to stuff my face with crawfish, yes I do.”

2. Make sure your last tweet showcases your business.

If you’re a prolific tweeter, this won’t be a problem for you. Chances are, you’re tweeting interesting industry tidbits at least a small percentage of the time. But if you only created a Twitter account last year because you read in Forbes that it’s important, and your last tweet dates from the Super Bowl and reads, “lol wats up with those sharks next to katy perry??? #confused”…just post another, more flattering tweet.

Or better yet, more than one.

Push that Katy Perry tweet as far down as you can, friend.

3. Check your privacy settings.

Don’t want 400 creepy friend requests from strangers or deposed Nigerian princes? Would prefer your intimate Disqus comments stay, well, intimate? Better tweak those privacy settings before you give out a million business cards.

4. Create a boosted post.

Targeted correctly, a boosted Facebook post can reach the people you’ll be meeting at your fancy upcoming event. That way, when you reach for their hand and introduce yourself, they might just be familiar with your brand already–and as we all know, familiarity breeds contempt loyalty.

5. Write a new blog.

You like how I’m taking care of item #5 with this very post? It’s so meta, either you or I will probably explode at the end of this sentence.

But seriously, update your blog if you have one. This item is especially important for those in a content field (which, ahem, is all of you. Even if you don’t think so). A new blog says, “I’m active and invested in my business!” An old blog is almost as bad as a Katy Perry shark tweet. These pop culture references will self-destruct in three…two…one…

 

One last thing: If you are not the schmooziest schmoozer in the book, a slug of bourbon and a big friendly smile never hurt anyone.

 

NOLA Tradeoffs: What You Pay For in New Orleans

I love New Orleans, y’all. But anyone who lives here knows we make daily trade-offs for the privilege of living in the “Northernmost Caribbean city”.

Sure, it’s hot half the year. You can hear live music anywhere. And there are more parties than days on the calendar.

But we also have some of the worst streets in the country, some seriously-behind-the-times politicians…and probably the jerk who invented the Jungle Juice daiquiri.

Here’s a list of things you can expect to save money on while living in New Orleans–and what you’ll spend that money on instead.

Got something to add? Throw it in the comments or holler at me on Twitter @theenglishmaven.

WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR

Drinks. Like the endless rain during one of our seasonal monsoons, drinks are plentiful and cheap all over New Orleans (unless, God help you, you are going to a cocktail bar).

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

New tires every year instead of every two years because of our sinking swamp-streets, since New Orleans’ attention-deficit city government ignores potholes that routinely eat entire SUVs in favor of randomly ripping up streets throughout the city. Constant steering alignments to keep your car from drifting into oncoming traffic while you put on some tunes.

 —–

WHAT YOU DON’T (HAVE TO) PAY FOR (BUT YOU CAN)

Good food. Get in my face, $9 giant sandwich from Milk Bar! Come home with me, garlic knots from Pizza Domenica happy hour! Become one with my stomach, spring rolls from Magasin!

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

Education. Product of the New Orleans Public School system right here! I went to what was (then, and somewhat debatably) considered the best public high school in the state of Louisiana. Since Katrina, the charter school system has taken over most public schools in New Orleans, with mixed results and not a whole lot of unified oversight.

—–

Mmm. Wait, HOW much?

WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR

Entertainment–especially live music. Drink in hand, you can wander happily down Frenchmen Street, popping in and out of clubs that don’t charge covers. In a single night, you’ll hear everything from brass bands and jazz combos to funk, bluegrass, and the occasional gutter punk howling to handmade accompaniment.

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

Good coffee. Yes sir, Mr. Barista, I will re-mortgage my house for this $5.65 latte. (Granted, I’m thinking this may simply be the cost of good coffee, but damn it, I needed an item here).

 —–

WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR

Gas. Whoohoo! Welcome to the Gulf South. We routinely have some of the cheapest gas in the U.S.

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

Housing. Y’all, at this rate, native New Orleanians are going to be totally replaced by New Yorkers looking for fun places they can gentrify Airbnb by, like, next summer.

WHAT YOU DON’T PAY FOR

Public transit. New Orleans has one of the least expensive public transit systems in the U.S.–despite it being among the most expensive to operate.

WHAT YOU PAY FOR INSTEAD

Um, well, you still can’t get anywhere by bus or streetcar (unless you’re Odysseus and you’re not planning to return home for, say, 20 years).

 

Despite it all, NOLA remains one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Just don’t forget to open an extra savings account for car repairs.

New Orleans Style Guide for Editors

Snowball
Snowball photo by Megan Braden-Perry @megandoesnola.

Po’boy or po-boy? Snoball or snowball? Y’all or ya’ll? (That last one, y’all should know already. It just makes sense.)

Living in New Orleans offers about 100 million opportunities per day to correct someone’s spelling. As a copy editor for several local publications, I get paid to do it—but I’ve been party to a few disagreements about the correct spelling of NOLA-centric names.

So, recently, I’ve developed a New Orleans Style Guide for editors, and others in my shoes. It was the right thing to do, being a native and all.

Feel free to disagree with it, or tell me I’m ignorant or wrong or ill-informed—just don’t accuse me of being inconsistent.

Here we go, in no particular order:

  • po-boy. I’ve always been a fan of hyphenating this name for the world’s most delicious genre of sandwich. You’ll often see it spelled “po’boy,” “po’ boy,” or “poboy,” given its origin as a “poor boy” sandwich–but I think the hyphen gives the two words a nice, even weight. It’s how we say the word: PO-BOY (emphasizing both syllables).
  • yat. When used in a question, such as “Where y’at?” this lowercase term takes an apostrophe. However, to refer to native New Orleanians, capitalize and remove the apostrophe: Yat.
  • snowball. Despite what the various tractor-trailers around town may call these icy treats (“snoball,” “sno-ball,” “sno’ball”), I stand by its most sensible spelling.
  • go-cup. Don’t you dare call it a “geaux cup”. That’s just straight-up foolish.
  • N’awlins. No one says this. No one writes this. Do not say this. Do not even think it. The closest a real New Orleanian will come to pronouncing our city’s two names as one is “N’Orleans”.
  • shrimp. Not “prawns”. Similarly, if you ever change “crawfish” to “crayfish,” you should immediately move back from whence you came.
  • fa’ sho. I’ll allow a little leeway on this affirmative expression meaning “for sure”. “Fo’ sho” and “fasho” would also be acceptable.
  • yerdmeh? Sadly, this remarkable expression cannot go into print as rendered, since a copy editor’s entire job is to make text readable/understandable by a wide group of people (and other places outside of New Orleans do exist) . Change to “You heard me?”
  • Uptown. This neighborhood designation should be capitalized. But if you capitalize “Downtown,” you are the worst. I’m not sure why, but that’s okay–lots of stylebook rules have little to no reason behind them.

Should I think of any more outrageous transgressions, I’ll update this list. NOLA editors, feel free to add yours to the comments!

Fashion Friday SPECIAL EDITION: Interview with Amanda deLeon!

Today’s post is extra-special! Written by Megan Hargroder of Conversations LLC, this week’s Fashion Friday features fashion designer Amanda deLeon. Amanda is known for her pieces’ structural focus, immaculate craftsmanship, and bold lines.

Megan asked Amanda how to wear capes–because honestly, none of us are doing that right (if we’re doing it at all).

Fashion Friday #fashionfriday

INTERVIEW WITH AMANDA DELEON

By Megan Hargroder

Amanda deLeon has captivated Southern fashion lovers with her clever, innovative, and yet wearable pieces since the very first New Orleans Fashion Week.

But it’s not just New Orleans giving her high praise! Amanda stole the scene as an emerging designer at last year’s New York Fashion Week.

Lucky fashionistas have been able to nab her pieces on her web store, as well as on Etsy, but we wouldn’t hold out too long to get your own Amanda deLeon original–this lady’s star is rising fast.

I sat down with Amanda this week (okay, it was an email interview) to find out more about her current Etsy collection of colorful capes and how we could go about rocking those IRL.

 

MEGAN HARGRODER: You’ve got 3 lovely capes on your Etsy store right now, and I’d love to tell people how to wear them! How would you, as the designer, pair each of these capes?

Orange Edwardian Cape by Amanda deLeon
Are you thinking of pumpkins yet?

AMANDA DELEON: I would wear that with a simple A-line dress that needs to be amped up, and a pair of modern sandals (for the summer). For a cooler climate, I would pair it with a women’s suit and some amazingly wicked shoes.

Mint Green Summer Cape by Amanda deLeon
Provides a gentle whisper of “I am way cooler than you, but you can talk to me anyway.”

AMANDA: I think this piece would be great with a classic pair of cigarette pants, patent leather pumps, and a pair of leather driving gloves.

Sheer Fuchsia Cape by Amanda deLeon
Everything’s coming up rosettes.

AMANDA: This, I see with a black satin fitted ball skirt with a mermaid flair, and a decorative bustier top…and a killer beehive.

 

MEGAN: What was your inspiration for creating this line of capes?

AMANDA: This Etsy shop is to sell my one-offs, runway samples, and random pieces created from collected fabrics. The capes were created due to what would work best with those beautiful fabrics. Also, capes need to make a serious comeback. They have an equal amount of power and femininity…dark and demure.

 MEGAN: What are you working on now? Could we get a sneak peek? (Even the tiniest little peek of a peek?)

AMANDA: My brand collection/work can be found at amandadeleon.com. As of this moment, I am finishing up a leather chest piece that is to be shipped to a customer in Germany.

This is the same chest piece that was sought out by Kat Von D. My crew and I are submitting the fashion film “Réunion de la Mélancolie” to several short film outlets, as well as the behind-the-scenes video of my show at New York Fashion Week Fall 2014, presented at the historic Algonquin Hotel.

Also, I am working on a few extra things that will be popping up into my online shop in the near future.

Rockstar status: Achieved.

Readers–have you ever rocked a cape? Pics or it didn’t happen.

 

3 Ways Crawfish Boils and Copywriting Are the Same

Crawfish Boils and Copywriting
This little guy should have stayed home today.

Pull up a pile of newspaper, grab a beer, and get comfortable. We’re talking about crawfish, and the qualities it shares with copywriting.

(I’ll admit I was late to the crawfish-eating game. Despite growing up in New Orleans, I didn’t peel my first crawfish until college. But now I’m making up for lost time.)

Last night, I went to a boil, where I ate far more crawfish than I should have. Originally, this was going to be a post about crawfish boil etiquette…but when you’re diving face-first into a pile of tiny, dead lobsters, you can pretty much leave manners by the wayside.

So what do crawfish boils and copywriting have in common?

No pain, no gain.

I developed a bad case of “crawfish thumb” last night around batch three. New Orleanians know that this is when the boil spices begin to creep under the quick of your nails, making the process of peeling each little crustacean a bit more painful.

Similarly, sometimes you have to grit your teeth and chip away at a copywriting assignment, no matter how much it might be hurting your brain (or aggravating your carpal tunnel).

The spicier, the better.

There is nothing more boring than an under-spiced crawfish boil. It’s like traveling to the Grand Canyon and turning the other way. Okay, I might be exaggerating. But if the potatoes aren’t going to make my gums burn, what’s the POINT?

Copywriting is the same way. You’re writing for a purpose. That purpose is to persuade, inform, build trust, create a relationship. Boring writing just isn’t going to get those things done.

Drinking helps.

When it comes to eating crawfish, ice-cold beer is your friend. When it comes to writing, beer will help you come up with ideas, while coffee will help you refine them.

 

Any other ways crawfish and copywriting are the same? Leave ’em in the comments.

And remember: If you get between me and a table of steaming crawfish, I will cut you. Tweet: If you get between me and a table of steaming crawfish, I will cut you.

Dear Creative: Know How to Answer These 3 Questions

Sunken City

This post is shared from my friends at Sunken City. Share it yourself, and show them some love!

Today we got to pitch Sunken City to a small group headed by Robbie Vitrano and Tim Williamson, founders of Idea Village.  The event, BarPreneurs, gives a handful of entrepreneurs a chance to pitch their idea/company for one minute.  From this, three semi-finalists are selected for a question-and-answer period, and one finalist gets to stay and have lunch with the big wigs. Sunken didn’t make it past the first round, but on a whim, we stayed to see what we could learn from the Q&A.  There, we picked up three seemingly simple questions that, as artists, we don’t think about nearly enough:

1.) What is your business (in one sentence)? 

2.) How will this make money? 

3.) What do you need to make this happen?

Personally, we spend most of our time thinking about the vision of Sunken (“Wouldn’t it be cool if there were a TV comedy about NOLA made by artists who live here?”) and not enough time thinking about the business angle of what makes our show profitable and attractive to investors. Among artists, there is often a natural aversion to “money talk”; it feels nobler to imagine that we can continue making art simply in the name of love, truth, and expression.

However, the truth is that whatever you are making–a web series, a fashion line, a giant man of straw–you need money to make it. And someday, you will find yourself face-to-face with someone who possesses the very resources and connections you need. It may be in an elevator, a restroom, or crowded somewhat awkwardly around a bar in the French Quarter. Wherever it is, be prepared to describe why your idea is awesomehow it will make money, and what EXACTLY you need RIGHT NOW to level-up.

The best way to get there: practice. Pitch as often as you can. There are no shortage of pitch events and networking meet-ups in this city. Go make yourself uncomfortable. And when you aren’t selected to move on to the “next round” at one of these events, don’t leave.  Instead, nurse the one free cocktail you got, stick around as long as is socially acceptable, and see what you can learn from those who are selected.

Also: check out FitLot. We think they’re gonna be big.

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Follow Sunken City on Twitter @oursunkencity to learn how you can support the show!

FASHION FRIDAY SPECIAL EDITION: Meet Stella

Fashion Friday #fashionfriday

Today on Fashion Friday, we’re doing something a little different. If you’ve been putting off your own projects, use this post as inspiration–one pint-sized seamstress is following her design dreams while still in grade school.

Stella Lowenstein is an aspiring fashion designer here in the Southern fashion hub of New Orleans. She takes sewing classes at Sew Fabulous, a studio on Oak Street. Recently, she completed her first sewing project just for herself: a floral skirt with ruffly purple trim.

Stella is seven.

Stella and GiGi
Stella with Sew Fabulous owner and instructor GiGi Baay.

She’s the youngest pupil ever to enroll at Sew Fabulous, which normally only accepts students age nine and older. But owner/instructor GiGi Baay was impressed with Stella’s skill and attention span. Now, Stella sews at the studio every Tuesday afternoon, her machine’s pedal resting on a box so it reaches her feet.

“I want to design clothes for anybody,” Stella says shyly, clutching at her new skirt. “Anything comfortable or pretty, or mixed together. Snazzy suits–I could do anything.”

She’s already planning to make a “handsome suit” for her dad, Tom, and has all of the details in mind: it will come with a sport coat and pants, of course, and will be paired with a white undershirt. “And a tie with elephants on it,” she adds.

Stella Lowenstein
Stella shows off her skirt.

With her mother and grandmother, Stella frequently takes trips to the fabric store. Before making her skirt, she kept busy sewing presents for friends and family: elephant and owl “stuffies,” dish towels, and clothes for her American Girl doll. “Mostly dresses,” she clarifies.

As Stella’s skills grow, so will her adoring public. “Like six friends have asked me to make dresses already!” she says. Though she hasn’t learned how yet, she plans to make patterns to put all the dresses together. She dreams of making herself a dress, too: a warm, long-sleeved affair of red velvet, with “white puffy things all around.”

When she’s not sewing, Stella likes to ride horses, play violin, and jump on her family’s new trampoline (“Every minute of every day since it arrived,” says Tom). Her favorite color is pink.

Right now, Stella is happy where she is–but she has firm plans for the future. “I want to design my own clothes and have a little shop,” she says. “If I get famous, that would be cool. Okay, fine, I want to be famous.”

The Top 5 Quotes from TribeCon 2013

New Orleans’ tech-networking community held its annual TribeCon gathering at the City Park Peristyle yesterday.

Despite a glowering sky, insane wind, and the allure of Halloween pre-gaming, the Tribe managed to kill a giant pot of jambalaya, drain a keg of beer and share some interesting ideas on the intersection of technology and art.

city park peristyle
Algae party! JK, tech conference.

Here are the top five quotes from TribeCon 2013:

  1.  On the creative process and the necessity of creating bad work:

“When I see someone with an immaculate sketchbook, I don’t trust that person.”

Kody Chamberlain

2. On the idea of “digital homogenization”:

“The Internet is really good at telling you what everyone cares about, but it’s really bad at telling you what you care about.”

Ron Goldin

3. On asking for help:

“Everyone wants to be part of something great.”

CJ Hunt

4. On following your passion:

“The type of work you do is the type of work you get.”

Ron Domingue

5. On listening to the voice of your customer:

“It’s not about: ‘How can we get more likes?’ It’s about: ‘How can we get more people to like us?'”

Thomas Knoll

Other highlights: Time-killing jokes from highly bearded emcee Chris Trew, “Workaholics”-inspired bear coats made by Colin Grussing and an introduction to Quintron’s Drum Buddy.

What was your favorite part of TribeCon? Share it in the comments.