Digital You

Building Your Online Identity on a Budget

Thursday, 12 May 2011 10:32 PM Written by

Times are tough for many economically.  People and companies are trying to stretch their budgets and do more with less - less people, less time, less money.  Here are 5 tactics to to build your online brand if you have no blog site and no budget.pink_pig_w_glasses

  • Comment on other people’s blog posts.  Who are the leaders in your industry? Identify them, follow them and then start to make thoughtful, consistent comments on their posts.  Over time everyone recognizes and values a fan as long as they’re adding to the conversation.
  • Create a Facebook Fan Page for your business.  You can start out by uploading your logo to the avatar.  Post a well-shot video (doesn’t have to be professionally shot).  Get active on Facebook – it’s the #1 social media tool by leaps and bounds
  • Recently delivered a presentation?  Turn it into an e-book and offer it up on your Facebook Fan page for free or for a moderate amount of money.
  • If you have a sizable list offer to host a seminar by a credible resource on a particular topic that your target audience can benefit from.  Ex: If you’re an online marketing specialist get a LinkedIn specific resource to talk about his / her expertise
  • Comment on blogs hosted by MAJOR third parties such as the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, USA Today – some of the biggest news brands on the web.  These have lots of Google juice.
  • The ULTIMATE Guide To Twitter Marketing

    Tuesday, 10 May 2011 12:33 AM Written by

    Why recreate the wheel?  Gabrielle Conde of Copyblogger Media wrote an AMAZING post about marketing on Twitter.  It includes everything from how to get startedTwitter_bird_and_name using Twitter, how to write noticeable tweets, a Twitter lexicon and much, much more. It's an ideal article for the Twitter newbie or for one who has some experience.  It is one of the best articles I've read on Twitter and I wanted to share it with you here.


    Enjoy and have fun making the web work for you.  

    One of the most famous "citizen journalists" in the world right now is, Sohaib Athar who inadvertently Tweeted Osama Bin Laden's death as it was happening. Athar, who can be found @ReallyVirtual, realized at some point on Monday that there was a connection between the helicopter sounds he was Tweeting about and United States President Barack Obama's remarks on Sunday evening.


    The Wall Street Journal wrote about Athar and his Tweet's. You can read the entire article by clicking here.

    Of course, once I read about Athar I began to follow him on Twitter @ReallyVirtual and had to see those Tweets with my own eyes. Athar's Twitter following is nearly at 105,000 (at the time of this posting) an increase of 104,250 since Sunday night! Poor guy, it wasn't bad enough that he was Osama Bin Laden's neighbor but now he is getting hounded from global media. In response he wrote and posted this FAQ.

    I'm starting a new series featuring entrepreneurs who use the web to conduct business.  These entrepreneurs are unique because they are not typical online entrepreneurs, they're not bloggers, or online marketers and they're not social media specialists.  What makes them unusual is that they own offline businesses but they use the web to build them.  

    If you're interested in being featured in this column send me a note via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

    In the meantime, I'd like you to meet Rana Ryan, local artist and painter, through our interview below and in person this Friday, May 6th, from 4 to 9 p.m., at Caesar’s Designs on Walnut Street, in Shady Side at an upcoming show during the Walk on Walnut. Click here to learn more. Welcome to Digital You Rana.  

    What do you do and how long have you been doing it?

    I have been painting and doodling for as long I can remember.  As a child I would always draw things for my friends, entertain kids bored in class or at home, wherever we were.  I would draw them fun things that kept us all busy and laughing.

    Fast forward to life as an adult and in some ways I’m still doing that, but with my children and the children of my friends.RanaRyan

    In recent years, I’ve had a series of little art camps at my home, for children who really want to draw, paint and express their inner artist.  The mini-camps were very popular and I still enjoy each and every class because my students go home proud and happy.

    About ten years ago, I started giving serious thought to marketing my work. Whenever we had company over, many were drawn to my artwork that we had hung on the walls of our home.  I come from an artistic family since my mother is an established artist She too taught art to young children in Beirut, just a block or so from the American University of Beirut, where my father went to college.  My mother likes to work with oils, and I have pieces I’ve made in the watercolor and acrylic media.  So, between my mother’s work and mine, our home always looks like a gallery.

    As a painter, which mediums do you prefer?

    I’ve worked with acrylics from the beginning, and have always loved large canvases. I started watercolor painting eight years ago and fell in love with that medium, too.

    I love painting with very bright colors and so often run out of yellow paint!  I was told by a fellow artist that yellow is for “amateurs.”  Well, if that’s the case, I’ll always be an amateur because I love the enthusiasm and life it brings to my work.  I guess my clients like yellow, too, because I sold every painting that had a lot of yellow in it!!!

    One series, in particular, called: “We are all the same in the eyes of God” used mostly yellow, a little blue, and green and pink.  The series really struck a chord with people from all backgrounds, and each person who purchased a painting had a story they could relate my painting to.

    How do you use the web for your work?

    I have 2 Web sites:

    A Facebook page, Rana Ryan Artist, and last but not least, an Etsy account.  

    Should You Reveal Your Religion Online?

    Tuesday, 26 April 2011 12:21 AM Written by

    We are living in a world where social media is all the rage, a world where we spend more and more time online, where we are using the web to connect with friends that we haven’t spoken to in years, a world where we are revealing more and more about ourselves, our family and our friends on the world wide web, a world where geographic barriers no longer exist.

    If you’re a 40 something think back 20 something years ago to when you were in college. How often did you use a computer? When you did use one what were you doing on it?  Could you have imagined that you would one day take the time to “update your status” on a website? Twenty some years ago it took a lengthy conversation with a friend or an acquaintance before discussing your “status.” Today, it takes just seconds to check in on your friend on Facebook and learn all about them and their personal lives.

    So how much should you reveal about yourself and your more private thoughts, affiliations and preferences?

    Should you discuss your religious affiliation online?

    In this post I’m going to tackle the topic of religion.   Should you reveal your denomination online? Should you blog about your faith? If you’re a virtual small business owner should you tell your clients which holidays you’re closing for? Will they be offended if they don’t share your faith? Should it matter, will it matter?Jesus_Mosaic

    Instead of only relying on my professional opinion around this topic I asked a network of fellow personal brand strats what they thought.

    A few felt that minimal, if any religious preferences should be revealed online.  And others, like Winnie Anderson, founder of Virtual Marketing Mavens, a New York / New Jersey-based personal brand strategist and online marketer said, “I have a spot on my website where I share my core values and the first one is faith.”

    Anderson went on to explain that she had a former client contact her after she launched her new web site who told her, she liked the site, “but she thought I needed to take off “that faith stuff” because she believed it would repel people like her.” The former client continued and said, “I wouldn’t have called you if I saw that.”  Anderson admitted that she was happy to hear the previous client’s response because this was a client she wouldn’t have chosen to work with again.

    What Does Religion Look Like Online?

    Sunday, 17 April 2011 01:09 AM Written by

    As Holy Week, a significant religious time for many Christians, begins today on Palm Sunday, and coincides with Passover, a major religious observance for Jews, I want to explore what role faith, religion and spirituality play on the web, and, eventually, to address the question of where such personal topics belong in the formation of your online identify, and personal brand. How much should you divulge about your personal or spiritual life through your social media accounts?  To prepare, I started to search the terms “web-based,” “online” and  “faith and religion.” I also found a video on YouTube demonstrating how to make Palm Crosses, a technique I have yet to master.  

    At the top of my Google search appeared the Church of Reality– an entirely web-based religion.  In the time between starting this post and publishing it the site went down.  Very strange….I’m leaving it in the post because it had lots of content about its unique approach to faith and religion.

    A few more search results down the page I discovered Belief Blog, a CNN sponsored blog on all things religion in the news – a topic they found that readers wanted to read more about so they launched a blog focused on the topic in 2010.

    The Washington Post also launched a religious blog simply called “On Faith,” where the tag line reads, a forum for news and opinion on religion and politics.  How interesting that a newspaper such as The Washington Post, based at the epicenter of American politics would link those two words?  Weren’t they so clearly separated in our Constitution? It turns out that they were not.  You can read more about that here.

    As I continued to scroll through the first three pages of results for the search terms “faith online” it occurred to me that only Christian based religions had a presence.  Muslims often talk about faith as well as Jews, Buddhists, Taoists, etc…so why do only Christian based religions appear on the first three pages? By the way, 90% of people conducting online searches do not review what lies beyond page 3, according to

    Digital and Non-Digital Networking

    Thursday, 14 April 2011 11:12 PM Written by

    Yes, this column is called Digital You and for many of us that means we are stay-at-home entrepreneurs.  It's amazing what can be accomplished with a laptop and cell phone these days isn't it?  For those of you who have gotten comfortable working from home in your PJ’s all day, or you’re too busy juggling Household, Inc. and your entrepreneurial venture or, perhaps you’ve just gotten plain old lazy about networking then this article is for you.FunnyHomeOffice

    Getting out of the house, or the office, is a very important marketing tactic to promote your company, personal brand or product.  Not because you’ll be a walking, blinking billboard but because you’ll be out there, around others interacting, socializing and inevitably answering the question, “What do you do?”

    It doesn’t matter if you’ve answered that question for the gardener, neighbor, mailman or nanny – you need to be answering it for people who can help grow your business either as a client, as a promoter or as a strategic partner. There’s also another side effect – the feeling of connection – whether business results or not – feeling connected to others in a similar industry, facing similar challenges can be reinvigorating and encouraging.

    It’s no secret that I’m a work-from-home entrepreneur with two young children (3 and 5) and a husband who travels quite a bit for work so getting me out of my day-to-day routine, especially to travel to a conference, requires a sizable reorganization!

    Below is a list of activities and or opportunities that have provided great networking, business and personal growth that are “on-brand” for me but also fit into my current life-style.  Some might provide food for thought for those of you with similar responsibilities or limited budgets and can’t hit the conference circuit.

    Why Should You Use Video Online?

    Monday, 11 April 2011 11:15 PM Written by

    By now most of you have probably heard of YouTube sensation Justin Bieber.  Look where his career has gone thanks to shooting some amateur video at home and posting it to YouTube 3-years ago. Here’s a link to his first video to get over 1 million views.

    Today that video has had over 29 million views and Bieber is now a superstar winning mega awards and is a teen heartthrob.  Even my 5-year old has heard of Justin Bieber.

    At my 3-year old’s birthday party we had a choo-choo train theme and found this instructional video for a choo-choo train birthday cake.

    A little over a year ago we designed and built Personal Branding TV, the only personal-branding multi-media resource on the web and it’s primarily video.  Watch some of the videos on that site and you can learn lots about personal branding and find some great career, executive and leadership coaches as well.

    Video is being used increasingly on the web to communicate with one’s audience.  As of January last year Skype ushered in the ability to video conference with a friend or business associate across the ocean.   Mac computers typically have a video camera built in.   Companies like videoBIO are popping up more and more where one can have a low-cost, highly professional video produced for hundreds of dollars instead of thousands.  (Disclosure: videoBIO is a brandiD partner).

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