Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: October 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Getting Started With Affiliate Marketing

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Affiliate marketing session from BlogWorld
The panel included: Shareasale, Kim from Key Internet Marketing , Jones soda affiliate manager and was moderated by Jim Kukral.

Affiliate Marketing is an Internet-based marketing practice in which a business rewards one or more affiliates (aka “publishers”) for each visitor or customer brought about by the affiliate's marketing efforts. It is an application of crowd sourcing. Advertisers are brands (large and small) who are looking to place their ads on websites. Some advertisers have greater requirements and will not accept just any “publisher”. Publishers are people with websites or blogs who are looking for advertisers – they publish the ads.

Many of the big brand advertisers have strict requirements of publishers: number of visitors per month, your content, etc. They feel the need to protect their brand image perception. Other advertisers’ guidelines are not as strict. As an affiliate or publisher, having a big brand that is relevant to your site will give the impression that your site is more “legit”.

This post will cover basics, for example, knowing who your audience is so you can post the right type of ads. Various tactics and tools, such as setting up a store all from affiliate link, taking a look at a successful affiliate site, touch upon using PPC to drive sales and some helpful links for you to explore in greater detail on your own. (Here is an older post where I touched on affiliate marketing)

Before I get into the post, I will start by answering the question that was asked repeatedly by the audience – “How long will it take for me to make money with affiliate marketing?” Maybe never. Most of the people on the panel had been dealing with their sites for six or more years. Keep in mind, 80% of the money earned by affiliates is made by less than 10% of the people in the field. (This was a personal tip given to me by the CMO of a company who uses affiliates)

Each person had a formula for how much traffic is needed to drive significant sales. Depending on the niche that the site speaks to, sites can range from .40 to $200.00 per 1000 page views. In my opinion, you need a minimum of 10,000 page views a month to make any money at all and 10K page views a month is not that easy to achieve. This blog does not even make .01 per 1000 page views, but then again, this blog is not set up to make money. This blog was set up as a vehicle for me to teach myself (and now others) about various internet marketing tools. And, I likely have the wrong ads up but I care about aesthetics of this page and do not like clutter.

Knowing Your Audience
The best way to determine what types of ads you should put into your blog or site is to determine who is navigating to your site and why. How do you know who your audience is? For one, you know your topic, so you know what is drawing people to your site – whatever you are writing about. Look at your analytics, which one of your posts are the most popular? What keywords are driving people to your site? Look at your returning visitors vs. your new visitors. Look at where your visitors are coming from and use some deductive reasoning to determine what these particular readers may be coming back for and what the purchasing habits of these individuals may be.

Conduct surveys. Using tools like or, you can poll your readers asking poignant questions regarding their behaviors in an effort to determine the types of advertisers you should have on your site. It does not necessarily mean you should ask “what advertisers do you want to see,” perhaps coming up with 10 questions that will help you determine the psycho-graphics of your readership.

Each of the panelists agreed that they all test their ads – constantly. In addition to which ad is placed on their site(s), they also test placement, size of the ad, etc. The one key take away I got was, although banner ads are almost NEVER clicked on, a banner ad coupled with a text link (from the same advertiser) works exceptionally well. This makes sense, the reader sees the banner ad, doesn’t click on it but later the text link is noticed, perhaps from recognition, seeing the banner ad minutes earlier, triggers the reader to click on the text link. One other thing I learned from this panel was that text links can really hurt you. Apparently search engines frown upon text links and having text links can hurt your rankings.

The question on many peoples’ minds was the recent FTC ruling that requires bloggers and affiliates to reveal when they are being paid for a post (or even receiving something for free as an incentive to post). Most of the panel agreed that stating something clearly in the bio of your blog or the “about us” section of the site would be ample disclosure and that the FTC was likely more interested in punishing those who are deceitful versus smaller bloggers and affiliate marketers. Making your intentions clear, remaining transparent and including a disclosure that you are an affiliate should be sufficient. They did state that they were not lawyers and that checking with an attorney would be wise.

Kim from Key Internet Marketing
Kim Rowley has been in the online marketing space since the late 90s. She started with a coupon site that was started as a hobby. Her business has grown and she now owns 100s of domains and manages dozens of sites with affiliate and ad links. She also consults other businesses on their affiliate marketing programs and speaks on panels.

Shoeaholic is Kim’s shoe blog (which I’ve visited her site prior to seeing her in this panel). Kim said she writes the titles of her blog entries for search engines. She does use text links in her blogs. The one key thing I liked about Kim’s shoe blog was that she set up her area where the “blogroll” normally exists as a shoe directory. Each one of the blogroll items are set up as affiliate links.

Building a store with affiliate links
I only recently learned that it is possible to build a store with affiliate links. I think this is genius! And I am launching a site on Valentine’s Day using this tool. I cannot wait! has an affiliate program where you can install a storefront that looks like an amazon storefront. Kim from the panel is a huge fan of and said that they have great store front tools. I have yet to be approved by *shakes fist in air*.

Depending on your site, PPC can be a very lucrative way to make money for affiliates. Most of the panel disagreed with one another regarding PPC, some felt that spending money to make money was silly. This is my blog, so my opinions are included, most of the people on the panel had been working on their blogs for 6+ years, they have had plenty of time to get their sites a tremendous amount of traffic and most agreed it took years. If you have a small amount of seed money to jump start your traffic, I would use PPC. I know several people who operate targeted sites and they use PPC to make a ton of money via affiliate marketing and adsense.

The one tip that the panel offered for buying keywords was to buy “long tail keywords” and have them land on specific pages that you know will convert. For example, if you were to purchase the keywords “tall boots” it may be expensive to purchase (especially because zappos probably pays a butt-load for it). Instead, if you were to purchase “tall brown Kenneth cole winter boots” – and you have a picture of this boot with an affiliate link to this boot on your page, you will pay less for that long tail keyword and get someone who is looking for something specific to your page.

Links – as promised :)
Golden can – affiliate data feed solutions
Skimlinks – a plug in tool that you simply install and (it looks like) they do the linking for you *wow!*
Affiliate Ninja – a WordPress plug in
Commission Junction - affiliate forum – free affiliate and online marketing newsletter

Affilistore - a free script for affiliates (their site was down when I checked them out not good, maybe I have the link wrong?)

Related Posts:
BlogWorld an Overview
Using Analytics To Get The Most From Your Blog Posts
Free Web Analytics with Standard and Professional Yahoo! Merchant Solutions Plans

What I am Listening to:

Ladytron by Roxy Music (1999 Digital Remaster)

Sunday, October 25, 2009

How Can I Make This Experience Better For You

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Me Right Now saying HI
Originally uploaded by leyla.a
Hi. This is Leyla A. and I want to know what you want to know! If you don't already follow me on Twitter, you should.

You read my blog. At least I know that you come back fairly often (70% of you do) and you stay here for about 1 minute and 45 seconds and you read at least two pages while you're here. Most of you do.

Why are you here? What are you looking for? Do you like my social media and marketing posts OR do you prefer my senseless babble? I'd like to know so I can assist you and contribute to your reading pleasure.

Do you like the photos? Wanna see more photos?

To my foreign know who you are. You from Qatar, Denmark & Switzerland (I get the most hits from these lands), why are you here? Please tell me! I want to know. How can I keep you, my foreign lovelies, entertained?

Is it the ex-boyfriend stories? Is it the blogging stories of how to make your blog a better place? I need to know more about YOU so I can give you what you want.

So, please do it. COMMENT on this blog post. Send me an email and let me know what you think. Even YOU, guy who is searching for a bollo tie who keeps landing on my blog (I see you search those keywords). And you, vagina lover, who also keeps landing on my blog searching for "vaginas" (again, keywords).

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Saturday Morning Keynote: The New Celebrity

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You should follow me on Twitter @leyla_a

Jermaine Dupris was the star of the Saturday morning Keynote at BlogWorld Expo. He truly convinced me that he knew what social media was and who had a strong, working knowledge of how to best utilize social media in his overall marketing plan. I almost wish that Jermaine Dupris sat on stage alone and spoke but he was accompanied by Anthony Edwards, @MattGoss and Robin Antin (who had almost nothing constructive to contribute, maybe she was nervous? Or maybe, I am just being polite towards Ms. Antin).

Entertainment Keynote #bwe09

Jermaine Dupri blogs, vlogs and posts on YouTube, he has a YouTube channel, Living the Life. He calls it his life his life channel. His goal is to bounce his fans from the blog, to his vlog to twitter – keep it going in a circle in order to keep them entertained and engaged (and spending more time with his personal brand). “My life is not just about Lamborghinis, (it is also about things like BlogWorld) my fans don’t care about BlogWorld, but they are going to have to follow me to BlogWorld because this is what I am about”.

Jermaine Dupri encourages his fans to comment, “I don’t see the point if you don’t allow people to comment on your blogs because you need the feedback. What is the point if you cannot see the feedback.” Dupri also uses social media as a tool to stay on top of music trends and converse, or engage, with his fans. “I don’t need some 50 year old music exec to tell me who my fans are, who says they're 18 to 34 males, I can look at my fan base and know who they are. I know they are watching what I am doing (through their feedback) and that is the most important part about all this.”

Jermaine Durpi continued on with the corporate drones, “In my business, the corporate guys don’t understand this.” Regarding release dates in entertainment, traditionally, you release an album in one country and then roll it out in other countries later should the original release go well. When Dupri posts something on YouTube or Twitter he said, “I get messages from people from all over the world, saying ‘hey, why isn’t the album here?’” Dupri went onto emphasize “This (BlogWorld or perhaps social media) is important and they (the corporate guys) need to learn and understand this. They need to start listening to the fans.”

Jermaine Dupri blogworld

Brian Solis was the moderator for this AM keynote, I must say, Brian Solis did an amazing job moderating this session and every other session I watched him moderate. Solis's commentary, “We are all forming these human connections, these powerful connections, depending on what we care for or stand for in life. Social media gives people an opportunity to do or give something to do that is meaningful.” This started the topic of Causes (not for profit) in social media. Causes can really thrive in the social media space because they allow people to get involved. And then Anthony Edwards discussed the not-for-profit that he supports in Africa and made his “first tweet”. Though this was a feel good moment, and I am glad that a big name like Anthony Edwards was there, I found Jermaine Dupri to be exponentially more relevant because he actually uses SM in his daily life and marketing practices. Unlike Anthony Edwards, in fact, I couldn't even find Anthony Edwards Twitter page when writing this post.

Brian Solis also asked the celebrities about reciprocity. “A form of reciprocity is expected, they (your fans) just don’t want to be fans anymore. How do you feel about that form of reciprocity?” Most of the celebrities acknowledged and understood that fans wanted to be a part of the process and half believed an artist should embrace this. This started a little debate about celebrities being “human” and that most people on the web not realizing that their comments and words are powerful. Jermaine Dupri went on to say “I control this” and his statement was received with a loud applause. I believe this statement was well received because we were in a room filled with people who want to believe they are the snake charmers who can “control” the web, or shall I say, “The ground swell.” I mean, that is the point of all this, isn’t it? We all want to shape peoples’ thinking in an effort to make a buck, right?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Making Money On Your Blog via BlogWorld

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You should follow me on Twitter @leyla_a

As promised,I took notes during the sessions at BlogWorld Expo in Las Vegas. This post was from the session "Making Money On Your Blog". My notes from the session, along with my personal insights, are shared below should you choose to read on.

blogworld exhibit hall

The session covered some basic topics that we all know and love... Aesthetics, content, regular posting, and then touched upon some additional topics such as: ad networks, affiliates, etc.; the actual "money making" portion, some of which I was unaware of and still need to delve into deeper. If you want to skip straight to the "money making", just scroll down towards the bottom.

If you want to make money on your blog, your blog should look like a professional blog. Aesthetics are important. It is suggested that you hire someone to create a "theme" for your or purchase a customizable theme. If you want to know more about getting started with Wordpress themes (of if you don't even know what I mean when I say "theme") perhaps you should start HERE, this is where I wrote about getting started.

The number one rule. Have well written, concise and compelling content. Easier said then done. Writing for a particular niche will also help sites with low traffic generate money from ads. For example, a general "travel blog" may have less targeted traffic versus a travel blog that specifically targets a particular destination. Such as my travel blog for Turkey - yes, that was a not-so-covert attempt at self promotion.

One other rule we bloggers all know but have trouble putting into practice is regular posting. The best way to generate traffic is to WRITE. Posting regularly (that could be twice a day or twice a week depending on your topic and audience) will generate more traffic. One suggestion was to schedule posts. Both Blogger & WordPress have a post later feature. You can write all your content when you have time, or you are "feeling it," and simply schedule your posts to publish for a later time or date.

Another key component to making money on your blog (or any site) is to keep people engaged, ON the site. Keeping your readers engaged and making it easy for them to navigate from one post to another related post increases the likely hood of them clicking on an ad. Keeping a section for labels or a tag cloud help but also having links to "Related Posts" at the bottom of each blog posts helps. I just started to do this a few weeks ago. WordPress has a "plugin" for related posts but I am not sure that Blogger does, I do it manually. "Related posts" are a great way for new readers to read older content, if your "related posts" are older. Though it is not a rule, the longer someone spends reading your blog, the more likely they are to "convert" into a sale.

I suppose the next step would be to talk about how to keep readers coming back to your site. I realize that this post is about how to make money on your site, but unless people are landing on your pages, the likelihood of you making money is slim. So let's cover that first.

Here were some pointers for building a readership:
  • Build a database of your clients - you can set up a mailing list on your blog to do this. You must ensure your readers that they will receive something worthwhile via your mailing list as well as ensuring them that you will respect their privacy

  • Once you've set up a mailing list, set up a database of your clients (or readers) and send them your newsletter

  • Set up an RSS feed to which your readers can subscribe

  • You can also utilize your Facebook feed to communicate your messaging to your personal network - either manually or via Social RSS

  • Look into FirstRSS - another WordPress plugin

  • Consider joining a blog network, ie., Networked Blogs, blogcatalog, Fuel My Blog

Finally the actual making money part

  • When using text links (affiliate marketing) remember that, whereas they work best, they can also hurt your google rankings

  • For ads, use a "call to action" on your blog posts - tell people to click on your ads. For example, CLICK ON MY HALLOWEEN AD TO YOUR RIGHT ====>>>>>

  • Coupon ads work very well and you it may be easier to obtain them from advertisers directly. (Or so I was told, I have yet to put this into practice)

  • Oh...and by the way....
    What I am listening to right now: Through The Wire by Kanye Wst

    Related Posts:
    Guy's Guide To Blogging...Leaving The Seat Up
    Random Things To Do When You've Been Laid Off

    Tuesday, October 20, 2009

    BlogWorld Overview

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    You should follow me on Twitter @leyla_a

    I plan to write a few more detailed posts on my experience at BlogWorld this past weekend but I wanted to start the first post off with a general overview. The trip in general, the parties, the sessions, some of the vendors who were present in the exhibit hall and some people I met.

    On Thursday morning, I woke up around 5:45a and finished packing. I hopped a cab to the Blue Line and took the train to O'hare. Arrived at my gate in plenty of time, got on board my United Flight and ordered a Bloody Mary. And then two more before I fell asleep (or passed out) for a few hours.

    Upon arrival in Las Vegas, I checked into the MGM Grand, dropped off my bags and headed to the convention center to pick up my credentials. At the convention center, I saw a friendly face, or two, said some "hellos" and ducked into a session.

    Join the top bloggers and new media experts in the world at BlogWorld Expo 2010

    That night there was a party at The Bank, a nightclub in the Bellagio. I got there early and was able to make a few connections, meet some new people, say hello to some Twitter friends who I met in "real life" for the first time. The event was good but when it opened to the public, the room got really loud and crowded. At this point in the evening, we searched for a place to have dinner.

    We ended up at Circo in the Bellagio for dinner. Our first course was great but our entrees sucked almost as badly as our server did. To top it off, we were seating next to two tables of very loud, Mexican dudes who felt that it was OK to stand up and walk around the restaurant making all the other diners uncomfortable. Apparently, they were spending enough $$$ to keep the staff from ignoring everyone in the restaurant with the exception of their tables (there were about 10 or 12 of them). The Mexican dudes picked up the check for the table next to us, however, we did not have such luck.

    Friday Morning. I headed down to the exhibit hall, I missed the first Keynote with Richard Jalichandra (which I regret because I really wanted to hear the dude from Technorati speak). But I did catch the last half of the second keynote that morning and I did get a chance to spend a good amount of time on the exhibit floor and meet some vendors. Here is a short list of the exhibitors I met:
    • Brown Paper Tickets Ticket service (like eventbrite) but also great for "online media" folks, you can write reviews for free tickets
    • blogcatalog a tool that helps you gain exposure for your blog
    • Associated Content where you can get paid for content
    • Demand Studios they also pay for content I believe
    • Lijit makes all your content searchable in one place through a widget or wijit (look to right for mine)
    • regator I am still figuring it out
    • My PR Genie a nice PR tool for small businesses

    As long as I am going through blanket overviews, I may as well touch upon the sessions that I attended on Friday and Saturday. I tried to attend as many as I could and many I wanted to attend overlapped with each other. It was difficult to determine which would be best. I will write about each one but for now, my short list:
    • Making Money on Your Blog
    • Affiliate Marketing
    • The New Celebrity with Jermaine Dupris, Anthony Edwards and 2 other people who were not really celebrities.
    • How to Build Social Media Buzz
    • How to Build Readership for Your Blog
    • No Such Thing as a Free Trip (for travel bloggers)

    Saturday Morning Keynote: The New Celebrity
    Entertainment Keynote

    I also got to meet a couple of "internet celebrities" - including Chris Brogan and more importantly Chad Vader!
    @chrisbrogan with @leyla_a Blogworld

    Me Kissing Chad Vader BlogWorld

    The closing keynote on Saturday night was tremendous fun. Guy Kawasaki hosted a "talk show" style event where he interviewed Kevin Pollak, Chad Vader and Jenny The Blogess.

    Saturday night, before the after party, we went to Craftsteak for dinner and "Larry Las Vegas" was our server/bartender. On a scale of 1 to....actually, there is NO scale by which to judge Larry. Larry was the best bartender/server I have ever my life! He knew the wine list up and down, the menu even better. He was kind, helpful, did not upsell and truly had a passion for food and wine. He made our experience exponentially better. Larry is exactly the type of server/bartender that I am looking for in a dining experience. I like my hand to be held and Larry held my hand all through dinner (figuratively speaking).

    If you'd like to attend BLOGWORLD this year - here is a coupon code
    Register for BlogWorld before 7/15 and SAVE up to $595 off your Full Access Pass!

    Monday, October 19, 2009

    My Halloween Blog Post

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    I love Halloween and I always have loved Halloween. So this post will be about, you guessed it, Halloween. Some of my favorite Halloween stories, quick snippets of good times. (p.s. skip to the end to find products for Halloween)

    One year, my ex-boyfriend and I decorated the front entrance of his house ghoulishly for the trick or treaters. Then from the basement window, we extended a smoke machine out onto the front steps. We also had SCARY MUSIC playing from the basement window. We waited and watched on the TV (from the video camera) the kids as they entered the front gate and approached the steps to the front door. The kids would hear the spooky music and then we would BLAST them with smoke from our remote control. It was awesome. The kids would run back out the gate screaming! Then we would open the front door laughing, put them at ease and give them candy. We usually had pretty awesome candy so they kept coming back.

    Probably about 7 or 8 years ago, I had a strong network of hot friends. And, like all good girls, we dressed like total hookers on Halloween. We gathered at my friend Shannon's house to take some pics and have a few cocktails prior to our big night out. We usually met up with the boys (Shannon's old college friends) at some bar or nightclub and had a blast. This particular year, I was a devil. Our friend -Heather brought some weird girl who was self-employed as a head-hunter and confessed that she was on medication for her shop-lifting problem. I had no clue there was medication for shop lifting. In any case, Girl X, as we'll call her, got pretty plastered and insisted on driving. Half of my girlfriends got in her car while the other half (including me) took a taxi. Her first 1.5 minutes driving, she blows off a red light and gets pulled over. Long story short, the girls in Girl X's Lexus go down to the station while my car/cab heads to the club. When the girls get there, we find that Girl X was detained because there was a warrant out for her arrest. Apparently, there was a warrant out for her arrest because she had beat up her ex-boyfriend and he was pressing charges. Nice.

    My final Halloween story
    took place when I was just a kid. My next door neighbors were incredible people. A nice Greek couple, an older couple, a doctor and his wife. They had a daughter named "Connie" and "Connie" was a single mom with five kids who (at the time) was living with my next door neighbors, the older couple. It was Halloween and Connie was going to a party dressed as Wonder Woman. Prior to her event, she stopped by to show off her costume to my parents. I recall standing in my kitchen looking at Connie dressed as Wonder Woman and thinking how smashing she looked, she truly NAILED the costume.

    As Connie stood in my kitchen doorway talking to my parents, something odd happened. A car was stopped in the intersection about 100 yards from my house. Two guys were attempting to get a young girl into their car. They had her by the arm and they were forcing her into the back seat of the car. The girl was yelling or screaming, she did not want to get into the car. As soon as the struggle became apparent to us, Connie started to yell at the boys. Then, within seconds, she started RUNNING towards the boys with the car. She safely got the young girl out of the car and saved the day!


    Sunday, October 11, 2009

    Marathon Weekend

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    During the marathon weekend, I decided to take it easy (and every weekend from now until June because I hate winter). I stayed in and cleaned my apartment a bit and put some unnecessary items on Craigslist. I worked on learning how to use the video editor installed on my computer and I sat on Twitter for practically 20 hours total. I've decided that instead of becoming a reclusive author, I'd like to become a reclusive Tweeter.

    I was up until about 3:00 or 3:30 a.m. last night, I just never got tired. I was up finishing stuff up around my apartment. This morning I woke up around 6:40 a.m. (yes that is 3 hours of sleep). My friend Charles phoned because we were going to watch his wife run the marathon. I picked Charles and his daughter Taylor up and we headed to the starting line. We were too late, the race had started so we rushed to the 2nd mile marker.

    At the second mile marker and never saw her.
    2nd Mile Marker Chicago Marathon @garrettpopcorn

    After that we raced back to Charles' house and grabbed two of his other kids (Charlie & Lulu) and headed to Morgan and Monroe, still were not able to see Erica (Charles' wife) but were able to see the pack of the first three leaders in the marathon, that was pretty cool.

    The Leaders of The Pack - Chicago Marathon First Three Guys Leading the Pack in Chicago Marathon

    We were also able to catch the Wheelchair racers, something I had never seen before so it was exciting.

    The Wheelchair Racers in The Chicago Marathon
    Wheelchair dudes in the Marathon

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    Saturday, October 10, 2009

    The Progression of Doug

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    Tonight, I would like to take you on a journey. I was tired earlier and I am no longer tired, therefore, I hope you will join me for a few minutes of fine entertainment as I take you through...The Progression of the Life of Doug.

    Approximately a week ago, perhaps slightly more, I noticed a strange bump on my forehead. I felt like a zit at first. A big zit, but it was very spread out. I thought perhaps the botox I injected in my forehead over the summer had my forehead so frozen that it stopping the zit from forming into a head. But that was not the case. The next day, I awoke to find a bump on my forehead about the size of a nickle, an oblong nickle. The bump hurt and it clearly stood out, raised from my forehead..

    Doug in the beginning
    Doug is growing

    On the first few days, there was not any redness, just a bump and pain. It was at this point that my friend Mike named him "Doug". (He stole it from the Family Guy). The following morning, Doug had taken over my face. Doug now stood in the way of my vision, he was putting pressure on my botox frozen forehead and causing my eyes to swell.

    Doug in full force
    Doug in the early phase

    One might not be able to see from the photo above, but the bridge of my nose was also swollen. And the large bump was pushing my eyes, almost making me look Asian. It was weird. At this point, many advised that I go see a doctor. But I know better than this. The last time I had a problem, my eye swelling incident (and I am SO MAD that I deleted those pictures), I went into my doctor's office. My doctor took one look at me and said, "Wow, that's pretty bad". He then asked me a bunch of questions that I knew I was already going to say "no" to. Like, did I eat something different, change detergent, blah blah blah. No, nothing was different, if I had done any of things, I would have said, "Oh my god, I ate shrimp last night and look at me now!" I had simply woken up one day with TWO HUGE PUFFY EYES. This time around, regarding Doug, I didn't need to pay him $100 to tell me to put Neosporin on it and come back if it persists. Instead, I figured I would see him should it persist. (this is a plug for Health Care reform!)

    Well, Doug did get worse before he got better.

    He went from a big bump with a slightly reddish tone to a GIANT RED DOT on my forehead that stood like 2 millimeters off my head. And, Doug really hurt! He itched and hurt!

    Super red and painful Doug
    Doug is at his prime

    I started to Tweet about Doug. I'd wake up and snap a photo and share it with my Twitter friends. They're all going to miss Doug that is why I am chronicling the life of Doug here in this blog.

    Doug scabbing over

    Doug is healing

    Doug, still lurking. Scabbed over completely and lurking.

    Doug...still lurking

    Today, I put a bit of make-up on Doug but I am only pretending to fool myself. When you have a GIANT thing in the middle of your forehead, you can put whatever you want on it, people are going to see it and laugh at you. So, now, I have this weird, red scabby thing on my forehead with gross, caked on brown make up on top of it. Oh wait, I should mention, it is totally raining in Chicago and my hair is an afro. I look totally hot.

    Nothing weird happens with Doug today but this evening, I am leaving the Film Festival and I get a little itch on my forehead where Doug lives (it happens often) and without even realizing, I pick the scab! I think "Oh, man, it is over!"

    I head out of the theater and over to Nordstrom to look at some shoes. I catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror of the shoe department and what do I see? DOUG IS BLOODY RED! I have a bloody dot on my forehead that is the brightest red it has ever been. And, it looks like a tiny butt-hole. The scab I picked was not quite ready! The skin under the scab was trying to heal and it was puckering to fill the hole where Doug lived. So, I had to walk around the mall with a bloody, red Butt-hole on my forehead. Then walk home too.

    I went to my mom's for dinner and she mocked me. Pointed at my face and threw her head back in laughter. That was fun. But I think the worst is behind us.

    Doug...oh his way OUT!

    Related Posts:

    Friday, October 2, 2009

    2016 Olympic Dreams - CRUSHED!

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    Today the Olympic committee announced their pick for the 2016 games. Chicago was a contender along with Tokyo, Madrid and Rio. Chicago was eliminated in the first round, next Tokyo, finally Madrid was eliminated leaving Rio as the winner to host the 2016 Olympics.

    News broke via Twitter around 10:40 a.m. I just finished with a grad student at DePaul, we were going over web marketing tactics, got my coffee and logged onto Twitter. The first tweet I read was "I think I am going to cry". And...I knew.

    Why did I care so much?
    Though it may not seem like it to those who know me, I have a tremendous amount of civic pride. I really love Chicago. Having said that, I should tell you that I don't like sports, I don't eat deep dish pizza, I don't drink Old Style (or beer in general for that matter). I think Chicago is a wonderful balance of affordable, cosmopolitan living, beautiful architecture and landscape, and most of all, opportunity.

    I worked for years as a volunteer with the Chicago International Film Festival. When the festival would come to Chicago, I would often volunteer in the hospitality suite, where the international press, actors, directors, producers, etc., would visit each day. Time and time, I would hear people say that they could not believe how big Chicago was or how impressed they were by the architecture. This shocked me, it was clear that people living outside the US (and often times living in the US) did not know anything about Chicago.

    As a global citizen, I was excited for the Olympics. I wanted to feel that international competition. I wanted to see thousands of people from all over the world walking my streets in eager anticipation of their home country athletes competing successfully. I was excited for the development. I was excited for the potential growth. But most of all, I was really excited to showcase my beautiful city for the world to see.

    Some reasons why I love Chicago

    • Food. We have top notch dining in Chicago. Probably some of the best in the world.

    • Architecture. Chicago is home to some of the "most forward thinking architecture in the world."

    • The Arts. The Lyric Opera of Chicago is one of the leading opera houses in the country and certainly a contender worldwide. Not only do they produce incredible productions with globally recognized talent, the opera house is also one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world from an architectural standpoint. The entire building is a hybrid of Art Nouveau and Art Deco styles. I could go on and on regarding the arts but I will only mention one other. The Art Institute founded in 1879, the collection encompasses more than 5000 works of human expression from around the world.

    • The Park District. Over 7600 acres of park area with 24 miles of beach area. Thanks to Aaron Montgomery Ward, Grant Park has been protected since 1836 to remain "forever open, clear and free". I hope Aaron Montgomery Ward continues to protect Grant Park from his grave.

    I could keep this list going all day. I just wanted to express my feelings for the Olympic bid - why I wanted the Olympics here, the importance of the Olympics and my love for the city of Chicago. I wish the best for Rio and I hope that the people of Chicago will work to improve their government so that we can continue to grow and prosper as a city.

    Related Post: Willis Tower

    Thursday, October 1, 2009

    Always Be Social

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    I recently spoke with social media expert and travel guru Michael Dalesandro, CEO of to discuss his views on the social media landscape and the nature of his business. Michael had a lot to say about brand engagement in regards to social media, how social media is becoming the main gateway to the internet and how relevance is what drives purchasing decisions. Brands can speak to their customers where they live online and how they can turn that conversation into profit.

    Michael's many responsibilities as CEO of Where I've Been include leading the strategic direction, positioning, finances and business development of the company. Because of his obsessive bidding at a charity auction, Michael purchased a trip around the world and has not stopped traveling since. His favorite travel destinations include Istanbul, Florence & Bali. Michael is a career long entrepreneur who started in the financial and derivatives space.

    In our conversation, Michael focused on the fact that we no longer live in a "push" society, where advertisers push their messaging onto the consumer. The evolution is that social media is fast becoming a place where brands must become part of the conversation versus just deliver the message. Certain consumer brands, like Coca Cola, realize the relevance of social media, whereas, other segments are taking longer to find ways to engage their audiences. An exception to this is, Michael Dalesandro, a local Chicago business owner, his travel company embraces the conversation and understands the importance of always being social.

    Five years ago, "social media" was not a top gateway to the Internet. People went online to search (Yahoo, Google, MSN) or check email. Today, that has shifted significantly. Many users are going online to check their Facebook pages, they are receiving information on Facebook, looking for information, whereas five years ago they relied mostly on search.

    Where I've Been's goal is helping figure out where they want to go based on where their friends have been. People share their travels by the easy graphical interface. People use social media, they love to brag and they love to share. Travelers, in particular, like to share their experiences and people love to know where their friends have been - whether it is planning your next trip to Rome or what Italian restaurant to visit, right here in Chicago's Little Italy. Where I've been is able to focus on both the Global and Local. Our goal is to help you get to where you want to go and what to do when you get there based upon your friends experiences. Traditionally this conversation has taken place on the phone or in person, we've taken that conversation and brought it online enhancing it by adding beautiful visuals and maps.

    Started out on Facebook
    Started back in June of 2007, when founder Craig Ulliott wanted to share with his friends where he's been so he created a Facebook application. The creation of the original application took a weekend and from there, it ended up growing to over 9 million users. Being a seasoned entrepreneur, I was involved with a local design shop Blueye where Shannon Smith introduced me to Craig. We currently have eight employees (four developers, a community manager, content manager, account manager and me).

    What is next for Where I've Been
    We give our users the tools to create the conversation between each other, to share their experiences and we allow them to become the experts on travel. We want to socially enable the travel community. We want to be make it so people can see their map when they're booking their flights and hotels.

    Collected over a half a billion travel intents (where people disclose where I've been, where I want to go and where I've lived on the WIB site) and by extending that relevance to other travel sites, we can not only socially enable our partners but by leveraging our rich database of travel intent and travel conversation, our partners and users can continue the conversation, seamlessly, throughout the social, travel web.

    Other facts about WIB

    Where I've Been is a Chicago start up, they reside in a loft office in the Bucktown neighborhood. They currently have 836,000 monthly active users on Facebook application, whereas, American Airlines has 1,402, Priceline has 99 active users on their Facebook application, Travelzoo doesn't have an application, nor do they have any fans. Michael Dalesandro refuses to leave Chicago because he understands that there is a really strong Social Media movement here that got started with the Obama Campaign.