Sunday Morning Soliloquy - Musings of an Urbanite: December 2010

Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 New Year's Resolutions

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Here we go...Leyla's New Year's Resolutions for 2011!

  1. To plan my first group trip to Turkey! 10 days in Turkey in September of '11 - Istanbul, Cappadocia and Bodrum. I am organizing this through my family's travel agency - Artun Travel and should have details available next week! If you're interested, contact me @leyla_a or leave a comment.
  2. To get more people to guest post on my travel blog! It is so hard to find guest posters!! So, if you want to post, tweet me @leyla_a or tweet @artuntravel OR, just leave a comment below.
  3. To keep better track of my finances and organize them on a monthly, if not weekly, basis. This way I will not have to do them all at once, especially since my business is growing and I have more to update. Tax time this year is going to suck.
  4. A continuation of #1, I need to learn to use QuickBooks. I thought it would be a piece of cake! Just enter your stuff and you're ready to go. But no, not that easy. They ask you all sorts of questions that I cannot comprehend! I am hoping there is a tutorial video somewhere - if you know of one, leave me a link in the comments below.
  5. To become a better writer. I start Grammar and Writing classes the first week of January at the Feltre School in Chicago. Thank you to @JenStuart27 for the recommendation.
  6. To take better care of myself. I am becoming a hunch back because I am on my computer 18 hours a day. I do want to lose weight, but more importantly, I want to feel good again. I used to work out regularly and in the last two years I've turned into a slug. I am going to start with Yoga - hopefully through Sko-fit.
  7. To help my friends and colleagues more than I already do. I love connecting people and sharing my connections. I am so rewarded when I hear that a mutually beneficial relationship is made as a result of my efforts or an introduction I've made. I'm like a corporate match-maker.
  8. To learn how to use my stupid Android Phone. I got the Google Nexus S from my bro-ham and I miss my BlackBerry 9780 Bold!
  9. To learn how to use my new camera Canon EOS Rebel T1i Digital SLR Camera.I bought this awesome camera, it takes amazing pictures, I have the bells and whistles but I keep it on AUTO, so basically, I have a giant point and shoot. I want to do cool things and learn how to utilize the functionality.
  10. On that note, I want to create more visual content for my blogs. The point of the new Canon EOS Rebel T1i Digital SLR Camera purchase was to take more pictures for my blogs and my professional site as opposed to purchasing stock photography.
  11. To use my Whiteboard that I just bought this morning. I am a list maker but I need those lists to stare me in the FACE, otherwise, I trick myself and pretend not to see the tasks I am supposed to be doing.
  12. To be nicer to people and more thoughtful of others, especially my close friends and family who do SO MUCH for me. I've been single for so long, I have forgotten what it is like to think of others first, or to put someone before me.
  13. To help all my clients actualize their marketing initiatives. This is always a goal of mine, but I am getting bigger projects and I am getting business where people really believe in the projects. It is exciting to finally be working with people who want to see progress versus clients who just think they should be doing something to do something.
  14. To blog in my professional blog more. I just re-launched my new website (yes, this is a hint for you to go take a look) and started my first "Professional" Marketing blog. I write in this blog (Sunday Morning Soliloquy) about professional items all the time, in fact, my last post could be considered professional, but the goal is to move all professional content to my other blog.
  15. My goals for Sunday Morning Soliloquy. I want to be more funny, more revealing and more personal. That was the original objective of this blog (aside from teaching myself about affiliate marketing).
  16. Become a better affiliate marketer. I am going to Affiliate Summit West Coast in 8 days so meet me at Affiliate Summit West 2011! I keep getting better, slowly. It is a process, but has been a great source and my friend @JasonRubacky has been a great help. Jason takes time with affiliates, like me, who have NO clue what they're doing. @JasonRubacky assists you individually and gives you pointers on how to drive more traffic and make more money. He is awesome and he is a really nice guy.
  17. To develop my personal brand. Ugh. I hate the thought of this. I really enjoy being LEYLA! But I realize that I must create a more professional, personal brand. Don't worry, I will never lose the fun, energetic, passionate side of myself.
  18. VIDEO VIDEO VIDEO. I want to become better at creating and marketing video content. I want to learn all I can about this, so if you have ANY information regarding video content LEAVE A BLOG COMMENT!
  19. To develop my business. If all goes well, I hope to have my first full-time hire in '11. An assistant, oh how I'd love to have an assistant. We'd be so close and love each other so much!
  20. To make more money!!!!! Hells yeah I do! I want to make tons of it, more than I can count. So much money that I light my cigars with $100 bills! (P.S. I don't smoke cigars, unless I am in Vegas and then I smoke ROMEO Y JULIETA or Arturo Fuente Hemingway Short Story)
  21. I want to make more money so I can buy more shoes! These shoes in particular. Until I get there, how about a chip-in? (Look to my widget on the top right column or check out this post).

There you have it, my resolutions! They're not really resolutions but more general practices I need to put in place in order to function at a level that I want to function as a human and as a professional.

I am really looking forward to 2011 and I am really grateful for the lessons learned in '08, '09 and '10! I even wrote a blog post about the Lessons Learned from the recession.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Web Marketing Tools and Geeky Stuff

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On a weekly basis, I am asked about various web marketing tools I use, so I created a list....

Believe me, two years ago, I couldn't tell you what ANY of these things were. I recently found an old piece of paper with my notes regarding various blogging platforms, a pro and con list - it was so cute. It was as if I had just found my fifth grade journal. I've come a long way in a short period of time, but that has also made me the ask-monkey. When you ask me about anything that has to do with Wordpress themes, web hosting, email marketing, and any other weird web related thing... I will send you this blog post.

Let's start with y favorite thing in the whole world!

MOO Business Cards, MiniCards and Postcards - Create unique cards using your own photos or designs to help your business stand out! I use Moo Cards for my blog business cards because they are fun, quirky and cute! They aren't web-related but for some reason, everyone on the web uses Moo Cards!

My second favorite thing in the world HOOTSUITE

To manage my various Twitter accounts, I use Hootsuite. Hootsuite is free (like other services) but they off a pro version that is ad-free and allows you more functionality.

Wordpress Templates

Once you've purchased your domain name (from below) you can go ahead and install Wordpress - but then, it will just be super bland and lame until you add a template. Some templates are easier to use than others, some are more customizable. The more customization, the more code and technical stuff you will need to know.

You can just keep it easy and call me. I will do it for you for a low, low price. Otherwise, here is what I recommend:

There is another company called WooThemes - they offer various Premium WordPress Templates. The pricing is fair and they also have themes for Joomla and Drupal sites too. Here are some of my fave WooThemes - WordPress Templates (they're pretty self explanatory):

Last but not least, THEMEFOREST.NET this is where I purchased the Lotus Marketing Services Wordpress theme. Here, you are going to find the most themes and the cheapest themes. HOWEVER, keep in mind, you will probably see your same theme on 100 different sites. These themes do not offer the same customization options as some of the others, and for that reason, they are easier for the newbie.

Domain Registration and Hosting

I literally get asked this on a weekly basis, if not more. I cannot tell you how shocked I am that SO MANY people use They are NOT for me. They sell to newbies, start them off with a super affordable, basic package, and then you get stuck with the add-ons. From what I know, they have good customer service and if you feel you must, go for it! Here is a link:

Two web hosting companies I've used myself and I can vouch for:

Here are some other domain registration services and hosting services:

Web 2.0 Marketing Tools

Web Press Releases
Your site is live! Your are ready to sell, blog and promote whatever it is you are here for! Good for you, now what? You need to get the word out, right? How does one drive traffic to their site, that is the age old question. There are ways, many ways, and Web Press releases are just one of the options.

Several web release tools are at your fingertips, like PR Web and PR Newswire. I've used PR Web's basic plan which I found almost worthless. When I used their Advanced Plan ($200) or their Premium Plan ($360), I was picked up by a journalist. If you go with PR Web, use the Advanced Plan or the Premium Plan. Unless you have about $1300+ to spend on a release, you're more than likely not going to use PR Newswire.

To keep it basic, web releases put your information into online news streams like Google News and Yahoo News, so your information (company name, web links) will show up in a search. If you pay more, the reputable sites will host your release on their site for journalists and bloggers to peruse and potentially pick up. If you pay even more, they will release them to a few premier news outlets.

You're going to hear sales people tell you things like "It is better for SEO" and "Our releases are Social Media friendly...a lot of hog wash and a lot of smoke and mirrors. They add a "Share" button to your release, charge you $130 extra, and call it "Social Media friendly". Generally, what happens is, your press release content gets scraped by spam blogs that are loaded up with ads. This does help you generate links back to your site. Does this help your search results? A tiny bit. Do I still use a web release? Yes, I do from time to time - but I still pick up the phone and call journalists when something is really happening.

Email Marketing:
I used Constant Contact for years, it was one of the first, affordable email services for the masses. I never loved the look/feel of Constant Contact emails. When my list grew beyond a certain number, Constant Contacts pricing almost doubled. They also do not have the capabilities for multiple sign-up lists, which is what I needed most. I manage four sites where people can opt-in for emails and I have to be able to use Mad Mimi email service without mixing up the lists.

I looked into many email marketing services and ended up with Mad Mimi. Mad Mimi offers the best pricing for lists under 5000 ($24 a month but FREE if you have under 100 emails). Their interface and user experience is simple and fun to use. They offer clean designs and templates where you can easily change colors, drop in photos and add links. Literally, a first grader can run an email campaign with Mad Mimi. Their reporting is good, you can see who clicked on what links, who forwarded your emails and how many times they opened each email. A lot like other services. The added benefit its, whenever I need something from Mad Mimi, I tweet them and they reply almost immediately (within regular business hours).

If your email lists have grown beyond a certain number (more than 20,000) and you are sending multiple emails from multiple accounts to various market segments, perhaps it is time to look for a bigger email marketing company. For that, I would recommend iContact provides a robust array of tools to create, send and track your email marketing campaigns. Try it FREE today!

Two other email marketing companies I found, but did not spend too much time researching, but you can check them out: 1) Infusionsoft and see how they stack up to the competition. 2) An email marketing company that claims to be very intuitive and easy to use. It's the only email marketing applications that offers every customer a private IP address - they are called StreamSend

Other Odds and Ends You May Ask Me About

Fonts, Graphics and Other Stuff:
I don't use fonts and graphics all too often but when I do need to find a cool font or when I am working on a project where I need a graphic or clip art. Here are some sources I use:

Let's Finish With - Geeky Stuff and Weird Web Stuff:

Dear Lord, this post took me FOREVER to write! And, yes, almost all of these links are affiliate links. Believe me, I guarantee I will make like $.30 for writing this post. I really wrote it because I am tired of having to recite all the information each time someone decides they want to start a blog or a website and want to suck my brain for free information.

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Wednesday, December 22, 2010

YSL Tribtoo Platform Pump - Me Likey!

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When I was a little girl, I was a saver...but that was a long time ago.

As a child, I had a disturbing saving habit. I would stash away lunch money and my allowance and stockpile loads of cash. One year, when I was 12, I bought everyone in the family expensive Christmas presents. As my brothers and parents opened their gifts, my parents started to question me, "Where did you get these?" After telling them that I had been saving for one year, and that I had managed to put away about $600.00, I got in a lot of trouble.

My parents asked me to show them where I kept my cash, which I did and they were shocked. Were they mad at me or were they really mad at themselves because their 12 year old had managed to quietly put away $600.00 without either of them noticing? Or because I had not eaten lunch in a year? You decide, but don't think this was the first time I outsmarted my parents, that game started when I was 9 months old.

This frugal lifestyle continued through high school and college. In high school I worked 30 hours a week so I could go to France as an exchange student my senior year. I brought enough cash with me to buy a Chanel purse on the Champs-Elysees. I paid for college myself and worked full time and part time to put myself through grad school (about 13K a year in cash at the time).

All this ended in 1999. In 1999, I started to work for Blackbird restaurant as a hostess while finishing up grad school. Until I started working at Blackbird, I had never given much through to couture clothing or designers. I had a few pieces that my mother had purchased for me, my first YSL top I received as a gift when I was 19, I still wear it today. But, I grew up a tom boy and my teens and 20s were in the grunge era - I was grunge before grunge was cool. I very well may have invented grunge.

Sixth Grade ?

Driving home from U2 in '92

In '99 at Blackbird, I was introduced to the lifestyle of the fabulously hopeless. Models and beautiful women banking every last penny that any credit card would lend them on the hopes that they could marry a wealthy man. Girls who would literally go out at night wearing $1000 outfits with less than $10.00 in their wallet. These women assumed it was your pleasure to even converse with them and that you should feel honored to buy them a drink. I was shamelessly sucked into their lifestyle of extravagance.

This was where I picked up my terrible spending habit. Nights in fancy restaurants eating decadent food and sipping champagne older than I was. Fancy hotels, last minute, first class trips to South Beach, NYC and Las Vegas. Black tie events. Cocktails after work. Manicures, pedicures, hair, make-up, etc. I went from a frugal saver to a spendthrift almost overnight. Don't judge, I regret none of it and refuse to divulge any of it, you wouldn't believe me if I told you anyway.

One year, I had to decide between buying a new stove or a pair of beautifully constructed, gold Gucci pants. I did the right thing and bought the stove, but don't think for ONE minute that I don't constantly dream of those gold Gucci pants. Eric from Gucci and I think back fondly on the gold pants and how darling they were on me.

Where does this leave me now? It leaves me in a terrible place. I adore beautiful things and firmly believe I should own them. I appreciate and love my handbags, my gorgeous hosiery, my finely knit sweaters, my luxurious make-up and my fantastic shoes. I am, however, more careful these days. I have been eyeing this shoe for some time now. I own the gold YSL Tribut sandal (in my header above) and regret not purchasing the simple, black pump. This does not have to be a regret any longer - with your help, we can make this happen.

This is why I come to you, the reader of this blog. I get about 1400 to 2000 unique visitors per month, which means if each of you give me just .50 cents, I can have my Tribtoo Platform by Yves St. Laurent. The picture above is my dream shoe. I am going to Affiliate Summit West Coast in Las Vegas in January and I would like to wear them then.

Just feel free to click here below and donate to my shoe cause. Thank you dear reader. I look foward to your blog comments and promise to publish all of them, regardless of how nasty they may be (no profanity please). Remember, Christmas is about giving!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Tricky Monday

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It has been a rough Monday!

My brother gave me a Google Nexus S for Festivus this year, I received it on Friday and I was thrilled when I opened the box. I tried to get the phone to work and failed until Sunday afternoon when I went into Best Buy and they helped me there to get it working. Next came the massive issues.

Setting up my emails, all of my personal emails seemed to work just fine, the exception was my work email. My Twitter accounts moved over easily, I simply installed Hootsuite and everything was there when I easily logged into my account. The biggest problem is the keyboard. I hate touchscreen and cannot type a darn thing. I also don't know how to turn anything off, I do not know how to hang up. Clearly, you don't just exit the screen, if you do not hit "end" the call doesn't stop.

Today has been a day of me trying to fix my emails, fix my phone, argue with myself, yell in frustration at the phone. And bark at people who don't deserve to be barked at (like my mom and @mknox999).

I did not accomplish much work-wise due to my technical difficulties and I was feeling terrible about it. I always have to remind myself that people who work in offices have technical difficulties that get in the way of their work too and that sometimes you just need to deal with it.

Anyway, that is my Monday gripe. Now, I am off to buy some client gifts and try to get my Clear internet fixed so maybe I can get some work finished at home tonight.

Happy Monday.

Friday, December 17, 2010

What a Busy Week

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It has been a busy few weeks!

It started at some point about two weeks or three ago, I went to Cabo San Lucas, I picked up a new piece of business, and I have been working to catch up and get myself up to speed.

Everything came to head with all the events I have had for the past few weeks. On November 30th, I had the "Un-Corporate Holiday Event" On Wednesday, I had the NoMI Wine Tasting event, which was great, and I still have not had a chance to write it up but here are the photos. At the end of last week, I had a corporate holiday party I was organizing. I spent all day Friday finishing up running errands for the event.


In addition to the parties on Wednesday and Friday, I also had a black tie on Saturday night. The Holly Ball that raises money for The Children Charities. My dress was made for me and it was barely finished in time. A navy silk chiffon.

Leyla on The Way to Holly Ball

Sunday was calm, but the madness started again with an event on Tuesday night with a going away party for a friend followed by the Social Media Chicago Mad Men party on Thursday night.

SMC Chicago Mad Men Holiday Party

It's been a busy week indeed. It is Friday night, I will get some rest tonight and then wake up tomorrow and put in a full eight hour day - I work on Saturdays - most Saturdays. I have a deadline.

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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Who is @Leyla_A

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Who Is @Leyla_A

When I started this blog and opened my Twitter account, I was just someone trying to teach myself a bit about digital marketing, follow some knowledgeable people and maybe make some friends. These days, sometimes I feel like I am not Leyla Arsan but playing the part of @Leyla_A on this blog and on Twitter.

Leyla on her BlackBerry

It all started one night when I was un-followed by a former client

Almost two years ago, very late at night, in a private conversation, I said the word s**t on Twitter as an @reply to one person in specific. The next day, I received an email that a former client had chosen to block me on Twitter because of my choice of words. I was really hurt because I felt as I had behaved so unprofessionally. But it was late at night and it was an @reply to one person. That is the day I remember as the day my online life forever changed.

Am I just being dramatic? Sort of, I am. I do choose to be a very public person. I do choose to reveal a lot of information about myself, my business, my clients, etc. and I know this results in people having impressions, opinions and expectations of me. The reason I say my life forever changed, is because from that day forward, I started to actively keep myself aware of how people react to me online.

I would specifically write various blog posts to test traffic levels and bounce rates. The more personal information I revealed, the more time people spent on my blog. The posts I would write where I expressed a stronger opinion, I would receive a greater reaction - sometimes negatively, sometimes positively. The more emotion I would pour into my posts, the more emotion I would get back from my readers.

scream and shout

I don't care who you are, putting yourself out there creates stress. For me, when my posts, my links, my comments, my tweets, etc., are positively received, I feel like I am on top of the world. When someone un-follows me or when someone has something negative to say about me, my work, my comments, my posts, etc., I feel like a tremendous failure. It is a roller coaster ride.

Back to my original subject matter...Who is @Leyla_A? I am someone who takes my work seriously even though it does not seem like it at times. I like to joke around and, at times, my sense of humor can lead some to believe that I am aloof - but that is hardly the case. All I do is work, so it has to be fun and it has to be funny, but it does not mean that I am not serious.

Because I work for myself, this is the most aggressive I have ever been in my career and I plan to keep this ball rolling. I feel satisfied with what I am doing particularly because I am able to carve out exactly what I want to do for a living. I like creating social media and event marketing campaigns and projects for clients and I am doing it. I also love blogging - I love sharing my life, my thoughts, my opinions, my successes, my failures and my boring, everyday life. Mostly, I grateful for the audience, I honestly never thought anyone would ever care about what I had to say...but month after month, they keep caring.

Thanks for reading my blog!

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  • Thursday, December 2, 2010

    My Best Event To Date Was - The Un-Corporate Holiday Party

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    I am not one to toot my own horn or pat myself on the back. I once wrote a blog post about what a terrible self-promoter I am: Self Promotion Takes Some Getting Used to (But I Still Hate It).

    In this post, I am going to give myself some much deserved credit.

    On Tuesday, November 30th, I hosted "The Un-Corporate Holiday Party" - an event for self-employed or entrepreneurs where we collected toys for Dreams For Kids. I have not worked for a company since October of 2008 and I wanted to do something where we had the opportunity to celebrate just like our corporate counter-parts. I want to THANK everyone who came out on Tuesday.

    SAKE  - our set up for the event

    So what did I do?
    I hosted a sushi and sake class at SUSHISAMBA . Twenty of us gathered at 6:00 p.m. for sake inspired cocktails (sake caipirinhas with muddled berries or muddle mango). Next up, we had five courses paired with five, premium sakes.

    So what's the big deal?
    Each of the sakes we tried were premium, unique sakes that would retail for about $11 to $14 a glass or about $80 a bottle. For the food portion of the evening, we had sea bass anticuchos, edamame, tiger shrimp and sweet potato tempura. Next up, we rolled our OWN sushi rolls - some much better than others. And finished with a warm chocolate banana cake.

    Who showed up, What was the party like?
    It was awesome. It was really awesome. We had a great group of independent marketers, creatives (writers, designers), web entrepreneurs, traders and lawyers. Many of my Twitter friends/followers were present but there were several friends who showed up from my advertising agency days creating a great balance. Everyone was excited about meeting each other, about chatting about work, chatting about family and truly getting to know one another better.

    I am really proud of the outcome of this event, it turned out exactly the way I envisioned. It was sophisticated, the crowd was friendly and excited to meet one another. Each guest had something contribute in terms of conversation and personality. The food was great, the drinks were FLOWING and everybody learned something too.

    The real crowd pleaser was Chef Shige. Shige taught the sushi portion of the class where he explained the various styles of sushi making. Everyone had the opportunity to roll their own sushi roll with the assistance of Shige.