• Self promotion WITHOUT crossing the line into douchebaggery

    Self promotion without being a douchebag

    It’s a fine line, isn’t it?

    The topic cropped up at work the other day – how some people successfully build a profile without coming across as total asshats. Figures who seem to do it naturally and almost effortlessly. Who are almost universally liked and seem genuinely lovely.

    I have a few thoughts on this:

    Twitter is where it’s at

    Seriously. You cannot deny the power of Twitter in the age of brand-building. Funnily enough, many of the earlier adopters and self-style social media gurus (at least from an NZ perspective) have now more or less disappeared from Twitter entirely.

    More shallowly, that TV confers legitimacy

    TV is still sort of the lowest common denominator. And there’s the glamour factor. Everybody I know who has appeared on telly can tell you that everyone comments on it. TV, so freely and widely accessible, reaches people you wouldn’t expect.

    Very rarely does anyone ever say they saw something I wrote online. On the other hand, dear biddies such as my mother’s friends have seen my byline in the newspaper and taken notice. And when a news camera once panned over a media scrum, a crowd of which I was part of, amazingly, an acquaintance of mine noticed my split second of fame and immediately sent me a message about it.

    Selflessness, humility and humour goes a long way

    Being good at self-promotion, without being a douchebag, inherently involves conversing with others and generally being a good bugger about it. Having a personality that shines through, consistently. Doing it the right way means building high awareness without hitting oversaturation. Being in relevant media, yet not quoted everywhere you look.

    Being articulate, and ideally, quick off the mark

    Twitter is great for those who can come up with witty quips. There’s a lot to be said for being concise and quick of tongue (and typing fingers). But being able to write well in longer form is invaluable. There’s a lot of money (and profile building) to be had in speaking/MCing at events, but cultivating your own content today is so easy to do, you’d be foolish not to, be it regular columns, reviews, or your own blogs or books.

    On that note, I’m constantly dismayed at how many businesses in New Zealand fail at content marketing. Intellectually, I get it. They’re corporates. They don’t understand editorial.

    Ask yourself: Would I want to read this? Are we only ever talking about ourselves on [insert any social network of your choice] ? Does every blog post end with a sales pitch?

    If the answer to any of the above is no, then pass Go, do not collect $200, and start again.

    On another, slightly related tangent, the new Advertising Standard Authority rules here are interesting, particularly the guideline that people who are paid to tweet should mark their tweets with the hashtag #ad.

    I’ve done some sponsored tweets through Mylikes in the past on my blog Twitter account – tweets where you are paid per click, sometimes based on location.

    When that first began, those tweets (sent directly from their site using their Twitter interface system) used to be unmarked, but today I think they are automatically appended with (spon) at the end, and you don’t have the option to remove it.

    But what about tweets that are not strictly paid for? As part of my job I go to my fair share of PR events. At a recent lunch I instagrammed and tweeted pics of the lunch, and used their designated hashtag. I wasn’t compensated for that. I did it because the food was amazing and I wanted to share it of my own accord, and as they were sufficiently up with the play to have organised a hashtag, it was no trouble to use it. I would do the same if I was eating out on my own dime (I’m one of THOSE annoying instagram users), and I’d usually make the effort to @ the restaurant if they’re on Twitter.

    Or for example at TedX Auckland recently, I queued up for my free drink at the coffee stall, which was sponsored by Kordia. I tweeted a pic of my cup (complete with logo), because I was genuinely impressed with the freebie hot chocolate. Plus, events live and die by sponsorship and I figured I’d do my bit by helping plug one of the supporting companies.

    What’s your take on the commercialising of social media? Who do you admire for building a public profile from the ground up, and why?

  • Online shopping: a New Zealand perspective

    Since I got my first and only credit card back in 2007 (I still have the same one, although obviously not the exact same physical card as I’ve been through a couple of expiry dates, but the same account nonetheless) I’ve made many big purchases online. Mostly things like hotel reservations, flights, concert tickets.

    When it comes to buying physical goods online, I stick to smaller items. Guitar strings and contact lenses are SO much cheaper online than in shops. I bought my voice recorder and phone recording adapter online. I’ve bought a handful of clothes online, which is okay when you stick to a label you know and where you’re familiar with their sizing. I even played it risky and bought a bass amp online once (a trusted brand, of course).

    My Pretty Pennies recently had a bad experience buying clothes online, which actually inspired this post. See, I recently made my biggest ever purchase of physical goods online. T bought aftermarket full fairings for his bike (which he’s been working on), which cost not far off $1000. They arrived safely, are the right colour, shape and fit, and allowed for an all-round sigh of relief (although for some reason they packaged and sent one lot of bolts separately. Bizarre).

    To date, my only real damp squib remains picking up a genuine leather jacket off TradeMe that was never, ever going to fit me.

    We suffer from high prices and lack of choice here (on a related note, see Vanessa’s guest post on the headache that is shopping in Canada) though NZ Post has a new service, YouShop, that lets NZ shoppers buy items from US online stores to be delivered to a US address, and then on to their NZ address (circumventing policies that exclude NZ delivery, or impose high shipping charges). So it’s no surprise that online shopping is serious biz.

    That said, I’m definitely cautious about buying things off the internet, a fear that rises in proportion with the amount at stake.
    Here’s what I take into consideration.

    Is it a commodity? If so, it’s probably cheaper online. Books, CDs, etc.

    Can I check it out in person first, somehow? I bought my glasses online, but only after I was able to try the exact same pair on in a retail shop. That  was uber important to me because I have a ridiculously wide head and flat nose/face, which means very few frames fit properly. After that, by all means buy the exact same item online at a major discount.

    What about shipping? Shipping costs can kill a bargain. Apparently everyone loves Asos thanks to its free freight around the world. I’m keeping that in mind for the future (when I’m off my shopping ban), but not knowing anything about their sizing, I’d be wary.

    What do you buy online?

  • Five advice columns you need in your life

    5 advice columns you should be reading

    I love me a good advice column. Even more so when it’s penned by a sharp woman who is ONTO it. Here are my regular must-reads.

    Ask A Manager

    Alison Green is one of the most prolific bloggers in my Google Reader, posting multiple times a day with answers to a multitude of reader questions spanning the gamut from job-hunting to job-leaving and everything in between, like dealing with icky bosses and sucky colleagues. Your one-stop shop for everything workplace advice.

    Pink Slipped

    Susannah Breslin’s Forbes column is not strictly advice. But it is a no-BS column that often offers food for thought for writers and entrepreneurs, some of it actionable, some more thought-provoking and some just plain entertaining, like her frequent journalistic pieces about the porn industry (her beat).


    Jen Dziura is the kind of intelligent, successful woman I could only ever dream of being. The smartest, most thoughtful agony aunt for professional dilemmas (the Cheryl Strayed for the workplace, perhaps), she is an idol among the other Gen Y females at my workplace.

    Penelope Trunk

    This lady needs no introduction. Love her or hate her, agree with her or not, she calls it like she sees it and often gets it right. Brutally honest (sometimes too open, some might say) and always provocative.

    Smart, Pretty, Awkward

    Molly Ford has built a successful blog off a very simple formula: three short snippets every day to help you be smarter, prettier and (less) awkward. Fun but practical bite-sized tips you can implement right there and then.

    What are your favourite advice blogs?

  • Tuesday Three: Twitter tripups

    Oh, I know posts on social media sins are so overdone. But today I just felt like tackling my top three pet peeves on Twitter.

    Incorrect use of @usernames. Example: Niche sports site runs a post on Jeremy Lin’s top five moments. It might tweet: @JLin7 is basketball’s new wonderboy. Check out his best scores: bit.ly/whatever. If you’re starting off a tweet with an @name, it will only be visible to you, the person @named and anyone who happens to follow BOTH of you. The fix: place a full stop, quote mark, RT or something else ahead of the @name so it’s public. (I see this all the time at work, particularly by smaller businesses RTing our content, and I just don’t have time to point it out to every single one – but I think I may have to find the time!). 

    Asking for retweets. Common among newbs and people who don’t get that social media is not just for pushing marketing messages. I’ve seen it too many times. “Check out my latest post on how to make money online. Please RT!” Don’t beg. It’s not pretty. Yeah, I’m calling you out.

    Overuse of hashtags. “Why @Pinterest is the hottest thing ever! #tech #socialmedia #marketing #digital #pinterest” It’s ugly. It looks amateur. It makes many of us a lot less likely to even look at your tweet. One or two appropriate hashtags at a time will suffice.

  • My blogging footprint

    My history dabbling in the management and running of websites dates back to the turn of the century.

    I had an S Club 7 fan site hosted on homepage.com. I was actually pretty proud of it. I had a wicked nav bar which changed colour as you rolled over the menu buttons (I stole the CSS off another site and tweaked it), a Bravenet hit counter, guestbook, photos, lyrics to every single song of theirs and MP3s for downloads.

    Shit, copyright holders would have had a field day back in this wild west of content. I honestly don’t remember where I got all those image, music and video files that I linked to – presumably off various other S Club 7 sites without a thought to rights. That’s how things were.

    I think I also had a Tripod site (simply because I recently got an email from Tripod – who knew they were still around?) and a Geocities page on which a friend and I posted parodies to songs that we made up during classes.

    I occasionally blogged on Bebo, and in 2008 on a whim started up this WordPress blog here during downtime at my part time job. I picked WordPress because I liked the look of it better than Blogger (a good choice) and my username back before “musings” became passe, with my initial in front (twice for good measure. I have no love for e.e. cummings but I do think that’s an awesome moniker).

    I’ve also got another two WP blogs – one I set up when T and I were flathunting in an effort to boost our chances, and one that’s not search-engine indexed that was meant to serve as my professional site, where I keep links to my best stories and such. Were I to get laid off, I’d whip that all into shape (possibly merging it with this blog to take advantage of its longevity).

    But that’s not all. I’ve got a Posterous blog languishing, which was my first attempt at setting up a professional blog/website/portfolio, and lasted maybe two months.

    And I’ve got my Tumblr, where I post photos from Project 365, reblog cool shit and share other snippets from life. I have to say, though, I’ve seen some awesome fully functioning websites built on Tumblr, and if I was starting from scratch today I’d be very tempted to make Tumblr my platform.

    And slightly off topic, my writing itself dates back to the age of about 13-14, when I scored my first blogging gig (back before the word existing) writing an online “diary” for possibly the first women’s oriented online mag here. That, and all the other niche sites I went on to write for, have now gone through many incarnations and those words have been dispensed into the web’s graveyard, for which I am partially thankful.

    My digital path is a bit of a wasteland. I should probably get around to cleaning up the litter of my abandoned footprints.

    What does yours look like?

  • Link love (Powered by hummus and honey mustard)

    As some of you already know, 20SB is hosting a carnival on none other than one of my favourite topics – money! I kept myself amused throughout the week reading all the fabulous submissions, and found some wicked new blogs to read. Although I’ve always tried to keep my Google Reader count low – I like to feel I know the writers I read, to be able to remember who’s who and keep track of who does what for a job, where they live, their personal situation and all that. But a) many of the bloggers I’ve been following for a while are posting more sporadically and b) there are just too many great bloggers out there to miss out.

    Thus, I bring you Link Love, the 20SB Friends and Money edition.

    Nicole marvels at a $60 pot of tea and wonders just who would want to buy one. Which reminds me of our first trip to the Farmer’s Market this week, where I saw the most divine looking berry and custard Danish… for a whopping $4. So it’s not quite on the same unbelievable scale, but it’s getting up there. (That pastry is still haunting me. I think I just might have to splash out next time, if they’re still selling em.)

    Kim shares where she comes from and how it’s shaped her money personality, a lot of which I could relate to. We’ve always been able to get by relatively comfortably, although I’m sure it was a bit tough when we first moved to NZ. Still, we did not go on holidays. We wore hand me down clothes. We didn’t go to movies. We shopped specials like crazy. We didn’t even really do birthday presents (they tried to get away with buying me stuff I needed, like a sleeping bag for school camp, and calling it my gift).

    Margaret writes (wisely) about how money smarts mean thinking beyond your next Jack and Coke.

    Doniree blogs about choosing to spend on experiences, not things. Her list of things that count as experiences: a good meal with each other or friends, a trip with a college friend to Portland, groceries to cook for a dinner party, travel, and
    exploring somewhere new. I couldn’t agree more.

    Lilu, meanwhile, argues that working in the service industry is character building. Plus you learn the worth of a dollar, and so on.

    Finally, Amy writes about marriage and divorce left a lasting impact on her finances, and how she now keeps on track.

    That’s just a selection of some of the #$friends posts. For more, check out the carnival page!

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  • When things go viral

    I stayed up all night last Friday to watch the All Whites play Paraguay. I did my bit. Yeah, I’m a patriot. I didn’t even go to sleep beforehand; I was awake RIGHT THROUGH. This prompted colleagues to remark “I didn’t realise you were a fan!” Despite my concerted efforts to explain that I was still awake well past midnight, and succumbed to peer pressure on Twitter (“We’re making history here!”), I’m still down as a true supporter.

    And seriously, Twitter was going OFF. It was busy as it is at peak times. It was incredibly exciting (more so than the game itself, perhaps). John Campbell was up. Colleagues were up. The Twitterati were up. Hashtags were going mad (and #NZL still failed to make the trending topics!) I kept one eye on the TV and the other on my laptop screen, constantly hitting F5 – thanks Tweetdeck, for failing me so badly that I had to resort to the web. It was indeed a little bit of history in the making, and I was there, kind of. My was heart skipping every time the ball approached either goal, and swooning a little every time I saw Ryan Nelsen (yum).

    I even took part in the whiteout. In fact, I liked my black and white avatar pic so much that I still have it up.

    But does it really make a difference? Other tweeters know you’ve whited out your display pic. But how can the players? I loved the spirit that we’re showing, but ultimately, if the people we’re supporting don’t realise just how many of us are doing it, what’s the point?

    I actually cannot remember if I took part in the breast cancer awareness meme earlier this year (where people were posting their bra colour on Facebook), but here’s a reasoned and thoughtful piece on how it in fact excluded many cancer survivors.

    In summary…it’s great when things go viral. But what does it really mean?

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  • Link love: Powered by fudge brownies and trench coats

    Oh, how I miss summer. And conversely, how glad I am we don’t get snow in Auckland. I must admit I was a little disappointed when confronted with the reality of wet, white mush on Ruapehu for the first time in ’07. I had pictured snow fights, snow men and all sorts of wintry hijinks! But it wasn’t to be. But realistically, I hate the cold. And I sure don’t want to be trekking home through snow, buying gumboots, snow tyres and chains, let alone salting the car.

    Anyway, FB’s lovely post on attaining summer-worthy feet was great escapist reading, not to mention practical!

    Meanwhile, Investing Newbie discussed drawing up a time budget – or in other words, a fancy schmancy pants way of saying to-do list on crack. While I don’t do too well with excessive organisation, I could see how this would work wonders for some.

    MPP blogged about the expense of trying new recipes and branching out in terms of ingredients. Girl, I feel the pain. BF is a total foodie, but alas, we’re forced to substitute cottage cheese for feta, and the like. Prosciutto? Prawns? Furgeddabout it. What works for us is trying one new kind of dish a week, and aiming to build the rest of the week’s menu around similar ingredients – that way you aren’t wasting anything.

    Having just bought her own place, Amanda writes about the struggle to furnish her small apartment. It’s true – the good ol’ quarter acre dream is still alive, and as she says, she’s willing to pay for quality but cheap furniture is all that’s available in the sizes she needs. What’s a girl to do? (We live in a shoebox, but we’re renting and couldn’t care less at this stage in life about our furniture. Even our cutlery is mismatched and all our furnishings have been hand-me-downs, free or close to it.)

    SP bucked the trend by having a dance-free wedding reception. You know what, that sounds freaking awesome! I actually don’t enjoy dancing and can’t think of anything worse than having all eyes on me trying not to trip over my own feet. And while we’re on the topic, I wouldn’t be averse to having a dry reception either. My parents are teetotallers, while T’s family would drink the bar empty. And what with the whole Asian flush thing, I won’t be having alcohol on the day – at the least, it would ruin the photos, if not the entire experience.

    Finally, Katie – who always seems to crawl right into my head with these kinds of posts – wrote about being that girl. Who always has a stain on her jeans or a stray lock of hair. “There’s always one little detail I’ve missed – one wrinkle left unironed, one little tiny pebble left unturned.” I envy those people who float through life, polished to perfection; but sometime in the last three years I just got too damn busy to care anymore. Finally, I’m at the stage where I can accept myself the way I am.

  • Link love: Powered by spring rolls and ponytails

    Scribbles made a blog mix of all the songs she loved in high school. Ahh, those were the days. Stan, Iris, Drops of Jupiter – so many great songs. To that list, I’d add Under the Bridge and also (although this was just past high school, really) Bernard Fanning’s Wish You Well. Crazy video? Tick. Personal meaning? Tick. It’s the song that was playing as we drove to see BF off to army training. It’s not a song I particularly like, but it’s evocative.

    Carrie on the Cheap got engaged! And what a great story it was. Head over and read it if you haven’t already.

    Personal Finance by the Book has tips on holidaying for cheap. As always, planning is key. For me, holidays are about friends and relaxing, so accommodation and transport is nearly always shared! Ditto for food – group barbecues are always a winner.

    Frugal Babe, on the other hand, writes about building a full and refreshing life that needs no escape. Doesn’t that sound great? As she puts it:  “I would rather have 52 great weeks and no desire to escape from my life.” Holidays have never been a part of my world; my family never went on trips at all. I spent all my semester breaks since leaving home, working. Travel, for me, is more about going to different places than “escaping” life.

    Revanche shared her Martin + Osa refund victory – there’s nothing more dissatisfying than clothing that immediately falls apart. I’m not sure I would have had the stamina to chase them up myself; speaking up when salespeople don’t process the right price at the till is about as much as I can manage. Lesson? Persistence is the key.

    SS4BC ponders the meaning of financial freedom and finding the balance between saving and debt repayment – something that’s on my mind. Do I just pay off BF’s credit card balance for peace of mind and to save interest and let him repay me directly once he has a job (not to mention it’s on my own card, financial fail #2179)? I don’t know.

  • Link love (Powered by peanut butter and ankle boots)

    What I’m reading:

    Ad Working Girl on getting down and dirty (not like that!) with the head honchos. With my new title and all, and one project in particular, I’m finding myself liaising much more with the big boss and generally participating more. Usually I’m pretty invisible – I get on with my work, especially on my weekends (I’m alone for half the shift, so I get free rein and to play music as loud as I want). But for now, I’m going to have to step it up.

    Is there anything (Spokeo) worse than Facebook, asks FB? Thankfully, I’m not an American. I have plenty out there on Google under my real name – most of the pieces I’ve ever had published, actually – but I would be pretty freaked out if my home address and what not were out there for the world to see.

    SF Money Musings struggles to get to grips with being a first-time manager. I definitely recommend reading Ask a Manager – fantastic blog for both employers and employees!

    And here, an amazing story of a courageous and brilliant journalist who worked to tell the story of Mexico’s undercover sex trafficking trade.

    A review of SATC2 that made me chuckle with the line “There’s more cleavage in this film than at a pro wrestler’s wedding”.

    Katie is searching for passion and direction. “I don’t know how people find satisfying jobs that they enjoy going to, that they feel they were made for. My husband has a pretty good idea of exactly what he wants to be doing, and the benefit of that is, he actually has something to work toward, rather than being like me and just floating around in a cloud of indecision all the time.” In my case, the situation is reversed, but I feel her pain.

    PR vs Media: In which Tiff explains that he’s just not that into you, and similarly, journalists just aren’t going to call PRs to say no thanks.

    Funny about Money wonders whether there’s a PF blogger glass ceiling. Well, the types of blogs I enjoy (and write) certainly aren’t the most marketable or profitable. But I’m not in this for the money, although offers are always welcome!

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