Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Freelancing 101 Speaker Spotlight with Matt Villano

In a few short weeks we’ll be hosting Freelancing 101, an online event that immerses prospective or beginning freelancers in lessons from experts in the field. To gear up for the conference, we asked freelance writer and editor of Expedia Viewfinder, Matt Villano, a little about the work he does. Read on and don’t forget to sign up for Matt’s webcast on corporate freelancing and branded journalism!


1) What brought you in to the world of freelancing?

I’ve never actually had a full-time job. After four years of undergraduate journalism school (and the requisite summer internships all the while), I took six months off to work on a whale-watch boat. This was back in June 1997. When I ran out of money, I called a friend of mine who was an editor at a trade pub and asked her if she had any assignments to hand out on a freelance basis; it turned out she did, and it was a rush job. The rest is history (true story: she and I still collaborate from time to time).

2) What do you wish someone had told you before becoming a freelancer?

I wish someone had mentioned to me that while the flexibility of a freelance schedule is wonderful, you have to work twice as hard to make ends meet. I also wish someone had warned me about the self-promotion necessary to succeed. Freelancing is a constant sales job.

3) Which element of your job has been the hardest?

Time management, without question, especially since becoming a father. Currently, I get 3-4 hours of work during daylight hours, but the rest of my workday occurs every night after 10 p.m. It’s a slog. But this schedule affords me the opportunity to spend most of every day with my kids. I wouldn’t trade that for anything. Ever.

4) How do you see the field of freelancing changing in the coming years?

I think we’re moving into the era of sponsored content. As more and more traditional media outlets fold due to lack of revenue, the ones that remain are going to survive by accepting a new type of advertorial content—material that is unbiased but underwritten by big companies. From the point of view of us freelancers, this means accepting alternate types of assignments and opening the mind to new strategies of content creation overall.

5) What new projects have you taken on that you find exciting?

My favorite current gig is my work as senior editor of the Expedia Viewfinder blog from Expedia. We publish 10-12 original pieces of content every week and I line-edit every word. I also write for the site, which is fun. This is the kind of sponsored content I referred to up top. It’s a great and trustworthy resource from a new outlet. IMHO, everybody in that equation (we freelancers, readers/customers, Expedia) wins.

Freelancing 101 begins August 18. Don’t forget to register!

Friday, July 25, 2014 Thursday, July 24, 2014 Monday, July 7, 2014

MediabistroEDU’s Summer Sale Ends TONIGHT!

Our summer sale is ending tonight! It’s your last chance to get $75 OFF any of our online coursesin-person courses, or online boot camps with code SUN75. Make this summer your best one yet with one of our career-driven courses. Excel your industry knowledge, learn a new skill, or take a refresher course, and go into fall ready to boost your career!  Hurry and register now before the sale ends at midnight!

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Publishing Boot Camp Speaker Spotlight: Susan Squires

Book Promotion & Publicity Boot Camp kicks off next week! We are so excited for this brand NEW Boot Camp, that we decided to give you just a taste of what the event will be covering. Who better to tantalize your learner’s brain than romance novelist and MediabistroEDU instructor, Susan Squires? Read on and don’t forget to tune in for Susan’s presentation on networking and building a fan base.


1) Many authors might find the publishing industry’s emphasis on their “platform” a bit burdensome. How can authors build a platform without becoming overwhelmed?

Well, that is the question of the hour. All authors struggle with this. You have to write the books. They have to be good books. But you also have to have a presence in the world that readers want to access for more information about what they should read, and whose books they want to buy. I personally limit my social media and promotional activity to specific time allotments every day. Promotional activities such as working with my assistant on reader events and ads or updating my website with my webmaster are specifically scheduled, so they don’t overwhelm my writing time.

2) Would you advise an author to hire a publishing consultant or publicist?

I think this is appropriate only at a certain point in a writer’s career. Publicists aren’t cheap, and they are best employed after you reach a tipping point of income and volume of sales. An author has many avenues for publicity that don’t cost as much as hiring a publicist, including social media, blog tours, etc. When you have done as much as you can on your own and mined your publisher’s publicity department for as much attention as they are willing to give you, you may reach a point where hiring a publicist makes sense. In the meantime, hiring an assistant to handle social media events to allow you time to write, taking the time to write thoughtful, personal blog posts for your blog tour, and revealing your unique personality in social media posts may prove more beneficial.

3) What mistakes should a writer with little exposure avoid making in terms of their self-promotion?

The biggest mistake is for authors to make their social media presence all about self-promotion. You should have a social media presence that DOESN’T talk about your books before you pound the internet with promo. The usual rule is 10 to 1. Ten posts to a site, a conversation loop or an “environment” like Pinterest for every promo you post.

4) Do you have a favorite social media platform for book promotion?

Facebook and Twitter are still kings at this point.

5) Do you think publishing’s movement towards placing more of the promotion and publicity work on the author will shift in the future? How so?

I don’t think it will change. This is a trend which has been developing for years, and it’s only likely to continue. The major publishing houses don’t have the staff or the interest in helping make your image in the world the personal and intimate presence that readers demand these days. They’re focused on selling to intermediaries like bookstores, book clubs, foreign markets and other formats like audio. Only the author has the ability to touch readers directly. In fact, I think traditional New York publishers have little idea how to price books online or how to create an author “presence” in the world of downloaded books. It’s up to the author. It’s been that way for years. It will continue to be that way.

Book Promotion & Publicity Boot Camp starts next week — don’t forget to register, if you haven’t yet gotten a chance to do so. We’ll see you around!

Monday, June 30, 2014

One Week Left of MediabistroEDU’s Summer Sale!

There’s only one week left till our summer sale is over! Don’t miss your chance to get $75 OFF any of our course with code SUN75.

Whether you want to finish your novel’s manuscript you’ve been working on all year, learn how to acquire new Facebook fans for your brand, or finally learn the skills you need to move your career into a new industry, our courses are guaranteed to make your summer your most productive one yet! Register now!

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Social Media Spotlight: Jennifer Gaonach

Social Media 201 starts next week! In anticipation of this conference—which runs from July 1 to August 5—we decided to ask Jen Gaonach, VP of marketing at SheKnows, a few questions about her field. Read on and check out Jen’s Social Media 201 talk on using image-driven platforms.


1) What barriers do you see as preventing professionals from taking off in their usage of social media?

There are many factors that can stand in the way of using social — finding the time, knowing what’s appropriate to share — but I think the biggest barrier is understanding the networks themselves. Knowing each network’s strengths, weaknesses, community etiquette, and keeping up with the changes. Sometimes, that can be intimidating.

2) What is one of the most commonly asked questions that you receive from students?

The biggest question I get is: How can grow my following fast? Whether it’s their personal fan-base or on behalf of a brand, I tell them there isn’t a quick fix for authentic fan growth. It takes time and means becoming a part of the community, not just pushing content out, but validating others’ content too.

3) What is it about the field of social media that interests you?

I love the personal connection that comes from sharing. That’s what so great about social: the average person can get on the radar of their favorite brand or celebrity in a way they can’t in real life.

4) What’s your favorite social platform?

Pinterest! It’s special for 3 reasons: 1) It skews female/older when compared to other networks; 2) You bond with people you’ve never met over shared interests — most other networks discourage connections with people you don’t know; and 3) Pins have longevity. Nobody looks up yesterday’s tweets, but people will re-pin a great image for years.

5) What was your reaction when you discovered Pinterest and Instagram? What about those platforms pulled you in?

I discovered Pinterest pretty early on through the company I was working for, and I fell instantly in love. Pinterest took something I was already doing — collecting inspiration from magazines — and helped me organize it. The cherry on top was that it was a social network so my inspiration could be validated by a larger community. Instagram had me at filters. They’re sort of a metaphor for what we’re all doing in social — showing our best selves through a particular lens. Besides, doesn’t everybody look better in Rise?

That’s it for this week’s spotlight! Find us on Twitter and let us know what you think.

Be sure to register for Social Media 201 if you haven’t gotten a chance to do so yet. See you around!

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Kick Off Summer with a Site-Wide MediabistroEDU Sale!

Summer is officially here and so is our summer sale! From now until July 7, get $75 OFF any of our online coursesin-person courses, or online boot camps with code SUN75.

Summer is meant to be relaxing, but it’s also the perfect time to dip your toes in a new industry, refresh your career skills, and complete that side project you haven’t had time to work on all year. So before you head to the beach to catch some sun, register for any of our courses or boot camps and make this your most productive summer yet! Register now!

Social Media Spotlight: McLean Robbins

We’re gearing up for MediabistroEDU’s Social Media 201 conference! In anticipation of this conference—which runs from July 1 to August 5—we decided to ask McLean Robbins, a writer and content strategist, a few questions about her field. Read on and check out McLean’s Social Media 201 talk on building your brand.

1) What barriers do you see preventing professionals from taking off in their usage of social media?

Social media is all too commonly seen as a social, not professional, channel. It’s so misguided! Channels like LinkedIn are geared almost solely to the professional. When used correctly, channels like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram can also offer professional benefits as well. Individuals and brands alike can and should use social channels as another vehicle for generating traffic, branding and marketing as well as for starting two-way conversation with their consumers, clients and peers. Another common fear I see is that people claim that they only use social media “on a personal level” for fear that using these channels professional will compromise their reputation. This can be managed by what I call (n)etiquette, essentially learning the ins and outs of privacy settings and how to successfully marry the personal and professional on a single social channel. That said, in today’s day and age, everything is on the web, and we need to be careful not to present anything online that we wouldn’t want our boss or colleagues to see.  

2) What is one of the most commonly asked questions that you receive from students?

People always want to make sure that their use of a social media platform is driving ROI, as these sites can prove a huge investment in time and resources. I’ll help students break down how to measure the effectiveness of their social performance based on key analytics, and then take that data and manipulate the results to form tangible deliverables, like a content calendar, new story ideas, or even to uncover untapped demand for a new product or service. The key to social success, as in any business, is understanding how to leverage these channels to their best advantage.

3) What is it about the field of social media (and blogging in particular) that interests you?

I’ve always been an early adopter of social media platforms, and have blogged in one form or another for more than a decade. At heart, I’m storyteller and thrive on hearing feedback from my friends, fans and followers – that’s probably why I majored in English and went back to get a Masters in Journalism! I was drawn to these fields because they offer the chance to communicate in a one-to-one, two-way manner with your audience, and stuck around because I’m fascinated by how much data exists to help us do our jobs better. So many brands and writers are still delivering what they *think* their readers want to see, but not leveraging the power of data to figure out what is actually resonating with their audience. As the field evolves, I like blogging even more because I see it as the base of so many other platforms. At its heart, blogging is about telling a great story and engaging readers in whatever medium you choose to express yourself – photo, video, or text. Even if you’re not telling your story in a Wordpress or Tumblr or Blogger-based site, you can still tell your story via a social platform in a blog-like style.

4) What’s your favorite social platform?

Professionally, I love Twitter. Personally, I’m fascinated by Pinterest.

5) What about those platforms pulled you in? 

Twitter is a great way to digest news and engage with people in a real-time, fast-moving platform. I keep up with almost all of my industry buzz this way! Pinterest isn’t adding much to my business at the moment in terms of traffic or new client referrals, but I can definitely see the application for many industries. I love how visual the platform is and use the site daily to keep track of everything from recipes to my new condo décor.

That’s it for this week’s Social Media Spotlight! Find us on Twitter and let us know what you think and be sure to register for Social Media 201 if you haven’t gotten a chance to do so yet. See you around!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Social Media Strategist Spotlight: Tina Kelleher

In anticipation of MediabistroEDU’s Social Media Strategy conference, which runs June 23-July 25, we decided to ask a few of our speakers to comment on trends and common mistakes in the field. So if you can’t wait for the June conference, read on below and then REGISTER HERE!

Next up in our spotlight series is Tina Kelleher, Content Marketing and Social Media Manager at Microsoft.

1) What is about about the field of social media that excites you?

From a professional standpoint, what excites me most about social media is the potential for it to disrupt the status quo of marketers delivering their messages, but having to wait months to find out whether or not they landed through focus groups, surveys, etc. With social media, you’ll know pretty quickly whether what you’re saying is resonating with your audience or not, and if not, you can quickly correct to ensure that you’re telling a story that your audience is interested in hearing.

2) In a field that changes constantly, what can workers in social media marketing keep in mind?

I would say the most valuable thing to keep in mind is that no matter how much things change, transparency and building trust will remain constant in this field. It doesn’t matter what tools debut or which metrics become the harbingers of success or failure, as long as you’re treating your audience with the same respect you’d want to be shown as a consumer (if the shoe were on the other foot), you’ll be getting the basics right and can build from there to adapt as trends shift.

3) What is one of the most common mistakes you see made in this field?

I think the most common mistake is seeing marketers who approach marketing organically (as opposed to paid) via social media with the same approach they would take when advertising online. They remain in the “spray and pray” mindset of just pushing their message out there like it’s on a billboard, assuming social media is just a channel like any other people use to get the word out about their products and services; but it’s not that way, or at least, it’s not if you’re doing it right.

Social is unique because part of being successful in using it as a marketing medium is recognizing and appreciating the human aspect of why someone would be motivated to take whatever action it is that you consider a conversion, be it a purchase, newsletter sign up, or whatever. You can’t just think of the people who frequent online communities as nameless, faceless dollar signs; you have to understand and appreciate that those you want to reach are mothers, fathers, sports fanatics, political junkies, musicians, artists, etc. The same qualities that help you identify your target audience should be the same qualities that you seek out when it comes to online communities.

To be successful in marketing through social media means taking the time to establish relationships within those communities that have a clear alignment to the products/services you offer. It means investing the time to build rapport with those people and to establish yourself as someone who’s adding value to the ongoing range of topics that come up in conversation. You can’t just just jump right in and plaster the same copy you’d use for PPC or social ads all over Facebook groups or Twitter hashtags and expect to see a spike in web site visits as a result. Marketing organically through social is very much a long-term endeavor; as with any relationship, it takes time to establish trust to the point where what you have to say is going to matter to the people you want to reach.

4) What is your favorite social media platform?

I’ve got a bit of a split personality when it comes to favorites. For my personal life, Facebook is my favorite because there isn’t anyone who has access to my profile that I didn’t explicitly allow as a friend. For my professional life, Twitter is my go-to, though I’m more of a lurker than a sharer there. I do check in daily though, so feel free to ping me if you have any questions or comments.

5) Is social media here to stay? Where do you see the field as being headed?

It’s absolutely here to stay; in fact, it’s always been here. Humans have been sharing information with each other from the dawn of time; cave drawings were arguably the first form of social media, we just didn’t call it that until its most recent incarnation in digital form.

As far as where it’s headed as a marketing discipline, it’s hard to make an accurate prediction given how quickly the field changes. One thing I will say is that social is already proving itself to be a reliable and extremely useful medium for holding companies with questionable business practices accountable for their actions. With that in mind, I think it’s already pushing the evolution of marketing in a direction towards greater transparency and more honesty with fewer instances of borderline fantastical claims. When you know your feet will be held to the fire with photos and videos flying across social channels showing how product X doesn’t perform the way you say (or infer) it will, that’s a pretty strong reason not to make those lofty claims in the first place.

That’s it for our Speaker Spotlight series on Social Media Strategy. Don’t forget to REGISTER for Social Media Strategy. You can either register for single sessions or the full conference. Hope to see you next week on June 23 when Social Media Strategy kicks off!