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Pitch Wars Potential Mentee Bio

12 Aug

My Twitter avatar, in case you forget!

Hello, lovely Pitch Wars people! Here’s the down-low on who I am, and how my manuscript got to where it is today. I’ve enjoyed connecting with all of you so much, and hope to keep in touch!



About Me: Work and Hopes and Dreams

Most of my working life is spent helping tech startups with marketing strategy and content. I also teach college composition and college prep. I work for myself, so I get to control my schedule, which is the best thing ever. Though sometimes my boss can be a real jerk.

World's best boss


One day, I hope to teach college creative writing. Days full of writing, inspiring students, and being inspired by students would be a dream.

Excuse me while I go cry

I also cofounded Sounding Sea Writers’ Workshop, which launched this summer with classes on non-fiction, fiction, publishing, and poetry, as well as individual writing coaching. We are based in Baltimore, and we are working on launching our first online class. We’re always open to pitches for classes, both online and local, if you’ve got a great idea you’d like to teach. If there’s a class you’d like to take, we want to hear that, too. But let’s talk about that after the Pitch Wars mentees are chosen, to avoid any conflicts of interest.


About Me: The Writer

Yup, I was that kid who was always sitting alone in the corner making stuff up. I had the absolute privilege of going to a Literary Arts magnet program for high school, Carver Center for Arts and Tech. The community of writers my amazing teachers helped to build—what can I say? My heart.


What Marketers Should Know About Pinterest

28 Feb
This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches

Pinterest delights DIYers, bakers, wedding planners, and anyone who likes looking at cute puppies. This year’s social media darling, Pinterest has become one of the top traffic referral sources for retail and magazine sites. For websites in general, in January 2012, Pinterest drove more traffic than Google Plus, LinkedIn, and YouTube combined.

Holy cow.

Marketers, have no doubt: consumers love Pinterest.

But what the heck is Pinterest, and what should your brand do about it?

Have no fear—this post is here to help!

What is Pinterest?

Have you ever had a bulletin board in your bedroom or above your desk, with little reminders, ideas for later, and pictures of your cat? Or think of the bulletin board full of posters and notices at the gym or the local coffee shop.

Now take that bulletin board, imagine it online, and you’ve got Pinterest.

Basically, Pinterest is a socially connected public bulletin board.  Users create “boards” based around a theme or topic, and then grab images from around the web and “pin” them to that board. Of course, Pinterest is connected to Facebook and Twitter, so users can share their pins with all of their friends.

You don’t need to sign up to browse Pinterest, so it’s easy to take a peek to familiarize yourself. For an example of a very cool personal Pinterest presence, check out Steve McGauhey (who is male, unlike about 70% of Pinterest users on this female dominated platform), and for a brand presence, check out Whole Foods’ profile.

How do I know if my brand should be on Pinterest?

While Pinterest is already a big deal for some brands, it’s new, might be a passing trend, and might not have the right audience for your brand. Before you spend too much time investigating Pinterest, make sure it could be right for your business.

One note: whether or not you decide to get involved, Pinterest’s popularity should spur your brand to use more images. Even if you’re not on Pinterest, adding an image can double your page views.

To figure out whether or not Pinterest is worth your marketing resources, ask yourself the below questions. If you can answer “yes” to most of these questions, dig deeper into Pinterest.
  1. Has anything from your website already been pinned? Enter in to see if Pinterest users have already pinned anything from your website. (Thanks Social Media Examiner for the heads up on this one).
  2. Does your brand create a lot of photography or images? Pinterest is all about images—and if coming up with images is like pulling teeth for you, Pinterest will be like a root canal and cavity filling all in one. On the other hand, if your brand is all about images, you probably don’t even need to read the next two questions—Pinterest is for you.
  3. Do you target 25-34 year old women? While people of all ages and genders hang out on Pinterest, 25-34 year olds are the largest age demographic, making up almost 30% of the user base, and almost 70% of users are female (source). If that’s your brand’s sweet spot, Pinterest has a lot of potential.
  4. Do you market a product or service related to fitness, food, art, clothing, crafts, travel, sports, gadgets, or weddings? These are some of the many consumer focused categories on Pinterest. However, there’s not even a general “Business” category for users to select when they create a board, so professional services companies, you might be out of luck.

How to get started on Pinterest

If Pinterest is right for your brand, here’s how you can get started:
  1. Create a profile through connecting with Twitter. Many Pinterest users have connected their profiles with Facebook—giving them access to their friends’ pins and vice versa. However, there’s no way for brands to use this feature, so we recommend connecting with Twitter to tap into your network there, or, if you’re not on Twitter, starting from scratch.
  2. Integrate Pinterest into your other marketing efforts. “Ugh,” you’re probably thinking, “I’ve already got buttons for Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, and StumbleUpon!” Too bad—if you’ve got lots of product pictures and answered “Yes” to the questions above, make some room. Pinterest simply drives too much traffic to ignore—set traffic rolling to your site with a “pin it” button.
  3. Create boards, and pin a mix of original and curated content. If your Pinterest boards sell too much, your brand won’t fit in with the fun, useful nature of the site. While including prices on product images can be a good idea, make sure the focus of your Pinterest presence is entertaining or helping your customers, not selling. Your website is where you should do your selling.
  4. Repin, comment, and engage. Unlike on Facebook, on Pinterest, brands can act just like humans. Engaging (tactfully) with other users can help grow your brand’s presence—and your customers’ awareness and loyalty.
Have you used Pinterest yet? Let me know what you think in the comments. And of course, feel free to check out my personal Pinterest page—fair warning, it’s mostly cute puppies.

5 Surprising Ways to Create Shareable Content

7 Dec
This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches

Many content marketers don’t think beyond the corporate blog, or perhaps the occasional webinar or eBook. Yet if you look hard enough, you’ll find surprising ways to create effective, shareable content hiding right under your nose.

Here’s my quick list:


How to be a Frighteningly Brilliant Content Marketer

24 Nov

This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches.

Content marketers should shiver with jealousy for Nightmares Fear Factory’s recent marketing success. If you missed this, basically, Nightmares Fear Factory is a haunted house in Niagara Falls Canada, and recently, their brilliant marketing strategy paid off big time when their Flickr feed was picked up by new and traditional media and sent around the web—I found out about it thanks to a friend who posted it on Google Buzz.

What’s the trick?


A Food Pyramid for Content Marketing

5 Oct
The following post was initially published on the Content Marketing Institute Blog (September 15, 2011) and Marketing Trenches

At Right Source Marketing, we get a lot of questions about where to allocate content marketing resources.  On blog posts? Webinars? eBooks? The possibilities can be overwhelming. Yet knowing how to allocate resources is essential to successful content marketing. Even though the USDA’s food pyramid has transitioned to a food plate, content marketers would do well to consider a pyramid concept for balancing their use of the many content formats they use. While every content marketing program is different, I’ve created the below chart to show the basic portions of content that should keep most content marketing programs healthy and happy.

The Content Marketing Food Pyramid

The base: Curation, creativity, and coordination

These three concepts form the base of the pyramid because without all of these elements your content marketing efforts will fail.  Here’s what I mean:

Content curation: You’ve probably heard content marketing referred to as “thought leadership.” To be a thought leader, you’ve got to know what everyone else is saying, make sense out of it, and then add something original to the conversation. This means your entire content team will need to spend time reading industry blogs, following industry hashtags on Twitter, and keeping their eyes open for new ideas and trends. Sometimes, this research and reading doesn’t seem to accomplish much, but without soaking in industry content it’s hard to create anything notable yourself.


Questions to Ask Before Creating Content for a New Company

27 Sep
This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches.

Creating content for a company’s social media properties, website, and blog (just to start the list) can be tough–and without a thorough understanding of the company and its audience, it’s hard to get it right. Whether you’re taking on a new client or starting a new job, you need to ask a lot of questions before you dive into creating content. Every business is different, so at Right Source Marketing, we never ask exactly the same questions for each new client, but below are a few of our staples.

Note: even if you’ve been working for a company or with a client for a while, you may realize that you don’t know the answers to these questions, or that the answers have changed since you started. It’s a good idea to reevaluate and periodically ask these questions again, even if you’re just asking yourself.

1. What’s your audience like? Who are these people who buy your stuff? What age, what gender?  Where do they work? Where do they play? What’s important to them personally and professionally? What do they already love about your business? What do they hate about it?

Keep asking questions to get as full a picture of your audience as possible. If no one can answer this question, then you need to do some research (like a survey), or bring someone who would know in the room (like a salesperson).  Knowing details about what makes your audience tick helps you figure out what topics to cover and language to use. We start with this question because all of the other questions and answers should be colored by a focus on audience.


Three Key Content Marketing World Takeaways

8 Sep
This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches.

Joining hundreds of content marketers from around the country and the world, Will DavisMike Sweeney and I headed up to Cleveland this week for Content Marketing World.

As I wrote last week in my post about expected highlights, the conference is packed with sessions and speakers, and my biggest regret is that I could not procure a clone for the week.

I’m writing this before the close of the conference, so I may miss some late breaking highlights, but below are some big takeaways from the conference.


How Writing Better Emails Makes You a Better Content Marketer

7 Sep
This post originally appeared on Marketing Trenches.

Improving your skills in email communications improves your content marketing efforts, and vice versa, as an audience member (nonprofit technology consultant Kate Bladow) pointed out after a presentation I gave about writing for the web last week.

I couldn’t agree more. To follow on Kate’s point, here are five best practices to think about when you’re communicating with an audience, whether you’re organizing a team or writing for the company blog.


10 Ways to Write Like a Content Marketing Jedi

11 Aug
Originally appeared on Marketing Trenches and the Content Marketing Institute Blog (June 30, 2011).

All content marketers can learn from what Yoda said to a young Anakin Skywalker: “Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering.” This very same destructive sequence, which turned Anakin into Darth Vader, all too frequently derails content marketing efforts.

Why? Because, horror of horrors, content marketing involves a large amount of writing, and for many people, writing is terrifying (they may say they hate writing, but thanks to Yoda, we know they’re just scared). Even worse, someone has to gingerly edit that writing without hurting psyches already fragile from the writing struggle. Particularly for content marketing campaigns that involve a lot of blogging, the fear and hatred of writing can cause complete content marketing paralysis.

That way, it does not have to be. To help minimize the fear and suffering in your content marketing—particularly, blogging—efforts, I’ve provided some tips to turn you and your team into writing Jedis: