Weekly Wind Down: Hunter’s Grog

Each week, I’ll be introducing a new cocktail to try out over the weekend.

While I have received pitches for these, I am not being compensated in any way…these are just my favorite picks!

From the depths of the Pfälzerwald Forest comes an unexpected treat to awaken your senses this spring—a Jägermeister cocktail with tea! An amazing cocktail for entertaining this spring as it is ideally sipped while the sun is setting, the air is cooling off, and your food is cooking.

 

Hunter's GrogHunter’s Grog

Ingredients

1.5oz Jägermeister
.5oz Fresh Lemon Juice
.5oz Black Tea
1 barspoon Maple Syrup
1 barspoon Orange Marmalade
Orange Peel to garnish

Read more

5 questions with Karen Seiger of Markets of New York

Karen Seiger, author of Markets of New York

This post may contain affiliate links

If you’ve been to a street fair, flea market, farmers market, or craft show in New York City, then you’ve probably run into Karen Seiger. She has been a tireless advocate for the crafters, bakers, farmers, and smaller business owners who call these markets home for close to a decade. Her blog Markets of New York catalogues these markets and business owners and brings attention to the artists who make NYC so unique. In 2010, she launched her first book of the same title, Markets of New York City, and to this day she continues to hit the markets, showcasing new vendors and celebrating the small businesses who have made their dreams a reality thanks to the markets.

Personally, Karen has been a great friend and a wonderful person to know. She’s always willing to offer help, a networking opportunity, or just a really good chat and cup of coffee and I’m so thrilled to feature her today.

1. What made you decide that you needed to create your brand? 

I wrote the guidebook, Markets of New York City. I started writing a blog to help sell the book, and then the blog took on a life of its own. Today,www.MarketsOfNewYork.com is an online magazine! The brand Markets of New York is a way for me to continue to write, speak and share information with people who want to know about these amazing artisan, farmer, food and flea markets in the city.

2. When did you think to yourself “okay, this is definitely viable?”

I knew Markets of New York was going to be something special. It is a descriptive brand name, but it holds the promise of finding interesting things behind it. The visual brand itself, a sweet tote bag filled with colorful market objects [right], was a huge success factor as well.
I have a lot of plans for the brand going forward too! Updating the website to feature more stories, launching a podcast, and publishing a second edition of the guidebook are at the top of my list. I’m thinking that walking tours might be fun to do too.

I’d love to let you readers know that I am seeking an awesome, dynamic new publisher or agent to help me launch a new edition of the guidebook in the US and for other countries around the world! Any referrals or recommendations are greatly appreciated!

3. What’s a surprising challenge that you didn’t know you’d encounter along the way?

I haven’t found many things to be surprising, but I have had a challenge of finding the time to turn the brand into a full-time business. I do what I do with Markets of New York City because I absolutely love it, and I can’t stop writing about the people and things I encounter in the markets. Someone or something blows me away every weekend. Every single weekend.

Karen Seiger

 

4. How important was social media in your success? Do you think you would have been as successful without the advent of social media?

Social media is absolutely critical! When I wrote my book, I included profiles of 200 markets and vendors, all of whom had their own social networks. They shared the links online and even sold the books at their own market events. They continue to share my links today, and I share theirs. It’s a perfect example of how social media is supposed to work – a group of people sharing information, energy and enthusiasm to drive web traffic and commerce among a much wider network of people — and just to share the love!

I do not think my book would have sold 20,000 copies without the help of social media around the world. These platforms give access to incredibly influential marketing tools that previously only the wealthiest corporations could even think of leveraging. We take Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and other platforms for granted, and we really should remember how much power we have at our fingertips.

5. What is something someone outside of your industry might not realize about the work you do?

One message I am absolutely focused on sharing this year is the fact that markets are extremely powerful incubators for small businesses and for innovation.

A vendor I know in an artisan market employs 7 full-time staff members, including skilled designers and craftspeople in addition to sales staff. There are hundreds of small and micro-businesses making a go at it every weekend in the markets. Dozens of businesses have graduated from markets to open their own stores or a larger product line.

The markets are also a very sensitive gauge for the health of the economy at large. The vendors are at the front lines of commerce. When people are optimistic about the economy, the markets flourish. When the Euro is weak against the dollar, the tourists are fewer and more careful with their travel funds. Changes in the national and global economy touch our markets immediately. I would love to introduce our economic policy makers to the markets of New York City.

Most vendors today support themselves with the proceeds from selling in markets, and also from online sales if they are diligent with their market. That fact is nothing short of remarkable. The markets allow people to follow their dreams, build their businesses, and literally market test their ideas and innovations. Markets of New York exists to support their efforts and to tell everyone about the wonderful people and things they create!

Check out Karen’s blog, Markets of New York City: Your Guide to the Best Artisan, Farmer, Food & Flea Markets.  Shop locally and eat seasonally for a sustainable and beautiful life!

Book Review: The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ DeMarco

The Millionaire Fastlane by MJ de Marco

This post may contain affiliate links.

This review feels like the most complicated review I’ve done to date…because I don’t know how I feel about this book.

Going through my notes on this book, it seems my main issue was a feeling of hypocrisy originally. The author mentions that institutional education is a “slowlaners” path, while real life education/street smarts are the path to success in the “fastlane.” de Marco mentions seeing a woman with a sign that says “I have a 4.0, $90,000 in student loans, and no job – where’s my bailout?” and ridicules her for falling for the scam of institutional education and says she should take responsibility for her actions, missing the point. No mention of the banks taking responsibility.

With regards to debt, he brings up an idealist way of thinking of things: slowlaners use debt for aspirational purchases, while fastlaners leverage debt to further their business for maximum profits. But, in my own experience, I think that they can really be one in the same, especially for small business owners who are trying to facilitate faster-than-organic growth in their business. Wouldn’t taking on debt for a new product release so that your business can grow be considered aspirational? That’s what my old credit card statements would show!

 

I also kept getting a little bit of a cult-y vibe in the book with things like “everyone else you’ve ever read is wrong” “don’t listen to your friends or family” “quit your job, it’s not getting you where you want to be” (and mentions that maybe you should mop floors for awhile while trying to grow a business quickly) “if your significant other thinks it’s crazy, leave your significant other.” Dianetics or Millionaire Fastlane?

I like the idea of putting the 5-for-2 idea into perspective: Leverage 5 days of work for 2 days of leisure. Why have we allowed ourselves to agree to working 80% of our week for 20% of it to be free?

I was feeling so wrong about this book that I went out and did more research on this book than I have for others, because I just felt I was missing something. Reading the positive reviews on Amazon left me in the dark. (And, frankly, made me worried a little about writing this review as his fans are RABID and can be quite nasty to those who don’t love this book) This book was on hold for MONTHS in my library and was impossible to renew. It was so in demand…what the hell was it in this book that was so promising to everyone? The thought that there’s a formula to becoming a millionaire quickly?

I listened to de Marco’s interview on the Smart Passive Income and realized what was bothering me the most about The Millionaire Fastlane was that his basic ideas were nothing new or revolutionary: spend within your means, focus on making your business a priority, use debt only if you know how to use it wisely. He had some punk rock statements in the book that I enjoyed; business plans are useless until you’re ready to sell, stop visualizing your future and just do it, etc. He was able to take these basic business ideas and add a “screw what you’ve heard about how to do it” spin on it…but I think it might be a dangerous set of ideas that could get someone in serious financial trouble if they follow these steps blindly without skepticism.

Would I recommend? I’ve gone back and forth on this and…no? Maybe? EH.

5 (Free!) WordPress Plugins You Need to Use

5 Free Plugins for WordPress

If you’re blogging with WordPress, then you know there are an infinite number of resources available for you to tweak to your liking. I personally use WordPress for all of my websites, including MSC (WooCommerce for the win!) so I know how versatile the system can be. But with so many options, it can be incredibly overwhelming on which plugins are the best for you to use, especially all of the free ones available. Here are the 5 best WordPress plugins I’ve come across and use them in each WordPress site I run.

1. Jetpack

I’ve only recently started using Jetpack for WordPress and holy crap, I wish I had played around with it sooner. It is an incredible plugin that streamlines your site and gets rid of the need to multiple plugins. Jetpack runs 36 different apps seamlessly and under one control panel (which to me is such a God send. How many times have you tried to figure out where the settings are for a certain plugin? Settings? Tools? It’s own link? ARGH).

Do you need a related posts plugin? Jetpack can do that. What about an infinite scroll, which can help your Google rankings? Jetpack can do that. Website speed, social media sharing, contact forms, seriously…Jetpack is like a multi-talented WordPress virtual assistant.

 

2. Askimet

If you’re not using Askimet then you’re missing out on powerful spam software. Askimet has been around for years and is usually a default plugin, though it does require you to register (for free) to receive the activation code. Askimet handles spam comments so quickly and easily, you’ll never have to know about them.

 

3. Google Analyticator

The Google Analyticator is a pretty self-explanatory plugin. If you’re nervous about messing around with CSS and coding, this plugin will add your Google Analytics tracking ID without you having to lift the hood of your WordPress files. It can also display your Google Analytics results right in your dashboard, saving you the need to open more tabs on your browser.

 

4. WordPress Editorial Calendar

This is my all-time favorite FAVORITE FAVORITE plugin. If you’re like me, and your blogging energy comes in spurts rather than consistently throughout the week, this plugin helps you to schedule posts as far into the future as you need. It’s drag and drop scheduling make life so easy. All you have to do is save each post as a draft, open the calendar, drop the posts into the dates you want them to post, edit the time, and change the status to “scheduled.” It’s so easy, it’s one of the plugins I hope never goes away.

 

5. SEO by Yoast

This plugin handles your SEO and helps you determine how to improve your search engine rankings. I won’t say it’s easy, because using this plugin means that you’re going to have a lot of extra work ahead of you until SEO becomes second nature (and if you’re already that person, can we be friends?) but the benefits of improving your SEO can only help your blog stand out.

Did you like this? Would you mind sending a tweet out about it?

Weekly Wind Down: Three Cheers (and Drinks!) for US Women’s Soccer!

Each week, I’ll be introducing a new cocktail to try out over the weekend.

While I have received pitches for these, I am not being compensated in any way…these are just my favorite picks!

In honor of the world’s most talented female football athletes, Sauza® Tequila created some spirited cocktails worthy of a champion, including the Player’s Passion, Goalkeeper-rita, and Kickin’ It!

Player's Passion CocktailPlayer’s Passion  

  • 1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • ½ parts JDK & Sons™ O3 Premium Orange Liqueur
  • 2 parts passion fruit jam
  • 2 parts club soda
  • ½ parts agave
  • 1 part lime juice
  • Melon to garnish
  • Chili-Salt to rim glass

 

Preparation: In a shaker filled with ice combine all ingredients and shake vigorously. Strain into a glass filled with ice and prepared with a chili-salt rim. Garnish with a ball of melon and a piece of strawberry.

 

Goalkeeper Rita CocktailGoalkeeper-rita  

  • 1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • 3 parts frozen limeade
  • 4 parts Simply grapefruit juice
  • ½ cup ice
  • Lime peel for garnish

 

Preparation: In a shaker, combine the limeade, Sauza® Tequila, grapefruit juice and ice. Shake well and pour into a tall glass. Garnish with a lime peel.

 

Kickin' It CocktailKickin’ It  

  • 1 ½ parts Sauza® Blue Silver 100% Agave Tequila
  • 4 parts sparkling blackberry soda
  • ¼ cup fresh blackberries
  • ¾ part fresh lime juice
  • ¼ part simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

 

Preparation: Place 2-3 whole blackberries in your glass. In a blender, puree the rest of the fresh blackberries with lime juice and simple syrup. Strain into a cocktail shaker, add the Tequila and ice and shake to chill. Pour your glass ⅓ full with the blackberry-lime-tequila mixture. Top with chilled blackberry soda. Garnish glass with a lime wedge.

5 Questions with Oriana Leckert, author of Brooklyn Spaces

Oriana Leckert of Brooklyn Spaces

I first met Oriana…jesus, almost 5 years ago? She was just beginning her brilliant blog Brooklyn Spaces and came to my apartment to interview me about MSC (The interview is here). I am so happy to say that after years of hard work and building a brand, Oriana was able to publish her first book about her project: Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture and Creativity. It features 50 awesome spaces all around our borough. I’m so honored to have such a wonderful, sweet, and kind person as the first in this series of interviews with female entrepreneurs.

1. What made you decide that you needed to create your brand (Or less entrepreneurially: what made you feel the need to get BK spaces out into the public eye?)

This project started out of a sense of historical preservation—making sure a record of these fascinating spaces would exist for the future. But as my audience began to grow, I realized I had an opportunity to be helpful to the people and places I was profiling in the present, too, by promoting their events, sharing their stories, signal-boosting their calls for participation and submissions and funding, etc. A rising tide lifts all boats, and it was clear that the wider my reach, the better I’d be at contributing to keep these vibrant places alive.Oriana Leckert, author of Brooklyn Spaces book

2. When did you think to yourself “okay, this is definitely viable?”

Well, if you mean “viable” as “makes enough money to support itself / me,” the answer is never, as this will probably never be a profitable endeavor. But if you mean it in the sense of “sustainable as a long-term project,” I’d place that a few months in when I started getting a decent social media following and some very nice press from folks like Motherboard, FreeWilliamsburg, and Laughing Squid. That’s when I thought, “Yeah, people are into this, I should keep doing it.”

3. What’s a surprising challenge that you didn’t know you’d encounter along the way?

When I signed a book contract, I knew I was going to be on a very tight schedule: I had less than three months to write the whole thing. I figured, I’ve been a freelancer for years, I know how to push myself to meet insane deadlines. But I hadn’t counted on the logistics of a project like this, which required scheduling about 50 interviews and 75 visits to spaces for events during that time. It’s one thing to force myself to go without sleep or jump through crazy hoops to finish something, but it was quite another to find ways to get other people to be available and doing things during my insane timeframe.

4. How important was social media in your success? Do you think you would have been as successful without the advent of social media?

It was and is absolutely crucial, and no, no way would I have been able to succeed without it. This project depends almost entirely on other people reading what I write—that was how I was able to grow my audience and, ultimately, land a book deal. Social media allowed my audience to be visible, as in, “I have xx dedicated fans, therefore this is a viable project with a real reach.”

5. What is something someone outside of your industry might not realize about the work you do?

I think the general timelines of publishing are not really known to most people, and the fact is that traditional publishing take a long time. So even though I turned in my manuscript last August, the books weren’t on shelves until this May. Meaning that, especially with a book like mine, it might seem a bit out of date, even just a few months later. That’s why I’ve been careful to be as clear as possible about this being a snapshot of a fixed moment in time.

 

Brooklyn Spaces

About the book:
Brooklyn Spaces: 50 Hubs of Culture and Creativity presents a cross-section of underground, DIY, and culturally innovative places across the borough. It showcases 50 spaces that have been repurposed and reimagined, which now serve as community hubs for artists, performers, makers, and creators of all stripes. They include a former cannonball factory turned multimedia arts space in Gowanus, an anarchist intentional community in Bed-Stuy, and an experimental gin distillery in a Sunset Park manufacturing center that dates back to the Industrial Revolution—just to name a few. The stories of each space is told through interviews with the creators, as well as hundreds of pictures by prominent Brooklyn photographers.

Book Review: Google Adwords by Perry Marshall

Google Adwords book by Perry Marshall Review

I picked up this Google Adwords book on a somewhat shaky whim. Let me explain: If you’re like me, then you’ve probably received some sort of coupon at one point or another for $X in free Google Adwords credit. If you haven’t how it usually works is that for new accounts, you’ll be able to spend $25 and once you spend that, Google will give you a $100 credit.

After a particularly disastrous website move from BigCommerce to WooCommerce for reasons I’ll get into some other time, I decided to stop relying on DIY and to get things done right. The punk rocker inside of me is not a fan of using conglomerates, but I knew that I had to rely on someone that was big enough to be a safety net, so I moved my hosting and websites over to BlueHost (and, by the way, it’s been really great to use them. BlueHost is now the key holder to my websites, SSL, and my 4 domains. It still gives me a twinge of discomfort to rely so much on one entity, but so far so good.).

During the move, I stumbled on a code for the “spend $25 get $100″ for Adwords and I decided that I was not going to spend the money foolishly, but that since my strategy was now to reach the fans and not the stores, I would use this as a new way to reach my audience. So I went to the library and got this book by Perry Marshall.

It’s a hefty, text book kinda book, and is full of things you should do, and things you should NOT do. He briefly touches on aspects of Adwords like Display Only and Google Shopping, but the majority of the book is based on creating your first campaign via Search Network Only. I found it to be incredibly useful, but really overwhelming. This, unfortunately, is not the sort of book to get for 3 weeks from the library. Your best bet is to read it, see if you think Adwords is worth the investment, and then keep the book on hand for reference. I tried to read through it before I jumped into Adwords, and I think it would have been better to take the time to read, stop, implement, repeat.

Recommend? Yes, if you’re looking to get into Adwords. No if you’re not ready to take the time invested in Adwords seriously.

How I’ve used fiverr.com to grow my business

How I've Used Fiverr.com to Grow My Business

FiverrLet me start off by saying that, full disclosure, Fiverr is one of my amazing sponsors. BUT they are one of my sponsors because I truly love using them, and I use them a LOT. This post was not requested by them, nor do they probably even know about it. I’m just a fan and you need to know what you’re missing out on if you’re not using their site.

What is it? Fiverr.com is a website that hosts thousands of users, all who are willing to do a task for you for a cool $5. Some of the users have additional options and they can get into as much as you want to spend (I’ve noticed a lot of app developers on there use the extras to get their actual asking price), but you can get pretty much any kind of marketing, website, or business product you need there on the cheap.

What have I used Fiverr for?

– Having a professional press release written

– Having my photos professionally edited, which saved me HOURS. (I hate you, white backgrounds)

– Having research done for me (trends, keywords, statistics)

– Having someone manage my social media while I was on vacation

– Someone actually made sales follow up calls for me, too!

– Having someone set up my first AdWords campaign

– Got a script for cold calling from a professional

You can also have logos designed, promo videos created, people with serious social media cred tweet/post/instagram about you, have voiceover work done, the list goes on. I’m pretty excited to get into the voiceover/video promo area, as I want to start creating videos soon.

I know a lot of this can be done on your own with a bit of learning and time, but how much is your time worth? MJ DeMarco makes a fantastic point in his book The Millionaire Fastlane: There is unlimited money out there but no one has unlimited time. As an entrepreneur who has to wear 545 different hats, it worth your time to do these tasks or is it worth outsourcing for a couple of bucks?

Do you use Fiverr? Do you sell on Fiverr? I would love to talk to you!

June Monthly Goals (and May victories!)

Monthly Goals

At the end of December, I decided to re-read one of my favorite books, The Success Principles by Jack Canfield (you can read my review here). One of the tenets of the book is to keep track of your successes; all too often I think it’s hard to realize how far you’ve come when you’re in the trenches every day. By writing down your victories, I think (in my experience, at least) it forces you to recognize progress in your life and business. When I started writing these down in January and February I had done pretty well remembering to write down my achievements…and then, of course, something came up and I forgot for March..and April, too! I stumbled on my list earlier in May and thought “d’oh! I should get back to that.” So maybe writing it here will hold me more accountable to keeping track of the good stuff, and holding myself accountable to a set of new monthly goals. So here we go:

May Successes

– Passed 2,500 followers on Instagram for MSC

– Revamped this blog (yay!)

– Started a 2nd blog that caters more to beauty

– Started to work on social media for HBK (this blog)

– Finished a 900 piece order

– Began to work on Birchbox order (42k samples due Oct 1)

– Priced out packaging and negotiated nearly $1k in discounts

Monthly Goals for June

– Add 20 posts to this blog

– Add 15 posts to BQHQ

– Create social media accounts and schedule for BQHQ

– Increase Instagram followers to 100 for HBK

– Increase Instagram followers to 3,000 for MSC

– Add 20 Instagram pics to HBKs account

– Add 20 Instagram pics to MSCs account

– Increase sales at MSC 5% from last year (summers are always slow)

– Book 8 new female entrepreneurs for “5 questions” series

– Decrease bounce rate at MSC by 10%

– Decrease bounce rate here by 5%

Modcloth’s guide to summer swim

ModCloth sent me this adorable image and I wanted to share. While, yes, I am all about summer, I’m more impressed at the detail that went into this infographic. (Also, I really dig the nod to the classic Barbie silhouette in the 1950’s).

Note: ModCloth is an affiliate which means that if you click on one of the product links, I’ll receive a small commission on sales.