Archive | November 3, 2010

Confession Session

As many of you may have guessed by now, this girlaboutOtown has slowed down in the blogging department. These days, I’m aiming for once a week, and sometimes even leave it a day or two longer. While I certainly don’t feel the need to make excuses, I do think I’d like to explain.


Image via we heart it

More than two years ago, girlaboutOtown started as a personal experiment. I craved a creative outlet, and was keen to rediscover a city that had begun to bore me. Kicked out of my computer-related complacency at a conference, I was also determined to learn more about social media, and wanted to push my comfort zone. So, I reduced my hours at work and set aside one day a week to transform my ideas into reality.

Pretty soon, I was writing three or four times a week, taking loads photos, and finding fun in all four corners of the capital. From time to time, I would come across an encouraging comment from a reader – and press on – empowered by the thought that someone might actually be following along while I figured out how to do all this new stuff. After a year or so, I started to get emails letting me know about what was coming up, or inviting me to join in at an interesting event. I was doing things and meeting people I never would have otherwise, and thoroughly enjoying the reality that was the result my idea.

The same is still true.

I’m proud of this little corner of the interweb that I’ve created, grateful for the friendship you (my dear readers) offer, and excited about all the things I’ve learned about myself along the way. Not only do I feel part of the Ottawa community, I am fortunate to be one among an increasing number bloggers and social media enthusiasts who are changing the way our community connects. This is an honour and privilege I don’t take lightly, and for this reason, I am committed to continue writing girlaboutOtown.  Just not as often.

Do I know where it will go? Definitely not.  My ambitions for this blog aren’t big. My “klout” score, or the number of subscribers, or page views I receive don’t matter much to me, despite my bad habit of comparing.  Sure, I could be doing a lot more to attract readers, promote the site and improve my content but instead, I try to contribute something valuable when I can…something that might surprise, or inspire or interest a reader or two.  And, since most of the time it is just me, I’ve had to let go of my impulse to keep up with big-time publishers, contributor-style blogs and newsy event-oriented sources. Sometimes it is a struggle, but when I start to feel uneasy about it all, I remind myself of why I started in the first place.

Besides, back then I had a steady paycheck.  Other than feeling as if I was stuck in a rut, life was comfortable, and I had plenty of creative energy to burn. These days, things are different.

As many of you know, since last January I’ve been working hard to turn another idea into reality, and my brain has been busy elsewhere. Building a business is not easy at the best of times, but starting from scratch with a concept for which no “how to” template exists, has been enormously challenging. Perhaps naively, I thought things would be further along by now than they are, and I thought it would all fall in to place once I was able to dedicate my time, energy and resources to my passion.

Image by Bud Caddell

Well as it turns out, there has been a lot to adapt to, and in the process it seems I’m uncovering as many weaknesses as I thought I had strengths. For instance, I’m not great at reading instructions and I’m afraid to do things wrong. This means new tools and technology are a genuine obstacle for me, and it takes both considerable time and a conscious effort for me to overcome my anxiety. Also, I find it difficult to articulate my ideas coherently and succinctly. Writing this blog is more personal, and my tone is conversational. Putting words together to clearly explain the ‘features and benefits’ of the business concept my fella and I have developed, and to persuade people to consider buying in, is another matter all together. Just about every day there is something completely new to learn, and at times it can be downright overwhelming.

Image source

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining at all.  I’m miraculously motivated each morning to get started, deeply content to be creating a purpose-driven lifestyle, and totally energized about what I have to offer the world. But, I’m also resigned to the fact that I’m a relative beginner in business, and turning this latest idea into reality won’t be easy. Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever pushed my comfort zone this far!

Anyway, I thought I’d share a bit about why my brain has been so busy. First, here are just a few of the things I have had to get a handle on (aack):

  • Web-based content management platforms
  • Graphic design & web development
  • SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
  • UX web design (user driven web design)
  • Copywriting
  • Email marketing tools
  • Structuring web content, marketing collateral (brochures, newsletters etc)
  • Social media (Twitter, FB etc)
  • Customer Relationship Management (CRM) & list management

Now, here is just a sampling of what I still need to figure out, and fast (yikes):

  • Instructional design
  • Webinar & online course delivery
  • Online invoicing
  • Advanced presentation software (ie: Prezi)
  • Publishing & distribution
  • Web based payment (ie: PayPal)
  • Online advertising
  • Content marketing
  • Public speaking & presentation skills
  • Podcasting & video editing
  • Streamlining social media management
  • Creating & managing an editorial calendar

Then, there is the work I continue to do to develop my products & services, the always-essential business networking, and of course the one-on-one client work, which I absolutely love!

Even though my days are jam packed, I often feel like things are moving too slowly. Realistically, this pace should probably come as no surprise, but emotionally I seem to be in a rush. So, to manage my own expectations and to mitigate my irrational fear of embarrassment, I occasionally have to take a step back, look at the big picture and celebrate the successes I’ve experienced.


Image via we heart it


Here then, are a few things that have happened since January:

1. Our idea has become a company, with a name. This was not as easy as you might think. Housters & Co. (pronounced House –ter) is based on a word my little girlaboutOtown invented to describe a person who offers help (design coaching) to people shopping for homes. This is what I do, and I really like the way it sounds.

2.  Housters & Co. is a brand. For a design enthusiast with some marketing in my background, this step was critical.

3.  Housters & Co. has a website. I’m not one to just “throw something up” and fix it later. This took an extra long time, and you can see why by reading the list above. That said, based on what I’ve learned since, I’m already keen on a major overhaul!

4.  You can find Housters & Co. on Facebook. Again, this wouldn’t be rocket science for many people, but I still find Facebook intimidating. If you’re interested, we’d love to have you join us. Maybe you can teach me a thing or two?

5.  Housters & Co. has earned some media. Sarah Brown, editor at Ottawa Magazine, was intrigued enough by the Housters & Co. concept to feature us in the October “Homes” edition. As beginners working to develop and promote a unique business concept, we couldn’t dream of better luck! The fella and I are thrilled.

Housters & Co. Ottawa Magazine

6.  Best of all, Housters & Co. is serving clients. Not enough to support a shopping habit or spend winter south of the border, but enough to know that the help we offer does have a positive impact on people’s lives!  This is our ‘modus operandi’ and makes everything else worth it. 

So, there you have it.

This girlaboutOtown goes on, but has to change with the times.  And, you know what?  I still believe that changes are chances.