This is a handy, dandy test post.
This is a handy, dandy test post.
After a lovely weekend camping in the Sawtooth National Forest, I woke up to an email notifying me of another website’s pingback to two of my recent blog posts Low Nickel Gardening and Nickel Free Sunscreen. Whenever I write anything online, I enable the pingback setting in the rare instance another website will link back to my blog post. The majority of the time I’m aware when a blog post link will be pinged back because they have contacted me and sought permission or collaboration. However on this particular Monday morning, another website had scrapped or copied my entire blog post content, including my photographs. Not only was it alarming to have my content outright stolen, but to have my copy written content and photographs of Sara and I gardening and my face claiming to be the work of another’s website hurt.
I went online to get support from other bloggers and one suggested I use the perspective that my content is “awesome enough to steal.” WTF. Who says that? Another blogger mentioned her food photographs had been stolen by a national magazine company and one was placed on the first cover of a national magazine. She suggested not paying for an attorney and letting “karma do its job.” I appreciate their perspectives, but no, a lot of time and energy went into crafting my content and the photographs were family photos. I’m not going to sit around and accept it’s okay for another person or company to infringe on my copyright rights.
There are a few rules in creating a brand persona that has “personality.”
In the era of social media influencers and spokesperson personas:
Subway’s convicted pedophile spokesman Jeriod Fogle should have been the siren song of spokesmen. It’s a worst case scenario. Vetting and oversight of Jeriod’s extracurricular should have been part of Subway’s plan. Jeriod admits sex with underage girls happened while he was on the road for Subway events.
The Barilla and Chick-Fil-A CEO’s took turns saying shamefully homophobic things publicly. Chic-Fil-A’s controversy has it’s own Wikipedia page. That’s an epic brand fail. The biggest problems these brands should have are from Keto dieters, the PETA crowd and carb haters. Instead someone let the CEO’s hold the microphone. Big Mistake.
The latest disaster of the Corporate Cult of Personality is “Papa John” Schnatter whose face is on all the pizza boxes. Awkward when you evict him from his offices for busting out with the “N” word on a call to an outside Marketing agency. Presumably to save him from his constant right wing political lambasting in public. Sometimes you just can’t save people from themselves or the havoc they wreak on your brand/stock prices, both diving downward with some recovery following Schnatter’s public flagellation.
The first red flag should have been him calling himself “Papa John.” The last guy to proclaim, “I love it when they call me Big Poppa,” was assassinated in Las Vegas. RIP Notorious BIG. Politics are increasingly vitriolic and divisive in the United States. This is an entire treatise unto itself. Involving your brand in NFL athletes kneeling in protest of police brutality and murder of African American’s and the conservative backlash is catastrophically unwise. This is one of MANY examples of Papa John’s politicization of the brand.
Howe Innovative is 2 people. My wife and I, plus we occasionally contract graphic designers and videography crews. It helps to have fresh eyes and mad skills. Hiring us is hiring our values, which includes our politics to some degree. Obviously, you can infer from the lesbian owned tech/marketing/media business what those may be… But we’re not telling what they are. Even when we ARE the brand. We ARE the business, keep it professional.
We all have opinions. We don’t all need to associate them with our business.
The next stage: The gear. The most essential element is the camera. Will you need more than one camera? What is the best camera for filming? The answer, as always is: it depends. Let’s look at some options for filming and what works best in each situation.
Cameras now fall into a few basic categories:
If you’re filming you’ll want an “A” and “B” Camera. Yes, that’s two cameras. The “B” Camera can easily be a cell phone if you’re so inclined but I’d recommend if you’re serious enough to film properly, Don’t use a cell phone for interviews or anything other than quick actions shots, pans or spur of the moment captures. I used a Google Nexus 6P to film an interview with a client as the A camera. It fried the battery on the phone, forever. Phones get hot. They are brilliant tools that can be used for just about everything. If you’re really serious about video, use phones to sync sound, manage the main camera through an app or to get stills while shooting.
Yep, you can film with a cell phone. There are now movies shot with cell phones. Plural. Many cell phones. Professional producers can’t rely on a single cell phone for professional video.
Here’s the truth: The tool you use is not the story you tell.
Using a fancy camera will not make what you are shooting compelling, aesthetic, well composed or well told. Using a cheap camera will likely lead to low production quality, camera shake, bad sound and a host of other problems that can make your video unwatchable BUT storytelling is the most important aspect. If the only thing stopping you from telling the story you have, right now, that you are motivated and inspired to record- use the cell phone. Don’t let your gear be an obstacle for your accomplishments. You’ll learn as you go, however, this is not a full fledged pro tool. If you really want to dive in, get to know a higher end camera. The time investment is worth it.
Great is the Enemy of Good. Just Start with whatever you have today. Right now. Start small, start bold just start. Excuses will destroy your momentum.
I use an LG G7 ThinQ– It takes brilliant photos and is cheaper, lighter, smaller and doesn’t have obnoxious menus like the Samsung Galaxy S9+, which I had stolen BY SECURITY at the Macklemore & Kesha concert.
I tried using this as a camera for a documentary style interview. I used a Logitech C920 HD 1080p. It kept crashing the video editing software I was using: Corel VideoStudio 10 2018. I tried the Logitech software and it still crashed. Web cams are fine for a Skype call or video conference but they are not meant to be filming tools. Both my A (cell phone) and B (web cam) failed miserably. I used these tools because the client was wary of video and nervous. I thought the minimal footprint and familiar look would make him more comfortable. I ended up with bits of footage between web cam crashes, that my partner was filming. The cell phone had a lavalier mic plugged into it and a buzzing sound permeated the cell video. Syncing sound is a major pain in the ass and not a great task for novices. You want to avoid it if possible and most client’s at this level are not paying you for professional editing services. This means, I ended up with basically unusable footage.
You are the professional. Reshoots happen, it’s a given but avoiding them and getting it right is best. Produce good footage to not waste time in post-production, editing.
Never stop experimenting. You will fail. You will get better.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is the go to camera for pro’s that use DSLR. There are LOADS of others. If you’re looking to save a substantial sum of money opt for an ASP-C sensor. It’s smaller than a full size sensor, compromising some low light capability and very high speed shots. If you’re not photographing night sky’s or professional athletic games, you’re fine. I LOVE my ASP-C senor rig. The Canon 80D is very popular amongst bloggers, has 1080 HD resolution (not 4K) and you can pick one up from Costco for $1800 with 2 kit lenses.
I don’t use DSLR’s. I’m an early convert of the Mirrorless systems.
Lots of old school photographers will have no idea what the hell you’re talking about if you start banging on about Mirrorless cameras. That is quickly changing. I bought my first mirrorless in 2014 in Olympia, Washington. Shooting hikes in the lush temperate rain forests of the Pacific Northwest. I bought it to shoot my first professional pics: a moving company, moving me into a floating home on the Columbia River in Portland, Oregon. It didn’t say it was weather sealed but it still works like a champ, after tens of thousands of shots.
The problem with my Sony Nex 5T, the little camera that can: overheating. This is a problem with many DSLR’s and mirroless cameras when you shoot video.
In Europe, camera’s don’t shoot video longer than 30 minutes. Any camera that shoots continuously for more than 30 minutes is subject to a VAT, a hefty tax on camcorders. The work around: Looping recording. Panasonic produces two models that are the go to for professional videographers, they are both mirroless.
I am in love with my new Sony a7III. There’s a whole lot of hub bub about this out there. It lives up to the hype. I just randomly shot some footage of a automotive shop fire, with explosions for a local news station while driving by, randomly. I was standing on a bunch of rickety pallets wondering if I might actually be hit with explosive debris. I carry this camera with me everywhere. It fits nicely into my Eagle Creek bag but is not light.
I dislike the digital harshness of most affordable camcorders. They can shoot continuously and have excellent anti shake technology. I don’t use them.
Professional Cinema Cameras are ungodly expensive and are for professionals, well beyond the scope of this series.
All down. Following a DDoS or Distributed Denial of Service making access to sites hosted by Dyn a Domain Name System (DNS) provider inaccessible. Including all websites on the Squarespace and Wix.com systems. I’m going to pretend for just a minute that isn’t incredibly gratifying as a web developer. That those crappy do-it-yourself, saturate the airwaves with advertising providers don’t offer secure services… That’s a different blog.
Ok. But what does this mean?
A DDoS attack is exactly what it sounds like. A bot has been programmed by a group of hackers (or possibly an individual, it’s not clear yet) to disrupt the system that indexes sites. A Domain Name System or DNS, takes complex Internet Protocol addresses (IP addresses) converting them to the domain name. Step One: open a search engine. For example, Google or Bing (we won’t make fun of you for using Bing). Then enter, “Kick ass web marketing, development and photography for cheap” you’ll ideally get “Howe Innovative Design.” Returning results in text: Howe Innovative Design with some meta tag and/or indexed content from the site.
Short answer: Salt Lake City, Utah.
As most of you know, Sara Howe began Howe Innovative Design in a half bedroom in the Liberty Wells neighborhood of Salt Lake City, Utah in 2010. The business grew to emphasize WordPress web development, photography and copywriting. It’s worked out well. It was time to grow, move onto larger markets and a culture more reflective or our progressive practices both in business and personally.
So, we ended up in Portland in 2013. Portland has a housing crisis. Literally, it’s been declared a crisis by the Mayor’s office and city council. We’ve felt the pinch. Unable/unwilling to pay skyrocketing rents or to commute from the environs of Washington County, Vancouver (read Vantucky) or God forbid, Salem, OR, a lovely town to be sure but not why we sold our home and moved Northwest, we moved.
Christy got a fantastic job offer. She’s been recruited, now working in management, pursuing certifications to add to her impressive qualifications. Putting to use her Master of Public Policy. She’s returned to lobbying, also hiring, training and managing field staff. She still works with Howe Innovative Design but she’s got a day job. I’m here, full time. Working, training, learning and pushing to make our sites better.
Sara is pursuing a certification in Digital Marketing from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She’s recently certified in Digital Photography from the University of Michigan with a five course specialization and in Fiction (for creative copywriting) from Wesleyan University with a six course specialization.
We were able to purchase an adorable home in Salt Lake. It’s cozy, comfortable and most importantly, the cats LOVE it here. We’ve got plenty of light for the plants. We are doing battle with horrific invasive trees in the backyard… More about cardboard weed barriers topped with fragrant mulch later. Damned Trees of Heaven/Chinese Oak.
All of our client’s are in Oregon. We are registered as an Oregon business, licensed and proudly paying our taxes. For the record, I support Measure 97. Thanks to Alaskan Airlines and a Honda Fit purchased from Griffith Honda in The Dalles, OR I am there quarterly. My heart is in Oregon but my hearth is in Salt Lake City. The mountains, red rock marvels and hot springs of Southern Utah keep me preoccupied. The Gorge, bridges, open space of Eastern Oregon and fantastic people of the Pacific Northwest have my undying love.
If you need us, we’re here.
Tech Startups are in vogue. Those of us who are slightly older than the average white, male, clean cut twenty something, bright eyed tech founder remember the bubble in 2000. Wild, rampant speculation generating stock profits on paper, wiped away when the dot com bubble burst. All those great ideas so generously funded with Venture Capital, gone.
Hedge fund managers had to deliver the news. It became understood that tech stocks were volatile and high risk. Remember that? I do. I was entering my 20’s and college. I believed in the future of tech. I went to college to create a hybrid e-zine ultimately and get a job generally. The tech boom opened the door for companies like Google to plunder the underutilized, unemployed workforce of Silicon Valley. Creating the best damned search engine the world has ever known: Google. Sorry Bing. I’m a Google Partner. Every one of my clients wants Google love.
Fast forward 15 years later, everyone wishes they would have bought tech stock in Google, Microsoft, Apple etc. when the professionals heeded warnings. We all adopted the technology but not the underlying concept: innovation through problem solving. Scientists and entrepreneurs both solve problems to arrive at a solution. Research reveals the problems. Conduct testing, analyze the data and arrive at The Idea. Every good scientist will tell you, don’t start with the idea. Let the data guide you. Find the trends, the patterns, identify the technical realities.
Over the last five years, running Howe Innovative Design, I’ve met many entrepreneurs. I’ve been pitched many cool ideas. I’ve seen some slick graphics, presented by fit and sexy innovators. Plus, there’s frequently free hors d’oeuvre. I enjoy the presentations and wonder how they will generate actual revenue after those three rounds of venture capital funding. I’ve patiently listened while meeting to the passion they have for this project. They dismissively wave a hand at the notion of generating revenue. They confuse enthusiasm with currency. Passion is not the price of admission to the Fortune 500 club.
The hardest parts of owning and operating a small business require me to talk to strangers diplomatically every day. Living outside my comfort zone is part and parcel of life. Dealing with this plus the day-to-day operations of the business itself is very demanding.
Here are the top Four Most Difficult Aspects of Running a Small Business for me. I’ve included how I battle burnout to slog ahead toward entrepreneurial independence.