We write ourselves into boxes all the time: check which box applies, keep your signature within the lines, what do you “do?”, etc. We wedge ourselves into these tight but cozy places and bend ourselves double to reach their reassuring absolutes. Every box is a story we’ve learned to believe. And there, fully contorted in the dark and stuffy air, we wait. For what? More closet space? Continue reading
We’re used to having other people’s names stitched into our underwear and going to punk rock concerts sponsored by banks, but how do you build a blog brand? Sure, Gucci can get away with bedazzling its logo on dog collars, and no one would bat an eye if Louis Vuitton came out with a line of luxury baked goods, but publicizing a personal blog without overt awkwardness or coming across as, heaven forbid, (just typing the word hurts) narcissistic, is almost impossible.
It helps to get creative. Some of my, if not classy then at least less dignity destroying, strategies have included blog advertising shoes and a promotional bookmark flip book. These two DIY methods tend to catch people off guard, which, not coincidentally, is key to both advertising and horror movies. But for someone whose fear of networking can best be described as pure liquid terror, I am completely in the dark (possibly hiding under a table somewhere) about the social etiquette of self-promotion, especially when it comes to blogs. I can’t believe I’m telling you this, but I’ve actually handed out said bookmarks at funerals (oh for shame!) and even in airport public washrooms. I know, I know, totally inappropriate. All I can say is that like so many stupid-in-hindsight impulses, it always seemed like such a good idea at the time.
I have to confess that last night I hit a whole new low on the appropriateness scale. I was riding Calgary’s C-Train when another one of those “good ideas” popped into my head. The temperature had also hit a new low last night, and the two glass panels of the door I was standing beside were covered with a thick layer of frost. Someone had scrapped a jagged window with finger marks that looked like they’d been trying to claw their way out. Which, being a public transit regular, I can totally understand. I drew a small happy face in the top corner of the closest panel with a gloved finger. But that wasn’t enough. My gateway doodle led to a panel wide artistic portrait of a woman’s face, quite impressively executed, considering the medium – if I do say so myself. I spent the next few stops appreciating the poetic irony of being bundled beyond recognition while looking at a reflection that was the mirror image of my summer self.
But, of course, that wasn’t enough. Here was a rare opportunity for a DIY blog billboard! I scratched BLANKCANVASLIVING.COM into the second panel in an inverted U shape, leaving the space in the middle open – because every advertisement needs a visual. And what better blog brand ambassador than our darling mascot (see side panel) Mitch-the-insatiable-itch! Here’s where things went horribly wrong. By this point my finger was blunted with snow and I had to rush because we were almost at my stop. Finishing my ‘artistry’, I hurried out the opposite door – already beeping with urgency – and took a quick look back to survey my handiwork.
Oh Gawd! I’d just drawn – with wiggly distorted lines – what could best be described as a horned stick figure with a set of disproportionately huge male genitalia dangling under its belly!!! I had to watch it leering at me from under my calling card as it set off down the tracks – in full view of all the passengers! Nothing like lewd graffiti on public transit to really take your blog brand to the next level… sigh.
We all know that pounding the pavement is the best way to land a job, but it also happens to be a great strategy for promoting your website and increasing blog traffic. Yes, I’m being literal here, absurdly, almost painfully, literal. These DIY blog advertising shoes were made for some serious pavement pounding.
Come on, admit it, blogging is inherently self-indulgent. Oh sure, we all say we’re sharing our unimpeachable wit and wisdom out of some altruistic impulse to inspire and serve. But let’s be honest, what other forum gives you open permission to post Calgary Stampede inspired bondage gear or a fully darted paper pencil skirt, or… even these shoes? Own it. Be your own best advertisement. Be proud to be a walking billboard for your precious blog creation. Wrap yourself, or at least your tootsies, in personal propaganda. Just do it.
We already cover ourselves in logos, why not wear your own? I bought these ‘blank canvas’ shoes (I know, I know, so apropos for this blog) at my neighbourhood Payless for under $20. Click here to view Payless’ online canvas shoe selection. Using a fine tip black Sharpie, I went, admittedly, a bit wild drawing my blog address and our darling mascot Mitch-the-insatiable-itch. Note: You could also use fabric pens/markers, which you can find at Michaels, along with 40 000 other products you never knew you’d ever need (and I do mean ‘need’).
Indulging one’s shoe fetish by wearing a couple dozen little penises on one’s feet is always going to lead to fun times – not to mention some very interesting conversations while riding public transit. But even if your blog lacks any reference, visual or otherwise, to genitalia, feel free to play up your theme and get creative with your imagery. Why stop at shoes? Hats, canvas totes, belts… drape yourself in personalized, attention getting advertising. Stop street traffic while increasing blog traffic! Ok, so maybe I’m getting a bit carried away, but to compete for clicks, views, and readers in our age of in-your-face promotional bombardment, it pays to think outside the box and try some on-your-foot blog advertising to get the word out. Heck, if the shoe fits…
And if you want to get your hands involved with promoting your blog and increasing your readership – the more body parts the better – you can click through to learn how to make an innovative DIY bookmark flip book. Sounds bizarre, sure, but we bloggers know that engaging (and broadening) an audience calls for every trick in the book (er… blog?).
We all want to drive more traffic to our sites, but we need to get creative when “come read my blog” is the internet equivalent of a stranger in line at Starbucks flipping open his wallet to show you pictures of his cat. This new flip book method is a way to engage people through animation, individual choice, and a take home object with real-world use to anyone who loves the smell and feel of books too much to fully convert to their eReaders.
How to promote your blog with a bookmark flip book:
“Check this out,” you say, leaning close to your target like you’re letting him/her in on a special secret – which of course you are. Holding your stack of bookmarks firmly near the midpoint, use your thumb to quickly flip through your images (each varied slightly), thus creating a lively animation of your blog’s theme. In the sample shown above I’ve used Blank Canvas Living’s mascot: Mitch the insatiable human itch. Lastly, invite your target to choose his/her favorite bookmark to take home.
How to make your own DIY blog bookmark flip book:
Copy/paste your website address and tagline down the left margin of any word processing (or graphics/draw) program, leaving suitable space between. Choose a simple, repeatable image that captures the theme of your blog. Note: the genitalia shown is optional, although I do think it adds a certain je ne sais quoi to any invitation. Copy/paste your graphic down the opposite margin, remembering to vary each one. You can also use repeating sets to save yourself some time/effort. Note: I’ve hand drawn the samples above, because an hour spent drawing a few dozen penises is almost as fun as an hour spent… Print out your bookmarks on card stock and cut/X-acto them apart. Flip!
The visual ingredients for your blog’s best/perfect/ideal header image may be right in front of you, literally. Essentially, a great header should communicate your viewpoint and give atmosphere to your blog, while giving you the freedom to explore a wide variety of subjects and moods below the banner. A blog is an online reflection of its author, and there’s a good chance you’ve already created your perfect header on the ‘real-world’ side of the mirror. Where else in your life do you “explore a wide variety of subjects and moods”?
I looked up from my desk and saw my ideal header staring back at me. My wall at work is a collage of inspirational pictures/drawings/quotes, bits of my brain playfully arranged as an external representation of my creative process. After previous indulgences (involving a rather humiliating self-photoshoot in a Saturday morning park in front of curious children and their visibly concerned parents) it was a relief to find that most of the work had already been done.
This time it was my coworkers’ turn to be curious, and visibly concerned, when they found me perched precariously atop a stepladder shooting a composite collage to fit the proportions of my chosen blog theme template. After cropping, and some minor photoshopping, Blank Canvas living had its personalized header.
Note: Besides my office wall, my sketchbook sacrificed many of its pages for this project. Tragically, Aristotle’s creepy stone eyes prevented him from making the cut. Another missing player was the quote from a rescued Al-Qaeda prisoner: “When you know you’re going to die, it’s different from wondering whether or not you might die.” I can’t quite explain why, but I’ve always found this quote particularly inspirational.