Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Interview with Laura Otero

Laura Otero is a Marketing guru and fab jewelry designer. We met during Kelly Rae Robert's e-course, and instantly bonded. She is so extremely generous and has really helped
turn my drab Twitter/Facebook/Blog page into something to be proud of.... and our work is not done. Please help me welcome her!!

You have started blogging five days a week... How do you come up with new posts so frequently?

I made the decision to start blogging 5 days a week when I was feeling a little “stuck”. Oftentimes human tendency is to slow down or give up if we don’t see our goals being realized in the way or timeframe we’d envisioned. I have found the best way to counter feeling stagnant is to do just the opposite…in other words, to crank UP the work and output. When I was feeling the most discouraged, I wrote this post about determination and breakthroughs. I wanted to document these feelings, so I wouldn’t forget later. Just a few days after writing the post, reached my breakthrough! I’ve since begun the transition to working part-time, which has allowed me more time to pursue my creative interests.

Posting 5 days a week was scary at first. I was used to posting once or twice a week. Creating a theme for each of the 5 days instantly gave me structure and a starting point for each day. In fact, I recommend creating themes for each day to other bloggers who would like to increase the number of days they post each week. I unleashed lots of creative goodness by brainstorming the themes.

What drives you?

What drives me today is very different from what drove me for the past decade. As a marketing director, I worked hard to “prove” myself to myself, to management, and to the corporate office. Looking back on this, it’s no wonder I was left feeling empty and superficial. As soon as I decided to pursue freelance design (web/print) and jewelry-making, I felt more at peace with myself.

Listening to my heart and pursing the interests that are true to me has been naturally motivating. My father’s work ethic is also something I model myself after. I also believe that the work schedule I created for myself in the corporate world has benefitted me today.

How do you balance being a mother/freelance web designer/jewelry designer/wonder woman?

Finding balance is always a work in progress. I am fortunate to have a supportive family and husband. Our children are also at wonderful ages (9 and 10 years old), where they can play independently or together without needing constant supervision at home. I try to balance my work time with family activities. I do remember when they were toddlers, I didn’t have as much time to devote to my other interests. In those days, I remember finding my peaceful place when we’d take a daily walk (kids in the stroller) together. Changing our environment and going on daily adventures kept us all creatively stimulated and less fussy. Kids naptime (when they were younger) and getting them to bed at an established time each day also free up small windows of work time.

Where did you learn your internet saviness?

In 2004, I was asked if I would consider a transition from a traditional marketing position into an online marketing position (at the same company). Looking back, what a gift this was! It’s hard to imagine how different things were back then. The majority of people on Facebook were college kids, and the big thing at the time was MySpace! Being an “early adopter” of new technology and online tools was something that has proved to be quite an asset (both then and now).

Many of my “Tutuorial Thursday” blog posts begin when I find myself stumped. If I don’t know how to do something online, I figure it out (a combination of trial and error and Google) and write a step-by-step tutorial post. I figure if I didn’t know how to do something online, there must be others who are asking the same questions. I graduated with a Professional Communications degree, which helped with marketing/pr/design. Since then, I’ve taken advanced html courses and learned most of the design and web programs I use from Lynda.com. The tutorials are helpful and very affordable!

What do you think the 5 most important parts of creating a unique and cohesive brand? And what can we do to achieve them?

What a great question! Even after 7 years in marketing/advertising, I don’t have all the answers. Here are a few tips about creating a unique and cohesive brand online. Many of these things I’ve learned from experience. If you dove into various online spaces and are not following each of these tips, look at them as something to work towards. I’m still working towards these goals as well.

1. Carefully name your company/biz and develop a professional logo that you love. Your business name and logo will help brand you online. Brainstorm, discuss with friends/family, and work hard on these two things!
2. Develop a creative statement and bio. Your creative statement (think of it as your slogan) should identifies what you do / what your work is about (“Mixed Media ~ Jewelry ~ Graphic Design”, for example. Something more descriptive is also great; just keep it short and sweet since it will most likely be included below your logo on places like your blog header). Write a bio about yourself/your work. Include it where possible. This may feel silly in the beginning stages, but will come in real handy soon.
3. Select a photograph of yourself that people will come to know you by. This will be used for your profile pictures. It’s ok to move away from a singular photo as you continue to build your brand online, but having one strong photo that showcases you is very helpful in the beginning. Use this photo on Twitter, Facebook, Blogger, Wordpress, Youtube, etc.
4. Be consistent in your online identity/name and design. For example, try your best to make your blog address, twitter profile, facebook shortened URL, identical when it comes to your portion of the URL. If you are “BestySmithArt” on twitter, your Facebook Business page should also be facebook.com/bestysmithart. Likewise, your blog header, website, facebook biz page profile, and various other online spaces should look like they belong together and were designed by the same person. It is an extension of your brand. Everything from the color choices, fonts, and photos are all important. This is something I am working on, personally, too.
5. Keep biz cards and samples handy. Get a professional set of business cards printed. There are a few online sites that are quite affordable. Consider customizing the back of the cards with photos of your work. Beyond this, consider printing a “rack card” with a few photos of your work and even more information about your business. Be prepared to give small samples of your work (if applicable) by having a stash of giveaways/extras in your car. You never know when you’ll meet just the right person. Beyond giving them a biz card, it’s extra special if you have a pair of earrings or small piece of work created and on-hand to include with your card. I have been known to keep 5 pairs of earrings in my car, wrapped in a gauzy pouch, tied with my biz card. If this doesn’t make sense for your business, brainstorm something else that is tangible and fun to include with your biz card that will represent your work well.
6. Bonus tip: Don’t give up! Social media and marketing take time to work. A combination of heart + hard work will pay off.

I loved your post about creating a Networking Emergency Kit. What kind of events are they and where can we find these events in our area?

Balancing family and volunteer time with networking is tricky but can be possible! I try to attend the following meetings (below) monthly or quarterly, depending on how often meetings are held. I try to include a good balance of marketing/social media organizations with artistic and more casual get-togethers. This helps make networking fun!

American Marketing Association
National Association of Women Owned Business
Chamber of Commerce meetings (attended in the past through my employer)
Charleston Craft Bee
Social Media Club Charleston
BarCamp (a technology conference)
Social Media workshops/seminars
Tweetups (on social media, marketing, jewelry, design, or anything in between)

My friend Kelly Thiel recently joined a local Art Guild, which is another awesome group if you have one in your city

Can you talk about Hootsuite and how you use it to manage your business?

If I had to pick my favorite Hootsuite feature, it would be scheduling (read my post about it here). I also really love that it allows you to send updates to more than one of your social network accounts from one centralized location. I discovered it first for Twitter, but have since added my personal and business facebook accounts (one for my online marketing biz AND another for my jewelry biz!) to my hootsuite dashboard. I wrote about getting started with Hootsuite here. After you get comfortable, I have instructions on adding your personal and biz pages to Hoosuite here.

Let’s talk about your web design business. What type of services do you provide? How long is the process and how do you manage working with long distance clients?

I’ve been designing websites since 2004. It’s something that I love to do! I also have experience in print design and enjoy designing brochures, logos, business cards & rack cards. In the social media space, I can quickly design professional looking blog headers, facebook business pages, twitter backgrounds…you name it! Some of my favorite recent projects have been turning sketches/art into digital illustrations and creating blog buttons with corresponding code for artists.

Email marketing is another longtime passion of mine. I’ve managed email programs for companies sending to 30,000+ subscribers with the click of a mouse.

Regarding working with long-distance clients, I’ve been fortunate to work with people from all over the US and as far as Puerto Rico. With the power of the web, it’s a pretty seamless process to collaborate and launch a website, facebook business page, blog, logo, or just about anything else for a client no matter how far we may be apart geographically. I limit the number of projects that I manage to minimize turnaround time and keep costs affordable.

I have posted photos of some of my recent work over on my facebook business page and hope you can stop by!

Is there anything else you would like to talk to my readers about/promote?

I’d like to thank you so very much for this special interview opportunity. It has been wonderful to connect with a Kelly Rae “flyer” through the power of the web. I am so excited about 2011 and know it will be a year of great opportunity and growth for your business. Please let your readers know I am always happy to answer their social media/ online marketing questions!

They can find me:
Strategic Online Marketing on Facebook
Strategic Online Marketing Blog (updated 5x/week!)
My Personal Twitter
Dreamy Design Works Jewelry on Facebook
Dreamy Design Works Jewelry Blog
Dreamy Design Works on Twitter

Thanks Laura!!!


Simply Topaz said...

Thanks so much, Laura, and to you, Jess, for hosting the interview. Great job ladies. Really great information, Laura, and your jewelry designs are gorgeous!

Jen said...

Great interview! So much information. Thank you Laura and Jess for sharing.

Jess said...

Isn't she great!?! Thanks, Ladies, for stopping by...

Laura Catherine Otero said...

Thank you, wonderful Jess, for interviewing me. I have so enjoyed getting to know you and am so glad we met via KRR. :) XO

Jess said...

It was a blast, Laura!! Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions!


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