promo for an event we hosted at George Bowers Grocery in 2013

promo I made for an event we hosted at George Bowers Grocery in 2013

Last weekend I devoured Austin Kleon’s books “Steal Like an Artist” and “Show Your Work” back-to-back. Two thumbs up. I’m inspired to start showing my work as it develops, and, some of the influences behind it. Learn More

Per-Money: Permaculture Principles for Indie Biz Growth

Per-MoneyExcerpt from my new book, Per-Money: Permaculture Principles for Indie Biz Growth.


“Well, what are you, high?”


I blinked my bloodshot eyes twice. Yes. I heard the question correctly. It wasn’t what I was expecting, given that I was in uncomfortable clothes and standing in the family receiving line at a funeral.


“Who starts a business in the middle of this Recession mess? You must be crazy!”


I wasn’t sure who the man was or what exactly he was trying to do. Change the subject? Lighten the mood? Awkward, those funeral introductions and reunions. The standby filler comment (“Great to see you!”) seems wholly unwelcome in these situations. I stammered something in return while thinking, who asks that, at a funeral?


Was he high?


I mean, come on, I thought, getting a bit indignant. If he was referring to a few laughs punctuated with terrorizing moments of paranoia, well, yep, sounds like business building to me.


I silently stewed watching the man make his way down the line of next-of-kin. In what social system is that question appropriate, I wondered angrily.


You see, our business was in crisis. At that moment I was questioning everything. My boyfriend and I were pretty damn sure we’d made a gigantic and costly mistake. We’d left New York City and moved to a small town in Virginia, surrounded by my family. On a bit of whim we started a neighborhood grocery on Main Street, like the ones we’d pop into around the city.


Let’s just say it wasn’t going so well.


Little did I know, this man’s rude comment planted a seed. I’d been obsessing about systems in general (what were we doing wrong? what were we doing right?) and his comment turned my attention to social systems. Sometimes obsessing can be good.


Thanks to this weird chance encounter my mind was ready when my new friend, Meghan said: “Have you heard of permaculture?”. I had not.

Permaculture is a design philosophy that attempts to mimic Nature’s wisdom. The principles are most frequently applied to sustainable agriculture (creating “permanent agriculture” or “permanent culture”). However, the principles can also be applied to money and business building, too.

I started applying permaculture design thinking to our Main Street business. It wasn’t a magic bullet. But it was one of the smartest things we did to turn things upside down, and eventually, around. You can do it, too.

Read more at Amazon.

Click here to join the mailing list.


15 Free, Fun Facebook Features & Apps

Don’t tell me you still think Facebook is “only” for connecting with old and new friends? My friend, you’re mistaken! There is a tidal wave of Facebook apps arriving every day. Jump in and you’ll discover something new, useful, or fun. Plus, there are many unexplored corners of the site itself that you may have overlooked.

So, let me introduce you to 15 free, fun Facebook features and apps.

I selected these apps and features to highlight specific areas of your life: Communication (online and offline); Entertainment (Movies and Music); and a grab bag mix in the “Life” category, too (Food, Books, Design and more).

Before we start, you may also be required to give each app varying permissions to access your data. If you’ve enabled secure browsing with Facebook (so the URL starts with https://), you may be asked to disable this security feature for some of these apps. During installation, click “Skip” if you do not wish to share certain information with a particular app.


Some E-Cards (App)


humorous e-cards

Sent this e-card to Mom this Mother’s Day!

“When you care enough to hit send” is the tagline of Someecards, a resource for hilarious e-cards you can quickly send to anyone on your friend list, or just post to your own wall for a laugh. Careful, though: Some of these cards are NSFW (not safe for work), and your mother may or may not approve…

Video Calling (Feature)


Calling your friends via video chat, right there in Facebook? Yes, it’s possible. Have an (almost) face-to-face conversation for free using your computer’s webcam. It’s the next best thing to sci-fi teleportation.
Facebook Mobile (Feature)


If you have a smartphone (iPhone or Android), take Facebook with you, for free! Hit the link above and make the connection. You’ll be notified via text right away of friend requests and can message friends while you’re away from your computer. Fine-tune the settings to suit your notification preferences (and remember: Don’t answer these while you’re driving!).


Flixster (App)


Flickster is great for finding film recommendations from friends.


Know how you feel when you see a movie that reaches out and grabs you? You want to tell everyone you know. That’s how I felt when I saw Man on Wire in 2008. With Flixster you can recommend movies to my friends, collect films you’d like to see, and watch trailers. A subscription gives you the ability to instantly download or stream entire films on your computer, iPad, or smartphone. (Right now, you can redeem your first film for free!)


Viddy (App)


Gone are the days when you needed an entire production studio to capture, edit, and share video clips. Download Viddy for free and easily edit clips or add production-quality special effects. The one-click “share” button distributes it to your friends.

One RPM (App)


If you’re a musician (or know someone who is), download this free app right away. It gives the musician the power to share and sell their music via Facebook. It’s a great way to promote music and build a following; and even better, the musician keeps 70% of every sale (far more than what traditional record labels pay!).

Spotify (App)


Spotify is simply the best way to listen to music online. Adjust your privacy setting to post your play list publically or rock out to that not-so-well-liked artist you love without any of your friends knowing.

VEVO (App)


Imagine watching high-definition music videos customized to your musical tastes. Vevo makes it possible and makes it easy to uncover new and emerging artists, too. Create your own playlists and share them on Facebook, or sit back and watch uninterrupted videos.

BandPage (App)


Indie musicians, rejoice. BandPage does the heavy lifting of a band promoter and puts the power in your hands. Use BandPage to create a customized promotional page on Facebook featuring playable tracks, photos, and upcoming shows. The real power is how easy it makes it for fans to share your music and videos on their timeline, multiplying your audience reach.

Turntable.fm (App)


Today is the day to act on that desire to become a disc jockey. Use Turntable.fm to broadcast your set list in real time to your friends on Facebook. The real fun is spinning tunes in a virtual room of strangers; they have the power to vote your music choices. You can skip the door fee and get immediate feedback on your mixing—you’ll be kicked you off if you’re terrible, or gain new friends if you’re not.


Goodreads (App)


It’s no secret that books are better when you share and discuss them. Use the Goodreads app to make book recommendations and compare notes with friends. It is fun to discover what topics are trending amongst your peers. It can also provide that extra motivation you may need to finish that classic you never managed to actually finish in high school or college; after all, you’ll look so, well, smart!

Pose (App)


Your most fashionable friend has a secret weapon: Pose. Install the app on Facebook and with a few clicks set your fashion style. Then, use the app to serve up daily inspiration from the closets of celebrities or other friends. Snap a few pics and share your style with any other Pose user. You won’t want to get dressed without it.

Fab (App)


Love design? Love shopping? This is the Facebook app that will shower you with the most stylish and innovative products that make both so much fun. A recent example was a line of reflective clothing for road-warrior cyclists that you can wear on and off the bike. Use the Facebook Fab app to serve up daily design inspiration at prices up to 70% off of retail.

Endomondo (App)


Time to get sweaty! You need a personal trainer to kick you in the rear and help you burn off all those sitting-on-Facebook hours. Here again your network of friends can help. Install the Endomondo app to stay accountable to your workouts and track your fitness progress, too.

Facebook Credits (Feature)

Hyped to find and try more Facebook apps and features? You can discover virtual games and more apps (each for a small fee) at this Facebook page. Give or redeem gift credits, too.

What new app is exciting you?

How to Spot a Phony Facebook Friend

fake friendsYour high school acquaintances are coming after you—along with former co-workers, one-time neighbors, and that guy you spoke to briefly at a gas station in 2002.

It’s fun to reconnect with people from the past but not everyone is sincerely interested in getting to know you again (or even for the first time). Some just want to snoop into your life. Others want to use your friend list to connect to others. Still others pester you to “like” their pet projects. Some fragile egos are trying to collect 1,000 or more friends to boost their self esteem.

Let’s not forget the random weirdos, either!

Here are common characteristics all phony Facebook friends share. I think any are grounds for a swift click of the “unfriend” button.

Not responding. If you accept a friend request and send a brief email (“Hey, Tom, great to hear from you. What’s going on?”), isn’t it common courtesy to respond? Or are they just looking through your photos and sending friend requests to your sister?

Never interacting. “Friend collectors” are notorious for this behavior. Once you accept their friend request they forget they know you. No thumbs up? No comments? While it’s natural you’ll interact with some people more than others, what’s the point of connecting on Facebook if you never interact? Pointless.

Immediately asking for a favor or sale. Rude.

Obviously building their “online presence”. You know the types. They’ll “friend” people because they think it makes them look better. I give these folks a chance but if they never respond, never interact, or ask for a sale they’re off my friend list. These people are shallow and/or insufferable.

Don’t feel bad about unfriending, blocking, or unsubscribing from phony Facebook friends. Being “Facebook friends” isn’t the same as being “real friends”, but even so, you don’t need to let others access a glimpse into your personal life without giving in return. Say goodbye to “fair weather” Facebook friends and you’ll enjoy your online experience even more.


Facebook will be the topic for the next few posts—enjoy!

Welcome, “The Story” Listeners!

It’s a thrill to be broadcast today on American Public Radio’s show “The Story with Dick Gordon“!

Thanks for finding me here. I hope that you take a moment to read the “Micropolitan Manifesto“, which was inspired by events discussed on The Story. I discuss issues related to indie biz and micropolitans at Urban Escapee.

Here are links to find see some pics of our neighborhood grocery/cafe/beer garden George Bowers Grocery, as well as the awesome micropolitan I call home, Staunton, Virginia, too.

If you’d like to talk more please hit the contact tab, join the “urban escapee” mailing list to be notified about the book, and/or join the discussion at Facebook.





New Content Marketing Microsite at Atomic Reach

Whoa! I took a few weeks off from blogging to work on my book and here’s what I missed in the world of Content Marketing:

Atomic Reach now features a Content Marketing microsite. It’s a one-stop microsite focused on content marketing topics, and is a great addition to CMI’s resources. If you’re a fellow content marketer apply today to be a part of it and you could win a $350 Best Buy gift card!

Also available is the Social Marketing ROI Report about the ROI of Social Marketing. Download the report for free before December 9. ($97 value)

Content Marketing Tribe

Finally, a great post about creating better buyer personas by Jayme Thomason of DivvyHQ @jaymethomason. It includes the sentence, “[W]e must genuinely care about, serve, or enlighten our audiences to build relationships.” So true. I also resonated with this statement: “*Disclaimer! Before you get your analytical pants in a twist, I know this process isn’t scientific. But neither is producing good content. That’s why it’s called an art.” Preach it, Jayme! Read the article at CMI.

12 Tweet-Worthy Content Marketing World Lessons

Tweet-able Lessons from #cmworld 2011

9 seconds. Its the attention span of goldfish—and most of your audience. Know this. (TY @sallyhogshead)

Bring your best game to an introduction. It’s your only hope for further access and relationship-building. (TY @sallyhogshead)

You, and your content, must be fascinating. How? By tapping into your authentic self, as person or organization. (TY @sallyhogshead)

If you’re practicing real-time content marketing, you might be able to leverage paragraph 2 in mainstream news stories. (TY @dmscott)

No one should prevent you from telling your story. (TY @ReginaBrett)

Your content should make a positive difference in the world. (TY @ReginaBrett)

Irna Phillips sparked soap opera industry & became early content marketer. She insisted: “Programming must sell product.” (TY @TPLDrew)

We all have an audience, no matter its size. (TY @TPLDrew)

Content + Audience + Resources = Participation Creation (TY @TPLDrew)

Who is your duet partner? Don’t be afraid to pair with unlikely partners to grow your respective audiences. (TY @TPLDrew)

Reach out and respect your “super fans”; they will return the favor. (TY @StoryWorldwide)

Content marketing is not just tactical; it’s social. It’s personal.

When you think you know your customer—get to know them some more.


Also… I’m listed on Alltop!

Alltop, all the cool kids (and me)

This blog is now listed as a top resource under “content marketing“—thanks, Alltop! And, thanks to you, too. I appreciate the email, tweets, and DM discussions. Join my free newsletter for tips to grow your business using content. It’s simple to sign up!

Copyblogger, Social Media Examiner: Live from Content Marketing World

Silent Bob to Social Media

Today’s CMWorld opening session featured Brian Clark of Copyblogger.com and Michael Stelzner of SocialMediaExaminer.com, after a funny and content-fueled performance last night by Kevin Smith. Here are highlights:

On personal flaws…

“We’re all writers, and writers are nuts,” says Brian Clark (BC) of Copyblogger when asked about behind-the-scenes challenges. Michael Stelzner (MS) admitted, “My biggest weakness is me. You can’t always strive for perfection.”

Your formula for success?

BC: “We are reader focused, and we don’t take for granted that people will care [about what we write about], and we actually do what we recommend.”

MS: “[We aim to offer a] ‘Nordstrom experience’, all about service.” He adds design plays a major role, too. “Serve others, lift others up. Give, give, give.”

How do you decide what content to produce?

BC: “I’m not a fan of asking directly.” Rather, Clark says he’s a fan of observation first, even though it takes longer. What are people’s problems? Desires? Trust that the audience will tell you what they need. Once you have audience you can develop solutions tailored to them.

MS: “Our SurveyMonkey survey, ‘State of Social Media 2009′ was also intelligence gathering/investigative exercise.” This now-annual survey ask open ended questions, providing invaluable content ideas. In exchange, participants received the compiled report for free.

How do you define content marketing?

BC: “Giving away valuable information to build an audience and eventually sell to them.”

MS: “[Content marketing is] developing information an audience loves, which builds fans, traffic, and your list.” He adds, “Give away your best stuff.  People will ask: ‘How much more will I gain if I hire/pay for product?'”

Your take on building a personal brand or a business brand?

BC: “I likes being behind the scenes, building the business,” but admits that his personal brand is tied closely to it. Clark gave the example of Pete Cashmore of @Mashable, handing over his Twitter account to employees ( BC runs copyblogger twitter account himself). Clark notes, “Do they [audience] want the real you, or the you that fulfills their needs?” and reiterated, that he intentionally places content and products before self-promotion.

MS: “I knew I couldn’t scale Michael Stelzner [as “the Whitepaper guy”] so now I make the spotlight shine on other people.” This gives him the flexibility to eventually sell the site later. “If you want freedom, be careful building a personal brand.”

What’s the biggest mistake you see others making?

BC: “Not focusing on audience’s wants and needs—you’re a servant.” For example, it’s egotistical to ignore great headlines, scannable chunks, and other easily-consumable formatting.

MS: “People promoting their stuff in your content—no one cares about your stuff or want to be converted.”

Next major social media tool?

“Google+ is a force to reckon with” says Stelzner, who added that he thought it will give Facebook a run for its money once a version comes out for business. “Also,” adds Clark, “Google+ seeds Google search results, so, good to get in now.”

New Office, New Projects!

New Office

1880s school house now my office (above entrance on left)

As I shared with newsletter subscribers, I’m getting a new office September 1st. Yay! I’ll be right above George Bowers.

New Projects

Two projects lined up for the second half of the year:

1. I’m writing a book, to be published by in 2012! The book is titled “Urban Escapee: Ditch the City Commute, Start a Business, and Revitalize Main Street” – and is based on running this business as well as building George Bowers Grocery with my husband.

2. You want practical examples! So, this blog is moving to more “show” and less “tell”.  I will be demonstrating content marketing in action via the re-development of a retired project, “FHS”. I will detail and debut that project in the next post. Watch for monthly posts moving forward.

Thanks for sending your content marketing questions into the newsletter.

See you at Content Marketing World the first week of September!

Half Way to New Years!

Today, July 1st, is halfway until New Years Day, 2012!

If you’re managing a content marketing program – or plan to enact one before the end of the year – here is a round-up of six helpful and informative posts to get you motivated again.

Learn More

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