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Eye conversations

When you work with someone every day and they happen to be your friend, your communication skills start to develop super powers. You may be familiar with eye conversations from the series How I Met Your Mother (they even have their own wiki page).

It’s time to share two very special eye conversations with you. These happened without the exchange of any actual words. True story.

The first happened at Up the Creek music festival a little while ago. It was the end of a long, hot day and night of partying and while the crowds dissipated after bouncing around to the headline act, I sat on a surprisingly uncomfortable couch with some friends. A newly single Sarah returned from a bathroom mission with an enormous blue drink and a handsome, rugged, foreign, smiling man in tow. The following conversation ensued without any words:

Liz: “Whoah! What’s going on here then?”

Sarah: “He’s a total babe and so lovely!”

Liz “Are you interested?”

Sarah: “He’s great but I’m so not ready. I actually just want to go to bed but I feel bad ditching him. We met in the queue to the bathroom and he just bought me this massive drink.”

Liz: “Dude, I’m about to fall asleep sitting upright. If you want to hang out with him, go for it but you have about 15 seconds before I announce that I’m going to bed.”

Sarah: “Okay cool, I’ll have a little chat and then use you as an excuse.”

Liz: “Deal.”

The second eye conversation happened recently with a very pleasing outcome. Sarah and I were strolling along the ‘Boomslang’, the canopy walkway in Kirstenbosh, during one of our inspiration days discussing our next move in world domination when a man walked towards us with such ‘pazzaz’ that just his outfit demanded an eye conversation.

We both saw him in the same moment: jeans bunched so much in front that they could only be described as ‘cod-piece jeans’ paired with mostly-unzipped artificial fur waistcoat (no under-shirt needed).

We had to act quickly. There was not time for words. Only our eyes could do the job:

Liz: “Best. Outfit. Ever. How are we going to get a photo?”

Sarah: “Go stand in front of him and I’ll pretend to take a photo of you.”

Liz: “Okay, how about here?”

Sarah: “No! He’s moving. Take a step to the left.”

Liz: “Good?”

Sarah: “Great!”

The evidence of our eye conversation, dear friends, is below.

kirstenbosch eye conversation

10 quotes to inspire the hell out of you

Everyone loves a good quote. Especially when it’s in a sexy font. Perhaps written over an evocative image. I am a big fan of a well-timed quote that seems to have been created just for me – and the other how-ever-many-thousands-of-women are trolling through Pinterest on a Tuesday morning.

So, for your viewing pleasure, I’ve put together a little montage of my 10 favourite quotes that apply to the work we do – but also the lives we live (or the lives we wish we were living when we read these quotes in sexy fonts).

When you get rid of all the other superfluous stuff, this is what it all comes down to.

When you get rid of all the other superfluous stuff, this is what it all comes down to.

Don't love what you do? Stop waiting around for it to find you. Life is happening right now. Each day you spend in a job that doesn't inspire you is a day wasted.

Don’t love what you do? Stop waiting around for it to find you – get out there and look for it! Life is happening right now.

Once you start, it will get messy before it gets amazing. But sometimes, in the midst of the mess, it IS kind of amazing. Because it's yours.

Once you start, it will get messy before it gets amazing. But sometimes, in the midst of the mess, it IS kind of amazing. Because it’s yours.

What makes you different? Embrace it.

What makes you different? Embrace it.

Set goals. And keep coming back to them. Sometimes that goal is trying not to lose your sense of humour that day. And that's ok.

Set goals. And keep coming back to them. Sometimes that goal is trying not to lose your sense of humour that day. And that’s ok.

Corny? Perhaps. True? Mmm-hmmm.

Corny? Perhaps. True? Mmm-hmmm.

There's always a way to figure it out. Sometimes you just need a dance break in between.

There’s always a way to figure it out. Sometimes you just need a dance break in between.

Sometimes clients come with their own drama. And you need to step back and realise what's theirs and what's yours.

Sometimes clients come with their own drama. And you need to step back and realise what’s theirs and what’s yours.

Also - THIS. You'll need it from time to time if you start your own business. But you know what? It's one hell of a party in those pants.

Also – THIS. You’ll need it from time to time if you start your own business. But you know what? It’s one hell of a party in those pants.

Follow Pomegranite on Pinterest for more of this cheesy goodness.

Five reasons why we use WordPress

Website building platforms are constantly evolving to keep up with the needs of developers. We keep an eye on the CMS options available to us but have always come back to WordPress. Here are five reasons why:

  1. It’s versatile

WordPress helps us build a site that’s as simple or as expansive as you like. The functionality at our fingertips allows us to build sites from a clean, informative portfolio or an evocative website, complete with galleries and blog to an e-commerce site that makes you money while you sleep. Our job is understanding what you need and making that happen.

  1. It’s affordable and efficient

With the themes and plugins available in WordPress, there’s no need to build from scratch. This makes the website more affordable for the client and the process more efficient for us. There are thousands of WordPress themes available – by far the best selection online – and the best news? They’re built to be responsive and ready to work on any device.

  1. It’s SEO-friendly

The number one reason businesses want to be online is to be found. Tip-top search engine optimisation is crucial for any website and WordPress is inherently SEO-friendly, giving developers the opportunity to use keywords in URLs, headings, site descriptions ,etc. There are also plenty of great plugins that instil SEO discipline, ensuring you’re on top of your game.

  1. The WordPress culture

There are no nasty surprises like having to pay a monthly fee for a custom domain or conditions urging you to upgrade. Once you’ve sorted your hosting, you’re on your way and you always feel in control of any premium themes and plugins that you might want to use.

Because so many people use WordPress, their resources are always growing. Updates are constantly improving the experience and if you do run into a problem, they have impressive support.

Another advantage of its popularity is that there is a huge community of WordPress users who offer free advice and tutorials so support extends well beyond the WordPress team.

  1. It’s accessible

Once a site is up, the WordPress dashboard is accessible enough that we can easily teach clients how to maintain their sites in a workshop. This is a popular option as they can be in control and easily update photos, post news and edit information. In short, they keep their site feeling fresh and if there are any problems, we’re always there to help.

When things come full circle

You never know where life is going to take you – and the ripple effect of tiny actions can lead you to people who you are just supposed to meet.

Four years ago, when I was in Korea, I ran down a flight of stairs too quickly in the dark of the early morning, and tumbled. Four years, two surgeries, so many doctors, physios, x-rays, MRIs and about nine collective months on crutches later, I was starting to lose hope about ever having a functioning ankle that wasn’t sore all the time.

And then I met Helene.

Physio extraordinaire and owner of the Sports Injury Centre at UCT, Helene has magically gentle hands and is an ankle genius. I do not use that word lightly – she truly is phenomenal. I trusted her the moment she first examined my foot in her thoughtful way, before proceeding to “unlock” it. It was quite an experience.

It was hard work, but with Helene’s reassurance and encouragement, and lots of rehab, things started to get better.

I emailed Helene a few days ago with this question: Could I run the 21km Gun Run in a couple months? (Answer: No – but use the 10km as part of your training you can run another 21 the following month. HA!)

Which just goes to show – find the right person to help you, and you can do the impossible.

What made this whole experience even more rewarding was that I got to help Helene and the SIC build a brand new website, which they loved straight away. We never really share client testimonials on this blog, but this one is quite special.

I had the privileged to meet a lovely patient about a year ago, who against all odds, persisted to work at her rehabilitation. We spoke from time to time about her career and how her (and her partner’s) new business was evolving. When I decided that it was time to update our logo and corporate identity (as Sarah advised me) as well as updating our website, I contacted her for a discussion.

Sarah was attentive to what we wanted, and she quickly formulated a strategy for us to follow. She patiently tweaked my writings and ideas. Even more patiently, coached the team into submitting their profiles for the website, and then demonstrated even more patience in dealing with our decision making about the logo, colours of the logo and the layout etc. We are small team, but every opinion is important. Not once did we feel that we were being coerced into deciding something we were not satisfied with. Yet, the process continued to move ahead at a rapid pace and sooner than later, our project reached completion.

We are very impressed with the speed (yet patient manner) this process took. Most of all, once the website was uploaded, there were no problems / hitches! We asked for a few photos changes which was dealt with immediately, and before we know it, it was done! Painless, on target/ budget and a very pleasing result! Thank you to Sarah and Liz. You will go far and we will recommend your services gladly.”

You can explore the new SIC website here. And if you ever happen to hurt your ankle – you know who to see!

SIC screenshot

Our top music blogs

So you’re tired of hearing the same old thing on the radio and you want to hear some tantalizing new tracks? These four blogs are at the top of their game slinging you beats that might just lead you to your favourite new band.

1. Noonday Tune
First up, a well-established communal local(ish) blog that serves up a treat from one of its 14 contributors every day at noon. It’s a great way to discover new music and, because it’s only one track a day, it’s all about discerning listening. Each song feels like a beautifully wrapped treat – the ideal way to approach something new.

Noonday Tune

Noonday Tune also offers playlists of their previous daily offerings via 8tracks which are solid companions at work. Our tip: follow Noonday Tune on Facebook so that your midday treat shows up in your newsfeed.

2. Pitchfork
Fancy something broader? No problem. Check out Pitchfork: a Chicago-based site devoted to daily music criticism and commentary, music news, and artist interviews.

Since it started in 1995, the site’s focus has been on independent music and is now considered a barometer of public opinion. Our tip: use the extensive staff lists to broaden your musical knowledge. It’s the musical equivalent of poring through the annuls of the Bodleian library. True story.

3. Stereogum
Looking for something more newsy? I’ve got just the thing. Stereogum is a highly acclaimed daily music news and commentary site that covers the full gamut of the music industry.

Established in 2002, the site has released six of its own albums comprised of commissioned covers of iconic albums. They’ve got music heavyweights to pay tribute to the likes of The Strokes’ Is This It?, Bjork’s Post, REM’s Automatic for the People and Radiohead’s OK Computer. Our tip: head over to the Music page to stream tunes right from their regular playlists: Latest Songs, The ‘Gum Mix, and Most Popular.

4. Consequence of Sound
More into a live jam? Not to worry, I’ve got you covered. Consequence of Sound features news, album and concert reviews, and editorials with a bias towards live gigs, concerts and festivals.

In February 2012, the website launched a long form writing section, Aux.Out which is a refreshingly in-depth look at music and artists in a new industry of punchy news nuggets. Our tip: keep up with the moving and shaking in the US festival scene with the site’s Festival News and Rumours radar.

Enjoy!

Feature image source.

SEO and misspelled words: Not as much of a problem as you think

I have always enjoyed words. Spelling tests at school were particularly satisfying for me. While I did once write my gran a letter with the catchy title “Tiptoe through the choolips with me”, I haven’t often had much trouble with spelling.

Since I entered the world of website creation and SEO has become a thing in my life, spelling has taken on a bit of a new spin.

Clients sometimes ask: “How can I be sure that someone will find my website if they don’t spell our company name correctly?”

The answer (as in many cases in life) is: “Because Google is a genius.”

All major search engines (in case you use something other than Google – although I’m not really sure who you are then cos I have never met you) will offer you an alternative word if you present it with a spelling error. The website you were intending to find should therefore be among your search results due to this very clever programming.

Case in point: We recently built a website for a beautiful little eco retreat on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. It has the tricky name of “Svendsen’s Beach”, which, apparently, only the smallest handful of people manage to spell correctly.

The owners of the eco retreat were concerned that, because people struggled to spell the name correctly, they would battle to find the website if the SEO did not account for all the spelling variations (and there were A LOT).

So Liz and I put Google to the test, using every misspelling of the word “Svendsens” that we could think of. And the result? Google is indeed a little genius, and presented us with the right website every single time. Even when we tried a variation like “Svendensens”.

Svendsen's Beach

When it comes to SEO, misspellings are not as much of a problem as they once were. What’s more important is producing interesting, regular content with key words that people are likely to include in their searches.

So, for example, if you search for “luxury eco retreat, Great Keppel Island”, the first result that pops up is none other than the (very lovely) Svendsen’s Beach.

How to choose a business partner: The Pomegranite model

Today, Pomegranite celebrates making it through its first year. And what a year it’s been. Sarah and I have travelled an incredible road together and though there were blisters (and injured ankles), we are now getting into our stride, getting fitter and running faster. This journey did not begin 365 days ago but a long, long time before that and I’m going to impart the wisdom we have learned about choosing a business partner.

1. Share some common ground.

Sarah and I were at Rhodes University together all the way up to honours. We weren’t particularly close friends but good enough that when the end of the year came along and I had no idea what to do with my life, I accepted Sarah’s invitation to join her and another classmate, Harry Davies (more about him later) on a trip to Ireland to find their fortunes.

2. Have similar dreams.

Find our fortunes we did not. It was early 2008, the recession had just hit Ireland in a BIG way and the only work we could get was going door to door getting people to sign up to monthly charity donations for deaf kids in India. It was a pretty devastating turn of events, going from becoming accomplished academics to not being able to fill in a form on someone’s doorstep because it was snowing and you were so cold you couldn’t feel your fingers. But it was character building and fantastic life experience.

We actually ended up fantasising together about getting a job, you know indoors. With a desk perhaps and maybe even a phone!?

Sarah and I in Ireland before I’d learnt how to not look creepy in photos.

3. Be able to have a laugh together

Despite our day jobs, we had an absolute blast during those few months. We drank Guinness, we danced, we went on adventures, we had philosophical discussions and we made roast chicken. The third memeber in our merry trio, Harry Davies, started Harare News, which also celebrated its one year anniversary yesterday.

Harry, Sarah and me in Ireland. He called us his wenches and we loved him for it although we were the ones getting free beer, not him.

4. Have common interests

Patriotic partying in Ireland.
Going surfing with our friend, Tracy. Read more about these escapades here.

5. Like your partner enough to want to hang out even after work hours.

Up the Creek music festival 2013

6. Trust your partner enough to take risks together.

Sitting on the edge of a cliff on the Aran Islands. Can you tell who’s more comfortable?

7. Choose someone you respect.

This, above all. If you respect each other,  you can have those difficult conversations that are a part of running a business together. I’ve had some practice at this.

2008 – Me to a very ill Sarah in Ireland while drying her hair: “I don’t want you to panic, but I think your hair is stuck in the hairdryer. I’m just going to fetch the scissors…”

2013 – Me to Sarah on the eve of showing the client our first ever website: “I don’t want you to panic, but I think I just deleted the website and I don’t know how to get it back…”

Look at us out now. A job indoors. With a desk and everything! And a great partnership.

Happy Birthday, Pomegranite.

Photo by friend and client, Kate Davies.

Victory dances: Sometimes they’re just necessary

You know that feeling when things have been really tough – so tough that dropping your pen lid into your tea is actually just too much to deal with – for a really long time, and then suddenly everything starts falling into place? It’s happening to me. And I’m having a bit of a moment.

Pomegranite is doing SO well, you guys. Truth: if you had told me, a year ago, when we started our own business just how hard it would be, and how many stressful months there would be financially, I probably wouldn’t have done it. We don’t often talk about the tough times on this blog – mostly because, even when it’s rough, we still love what we do and wouldn’t swap it for anything. But it hasn’t been all champagne and sunshine.

Today Liz showed me our bank balance, and, well… I cried. Ok – I teared up. It all seems too good to be true. But we did the calculations for the coming months, and we’re still looking so strong. And it’s all come full circle exactly a year since we started Pomegranite on 1 July 2013.

It’s not just that. So much is going right these days.

I spent a week in Joburg for work (and a mom-hug) last week, which was really great. But as I landed in Cape Town, I felt for the first time that I was certain that this is where I want to be now. I opened my blinds the next morning and looked at the sun hitting the mountain and I laughed. Because it feels a bit ridiculous that that is my view. It’s so bloody “Cape Town”. And I freaking love it.

I’ve been struggling with a messed up ankle for almost four years now. I am SO done with xrays and surgeries and crutches and physio. I had given up trying to run, even though I had been given the green light by the physio. It was just too sore. But last night, as I was walking on the treadmill, I decided to run – just for five minutes. Those five minutes came and went… and I just kept going. And before I knew it I had run 5km and I had to force myself to stop. The even better news is that I can actually still walk today. HEY?? I can’t quite believe it.

There have been some difficult conversations I’ve needed to have lately. And they’ve been had. Or at least scheduled. I’m leaving a lot of stuff behind, and it feels good to travel light for a change.

The past year has been the most difficult year of my life – by a long shot. But I finally feel like I’m not only reaching the light at the end of the tunnel, but that sunshine is on my shoulders already. And, as John Denver promised, it makes me happy.

On the eve of my 29th birthday, this all bodes well (no really – it’s tomorrow. Don’t forget.). 28 was all about the spade work. The rough stuff.

And now I’m ready for the next chapter. Champagne?

The one where Pomegranite meets Saul from Homeland (yes, really)

Liz and I, for the most part, spent the long weekend working on two websites that needed to be launched on Monday. With deadlines met and very happy clients, we decided to leave work early on Tuesday afternoon for a walk around Lion’s Head for this month’s inspiration day.

It was a beautiful winter’s day in Cape Town – all blue skies and warm sunshine. After a brief chat about how work is going (summary: things are looking pretty exciting for Pomegranite right now), we broke into a gentle run on the contour path.

Not having been able to run for ages after two ankle surgeries and a whole lot of rehab, I was torn between the worry that I would turn my ankle on the rocky path, and utter exhilaration at being able to move at speed with the wind in my hair. I felt liberated, powerful, and downright graceful as I darted along the path.

“You look like a donkey newly escaped from a medical testing centre,” Liz observed.

As I said – graceful.

We made our way around the mountain, stopping to admire the view – and Instagram the sh*t out of it (obviously).

As we reached the wider road on the way down, we broke into a run again – this time not so gentle. Hurtling down the slope, we passed a group of people laughing as they sauntered upwards. I spun around to give Liz an “OMG-that’s-Marc-Lottering” look. Yip, full-on SA celeb spotted on Lion’s Head. Exciting times.

Little did we know what was in store for us.

We had reached the bottom, flushed with the exhilaration of the run and Marc-spotting, when I noticed an old couple just ahead of us.

Me: That guy looks exactly like Saul from Homeland.

Liz: It totally is!

Me: No, can’t be…

Liz: It is. It’s him! It’s totally him!

Being my father’s daughter (he would happily introduce himself to the queen – I’m not even joking), I was all for saying hello. Liz, it seemed, was not, which I gathered as she panic-ran to a safe distance.

Thus followed this (not at all embarrassing) exchange.

Me: Um, excuse me… Are you from Homeland?

Saul: Why yes, yes I am.

Me: (Struggling to make words) Um… wow! Um… wow! Um… welcome to South Africa!

(Liz in hysterics looking on)

Saul: (Amused smile) Thanks. Have a great day.

That’s right. The CIA told me to have a great day.

How was your Tuesday?

Question: How on earth are we going to top that for July’s inspiration day? If any of you chat to Ryan Gosling in the next couple of weeks, please let him know we’ll be waiting.

IMG_20140617_231628 IMG_20140617_231751 IMG_20140617_232249 IMG_20140617_232020 IMG_20140617_231354 2014-06-17 23.23.50

Sorry, no pics of Saul – I wasn’t THAT brave.

The most powerful marketing tool

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to a seminar on one of the world’s most powerful marketing tool.

Is it the hashtag?

Is it blogger relations?

No.

It’s word of mouth.

Being spoken of highly is the single most valuable marketing tool there is. We can vouch for it – Pomegranite has grown leaps and bounds through recommendations.

Other than always, always delivering a top product with exceptional service, there’s no direct way a business can create these positive conversations. That’s why they’re so valuable – they’re spontaneous and sincere. What brands can do, however, is make the most of the good relationships they have with customers and clients.

For us, testimonials are an important way to show that our clients trust us and are happy that they picked us to work with. They’re so important that we have them scrolling on our homepage and they’re displayed on their own page.

There are a variety of ways that a brand can squeeze every drop from a juicy, happy customer on social media. Reviews, testimonials, ratings, interactive content, forums, discussions and comments are all ways of boosting your brand in conversation which is a huge marketing asset. If it’s positive.

Our view? Build from the foundations. Always deliver and be a pleasure to work with.

Check out these amazing stats about word of mouth. They show why social media software company, Lithium, is expected to acquire online influence measurement company Klout for at least $100 million.

lithium wom marketing infographic

Source

Image source

The difference between 23 and (basically) 29

It was Liz’s birthday yesterday. To celebrate, we went out for a few drinks at Beerhouse – a local favourite on Long Street.

At one point during the night, a guy sat down next to me and attempted some pick-up lines of epic awfulness. We established that he was 23. And that I was not.

And then:

Him: So… are you going out tonight?

Me: What are you talking about? I am out.

Him: *Genuinely confused*

And that is the difference between 23 and (let’s face it – basically) 29.

The more I spoke to him (and marvelled at his persistence in the face of open laughter and incredulity of myself and my friends – poor guy), the more I felt the massive distance between his age and mine.

He was studying. Investment banking or something. Yeah, it was going really well, man. No he wasn’t really sure if that was what he, like, really wanted to do with his life. But, you know, did I come here often?

He asked what I did. I told him that Liz and I owned our own business. We built websites, handled content marketing and social media workshops, etc.

He looked vaguely impressed, and I thought – man, we’ve come a long way, Liz and I. From the days just after varsity when we were knocking on doors in Ireland, failing spectacularly to get people to sign up for direct debit orders for charities, and dreaming of the day when we might have a job inside. With a desk and a chair – the luxury!

And here we are, running our own business, working with amazing clients, loving what we do and celebrating birthdays with a few quiet drinks at the local pub.

Don’t get me wrong – 23 was fun. Ridiculously so. But I wouldn’t trade lives with 23 year old me. I’ve heard enough bad pick-up lines to last safely into the next decade.

Bring it.

[Feature image source]

School websites: What story do you want to tell?

I read something somewhere on the internet (could I be more vague? No.) that has stuck with me. It said something to this effect:

“Ask yourself how you are different from your competition – and tell that story.”

In the last couple months, Pomegranite has built new websites for three different schools. On the surface, these schools could appear quite similar: they are all reasonably small, private schools within short distances of one another in the northern suburbs of Johannesburg.

Yet, walking into each school, you notice a distinct vibe unique to each institution. The ethos of each school is different – and you can feel it.

The trick is translating this into their respective websites. I am a words person, so, for me, this distinctive storytelling happens predominantly through the content of each site. However, some people are more visual creatures, so it’s equally important that the look and feel of each website paints a picture of the character of each school. Sometimes it’s the functionality that sets a site apart – like image animation, online application forms or online payment facilities. But mostly it’s about understanding the story behind each school, what’s important to them and why – and integrating that into each element of the website.

A school’s online presence is hugely important – particularly these days, when the first thing that new parents (a generation with an affinity with the digital world) are likely to do when considering sending their children to a certain school is to look at that school’s website.

When we started building these websites we explored the online presences of a number of schools in South Africa – and abroad, but, let’s stick to our own shores for now. It seemed to be a general trend that schools created their websites years ago when they first recognised the need to be represented online, and they haven’t given their websites a whole lot of thought since then.

Your website is one of your most – if not the most – important marketing tools. It’s time to start thinking again about the impression that your school website creates. What is the user experience like? Does it accurately convey the level of excellence your school cultivates?

What story would you like your website to tell?

ridge school screenshot
st katharines screenshot
apps screenshot

Feature image source

‘The right to be forgotten’ and your online presence.

When was the last time you Googled yourself? Was it for kicks or was it to see what a potential employer might find?

EF book

My online name twins are writers, events planners, lawyers and psychotherapists. I reckon I got off lightly. Can you imagine sharing a name and a city with a porn star, a fraud or a paedophile? Or worse, what if you’d done something in the past you aren’t proud of and now it’s still out there, sprawled across the internet with YOUR name on it and you have no way of removing it?

The idea of one’s identity online and the right to remove those references has recently come into the spotlight due to a European court of justice ruling saying that Google will have to delete some information from its index. The central division that’s causing a lot of debate is the right to privacy versus the right to freedom of expression. The information might be about you, but it’s in a public domain.

According to the Guardian, the facts of the case are that a Spanish politician had to sell some property in a government-ordered auction to recover social security debts that he owed. A newspaper article published online about the situation has become a prominent search result and González argued that the newspaper and Google should remove the information about the auction because they infringed his right to privacy. The upshot of the ruling is that someone who wants information about them taken out of the index will have to apply to Google, who will then have to weigh up whether it is in the public interest for that information to remain.

Yesterday I had a chat with a friend who described ‘the right to be forgotten’ as the sweetest five words she had ever heard and felt like they were the only thing she’d ever been inclined to use as a tattoo. You see she’s a journalist and she wrote some arbitrary stuff at the beginning of her career that isn’t her best work but she was told to do it so she did. Now, years later, it’s always the top search result for her name and it makes her feel creeped out by the internet in general. Being online is not a happy place for her because of this incident. In fact, she just wants to get off the grid entirely.

But can you ever ‘get off’  the internet? (this article suggests only the powerful will actually benefit from the ‘right to be forgotten’). And is this the best decision if you are a freelancer by trade? After chatting it through, we decided the solution would be to build her a portfolio website. Adding a site to the list of search results might sound counter-intuitive, but perhaps in this case you have to fight fire with fire.

We dreamed up a site that shows off her latest work – pieces she’s proud of – and does so in her own way. Instead of trying to erase herself, she curate a space that’s all her own. In a Google search, alongside old rubbish, there would be a current site where potential clients could find out more about her, see some of her work and get in touch with her.

So what do you find if you Google yourself?

collage

For your viewing pleasure: The Elizabeth Fletchers of the internet wilds

Image source

How to blog: Content marketing lessons from Coca Cola

In the fast-changing world of digital marketing, search engine optimisation (SEO) and content marketing go hand-in-hand. In order to improve your SEO, you need to consistently produce content that people are interested in – not only do you want them to read it, you want them to share it across social media platforms, driving more traffic to your website and keeping your brand top-of-mind.

There are many pieces of advice on content marketing, and blogging in particular, floating around the internet. Here’s one from one of the biggest brands of all: Coca Cola.

coca cola infographic

Partnership, a possum and a flying bulldog

For this month’s Inspiration Day, we decided to get out of the office and get into “the nature”. It was a little chilly for skinny dipping in Silvermine dam so we went for a walk in one of Cape Town’s gems, Deer Park. It’s a tranquil forest nestled at the foot of Table Mountain, just a stone’s throw from the CBD.

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A classic case of a city photo bombing a forest.

We’d just started our stroll when I saw something dash into the brush to our left. It was swift and agile, moving low to the ground – not a rat or a dassie – but it was long and skinny – it definitely wasn’t a squirrel. I stood aghast, filled with the excitement of big game spotting, pointing at it where it was a moment ago, willing Sarah to see the creature but completely unable to find its name. Eventually, I uttered, “possum!” at which point he popped his head out from behind a bush and looked at me as if to say, “Seriously?” and Sarah doubled over laughing. After a few moments, she managed to get out the words, “It’s a mongoose!”. Satisfied that he had been correctly acknowledged, he scampered off again after throwing me a disdainful scowl.

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Sarah, the river sprite.

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Pondering the path of least resistance.

We clambered over some rocks to sit next to a stream in the wintry sun. With some exciting new things happening for Pomegranite very soon, we had the chance to talk about how we wanted our business to work and how we would work together. A guy ran past with a dog trotting behind, obscured but the long grass. Our conversation stopped abruptly when we witnessed a stocky bulldog flying through the air in mid bomb-drop. She landed in the little dam with a glorious splash and I’m pretty sure her flapping cheeks were curled upwards at the edges. Soon enough, she bobbed to the surface, under-bite first and paddled back to her human for more, curly piggy tail wiggling.

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The site of the flying bulldog

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We saw a path striking out from the clearing around the waterway and decided to see where it would go. Once I had got us properly lost and we were wandering around just trying to find our way back to the car park (all romance of the adventure long gone), it struck me how similar getting lost together is to running a business. Both can be tiring and uncomfortable situations where you have to negotiate choices and make decisions. You have to rely on your partner’s skills and trust them. There’s no one else but you and your partner to get through challenges and so you have to stand by him or her and figure it out. Most importantly, you don’t split up. Ever. Because that’s a classic start to a horror movie.

Five things I love about doing work that’s worthwhile

We’ve recently built three different websites for an NGO called STEPS. STEPS does amazing work treating kids in southern Africa who are born with clubfeet. It was started by Karen Moss, whose son was born with clubfoot when the only treatment option in South Africa was surgery. She did some research online, found an amazing doctor in the States who could correct her son’s feet without surgery, and flew all the way over there to meet him and have him treat her son.

She was so impressed at the results of this gentle method of treatment that she wanted all children in southern Africa to have access to the same treatment. And so, she brought it to them.

Inspiring right?

The work she has done since she founded STEPS in 2005 is quite amazing, and we have loved being a part of the process of telling the story of STEPS through their websites: www.steps.org.za (focused on the charity and the work they do), www.clubfoot.co.za (more medical info), and www.ponseti.co.za, which is still in the final stages of being built (where parents can buy specialised products for the treatment of clubfoot).

So, now that you have the background, here are five things that I have loved about being part of such a worthwhile project:

1. Helping to frame a story that is so uplifting is good for the soul. It just is.
2. Working with people who spend their days improving the lives of others is good for you.
3. Perspective – reading stories about the struggles of mothers whose children are born in rural areas with no access to medical treatment will put your trivial “problems” in perspective pretty quickly.
4. Unforeseen extra work – which is pretty standard with any project – somehow doesn’t bother you.
5. It’s wonderful being a part of the creation of something really meaningful. You know that feeling you get when it’s cold and rainy outside and you’re sitting on the couch with a cup of tea and fuzzy socks on your feet? It’s kind of like that.

steps

Why Search Engine Optimisation is Dying

Randy Milanovic of KAYAK has just released a new e-book, “Findability: Why Search Engine Optimisation is Dying”.

The blurb reads:

Are you ready for a new world of search engine optimization, social media, and content marketing? You had better be, because Google, Facebook, Twitter, and other popular Internet marketing tools are changing fast… the companies that adapt are going to find more opportunities, while their competitors are going to be left behind. Following these rules will help propel you in front of those who don’t get it… yet.

The title may send many an SEO expert into a tizz but it seems that rather than minimising the importance of keywords, Milanovic is highlighting the importance of using content to develop community loyalty where search algorithms can change on a whim. With good content marketing, your investment is never lost. Here are Randy’s 21 top tips:

21 rules of content marketing

[Image source]

sceptical baby social media

5 simple ways to engage your audience on social media

Ever wanted to have your own shop selling stuff you love or be a radio presenter recognised and adored for your sense of humour? If you’re active on social media, you’re already taking on roles like these.

Social media is space we all curate – whether it’s our personal brand (of life being amazing all the time) or a business’s brand (of the business’s values, products, lifestyle). Visual platforms like Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr can be compared to custom magazines and you could say that Twitter is like having your own transcribed podcast beaming out to followers who are tuned in. So what are you doing with your curated spaces? Getting people to participate is one of the best ways to build loyalty. Here are five simple ways to get followers to engage.

1. Polls

Polls are a great way to get feedback from your community while not asking them to make much of an effort. There are plenty of apps out there to facilitate them – just be aware of your settings: pranksters can have (hilarious but) devastating effects when you allow the public to add suggestions.

2. Competitions

For as long as society has used pronouns, people have loved free stuff. Facebook recently slackened the rules for running competitions which has made life a lot easier. By using an entry mechanism where ‘liking’ your page is a condition, you can build follower numbers quickly. After that, it’s up to you to keep them around.

3. Videos

Generally, we’re a pretty lazy society and there’s no better example of this than our internet habits. We would much rather watch a short clip than read a paragraph of text. Film is a multi-sensory experience and, while it’s expensive in relation to writing text, the impression it gives is incomparable and you can get a lot of mileage out of it. A short, captivating clip to introduce your brand and a number of key points can be used in presentations, on your website, and shared on all of your social media platforms.

4. Links

Your curated space doesn’t have to be made up exclusively of original content. While a certain amount is crucial, your brand’s online presence can also be a hub for relevant and useful content. You can be the go-to place for all things [insert your field here].

5. Photos

Because they communicate immediately and powerfully, images are some of the most shareable content on the internet, especially when overlayed with text. There are plenty of easy-to-use, free tools out there such as PicMonkey which make creating this kind of content a cinch.

If you’d like to take your social media to the next level, check out 26 Facebook Fan Engagement Tips or get in touch about our social media workshops and social media management.

The one where we go surfing at Muizenberg

Once a month, Pomegranite leaves the office for a morning or afternoon, and spends some time out in the world, talking about the business, coming up with new ideas, and just having fun, doing something we will remember with more clarity than answering emails and drawing up invoices.

For our March inspiration day, we decided to visit one of my favourite places in Cape Town, Muizenberg Beach. Liz, who grew up in Durban and hence knows how to surf (the two are synonymous aren’t they?) agreed to teach me the art. Let me just say that I am the biggest Vaalie. Having lived in Cape Town for nearly a year and a half, I still get SO excited when I see the sea and feel the sand between my toes. So, when Liz suggested the surfing idea, let’s just say that I was on board (Yip. That just happened).

If you know me at all, you will know that I am something of a perfectionist, and I am unlikely to quit anything until I get it right. Surfing was no different.

So, from my (vast) experience, here are 10 things every beginner surfer needs to know:

1) Trying to carry a surfboard in the wind is bloody difficult. Have you ever watched someone trying to bath a cat? Ja – it’s kind of like that. Just harder. Top tip: let your business partner carry it. She loves it. And you’re a novice, remember? Do not be afraid to play that card.

2) Set aside a good hour to put your wetsuit on. It’s an acquired skill apparently.

3) Don’t skip the embarrassing “lesson on the sand” part. People have come to the beach primarily to people watch. Do not deprive them of some quality entertainment.

4) You will feel like a child initially. A special needs child. Embrace it. Everyone needs to feel ridiculous from time to time.

5) It is likely that your “teacher” will speak to you in a soothing voice you’ve once heard her use while babysitting a screaming child. She will tell you that you are doing “soooooo well!” And she’s right. Obviously. That nine year old kid has nothing on you.

6) Make sure your wetsuit is the right size. The guy at the surf shop underestimated my height a bit, so I kind of felt like my wetsuit was trying (and succeeding) to choke me the whole time. Not ideal.

7) You will get a lot of sea water up your nose, which is ever so slightly unpleasant. Ever so slightly. On the plus side, no blocked sinus issues for what I can only assume will be the rest of your life.

8) Don’t be afraid to just kneel on the board in the beginning. People may tell you to “stand up, dammit!” But what do they know? You’ve got some moves. They’re just jealous of your lunge.

9) Make sure that you yell loudly at people in your way as you cruise into shore at break-neck speed. They need enough time to throw themselves out of your way. Be considerate.

10) It’s not the most comfortable experience you’ll ever have. But that feeling of riding that final wave right into shore, casually hopping off and dancing a wild victory dance glancing nonchalantly at your “teacher” as she cheers you on… It’s pretty damn amazing.

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Office for the afternoon

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Putting on a wetsuit is HARD

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As I said…

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Post-surf smugness

 

Why the internet was invented: Humans of New York

I use the internet every day. My appreciation of the world wide web is mostly from quite a hum-drum perspective. Every now and then, though, I come across something online so awesome that I feel like I need to stop, take a moment, and just be grateful that the internet was invented. And not just because my job wouldn’t exist without it.

Case in point: Humans of New York.

Brandon lost his job trading bonds in Chicago. Without much of a plan in mind, he decided to move to New York and take portraits of strangers on the streets. His mom was chuffed. As you can imagine. But, so far, things have gone pretty well for Brandon. Humans of New York has nearly 4 million followers on social media, and has become a #1 NYT bestselling book.

Each day Brandon walks the streets of New York and takes portraits of the people he meets. The best part? He collects quotes and stories from these people, which he displays alongside their portraits. The blog provides people around the world with a snapshot of the lives of New Yorkers. The success of this project speaks for itself – people are fascinated by these glimpses into the lives of strangers. Myself included.

When I first came across HONY I spent hours scrolling through their Facebook posts. There is so much joy in the portraits and their accompanying stories – but there is also a pain and vulnerability to many of the portraits Brandon captures. It’s just a beautiful snapshot of humanity, really. Do yourself a favour – follow HONY on Facebook (if you don’t already). It’s quite astounding, the poignant moments Brandon captures and the insights he comes away with after just a few moments of conversation.

One of my favourite portraits is of a man in a beanie, looking away from the camera. He leans against a wall with a skateboard in his hand.

“I told her that if she wanted to start over, to meet me where we first kissed,” his caption says. “She was supposed to be here 15 minutes ago.”

And that is all you get. That tiny window into a moment in this man’s life. A man who lives a million miles away. A man you will never meet. But for that moment, as you read those two sentences and look at his portrait which tells its own story, you are connected to him because, on some level, you identify with him. You know what he is feeling. And that, right there, is the beauty of the internet. Of social media. That it allows you to do that.

HONY makes me think. If someone came up to me on the street and took a photo of me right now, and left with one caption, what would it be?

What would yours be?

I'm not too emotional of a guy. People say I have a good heart, but they're wrong. I have principles. The heart is a fickle thing. There's no way I can love everybody. So I'm not even going to try. But I can respect everyone whether I love them or not. And that I try to do."

“I’m not too emotional of a guy. People say I have a good heart, but they’re wrong. I have principles. The heart is a fickle thing. There’s no way I can love everybody. So I’m not even going to try. But I can respect everyone whether I love them or not. And that I try to do.”

4)"What was the happiest moment of your life?" "When I married Joe." "What was the saddest moment of your life?" "When Joe died." "What was your favorite thing about Joe?" "He was oh-so-romantic." "What's the most romantic thing Joe ever did?" "Let's just say that he was good with his loving."

“What was the happiest moment of your life?”
“When I married Joe.”
“What was the saddest moment of your life?”
“When Joe died.”
“What was your favorite thing about Joe?”
“He was oh-so-romantic.”
“What’s the most romantic thing Joe ever did?”
“Let’s just say that he was good with his loving.”

3)"What's your greatest struggle right now?" "Struggle? What does that mean?" "Challenge." "Ah! Being a good grandmother." "What's the toughest part about being a good grandmother?" "Oh, I don't know if I can answer in English. Let me see.. Be Present. Listen. Be Loveful. Did I say that right? Loveful?"

“What’s your greatest struggle right now?”
“Struggle? What does that mean?”
“Challenge.”
“Ah! Being a good grandmother.”
“What’s the toughest part about being a good grandmother?”
“Oh, I don’t know if I can answer in English. Let me see.. Be Present. Listen. Be Loveful. Did I say that right? Loveful?”

2)I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.  He screamed: "A benny!"  "What's a benny?" I asked. "That's his name," said his mom.

I asked what he wanted to be when he grew up.
He screamed: “A benny!”
“What’s a benny?” I asked.
“That’s his name,” said his mom.

5)"Well there's this girl that I'm friends with, and you know, I like her, but I don't know if she likes me..." "Do you mind if I share that?" "I don't know, if you share it, she might figure it out." "She'll definitely figure it out." "... do it."

“Well there’s this girl that I’m friends with, and you know, I like her, but I don’t know if she likes me…”
“Do you mind if I share that?”
“I don’t know, if you share it, she might figure it out.”
“She’ll definitely figure it out.”
“… do it.”

 

Five tips for working with small businesses

Generally, by the time we work with small businesses, they’ve survived early development, have a strong sense of who they are, and are ready take their marketing and branding seriously. This is never more true than with small businesses in the fashion industry. But how is working with these types of clients different to others? Here are five tips that worked for us with local fashion businesses, Soul Society and White Rabbit Days.

Before we get cracking, here’s some White Rabbit Days fabulousness:

 

1. Listen

While these clients have lived their brand since they were brave enough to go out on their own, they generally haven’t been asked to articulate it formally, so discussing business plans and marketing strategy is often a first foray into outlining strategy. Our workshops have proved valuable in these situations by giving the client clarity and strategy to build on, and by giving us insight into the business.

It’s only by really listening that you can get a sense of what makes the business different. And, in the end, that’s the story you need to tell.

2. Figure out what they need from you

Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. Rather figure out why they came to you. For instance, Soul Society already had a great website and really strong branding. What they needed from us was help telling their story, which is exactly what we did for them.

3. Evoke the juice

Find out what makes the brand you’re working with special and communicate that. For instance, Helen, the designer behind White Rabbit has a really animated way of speaking – making up words and cracking jokes all the time – and we used that sensibility across the copy in the website. For example, the name White Rabbit Days comes from the way Helen used to explore a new city with friends on her travels.

You pick a direction, choose a road, a door, jump on a bus; follow the white rabbit (in a non-druggie way) and see where it takes you, what treasures you find, who you meet and where you end up.

4. Be flexible

Small businesses have particular pressures. Often the person you’re liaising with is also responsible for many other things like manufacturing, distribution and accounts. They’re juggling problems and opportunities all the time and this means that you might not have direct access all the time. Once you can arrange it, however, you can make decisions with the client very quickly.

Cash flow is another things that can be difficult for small businesses. Being flexible is crucial to being able to have a good working relationship.

5. Stay in touch

You never know where these businesses are going and who they’re connected to. Every big business was once small – stay in touch and who knows where they might take you!

Here’s some Soul Society fabulousness:

Soul Society

 

Select a brand to go to their Facebook page:

Soul SocietyLogo White Rabbit Days

 

Featured (top) image source

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