If You’re Struggling

  1. Walk away from the tv, the computer, the cell phone. Even just for 5 minutes. Take a few deeply conscious breaths, go outside, or call someone you trust. Your Mind Matters.
  2. Recovery International offers in-person, online, chat and phone meetings.
  3. IMAlive offers immediate chat with volunteers.
  4. 7 Cups of Tea offers instant support and online counselling, too.
  5. Therapy For Black Girls is committed to making mental health issues more accessible and relevant for Black women. There’s a podcast here (weekly, I think).
  6. The Trevor Lifeline 1-866-488-7386 gives support to LGBTQIA youth.There’s also a text option. Text “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200.
  7. AAAl-Anon and Alateen host in-person and online meetings all over the US.
  8. The National Alliance For Mental Health (NAMI) offers a phone HelpLine at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) available Monday through Friday, 10 am–6 pm, ET if you want help finding resources in your area.
  9. NAMI’s 24/7 crisis text line is reached by texting NAMI to 741-741
  10. The National Suicide Prevention Line answers the phone 24/7 800-273-TALK (8255).

Each of these resources is free or low cost (sliding scale) and are available to all religions, sexual orientations and skin colors. Some are staffed by trained volunteers, some are staffed by licensed counselors.

We are all in this together, and there’s no shame in admitting that sometimes we all need a little help. #IDontMind

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

cross posted to Irish Yoga Chick

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My 16 Year Addiction To The News

A photo I took shortly after the total solar eclipse on August 21, 2017.

Last week, subscribers to my newsletter learned about my 16 year addiction to the news. (You can read it here).

As of today, it’s officially been 14 days since I’ve watched any news on tv. Additionally, I haven’t randomly gone to any news websites, either.

I’ve also made some progress in breaking my addiction to Twitter news. I’ve rearranged  how my tweets are delivered, making a specific “news” tab that I check a max of 2x a day for 15-20 minutes. And I have not checked Twitter in the middle of the night once in the last two weeks. Yeah, that’s progress.

Instead of my constant need to have the news on in the background, both day and night, I now subscribe to 3 news aggregation emails that I read every morning. I also have a couple of podcasts lined up, however I just realized I haven’t listened to them in the last two weeks, either.

My favorite news aggregation email is The Morning News (probably because it’s delivered just like Twitter. The irony is not lost on me.) Politico’s Playbook and Morning Media round out my three. Both of the Politico subscriptions are pretty wonky. The Skimm is another good one. It’s less less wonky, too.

As for podcasts, The Daily is a short, in-depth look at one current topic each day. Vox’s The Weeds (semi-weekly), Lovett or Leave It and Pod Save America (weekly — and really, all of the Crooked Media podcasts are informative) are my go-to. And, of course, my local NPR podcasts.

My fear that I wouldn’t be prepared, or that I’d somehow be “sticking my head in the sand” if I wasn’t focused on the news 24/7 hasn’t played out that way at all. If anything, I’m more aware of what’s going on in my neighborhood, my city and my state now because I’m choosing where to focus my attention and not depending on ratings-hungry media companies to decide for me what’s important.

Completely random, Austin Kleon’s newsletter today has several links on just this topic as his #1 of “ten things worth sharing.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

May Deal – Pay What You Think Is Fair

A couple of weeks ago maybe, as I was sitting in my office staring out the window, I was overcome with how much my life has changed and how overwhelmingly grateful I am for so much.

A couple of years ago life was upended. All at once. As is life’s prerogative. Initially, this was not o.k.

Not. O.k. At. All.

I was fond of saying “It’s fine if my work life is chaos as long as my home life isn’t.” And vice versa. This was not that. This was all chaos all the time.

A couple of months ago, the last of that chaos worked it’s way out of the picture.

And that’s how I came to be looking out my office window a couple of weeks ago. That office, that window, that view, are the end result of all that chaos. And the view feels good.

HeyAmyLou came to be during all that chaos. And now is the time to celebrate.

So, HeyAmyLou is making May Pay What You Think Is Fair Pricing Month for our newsletter production and design services, mailing list development and maintenance, or website development services.

You tell us what you think is fair pricing. HeyAmyLou will  give you the same great service, product and attention you always get.

HeyAmyLou is a company built around ethics, respect, family, and fun. We take pride in the ability to meet our client’s needs. Pay What You Think Is Fair Month is our virtual cake and candles celebration. A big WHOO-HOO! We MADE it!

We want you and your business to make it, too.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

*image created with Canva.

Newsletters Are The Backbone Of Any Good Business

We just spent more time than most people would consider reasonable researching award-winning newsletters.

And after we write this post, we’re probably going to hide the rest of today’s to-do list in a drawer and conduct even more research (research should probably be in quotes here, because this certainly doesn’t feel like work).

Want to see some award-winners?

Webby has you covered.  Here’s 2016 and 2015, for starters.

There’s more inspiration here and here, as well as here and here.  Mailchimp makes inspiration a part of their routine. Constant Contact does, too, although their inspiration isn’t really that inspiring, ioho.

Let’s back up, though. There’s a lot of work that goes into actually designing an award winning newsletter. And, even if you’re not out to win any awards, designing and managing a newsletter is lots of work.

Here at HeyAmyLou, these are some of the tools we use:

Mailchimp is our email marketing platform. It’s user-friendly, fairly robust and cost-effective for most small businesses.

Canva for creating graphics, either with our own photography, or images supplied by Canva.

Creative Market and Death to Stock Photo for images.* When we don’t have our own and Canva’s just aren’t doing it for us, we’ll reach out to one of these three for commercial-use photos. Creative Market is priced by the image. Death to Stock Photo has a basic pack that’s $15 a month and has a sizeable library.

Pictaculous and Paletton for color schemes.

We like Easel.ly for infographics, although Canva is a good option, too. We recently completed an infographic for a client’s annual report depicting the different countries where her subscribers live.

From there, it’s all about the marketing. That’s what a newsletter is, right? Email marketing. It’s all about branding, design responsiveness, effective communication, and compliance.

Newsletter design isn’t for everyone and there’s no shame in that. Chances are you went into business to do anything but design newsletters, right? And it’s probably taking up more of your time than you want it to. Or worse yet, you’ve put off doing it simply because you know it’s not something you want to spend time on.

Here’s the thing, though. We wrote a post on the very fact that email is not dead. In fact, it’s one of the best methods of generating revenue for your business when used correctly (as in, no spamming, quality call-to-action when applicable). Plus, unlike social, email marketing is still controlled by the user, not the platform. In other words, online friendships (Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest, all those platforms we’re told will revolutionize our marketing) do not change the fundamentals of friendship. Or loyalty. Email marketing can, when used correctly, foster loyalty to a brand.

Hiring someone to design and manage your newsletter doesn’t mean hiring someone to do the fun stuff:  picking colors, making infographics and writing the content for your newsletter, although a quality newsletter designer also works with your brand color scheme, designs infographics based on your content, and formats your content to fit the chosen design.

Hiring someone to design and manage your newsletter means  hiring someone to manage compliance, DMARC, mailing list maintenance (bounces, duplicates and unsubscribes) and deal with every glitchy design platform that never puts the text box/photo/headline/video were you want it, no matter how much time you spend trying.

Hiring someone to design and manage your newsletter means hiring someone who gives you back the time to do what it was you wanted to do when you went into business in the first place. The thing you do that doesn’t feel like work. The thing you’d do for free if money weren’t an option. Is that thing producing newsletters? For HeyAmyLou, it is

So, why not hire someone to design and manage your newsletter? What’s stopping you?

*As with all content, always, always, always abide by the terms of service, and credit the work.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

 

I Like Newsletters

I do. It’s true.

As A reader, I look forward to seeing them in my inbox. I have complete control over what lands in my inbox, unlike Facebook, Twitter and other platforms that want to “curate a user experience” for me. I can read them on my time as opposed to having to drop everything and read it right now or run the risk of watching is swallowed up by the increasingly unmanageable “timeline”.

As someone who not only reads them but creates them, I believe they are one of the most cost effective, efficient and client-centric ways to communicate. I wrote a post here discussing the benefits of newsletters. Short answer: developing and sharing content of importance to your clients is one of the best ways to illustrate loyalty and commitment to your clients, as well as showcasing your expertise. Newsletters, done correctly, are personal.

As a reader, some of my favorite newsletters are: Austin Kleon, DO Lectures, and HeyAmyLou.

As a creator, I find inspiration from Really Good Emails, CreativeMornings curated list, and Mailchimp’s Look What You Can Do.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

Email Is Not Dead

“newsletter” by dacian dorca-street photographie is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Have I mentioned HeyAmyLou is going online? Well, HeyAmyLou trainings are going online. We’re taking the leap and offering our training workshops online.  If you’re interested in knowing more, sign up here and you’ll be the first to know when our curriculum is set and our trainings are live. (In-person still exists. We’re putting more emphasis on those starting in July).

Anyway. Online training is an entirely different ballgame in some ways. Some things  don’t change, though, regardless of how the audience consumes the knowledge.

For instance, compiling and maintaining a quality mailing list. Critical. Online or in-person.  And communication. Also critical. Facebook? Maybe. Twitter, maybe. Email marketing, definitely.

Facebook runs off of algorithms. Seemingly feeding each of us a “curated” experience based upon our “likes”.  Twitter operates much the same. At some point, these platforms decide they know us and it all becomes very passive.

Email, however, requires each of us to engage. Do I want this? Will I read this? We’re required to think about what we are signing up for (no pun intended).

And email is still the most effective communication channel. It defines the phrase “customized experience” simply because we are each in control of what comes into and what goes out of our inboxes.

Some statistics:

  • Email marketing works 40 times better at getting customers than Facebook and Twitter. McKinsey
  • You are 6x more likely to get a click-through from an email campaign than you are from a tweet.- Campaign Monitor
  • Email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook or Twitter. – McKinsey
  • 72% people prefer to receive promotional content through email, compared to 17% who prefer social media. – MarketingSherpa

So, as we move forward with online trainings, we’re over here working on our mailing lists and our email marketing strategies to reach those who would benefit most.

What are you doing with your email marketing?

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

Weekly Wrap-Up

It’s more of a monthly wrap up this go-round as it’s definitely been a month around here, capped off with a summons to appear for jury duty selection. A selection process that ultimately lasted 14 hours and left me grateful once again for the Democracy from which we all benefit.

This month I also started teaching mindfulness and meditation to at-risk children, which fills my heart with genuine gratitude. It’s become one of the things I look forward to the most each week.

Those two experiences, being asked to assess guilt or innocence based upon a decision made in the space of a minute and working with children to teach them how many choices one minute holds  has made an impression on me that’s likely to last a good long time.  I’m consistently awed by the circumstances in which I find myself since committing to live life on my terms. and my heart is thankful for the space I’ve been given on this earth.

And, much, much more has happened this month in the spaces we’ve all been given. Here’s some of it:

HeyAmyLou’s February Deals have been extended though March. We always have such a good time building websites, so the first 5 people to contract with us for a website design* or refresh during the month of March will receive a free audit of their existing site. We’ll evaluate your site’s overall design, ease of use and responsiveness. Normally starting at $150, we’re waiving the cost — we want your site to work for you, not the other way around. (*if you’re designing your site from scratch we’ll subtract $150 off the total cost of the design.)

We talked more about making our websites work for us here. Email us at heyal@amylouthatswho.com so we can get to know you and your needs.

5 Brands Doing Cool Things On Social And What We Can Learn From Them

Gotta admit, with our ever increasing curiosity about the brain and how it works, the thought of having the title “cognitive developer” is pretty appealing– although my definition of “cognitive development” in the workplace has zero to do with AI.

Social Media Are Driving Americans Insane and 7 Reasons Not To Let Work Eat Into Your Lunch Break –agree, agree, strongly agree.

An Inside Look At Google’s Marketing Strategy

Book Pairings For Every Flavor Of Ben and Jerry’s — why didn’t I think of this?! This is genius on the level of the little plastic table thingy that keeps the cheese from sticking to the top of the pizza box.

Team Votes To Forfeit Season Rather Than Ban Girls — I teared up a bit here.

As usual, we find websites like this fascinating. Enter your birth date and find out about the history happening around you.

We find this very mesmerizing and not just because it’s based on graphic design.

Finally, here’s the link to the latest HeyAmyLou newsletter.

This Month’s Books:

This Month’s Podcasts:

Pod Save America – “He Has A Lot of Edits”  – Politics aside, these are truly fascinating insights into writing speeches for the President of the United States.

Snap Judgment ep #804 “One In A Million”
particularly the segment approximately 19:30 in  about a guy who gets struck by lightning. Wow.

This Month’s TV:

The Americans – season 1-3 and part of season 4.  I binged this in the truest sense of the word and even payed Amazon for the first two episodes of season 4, which doesn’t come out on DVD for another week, at least (plus I’m number 5,962,347 to borrow it from the library so I’m not going to know what happens next until some time after the 4th of July).

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

Super Bowl 2017

“Football” by Jeff Turner is licensed under CC BY 2.0

This year, I did the unthinkable. I didn’t watch the Super Bowl. I had what I think is a good reason — I’m learning how to produce online courses, and I’ll talk more about that in a sec. Anyway, I was knee deep in one of the learning modules Sunday and lost track of time.

I’m a huge fan of the Super Bowl. Not the game itself, really. The commercials. I watch solely for the commercials. I’m not gonna say I don’t get caught up in the game, that’s just not why I’m there. I’m there for the ads. One year (2013, maybe?) I even live-tweeted the ads. I’m a complete and total geek for the ads.

This year, though, I only saw two or three of the commercials. Budweiser and T-Mobile and Kia (nice touch on the Bonnie Tyler). So I went hunting for the replays. Because there’s always a lot of commentary about the replays.

For instance:

  • GNC is thinking of suing Fox for banning their ad over the presence of DHEA in some of their products. (Watch the 30-second spot here.)
  • Ad Exec’s think National Geographic’s “Bad Romance” is the best Super Bowl ad of 2017. Can we please be done with the sticking out of the tongue, Albert Einstein?
  • Cards Against Humanity (CAH) put up a fake Super Bowl ad with the accompanying explanation (which I would think is genius, except for all of the other fake everything these days.)
  • CAH is not wrong about the cost. Budweiser needs to sell almost 5 million six-packs, for example, to make back the cost of a Super Bowl ad. H&R Block would have to sign up 285,796 users, and Wendy’s would have to sell 963,391 burgers.
  • Depending on who you talk to, it’s either the wisest way to waste money, or advertising is in a death spiral.
  • Probably the most interesting thing I learned from this year’s advertising “after-party” involved the making of the Hyundai ad. It didn’t run until after the Super Bowl because they were capturing and editing footage of the game in real time with soldiers and their families to illustrate what real sacrifice looks like.

So yeah, no Super Bowl ads this year. And I gotta say, the “after-party” without the event itself isn’t nearly as fun.

What was fun was figuring out how to offer online courses, though, and HeyAmyLou is going to go all in this spring, offering our first ever digital training. We’re super excited to think that we’ll be able to reach a bigger audience, in the comfort of their own space, while continuing to provide cutting edge content. Watch this space for more details in the coming weeks, and for a chance to help us test run our inaugural course.

And until then, February’s deal is still on. Looking to put up or refresh a website? We’ve got everything you need to make it happen. And, my domain registration company is currently having a sale, which means even more savings for you!

P.S. If you’re interested, my 2016 Super Bowl Write Up is here, 2013 is here, and my first ever, 2012, is here (although the video has been taken down).

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

Are Our Websites Actually Working For Us?

Everyone needs a complicated, multi-layered website, right? (hint: wrong).  It’s gotta have moving parts, flashy design, lots of tabs and most definitely lots of words, right? (hint: wrong).

Too much of a good thing can be bad. Really bad.

Have you heard of heatmaps? Probably not, and that’s not bad. I’m a geek for all things design and think spending a Saturday afternoon with heatmaps is fun. And it’s perfectly ok if you don’t see things my way.

Heatmaps are this cool tool used to track where users spend time on websites. They’re designed to work in one of two ways, mousetracking or eyetracking. Yep, tracking where a person’s eye lands on a website is actually a thing.

Heatmaps are also very expensive things, as you can imagine. And, unless you think spending Saturday afternoons watching heatmaps work is time well spent, they’re kinda unnecessary.

Because, you see, other people’s heatmaps (and good old-fashioned newspaper design) can teach us a lot about how users engage with websites, without all the cost and coding necessary to install a heatmap on your site.

For Instance:

  • People spend more time on the left side of the page.
  • People have developed “banner blindness”. Think Facebook. How often do you pay attention to all the ads on the right side of your screen? Most people are blind to them. Avoid mimicking that design on your own site.
  • The most important content should be at the top of your site, or “above the fold”. Here’s where good old-fashioned newspaper design comes in. Journalists know to put the most important stories above the fold in their newspapers. The digital equivalent of a “fold” is the length of your screen. All the gold should be captured on your website without having to scroll.
  • “Above the fold” pt 2 – viewing time decreases sharply below the fold. People will scroll, but we have a short attention span. The further the content is away from the top of the screen the less attention a person has in reading it.
  • When using images of people, it matters where there eyes are “looking”.
  • There’s something known as a recency effect. Essentially, what we see last, we remember longest.

So, with all that in mind, what is your website saying? In our over-scheduled, multi-tasking existence, is your website designed to convert visitors into customers, or do they get lost below the fold and lose interest?

HeyAmyLou’s February Deal can answer that. The first 5 people to contract with us this month for a website design*  or refresh will receive a free audit of their existing site.  We’ll evaluate your current site’s overall design, ease of use and responsiveness.  Normally $150, this month we’re waiving the cost because we want your site work for you, not the other way around.

*If you’re designing your site from scratch, we’ll subtract $150 off the total cost of the design.

Consults on our monthly deals are always free. Schedule one today by emailing us at heyal@amylouthatswho.com and let’s see how HeyAmyLou can support your small business.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

My Word(s) For 2017

I like words. Mostly, I like them in the form of books, articles, and lyrics. Then, I read an article (see!) about choosing a word. One word. To guide the whole year, I was intrigued. And appalled. ONE word? I like words, plural. Lots and lots of words. Just one?

Turns out, lots of people do this choosing of one word thing. Chris Brogan writes a lengthy blog post about his (he chooses three. Still, though.) Elise Blaha sent out an email mentioning hers, the Huffington Post even wrote and article on it.  And once I got going, I found all kinds of websites (here, and here  for starters) devoted to the process of picking one word. Oh, and the Oxford Living Dictionaries even got in on it, although their process is arguably a bit different.

It sounds cheezy, I know. And admittedly, I didn’t do any of the prep or soul-searching recommended. I sat down one morning in late 2015, took a look around and decided that in 2016 I wanted EASE. That’s it. EASE.

So, starting January 1, 2016, I wrote the word at the top of each weekly page in my calendar, and any time I found myself barreling toward a situation that was lining up to be anything other than easy, I repeated the word over and over to myself. And I took time each week to write down a couple of ways in which my week had included EASE. 90 days in, I started noticing a shift. EASE was more prevalent in my daily life. And, in those instances where EASE was elusive, the realization that it wasn’t necessarily me who was making the interaction hard was quite useful.  As was the reminder that in situations lacking EASE I didn’t automatically have to contribute to making things more difficult.

So, I’m doing it again this year. And again, it was pretty spontaneous. I auditioned quite a few words throughout the year and when it came time to choose, I chose none of them. Instead, I went with a word that I think will serve me just as well as EASE did last year.

2017’s word is REJECT.

As in:

  • I reject false conclusions
  • I reject being drawn into other’s drama
  • I reject complacency

You get the idea.

I think, though, that REJECT needs balance. So I’m also choosing WHOLE.

WHOLE reminds me that in REJECTing there is room for replacing, rebuilding, and reconnecting.

© copyright HeyAmyLou 2017 – All rights reserved

cross-posted to IrishYogaChick