That’s right. I have put all my Business Cards under Creative Commons and for most of the cards I have shared the PSD files of the designs. This means that you can download the original source files of the designs, change your name, photo and details and have your very own custom designed cards. Visit the Business cards page here.
I have had a fascination towards customized business cards for a long time. You might want to read this news coverage in INC magazine. There has been considerable interest from people wanting to use some of the designs. I would mail them separately. But then, it stuck me that I have nothing to lose by giving it all away. After all, most of my designs have been inspired by designs of other folks and so it’s only right for me to share it with others.
All I request is to give a link to my site or send an email if you use these designs. That’s it and nothing else.
Good luck and have fun. Cheers.
Time Magazine has made a list of the Top 25 blogs in the World. I came across this list today and the timing couldn’t be better. I was looking for ways to get back to active blogging and this list gave me an idea. What can we learn from these successful blogs? What is it that makes these blogs awesome? Is there a success pattern that we can adopt for our own blogs? I decided to find out. And so, I patiently visited each of these 25 blogs and made notes as I went along. Here are my findings from my 5 hour mission.
1) Pick a Niche Topic: This clearly stands out as a success pattern. Almost every blog listed in the TIME’s list has focused on one particular area and focused deep into it. Lets take a few examples.
TheBillFold is about money. The site’s tag-line says it all, “Everything about Money you were too polite to ask”!
DesignSponge has fascinating ideas and lovely photos of home decorations.
BookShelfPorn does not talk about books. It only focuses on the book shelf designs and there are hundreds of great ideas.
Well, you get the idea. Pick a niche space that you are passionate about. Then focus on covering that area alone. Easy recipe to differentiate yourself.
Invite Guest Authors: There’s only so much that one can write. A good blog requires regular dose of good content to attract and retain audience. Mike Dang and Logan Sachon, the owners of TheBillFold do that cleverly by inviting writers from around the globe to contribute articles on their personal experiences with money. 500px, a great photo community thrives on fantastic photos shot by its members.
A possible lesson here. Open up your blog and invite your readers to participate. This ensures that your blog don’t get cobwebs for long. And its good to have company too.
Use Facebook Plugin for Comments: Commenting platforms like Disqus sucks. People hate registering on sites. Besides, they never update their avatars. See this page. FB commenting system works great, gets repeat audience and helps build a conversation going. For example, scroll down this page and take a look at the comments below. You can embed similar FB plugin from the Facebook Social Plugin Page.
Photos for Every Blog Post: Almost all the blogs in the Top 25 list use a picture to accentuate their blog post. Not only does it make your blog post look good, it provides visual relief from the monotony of text. Even better if you can mix audio and video into your posts.
Talk About Things that Others Won’t: Its very rare for people to openly talk about failures, embarrassing situations or difficulties in life. When people do, they immediately stand out and earn the attention and empathy of the readers. Take Emily Rapp, a mother who writes a blog about her 3 year old son Ronan, who is slowly dying from Tay-Sachs disease. He can no longer move or see. Its a very difficult situation for a mother but the fact that she is opening talking about it and how she is handling the situation is what makes people love her.
Controversy is Good: Take the case of Martha Payne, a 9 year old student who started posting pictures of school lunches everyday in her blog. Not many knew about her blog until the School Council decided to ban her blog. Word leaked out and this created a outrage on social media. Mainstream press started to cover the censorship and a senior minister had to step in to overturn the ban. Her blog helped raise over Rs.1 crore in charity money and she now has a book published. Goes to show that there’s nothing called bad publicity.
Well Researched Articles and Strongly Opinionated: Across all the 25 blogs, I noticed that the blog posts average around 200 words. That’s about 4 paragraphs. Long enough to write a well researched piece. Leave brevity for Twitter and Facebook. Blogs thrive on longer content. Also, remember that people come to your blog for *your* opinions. Say it the way you feel it.
So, these are the 7 trends that I found. What other trends did you notice from the Top 25 Blogs? Got any new ideas to improve our blogs? Please do share.
Right opposite my home is a bakery I frequent. It’s run by a guy who earlier used to run a TV repair shop. The TV repair business wasn’t doing well and he shifted his profession.
What has screw drivers got to do with cakes? Nothing.
One evening, while munching an egg puff, I asked him about his knowledge of baking. He replied he knew nothing but was confident of his business skills. He recruited a very talented baker (“master’ as they are usually called) who did all the hard work of baking while the owner took care of the business side of things.
I asked him what would happen to his business if the baker fell ill and did not turn up for work or had to go home for an important festival. His answer not only surprised me but drove home a very important lesson that we should all learn.
He said that in the baking community, it is commons practice that if a “master” had to go on leave, then it is their duty to find another “Master” and fill his place until he returns. This is a practice that is special to this set of people. The bakers form a community code and help each other.
I learnt a valuable lesson. If a bakery does this, why not in our firm? We now have applied this principle in our office. Should someone be absent, then its their duty to make sure that someone, either within the company or outside, handle the task. If anyone quits the job, then its their duty to get a proper replacement during their notice period.
Amazing what a bakery can teach you in life!
One morning, a few days ago, I opened up my inbox. I noticed something that gave me an uncomfortable feeling. 80% of the new mails on the screen were useless. They were either newsletters I never read or press releases from PR folks I didn’t care. It was an effort for me to dig out the useful mail among the clutter.
Missing out an important client email was the last straw.
I could not take this any more. Decided to take action.
Two days later, I now have an extremely clean inbox. Its such a relief to open the inbox in the morning and only find emails that matter to me. Here’s how I did it:
Unsubscribe from Promotional Mailers: I was amazed how many promotional emails I was getting. I opened up each and every promotional email and hunted for that one word: UNSUBSCRIBE. I was pleasantly surprised that in most cases it took just one click to unsubscribe.
Unsubscribe from Newsletters: Yup, I remember subscribing to these newsletters. But I don’t remember reading them at all. The newsletters kept piling up. Time to get rid of them. Excepting two newsletters I found informative, I unsubscribed from the entire bunch.
Personal emails to PR folks: Because I was a columnist in newspapers once, I was easy target for PR folks to harvest my email and bombard me with press releases of their clients. I counted every major PR firm had me in their list. Time to get rid of them. Unlike the mailers or newsletters, these PR mails do not have unsubscribe links. So, I wrote personal emails to each of them, politely asking to remove me from their list. It surprisingly seemed to have worked. All those PR mails have stopped.
Filter out the adamant ones: Some companies make it hard to unsubscribe. They want you to login to their system with a username and password. Of course, its a trick. I had never registered in these sites. So, I just create an email filter to have them deleted even before these useless mails hits my inbox.
I have a really tidy inbox now. Its such a great feeling to start the day with.
Is your inbox clean? If not, take action now. Clean inboxes are a big time saver.
The Colonial Bungalows Project has its other home at http://Facebook.com/ColonialBungalows . You will find a bunch of photo albums of beautiful century old bungalows.
If you like the idea behind the project and want to follow the progress, would request you to ‘Like’ the page. Also, please do share this with friends who maybe interested in this activity. Appreciate it.
There’s an amazing charm and aura about old bungalows. I have always been fascinated by them. The spaciousness, the greenery, the authority… I can’t pin on one why I like them so much.
I can tell you one thing clearly though… I feel extremely sad when I see these treasure houses of history being razed to the ground. Old majestic looking homes being replaced by boring multi-storeyed apartments. I don’t have the power to stop this but I do have the power to capture the memories of these homes.
Thus started the ‘Colonial Bungalows’ project. Its a one year project to photograph and document century old residential bungalows. British, French and Portuguese.
You can learn more about the project here http://Kiruba.com/bungalows
And if you like the idea, do like the FB page at http://www.Facebook.com/colonialbungalows