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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Meet Andrew Hendricks of Human Creative Content

Andrew Hendricks grew up in southern Mississippi, and he now lives in Davis, California where he manages his team at Human Creative Content where he is editor-in-chief.

In his own words: "I founded HumanCreativeContent.com to help my clients make the Internet a slightly less crappy place, one website at a time." Learn more about the ways that Human Creative Content supplies written and visual content to websites by checking out their creative services page.

1. For you as a writer and a reader, what distinguishes human-focused web content from other content that's out there?

Too many people have come to the philosophy that because you can publish instantly on the web, web content matters less. With the continuing shift to all-digital media, this is an oddly myopic view, considering there is a HUGE demand for high-quality, thoroughly edited content that is entertaining to read. Just because a story isn't printed on dead trees doesn't mean your reader wants it to be any less entertaining.

2. What would you say are some common misconceptions that small business owners have about SEO?

SEO is a process, not a thing. If someone is selling you "SEO," there's a good chance they have no idea what they're talking about, or more likely, they're hoping you don't. SEO is Search Engine Optimization--it means making your content able to be understand by Google. It doesn't mean writing nonsense, keyword-pumped articles.

The biggest misconception business owners have is thinking that getting their blogs respected by Google is the goal. That is just an aspect of getting your content seen by the viewer, and THAT is what matters. Google can tell if your link was viewed for half a second or 30 seconds, and it treats the two VERY differently.

3. Is it really so difficult to get visitors for a new website, or are people making things hard for themselves without realizing it?

People are focusing on the wrong things. I see this so often--it's not that so many of these website owners are lazy, but you can spend hours and hours trying to funnel traffic to your website, and if you have a fundamental lack of understanding regarding what type of reader you want, then you're really just talking past each other. It is hard to write web copy that doesn't sound like an infomercial or a carnival barker, even if your business is a totally legitimate one.

Getting coherent, concise copy to explain your website is the #1 most important step in even beginning to optimize your web presence and try to get viewers. You want to make sure they have something to view first.

4. What do you enjoy most about your job?

I have found the transition from freelance hustler to Editor-in-Chief very satisfying, but not for the reasons I would have thought. Now owning my own business and publishing platform, I am the first paid gig and portfolio piece for many new talented writers. Being that first leg-up is very rewarding.

5. What is your best advice when it comes to creating a website that people will want to visit again and again?

They used to say "content is king," and that's still true, but all content is not created equally. I don't mean just SEO-oriented blogspam, which has its own problems, but any good website should have content that is tailor-made to the brand and that clearly and coherently explains what the website is, who it services, and why it is a good thing that it exists. This sounds very basic, but you'd be surprised how many people skip this process entirely.

Thanks, Andrew!

Meet Rashaad of Pro Trade Job Development

Rashaad's achievements have come with struggles and mistakes; they have made him very proud while establishing himself as a father, husband, and business owner. These struggles force him to constantly raise the bar for character and discipline in his personal and professional life. Pro Trade Job Development has grown and transformed tremendously over the years. Learn more by watching the video below.

1. What is your main goal with Pro Trade Job Development, and where are you located?

Pro Trade is a construction training program based out of Milwaukee, WI. Our main focus is returning citizens (ex-offenders), helping them get their lives on track.

2. In addition to helping people gain job skills, how does your program help people build self-esteem and other skills beyond job-related training?

Our focus is personal development, life assessing, association assessments, what inputs are going in you (news, bad music, media), and barrier assessment, as well as job coaching, asset building, and more importantly, community building. Our curriculum is industry recognized, and our students get tools when they train with us because we want them to be ready when they go out seeking job opportunities.

3. Have some of the participants in your training gone on to start their own businesses?

We have had a few individuals start their own painting business or construction business. We try to support them with all the resources and connections we may have or know of.

4. As a business owner yourself, how have you kept yourself motivated, especially when faced with setbacks?

That's a long question, but to sum it up, FAMILY... My wife and my kids are why I can't fail. It's because of them that I have to be the example that demonstrates how your life and future is in your own hands outside of God's purpose for your life. I think of the young black males that don't have many examples of success but many of failures, so I have to do it. I think of the elders that believe there is no hope for 30-year-olds, and I give them a breath of fresh air.

5. Based on your experience, what is your best advice to people who are looking to develop their job skills and/or start their own businesses?

You have to be willing to learn, be willing to take criticism, take all the classes, and read all the books. Become a good student of your craft. Work for a successful company that is doing what you desire to do. Get as many mentors as possible. You must have a balanced life in family, financials, spiritual, and business to deem yourself successful.

Thanks, Rashaad!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Meet Diego Lopez of Underground Technology

Diego Lopez is the president of a startup company called Underground Technology. This company mainly focuses on developing products for motorcycle riders, and one of them is the NightRage Backpack. The NightRage Backpack has integrated lights to help riders be more visible at night or in poor weather conditions. The backpacks are currently available on eBay. Visit the Underground Technology eBay store for more about their products.

1. Why did you decide to start your company, Underground Technology?

Well, ever since I can remember, I have had a passion for motorcycles. I believe that the Isle of Man TT was the event that captured my attention and has defined my life ever since. When I was a teenager I had an idea, an idea that I have fine-tuned since then, and now we call it the NightRage Backpack. I thought to myself: Why not make my passion into something useful to me and others? Just as in the same way you ride a motorcycle, starting your own business gives you a sense of freedom you don't usually get from a 9 to 5 (or a car), and that was my biggest motivation for starting the Underground Technology engine.

2. Would you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the idea for your NightRage backpack?

When I was a teenager I was very much into motorcycles, but I also was constantly reminded by everyone I knew about the dangers of riding, both motorcycles and bicycles. I began to think of ideas to make riding safer, both from a preventive standpoint and from a post-accident situation. It took me some time, but I finally decided on a design and electric layout for the NightRage Backpack.

3. What makes your backpacks so useful for motorcyclists and bicyclists?

Nations across the globe are becoming more environmentally conscious and adopting bicycles, one passenger electric vehicles, and even motorcycles as means of transportation to get to work and to run errands; these riders need something that allows them to carry all their personal items with them. Why not combine safety, functionality, and style into one multi-purpose product?

The NightRage backpack has integrated electro light panels which increase the visibility of the rider as far as a half a mile away, and it's also made out of a lightweight hard shell composite to help minimize any damage to the rider and personal items if an accident ever occurs. This backpack with lights also has a padded sleeve for 16-inch laptops, an extra sleeve for tablets, multiple pockets for smaller items, three zippered pockets inside, and enough room to fit a large watermelon in case you ever have to ride to the supermarket to buy one.

4. When it comes to designing a product, how do you make sure that safety is a priority, while also keeping functionality and the look of the product in mind?

I truly believe that functionality, safety, and looks always go hand in hand when designing a product. When designing a product with electro panels, safety is simply a byproduct of the design, or design is a byproduct of the safety element. (They are the same thing.) Another example might be aerodynamics; aerodynamics create sharp shapes and creases that are interesting to the viewer, and the design is both functional and aesthetically pleasing.

5. How do you hope to grow your company over the next year or so?

There are many things in the works, from our marketing and advertising campaigns to the development of new products, things that I cannot say much about. But one of our biggest milestones at Underground Technology will be the launch of our web store. We are expecting that by the end 2015 we will have it up and running, ready for our current loyal customers and welcoming new ones. One thing is for sure: this is just the beginning.

Thanks, Diego!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Meet Mike Reid, Creator of STUDTEGERY, an Educational Board Game

When Mike Reid is not working his theatre manager job, or TV/screenwriting (Pastor Greg - sitcom, Super Simple Science - TV science show, His Kids - kids talk show, BB's Bedtimes Stories with Monty - children's TV series), he is selling his educational board game STUDTEGERY. Learn more at http://www.studtegery.com, or check out STUDTEGERY on Teachers Pay Teachers.

1. How did you come up with the idea for STUDTEGERY?

During my time in college in the mid to late 80s, seldom did I go anywhere without a set of index cards with facts on them so I could study for my next test at a moment's notice. Also during that time, Trivial Pursuit became the most popular board game to sweep college campuses. When I started brainstorming the type of game I wanted to create, these two life experiences played a major contribution to the creation of STUDTEGERY.

2. What is the significance of the name of your game?

I wanted a name that represented what this board game does, which is to combine studying with strategy and makes studying fun. I remembered that Saturday Night Live skit where Will Ferrell's George W. Bush character used the made up word STRATEGERY and thought, "What if used the 'TEGERY' suffix in my game's name?" and the name STUDTEGERY was born. Furthermore, while the name still has most of "STUDYING" and a little bit of "STRATEGY" in it, well, most of the letters in "STRATEGY," it is fun to say. Go ahead and say it, STUDTEGERY.

3. Why do students--and teachers and parents!--like the game?

  • Students like STUDTEGERY because it makes studying fun.
  • Teachers like STUDTEGERY because it helps the struggling students review for tests more effectively than the ask and answer test review which the struggling students avoid partaking in for fear of being embarrassed if they answer incorrectly in front of their peers.
  • Parents like STUDTEGERY because it is a fun way for them to be involved with their children's studies.

4. How can individual students adapt the game to suit what they need to study at a particular time?

The great thing about STUDTEGERY is from 3rd grade to graduate school, it works all subjects, classes, and courses as long as the student is studying for a multiple choice type test. While STUDTEGERY has no clue what you need to study, you and/or your teacher do. You and/or your teacher create the multiple choice test preparation questions/answers from your class lectures, notes, handouts, text books, etc, and you use those questions/answers for game play.

5. What was your process like in creating the game--from designing it to having it manufactured, and then marketing it?

The thought process with my design was to replicate a multiple choice test. Just like most multiple choice tests, I went with only black and white colors. The players' pieces and answer sticks were the letters "A," "B," "C," and "D."

As for getting STUDTEGERY manufactured, I went with a company called 521 Promo. I found their manufacturing prices to be very fair. I sent them the prototype I made from an old Trivial Pursuit game, and from there, we worked together on getting the graphics just right, then got the games manufactured and safety tested.

As for marketing STUDTEGERY, I am still riding the learning curve as I just launched the game. I first set up a website (www.studetegery.com) from which to sell STUDTEGERY. I have also made STUDTEGERY available for sale on Amazon.com and TeachersPayTeachers.com. Since my budget is extremely limited and school just started back, I am focusing on teachers, schools, PTA/PTOs, and homeschools in September and October, then onto parents and students for the Christmas season. Of course, I am working hard on getting distribution into brick and mortar retail stores.

Thanks, Mike!

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Meet Victoria, Creator of Money Munchkids

Money Munchkids' goal is to teach children grades K-3rd about basic financial terms and principles in order to provide a sound foundation for their lives as adults and the financial responsibilities that await them. Money Munchkids does this through their completely original after-school course, activity books, and other retail material. Learn more about their activity books and other financial literacy products by clicking here.

1. What made you realize that kids today could really use some help in developing money management skills?

Being an older sister and having experience in child care, I have a passion for kids. During a shopping trip with a family, I was doing some child care for one of the children, who was pretending to buy the whole store with their fake credit card. I watched as the child used the credit card reader exactly as an adult would. It was frightening. I think that's the moment that I finally decided to put my idea into action.

2. Growing up, did your parents influence your own ideas about money?

Definitely, my dad is an entrepreneur, and my mom is an accountant. They both taught me to use money as a tool to succeed and accomplish my goals.

3. What are some of the key lessons that kids will learn with your activity book?

Kids can learn about counting change, ways to make money, and managing a bank book, with puzzles about important terms and more. Make It, Count It, Keep It is the beginners' activity book. It brushes over a lot of the topic we cover in our class. It's important to note that the activity books are and will continue to be separate from the courses, so kids don't need to be in the class to use the activity books.

4. Where (in what geographical area) do you offer your after school courses, and what do students learn in those courses?

Thus far we've only got courses based only in Los Angeles. We'll be approaching schools in the Santa Monica, Marina Del Rey, and Venice areas over the next few weeks about starting courses. If anyone, in those or other areas, would like us to bring our course to a school they can Request A Course.

5. If you could suggest just three financial lessons/ideas for parents to share with their kids, what would you say>

There are so many great tips to share but a few would be:

  • Start your kids' financial education early because they learn young and fast!
  • Teach them that things cost money and how the cost of some things compare to the cost of others.
  • Encourage them to keep track of their own money.

We also have resources for adults on helping to teach their kids about money.

Thanks, Victoria!