Ello Promises A New Kind of Social Network

ello.co promises to be a new kind of social network, one in which you and your network of friends are not just data for advertisers. A refreshing idea. But is such an idea sustainable? Time will tell. The network was conceived by Kidrobot founder, Paul Budnitz. I’m very intrigued by the possibilities of this audacious new network. Take the red pill, and request your invite today.

ello-manifesto-1

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How I Started The Process of Decluttering Facebook

A few days ago, I began to do the unthinkable. I…I began unfriending people on Facebook. The nerve, right? Why would I delete friends when I could easily, and passive aggressively, just hide them from my feed. They wouldn’t know any better, and I would feel a slightly better about myself knowing that they didn’t know.

Screw passive aggressiveness.

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10 Essential Tips For The Traveling Blogger

Traveling does not have to hinder your blogging. Instead, you can use this time as an opportunity to engage and interact with your community even more. There are many tools available to you and with the prolification of wifi hotspots in major cities, getting on the web while on the road is as easy as ever. Your next vacation might be just what your blog needed.

Disclaimer: I’m a very Mac-centric kind of guy and because of these you’ll notice that a few of my tips make use of making use of the iPhone. I’m sure the same tips would also apply for any other smartphone, such as an Android, Palm Pre or BlackBerry.

10 Essential Tips For The Traveling Blogger

1. Use location based social networks to keep track of where you’ve been.

I’ve been using Gowalla for a few months now and just started using Foursquare at the beginning of my last trip. Both of these location based social networks allow you to “check-in” and ultimately track where you’ve visited during your trip. In my opinion, Foursquare is the better option of the two and I will tell you why.

The great thing about Foursquare is that often times special deals will appear when you check-in to certain places. For instance, after I checked-in at a small cafe on Powell Street in San Francisco during my last trip, a little icon popped up on my screeen mentioning that another establishment nearby had a special deal waiting for me if i checked in there as well. Gowalla recently announced that it has partnered with the likes of Adobe and Chipotle to hand out special offers, but why wait, take advantage of what Foursquare has to offer now.

Here’s another example: When we did the Napa Valley Wine Train, I was awarded with a physcial voucher for eight free glasses of wine on board the wine tasting train. The “mayor” of the wine train, who was there at the time, actually greeted me and handed me a voucher. How awesome is that? Pretty awesome, I think.

  • Use Foursquare to keep track of where you’ve been (because you know you’ll blog about it later) and to score some awesome deals.

2. Use Google Docs To Store Your Itinerary.

Google Docs is a life saver. Why? Because even when your laptop is not available, your documents still are (give that you’ve got a computer with Internet access available). That’s the beauty of cloud computing. Even when you need to rely on the dreaded hotel computer running some argaic version of Windows, you’ll still be able to access your itinerary by simply logging into Google Docs.

  • Keep your travel itinerary safely stored in Google Docs.

3. Bring An Extra Media Card.

This tip is a no brainer. I always bring along an extra media card for whatever camera I am using. I typically take enough pictures during the day to fill my memory card up to the max. To make room for the next day of photo filled sightseeing, I upload my photos to my Mac.

But what if I forget to upload my photos before I leave the hotel? The last thing you want is to have to spend time flipping through your photos on your camera trying to decide which ones to delete just so you can take even more photos. Have an extra media card ready and this will be a non-issue.

  • Bring an extra media card just in case you forget to upload the photos from your camera.

4. The iPhone Makes For The Perfect Travel Companion.

The built in GPS on the iPhone and the plethora of apps make it a powerful travelling companion. Lost? Use Maps on the iPhone to help you find your way to your destination.

For instance, during my 2008 visit to San Francisco, despite having pre-printed Google directions, road changes and sign removals ultimately caused me to get lost in the middle of wine country. The solution? We found a Wal-Mart that was nearby, used the GPS in the iPhone to track our location, and then input the address of our destination. The iPhone got us out of that little pickle in no time.

  • The built in GPS on the iPhone makes getting lost a thing of the past.

5. Yelp Can Be Very Handy.

Bloggers need to eat. And for those times when you need to deviate from your itinerary, the Yelp app is a real lifesaver. We spent an afternoon during our most recent trip to San Francisco exploring the Mission District. And although we had planned to eat at a certain restaurant beforehand, it unexpectedly closed just as we arrived there.

With the Yelp app for the iPhone, we were able to find our location and got suggestions as to what other places around the area were highly recommended by other Yelp users.

And if you blog about food, Yelp comes in handy since you can draft a review of you experience right into the app itself. Neat!

  • Use Yelp for times when you need to deviate from your itinerary or when you’re feeling spontaneous.
  • Draft reviews of your experience directly within the Yelp app.

6. Use Notes and Voice Memos To Capture Ideas On The Go.

When it comes to capturing a passing thought in your head, you don’t need a fancy app. The apps you really need come built right into the iPhone. I recommend both Notes or Voice Memos to document any ideas you have while on the go.

Most of this post was written on my iPhone using notepad (and then edited later in my browser) while I waited for the Urban Outfitters on Powell St. to open. I was killing time before my shuttle was scheduled to pick me up and drop me to the airport. The idea for this post came to my head and so I started typing, errr, tapping away.

  • Capture passing thoughts, ideas or concepts using Notes or Voice Memos on the iPhone.

7. Make Sure Your Hotel Offers Some Form of Free Internet.

If you’re a blogger then you live and breathe the Internet. It might be practical to find a hotel with free Internet access. You’ll often have to pay to use the internet from the comfort of your room but a hotel that has free wifi access in the lobby makes life that much easier (and cheaper).

  • When booking your hotel, search for ones that provide free Internet access.

8. Backup While On The Go.

We all know tht we should back up our most important files (and probably even the not so important ones). Sometimes, uploading your travel photos to iPhoto is not enough. After all, hard drives do fail. An easy backup solution is to use Flickr to upload your full-sized and high resolution files.

If you plan on uploading a lot of photos to Flickr then I recommend that you invest in a pro account. Regular Flickr accounts limit you to 200 “viewable” photo uploads. Worried about other people viewing your more raunchy travel photos? Set your privacy to private and you’ll have nothing to worry about.

Alternatively, you could use cloud backup services like the Mozy Unlimited Backup and Backblaze to back up your stuff on the fly whenever you have Internet access on your computer.

  • If you have a Flickr Pro account then use it to back up your travel photos.
  • If you rather keep your previous travel photos private then set your privacy setting accordingly.

9. Don’t Let Your Blog Go Postless.

The savvy traveling blogger does not let his/her blog go postless for the duration of their vacation. That would be a mean thing to do to your dedicated readers! Have a few posts prepared and have them autopost while you’re gone. You can do this easily in WordPress by changing the date of post. I recommend at least one autopost a day, especially during weekdays.

  • Prevent a blog dry spell during your vacation by preparing a few posts beforehand and having them set to autopost.

10. Keep Your Community Involved While You’re Gone.

To do this, I use a combination of Twitter and Foursquare/Gowalla. Keep your community in the loop and they’ll feel like they’re on vacation with you.You might also receive a few vacation tips from locals or tweeps who have lived in the area you are visiting.

Also, you can automate your WordPress blog so that it sends out a tweet each time one of your automated posts are published. With this set up, it’s like you’re not even gone.

  • Use a combination of Twitter and location based social networks to keep your community involved while you’re gone.
  • Twitter Tools will allow full integration between your WordPress blog and Twitter.

I’d love to hear what tips you have when it comes to blogging on the go! Leave a comment below in the comments section and let me know!

If you enjoyed this post then please, please, please, tell you’re friends about it! A simple Tweet or post on your Facebook page will help to get the word out, and a link back on your blog would be greatly appreciated!

Co-Tee TV Facebook Fan Page

How To Follow People on Twitter

So the other day I was reading a post over at the Assault Blog titled Why Twitter Followers Are Worthless. The author argued that:

1. “If you can’t mobilize your followers for feedback, links, retweets or an opinion: they’re worthless.”

This is somewhat true. When I first started blogging about a year and a half ago I used my existing Twitter account to send out links to posts that I’d do on this blog. For the first month or so I received minimal feedback or retweets.

I was following a ton of T-Shirt people and yet no one seemed to care about my content. The main thing that I learned is that Twitter is a two way street. Unless YOU care about the people that YOU follow on Twitter then YOU are worthless to THEM.

Once I started providing my opinions to tweets I’d read over Twitter, leaving feedback and retweeting I started to notice that people would do the same for the content that I pumped out over Twitter.

Twitter is a two way interactive street. Provide worth to your followers and the people that follow you will be worth their weight in gold 100 times over.

2. “Twitter is a vehicle for word of mouth, but offline word of mouth is always better than online word of mouth.”

I disagree. I don’t think my blog would have grown as much as it did and as fast as it did without the online word of mouth gained through the use of Twitter. Had I not utilized Twitter, my blog might just be another blog. Instead, I have a strong following of people who love T-Shirts and enjoy visiting my site to get the latest tee related scoops.

In fact, I made it a point not to SPAM my Facebook friends (people that I actually know in real life) with status updates linking back to my blog. I didn’t even announce my blog on my Facebook profile despite the fact that my 300-400 Facebook friends would have seen it. I wanted to see how much the blog would grow minus the friend and family factor. Other people automate updates on their blog to their personal Facebook page. I don’t do this and I will explain in a future post why I don’t.

Coty’s Followers/Following Rule

I started to follow the “big” people in my niche (T-Shirts) and I’d take a look at the people that they followed and I would selectively follow those that I thought had an interest in tees.

Note that I don’t have a monstrous or unbalanced followers/following count. I follow about 1800 people and have about 1100 followers. A balance in the number of people you follow and the number that follow you (followers) is a good thing. It means that more times than not, when you followed someone they followed you back. Or, when someone followed you, you found their content interesting enough to follow them back.

Remember, Twitter is a two way interactive street. So be weary of people whose follow/follower count are not balanced (i.e. they follow 300,000 people but have 23 followers). These are probably SPAM accounts, don’t follow these people. I’m a little follow heavy when it comes to Twitter, when you encounter these types of people you need to take into account their tweet history and even the link they provide on their profile page (covered in next section). When it comes to the followers/following rule you really want to be aware of the extremes, for instance:

Twitter

How To Choose Who To Follow?

Once you start using Twitter you’ll start to get people who follow you that you aren’t currently following. You can do one of two things:

1. Ignore the Twitter email notifying you of a new follower.

or

2. Click on the notification email and review the stats of the person following you.

Ignoring people over Twitter is a bad idea. Twitter is a two way interactive street, remember?

Therefore that leaves us with option #2. So you take a look at the user stats that is included in the notification email and then from there you can make a “trim the fat” decision. This when you use the Followers/Following rule: If they have an unbalanced Twitter Followers/Following count I usually ignore them and do not follow them back. They are probably SPAM.

If however, they have a balanced Twitter Followers/Following count OR they have a username related to my niche then I’ll take look at their Twitter profile.

For example, @Timothyfree decided to follow me on Twitter. I took a look at the notification email and he passed the Followers/Following Rule. Next step is to take a look at his Twitter profile page.

Twitter

So now I am taking a look at their Twitter profile and at this point I need to decide to follow him on Twitter or not. My decision of whether to follow or not to follow hinges on a few things:

  1. Are they following other people in my niche? Go through and look at the people they are following.
  2. Do they’ve have an interesting profile link (bonus if they link back to a tee related site), or
  3. Does their Tweet history show relevance to my niche?

So continuing on with @Timothyfree’s profile, I notice that he is linked to Freedom Clothing. Perfect, another clothing company to keep under my radar. But I do notice that his followers/following numbers have changed from when he initially followed me. That’s fine because I checked out his profile links, his tweet history and I know he is not SPAM, instead, he is someone that I’d  be interested in connecting with on Twitter. His tweet history shows that he likes to tweet about personal life stuff but that’s okay because when I looked through the list people he follow I found the official Twitter account for his clothing brand and I decided to follow that.

Twitter

Once I review these three things I make a gut decision as to whether or not I follow this new person. I decide to follow @Timothyfree.

If you follow these steps then I promise you that you will develop a community of Twitter followers that actually care about what you are talking about. And once this happens, online word of mouth becomes a gazillion times more powerful then offline word of mouth. This is all based on the quality of your online word of mouth reach. And remember, since Twitter is a two way interactive street and you’re interacting with your community, your community members will be much more likely to retweet your content and/or provide feedback. Once this starts to happen on a regular basis then that’s when the online Twitter world becomes your oyster. Eat it up.

Some take home points:

  1. Twitter is a two way interactive street.
  2. Remember the Follow/Foller Rule and be weary of people whose follow/follower count are not balanced.
  3. Trim The Fat, but don’t ignore new followers, see what they have to offer before you decide to follow or not follow them.
  4. Once you’ve built a quality number of Twitter followers, don’t forget to continue to provide good content and leave good feedback.

I’d love to know what you think of this post. Also, if you have a different strategy for following people I’d love to hear about it!

If you enjoyed this post be sure to follow me on Twitter!

Follow Me On Facebook!

Hello guys! I need your help. You see, I just created a Facebook Fan Page for Co-Tee TV but I can’t get a Facebook vanity URL (vain, I know) for it until I reach 1000 fans! Well, I’m about 997 fans away from reaching a 1000 so go ahead and fan me up! 

The benefits you ask?

1. Exclusive video content of uncut and extended scenes that don’t make it to the actual episode! 

2. Links to new episodes of Co-Tee TV there as well Coty Loves Threadless so you’ll be sure to catch the newest episodes as soon as it’s up if you’re one of those chronic Facebook users. 

3. Random photos of tees that I find in random places. 

4. The occasional contest, you know I love a good contest! And that means free tees for you!

5. As a fan you can also post links to your products and if it catches my eye it might end up on this blog!

I Can promise you this, the CO-Tee TV Facebook will not be just another static Facebook page. I’ll try my best to keep it as fresh and as interactive as possible! Now go add me on Facebook!

Co-Tee TV on Facebook

Tee-Riffic Photos (Part II)

You might remember my post a few weeks ago talking about submitting pictures to Threadless for STP’s or Street Steam Points. Well, I’m at it again. In my quest to upload photos of all of my Threadless tees, I’ve added four more and am now just waiting for them to get approved. I’ve added Threadless by Simon Noynay aka KID_Z, Spoilt by Olly Moss, X-Ray Goggles Work by Tony Aguero, and They’re, Their, There by  Florencio Zavala. You can also view these on my Flickr, be sure to add me!

Do you have some Tee-Riffic photos that you’d like to upload to Threadless? If so, then go here to do just that! 

Spoilt by Olly Moss

 

X-Ray Goggles Work

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5 Awesome T-Shirt Flickr Groups

I’ve been a Flickr user for a while now, but in no means would I consider myself a Flickr poweruser. However, I’ve been exploring Flickr a bit more as of late and found that they’ve got lots of awesome T-Shirt related groups that you can join. Thanks to bigguybigcity better known as tee blogger hideyourarms, designer Olly Moss and the T-critic blogger Karl Long, I found these groups while scouring their profiles!

Oh and before I forget – you can add me on Flickr too!

Here are 5 of my favorites (so far): 

1. T-Shirts. 10,709 Tees. This group is lied by Little Dragon and seems to be the group with the most tees added amongst this lot. Another plus with this group is its active discussion area – lots of talk going on there compared to the other groups. Here’s the group description:

Tees – hell… shirts, sweaters, hoodies – nowadays have crazy, witty and overall funny sayings, sayings and icons, pictures and colours. Post pictures of people in funny and/or odd t-shirts here.

T-Shirts Flickr Group

2. Funny T-Shirts. 500 Tees. This is the site specifically for funny tees, in fact, according to admin TheNakedPhotographer “Your shit better be funny or worth being in here or I will delete it, add shit shirts here twice and I will ban you!” Whenever you see a funny tee, snap a pic of it and upload it to the Funny T-Shirts group.

Funny T-Shirts

3. T-Shirt Revolution. 8,964 Tees. This is the group that’s all about printing and making your own tee designs. If you made the tee, post it here! They also have active discussions on transferring designs to blank tees and on blank tee types in general. If you’re a do-it-yourself-er than be sure to add this group and start contributing! The group admin is Stephane Vendran. 

T-Shirt Revolution

4. Fresh Tees. 3,787 Tees. This is the official addic[tee]d Flickr group run by Mr. Fresh. addic[tee]d is a tee blog that is based in Athens, Greece. The addic[tee]d tee blog has been around since 2005. This group does not allow “plain text” tees so be careful not to add those.

Fresh Tees

5. I Love T-Shirts. 2,136 Tees. This is a Brazilian group run by Aline Szucs. Although not in English, they do have a ton of fun tees in this group. Definitely worth checking out. And if you understand Portuguese then here’s the group description:

Camisetas são ítens básicos e indispensáveis no guarda-roupa que vão conosco a qualquer lugar! Trocas, dicas, dúvidas, são os objetivos deste grupo! Trocas: peço a todos que organizarem ou participarem, manter sempre o respeito uns para com os outros, pois este tipo de interação tem como objetivo descontarir e não “estressar”, ok? Fotos: somente de camisetas, blusinhas e afins!!! Estão proibidos: xingamentos, ofensas, material inadequado e tudo que possa prejudicar o grupo. Abs!

I Love T-Shirts

Jake Nickell All Over Print

Jake Nickell also known as skaw to the Threadless faithful posted this picture of him in a tee with, well, himself printed on it! The shirt was printed by a company called Nodbod, that specializes in all-over-printing. I’ll surely have to review Nodbod in the future, maybe send in my own funky picture to use as an all-over-print, though, something tells me that if I did have a tee printed with my face plastered on the entire shirt that it would look unbelievably tacky. 

Jake Nickell in a Nodbod Shirt

7 Awesome Tech T-Shirts

Technology is a major part of my life and has integrated itself into nearly every aspect of my life imaginable. It has even begun to seep into the clothes that I wear! Back in the day, I remember sporting my favorite Napster tee, or that hard to find Apple tee (usually gotten from an OS release). Now, many tech companies provide tees for purchase making it easy for teach fanatics like myself to show on their chest their weapons of choice. 

Here are 7 different technology based tees that reflect innovations that I enjoy to use (or visit and read in the case of Laughing Squid). I’ll focus on “official” tees for this post and do a future post on some 3rd party tees (if you know of some cool ones let me know). 

Do you have a favorite technology tee that you like to use and show off? Post a link to the shirt so that others with similar technologoy tastes can buy and enjoy!

1. WordPress. Does WordPress run your blog (I do for this blog)? Then checkout this site for a selection of official WordPress t-shirts and other merchandise. You can pick up either a red or olive green WordPress tee for £9.50 GBP. The tees are printed on American Apparel. 

2. Google/Blogger. Is Google the first thing you see when you open your browser? Are you part of the Blogger faithful? If so, then you might enjoy some official Google gear. In fact, there is a wide selection of Google merchandise available in their store, from organic tees to recycle track jackets. They’ve even got tees printed on 70% bamboo and 30% cotton. They claim the bamboo component makes it antimicrobial and feel like a mix between cashmere and silk! The Wearables section in the Google store offers 36 different products! The tees are priced between $13.50 – $20.00. 

3. Laughing Squid. This is one of my favorite blogs to visit in InternetLAND and it just so happens that the Laughing Squid’s Scott Beale sells an official t-shirt printed on American Apparel and available for 20 buckaroos! 

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I’m A Hot Tee Connects with YouTube and … Mumbles?

I have said many times on this blog that if harnessed correctly, social networks can be a very powerful tool. T-shirt maker, I’m A Hot Tee has definitely made use of the prolific YouTube crowd by tapping into one of the sites most popular comedians (he’s in the top 60 in subscriptions), Ed Bassmaster.

Mike Martin of I’m A Hot Tee sought out Bassmaster by sending him a video (see video below) asking him if he would “like to help me promote my tees in exchange for us making him a one-of-a-kind “Mumbles is My Homeboy” shirt. (see video below)” Within an hour, Bassmaster phoned Martin and a business relationship was made. Within six weeks, Martin had produced an official Mumbles tee and Bassmaster posted a YouTube video (as Mumbles) promoting the new T-shirt. Martin ended up selling over 60 tees with the night the Mumbles Shirts video was posted on YouTube! And inevitably, people picked up other tees while they browsed for the Mumbles tee. 

Interestingly, Bassmaster decided not to accept any profits from the shirts sold, he instead opted to receive free tees for himself, family and friends. 

I had the chance to talk with Mike Martin of I’m A Hot Tee regarding his interesting business and marketing relationship with Bassmaster. 

Coty: You recently posted on the T-shirt website Emptees that you have worked with Ed Bassmaster, a popular YouTube based comedian. In order to market your brand, you decided tackle the YouTube crowd. Why did you decided to go with Bassmaster?

Mike: I had been a fan of Ed’s for a long time, mostly because I really appreciated the fact that I could watch his stuff with my grandparents without feeling embarrassed. I had initially only contacted Ed to try to get him to participate in our Hot Tee of the Month experiment, and you can actually see the video I sent him on YouTube. Synchronistically, around that same time Ed had been wearing an iron-on transfer that just said “EdBassmaster,” and people had been going nuts for it. So when he saw the Mumbles shirt design we were going to give him for free if he helped us with the Hot Tee of the Month, he said he wanted to team up and sell shirts to the public.

Anyway, the reason I decided to go with Ed is that he has the same mission with his comedy that I have with my t-shirts: He wants to supply clean laughs in an increasingly yucky (technical term) world to as many people as possible. It was a perfect fit.

(Sidenote: Various family emergencies have delayed Ed’s being the first “Hottee of the Month,” but he should be able to do it sometime soon!)

Coty: Do you plan on continuing this form of “viral” marketing with future tees and other YouTube Comedians to help market your brand? If so, who?

Mike: I definitely plan to, and I hope to have some YouTube celebrity appearances on our own channel, HotTeeTV (www.youtube.com/hotteetv). At the moment, I’m in contact with some other YouTube comedians – some even more subscribed to than Ed – who are going to wear our shirts and promote them. One guy is particularly excited about our Hoverboard and Weeevolution! shirts.

But I’m going to play this one a little close to the chest for now :]. I’ll send you an update as soon as their videos are up.

Coty: What is it about Ed’s comedy that made you think that your brand, I’m A Hot Tee, would be a great match?

Mike: It’s really a couple things. First, I think he’s an incredible undiscovered talent (though I don’t think he’ll be undiscovered a year from now) because he’s such an original voice in comedy. The various characters he does – Marlin Woods, Tequila, Larry, Mumbles – all have a unique persona, so much so that it’s hard to believe it’s the same guy under the wigs and funny voices. What’s more, Ed’s extemely unique on YouTube, in that he takes these characters public for his pranks: The interactions people have with them are priceless.

All that said, however, it really comes down to Ed being a great guy, and someone who likes clean humor as much as I do. That’s what I’m a Hot Tee is all about: “Hot Tees You Can Take Home to Mom!”

Coty: You invested a few days in preparing a video that you used to pitch your idea to Ed and then spent about $60 to give Ed and his family/friends free tees and in return you received over 60 orders of the Mumbles Is Your Homeboy tee within a few hours of Ed wearing the tee in one of his video. How does this compare to others investments you’ve made in marketing your brand (i.e. CPC Campaigns, etc.)?

Mike: The YouTube stuff is the main thing we’ve done for advertising, honestly, so it’s difficult to compare. However, it’s nearly impossible for me to imagine many other strategies online that would yield similar results. Like you said, it was more or less free, and Ed had many fans just waiting for him to make t-shirts. Moreover, people were already invested in Ed as a person and a comedian, because his fans really do love the guy so much. So there were multiple layers of built-in incentive for them to get our stuff. With all that in mind, you can imagine how much more effective it is than a CPC campaign.

Coty: How would you describe your partnership with Ed? Is Ed the official I’m A Hot Tee Spokesperson or do you sponsor Ed (similar to how many brands sponsor bands)?

Mike: Well, at this point, we’re really just good friends. Ed is the sweetest, humblest guy I’ve ever met, and he refused to be paid for the shirts: He just wanted to get his name and face out there. That said, in the next couple months, as he sets up his own website and his popularity continues to skyrocket, we’re going to move into more of a sponsorship relationship, and he’s definitely going to be getting a substantial amount of all profits. We’re also going to be expanding the EdBassmaster line to include more of his characters. (I’m hoping it will be Tequila or Marlin, personally).