tech seminar

Month of Memories: Social Media Tech with Helen Pitlick & Dawn Quinn

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social media dawn quinn helen pitlick vida vegan tech
OK, so maybe “cat ladies” goes without saying.

Maybe you were there—or maybe you followed along as we live-blogged it—and we don’t need to tell you how great Helen Pitlick and Dawn Quinn were at our Fall 2012 one-day tech intensive in Seattle.

After such a long day of getting schooled on CSS and HTML basics, responsive design, and audio and video recording, we could have started glossing over and zoning out. But these ladies are so smart and charming that they kept us sharp and taking loads of notes. They laid out about a gazillion ways most folks are doing it wrong could improve when it comes to the likes of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest.

One of my favorite tips of the day was about replying to a social-media mention: Always reply, at least briefly. In real life, if someone compliments you on your shirt, you say “thank you,” right? Same rules apply online. Seems obvious, but it’s an easy one to forget.

Live-blogging from the Vida Vegan Tech Seminar

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Hey guys!

We’re coming to you live from our Tech Seminar at the snazzy Seattle Public Library. We’ll be taking turns updating this throughout the day, so stay tuned!

Our first class is up RIGHT NOW, and the Nuts ‘N’ Bolts of a Webpage are being explained by Colin Barringer.

 

Mighty-O Doughnuts: breakfast of technical champions.

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We’re may not be live-streaming, but we’ve got plenty of appropriate social media action to follow along with.

Check out:

@Vidavegancon on twitter
Hashtag #vidavegantech (for everything)

and

@VidaveganHQ on Instagram for up to the date peaks from our attendees, speakers and the organizers. 

Live learning & official seminar notebook

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First class: The Nuts ‘n’ Bolts of a Webpage with Colin Barringer

Next up: Blog Design in an Ever-changing Landscape.

Have a big question about one of our class topics? Tweet at us and we’ll try and throw it into a Q&A round.

See you guys on the flip-side!

SESSION TWO: BLOG DESIGN IN AN EVER-CHANGING DIGITAL LANDSCAPE, with Tim Maudlin…and Liz Miller via satellite!

Michele here, taking over for Jess. How do I feel after the first class? Well, when I see HTML and CSS code I’ll know much better what I’m looking at. Colin gave us a link to a page he put together with lots of great references for HTML, CSS, and JavaScript. Thanks for being smarter than us, Colin!

Our blog design team together in Seattle — thanks, technology!

So…as technology gets better, so must we. Back in the day, when the Internet was a baby, a boring-as-hell Website was still pretty awesome. Now we have to think about pissing people off if our site doesn’t look good on their iPad, phone, laptop, and giant televisions. This is where responsive design comes in. Check out Responsinator to see how yours (re)sizes up!

And now you’re back to thinking about how long it takes for your page to load. Sure, everyone’s browsers and machines at home are pretty fast now, but phones are still struggling to keep up with our demands. They’re moving fast, but don’t take the chance of using elements that aren’t supported or just take forever to load. If your page takes more than a couple of seconds—seriously, like TWO seconds—you’re gonna lose some people.

A word on choosing a hosting provider: Use free trials and cheap no-contract services to try stuff out. If you spend $5 for a month and can back out, then you really haven’t lost too much. And beware reviews. Read ‘em, sure, but a lot of them aren’t genuinely from customers. It’s often bought ink.

If you’re doing a lot of coding, check out YSlow for tips on how to speed up your loading.

Favorite sources for fonts? Font Squirrel and Google Web Fonts.

Annnd, Veggie Grill has started bringing in food, so that’s lunch!

SESSION THREE: PODCASTING ON A BUDGET, with Barb Troyer

Back from lunch, which Janessa selflessly volunteered to cover.

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Jess here, a formerly semi-regular podcaster, and it has been far too long since I’ve known what I’m doing.  Here’s what we’re learning from Barb Troyer with Podcasting on a Budget.  Barb hosts All Things Vegan, a community radio show based out of Bend, Oregon, and calls it her “labor of love”:

Ask me good questions, and I will throw you vegan candy – Barb Troyer

“If you have a community radio station, take advantage of it….that’s why I started the show…some unique content you won’t find at other stations” – Barb (who all the following quotes will be from).

Here’s the directory for public broadcasting organizations to find what’s available in your area. You can receive support from experts and local DJs who want to be involved, get involved with your community, hear yourself on the radio and be involved in a learning experience.

Pros:

  • Get information directly your local community and beyond (through syndication).
  • Support from an eclectic bunch of local DJs

When you’re on your own, with zero to no budget, pick up or find a cheap headset/mic combo, such as one you might use for gaming, or put together two separate pieces. Make a DIY pop screen with a nylon stocking to help your audio. Skype is free, and most people use it for radio interviews. Get to know audio editing software, like Audacity and Garage Band.

Sources & tools for little to modest budgets of DIY audio recording:

If you’re looking to save money, check out older versions of software.

Barb recently upgraded to a Blue Yeti microphone and is raving about it, but there are cheaper alternatives she’s spent time with – it’s all about reliability, and trial and error.

Similar to graphics, make sure you always save an uncompressed version of your audio file. You’ll lose quality, if not. With a PC, save it as a wave file and then save it as an MP3.

You want to hear if there’s feedback in the room. Are there other sounds? You do not want any other sound being picked up in the room.

“It’s like garbage in, garbage out”.

Check out student discounts on software, if applicable.

“Getting organized if half the battle….you have no idea how much time I spend on this show”.

You will spend time…..gathering content, being up to date with the news, and any scripts you can prepare in advance on top of ad-libbing.

Fun fact: As for her own notes, Barb now finds Evernote easier to utilize than Google docs.

More folks and the labor of love: “We have a common goal of educating the public….you want to get the information out there….talk to those people [other vegan podcasters]”.

Favorite vegan podcasts:

Get Prepared: What type of format do you want to have? What do you want to listen to?

An hour is a fairly standard length of time for a podcast. You will find out what your station requirements are if you’re on a station, if not, you can really do whatever you like. Consider breaking up the podcast into segments, if it’s super long.

Edit out the lip smacks!

“Remind yourself, this is supposed to be fun.”

“You’ll be amazed that you are not as articulate as you thought you were.”

You don’t need to write your RSS Feed from scratch. Itunes will tell you exactly what you need to submit your feed there. If you use WordPress, it creates one automatically.

Find out who’s downloading with Feedburner. Get to know your audience and community.

So inspiring! Get talking.

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SESSION FOUR: SHOOTING, EDITING & INTEGRATING VIDEO, with Angel Barclay

Tag-teamin’, liveblogstreamin’. (That’s a thing, right?) Michele here again, for what is the most intimidating subject for me: video. But Angel’s gonna show us how easy it is.

Angel Barclay making video easy

So, yeah, it’s not has hard or expensive as you’d think it would be.

A point-n-shoot camera can do the job. Your phone can do the job. Don’t have a tripod? A nice, sturdy pile of books can do the job. There are free editing programs and hosting sites that can help you get the job done.

A drawback of some cameras: crap microphones. You can supplement with a separate microphone.

Angel’s first tip: “Resist the urge to pan.” Unless you’re super sure of your sturdy hand it can just make people sick. If you are panning, shoot a little longer than you’d like to use; the first and last bits are gonna be extra wobbly.

Camera quality: “Quality versus quantity issue.” Since memory cards are getting so cheap, just go for it and get the biggest ones you can so you can use the best/highest settings. Delete the bad clips—it can be tough if you get attached to pieces, but you’ve just got to do it or you end up with a giant collection of memory cards.

Transitions? Like so many things, less is more. Not only will transitions cost you editing time, but they are also taxing to the viewer. You might be really excited, if you’re starting out, about all the cool stuff you can do. “Pace yourself.”

Templates are a neat cheat for an easily polished look. Angel uses iMovie; file types are not an issue, and everything is easily customized. She showed us a video she made with a photo album theme—it could be cool for a little montage in the middle of a longer video.

Time for a quick break, then Next-Level Social Media time!

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SESSION FIVE: NEXT-LEVEL SOCIAL MEDIA, with Helen Pitlick & Dawn Quinn

Step One: Figure out your goal—why do you blog? Why do you want to expand your readership? As with any project, starting with a goal is going to give you focus.

And be genuine. If you’re just trying to get more followers on <insert network here>, it’s going to be suuuuper obvious.

Connecting with others: As Helen says, if you tell someone you like their shirt and they say nothing, walking away, that’s pretty rude, right? Reply always. Also, share others’ stuff. If you think it’s relevant information, your followers are going to want to know it. Dawn says a good ratio is 1:7; for every post about your own stuff, share seven others’.

Steer clear of autofeeds. Sure, you can share Instagram on Twitter, or tweet the same subjects on Facebook, but use the social networks the best way for each one. There’s a reason they’re separate networks; why would someone want to follow you on all of them if you’re posting the exact same post everywhere?

Brand v. Person: If you want to stay sort of private, using your blog title as your handle on the social networks is the way to go. If you’re trying to really sell yourself, like to get a cookbook deal, you might want to use your name. (Also, personal can give you a little more wiggle room as far as politics/other interests.) There’s no “right” way, but it’s something you should put some thought into. Try to keep consistent with your handles across networks, for simplicity and repetition/familiarity.

Tagging #veganfoodshare on Instagram is a great way to get noticed; they pick out users who’ve tagged them to highlight on their feed. Looking for new folks to follow? Check out their feed.

Pinterest is just so dern popular. Not necessarily a social network like Twitter or Facebook, but you can still build relationships/community through repinning. Having a Pinterest button on your blog posts is helpful because you can get a huge spike in views if the right person pins it. If you have a Pinterest account, share a board on one of your other social networks every now and then. (Again, not all the time!) Note: This is highly visual. The better your photos the more you’ll get pinned!

Just because a new network pops up, you do not have to join it. Think about your audience and your content. Focus on the ones that fit what you do. Remember, you’re coming up with original content for all of them, so best to be really good at a few of them than half-ass all of them. Stay current, though, so you know when the next big thing is coming and can figure out early on what would work for you.

What’s growing? Not just Pinterest and Instagram, but <surprise!> LinkedIn. Especially if you’re looking to work on projects or guest-blog for others, it’s becoming a more relevant network.

What to take away: There’s no one perfect strategy for all. You just need to do some research, try out some stuff, and find your groove.

24-Hour Tech Seminar Sale

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Hey, everybody!

We’re trying to get final numbers (ordering coffee, printing coursebooks) for the Tech Seminar, so for those of you waiting to register, here’s a little push to do it now:

For the next 24 hours you can use this link and save $25! That went fast! You can still register at full price.

Find more information about the November 3 Seattle seminar here.

And, of course, email us at VidaVeganConference [at] gmail.com with any questions!

Speaker Spotlight Thursday: Dawn Quinn and Helen Pitlick

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For VVHQ’s first special speaker spotlight during Vegan MoFo, we thought we’d pick two ladies dear to our collective hearts.

Dawn Quinn of Vegan Moxie and Helen Pitlick of Vegtastic!, both hailing from the Seattle, WA area, are speaking at Vida Vegan’s first ever one-day seminar in Seattle this November, focusing on technical aspects of blogging (their specialty: social media, naturally) AND at Vida Vegan Con 2013 in Portland.

Dawn is an expert in social media, copy editing, and champagne cocktails; so naturally we love her and want her involved in whatever we do as much as possible. She’s also adorable and is starting the  MCDM program at University of Washington this fall, so she’s suuuper smart and stuff.

dawn-VVC

Dawn in the kitchen..

 

Helen is a social media maven; her tweets could make me want to attend a golfing conference with glee, which is saying a lot, considering golfing is like the boringest.

She has a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington, Instagrams a lot, and even has time to blog. She’s got the smarts and the drive, and we’re super thrilled to have her involved with Vida Vegan for two different events.

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Helen in the kitchen too!

For the One Day Tech Seminar on November 3 in Seattle, Helen and Dawn will be speaking on Next-Level Social Media:

How do you connect your blogging goals with social media? This intermediate-level session for people already active with Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks will explore the use of these tools to build community and craft your personal vs. blog identity. We’ll look at identifying and utilizing emerging social media platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. We’ll also touch upon best practices for sharing content across these different platforms.

{Tickets available here}

For Vida Vegan Con in May 2013, you’ll have to stay tuned to the blog to find out what they’re speaking about (schedule coming soon!). Rest assured, everything these ladies do is wicked smart, organized, enthralling and educational.

We love Helen and Dawn, and heck, all of our speakers, and are super proud to have them involved with Vida Vegan.

Rock.

Tech Seminar Classes & Speakers

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It’s here! It’s here! We’ve got class descriptions and instructors for our Tech Seminar. And they’re some brainy folks.

Every step of the way, developing this seminar has been so exciting—not just getting Veggie Grill to sponsor lunch, either. We really wanted to put together classes to answer questions we heard from the VVC comment cards, in the Facebook group, and, quite honestly, what we face every day. Should I pay the $30 to be able to edit my CSS code in WordPress? Can I just use the free YouTube video editor? How do you link your social media platforms (and should you)?

With glee and joy and all things that are good, we present to you the lineup for Vida Vegan’s very first seminar: Tech.

(Check out this page for further information and registration!)

Blog Design in an Ever-Changing Digital Landscape

What should you be doing when your blog starts getting heavier traffic? Do you know what responsive design is? Is your blog’s theme or layout ready for mobile, tablets, and other screen sizes and resolutions? Are you interested in changing your theme, updating your fonts, or learning a little CSS to help with design?

Learn how to choose the correct platform, blog theme, hosting solution, and design strategies to make sure visitors have a smooth experience and keep coming back. We will provide examples during class with a take-away sheet of helpful URLs.

Tim Mauldin is Software Architect and Technologist who has done projects for companies large and small. He is an expert in software optimization and loves to solve performance problems. He currently resides in Austin, TX, and has a vegan taco problem.

Elizabeth Miller is Design Lead as well as Senior Front-End Developer for Squishymedia, a medium-size web development agency in Portland. Elizabeth’s 10 years of design experience includes projects for Ralph Lauren, Sony, and Mercedes-Benz. She designs beyond surface appearances to create lovely and usable interactive experiences. She loves vegan mac-n-cheese burritos the most.

Next-Level Social Media

How do you connect your blogging goals with social media? This intermediate-level session for people already active with Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks will explore the use of these tools to build community and craft your personal vs. blog identity. We’ll look at identifying and utilizing emerging social media platforms such as Tumblr, Instagram, and Pinterest. We’ll also touch upon best practices for sharing content across these different platforms

Helen Pitlick is super excited to be speaking about social media. She has a Master of Communication in Digital Media from the University of Washington, teaches lawyers how to blog at LexBlog, and previously managed social media for Foodista.com. In her spare time, she writes Vegtastic! and probably tweets too much about cats.

Dawn Quinn is fascinated with social media and the ways communication is constantly changing. She began the MCDM program at University of Washington this fall so she could further study these changes. Dawn is a copywriter, blogs at Vegan Moxie, eats lots of Brussels sprouts, and lives with her partner and two cats.

The Nuts ‘n’ Bolts of a Web Page

In this class, we will walk through the basics of creating a simple web page that will introduce three core web technologies: HTML, CSS, and Javascript. Starting with the simplest possible valid HTML code, we will incrementally make the page more interesting by adding: content (HTML), style (CSS) and interaction (Javascript).

By the end of the class, we will have created an informative, pretty and dyncamic page, as well as developed a basic knowledge of web development.

Colin Barringer works for athenaHealth, Inc., developing medical billing software. He has an M.S. in computer science, has been working as a web developer for 4 years, and has extensive knowledge of a variety of computer programming languages. When pushed, he might admit that the Internet was a mistake.

Podcasting on a Budget

Whether you’re looking to get involved in community radio or want to independently produce a podcast, Barb will show you tips and tricks that will bring your podcast activism to the next level, no matter what your budget. Topics include choosing recording equipment and software according to your needs, finances, and operating system (Mac or PC), getting your show into iTunes and other podcatchers, integrating with your blog, and managing related web and social media efforts. You’ll also learn mic technique, editing shortcuts and best practices, and tips for managing interview notes and information overload.

Barb Troyer is the technical producer and co-host of All Things Vegan radio, a low-budget labor of love, broadcasting for 2 years on community radio in Bend, Oregon‒and podcasting to the world. An IT consultant by day, Barb tweaks software and graphics and teaches end users, who she rewards with vegan candy.

Shooting, Editing & Integrating Video

You don’t need to be intimidated by video. We’ll look at choosing equipment and shooting video, editing programs, and adding extras like titles and audio. We’ll also cover hosting and embedding these videos into your blog or website.

Angel Barclay is an Environmental Studies major at the University of Oregon. She enjoys exploring all the natural wonders Oregon has to offer, riding her bicycle, and documenting her adventures. She began creating videos in 2010, to share her exploits with friends and family residing 2,000 miles away in the state of cornfields and fireflies: Illinois (where she called home, until 2009). She blogs at Sister Legumes, and you can find her on her Vimeo channel, when she’s not hijacking her boyfriend’s YouTube channel, BreadBikeBlog.

Who Needs a Tech Seminar Scholarship?

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Is this you?

You need help getting over some technical hurdles with your blog because you thought college was a place to learn and think and explore the universe and its deeper mysteries…so you’ve got a worthless B.A. and you really can’t afford the classes you need now to make up for the classes you didn’t take when you were a kid.

Well, we’ve got two seats reserved for the likes of you. We’re offering two registration-only scholarships for November’s Tech Seminar in Seattle. The rules are simple—we won’t hold your bright-eyed idealism against you—so check it out here.

See you in Seattle!