Growing Up Online via Websites

There’s been loads of work happening behind the scenes at Chez BS. That’s the name I just made up for our apartment. We’re not working on the apartment…well, we did just paint one wall yellow recently thanks to my awesome friend who gave me a “wall of paint” for Christmas… but what I mean is, we’ve been working on our businesses.

Zsolt is still piecing together Easy-Patent. There’s a lot to be done as a start-up business. One very important thing is to get clients. He’s working on that. Another very important thing is to have a professional online brand. I’ve been working on my identity online, too. There’s me as a writer, blogger, bumpyboobser, self-publisher, book lover, Ottawa liver, traveller lover, crowd funder… so that’s all a little bit scattered. My challenge is to unify those identities online. (Since in ‘real life’ they are already unified, as in – all of it comes in one package: me, Catherine)

In both cases, a very good starting point is to have a very good website. So that brings me to the point of today’s post. A little while back, the Zsoltster discovered a website builder called *Strikingly. We’d been using Wix and Weebly before this, and they were nice – but Strikingly truly does appear striking on the screen in a way that others haven’t yet managed. You know how all the cool websites have these beautiful scrolling features? Strikengly’s like that.

Anyhow, Zsolt went ahead and began building his Easy-Patent website there one day while I was away. When I got home later on, he showed it off and was really, really proud. One, it is always adorable when a loved one is really, really proud. And Two, it looks great. (Kinda hard to believe he could do something so lovely online without me there to guide him. But there you have it. The man did good.)

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So, he has this gorgeous website ready to go, and because of that he is feeling a lot more confident in his brand. By the by, check out this awesome infographic I designed for him to send to clients. That’s another post for another day about the awesome infographic building program I used.

CatherineBrunelle.com is getting a makeover as well. As Marie recently told me, I need to bring together my different stories in one place. That place is going to be my touchstone online. So, like Dr. Z (i.e. the Zsoltster), I started building my website on Strikingly. It’s not done yet, but if you want a sneak peek – check it out here.

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It’s so easy to start creating all these different projects and stories online. And because it’s so easy … blog idea – poof! It exists! Ebook – poof! It exists! Globe circling book tour – poof! No, just kidding on that one … because it’s so easy, it’s also easy to end up with fragments of one’s self all over the place.

In making these touchstones for our businesses, I feel like we’re growing up online. My only qualm, which is a big point to note, is not being able to bring the blog Bumpyboobs into the new website. But maybe one day 🙂 Until then, it remains where it is, since it’s doing such a fine job.

*Anyhow, we enjoy using Strikingly so much, that we decided to go pro plan. That’s a big deal for us. I never go pro plan. But just before doing that, I found myself an opportunity to exchange a year’s worth of free pro plan service for one little blog post on this business that I already loved. So, here it is!

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Now how is that for growing up in the blogosphere? Someone wants me to write about them? Okay, I’ve gotten that before with random mailers, but in this case – I’m super excited!

So, new websites and stories coming together 🙂  2014, I am hopeful.

*I should say that Wix is useful in that it has some nice layering options and flexibility, though the text sizing ticks me off to no end! Weebly is good for multiple pages and a blog (super useful) but the templates are starting to get dated. Strikingly‘s basic plan has good options (though limited in how much can be changed), while the pro lets you play with html, which will be empowering – but even at the basic level, the interface is clean and doesn’t spasm with the text input – sparing us some arguments as I write copy for Zsolt – plus the design is really fresh. What it needs is a way to bring in one’s blog, and then it would be like the super hero of web builders. I was asked to give a review of my experience in exchange for the pro plan, so there it is pros and cons! Obviously I find it very much pro overall. It’s fraking beautiful.

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25 Reasons I Love the Internet

The internet has just turned twenty five years old! That’s a good year, isn’t it? A year to be noticed and applauded, and so as a birthday gift, I’ve made the internet a list of twenty five ways it has impacted my life.  If you have a ideas to add, leave them in the comments blow – also you can hop over to your own blog and link back here for sharing. Here we go:

 Why I Love the Internet: A 25th Birthday Tribute

1. Blogging: Damn, blogging is good. Thanks internet.

2. Social Media: I work in social media. If social media didn’t exist, I’d just be standing by the side of the road saying “Reheat if you like pizza!” and stuff like that. Thanks internet for giving me work.

3. Storytelling: Thanks for giving people a means to tell their story, one that doesn’t have a gatekeeper. There are reasons the internet needs to remain a free space and this is a HUGE one.

4. My Grandmother: Lulu was 90+ years & living in Montreal while I was in England. We used to have Skype conversations. Thanks internet for letting us visit. I got to spend time with my grandma before she left us, and I treasure those conversations.

5. Netflix: THANK YOU, internet!

6. Online Support: When I was dx with breast cancer, there wasn’t even a local support group where someone my age (or perhaps just my state of mind) would fit in. Thank you internet for helping find connections to others who understood (and thanks #BCSM, FacingCancer.ca, and Journeying Beyond Breast Cancer).

7. The Teenage Years: An email archive going back to when I was about sixteen and BOY CRAZY. Thank you, internet?

8. Everything you need in your pocket: Because of the internet – I can have my phone, my television, my work, my calendar, my pictures, my past, my projects, my banking, and just about everything else in my pocket, using the phone as an interface for that world. We are living Star Trek. Bring on warp speed!

9. Access: Thank you internet for making people accessible – whether they are company owners, organizations, actors, news rooms, etc. The barriers to conversation are knocked away by your powers (and everyone agreeing to take part).

10. Websites: Before these things happened, the internet was a lotta black or green screens with trickles of text. Thank you internet for these ‘houses’ online where we can build our dreams.

11. Opportunity Hunter: The internet made it easy to find my dream summer job in Alberta while I was living in Ottawa. I found a company in Jasper, emailed my application, had a phone conversation, and landed myself a summer position in one of Canada’s national parks. Thanks so much for that summer of fun, internet.

12. Collaboration made easy: Thanks internet for providing a platform where sharing and engaging and collaboration are embraced. Because of this ability, I was able to not only crowdfund online to self-publish Claire Never-Ending, but then was able to work with people in England and the USA to get that book put together.

13. Traffic Navigation: I can check highway conditions online and see how crowded it looks. Back when I had a car to use, this was really helpful.

14. Street View: Did you know you can walk the streets of Rome without ever having been there. You can also see my husband and I waving to you if you click here.

15. Access to Steam: This is an online gamers paradise, offering games from wayyy back when the internet had nothing but peach fuzz on its cheeks. Thanks internet.

16. Selfies. There’s a reason we’re obsessed with taking these photos, and it’s to share it with everyone who cares online.

17. Spam: No, I’m just joking. Spam sucks, but that’s the price you pay for a forum where everyone can do what they darn well please. Spam might be a drawback, but the ability to get creative, to talk, and to challenge—those are huge benefits.

18. Online shopping: Booking trips, buying shoes, selling art, plus those handy “discreet product name on the visa bill” venues. Thanks, internet!

19. Collective problem solving: “What should I wear today?” You ask the world via your favourite social network…within minutes you’ll have an entire outfit planned by other people. Miraculous! Thank you, internet.

20. The empowered consumer: This is an interesting one. We can shop online and compare, compare, compare. The empowered consumer may be sticking it to the brick & motor business, but it’s still rather incredible stuff.

21. Hilarious cat & dog photos. I needn’t say more. Thank you, internet!

22. Education: What, I can get a university degree online? What? Most of those lectures are available on YouTube for free? What!? Thanks, internet.

23. You Tube: Oh my goodness, I almost forgot YouTube. It’s my answer for every “how do I…” question.

24. The Biggest Brain in the World: I mean, mother earth certainly trumps it, as do the secrets of the universe, but the internet is growing everyday as people have the opportunity to add their knowledge. That’s cool. So thanks for being cool.

25. LOVE: Because of the internet, I was able to correspond to my Hungarian sweetheart from across the world via Gmail, then MSN messenger, then Skype – and with each advance, it felt as though we were closer together. So, for all the love fostered and grown online, thank you internet!

So, what’s the trend here? Connection, I think. Thank you internet for all these connections. World Wide Web makes a lot of sense from the perspective of connection. And now I’m going to go and disconnect in favour of some real life enjoyment. One thing you can’t do online is hug, eat, sleep, or breathe, swim, suntan, drink tea, dance all night, or taste chocolate; but give it time, just give it time…

The Magazine article is HERE!

I’m rather proud of my association with Facing Cancer Together and the work they do alongside Look Good Feel Better (both a product of the CCTFA) in helping people feel supported after a cancer diagnosis. So, of course, it was my honour to be included in the latest Lives Affected by Cancer celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Look Good Feel Better campain in Canada.

A while back I wrote about a photoshoot with Totem Brand Stories  (a dynamic and talented group of people) which was taking place to accompany an article that I had written for Lives Affected by Cancer. Once again, I’m talking about sex – so if you feel squismish you might just want to read the other articles, stories from bloggers and thrivers and patients alike about life during and after a cancer diagnosis – plus healthy meal ideas, amazing photographs and an exercise guide, and enjoy all the wonderful goodies the magazine has to offer. But if you DO want to read my article (and you should, because this is an important topic, plus I love the photograph and want everyone to see it!) check out page  36 , you can also catch a glimpse of me in an advertisment for FacingCancer.ca on page 41.

Magazine link is HERE!

It’s a beautiful magazine. Hard copies will soon be available in national women’s magazins across Canada, but in the meanwhile, take a browse through their clever e-magazine format.

Wooohoo for sharing stories and making connections with incredible women! Wooohooo for another published article! Wooohooo for life in general!