POLL: Fashion + Photos

I’m trying to learn a little more about my audience, and what types of photo and fashion habits they might have. That’s where you come in. Yes, you! I want to get to know you.  Please take a minute to answer these four simple questions. It will only take a minute and I promise it won’t hurt.




Occupy this.

Lego-occupy at Zuccotti Park. Photo by Nina Frazier

My old editor at the San Francisco Public Press, Michael Levitin, has started a media site that covers the Occupy Wall Street movement around the nation. Check it out. http://www.Occupy.com

5 tips on how to name your business or product

Hello My Name Is... Dunny

Hello, my name is… Dunny! Photo by Robert Occhialini

What’s in a name? Actually, quite a bit.  I know, I know,  Shakespeare. Today, someone in business might say, “An iPad by any other name….” Wait. “iPad” is a terrible name. In fact it was the biggest pop culture joke after the iPad was released. It may sting the ego, but it doesn’t hurt sales to be made fun of on SNL or MAD TV. (Lana del Rey anyone?) Which brings me to my point: the name of your business or product is crucial.

Here are 5 tips for coming up with a name that works:

1. Take your time. Finding a good name might be hard, but it’s not impossible. It’s worth a solid chunk of time. When you found something you like, don’t rush out to buy the domain name or announce it to the world right away. What sounds good after hours of brainstorming will often sound terrible in the morning. Ruminate on it. Let it breathe like a fine wine. Let it rolllllll off the tongue.

2. Be short, clear and concise. It is a cliche, but people say it for a reason. Keep it simple. You want people to remember and repeat the name… correctly. If you’re making up a new word, or putting two words together be extra careful. This has the potential to go haywire in a heartbeat. Take for example, BookGoo (sounds like some messy art project for 2nd graders rather than a sophisticated highlighting tool for your browser) and even Fairtilizer (“fertilizer” can already conjure up a mental image of a big pile of crap. When it looks like “fartilizer” you’re going on a full offensive.)

3. Make it pretty.  Most often, people will read the name of your business or product before they hear it out loud. If you want it to capture their attention, think about the way the letters look on the page. Make it easy to read instantly. Think about how the name might appear in a logo. Is it too long? Too short? Words with double letters and palindromes work well. ELLE is a perfect example of both.

4. Don’t box yourself in. Some of the best company names don’t have anything to do with the products they sell. Just think about it. Amazon, eBay, Apple, Monster… It’s a good strategy that has allowed each of these companies to expand their markets. Therefore, it is better to choose a catchy name that is conceptually vague over a name that describes exactly what your business or product does. Books a Million is a company that sells magazine and e-subscriptions too, but the name immediately makes you think they are only involved in books. Let others try to put you in a box, don’t put yourself in one.

5. Don’t do it alone. Get feedback. More important, get outside feedback. From strangers, not your co-workers, friends or Mom. Take it to the streets. Tell people your ideas and when they give you feedback, listen. You don’t have to do every random thing you hear, but if half of the people you poll don’t like the name or have a hard time understanding it, it’s time to kill your baby. After all, this is your audience. You want people that don’t know you to buy or invest in your product or business.  Use social media to your advantage. Conduct polls and pose questions your audience on Facebook and Twitter.

*If you can’t find a good name, just do what Apple did and come up with a really terrible one. Just make sure its terrible enough to land you a skit on MAD TV.

Eureka! Now what?

Archimedes "Eureka!" moment

If this is what Archimedes' "Eureka moment" looked like, I'm not sure I want to have one. Photo by Eddy Seager

They call it a Eureka moment, and lots of inventors and entrepreneurs talk about having them.

A good idea is just that—an intangible and amorphous concept that can be explained cheerfully over and over again to a group of your giddy and incorrigible friends, but isn’t putting a dime in your pocket. It’s worth nothing until you do something. The Eureka moment may be the most important minute in the history of your business, but it’s the easiest. The most important part of starting a business is doing the leg work. I need to kick myself in the ass to get started on this, and it’s easier to hold myself to a goal if i make it pubic. So here goes…

My goals:

  1. Write a business plan—this is where my first business fell to pieces. If not a formalized business plan, at least a written statement of purpose, plans, etc.
  2. Find partners – specifically a web developer and maybe a graphic designer
  3. Get feedback – I need solid feedback from entrepreneurs, web designers about how to execute this idea.

Next time I’ll actually introduce you to my idea…

How to deal with copyrighted photos (Part II)

Self-portrait by Oscar Paradela

Sometimes you just can’t build the business model you have in mind without getting permission to use copyrighted photos. For sites that rely on current, quality and timely photos there is really no other way to get around the copyright issue than to buy a subscription.

For news, the biggest subscription sites are: AP, Reuters and Getty. They are usually quite expensive to join, so it’s not a viable option unless you have the money and the backbone of your business depends on it. The subscription models are based on your number of unique visitors and the number of images you use each month. There are also stock photography sites like iStockPhoto and ShutterStock that carry non-news images that can be purchased one at a time. These images tend to be set-up, and thus a little stale and stiff, but they are good for business websites and can even be manipulated to create your own original composites. (Click here to see how I used these images during my internship with Salon)

For my business model the only two biggest things I want to invest in are the images and server space. Right now I am toying with the idea of how much it might cost to get a subscription to AP or Reuters, but I’m not in a rush. My business does not depend solely on images of news events so it is something I can expand into when (not if!)  it gains initial interest.

Tip: Images used online generally cost less. This is because the image is usually only web quality (72 dpi). (When I interned at Salon, I remember the art director informing me I had been buying print quality images instead of the ones for web. Needless to say it was a mistake that cost hundreds. Maybe I should have told them my first word was “oops”?) 

So, about Pinterest… How to deal with copyrighted photos

Many faces of nina frazier

Photo by Nina Frazier

There are lots of ways to derail a fledgling start-up. Take for example Pinterest. They are currently dealing with some interesting copyright conflicts. Sure it is nice to have your pictures pinned and expose your work to a larger audience, but is it legal? The answer is simple: No. It seems that in the business built on sourcing photos from all over the web no one thought about the rights photographers who post their images online have. Actually, I take that back. Pinterest did think about it, but they just hoped their users wouldn’t notice the sneaky little clause in their user agreement that saddled the users with all the legal fees.  And not only the fees for the users defense, but to defend Pinterest as well.

People take photo credits online for granted. They think that because the photo isn’t being dropped into a layout and re-printed it isn’t stealing. but that’s simply not the case. Pinterest has made money off copyrighted work. If you own a business online and you use copyrighted material, it is still a theft. When you do it without even crediting the source, it’s even worse.

Pinterest was first to go on the chopping block, but I hope this will open a healthy debate about other places this occurs. Next  it might be the fashion bloggers who regurgitate the same fashion editorials without permission and use copyrighted songs in their video montages. Just remember: when in doubt, get permission. If you can’t get permission, you can’t use it. Find a different photo.

Where’s My Mexican Food?

Taco Truck

Bay Area taco truck. Photo by Gwen Harlow.

When you move away from the place where you grew up, one of the hardest things to leave behind is your family. Leaving the Bay Area for New York City, it was almost as hard to wave goodbye to one of my other daily staples: Mexican food. Something I had grown accustom to through my family’s traditional Mexican cooking and the abundance of taquerias in the bay. Continue reading