A lesson in branding for startups

I’ve squabbled with people over domains and publication names, of projects and story titles.

There was a moment of inaction in creating the technology news site for Philadelphia that I am now proud to say continues to take on readership and bring on partners. Technically Philly certainly isn’t descriptive on its own and makes for a fairly long domain. But I like to think we’ve developed some degree of brand recognition. That name means technology and innovation coverage to a few thousand people in Philadelphia.

The secret is, I think, that within reason, if you brand it, they will come.

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Freelancers: the rules and tricks of deducting your home expenses on your taxes

The federal tax deadline is barreling toward us. I thought I’d share what little I know and what I’m reading about deducting home expenses for those of us who have done just that this fiscal year.

It’s a great way to keep your home costs down, but, of course, the rules are a bit more involved than they might seem. Some great reading below:

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Choose your business name on domain availability

When you’re launching a business or a brand, a check for domain availability has to be part of the brainstorming.

I worked with Shannon McDonald to launch a hyperlocal news site for Northeast Philadelphia. Initially in late 2008, she wanted the product to be the Web presence of a print product she wanted to call NEast Magazine.

It’s not where we ended up.

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Lessons I’ve learned on writing better ledes

Beginnings say as much about who begins them as they do about what they begin.

Journalists and writers, of professional kind or independent and online, take very seriously the ledes they produce and how others see them.

It’s very likely that I have had harsher scrutiny for ledes I’ve written than for anything else, and it’s even more likely you’ve found the same. Thusly, I’ve gotten lots of lede lessons through the years, particularly those with a bite or two that are worth sharing.

Below, lessons I’ve learned about crafting a strong lede. Share your own, so I can add to this list.

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Can you still start a freelancing career?

After announcing I took a step away from freelancing, a legal aide with aspirations of a cushy freelance career shot me an e-mail.

“Can people still even start a freelance career?”

I did it for just a year and did so out of college, so I don’t pretend to be any sort of expert. Yet, as writing — like publishing — as a commodity falls in value (and the prices that come with them), I sure feel like it’s worth making clear my experience.

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The basics of a news story in five bullet points and five minutes

I shared the rough curriculum I had established for working with a journalism club at a neighborhood school before my time there was cut short.

Just a week after I took a full-time job and told the club’s adviser that I’d have to take a bit of a sabbatical from my time there, I wanted to give a primer to have a conversation about the basics of journalism with her students.

In fewer than ten minutes, I tried to bottle an entire journalism degree into five bullet points. Clearly I missed plenty.

Below, see what I shared. Let me know what giant holes these high school kids will have in their foundation because of my failures!

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Faint Praise from Philly Weekly Better than Best issue

All of my thoughts

Eh, who has the energy. Instead, I’ll leave it to you:

Philadelphia Weekly’s Better than Best issue

Best Self-Promoters on the New Media Scene

To be honest, we’re not always sure exactly what it is the young journalists at Technically Philly are trying to accomplish at the site. Are they attempting to chronicle the local media’s often-painful transition into the web-centric era? Well, yes, there’s certainly that. But it sometimes seems that TP’s contributors are trying to bring about the future of media by loudly declaring themselves to be the future of media. The guys—Sean Blanda, Brian James Kirk and Chris Wink—are certainly good at getting their names out there: The trio appeared last spring at BarCamp Philly, a gathering of veteran journalists, to explain the virtues of their approach. And if that approach appears to be a combination of web links, brief stories and occasional interviews that skim the surface of the local scene—well, who’s to say that isn’t the future of media? [Source]

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A high school journalism club curriculum

Before I suspended my trips to Frankford High School to work with the school’s journalism club, we established what would have been a nice rhythm.

Every Thursday, I would come and give a lesson, and the following Monday, the students would use what we talked about and put it into practice by getting out of the classroom and shuttling around the school.

With Pioneer Times adviser Beth Ziegenfus, I established a rough curriculum time line, which you can see below and the details of which I hope to continue to share here.

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Number of Views:6542