Monthly Archives: January 2012

Building Online Communities [Slide Deck]

Some time in 2010, I was invited to be the first speaker at the inaugural Social Media Club Adelaide event. It was a special honour to be invited by my peers here, so I was both excited and terrified. However, I was pleased to have been able to share one of my great passions about online life with a fantastic audience of friends and colleagues. Talking about a great passion of mine: Community Building.

Building Online Communities: Social Media Club Adelaide

Building Online Communities: Social Media Club Adelaide

In this talk, I focused on my 5 favourite ideas for building communities.

To read all about it, visit: Favourite Ideas for Building Communities (at Vervely).

Categories: Community | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

Social Media 101 Guides: Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest

Over the last couple of months, I’ve finally started writing down the tips that I have been talking about and presenting on for many years. Like this blog, these basic social media guides have been long overdue.

Basic Social Media Tips for Nonprofits

Social Media in a Nutshell

If you’re interested, do check out these social media 101 guides that I have written at Connecting Up:

Twitter 101 for Nonprofits – This is a basic overview of why nonprofit and charity organisations should get on Twitter, and how people can use this social media platform.

Facebook 101 for Nonprofits – Primarily revolving around creating Facebook Pages for nonprofits, this basic guide provides a number of resources and tips.

Pinterest 101 for Nonprofits – Although Pinterest is still a new social platform, it is growing in popularity and may be considered a great way to tell nonprofit organisation’s stories in a visual format.

I hope you find these guides useful. I will keep you posted once I finish the other articles that I am planning to write. If you have any platform in particular that you wish to learn more about, please let me know too. I’d be interested to know about the things that you wish to learn more about.

Categories: Social Media | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

What is Your Nonprofit’s Web HQ?

An organisation without a web presence is like an employee without an office.

Yes, office-less workers can still function and do their jobs. They can still do a lot of great things. However, without a space that they can call their office, a lot of the work may feel fragmented.

An office space serves as an anchor and a base for anyone who wants to do good work. Even if that workspace is just a corner in the lounge room or a spot on the kitchen table. It still helps to have that place to work in.

A web presence for an organisation serves as its online headquarters. Think about it.

Without a web presence, how will people find you if a potential donor, supporter, or volunteer searches for you or your cause online? How will they be able to contact you? How will they know what you need?

According to a study by Nielsen, there was over 17 million users in Australia in 2010 (source: Internet World Stats). That’s over 80% of the population who can possibly find your organisation on the web. Imagine the potential!

With those numbers, the question really isn’t whether or not your organisation needs an online presence. The question should be: What’s the best way to get your organisation online?

Nonprofit Presence on the Web

Does your organisation have an online presence?

The rest of this article has been freshly updated over Vervely. Check out: Your Organisation’s Web HQ: Where’s Your Base?

Categories: Content, Highlights | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

Virtual work space now open! Finally.

aka How to separate my professional web presence from my personal online life

If there’s one blog that I should have started over a decade ago when I first started my work online, this is probably the one. My very own professional blog. As in, a blog that reflects the work that I do online. I’ve resisted for many reasons. I’m not sure if my resistance and stubbornness cost me anything, but I know I have wasted more than enough time arguing with myself about it.

But, I am here now. Ready to test this out and see if I had been wrong all these years. And, if I was wrong, then at least this is a chance to make things right.

After all, it is never too late to start doing the right thing, yes?

Shai's Virtual Work Space

Welcome to my Online Office!

From personal to pro — an online story

I began my life online primarily as a personal blogger. I started blogging using my hand-coded site via Geocities. Back then, I was single, living and working in Manila, primarily earning a living as a consultant/educator/entrepreneur/writer with a degree in psychology. I went online, with a slow dial-up connection, on a patched-up PC that I bought for a bargain with the help of my best friend’s husband.

There were three amazing things that happened at the time, thanks to my life online: 1) I started writing for web publications and getting paid to do so; 2) I became a published children’s book author; and 3) I met my husband in a web forum.

As a result of #3, I ended up leaving Manila, and moving to Singapore where I became a freelance writer for Elle Magazine and a number of other publications, including ghostwriting for someone who was a tech journalist for the local newspaper, The Straits Times (writing about the web). Of course, there were other incredible adventures too, but we’ll stick to web-related ones for now.

Anyway, my first official professional site/blog was eWriteLife (1999). At the time, eWriteLife made sense because I was making a living out of freelance writing and it’s the life I wanted to live.

Both my personal and professional blogs were received quite well. EWriteLife even getting awards, including a finalist place at the Philippine Web Awards (early 2000s) and being featured at The Reader’s Digest magazine in Australia (mid 2000s).

Over the years, I developed more blogs and other online projects. Including becoming one of the first ever “social media gurus” when I established the Web Logs site at (a NY Times company), where I shared tips and resources about blogging, whilst getting paid to do it all – including being one of the first to experiment with podcasting and video blogging. I ran About’s Web Logs site from 2004 to 2006.

And yes, I managed to pack up my online work from Singapore to Australia (moved in 2003).

In 2005, I founded one of the first blogging networks for women (AboutWeblogs), where I worked with about a dozen amazing women and established some of the earliest beauty, fashion, crafting, and women-related blogs. It was a wonderful time.

My network was later merged with another network, b5media, which then received approximately $10M in VC funding in Toronto, Canada. I worked with b5 from 2006 to 2008, and received a number of amazing accolades during this time, as well experienced some pretty cool stuff like attending a conference in New York City, spending some time in Toronto, and attending BlogWorldExpo in Las Vegas. I left my work at b5media in January 2009, shortly after I was named as one of Fast Company’s “Most Influential Women in Technology (Blogging)”.

By that time, I was burnt out and ready to leave online life. At least, the professional part of it. I didn’t think I’d ever want to come back.

The professional online comeback

For the rest of 2009, I barely kept up with my professional life online. I worked as a consultant/hired blogger/community manager for a friend’s company. And, I went back to freelance writing by contributing to different publications, including an in-flight magazine for one of the budget airlines.

But, for the most part, I was a full time graduate student and a mum.

In mid-2010, I found myself back to blogging and doing online work. This time, out of the hustle and bustle of a start-up company and away from the corporate scene.

I became a Content and Community Manager for a nonprofit organisation in Australia called Connecting Up, Inc. So, again, I am back to writing blogs, creating content, doing social media, and living my work life online.

Through this work, I ended up in a place that I didn’t quite expect: On stage and presenting in front of hundreds of people around the world. Talking about using social media for social good.

And, every time I met someone who needed my help, I wanted to be able to offer more advice. Give more ideas. Share more resources.

Of course, that’s what I have been building at the Connecting Up site, with the help of my colleagues and some of our fantastic guest bloggers and freelance writers.

But, I realised that sometimes, some of the posts that I need to write don’t belong on our organisation’s site for one reason or another. So, I have been trying to post them on my personal blog.

But, over the last year and a half, the whole personal vs professional thing has been niggling at me again. The way it has niggled at me from the time I realised that my first professional blog, eWriteLife, was no longer a real reflection of my professional life.

So, I have become quite unsure about where to place myself.

The challenge of personal vs professional

Of course, it doesn’t help that my personal and professional lives had long intersected on the web. I found that the moment I start phasing out my personal posts on my personal blog, some of my readers became upset. They wanted to read about my life again. My travels. My cooking. My family. They don’t care about my tips on Twitter or blogging or podcasting. Sure, I can blog about it every now and then. But really, they didn’t start reading my blog just so they could read about the work I do.

I guess, it’s tantamount to talking about work all time when you’re amongst friends while having a BBQ or attending a party.

And, for people who meet me through my work, listening to my presentations and seeking for my professional help, they don’t necessarily want or need to know that I have just celebrated my wedding anniversary nor do they have to see pictures of my silly attempts at a new hobby.

But, due to my resistance to keep my professional life out of my personal blog, and my refusal to wipe out years of work that I have out into building my personal blog’s community, I have been mixing both and getting all torn up in the process.

Thankfully, I don’t think I have the habit of blogging anything that I wouldn’t want my mother to read. So, I don’t think I’ve embarrassed myself all that much.

But, I must have been frustrating my readers and contacts all these time for trying to mix my personal and professional life on my Studio Notes blog too much. That’s why I am extremely grateful to all those who stuck with me, and continued to support me and my blog, regardless of this very silly situation.

The reality of professional blogging for a personal blogger

Truth of the matter is, I know I will always be a personal blogger. I can’t help it. That’s who I am. So, even though this blog is my professional space online, I know I will always have my personal voice in it one way or the other. Whether or not that’s a good thing or a bad thing, we’ll just have to see.

One thing I can promise is that I have every intention of making this blog as useful as possible to those who visit, read, and subscribe.

So yes, this blog is primarily for those of you, looking for some ideas and resources about using digital media and other tools for social good. This is all about making content and community work.

Welcome to my online office. Please let me know what I can do for you.

Categories: General Ideas | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

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