Slacking with the Offbeat Empire: how Slack turned my inbox into the happiest ghost town

By on Sep 10th
A peek at our stats on Slack. As you can see, the Empire really does sleep on Saturdays.

A peek at our stats on Slack. As you can see, the Empire really does sleep on Saturdays.

I've written before about how the Offbeat Empire leans on Flickr, and now I find my business suddenly equally dependent on Slack, a tool created by Stewart Butterfield, one of Flickr's cofounders. In barely a month, it's completely transformed the way my business communicates. I know I'm prone to hyperbole, but I'm being stone cold serious, here: Slack has completely changed the way my staff communicates and gets work done.

I heard about Slack last summer when it launched, because I follow Stewart on Twitter… but I wasn't immediately clear on how it would be of use to me.

"Yeah, yeah," I thought to myself. "A productivity tool that I sink days into learning how to use, thereby killing all productivity benefit. Also, my bitches [yes, it's a term of endearment] hate procedural changes, and I still regret that brief affair we had with Basecamp a few years ago, and you can pry gmail and IM out our cold dead hands…"

So I basically ignored it. Even after I chatted with Stewart last year at XOXO Fest, I was still like "Oh cool that he's got a new product but whatever." (STEWART OMG THE REGRETS, THE REGRETS.) I am ashamed to admit that it took this profile from Wired to get me interested: The Most Fascinating Profile You'll Ever Read About a Guy and His Boring Startup. The title isn't click bait — it's accurate.

Ok, so I started to get it: Slack is a productivity tool for remote workers, founded by a guy I deeply admire whose birthname is Dharma. (Seriously, read the Wired piece.) Ok, so Slack is sorta like a chat room, but jacked up on steroids, coming up on of three hits of ecstasy, and wearing one of those hippie utility belts packed with swiss army knives, your favorite kind of gum, chapstick, a wrench, and two-sided tape. I started being like, "Wait, why am I not using this yet?"

If Slack were a festival utility belt

Image courtesy of Etsy seller Mohana

Then I stumbled across this video:

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Presentation at WMBA in Las Vegas on September 18 (plus a big announcement!)

By on Sep 4th
Signing the papers with Jon & Tom from Lovesick

Photo of Tom, myself, and Jon by Jenny GG Photography

On September 18th 2014, I'll be sharing the stage with the Tom and Jon (the two dudes from Lovesick Inc) at the Wedding Merchants Business Association conference in Las Vegas. We will not be doing what we are doing in the photo above. Instead, we're going to be talking to a few thousand wedding professionals (!?!) about how to be a little less cheesy, a bit more creative, and a lot more themselves.

We are all super stoked to have this platform to talk about what we've learned from our favorite vendors around the country, as well as our tips for how vendors can build their businesses. Tom and Jon and I all feel like the more we can connect the world to our unique network of vendor friends, the more we all redefine the tired ways of the old wedding guard. It's exciting!

ALSO! At the end of our presentation, we'll be debuting a new joint venture that's set to launch early next year.

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How not to woo clients: insult your potential clientele online

By on Aug 25th

This morning we posted a wedding on Offbeat Bride about a bride whose wedding outfit included a shirt she wore on her first date with her husband. The post immediately went viral on Facebook, garnering a thousand Likes and 80k views in a couple hours. Inevitably, there were a ton of comments too, including this one:

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While I've blurred out the commenter's name and business name, I want everyone to note that this comment was left by A WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHER.

We use Facebook's moderation tools to automatically auto-hide any comments that include the words like "tacky," "tasteless," and "cheap," so no one saw this vendor's snarky comment… but I want to stress to my wedding industry colleagues: this is not how you woo clients online. This isn't the first time that a wedding vendor has left comments on our posts insulting the couples we feature. My mind is blown every time I see a vendor do this because, you guys: these comments are seen by your potential clients. When, as a vendor, you publicly insult a wedding, you're sending several message about your business:
 

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Farewell, working from home

By on Aug 18th
This is me in the foyer of the Offbeat Empire's former office… aka the stairwell of my home. Photo by Jenny Jimenez for Tugboat Yards.

This is me in the foyer of the Offbeat Empire's former office… aka the stairwell of my home. Photo by Jenny Jimenez for Tugboat Yards.

Since November 2009, my primary workplace has been a corner of the 1-bedroom condo I share with my husband, son, and small dog. Yes, I've coworked in a shared office once a week or so since 2010, but 90% of my work for the Empire has been done from a wall of a bedroom. In many ways, working from home was a tremendous blessing — with a newborn, it was easy to work weird hours. With an infant, it made sense to keep my leaking boobs close to the nursing baby. Through my son's waddlerhood and toddlerhood, it made a lot of sense to be working from home to allow quick kiddo hand-offs with my yoga-teaching husband who might come and go from teaching three classes a day… we handed parenting duties back and forth all day, every day. I saved a shitload of resources by working from home, spending zero cash on rent and zero time on commuting… all while slowly but surely losing my fucking mind.

Yeah, I said it.

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Known bug: "You might also like" links going to NULL pages

By on Aug 11th

outbrain busted

For the past couple weeks, we've been dealing with a persistent issue with the "You might also like" related links served up at the ends of posts on all Offbeat Empire blogs. For some people, some of the time, when you click the links there, you get taken to a 404 error page that has "NULL" in the title.

For example, when you click on a related post linking to http://offbeatbride.com/2014/07/dont-ignore-this-post-wedding-advice, you might be taken to http://offbeatbride.com/2014/07/null&version=174554 instead. While I've noticed some weird "null" error pages in my analytics for a while, it's gotten way, WAY worse lately:

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Advertising on Offbeat Home & Life: the past and the future (hi, Federated Media!)

By on Jul 22nd

offbeathome-federatedmedia

Ancient History: Native advertising

Back in late '00s, the business model I had in mind for the Offbeat Empire was quite different than where it is today. I'd figured out how to make Offbeat Bride financially sustainable, through a combination of native advertising: sponsored posts, business directory, and banner ads all sold by me directly to the advertisers. I figured "Hey, that revenue model works great — I'll launch other content verticals with that same revenue model!" In 2009 I launched Offbeat Mama (which became Offbeat Families), and in 2011 I launched Offbeat Home (which became Offbeat Home & Life).

The revenue models were the same as Offbeat Bride and the traffic growth patterns matched Offbeat Bride, but the business results were drastically different… it became clear within a couple years that the native advertising model that worked so well for Bride wasn't going to translate to the other sites.

So in 2011 I added ugly third-party banner ads to Offbeat Families and Offbeat Home & Life, partnering with a company called Glam Media (now known as Mode Media). I hated the ugly banner ads, but they covered some operating expenses, so it felt worth it… at least for a while.

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HOLY SH!tB@ALLS and editorial meeting re-enactments

By on Jul 18th

holyshitballs

Oh hi. Wait, what? It's summer, which means my postings here on the Empire get a little sparser because I'm, you know, actually leaving the house sometimes to go for walks or go camping or take selfies or whatever. BUT! This week I made staffers promise that we'd do favorite comments, because they're fun and ridiculous.

Offbeat Bride

First up, did you SEE the wedding we posted on Offbeat Bride today? Holy fantastical fucknards. Holy groom codpiece. Holy Mother of the Bride in full historical regalia. Holy Ork-themed food. Catherine sums up the comment thread:

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Weeping angels and taint weeks: behind Offbeat Home & Life's highest traffic spike ever

By on Jul 7th

weeping angel tutorial

While y'all were off enjoying your long holiday weekends, Offbeat Home & Life was busy having its highest week of traffic EVER. Forget fucking basil, you guys… Offbeat Home & Life's traffic spike was all about making Weeping Angels out of hacked up Barbies — EXCUSE ME, BARBIE-LIKE DOLLS. (Several Barbie collectors in the comments wanted to make sure we clarified that issue.)

Here's how the spike stacked up with Offbeat Home & Life's traffic patterns:

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