Kenny Soto End of 2015

2015 End of The Year Review: The Experiences and Lessons Learned

This blog post is an entry reviewing some of the many experiences I had over the past year and what knowledge I gained from them.


 

First Internship Experience: SCORE

SCORE NYC is a branch of the Small Business Administration (a government entity) that helps small business owners grow their businesses through one-on-one free consultations, workshops, and online webinars.

SCORE NYC was a very special place for me this year for all of the people I was able to meet. I was able to have the opportunity to surround myself with retired business executives who came from industries ranging from corporate law and hedge fund management to digital marketing and construction. I was also able to interact with aspiring entrepreneurs who came to SCORE with questions regarding their businesses and was able to see firsthand the challenges small business owners have to endure just to serve the market. In addition to all of the opportunities to grow and learn that I gained from the people I met, I also learned a lot about two subjects I never really put that much thought into before.

What the heck is the Internet?

The first thing that I learned from my experience at SCORE is that I knew only a small amount of information when it came to what exactly the internet is. Thanks to my mentor, Maurice Bretzfield, I was able to begin to understand the importance of not only knowing the difference between the internet, www, https, FTP, mobile, and wifi but, also identifying the importance of why I should know the differences. The first month studying under him showed me how little formal education had taught me on tools that I use every single day, and it helped me understand why learning about coding, digital design, and digital marketing is vital to how I interact through the internet.

Digital Marketing and what did it have to do with me?

My primary reason for applying for the internship was because under its description it stated that all interns would learn about digital marketing. As a music major, I have learned a lot about song composition, musical theory, and performance methodology, but I did not know how I would survive in the search for a job after receiving my Bachelor’s degree. Digital marketing showed me that it’s an essential skill to at least be aware of in today’s information economy. I learned over the eight months I was at SCORE how many people were having issues just getting their businesses to be known by potential customers. Eventually, I saw that the same concerns that these entrepreneurs were facing correlated with the issues myself and some of my friends at my college where dealing with: how do we stand out from the pack? Through my eight months of diligent work, I am now able to say with confidence that I have a good grasp of Digital Marketing overall and a niche part of it – personal branding.

Buying My Name Online

In regards to personal branding, I believe another pivotal point of this past year is when I purchased my URL and built this website. The benefits of using this website are tremendous. I am now able to google myself and what I want people to see is the only thing that is shown. Controlling my online presence was one of the first things that my mentor Maurice, advised me to do. In addition to this, blogging has helped me question my ideas and develop them even more. Without this platform, I would not have been able to gather my thoughts and had others comment and provide feedback on them. I strive to not only use my website to showcase what makes me unique and why I could be of value to teams but also to help a growing community learn with me. The World Wide Web is constantly growing with pools of both high quality and mediocre content, I want to become someone who contributes to the former. Let’s not forget to mention that blogging has also helped me with my writing and grammar. Finally, it’s helping me create connections with others that otherwise wouldn’t happen. I have had the opportunity to not only interview individuals online about their experience working companies such as Google but, also get good advice on what I should do to get a job after college (which in turn provides you, the reader, with valuable content).

Starting my school year as USG President

Many challenges were thrust upon me this semester. As my college experience rapidly comes to an end, I have the privilege to lead an exceptional team as the president of the undergraduate student government at the City College of New York, and it has certainly been a role that has helped me grow as a person. From improving my time management skills, delegating tasks, making sure the entire team is aligned, managing team stress, etc. I have been exposed to a lot of real life situations that I will have to deal with after college. I consider my experience in this role as an accelerated MBA, learning how to manage a team of people and not only serve them but, serve a whole community of people (the student body) as well. I’ll certainly use the skills I am learning as president in the future, and I will be forever grateful to undergo such an incredible growth period in my life.

Reading “Think On These Things” By Jidda Krishnamurti

Think On These Things Krishnamurti

This book changed my views on our current educational system and helped me understand why it’s important to question all information was given to me, and how to integrate that process into my daily life. It was the first time I ever experience a writer pierce through the veil of what should matter most in life, which is not necessarily the answer to questions we have but, instead finding the reasons to the questions themselves first. This book is a useful resource for anyone interested in getting a fresh perspective on what it means to be essentially a creative individual.

 

As the new year begins I will continue to provide as much valuable content to you, the reader, whenever I can. It helps me tremendously if you provide your feedback and thoughts in the comments section below. Let’s have an amazing 2016 everyone.

 

Cheers,

Kenny S.

 

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Personal Website Kenny Soto

The 6 Steps to Building a Personal Website

You have to market yourself.


You already understand the importance of a 
personal website if you clicked to read this article (or you’re curious). Minda Zetlin from Inc.com comments on a survey of 300 HR professionals that shows that 30% of them see a personal website as a key advantage for job applicants however, less than 1% actually have one. If you want a leg up on your competition, it’s time to invest in a website.

1. Buying a domain

When setting up your website the first thing the you need to do is compare the pricing options on different domain extensions attached to your first & last name. The best domain extensions to use are .com, .me, or .info for a personal website (the complete list can be found here). Once you’ve decided which extension you’ll be using the next best course of action is to choose from the large list of domain name providers. My suggestion is to either use godaddy.com, namecheap.com or bluehost.com. It is advised that you make your first purchase for owning the website for 2 years because people with your name can bid for your site and put it on hold until your subscription expires and if you mistakenly forget to renew they will grab it.

2. Hosting to go with your domain

After carefully choosing your domain name the next thing you need to purchase is a hosting package. The best ones provide these services:

  • 24/7 Customer service Monthly or Bi-monthly discounts
  • Server space packages
  • Migration services (just in case you need to switch an already owned domain to another provider)
  • Security Services

The main reason why these four aspects should be prioritized over all others is because without these aspects you will have a longer process in setting up your site and you want to avoid as many hiccups as possible to save your time.

3. Can’t code? Use a CMS!

The easiest way to build a unique & well-designed website is to use a content management system such as WordPress & SquareSpace  (these are all in one packages that also provide hosting and domain purchasing). The best one is my opinion is WordPress for its ability to easily manage and customize the backend aspects of your website. For this article, I will be mainly referencing WordPress for adding your plugins and pages to your website.

There really is no reason for anyone not to have a website, regardless of your skills in coding. If you do however want to learn to code from scratch, you can use CodeAcademy for free. For a personal website all you need to know is HTML & CSS.

4. Who are you building it for?

There multiple reasons for you to have a personal website. One thing you must consider is who you are building it for, and not only why. The best thing you can do before beginning the overall design & structure for your site you need to develop a content marketing plan for your intended audience. For example, if you are a law student creating a blog based on general law knowledge you believe people should know, you can then market yourself to law firms (it’s great to have graduate from a great school but, if you don’t graduate from Harvard or Yale, you should consider increasing your edge). If you want to get into creating infographics for your blog, services such as Canva or Vengage can help. Building the website is half of the battle, marketing it is just as important.

5. Essential pages your site should have (after choosing a theme)

You can have multiple web pages on your site however, there are four that you must consider carefully. To save yourself time, make sure all the design planning is done using wireframe and then you implement everything you had in mind about the pages that you want.

The first and most important page is your home page, the one thing that can kill your bounce rate (tips for understanding that here). If you want your visitors to stay, make sure your homepage has content including your current blog posts, site news, or even your social media news feeds. After that, make sure you have a blog page. It is up to you whether you only want your posts or a sidebar/footer for your widgets. Don’t forget that in addition to these pages you should include a professional resume/portfolio. It can be the same information that you provide on your LinkedIn profile. Finally, don’t forget a contact page so people can reach you (you’re doing this to promote yourself after all).

6. Other key elements

You want people to follow you  so social media buttons are vital to your promotional success. If your WordPress theme doesn’t provide this functionality you can use the plugin Shareoholic or AddThis. Having a newsletter to keep people who are interested in you updated is also very important. After creating an opt-in button (could be labeled subscribe here), utilize services such as MailChimp or ConstantContact to design your newsletter emails.

Finally, to truly manage your website effectively I highly recommend learning Google Analytics. Google Analytics will help you to:

  • Manage where people are putting your links
  • Understanding how people interact with your site
  • Know where your audience is located and where they are coming from
  • Know what sites are bringing the most referrals

It will also help you to understand what website elements are working, what colors are working, where you’re not getting clicks, where you are getting clicks, etc. Keep in mind that this is a tool to focus on after building your website; once you begin content development and promotion.

If you have around $50 you can certainly get started today. So many of us use the internet however, we do not use it to truly promote ourselves and gain opportunities to further our success. If you want to continue to learn more about marketing yourself effectively online make sure to subscribe for more articles.

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Kenny Soto 4 areas of Inbound marketing

The Four Areas of Inbound Marketing: The Keys to Online Positioning

Customers have complete power

As an entrepreneur, there are many challenges that you may face promoting your product or services. All companies need to be discoverable in today’s marketplace and inbound marketing is at the core of it all. Today customers have a vast amount of choices for all their consumer needs. Being the company with the best product is not enough anymore. Inbound marketing is the practice of positioning yourself so customers always find you. There are four key areas of focus that are in the heart of this field of marketing.

Search Engine Optimization: Inbound marketing science

Everyone at this point uses Google, Bing, and Yahoo to find out information about everything. If you are selling anything you need to learn how to position yourself at the top of every search query relatable to you. There are many factors that determine how you rank on search pages that are always updated regularly (such as Google Panda). There are both on-page and off page factors that one has to consider to optimize your website’s SEO. For example, the on-page factors include: having a meta description with an excellent call to action that breeds curiosity to learn more about you and your product, doing substantial keyword research (using tools such as SEMRush, Longtailpro and Ubersuggest) to find out with search queries you can target with low-quality content, etc. The off-page factors include (but are not limited to): site history, bounce rate, session rate, ad quotient, location, does the site have shares on social media, spam, broken links, piracy, and much more.

SEO is one of the most important fields of digital technology, marketing, and science to date. No one will ever have a complete understanding and access to any search engine’s crawlers and predictive analysis can only take you so far. At the end of the day, the key component to SEO is user experience. If you cannot provide your customers the information they need exactly when they need it, providing the optimized experience they desire, you not only fail them but, you also fail yourself. Search engine optimization is not something that can be avoided. In addition, simple pay-per-click campaigns through tools such as Google Adwords don’t provide substantial growth models over time. One must consider all facets of SEO that help their business grow, especially since it important for all professionals to know something about the subject.

Blogging never gets old

Blogging, many consumers would say today has become over saturated with useless information. Perhaps this is true, but one thing to consider is that corporations such as Entrepreneur or FastCompany still blog, applications such as: timely, trello, and invision all use blogs because it is an effective way to express thought leadership in your industry (that in addition to infographics makes for very useful displays of your expert insights). Blogging helps show your customers not only that you provide products and services that suit their needs but, that you also share relevant information.

Newsjacking is the act being the number one provider of new and exciting topics in your industry that will determine if users can depend on you for reliable information. “The world of marketing will need more journalists than advertising majors”, was a comment a speaker at my college told a group of students that are aspiring media communication professionals. If you do not have a set of tools, such as Google alerts or Netvibes, that allow you to be the first to see new content on a daily basis, you are surely behind your competition. Lastly, the amount of overall customers that come to your site is relevant to one very important number: the number of guest bloggers you have posting content on your site. The more people you have writing content, the more they share it with members of their own networks which then improves yours.

Social Media (Conversations and Listening)

One thing I have noticed most social media campaign managers not doing is reaching out and contacting the influencers that their followers and potential followers are viewing. If you want to grow your current customer base  on social media it never hurts to contacting other thought leaders in your industry and asking them to share your content (with the bargain that you will do the same). If your content is good enough they will certainly agree and it will boost your reach on your social media platforms.

Another technique (depending on your business model) that works well is having user-generated content on your page. If for example, you are a video hosting service mainly targeting “high schoolers” it would help your business a lot by having users of your product share the content they have made on your social media pages. You could also curate all the content they have and have them share it with each other on a forum page that you create. This works perfectly with businesses whose engines of growth rely on viral marketing (having users attract their friends for you).

Most importantly, focus on one specific platform. Not all social media platforms are built the same and you should be working on developing your customer base to make sure your inbound marketing efforts are rising on in one area. You can then use that social media to transfer your followers onto the other ones. Most businesses that provide business-to-business services would focus on LinkedIn and not Instagram or Pinterest and that is because LinkedIn would naturally provide better results. Inbound marketing requires intense strategy so one must always consider where the majority of their efforts lie on social media.

Being a thought leader: Content Development & Curation 

There is only one thing that can determine that when a customer finds you on the Internet, they will stay and interact with you: content. Content is the only thing that matters to your customers. If you cannot provide them with the content they need at the immediate point of contact they have with you online, they will find someone else who will. If you want to be successful in your inbound marketing efforts you need to provide content such as webinars on your products and services, white papers, provide content on under-served content niches, and curating useful information from other sources so your users don’t have to. Also, you need to know how to properly generate leads by knowing the right time to gate (asking the user for contact information) and when not to. If you can’t build a connection of trust between your users and your business then you need to reconsider your strategies in all your inbound marketing efforts.

Remember, because of the Internet, you don’t need to use paid marketing. Customers are looking for you; you just need to position your business at the right place and always at the right time.

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digital marketing skills post

4 Essential Marketing Skills For 2015

A skill for the future

I have been recently contemplating how would I be able to propel myself closer to success after college and it dawned on me that there are many skills that I have to capitalize on to stand out from the crowd. I want to share with you what the essential marketing skills are, whether you are looking for a job or beginning to start a business. In the modern job market, hiring managers need to see what more could you offer that makes you stand out as a valuable employee. Whichever industry you are entering it is always imperative that you show some knowledge on marketing (yourself and a company). Having marketing techniques at the very least can help you stand out from your competition when hiring managers are searching for prospective employees. Below are four essential skills/techniques you should have knowledge on if you wish to advance your career this year:

1. Understanding the keyword research and keyword planning

It has become common practice to use search engines such as Google to find all the product information you may need before deciding. Knowing the basics of keyword research is essential knowledge that everyone should educate themselves on. I am a strong advocate in teaching keyword research and keyword planning in college and high school considering search engines are an essential tool in our lives. Knowing which keywords your competitors are competing for and which ones you can use for organic and paid customer allocation is very important in whatever your endeavors are. Google is the most powerful advertising machine in the world and we all need to know how to properly use it. I highly suggest checking out Google’s Keyword Planner, Google Trends, Keywordtool.io and other tools that help generate keywords based on the business you are trying to join. You could also start to see which keywords you should consider researching by using keyword suggestion services such as KeyWordShitter. Another pricier tool I highly suggest everyone should invest in is the LongTailPro.

2. Effective Social Media Campaigning

It has become a need for all businesses now to use social media platforms to reduce customer acquisition costs and to promote a product. Many people do not use social media other than to see how their family and friends are doing, however, there are so many ways to market yourself on social media. Social Media Optimization has become an increasingly important need in any  job, especially in 2015. Here are a list of tools you can use to increase the amount followers you gain in your endeavors. Buffer is a wonderful application that allows the user to plan their posts ahead of time, its free membership features are great for building up a toolkit (they also have a mobile application for iPhone and Android. Two other tools that work wonders with Twitter are TweetDeck and Sumall, which help with managing your account and giving you accurate analytics.

3. Creating Buyer Personas

The power of the buyer persona is strong. A buyer persona is a fictional profile of a person you attempt to engage in your marketing efforts. Using this marketing technique can help you in finding out who you should be marketing to as a customer and/or a hiring manager. Here is a wonderful article that goes more in-depth on the subject. I also recommend utilizing these links as well to  gain more knowledge on buyer personas (I am still learning myself at the moment):

4. Clear and persuasive writing

Lastly, of all the essential marketing skills listed above, the most important one  is simply effective writing. All communication begins with writing and to truly communicate your goals to how you will be an asset to a company and your customers you must be able to express yourself clearly and persuasively. It is imperative that you constantly attend workshops throughout your area and take grammar classes to routinely work on your writing. If there is anything you take from this article is that you should always focus on the basics first which is writing.

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Learn Digital Marketing kenny soto

3 Reasons Why You Have to Learn Digital Marketing

Today, everyone is their own media company.

[Editor’s note: Posted originally on February 8th, 2015]

“To me, job titles don’t matter. Everyone is in sales. It’s the only way we stay in business.”Harvey Mackay

I am currently an intern at SCORE NYC, a not-for-profit small business consulting agency right in the heart of New York City. As an intern, I am being exposed to what digital marketing is and how the marketing world has changed dramatically. Here are the top three reasons why I believe no matter what industry or profession you are going into, you have to be savvy in digital marketing.

Everything is sold on the internet.

Whether you like it or not, most professions rely on the art of selling. When someone is looking for a new product or service, a nonprofit to donate to, or just a new blog to read, understanding how to market on the internet is essential to your success. The more you understand how to market yourself or a business you work for on the internet, the more valuable you become. There is a lot of white noise on the web and you want your potential customers/viewers to reach you. Digital marketing is all about optimizing your online presence.

Your information is being indexed every day.

It should come as no surprise that Google catalogs every Facebook post, Tweet, LinkedIn update and Instagram video you share online. Your information is out there and what you need to do is make sure you are in control of what people see. The first thing employers do today is the Google your name before even deciding to skim your resume (if you’re an entrepreneur looking for investors, be aware that they always do their due diligence in researching who you are before your pitch). Make sure what they see is spectacular and show them you are an asset; the right person for the position. At all costs avoid any damaging information to be posted about you online. Digital etiquette is the one thing you cannot afford to overlook.

Your competition is everywhere.

How can anyone be able to get a job in today’s ever changing job market when thousands of people are applying to the same positions daily through the internet? How do you sell a product to customers when there are thousands of competitors in the same industry creating and giving out content on a daily basis? Business professionals need to know how to stand out from the crowd and the best way to do so is to make your digital presence known. This doesn’t mean only setting up a LinkedIn account, crossing your fingers, and hoping for the best. You have to join forums or message boards and start communicating with people within your industry (creating an active presence is key). Show your potential employers, customers and business partners that you are the expert and authority in your field. It’s all about developing a personal brand that will have employers wanting to know more about you.

Don’t only spend your time on the internet scrolling through news feeds and watching countless YouTube videos. Invest your time into expanding who you are online. Trust me, if you aren’t doing so your competition is.

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