It's a compliment, I guess

I suppose getting ripped is a compliment. I mean, someone likes your work well enough to steal it. That’s got to be a vote in your favour, right?

It’s not the first time this has happened to me. But this is a particularly egregious example. It’s a porn site. And not a very good one at that.

This is a complete site copy – same xhtml, same stylesheet.

In this particular case, the registrant has also used a pseudonym to register the url, so there’s no real way for me to track them down. I’ve sent an email to the registering company, so we’ll see what happens.

Anyone have any horror stories to share? Any great revenge tips? (I know, I know. Revenge is petty. But petty can be entertaining at times).

Full Time Employee #001

It is with great honour and excitement that I’d like to introduce you to “Richard Thomas”: Richard is “The Blog Studio”: employee number 001.

Richard is a very talented designer. His current “site”: is nice, but isn’t up to date. His recent work is really top drawer.

I’ve got some pretty exciting projects on the go, and the time seems right to bring someone in house. It’s terrifying and utterly thrilling. Taking responsibility for someone’s livelihood is not something I do lightly. But I am confident in our ability to crank out some amazing work together. Having Richard’s help will ensure that we deliver a top end experience for our clients, from first contact to final delivery and beyond.

Truth is, as much as I love design (and I looooooovvvve design), I also really enjoy business development. Bringing Richard in will allow me to devote more energy to building our brand and expanding our network.

I’m also very excited about the challenge of managing a creative team. I’ve managed large teams in the past. But managing creatives is a different game entirely. It’s a challenge I’m looking forward to.

With luck, you’ll be hearing a bit more from me again. Not right away – there will be some adjustment time for sure. But hopefully within a few weeks I can start adding some value to the conversation again.

Big thanks to “Lisa McMillan”: for the heads up on Richard! See, this 9rules thing really works.

So if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got some Ikea office furniture to put together.

My (b)5 cents

I’ve got to keep this short, since it’s nutty nutty nutty in the studio. But I’ve got to throw my 5 cents into the ring regarding the “b5media”: launch. Yes, I’m highly prejudiced (I designed the main site, and have just rolled out “cellphone9”: and “play-girlz”: (no, it’s not what you think)). But my point still holds merit.

There has been some significant backlash to the news that b5media will be paying its writers 40% of blog income. Many, many folks have suggested that anyone who falls for such an offer would be a fool. “Don’t they realize they can do it themselves and keep 100%?” is the common cry.

Well yes. They can. But by joining the network, there are certain benefits. Like instant traffic. Like *majorly* smart and committed people working on maximizing revenue. Like professional design.

These things cost money. It would take a blogger quite some time to build up a site to the degree where it could even pay for its own hosting, to say nothing of paying me a couple of grand to design a site and manage the revenue.

Given the option of having 40% of something vs 100% of nothing, well, you do the math.

I’d like to rant on about this. There are ties to my “blog manager”: post of a week or so ago, and many offline examples I’d like to quote. I’ll cap it at that for now though.

Another site launch, aka so THAT's why you've been so quiet

I’m very pleased to take the wraps off another design from “The Blog Studio”: This one comes to you in the form of “b5 media”: – the new blogging network from Darren Rowse, Duncan Riley, and Jeremy Wright.

Head on over to “The Blog Studio”: to take a look…

Two new sites launched

We’ve launched two new sites this week. If you’re interested, take a look at “this”: post on The Blog Studio

Blog Networks: The game hasn't even started

There’s interesting talk afloat about blog networks these days. An interesting discussion is underway at “ProBlogger”: (read the comments) about the potential success or failure of the network model and whether or not there is room for more networks to become successful.

There is much talk of the *big 3*, and whether or not a new network can supplant one of them. This is, forgive me for saying, a very narrow way of looking at the situation.

Blogging is in its absolute infancy. There is no limit to the success that can be achieved over time. The potential audience is in the billions. To suggest that 3 players will dominate that is, well, I don’t have to say it.

Let’s look offline for a moment. Go to your local mega-book-store-cum-gift-shop, and you’ll find hundreds of magazines. A blog network is very much like a magazine. The money comes in from advertisers, and goes out to writers. There are magazines focussed on narrow topics, and magazines that talk to a wider audience. Magazines woo advertisers by delivering qualified eyeballs. Just like blog networks.

Taking this analogy one step further, we can see the role of the network owner as that of a magazine publisher. The publisher looks after design, advertising, management, promotion, etc etc. His role is very much like that of a “Blog Manager”:, a concept I coined a few weeks ago.

The definitive business model for publishing online has yet to be written. I suspect it will be many, many years before it is. The current magazine publishing business methods didn’t spring up overnight, but evolved over time. Blog networks will do the same. Success only ever comes from failure. So we’ll see many, many new faces before the dust has settled on this one.

My suspicion is that the ‘big3’ will become the ‘big50′. My gut tells me that networks will become more closely focussed around single topics, rather than trying to appeal to a mass audience. It’s much easier to sell advertising when you can deliver targeted readers. A network of car blogs for example will have an easier time landing GM ad dollars than a general mass market network. GM ad dollars are not insignificant. Again, one only needs to look at the newsstand for a glimpse of blog networks’ future.

The potential for the blog network doesn’t even exist yet. The world is a vast place – the work Scrivs and co are doing with Spanish blogs gives a tiny indication of the massive potential we’re only just starting to see. It’s pretty easy to get caught on the micro details of our little blogging world. Take a macro look though, and that where you’ll find the future.

Has this ever happened to you?

I had the oddest experience yesterday. I was driving along, when suddenly my designer spidey sense started tingline. There, out of the corner of my eye, I could just make out a delivery truck. This particular truck was shiny, white, and new. It was done up with an attractive, eye catching logo in a sexy olive green (not as much as an oxymoron as it sounds). It’s pretty rare to see a vehicle done up in something so overtly designer-ish. Usually it’s garish and often hideous. So I was really struck by it.

Then, I realized, I designed it.

See, a while back, I was working at a design studio doing general design studio stuff. One of my last projects was to design a new id for a local gift and flower shop who were rebranding themselves and going upscale. I had finished the design when I left, but the client hadn’t yet implemented the changes.

Flash forward 6 months, and I’m nearly causing traffic accidents admiring my own work. What a weird sensation: see logo, think “cool, nice logo”, realize you designed it. Weird weird weird.

I’m trying to arrange to get a couple of pictures of the truck for my “portfolio”: When I do, I may post one here. For reference, here’s the design for the business card:

Fireworks resources?

I snapped. What else can I tell you? Illustrator CS crashed for the 100th time, and I swear to you I just about lost it.

So I downloaded the “Fireworks 8”: demo, and I’ve got to tell you, I’m pretty darned impressed. I was up and running with it in no time. I love the ability to mix and match vector and bitmaps with such ease. It’s pretty intuitive too.

I think I’m going to invest a tiny bit of time into becoming more familiar with this funky new tool. Do any of you have any tips on where to look for high quality tips and tricks?

An update

I want to write something. Quite badly in fact. But I’m too tired. Instead, I give you *Random thoughts from a tired mind:*

Lots of new work. It’s exhilarating and challenging. It feels really good to have trusted my instincts and taken a pretty big flyer.

I turn 35 this week! My youngest daughter turns 2 the day before. She’s my birthday present.

This past week, because of the effectiveness of blogs, I spoke with people in Australia, England, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, New York, Rochester, Maine, and Washington. That’s *spoke*. Like on the phone (thank you Skype Out). I’ve been interviewed for a podcast and helped teach a course. I’ve been contacted by some pretty amazing people doing pretty amazing work. All because of blogs.

The astounding thing about all this is that one’s network grows exponentially. The rate of acceleration is astounding. What’s more, the network’s influence is simply mind-boggling. The time between work requests has shrunk from months to weeks to days.

It forces me into a manager’s role. I have to give up some control in order to achieve some efficiency. The trick is managing the balance. I’m learning (through trial and error) what it takes to deliver top notch service. I’m not talking about top notch design. I’m talking about the whole client experience.

This is where it would have been _very_ beneficial to have spent some time in a well established web design studio. All my experience was in print. My web work has been all freelance. That being said I do have pretty extensive experience in customer service. So I’m halfway there.

Because I work from home, I’m still able to be with my kids every day. They give me strength I didn’t know I had.

Finally, TBS Express, the a la carte business blog service will be up and running by the end of the month. I had initially planned to have it up and running by now, but in order to allow the work to be really top-drawer I’m taking some extra time. If you’re interested, you can see a few of the template samples “here”: