It’s a wrap! January 

At the end of last year, it became clear that I’d return to Berlin once again. It’s not even that I was actively looking for opportunities to be in the city. It really feels like every time I open myself to being in Berlin, the city draws me back immediately. 

On the 15th of January, I began working with Veganz. At first it was planned I’d oversee the social media strategy for 2018, however - and given I care about integrated communication throughout all departments - I’m now leading the marketing team. It’s a team of twelve responsible for communication, brand management, graphic design, online store, and of course, customer care. We’ll soon be hiring native English, French, and Italian speakers to help us with translation and copywriting, given we’re planning to expand to new markets. 

I've also started working with Student Life Start, which is an initiative to help students start a career they love. It's something I’m very vocal about and even more excited to be involved in a project like that. 

Given in the past three years I always ran a Kickstarter project, I couldn’t help myself but published one this year too. Last year, Kickstarter began an initiative called #Make100 inviting you to create something, anything, 100 times. I decided to create a small guide about the Viennese coffee culture and print it on MOO business cards. It’s a fun, small project, which I’m mostly doing as a case study to use in the classes I’m teaching at the New Design University. I’ll start teaching there at the end of February. 

And because I always aim to share the wisdom that has served me well, I’ve recorded a class on editing and monetizing smartphone photos. The class is now available on Skillshare. 

I’m fully booked until mid April. If you already know about a project for any time after you’d like me to get involved in, please get in touch! 

#Make100: A Pocket-Sized Guide to Viennese Coffee Houses

I’m excited to tell you about my latest side project. A couple of years ago, a dear friend gave me a card game, a quartet, featuring Viennese coffee houses. Since then, I’d pull out the deck from time to time and count how many places I’ve already been to. Sometimes I’d take a few cards with me and carry them in my purse and then put them back in the deck after I’ve visited them. I used them as a visual reminder to explore more.

Then, some weeks ago I posted a photo to Instagram of an incredible café I just discovered that wasn’t a part of the card deck, and I joked how I too should probably create a guide of places in Vienna where you should have a coffee one day. I thought it would be a fun idea to share my dearest café tips with you. To tell you where you have the best view of the city, where you should go in just to wash your hands in the bathroom because the tap is so memorable...where you should order a breakfast for one, or where it’s easy to talk to strangers.

In the past few years, I’ve been taking pictures and sharing them on Instagram. And now, I’m bringing 50 of these photos out as print with little, short, personal notes why this or that place is one you should discover for yourself. I’m printing them on business card sized cards so that it’s easy to stuff the whole deck or just a few cards in your pocket.

Whether you’re new to the city, planning to visit Vienna in the future, or already live here and want a fun, pocket-sized reminder that you can carry around with you to help you explore new places, this deck of cards is for you. As a try-out to see if you enjoy this format as much as I do, I’m doing a print run of 100 sets only. Now that I have launched this project, you have less than 14 days to snatch one of these sets for yourself. Please tell your friends who’d be interested! Thank you!



Editing and monetizing your smartphone photos.

Do you sometimes wonder how some people manage to take stunning shots? Do you feel a little discouraged because you can’t afford all the expensive gear professional photographers and leading Instagrammers have? You shouldn’t!

In this class, I’ll guide you through photo editing and show you step by step how to create stunning images you took with your smartphone. Additionally, I’ll share how you can monetize your smartphone photos to supplement your freelance income.

It’s a wrap! December 2017

When I thought about what I’d like to achieve in 2017, I had two things on my mind: I wanted to share my learnings at Creative Mornings and I wanted to teach. Now that December is over, I’ve come to realize I’ve reached both of these goals. Through a weird series of coincidences, I was asked to speak at Creative Mornings Vienna last February. (My plan was to launch my Kickstarter campaign at the end of the talk, which, given there was a technical bug, wasn’t meant to work out. How apt given the title of the talk which was "Plan B is always better.")

My second goal – to teach – came about unexpectedly as well. My original plan was to discontinue my freelance practice to join the Teach4Austria initiative. Given I went to a secondary school with a high quota of immigrants, I’ve had the desire to give back for a long time. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it through the assessment center. However, my goal to teach happened in a different way. After giving a lecture at the New Design University in November, the students seemed to have enjoyed it so much that I was asked to come back and teach a whole seminar. I lead a seminar on how to use social media to position yourself as a designer online. That brings me to the article I wrote that was published on the Kontist blog where I explain how designers can monetize their talents. 

This past month, I’ve joined the Berlin-based strategic consultancy Beluga to participate in an innovation workshop for a global beauty brand. I might also work with them on a project in the vegan foods industry, which would be incredibly exciting. 

One of the things that happened this past month that I’m most excited about is that SOS Kinderdorf finally tried a different approach to fundraising. During the Edelstoff market, we teamed up with letterers to create beautiful Christmas cards in exchange for donations. On one hand, we had boxes there for people to donate immediately, and on another hand, people were invited to use We’R’SOS to raise money online. I’ve been working with SOS Kinderdorf on different approaches to fundraising for some time, so I'm glad we’re slowly moving forward. 

A small side project also went live a few weeks ago: I made a new website for my yoga teacher. Feel free to book a retreat or come to one of her classes in Vienna. She’s amazing! 

Last but not least, I’m currently learning SQL. If you have any tips, feel free to share! Also, if you need someone to help you with positioning, retention, and/or marketing, don’t hesitate to drop me a line! (helloATmkanokovaDOTcom) 

Why your design matters even more now that Facebook’s planning on cutting down organic reach to 0%

The news amongst marketing strategists and growth hackers started spreading like wildfire some weeks ago and if you’ve been following your Facebook stats in the last few years you might have seen it coming. Facebook started testing an additional explore feed to separate all marketing, media, and business communication from the newsfeed in some countries, and many expect for Facebook to eventually roll out the separated explore feed worldwide. It’s being assumed that companies will have to pay to be seen in the popular Facebook newsfeed in the future.

To marketeers and small business owners, this might sound like awful news. To designers and, let’s face it, consumers, this is the best thing that could have happened to us. Finally we’ll only get to see the good stuff! Facebook is about to turn down all the unnecessary, low-quality noise.

From the early days, social media was meant to connect people. The way platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram broke down social barriers is groundbreaking. Suddenly, it didn’t matter where you came from. All that mattered was how good you were.

With the social web, everyone had the necessary tools to show their work. Everyone could build a fanbase, become famous. Thanks to the social web, people could connect based on their interests and no longer just based on their location. Everyone could say and show what they loved. In the early days of blogging, no one really cared about picture rights. Talent and creativity was what mattered and what people loved to share and talk about. People were more than happy to share people’s work. The news about a person found online could have spread quickly. However, companies copied the strategy of how regular people used social apps. Many businesses started advertising themselves instead of highlighting the people around them. They started wishing us a “Happy Friday” and saying things like “It’s Hump Day, finally!” instead of engaging their community in a way people would remind us who this brand is and what it stands for. Brands started using social media like an amplifier instead of using it to connect people, building a community around them to eventually have people “do” social media for them.

What we’ve seen in the past couple of years has a lot to do with what we’ve seen before digital in the traditional media. Traditional media techniques made digital (not social). Facebook updates are just like print ads. Youtube just like TV ads. And street advertising is just what we now know as banners.

It’s become common practice to measure engagement based on how many people (and bots) liked, commented or maybe shared a piece of content a company posted. Only the most progressive brands, the most social brands, cared about how many people mentioned them and did so proactively.

To summarize the case, most businesses under-utilized what I’d consider the biggest potential of social media. The businesses that have done well, however, are the ones that have either helped people achieve their dreams and goals - maybe even helping them make money in one way or another - and businesses that have allowed people express who they are in a snap. And yes, by snap I mean a photo.

Generally speaking, there are two ways to people’s hearts and essentially to their social media feeds. High-quality product or space nicely packaged and designed, and a unique selling experience.

Let’s elaborate on what this means.

The first kind are brands that helped people get ahead in life. It’s of little surprise some of the most valuable businesses are platform businesses. Kickstarter, Etsy, Eventbrite, Creative Market, and EyeEm have been hugely popular because they help people succeed by providing them with the necessary infrastructure to do what they love. On Kickstarter, people raise funding for their projects, on Etsy they sell their homemade goods, on Eventbrite they sell tickets to events, on Creative Market digital assets, on EyeEm stock photography. Of course people spread the word about these businesses because they’re still talking about themselves and about the things they love.  

Then, businesses such as Nike, Hoxton Hotels, and Starbucks do something else right. They don’t shout out loud about their product. They communicate a certain attitude towards life. This approach has worked even for small businesses, such as Brooks Saddles, Kinfolk Magazine, Roam Ubud, Roamers Berlin, Mr Holmes Bakehouse in San Francisco, or the Joshua Tree House in the Californian national park. They’re world known to their sort of target group not because of their extensive advertising budget, but because of the way these products and spaces were designed that makes it easy for people to express who they are and what they stand for by buying those products or booking vacations at those destinations.

But why does it matter now even more than it did yesterday?

In the future, the most prosperous businesses will be the ones who got their brand positioning right. Those who invested in design to raise themselves above others. It’s those sort of businesses that care to bring people together. Today, tomorrow, and always.


It's a wrap! November
product management

Having come back to Vienna for real in May, even months later it still feels like I’m settling in. I’ve been walking around with widely open eyes trying to soak in as much information about local communities as possible. Researching startups, small businesses, agencies, and interesting people, trying to get a feel for who’s around and who I should meet for a coffee (or two). I’ve also signed up for a bunch of events and attended talks I’d usually probably skip. One of this month’s highlights for me has been the Journalistinnenkongress. I’m no journalist, yet as a concerned citizen, I have deep interest in how journalism is evolving and I was lucky to get a ticket through the Sorority network. 

When you realise only 7% of Austrians are willing to pay for their online media consumption, and you know it’s an exception rather than a commodity to be a subscriber to a newspaper these days, it quickly becomes clear that monetisation is a challenge for news companies if they want to remain independent. Something I’ve been pondering about for several weeks. 

This month, I was lucky to be invited to the university where I studied to participate in a strategic workshop and to speak in front of students about career development. As mentioned in my last month’s wrap up post, it’s always important to evolve and learn new skills, not just while you’re still a student, so I spent a lot of time (and money) on Udemy this past month learning new skills and refreshing my knowledge in areas I’m already familiar with.

I watched the Product Management Course, the Growth Hacker Course, and – what I’m most excited about – the Pre-Programming Course, which is a 101 intro to all the buzzwords developers use. I can only recommend this one to anyone who works in tech, as it will close all the gaps and answer all the questions you might have about terms you’ve picked up throughout your career but never questioned. And now that I’m recommending classes, I’d also love to recommend Tim Ferriss’ latest book, Tribe of Mentors

I’ve been working on a new Skillshare class on editing smartphone photos which I’d like to publish some time in December or early January. I have capacities for consulting work and I’m also looking for clients who need long-term help. Should you know someone who needs help with positioning and customer development, don’t hesitate and pass my information on. Thanks a million and happy last days of 2017! 

Monika KanokovaComment
It's a wrap! October
working Orion
working Orion

At the beginning of the year, I said that by the end of the year I’d love to have some time to learn new skills and deepen my knowledge. I wanted to know what works on social media and what’s no longer a thing. Because, frankly, the social web is constantly evolving and it’s hard to keep up.

Often we get so overwhelmed by our daily rut that we just keep doing what we’ve been doing because we know it's worked before. But now, maybe it doesn’t anymore. 

To give you an example, when I published This Year Will Be Different and My Creative (Side) Business, many posted pictures of the books on Instagram. Now, with Work Trips and Road Trips people posted stories, so the news about the book release vanished rather quickly and the sales remained, compared to the other titles, mediocre. It’s become hard to reach people. It’s become even harder to sell on the internet. Especially if you don’t have dedicated budget to finance ads. 

This past month, I haven't done much client work besides working on a website that will hopefully launch very soon. Instead of working on client projects, I focused on reading books I’ve had on my bucket list for a while. Here are the titles: 

Perennial Seller - Will help you understand why people still buy classics instead of going for the latest releases.

The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing - A must-read for everyone who works in communications, marketing, or sales. 

Service Design Business - A wonderful guide to help you understand all the details you should consider when planning a customer experience, both online and offline.

Captivate - One of the most valuable books I’ve ever had in my hands recently. It’s one of those books you’ll finish and want to start re-reading immediately. Just get it now. Don’t even read what it’s about. 

Killing Marketing - Explains the principles of good content marketing and why it makes sense for brands to invest in long-term relationship building through creating valuable content.

Sprint - If you’ve worked in a startup, you’re most likely already familiar with the sprint methodology. I really enjoyed learning more about the theory behind the practice and was able to reflect on where the company I had previously worked for had gone wrong. 

UX Strategy - Talks about the process of building human-centered products. I found it to be very controversial to what Sprint preaches, yet interesting. 

Branded Interactions - Is most likely to be called the bible of UX, UI, and overall digital design. Everyone who works in digital product management or design should read it. 

I still have some capacities in November and December. Please get in touch if you need help with your online strategy. 

Would you like me to write another book for freelancers?

(Here is the link to answer the survey.)

It’s the end of October. Which means it’s been almost three years since I found myself in a mouldy room in London. With a leaking ceiling. Without functioning heat. Wondering whether “this” was what freelancing was about: insecurity, shitty projects, lots of struggles. Just the memory of it gives me goosebumps.

Those who know me personally know how much I loved the job at Somewhere I had before. Going freelance was something that while it made sense at the time, wasn’t anything I was planning on doing. I needed to be location independent and had no other option. I had to learn to deal with the situation and do so quickly.

Over time, I have learned that sometimes, we need to fall deep to pick ourselves up in a whole new glory.

My way out of that mess and how I was feeling then was the first book. A book I conceptualized, produced, and financed within three months. I had the idea because I needed to learn how to freelance myself, and the insights of the women were so cool, I thought I should share them, so I did.

It actually still baffles me how many people wrote me after they read the book about how much it made their year different. How it encouraged them to make a leap and go freelance.

Given for the past three years around this time, I was mostly at home interviewing people, transcribing their interviews, editing, or writing, I’m now wondering if I should do it again. Or if I should do something different. I’m also thinking about ways to make it something more.

When looking at the numbers, none of the books were financially feasible. At least not directly. Each one helped me produce the next one, and with each, I still took a personal loss. It’s not even what I would have paid everyone who worked on the books what I believe they deserved for their excellent work. Most certainly, without the three Kickstarter campaigns I ran, none of the books would have been realized. To this day, the biggest benefit I got from writing these books was the feedback I received from the ones amongst you who felt encouraged to create and do so in self-initiative.

I’ve conducted a little questionnaire. It’s for me to learn about your needs and wants. Given it’s Christmas soon and you have probably already heard “Last Christmas” at least once, I’ve decided to raffle five books amongst those who fill out the questionnaire: 

Click here to view survey

Thank you for your help,