Posts in Monthly Reviews
It’s a wrap! May 2018 
digital_explorer.jpg
digital_nomad
google-digital-garage

When life gives you lemons...

Life gave me three weeks without in-person meetings and a project I’m currently truly excited about (Hello, Hanzo! I like you!). Seizing the opportunity, I immediately booked a flight to Australia and New Zealand to see my wonderful friend Greta.

Ever since I met Greta in Bali last year, I knew I wanted to visit her, so once I had an opportunity to do so, I didn’t hesitate.  The 25th of April was my last day of teaching my students, on the 26th of April I was on a plane down under. 

All of this booked and decided on the 21st of April. I do love the internet. 

Being remote and somewhere new, it makes it much easier to focus. I didn’t really tell anyone I was down under, so I made an extra effort for no one to notice and for no one to mind. 

Having done this trip inspired me to conduct a Skillshare class on remote working, so that’s what I’m currently working on. Diana is also reviewing a script about using Kickstarter as a freelancer, so that I can start recording the Skillshare class on that subject very soon. 

However, life hasn’t just given us lemons this past month. Life has also given us a great portion of GDPR. As a community strategist and someone who connects people for a living, I probably had more to do than most freelancers. I’ve written an extensive blog post about all I’ve done, which you can read here. (I’m still not 100% done but I hope I’ll get there eventually.) 

One thing I'm extremely excited about is the Google Digital Garage that I found out about just a couple of days ago. If you'd like to get up to speed with online marketing, they've created the most valuable webinar to teach you all the necessary basics. You'll also get a certificate once you successfully do the final exam. 

On the project front, I’m currently preparing content for a student outreach initiative for which I’m looking for people who’d like to contribute a fun story from their student lives that’s related to some of their odd jobs. I’m also looking for HR managers who’d like to share what they look for when hiring junior staff. If you think that’s you, please don’t hesitate and get in touch or pass on this post to someone you think should definitely contribute a story. 

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but I’m updating my website with my planned trips, so if I ever happen to be somewhere close to you, please don’t hesitate and get in touch. I’m pretty much playing it by the ear at the moment. 

It's a wrap! April 2018
new design university
vegan food.jpg
orion.jpg
melbourne.jpg

April was great! I’ve successfully accomplished my three month assignment with Veganz. I’m especially very happy I was able to hand it over to someone as capable and wonderful as Moritz Möller.

Moritz and I met when I first moved to Berlin. Back then, he was heading the local Instagram community, and to this day, he’s responsible for the #igersberlin account. He’s someone I’d recommend any day. It’s so great to know the marketing department at Veganz is in good hands.

I really love the mission of the company and I’m thankful it’s given me the opportunity to reflect more on what lands on our (and especially my) plate. If you’re interested in veganism and might want some help to make you give up meat, I can only recommend the book Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer and Patrick Bolk’s Vegan Guide

Don’t get me wrong, I do really enjoy eating meat for its taste. However, the more I read about what it means to eat meat in our capitalist times, the more I wonder how it’s even possible veganism is such niche thing. From the ethical point of view, veganism should really be the norm for anyone who lives in an urban area in what’s considered a developed country.

This quote sums it up well: 

"Since the world has changed so much, the same values don’t lead to the same choices anymore."

Jonathan Safran Foer

While my Veganz project has come to an end, I’m glad I’ll now be able to dedicate more time working together with the Barcelona-based agency Hanzo. We’re working on a student initiative for a London-based client and it’s the sort of work that’s truly aligned with what I’m most excited about: helping people get the sort of work they're most excited about.

I’ve also finished teaching at the New Design University. My course Social Media for Designers was a series of lectures on how to use the Internet as a tool to make a living as an independent creative (or get the sort of jobs with the companies one wants to work for). 

I love exploring what’s possible online and it’s moments like getting emails from EyeEm that I sold 40 images (of food) in one month that give me a weird sense of satisfaction. 

And even though I do make parts of my income with selling photos of food, it pleases me even more when a publication such as Girlboss recommends one of my books to their readers. 

All in all a very pleasant, successful month. I’m fully booked until the end of May, however, if you have a project you want to do in June, please don’t hesitate and drop me a line. Let’s talk! 

It’s a wrap! March
berlin coffee guide
Vienna coffee guide
berlin coffee guide
Vienna coffee guide
berlin homeoffice
4D1D2ADD-A7E6-49DD-A02B-5A40B25E12B2.jpg

Before I started teaching social media at the New Design University in St. Pölten, it was clear to me I wanted to have a small comprehensive project in my portfolio. I wanted to create something anyone could copy if they wanted to. Something that just needed a smartphone and a good idea for it to happen: that’s how I came up with the Vienna coffee guide before also creating one for Berlin to decrease the costs of printing.

In March, I published my fifth Kickstarter project. It was a fifth successful project (sixth if I count running one for Anitar last September). 

While it seemed easy to raise money for the Vienna guide, it wasn’t all that simple with the guide of Berlin’s café scene. One thing I have learned from running all these projects is it doesn’t matter how one reaches the goal. What matters is that one does. 

If a Kickstarter project doesn’t work as expected, one must come up with a plan B, a plan C, and at least a plan D. At the end of the day, what matters is raising the money necessary in the time one determined before going live.

Once I noticed people weren’t all that keen on the Berlin guide, I considered what the people who follow me online are interested in. I added an additional reward by offering a personal consulting session on how to go freelance. 

That’s what made the project a success. Not the project itself, but instead the ability to improvise when nothing goes as planned. Which is to say, it hardly ever goes as planned.

What I’m especially excited about is that because I already had the Berlin guides printed, I can now play around with Etsy, DaWanda, and IndieGoGo on demand too because I finally have a product to sell. 

Those two Kickstarter projects, and especially making sure to ship them on time, were by far not the main projects I worked on this past month. I kicked off March with a workshop in London organized by Hanzo for one of their clients.

March was also the month I flew to St. Pölten every week to teach.

And, of course, there was also the work I did for Veganz.

When I agreed to teaching social media, I didn’t realize how much time I’d spend talking about different business models. Originally, I just planned to show my students how to frame creative projects, use the available tools to materialize ideas, plus how to use social to position oneself online. 

But then to be able to know how to use the internet as a tool, one must also understand how one is instrumentalized as a product and how different companies monetize one’s attention, time, and data, so we got to talk a lot about propaganda, advertising, and how different companies make money. Which made the class very broad, but to me, also interesting to prepare to discuss these issues before standing in front of 36 pairs of curious eyes. Quite an experience!

And before I forget to mention this, every student got to work on their own creative project, which you can see by looking up the hashtag #nducreates on Instagram. 

Meanwhile at Veganz, I needed to communicate how I wanted to get involved with the company in the future. About six weeks in, I knew I didn’t see myself as the Head of Marketing for longer than the originally agreed upon three months. It’s a lot of admin and not so much creative work, and as I always say, one should be doing something in the day-to-day one is actually excited about. At this moment, hiring, firing, and restructuring a team is not necessarily it. 

After setting up internal communication processes and project management structure by introducing the team to Trello, I began working on the campaigns for the entire year of 2018. I’ll write a case study about my work for Veganz and publish it on this website some time soon. At least for now I can mention that we ran Beautiful Vegan Easter as a brand collaboration with Bio:Végane in March and prepared the campaign Vegan Lunch Box together with Patrick Bolt and EcoLunchBox for April.

My main focus at Veganz this past month – and I know I already mentioned a lot I worked on – was to find a replacement for myself, hire a new Creative Director, and also two additional translators to professionalize the communication output. With Moritz Möller, Martin Petersen, Justine Coquel, and Richard Block, I do believe I’ve fulfilled that mission quite successfully. 

I’m very excited to see what April will bring, given I’m transferring back to a more flexible, remote lifestyle. I’m currently booked out until mid-May, but can work on smaller projects here and there. Please send me an email if you need anything! 

It’s a wrap! February
459AB7FD-D687-41BF-81BD-2DCB94273942.jpg
ACS_0062.JPG
7A028D9F-9B8C-4F06-A6CB-69104B623608.JPG
2A40C93D-9A3A-4CA4-98F6-9390C66EFD01.jpg

February started with the launch of the Veganz Online Shop in Austria. We’ve gathered a fine group of bloggers and Instagramers and invited them to shop in the store. For me personally, it was quite fun to watch what different people bought for the budget we gave them. Given Veganz is currently working on making it as easy as possible to shop vegan food in all sorts of convenience stores all across Europe, it was also super lovely to be a part of the contract signing with Carrefour, the largest food retailer in France.

Having been working freelance and mostly by myself for the past four years, my collaboration with Veganz challenges me in a whole lot of different ways. I’ve been setting up internal comms and briefing processes. One of the solutions I’ve found valuable to communicate with distributed teams in the past years has always been Trello. I organize my own workload using the app and I’ve always really liked using it when working with others. I believe Trello brings more transparency and structure, so I introduced it to the marketing team at Veganz. 

Seeing how much more transparency Trello has brought to the marketing team at Veganz has really helped kill some of the time consuming projects the team had to deal with. We’ve been using the software for a little over five weeks, and while there is still a long way to go for the system to really bring all the benefits, it’s been an improvement that’s helped organize and communicate projects without having them disappear from people’s sights and minds. 

This past month I’ve also started teaching. I’m giving a course on social media for designers. The first lesson must have been quite shocking for the students. I care very little about follower counts and engagement rates. To me, what matters most when it comes to social are the human connections and opportunities one can unlock using the available tools. I’m not planning on teaching how to make a living being a social media celebrity. I don’t know if one can study how to have genuine relationships, but I do know I’m not very interested in teaching people how to trick different platforms' algorithms. I really believe that people follow others online who they find inspirational. They follow people they think do cool stuff, so it’s more about doing cool stuff and less about following/unfollowing to get people’s attention in a rather unethical way. We’ve, for example, watched Mr. Bingo’s Kickstarter video, talked about Lauren Hom’s idea to letter blackboards in restaurants around NYC in return for a free lunch, and we’ve also discussed LadyVenom’s article on how she got to 270K followers. 

I also had the chance to participate in a workshop organized by the incredible agency (and one of my incredible clients) Hanzo. I also spoke at the LifeStartFest at the London College of Fashion amongst some other incredible people, such as Victoria Stoyanova, Erik Rodin, Kristi Kuiken, Gemma Milne, Luke Whitehead, and other wonderful minds who joined the crowd as mentors. I really hope I get to work with LifeStart even more in the future. 

As a fun fact, I was one of the sources for the New York Times article about the Viennese ball season. Anyway, I’m still really busy working on way too many projects, but will be launching another Kickstarter project in March to fund a guide of the Berlin café scene. If you’d like to have a coffee, please check where I am these days! I’ll try to make it happen. 

Okay, bring it on, crazy busy March! 

It’s a wrap! January 
image.JPEG

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! 

It’s a wrap! December 2017
veganz
orion.jpg
E8EDD528-3C7B-45E9-B018-70F6C0B8AEEC.jpg

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) 

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. 

It’s a wrap! August
IMG_6388.JPG
IMG_6468.JPG
IMG_9127.JPG
IMG_6600.JPG

Sometimes you win, sometimes you learn. August’s definitely been a month that pushed me out of my comfort zone multiple times. Having lived in five (you could even say six) countries, I’d say I’m highly aware of the needs and concerns of people with foreign nationalities. Thus, it’s rather surprising my latest project challenged me on multiple levels and did so due to cultural differences.

There are differences in how people from different countries communicate and how much they communicate. There are also differences in how other cultures approach work in general. The project I took on over the summer was with a team from Reykjavik. I now know what we consider the Wiener Gemütlichkeit (Viennese unhurriedness) might feel rather dramatic to Icelanders. One Icelandic sentence I learned but also heard way too often this past month was: “Þetta reddast!” It stands for, “It will work out okay.”

After working on Kickstarter’s side for two years, it was rather interesting to join a team as a direct consultant for a change. It’s not something I had intended to do after leaving Kickstarter, but the request came from within my personal network and I didn’t have anything else to do, so I thought why not.

Of course, once you’ve consulted hundreds of projects, you have a pretty good idea of what works, what doesn’t, what the common hurdles are, and why so many projects don’t meet the finish line. To spare you the details, we had all the red flags I could’ve thought of before going live, and also during the campaign. Retrospectively, it’s of little surprise I plucked several white hairs this past month.

Without going into much detail, but to give you one insight that was crucial to how this whole project felt to me, we didn’t have a working prototype until three days before the launch. A not-so small detail that I wasn’t made aware of when signing a collaboration contract.

It’s highly unlikely you can build a brand, a fan base, a loyal following, and eventually convert them into paying customers without a functioning product. To sum things up, there’s a difference between “everyone loving a concept,” an idea you share and having people hold your product, to them then immediately fetching their credit cards from their wallets because they’re actually willing to pay for it. I’d recommend everyone to check that and make sure you have chatted with enough people before trying to convince them to pay you.  

I’ve most certainly learned what sort of scenarios one should include in a contract. It’s crucial to include all potentials that could go wrong. As a freelancer, it’s much harder to put away financial and emotional hurdles. One doesn’t have anyone on the team to balance out instabilities, so one should make sure to minimize all potential risks. It’s also important to have a system in place to cheer oneself up. Luckily, I had a ticket to reasons.to, an incredible conference in Brighton, that helped me recharge my batteries and write these line with a cool head. Out of a Viennese Café feeling all the Gemütlichkeit vibes.

To end on a positive note: I’m very proud SOS Kinderdorf and I made progress with the initiatives we’re working on, and that Matt Trinetti mentioned me in his newsletter (subscribe! It’s one of my favorites).

I’m still free for projects if you need help with something.

Now, onwards and upwards!