Category Archives: My Journey

How to Build A Free Activism Website in Blogger

activismrentonplanetActivism in itself, usually doesn’t pay well. Especially when you’re starting a new project, funds are often limited.

One mistake many people make when they are beginning organized digital activism is to spend a bunch of money on their website, not realizing that there is an easier and less expensive way.

If you pay someone to build your website, you will need to pay them update it, upgrade it, add new elements, and whatever else comes up in the development of your cause. Each change or addition will cost you more.

Paying to do activism doesn’t seem so bad at first because you are passionate about your cause and you feel it is worth it. However, as time goes on and costs add up, your volunteer hours and financial contributions may begin to wear you down, dampening your resolve.

However, if you are not too picky about certain design elements , there is a very simple way to create your own website completely for free. A website that includes:

  • an email feature,
  • social icons to direct people to your social media accounts,
  • static pages,
  • a blog or “news” section,
  • navigation bars wherever you may need them,
  • your logo easily posted at the top of your page and an opportunity to write a tagline, and
  • countless gadgets that enable you to customize your website.

nakedtruth_screenshotIn this post, I will show you how to make a beautiful website with all the necessary design and content elements that will ensure you have all your bases covered for free.

The only cost to you will be to purchase a domain name if you do not already have one. Domain names can cost as little as $9.99 and go all the way up depending on the name you want and whether someone else has already purchased it with intent to sell it to people like you at a later date.

Currently, I have two websites I am running. The one you are reading right now <DigitalActivistMedia.com> which is a WordPress site; and my sex worker rights page <NakedTruth.ca> which is a Blogger site.

Please refer to the NakedTruth.ca page for examples of the elements I will be discussing here.

WordPress vs Blogger: Why I Love Blogger

A note on my experience so far using WordPress vs Blogger:

I am not a web designer. I do not know code. Widgets baffle me. Despite years of digital activism and running websites, I have never been able to work in a program beyond using a WYSIWYG editor.

Running a WordPress website frustrates me, especially when I see what I can do in my blogger site easily and without grief. Beyond the cost of hosting the site, any kind of new element or element I would like to change about my WordPress site costs me money, whether it is a an upgraded template or the web designer to do the work. I have been fortunate that a friend has worked on the site for me for free, but I don’t want to take advantage of her generosity either.

Blogger, on the other hand, has offered me endless possibilities. I can add html codes very easily using their html gadget. Anything I have wanted to do, I’ve been able to do with Blogger by myself.

Steps to Creating an Activism Website in Blogger

I am going to list the steps here with links to the “how to’s” in each of the steps. Since the information is already out there, I didn’t see any reason to re-create it. However, if you’re having trouble, please feel free to ask questions in the comment section and I will help you out!

  1. Create a Blogger Website
  2. Main Design Elements – Think minimal distraction, clear purpose, and obvious “call to action.” Go into “Design,” then “Layout” to add your logo into the “Header.”
  3. Remove the “Blogger” navigation bar.
  4. Add your own Favicon to show at the top of the page.
  5. Create “Pages” – The main ones you must include are the “About” page, “Resources” page (or other term to describe where all your best information is), and “Contact” page. Limit the amount of pages you have to limit distraction and make navigation easier.
  6. Purchase and direct a domain name to your Blogger website.
  7. Add an Email Subscription option using Free Mailchimp. First you must sign up for Mailchimp, create a “List” and then an “RSS Campaign.” Then you can use the code from your campaign to add an HTML gadget to your sidebar or into your posts. You can also use your Mailchimp account to send out newsletters and other messages to your subscribers.
  8. Add Disqus to your site to make commenting easy for your guests. First you must create an account with Disqus.
  9. Add Sitemeter to your site, so you can track visitors and traffic to your site. Once you’ve signed up, copy the code (from the manager section of your Sitemeter account which you will find under “HTML”) and paste it into an HTML gadget in your Blogger account.
  10. Social Icons from POWr widget show a "plug" sign that is not relevant to your site. However, the widget is free, so you have no choice but to have the plug sign there.

    Social Icons from POWr widget show a “plug” sign that is not relevant to your site.

    Add POWr social icons to your sidebar.  There is one aspect of this free gadget that you may not like: The “plug” symbol on the POWr widget for social icons which leads people to the POWr site. However, the other icons are customizeable for you to include whichever social media accounts you want to make accessible to your visitors.

Now you have an activism website that is fully equipped to build a subscriber list, send out blog posts and news updates, is easy to comment on, has links directly to your social media accounts, and you can see who is visiting your site and where your traffic is coming from.

Why spend a ton of money on hosting and a web developer, or depend on a kind friend to make your website changes when you can do it yourself easily?

Blogger makes web design so simple, anyone can do it. Once your site is set-up following the above directions, you are left with the fun part of adding blog posts about your cause that will inspire people to support it.

As activists, we already dedicate a lot of our time, energy, and money to the causes we’re passionate about. Make your activism website in Blogger so you can spend your time, energy, and money on yourself. You need your strength if you’re going to change the world.

Please post comments and questions below. xoxo


An Activists Formula for Identifying Niche Audiences

TNT-Logo5

I wish I’d known about this ten years ago when I started my first activism website.

Working through this next step of identifying and defining my niche audience for Digital Activist Media made me think of my first baby…NakedTruth.ca.

When I founded the adult entertainer advocacy website, NakedTruth.ca, my audience was “female exotic dancers.” With a target audience that was so specific, the site experienced considerable growth in a short amount of time. I thought it was a fluke.

My activism circles widened, and I became aware of many people using the site in a way they referred to as “lurking” because they didn’t feel welcome to participate being outside the definition of “female exotic dancer.”

That was when I made my fatal mistake. I opened up the site to a very broad audience. The entire adult entertainment industry and all its various participants and supporters.

Although memberships skyrocketed and continued to grow over several years, participation in the community was minimal; mainly a small group of regular customers and a few current and former sex industry workers.

Despite many tries at selling advertising on the site, forays into affiliate marketing, and a near attempt to create a paid membership site (which I now realize likely would have also failed); I was unable to earn an income off the site.

With a membership in the thousands, and a massive community needing moderation and management (not to mention the cost of running the site) – I knew I either needed to earn an income from the site or kill it. Make it into something manageable. A blog.

So, that is what I did.

It wasn’t until recently when I began my research into earning an income online that I realized my fatal mistake.

I had done the OPPOSITE of the MOST IMPORTANT THING I SHOULD DO…

My first mistake when I re-branded NakedTruth.ca to be more inclusive was having too broad of an audience.

I targeted a huge audience which made the site sort of “watered down,” if you know what I mean. I asked what my own problem was: Namely, no time to run the site because I had a job and a family.

I was thinking in terms of the end goal, rather than about what kind of “product” (my website) I was providing.

At NakedTruth.ca I was speaking to the choir.

My research led me to ask myself two questions. As an activist:

  1. “What is my main goal?” and
  2. “Who must I reach to attain this goal.”

So, I thought about it. And I came up with this:

  1. At NakedTruth.ca, my main goal is promoting health and safety in the sex industry.
  2. I must reach people who can directly influence health and safety in the sex industry (frontline community support workers, researchers, and enforcement agencies) and connect them with information resources, and experts (sex workers).

Once I identified and defined my niche audiences, I was able to begin to think like them. I asked myself, “What are community support workers thinking when it comes to the adult entertainment industry? How can they support health and safety in the sex industry. What can they do to help me reach my goals as an activist?”

Not identifying and defining my niche audiences was my first mistake with NakedTruth.ca. My second mistake was not solving my audience’s problem.

For that, I needed to do some research. I will tell you all about that research in another post.

Suffice to say that identifying my niche audiences was mind blowing enough for one day. I came away with a real nugget of new media marketing wisdom for activists:

Choose who you’re trying to reach based on whether they can help you achieve your activism goals. Then speak their language.

Did this blog post make you wonder if you’re targeting the right audience? Please share your comments below. xoxo


How I’m Building My Activism Business Around My Passions

createrealityIs it possible to build a business around something you love?

How can you further your activism goals while earning an income doing the exact same activities?

What does it take to live and work intentionally? To embrace your passion for activism on a full-time basis.

Most of us find ways to finance our activism by applying for grants, working for non-profit organizations that serve the cause we are passionate about.

We compete with each other for funding, dependent on the whims of an oversight committee and beholden to their requirements, twisting our campaigns to suit their purposes but also serve our own.

We can be very creative.

But there is another way.

There are countless people on the internet who are earning an income through their websites. I have been studying how they did it and discovered their formula.

So, I set out to replicate their efforts in a unique way. I wanted to build my business around a particular kind of website. An activism website, where the content and products I provide actually further my activism goals.

And here you are on the website of my dreams. Digital Activist Media, where I teach change-makers and revolutionaries formulas for leading successful campaigns and financing their activism.

Here is how I did it.

I started with a very useful list of my interests, expertise / experience, influencers , and extra bonuses. I call it a “Mind Splurge.”

I drew out my columns on a page because I like to do some things by hand rather than on the computer. It gets me out from behind my desk. Feel free to do this however you choose. This is what I put under the column headings:

topicpossibilitiesInterests

Everything I am passionate about, interested in, and rocks my world.

Expertise / Experience

What am I an expert about? I’m not talking just about my training and education. I’m talking about being an expert due to life experience or independent research, too. What have I done a lot of that I feel confident to say I’ve reached a certain level of expertise?

Association with Influencers

Who do I know that could reach my potential audience? Who do I know * about * who has influence with my potential audience (whom I could approach in the future)?

Added Bonus Features!

This is where I added all the positive added bonuses that I can be happy and proud about. I also listed reasons building this business will enhance my life.

Four Questions to Discover My Ideal Business Idea

Having completed the “mind splurge,” I was already teeming with ideas. To narrow it down and really nail my perfect business vision, I asked myself four questions.

There are many variations on this theme for identifying the perfect business for your passions, but this is the one that worked best for me.

I did this exercise many times over since the first time, as I’ve worked through the steps in the formula. The answers you see are my most recent updates. 🙂

  1. What do my ideal website visitors want?My ideal website visitors (for DAM) want to conduct successful digital media campaigns and achieve balance in their lives between their income earning efforts and their activism efforts.
  2. What is the main problem they have that I believe I can solve?They have passion and commitment but they lack the knowledge and skills to succeed at their digital media goals consistently.
  3. How will I solve their problem?By researching, imitating, testing, and sharing the formulas that lead to digital success.
  4. What is one subject I can never get enough of?I love talking about issues and causes I am passionate about (activism) and I am fascinated by digital communications.

Next, I combined them into a short paragraph of no more than three sentences. I was able to get this down to one sentence.

I want to teach activists formulas for leading successful campaigns and earning a living through digital activism.

This sentence answered “YES” to the following questions for me:

  • Will I enjoy writing about this topic a year from now or two years from now?
  • Can I create a product or service around this topic that will solve my audience’s problem?
  • Am I excited about getting started?

Finally, I rewrote the sentence to be my “elevator speech.”

Digital Activist Media teaches change-makers and revolutionaries formulas for leading successful campaigns and financing their activism.

I printed this sentence and put it by my desk to help me memorize it.

Mind-map for Integrating Projects and Prioritizing Goals

If you’re anything like me, you have had a million ideas and possibly even have started many blogs that you never finished. Some of them are your babies and you wouldn’t dream of abandoning them. Others should probably get left on the cutting room floor.

I used this exercise to determine how I could integrate my favourite projects, determine what to get rid of entirely, and prioritize which projects could be left for a future date.

These are my babies:

dirtymindmapDigital Activist Media – My new project which you are reading right now.

The Naked Truth – A website / social community I founded in 2000 for adult entertainers which continues to operate despite several failed attempts at monetizing my activism through the site.

Cure My Crohn’s – A blog about my journey to cure an autoimmune disorder naturally.

As you can see, my first mind-map was quick and dirty. I surrounded each of my main interests with the many other projects and associations I am a part of that are even remotely linked to the central idea.

I also recognized how my two secondary “babies” are related to Digital Activist Media, because they are activism causes close to my heart (sex worker rights and health freedom rights).

The scribbles are projects that I cut out by either incorporating them into one of my three babies or deleting them from my life altogether.

This early work to choose an idea that I could really be passionate about has served me very well. Since doing these exercises, I have been on an amazing ride.

Working to build this business doesn’t feel like work at all, because my business is activism, and making the world a better place is something I will never tire of.

Phew! Now, I was ready to decide on a product or service for my activism business. What could I offer that is AMAZING? Follow my journey here.

Did you try these exercises? Did they work for you? Are you having trouble with any part of it? Maybe I can help! Please share your thoughts in the comments below.


How to Become a Full-time Activist

injustice is law

I have officially entered the new era of thinking.

I’m not talking about the thinking that gets me to quit my regular work for a cause I’m passionate about (although that is also true).

I’m talking about the thinking that my kids are being raised with.

Crowd-source power thinking. New media strategizing, liberation technology, and digital resistance thinking. I finally get it. The veil has lifted. I have officially paradigm-shifted.

Just in the nick of time.

Until recently, I ran a small, part-time business offering traditional and social media management to small business owners, entrepreneurs, and non-profit societies.

Although I loved certain aspects of my work – creating a media strategy, research, writing articles, public speaking – there were also parts I very much disliked – scheduling social media posts, data entry, website updates, chasing clients for information I needed to do my job.

I also realized that Public Relations was dying.

With the new digital world rendering my marketing skills obsolete, I was forced to re-learn my trade. Immersing myself in books and studies about Digital Media Marketing, I researched what made Google, eBay, Amazon, Facebook, and Twitter successful.

I read countless kick-ass blogs, books, ebooks, and watched many tutorials created by others who are earning money by following their passions. I finally understand how it’s done.

All this research led to an epiphany. I suddenly knew what I was put on this planet to do. And it was so obvious, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t realized it before!

This website you are reading right now is what I was put on the planet to do.

Through Digital Activist Media (DAM), I am combining my interest in creative media strategy and my passion for social justice. Digital Activism fascinates me. I cannot imagine a better job than researching and writing about this topic. This blog is the depository of my learning. My dream job is to teach you what I know.

felloffmyunicornTHE SUPREME GOAL of this journey is to become a full-time activist, with the earnings from DAM supporting me financially. Any surplus will be used to support causes that are dear to my heart.

My fear is not starting a business. I’ve had self-employment income almost every year since I was a 23-year-old stripper. (I am forty-one in two weeks.)

Stripping got me started in activism, when I realized that people who do the job for a living are nothing like what others expect. I met the most dynamic, self-driven, creative, intelligent, resourceful women in the sex industry. It’s a profession that draws the entrepreneurial spirit.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried to fund my activism. I failed at many attempts to build a business with NakedTruth.ca. I founded the site in 2000 originally for exotic dancers to share information, educate customers, and provide support to each other. It was a hit, but I never was able to master earning an income off a website.

Fast forward to now. NakedTruth.ca is still around. It gets hundreds of hits a day, shows up first in Google searches, and has a 14 year reputation online for being relevant and credible. It has been a platform for activism and charity efforts, but it has never earned me an income.

My fear is that I will fail again.

But there is a formula for making this work. So, here is what I’m going to do.

I will follow this formula with DAM, build my business and keep you updated along the way. Then I will replicate my efforts – modified, of course, for the audience – with NakedTruth.ca.

And I will teach you how you, too, can become a full-time activist. That is the supreme goal. In the meantime, I will share everything I know and everything I learn about Digital Activism with you and I will show you how to use it in your efforts to make the world a better place.

This new connected world is not just about a new way of thinking about marketing and earning money online. It is about a global community connecting for change. Change that must happen now for our children.

So, get to it, change-makers.

In Solidarity,

Trina Ricketts

PS. Here is what I did first to build an activism business around my passions.

Would you also like to devote the majority of your time to activism, rather than your job? Have you tried and succeeded? Have you tried and failed? Please share your story in the comments below.


As “Public Relations” Dies

todaynewday
All that training, right before the entire public relations and marketing industry shifted to new media, down the drain! Thankfully, some of it is still useful.
Since earning a diploma in Public Relations in 2004, I’ve applied my training and expertise to activism. However, for some time now, I’ve been watching my training and expertise become meaningless.

 

As print publications and television news stations steadily meet their demise, traditional public relations – you know…the press release, the pitch, and the public eye – also steadily declines.

Like many others, I scrambled to learn social media, so I would not be left behind. Yet, everything continued to change. Everything except me. I knew I was missing something.

Also like others, I was clinging to the old system. After all, newspapers and television stations do still exist. But I could see that there was something new happening that I didn’t understand.

Understanding how messages are spread and communities are built are not just hobbies or jobs for me. I am fascinated by and drawn to anything that engages people for a cause. I wanted to understand how the internet has changed my role as an advocate with media expertise.

But the core foundations of this new era eluded me. I was stuck in the old mindset. Paraphrasing Einstein, I had to look at the problem from a different mindset than the one that created it.

wwgdEnter a life-changing book called “What Would Google Do?” The author, Jeff Jarvis, spells it out for me in no uncertain terms. I heard about this book on a “pay it forward” Facebook group. A closing out sale for an internet bookstore was selling books for $1. It was fate I picked up this book that day. 

As Jarvis explains in WWGD?, we no longer live in a world where we control our message. Our audience is no longer “the public.” Now, the internet will take our message, deliver it to a potentially world-wide audience, and individuals will interpret the message within their realm of experience and through their belief systems. They will then re-state the message and share it with others who trust them.

It is a frightening time for corporations and governments

But for truth-seekers, change-makers, and activists – This is OUR time. A newspaper editor cannot silence me by refusing to print my letter. A television news station cannot silence me by refusing to air my story. The control is now in my hands. The digital age has arrived.

I can say whatever I want on my blog, Facebook, or Twitter. If others read it and share it, my audience grows.

firststepEyes opened, I experienced an epiphany about my purpose in life. As an activist in a digital world, with a passion for spreading the truth; I realized that I could open this Pandora’s Box of digital media potential and use it to inform a revolution.

Bring it to the people! Arm my peers with revolutionary strategies for using what some call “liberation technology.” I love the ring of that…Liberation Technology.

Now THIS is something I could sink my teeth into and never get bored!

This brings me to now. This is my first step.

I am going to immerse myself in learning about successful digital activism efforts and share them with you. 

But I’m going to do even more than that. I am going to take a website I started thirteen years ago, that has always drawn a large audience but has never reached the potential I hoped for; and I am going to apply what I learn to this website. I will see what works for me and what doesn’t. And I will share my experiences with you.

Together, we will bring digital activism to the masses.

In Solidarity,
Trina Ricketts
Read more about the supreme goal of my journey or the first step I took in building my business around my passions.
Are you a public relations professional who is losing their touch in this new digital world? Please share your story in the comments below.