Too long since an update…

Extensive social media work over the past year to build our huge audience for Chateau Elan has been happening. Monthly emails, and weekly promotions and videos have garnered us 36,000 some Facebook fans mostly in the Atlanta area. Twitter followers trail in growth significantly but Twitter is a different beast, people tend to tweet more than follow more. As a result most of our Twitter usage is responding and re-tweeting user tweets who logically tag #ChateauElan or message us @ChateauElan.

Our YouTube has been a big growth sector since we invested in an HD video camera and some video software (Adobe After Effects) which I can mix video, tweak audio, and create pretty nice intro/outro animations using our logos and text. The real secret isn’t the technology but having bold players like our winemaker who we can simply kick the camera on and he presents monthly information without a lot of re-takes. Knocking out a video recording in 20 minutes. Keeping it casual in nature helps, and works with the nature of YouTube where having something ‘well polished’ seems too commercial. The little mistakes here and there lend themselves to the nature of reality and not just a commercial.

In turn what I’ll do after recording; pull the video to PC, edit the video (trim out mistakes and bits), tweak audio, mix in a few extra pans of product if needed, and add in a nice opening and closing graphic to give it a more program feel… Once the video is done, I’ll render to quality but also a compressed state and upload to YouTube. Punch in a keyword driven description, sort it in the videos… We’ve punched these out within a day and it’s a lot of fun. Finally I’ll include the link in newsletters, website, and its pushed out automatically to our subscribers on social media.

Not exactly viral, but in the spirit of those who enjoy our great winemaker and process; our winemaker extracting himself from a 1840 gallon wine barrel:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KhdVCiTo6c&list=UUWbOb6XVedGjxAz70gzW7Vw

Posted in Ramble by slowbox. No Comments

iAd Apple Mobile Advertising

Apple iAd Mobile Advertising

Still my favorite Apple logo.

Interested in getting started with Apple’s iAd service? Well here are 2 important things to know first about current iAd mobile advertising options. On behalf of Chateau Elan I shot an inquiry to their advertising sales dept to see what, if any, our options are as a medium-sized business with an eye on our budget.

Without flapping my gums to much, I’ll let the email I received from Apple’s sale’s rep Peter Gambino highlight the current entry options for advertising through iPhones, iPads, iTunes, etc.

Hi Tom,

Thank you for contacting Apple regarding mobile advertising.

There are currently two products on the market:

- iAd brand ads are rich-media ad experiences that are delivered to iPhone, iPad and iPod touch users through ad supported apps. These are large, brand campaigns that involve media investments in the six figures, as well as creative development, to leverage the features of Apple’s iOS4 platform.

- iAd for Developers are ads that enable users to download free and paid Apps from the iTunes App store without leaving their current application. This allows developers to drive downloads and ranking of their apps within the iTunes store.
You can also find answers to some frequently asked questions at: http://developer.apple.com/support/resources/iad-network.html#howdoi. I hope this has the information you need, but please reach out if there is anything else.

Regards,
Peter Gambino

Yes, that is correct. There is a buy-in cost of 6 figures—or $100,000 being a figure I picked up elsewhere. Essentially the iAd service has a huge cost barrier prohibiting entry of medium and small business advertising, or in effect only opening doors to ad agencies. This is in contrast to the Google or Bing approach that has zero initial investment allowing room for the little guy.

The iAd for Developers is for app creators to promote their work. Not getting into that, sorry.

More details on the way as soon as I find $100,000 in my PayPal account… Donations anyone?

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Posted in Web and Marketing by slowbox. No Comments

Georgia Wine Country Festival 2011

This is the second day of the Georgia Wine Country Festival at Three Sisters Vineyards in North Georgia. In addition to the wine tasting tent, we had artists and vendors, a big smoking grill, and a couple real good bands including these bluegrass players. I was pouring wines on behalf of Chateau Elan over the weekend, along with the Georgia Winery, and Horse Creek Vineyards and many others. Picked up a pair of nice earrings for my wife from one of the vendors. Highly recommend! Thanks Three Sisters Vineyards!

Sorry the video is a bit shaky when I’m walking around… Shot with a little flip camera.

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Hotel Booking on Facebook … or … Custom HTML on Facebook

Our CEO asked me a few weeks ago if we could setup online booking inside our resort’s Facebook page.

My first reaction was NO CHANCE unless we hired a programmer specialized in the Facebook API to develop a specific online booking application for Facebook that that would also in-turn inquire with and pull results from our existing reservation system (Springer Miller Systems). Possible for a savvy coder, but I’m no savvy coder. And for the cost involved to contract or hire it just wasn’t practical, especially for a single hotel like ours. Perhaps for a mega-hotel-chain where a single program could be shared with hundreds of other hotel booking engines (surprisingly they don’t either, I’ve seen talk about it, but odds are they get bogged down in development too). Incoming solution so simple it will make you pour a drink and enjoy the rest of your evening.

Our VP had another idea… Why not a picture of a booking calendar that linked to our reservation system when clicked. Um… damn, yeah, I was concerned about programming interfaces, and the solution was simple. Or was it?

Yes, it was. But taken a few steps further it can actually start to shine …

Take a look:

Hotel Booking On Facebook for Free

Hotel Booking On Facebook for Free

Taking it further meant creating a sort of mock layout of what appears to be an application within Facebook. Each of those boxes is is link to services, events, and promotions on our current website. All designed to fit the style of our own website to keep the look consistent.

Try it out if you like.

To set one up for yourself ….

No need to walk through every step, I’ll provide about the only clue you will need to know to get started. It’s a free Facebook App called Book Now – FBML that you can install via the Edit Page section of your Facebook page. You will of course need to be an administer of your business page to access this, posses photoshop skill and basic HTML knowledge.

Here’s a screencap:

Online Facebook Booking

Get the Facebook application running and it allows you to add a new tab to your Facebook page (Typically where you see WALL | PHOTOS | YOUTUBE etc) … You can optionally make it the landing page people first see. Many companies do this as a means to have a kind of mini-facebook website, but no hotels that I’ve found have utilized it quite like a booking engine or fill it with special offers.

The application then has a simple text box for pasting your HTML code in. Do your layout in simple HTML, storing any images used on your own domain, and paste that HTML into the box. Test, and done.

Any questions?

Posted in Tutorials Web and Marketing by slowbox. 3 Comments

How to Make a Page Tab a Category in WordPress

So you want to link Categories in the menu at the top of your WordPress blog as Pages?

I found a few convoluted methods before realizing WordPress has this built in, it is just not obvious. Here it is, super easy-like with a handy graphic.

Step 1
Add New page from your dashboard.

Step 2
In the Add New Page title, enter your title.

Step 3
Highlight the title of the page, and click the link button thats in the toolbar of your message area.

See below…

Category as Page Example

Category as Page Example

Step 4
Take note; A new Permalink: [URL] option will appear below your title with an Edit button next to it. It already has the first part of your URL filled in, you will need to fill in the last part of the link with the directory of your category. Just open a new browser, browse to your category and cut+paste it in.

Hit your Publish button, and you are done!

Posted in Tutorials by slowbox. No Comments

Rebranding Wine, Muscadine

Chateau Elan’s winemaker Karen is unveiling 4 new and improved versions of our most popular Muscadine wines. We’re re-introducing these typically old-fashion southern wines as something more fun and refreshing than our traditional wines. With these particular designs most of my inspiration came from… Snapple! Bold colors, appealing fruit flavors… since everything these days is better when it’s ‘infused’ with other good stuff, it seemed to warrant the creation of our own original WINEFUSION brand.

wine label rebranding

The flipside to these front labels are the backs. These are our effort to make light–ok outright make fun–of typical wine descriptions. Being a grape native to the southeast, it seemed natural to poke fun with descriptions that recommend pairing the wine “with friends and when visiting Yankees.” You can view all the back and front labels on this handy promotional flyer (PDF).

Getting them approved by the Fed and the State … That took the magic of our Winemaker after many submission attempts and rejections, I still have no idea how we pulled it off.

Each design is 100% vector and I worked at about 10x magnification when illustrating to capture much of the details. Here is a bit of a zoom of the leaf and grape … Lots of semi-transparent layers to create highlights:

muscadine wine label

Close-Up of Muscadine Label

Over the coming weeks they should be appearing in Publix shelves around Georgia. Or purchased through Chateau Elan’s online wine store, or in the Winery’s wine market.

8 Tips to Earn More Money on Dreamstime

Apart from technical requirements and creative details, here are some tips (in no particular order) to help sell your graphic designs and photographs. These trend a bit towards graphic designers, but are practical tips that can help you sell your stock photographs as well.

Tip 1

Think like a business owner who is purchasing from Dreamstime. Ask yourself “What would make my image useful for a business?” Find a subject matter that serves a practical purpose for an ad or promotion. For instance, imagine you run a small coffee shop. Your budget is limited, and you need a quick flyer for a weekend event. You may have enough technical skill to put some text on a page, but want an appealing background. An 8.5 × 11 template design with a steaming coffee mug would be perfect and worth a few bucks. There you go! There are thousands of such businesses out there who need practical designs. Find a niche. If it sells 50 times, you could be earning around $15 or so per sale.

Tip 2

Good keywords are extremely important for your design or photo. Take your time with this. As above, think sales and search words that your design could potentially be used for; Poster, Flyer, Label, Greeting Card, Invitation, and so on. Include simple terms about the look of your work that non-designers may search for; Scrolls, Grunge, Colorful, Dark, Happy, Template, Background… You can also avoid wasting keyword space describing specific colors, Dreamstime handles that for vector art automatically. If English is not your native language, you may want to consider their key wording service for a small fee.

Tip 3

Images and designs for every day events people experience. Political designs are hot. Check the news for political leaders and current events. How about a template for political signs?

Holiday themes sell. However, consider less-than-popular holidays so you have less competition from other designers. Perhaps a post card design with a place left blank for people to insert a family photo. That’s useful stuff. What about a garage sale flyer? May not sound exciting at first, but it becomes exciting when it starts earning. There is a lot of subject matter out there people could use design help with.

Tip 4

Don’t get discouraged at the start. Focus on getting a few of your best photos or designs approved and online first. Once you get the hang of it, branch out and test the waters so to speak in terms of what might sell. Don’t overload yourself by trying to upload a hundred images right away.

Tip 5

If you have a top earning photo, I suggest NOT uploading similar photos. When a photo begins to earn $10 or so per sale, uploading a similar photo means people may prefer to purchase the newer and cheaper photo for only $1 rather than having to spend more for your other options.

Tip 6

Compete! Search top earning photos or designs by other users, and offer a similar alternative of your own. You can start picking up sales by offering a cheaper and even better alternative.

Tip 7

You probably have loads of material to start with already. Re-tool existing designs or touch up photos you already have to create generic images that can be used for a variety of purposes. Need ideas? Google images! High resolution images are out there that can form the basis of inspiration for your Illustrator designs.

Tip 8

Market your work. Provide links to your Dreamstime profile wherever possible. Include links on your own website if you have one, and also Facebook or other social sites. Search Google for free art directories, and get your profile out there.

Good luck, and see you over there. Remember, it’s completely free to sign up for! www.dreamstime.com

Dreamstime Review

What is Dreamstime?

In a nutshell it’s a service to sign up for where you buy or re-sell stock photography or graphic designs online. You retain the copyright to all of your work, but you sell the rights for other people to use them however they like. Best of all, it doesn’t cost anything to sell your work there.

Dreamstime Background

Dreamstime is one of the top tier microstock agencies on the web. They are creative and entrepreneurial with their website presentation and business model. Their commission for photographers and designers is 50% which is among the highest in the market, and certainly the highest of the top tier microstock agencies compared to iStockPhoto and Shutterstock.

I began dealing with Dreamstime after they became ‘community enabled’ which means a community forum and user feedback system was put in place to provide a friendly and helpful user system. My success in generating earnings for photographs and designs, in addition to the variety of art they accept is why I’ve stuck with them for the past 3 years. Their service is far easier to get involved with than the rigorous application of other stock image websites. However if you are already part of iStockPhoto or ShutterStock, then you may find Dreamstime.com is another great channel to include your work in for additional sales.

Is Dreamstime a Scam?

Nope. They have an active forum of photographers and designers around the world who sell their work online every day. Payouts can accrue anytime your account earns $100 in sales, with payments made via PayPal or Check.

How Does Dreamstime Work?

After you sign up as a contributor and upload photographs or designs, the review team of Dreamstime checks them for their quality and basic composition and notifies you by email about the approval or disapproval of the images. In case of disapproval review experts give useful suggestions to improve the quality of those images so that photographer can upload them again after solving the quality issues. While in case of approval the photos are placed in first level which move towards higher levels and a certain number of downloads. The more downloads your photos or designs get, the higher the price becomes. Thus more useful images begin to earn you considerably more. The royalty rate varies from level to level so you must improve the number of downloads to move your images to higher level.

If you are interested in selling your existing photographs or designs, head on over. I’ll get some tips and suggestions that can help you sell more on Dreamstime.com posted shortly.

Let me know about your experience. See you over there … Remember, it costs nothing to sell your work there! www.dreamstime.com

Chateau Elan Winery & Resort

Being that the bulk of my marketing effort goes into the luxury hotel property of Chateau Elan I should definitely go ahead and present the website we’ve been operating and promoting for the last year. You’ll also find our social media marketing efforts in effect with the Facebook and Twitter links on the side of this page.

Chateau Elan is considered on of north Atlanta’s best hotels we are also a full-production winery, feature 3 golf courses, luxury spa and conference facility. While Chateau Elan is primarily a north Atlanta meeting facility the property also plays host as Atlanta’s luxury wedding spot, and a popular couples getaway destination.

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Wine Tasting Flyer or Poster

Wine Tasting Flyer Number 1

Wine Tasting Flyer Number 1


This was the original Wine Tasting Poster designed for a little Wine Gallery in San Francisco that unfortunately closed down a few years ago. It never got used, so I decided to sell the basic background template on Dreamstime.com and it has become a pretty popular format for Wineries looking for some cheap flyer or poster design to customize.

It’s easy to find, along with the few others up for sale if you search for ‘wine flyer’ or something along those lines. Typically you would download as an Illustrator file, or TIFF, and pop it into Illustrator or Photoshop to edit.

Posted in Graphic Design by slowbox. No Comments