AI has already started to ruin the stock image world.
It may even be trying to steal your dog and your husband as we speak. *I* heard that it’s already taken jobs away from real live humans right here in own our small town. Ok well, maybe it’s not flipping your burgers quite yet but it is already making waves in the design pool…

One small sign is in the stock image inventories…
You see, many designers rely on stock images to produce their marketing content and branding collateral for their clients. These range from graphics needed for mockups, to actual marketing images for ads, as well as icon designs for user interfaces, and they need to be of a certain quality if you want your designs to look professional.

But whether it be through sites like iStock or Pixabay, if you’ve used any of these sites over the last year you’ve likely already seen a noticeable shift in the images you’ll find there. The search results are literally awash with illustrated style, smooth edged – and don’t get me wrong quite eye-catching – images that are not photo stock at all.

At best it makes it even harder to sift through thousands of potential images when you’re already limited on time. At worst it could already be the first signs of AI replacing human talent behind the lens and in front of the screen.

Dammit! I wanted the robots to take care of the jobs I don’t want to do, not take away the creative tasks I work to find time for myself!

A lot of people in the design world are upset about AI, and justly so in their own right. …But we can’t put the genie back in the bottle. Best to make friends with it; learn to recognize it and use it as the potential gift that it could be. It’s already become the “hot new feature” on design sites like Canva, where it’s touted as being practically magic!

Should You Be Worried?
Yes. The robits are comin’ to take yer jobs!

But also no. At least that is, not quite yet. While AI is learning fast – and faster every day – it still largely requires some human input to be directed towards a focused goal or result. A loose cannon is still a freaking cannon! If you can learn to aim it, it can serve your purpose. If you don’t, well…yeah, be worried.

online business success

In case you are worried about supporting AI in your stock images there are a few things that can work to spot them, for now:

Overly smooth illustrated style. If it looks like video game concept art but it’s supposed to be an image of home appliance repair, that could be AI generated.

Odd hands. Look closely at the hands and fingers if there are people in the image. AI currently can still have trouble rendering hand and fingers correctly, so unless it’s been post-editing (good job human!) the digits can be a good way to tell.

Background “things”. You ever drink too much nyquil with your coffee? Yeah. Look at the background, man. At this time, AI will sometimes generate strange digital artifacts in the backgrounds of images. Swirls, eyes, too much lens flare – those kind of things in the background could indicate it’s been rendered by AI.

For now at least the best recommendation I can give is pay attention! Even if you’re adamantly against AI altogether, or just as a creative tool, it’s important to be aware of what changes it is bringing as it is the state of the design industry itself. If you’re not opposed to it, and what it could represent, start learning – and fast! There are definite benefits to having a helpful genie in your pocket, even if you’re already a highly skilled wizard.

If you’re looking to work with a wizard of the web, a digital docent to educate you on the mysterious ways of social media or SEO, Pickwick is more than qualified to help! Get in touch to share with me your visions of success so that we can work together to make them happen.

Why You Still Need a Website

Let’s say it out loud: social media is dead.
No, not the way you might think, and it’s not going away anytime (too) soon but you don’t have to be an industry expert to realize that it’s changed from what it was and reached peak saturation across most of the major platforms. And I’m not just talking about this impacting individual users’ experiences, but for business users as well.

Your average user will complain that the platform – take your pick – is nothing but ads now when they remember seeing more content from their friends and other connections previously.

While simultaneously business users – especially on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube – are puzzled at why their marketing dollars aren’t getting the results they once did, regardless of the content they’re creating.

It’s all pay to play and the users are paying the tax.

Because of the drop in the quality of user experience, as well as censorship and owner politics, there’s been a rise in new up and coming platforms like Bluesky that promise something new.

While these new platforms have found a varied measure of success, despite some innovative features, they’ve proven to be little more than echo chambers for users who are accustomed to higher volumes of content to consume.

Don’t Call It a Comeback, Baby…
In consideration of these things, and with the ease at which even people without tech savvy can create a basic website it’s no wonder that personal blogs, mini business sites, and digital storefronts have begun to pop up more and more.

Don’t Delete Your Facebook (yet)
The instability of social media, along with censorship controls, and unpredictable changes to “pay to be seen” algorithms should be a strong signal for the return to digital presence ownership. Your website is the most powerful online resource you possess.

A website that you own, that you can control and change, has always been key to online success, and as the landscape of how business is done online continues to change it is vital to establishing yourself as a resource to the audiences you serve.

In the meantime, a website (no matter how good) isn’t enough by itself, and it never has been! There is no one silver bullet fix-all push button thing to make online success just happen – but the next closest thing is working with PICKWICK.

I’m here to help!
You don’t have to struggle with figuring out social media or web design anymore! I am experienced in many industries and systems. Whether you are just starting out and don’t know where to begin, or a long time business owner who doesn’t have the time to handle marketing while running the show, I hope you will get in touch with your ideas so that we can make them happen! 

NO! Your Facebook Page Hasn’t Been Disabled!

If you admin a page on Facebook these days chances are you’ve recently received a message seemingly from the system telling you that your page has violated a copyright, or other terms of service and is due to be deleted, or have its ability to post removed.

In most cases, these are patently false.

Not only should you disregard them but by all means report the accounts that send them and the message itself. It’s hard to believe that a platform with the amount of resources that Facebook has available to it that they are unable to regulate these kinds of clearly fraudulent messages and accounts.

The accounts that send these messages are if nothing else damaging the reputability of Facebook itself in the fact that they can’t even protect the validity of their own identity – so how then should we trust them with the details of ours?

Now imagine being a social media manager. One who manages dozens of pages for a variety of businesses… Not only do you get theses messages every day, you get multiples of them every day, and have to meditate them in the client inbox – and often when they understandable receive a disturbing message about their Facebook business page!

These messages can seem very real! They can be frightening, after all you’ve likely invested a lot of time, if not a lot of money in developing your social media presence on Facebook.

I bring items like this to the forefront of the attention of the online community in order to help business owners be aware of potential threats as well as how to avoid them. The scammers and spammers are getting smarter every day! It’s hard enough work to run your business online without knowing how to handle these sort of things.

Don’t Panic! PICKWICK is here to help!
I provide online consulting when you have questions, and have well developed skills ,like web design and social media management, that will prove invaluable if troubles arise that you aren’t able to handle on your own. I strive to take the fear out of technology for business owners and hope that you won’t hesitate to get in touch – even if you just have questions! I’m always happy to talk shop!

Why You Need to Update Your Site

My website looks good, isn’t that enough?! No.

A good looking car with no engine doesn’t go anywhere. Your website is the same way and the engine that runs it needs to be maintained.

Ask yourself, when is the last time anything lasted forever? When was the last time something ran perpetually without any maintenance or assistance? The answer is of course never, because that’s not how the laws of thermodynamics work. All things, no matter how well built or efficient, must be taken care of from time to time to make sure they continue to run the way they should.

Your website is no different!

Imagine if you bought a car back in 2008 and never changed the oil, never tuned it up, never got new tires and just drove and drove. How long do you think that car would last? A year? Maybe two? It might look good on the outside but it’s not going anywhere.

And yet there are so many business owners who get a website, think that’s the end of the road, and then wonder why they got left behind on the side of the information superhighway!

Don’t let it happen to YOU!

While technical updates to your site may seem like something no one ever sees, making sure the engine that pumps the lifeblood of your business is running right is crucial to seeing online success! Even if your site is technically still “running” (hey, she ain’t much to look at but she got it where it counts, right?!) that doesn’t mean it’s running RIGHT.

It’s not just about looking better!
What might begin as simple technical errors can quickly turn into data corruption, and leaving your website software out of date can leave you wide open to hacker attacks. Sites that use old software are not only more vulnerable to attack but they often run slower which will cost you customers even if your site hasn’t been compromised. Having the engine of your website purring like a kitten is the way to drive customers where you want them!

Fact is, these days business is done online. If you’re not online you’re not in business!

Thankfully PICKWICK is here to help! Offering web design, social media management, search engine optimization, and more. Pickwick provides all of the digital services you need to get online, stay online, and find success. Get in touch today to find out how Pickwick can help you!

What Your Social Media Manager ISN’T Doing And Why It Matters!

You can throw a rock these days and hit six people who claim to be “social media experts” in one shot. My recommendation is that next time, throw the rock harder and help eliminate some of the flotsam that is choking the industry. (rimshot)

Seriously though, beyond just taking their word for it there are a few key things that I offer as standard services that you can use to validate a social media manager in a few quick steps without having to listen to them uhm and haw about “ROI”.

Qualify Your Social Media “Expert”

1 – Examine their experience in the industry. Hopefully you are not their first client.

2 – Ask to see examples of the kinds of content they’ve created to make sure it fits your voice.

3 – Ask how their services will impact your business; if they promise sales and the stars above overnight, RUN.

4 – Make sure you will be the owner of the content they are creating, this means they’re writing unique content for you, using royalty free or validly purchased stock images not stolen clip-art from the web, and are willing to provide copies of all generated content.

5 – Make sure they provide services beyond just Facebook and understand how elements of social media, search engines, and your website need to all work in harmony.

Even considering those factors, and even if you find a fairly qualified, experienced social media manager who provides good content and is responsive to your requests while creating a strong voice for your brand…there’s still a few things I can almost guarantee you that they are not doing.

Engaging Your Audience
You can post the cutest kitten pictures and most delicious bacon photos in the world, get a thousand likes, and a hundred comments, and it won’t matter one bit if there’s no engagement.

Your social media manager should be interacting with fans any time they can; this means liking and replying to all comments from your audience – especially the less than nice ones. Hopefully they are monitoring your page heavily as well to keep spam and the flood of expletives from trolls out of your marketing.

Nurturing Your Community
Posting is great. Social media has created a platform where anyone with something to say can blast it out to the world to reach thousands of people in seconds. That doesn’t really do much for your local community or your local businesses visibility either.

What does? Interacting with other local businesses and news sources, being active in conversations and a source of assistance to the social media community at large. 

Supporting Your Partners
One way my services excel, whether it be in web development or social media services, is that I get to know you and your business. It would be easy to push buttons, throw up a template and call it good – you just wanted a website after all, right? – but I do more than that. By spending the extra time to gain more insight into who you are and how your company works I am able to strategically work with other partners and like-minded companies to create a natural synergy of support.

You may be surprised to get ‘thank yous’ from the business partners you’ve mentioned to me; while I would love to help them with their own social media needs too, I’m more than glad to like, comment, and share their posts as a way to serve you better as well – even if they are not my clients directly!

Anybody Can Do It!
If you’re just looking for someone to manage your Facebook page by posting inspirational photos and quotes that’s fine – there are plenty of entry level social media mavens more than willing to help you out – that may be the extent of the services you need. But if you’re looking for more, wanting to build the face of your brand in a powerful way that not only increases the awareness of your business but also builds equity in your branding PICKWICK is here to help!

I’m not your dad’s consultancy and I don’t provide the same stale services that are so commonly found throughout the net. I am driven to help the people I serve because I know how strongly they feel about what they do; putting a spotlight on that passion is one of the things I love most about what I do as well.

SEO Lies

Have you gotten one of these emails lately?

“My name is xxxxxx and I am a Digital Marketing Specialists for a Creative Agency. I was doing some industry benchmarking for a client of mine when I came across your website. I noticed a few technical errors which correspond with a drop of website traffic over the last 6-8 months which I thought I would bring to your attention. After closer inspection it appears your site is lacking in 4 key criteria. Blah blah blah your meta-tags!! Oooooooooooooo!!! “

I get them too – and I’m IN the SEO industry!

This proves the first thing I usually tell clients about these messages when they forward them to me out of concern: these people have never even been to your website.

It’s really humorous that in many of these messages it says “I FOUND you on Google!”.
Well, if you found me already what do I need to pay you for?! Nothing.
Which is generally what you get out of services that spam people like this even when you pay their outrageous prices – NOTHING.

Now it is true that every domain can use a website tune-up from time to time in order to rank most optimally for its intended audience, but the scare tactics used by some of these so-called seo gurus is so laughable that it’s sad. Sadder still that they wouldn’t continue to do it unless some people were falling for it.

But what is a concerned small business owner or artistic creator to do if they feel like they’re lost online?
It is tough! Everyone seems to have a site and a store and a page living the wild Instagram life; it can seem like there’s no way to catch up. Here are a few quick tips to help you spot the spammers:

Misspellings in the message
Look for spelling errors. It seems minor but most legitimate business will not have such things in their correspondence – even canned emails.

Meta-Data Grandpa
Any SEO person who harps on the small technical details of your site code like meta-tags, and H tags (which do matter in a small way still) is likely reading from a script written in 1997 when these things still played a major role in seo ranking.

Take a line from their email message and copy it into a google search with quotes around it. You will likely come up with thousands of results highlighting other people who received the same exact spam message.

Google THEM
Search them out before you even think about contacting them or clicking the links in their email. You will likely not even be able to find them, much less on the glorious PAGE ONE that they promise to elevate your business to somehow.

The PICKWICK Promise
I won’t lie to you. I won’t up-sell services you don’t need to pad my pocket.
Online success is an uphill battle – so is any kind of success – but the good news is you don’t have to go it alone!

I have a long history of digital experience in developing visually compelling websites as well as marketing the services and products they offer. I have the online skills you don’t have the time to learn yourself – and don’t want to! With over 2 decades of experience in the digital marketing world I know not only the things to do for greater results but the things to avoid doing as well.

You want to be running your business or creating your next masterpiece, not punching buttons. Let me help!

Struggling With Social Media?

Today’s business world is non-stop. You’ve got a million and one details to keep track of just to keep the invoices going out and the money coming in. You want to be running your business, not worried about watching updates. Thankfully you don’t have to be plugged in 24 hours a day to get results from your social media marketing when you hire PICKWICK!

In addition to exceptional web development we also provide social media management custom suited to your needs!
We do things a little differently than a lot of social media management companies. First, we listen to what you want, make suggestions to get the best results, and then get to work. We never up-sell and we always show the metrics for our work so you can see where your dollars are going.

Some of the services that are part of the social media options we provide include:

Custom graphics for banners
Custom graphics and content for special events
Reputation management
Fan engagement nurturing
Local engagement interaction
Social Media Activity Analysis

Not ready for someone else to take the reigns but still need help?
We can also provide social media consultation and training to help you take control all on your own!

No matter what your need we have the skills to capture your unique voice and speak to your audience as if you were making the posts yourself – even your own mother won’t know it’s us cranking out that killer content. Get in touch today to see what we can do to get your social media snapping!