November 2nd, 2006

sideview, obamame_sideview

Sybaritic Evening

Last night was wonderfully sybaritic.

Went to the spa at my gym and had an hour-plus full-body deep tissue massage. I won a half-hour gift certificate from winning a fitness challenge, so the hour-long (which went over an hour) was only $25. It was sooooo good, especially because the therapist used aromatherapy on me, with this wonderful oil called "Joy," and also did Reiki on me. I felt wonderful afterwards.

After that I decided to continue the pleasure by having dinner at Fleurs de Lis downstairs. Mmmmm mmmmm. I had a glass of this red wine called Roncier I'd had before and again it was delightful stuff, going down like hot chocolate, so smooth and mellow. For starters I had a bowl of mushroom soup, which was unbelievably good like all Lenny's soups, and then a cheese plate of two hunks of wonderfully runny, soft French cheese. The entree, giant spicy shrimp with taggliatelle pasta, was a bit of a letdown but still good. I didn't get a desert but a couple of neighbors were at the next table and called me over to help them finish off the bottles of wine they'd ordered. So I had another glass of good French red wine and a nice conversation, too.

I suppose I maybe could've done something productive at that point, even though it was like 9 or something, but instead I curled up on my couch and finished reading Storm's book Stalking Tender Prey. I first read it five years ago and with a new edition just published and it being fall, the season the story is set in, I decided to give it a reread. I actually found the book a lot more problematic this time around, but I like the ending section I think the best anyway, so that was an enjoyable after-dinner snack. Plus I listened to one of my favorite albums/EPs ever, The Changelings' Astronomica, which I reordered to replace the CD I lost, plus an album by the band's violinist, Paul Mercer, called Ghosts, which is lovely stuff perfectly suited for this season.

All in all, a lovely evening.
sideview, obamame_sideview

A New Enterprise

The other day I suddenly got this awesome idea, out of nowhere, to create a special branch of Metro Girl, maybe even as the main branch, specializing in doing web sites for planning projects. These are the sorts of sites I've done many times before for Caleb's company as well as a couple of other companies; they're temporary sites created so that people can keep up with ongoing public projects like town master plans, corridor studies, parks studies, etc. During the life of the project, the site offers information and documents related to public meetings, maps, project documents, features like online surveys, etc., and then when it's all over the site goes away. However, during the project the web site is a major part of public outreach. (Examples: http://www.tunspan.com/westlake/, http://www.bbpa.com/accgroup2/, http://www.tunspan.com/jonesboro/).

Anyway, back to the business idea, which is basically specifically targeting planning firms and presenting them with marketing collateral and packages aimed specifically to their needs. I'll be doing a separate web site with information on my experience, testimonials from past clients, and key to it all, special packages (three different types, basic, advanced and deluxe) of web site services, at different price points with various features and service levels. I'm going to offer templates (4-5 different ones) for the basic package and the choice of either templates or custom work for the other two packages. There will also be a la carte services available, so if something isn't in a customer's package or they want a non-standard add-on (online forum, help at a workshop, proofreading, etc.), they can just add it on. Today I worked out a first draft outlining all the packages and I think it'll work well.

My next steps will be putting together the web site, then designing a brochure and a postcard. I want it to look really slick so I may see if I can get Caleb to let me use Adobe InDesign at his work to produce the marketing stuff. Then once that's all ready and printed, I'll start putting it out there, mailing it to planning firms around the country. The back of Planning magazine and other magazines Caleb and his work get have all these ads and job postings where I can get the firms' names and contacts. I'll also send out feelers among some contacts I already have, since I know I could get quick work right off the bat with it. After that, hopefully I'll hear from some new clients, hopefully ones around the country. For most jobs, everything can and will be done remotely, but for some big ones, or ones with large budgets, I may be asked to travel up for at least one major meeting or presentation. Which certainly would be cool!

I think this will really work, because I doubt there are many web designers doing niche work like this and once I get some clients, both private firms and government, word will spread and my name'll get passed around as the one to go to. Which would not be a bad thing at all, because 1) money and 2) possibly contacts for job once I am done with my plan of going to school to do planning!

Oh, one final things I'll add about this enterprise is that I'm going to go away from using "Metro Girl" as my moniker. I'll just be Wendy Darling. Some people seem to think Metro Girl is a weird or even sleazy name for a business, plus I want to separate this out from my regular stuff, so I'll have to go with my alter alter ego.