Hacking Your Online World with a Creative Digital Footprint

When I worked for Gardener’s Supply Company we had a contest to see who could “pimp out” or creatively alter one of our well-used and popular products, a tractor scoot. Our company picnic had people display their ride and then everyone voted. It is no surprise that the people who went way out with their invention were the closest to winning. Even if it didn’t always work, the thought, time and effort showed and was well rewarded by the crowd. The “pimping out” worked by hacking or modifying the existing instructions to make it your own. It got me thinking, why do people just follow the default instructions? Obviously you need to know the basics of how objects go together and function. After these fundamentals have been understood, how could you translate that into the online world via a creative digital footprint?

Creative Digital Footprint

Footprints in the Sand Tim J Keegan Flickr

Chasing Down To-Do Lists

There are tons of books and blog posts on other peoples stories of success. There are some cool tips and tricks found in each story. Some of these tips and tricks have turned into a how-to list for success. You could try to duplicate all of these and chase down your dream via these check-lists or you could go with something simple like Don Miller’s idea instead. Don says, “Live Your Life’s Character” Such a simple notion but it works. What actions would make your life character more interesting right now? What about combining the two ideas, a how-to check-list with some forms of creative expression? Could it result in being able to steal like an artist? Again, you need some fundamentals in place before being able to creatively alter while also remembering following other people’s generic recommendations won’t get you there.

Charged Creative Expression

That is part of what a book by Brendon Burchard called The Charge goes into. Brendon writes about, “activating the 10 human drives that make you feel alive” one of them being creative expression. Is the environment around you an expression of who you are? Did you get your hands dirty making it your own or did you settle for the default? Brendon says you get much more juice from life by making sure your finger prints are all over your surrounding environment and what you own. That means when people visit your house for example, they can see your character in how it is shaped inside and out.

There is nothing new in customizations but the why makes it so. Go through the motions and follow the to-do list of others or let your mind stretch to what makes your character interesting. Having a website that is a full expression of your character is one way to have a creative digital footprint.

Creative Digital Footprint

Having a creative digital footprint is both a visual and content focused endeavor. You need both of these elements to help to build a community not just an audience. Visuals spark connection with the crock brain while content gets to the analytical. You shouldn’t judge a book by it’s cover but knowing people do means you should have a good cover. The same is true for a website. For this consider a custom WordPress theme or having a theme build with that in mind.

Customizing WordPress Themes

There are 57, 941, 472 WordPress blogs created (and counting!) and many of these will probably use many of the free WordPress themes available. You need to stand out with unique visuals not the same theme as many other websites. Another huge consideration is that not all free themes support WordPress updates. These are essential for security and functionality but you don’t want to have to change theme every time an update comes along. Instead of going for the free go for something like Copyblogger’s Prose theme. It is inexpensive, fully supported for future updates, supports mobile through responsive web design, and you don’t need to know coding to customize it to your own character. Prose is technically a child theme build on Copyblogger’s Genesis core but that is for another blog post.

Your Content, Your Voice, Your Character

Grabbing people with your theme is only one part of the equation, you need to grab them with your content. There are many who won’t start a website convinced they can’t write. The mistake is being convinced you need to write like other people or that you need to be perfect at it right now (shipping is just as important, see Seth Godin video at end of this post). People will be drawn to your website for your ideas and the writing (ok with a bit of internet marketing) but writing is a constantly improving process. What you need is your own character, something people won’t read between the pages of some slick magazine. The author within the slick magazine is unreachable but you are real and that realness can translate to community. Solid ideas, ideas that work and make someone inspired or nod their head in agreement go a long way. For inspiration to get jump started try reading The Impact Equation by Chris Brogan and Julien Smith, How to be Legendary by Johnny B Truant, Storyline by Donald Miller, or You Are a Writer by Jeff Goins.

Inspiration for a Creative Digital Footprint

There are tons of websites with character, some simple, some more complicated. Here are a couple of example websites that will inspire you either through the design, content, or both. Of course that probably isn’t accurate as I am biased towards websites with very simple designs and killer content.

  • Johnny B Truant: The design is simple but the character that comes via his image biting an apple and tagline “The Internet Made Awesome” are unmistakable. The content is not for the faint of heart as Johnny let’s the rebel in him shine forth. He also likes zombies and has a zombie podcast to prove it.
  • Storyline Blog: This is by author Donald Miller. I first read his book A Million Miles in a Thousand Years: How I Learned to Live a Better Story and was hooked by the idea of living a better story. Miller has since written Storyline and developed a whole website (mysubplot.com) that “helps you live life like a story.” The contributors to the Storyline blog all have put character into what they produce.
  • Occam’s Razor: Avinash Kaushik is the Digital Marketing Evangelist at Google but what makes Avinash, Avinash is how much of his own character comes through and the amount of shear brilliance he shares within every post. A great example is Avinash’s recent post about Facebook that could have been a mini ebook. When you listen to Avinash speak all of that comes through even more.

Endless Possibilities

There are endless possible ways to “pimp out” your online world. Every medium you have online gives you options to customize and should be used. Consider custom Twitter backgrounds, custom Google Plus images, customizing your YouTube account, and so on. What are you waiting for, it is time to go “pimp out” your online world!

Signed, The Little Guy Revolution

The Little Guy Revolution blog is written by Wyatt Christman.

Note: There are affiliate links in the above content.

Bonus! Ship it or Die video from Seth Godin.

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