I’ve been a busy little monkey lately, reorganizing my work, my home, my life…  Big things are shifting!  I’ve got new clients (who are WONDERFUL), new energy, new undertakings, and new partners helping me keep track of it all.

For the new and confused: I build websites. Right now I’m focused on smart, creative clients who do good things for their communities, and who like to be really involved in their own web presence.  Magically, they’ve been finding me.

What I need right now is an enlarged posse of Kick Ass Collaborators.  Maybe that’s you.  Maybe I already know you’re amazing and we haven’t merged brains in awhile, so it’s time for you to tug on my sleeve.  Maybe you just ran across this post through the ethersphere and you need to introduce yourself.  Maybe it’s somewhere in between.

To be totally clear: I don’t have a specific project that I’m hiring for. There is no work for you in my pocket. Not today. Opportunities are flying around in the air, though, and it helps to know who’s ready to jump on them.

I love working with people who…

  • Can clearly tell me what they kick ass at, and be honest about where they’re less experienced.
  • Prefer the freelance world to the employment world.  (There’s a big culture difference between the two.)
  • Have other clients, creative projects, and exciting stuff in their lives. (Just be sure there’s some space in there for more.)

I should also add, if you don’t already know, that I’m extremely LGBT-, gender-variant-, and “quirky weirdo”-friendly.

Right now I’m MOST interested in Designers.

The one I’ve worked with for years has moved on to other passions, and I need some new talent in the house.  I’m interested in designers who can…

  • Ask a confused client all the right questions to develop the look and feel of a new brand from scratch (logos, colors, fonts, etc).
  • Take an existing brand and a bunch of user experience requirements, and design a website layout in Photoshop that makes everyone happy.
  • Take an existing website design and make it better according to some requirements.
  • Create interesting illustrations for content.
  • Look at some examples of a style, and then design something new using that style.
  • Design something new using your own unique style.
  • Slice up mockups and export images for coding, being careful about file sizes and color quality.
  • Work within an existing webpage using your bonus HTML/CSS skills to change and restyle content.   (Note: WYSIWYG skills don’t count here.)

It’s okay if you don’t do all of those.  In fact, it’s fine if you can only do one of them, as long as you do it really well.

If you’re still nodding “yes that’s me,” please send me an email (info at sarahdopp dot com) with the following:

  • What, from the list above, can you do really well?
  • Please show me some examples of your work that give me a sense of your style and skills.
  • Please tell me what hourly rates (or package prices) you charge for your work.  (Unfortunate truth: I don’t have a lot of energy for negotiation, so if you don’t give me this piece up front, there’s a good chance you’ll fall off my radar. I can tell you that if it’s over $100/hr it’s too high for me, and if it’s under $20/hr it’s too low.  Yeah, I know, that doesn’t quite narrow it down.)
  • Please give me an idea of how experienced you are, both with professional design and professional freelancing/consulting.  Be totally honest. I can work with all kinds of experience levels, but only if I’m clear on what I’m working with.
  • Tell me about how much space you think you’ll have for new projects between now and, say, March.
  • If you’re not absolutely sure that I already know you, please tell me how you found me or where we’ve met.  Links to where I can find you on the internet are also really helpful.
  • What are you really excited about these days?  (Tell me anything.)

Please take your time and get it all into one email.  If you send me follow-up “oops, I forgot this…” emails, I promise I’ll lose at least one of them.

And while I’ve got your attention, there’s space in my world for other kinds of posse rockers, too.  I’d love me a broader network of…

  • Drupal experts
  • WordPress experts
  • XHTML/CSS coders
  • Smart, clever copywriters
  • Quality Assurance detail-checkers
  • [insert backend programming language here] developers
  • … you tell me.

Just adjust the requests above for what you do, and send me an email. Remember there are lots of people who can claim the same job title, so find a way to be more awesome than them.

Thanks, and I look forward to working with you!

Warmly,
Sarah Dopp

email: info at sarahdopp dot com

Ever been good at something you weren’t quite sure what to do with?

I think I need to make some choices this summer about where I want to put my energy, and I’m generously blessed in having a few too many options. Not that any of them are easy. They’re just… there. If I want them.

Over the last year you’ve seen me kindasorta turn into an expert on non-traditional gender and queerness. It was unintentional and a little awkward (which, hey, fits the topic nicely), but it happened. Genderfork, an online art project I started, grew to 5,000 regular readers and is being run by a volunteer staff of 11. Allegheny College flew me across the country to speak on the grey areas of gender and sexuality (which went extremely well). And I’m also running San Francisco’s Queer Open Mic, which is thriving.

I could do more of this. The path is even in front of me, staring me in the face: Genderfork would make a great book. It would also make an incredibly cool Etsy-esque online marketplace for artists and clothing designers. And it would make wonderful nonprofit organization, funneling its funds toward genderqueer and trans youth art projects, community spaces, and workshops (I have a bunch of ideas already). I’ve got the resources and support I’d need to make it all happen, even simultaneously, and I would position myself at the same time to become a more prominent public speaker on the topic.

I could do that. And I might. It seems like a lot of people would like me to, and it might be the right path for me. I’m at a point where I love public speaking, and genderqueerness is a very fun and rewarding world. (Do you know how many people get in touch with me just to tell me I’ve changed their lives? About 3-5 a week right now.) I just haven’t decided yet.

The truth? Gender’s a hard topic. It kinda wears me out.

And the thing is, I didn’t get here because I wanted to be a Gender Expert. I got here because I spent about six months actively exploring my own gender, accidentally created a community around the topic (I did the same thing with creative writing five years ago), and then had fun using the project as an opportunity to hone some of community management skills. It’s also worth mentioning that Genderfork isn’t my voice anymore; it’s intentionally not about me at all. I have a heavy hand in guiding its focus and values, but as Kate Bornstein puts it, the site is a “prism of genders” — it exists to show that there are many, many people in this space. We curate it quietly and we let the content speak for itself. Queer Open Mic has a comparable setup — my role is to create a thriving space for other people’s voices.

In other words, for a Gender Expert, I’m not saying much. (Or maybe I’m just confusing that role with “pundit.”)

At at the same time, this blog (Dopp Juice) has been a little short on content lately, and it’s bugging me. I want to speak. But I’m stuck because I’m not sure what I want to talk about. This doesn’t seem like the right place to hit you with my gender theories somehow. Doing so feels like it will seal the deal on me fully entering the Gender Expert arena before I’m ready for it. I’d kind of rather still talk about social media.

But social media marketing is for “douchebags” now.

::rolling eyes at own internal critic.::

I love community management and sincere social media marketing. That’s something I actually set out to do (or rather: realized it was perfect when i found myself accidentally standing in it). I spoke last week on a panel about Online Promotion for Artists and turned into a giddy 5-year-old, so excited to be able tell people how to make the Internet do more wonderful things for them. I can talk for hours about this stuff. (And a lot of people have figured out that I’m secretly a much cheaper consultant than I let on to be — all you have to do is buy me dinner and I’ll brainstorm on your project with you for two hours.)

But I don’t talk about it — at least not so much online. Unlike with genderqueerness, the blogosphere is saturated with pundits on this stuff. And honestly? I don’t like most of them. There’s a lot of superficial manipulation going on in social media right now, and I don’t like carrying that reputation by association. I’ve started adding wincing disclaimers to my self-description when I tell people I’m a social media consultant. (“Well, sort of. I’m the good kind. I mean…”) I’m no longer quite so proud of something I’m still completely in love with.

You see my dilemma.

More truth: I’m taking this situation very seriously this summer. I’ve given my primary gig notice that I plan on repositioning myself come September. That might mean doing the same job with a new perspective. Or it might mean a different job within the same organization (the creative freedom we have there is hard to match). Or it mean something completely different.

Three months seems like long enough to be able to figure it out.

Wanna help? Maybe we could get coffee soon?

Thanks and love,
Sarah

sarahdopp-lyingdown

Quick Recap: In my last post, I showed a livejournal error message that referenced the words “style” and “fashion.” For me, it posed the question, “Could this be a subliminal branding technique used to appeal to cutting-edge user groups?” Fortunately, Jenks pulled me off my overly-theoretical soapbox by responding with a healthy degree of skepticism:

“unless the fashion tips came with instructions that people who spend more time with vogue than with code could understand, it’s doubtful.”

I have a great deal of respect for this woman and her work as an expert on identity marketing. I also happen to not be an expert on identity marketing, which means I would now be stepping way out of line if I were to pursue this argument.

But that’s never stopped me before.

Here’s my point: I don’t think we’re talking about fashion tips here — I think what we’re seeing is boring technodribble presented in language that’s familiar to a hip crowd. It’s a subtle way of acknowledging that their users aren’t all geeks, and tipping their hats to the voguers.

Do I think Livejournal did this on purpose? No (although, if they did, someone please let me know). Do I think we should learn a lesson from the coincidence? Yes. What’s the lesson? There are plenty of ways that we can communicate to our users, “We are one of you; we speak your language.” Plenty.

Let’s break these down into three levels: the big ways, the basic ways, and the subtle ways. Read the rest of this entry »