May 22, 2011

Top 5 Reasons to Embrace A Move to Syracuse

1. Summer Festivities

Summer in Syracuse, while it may seem short, is beautiful. There are festivals and BBQs every weekend, often times multiple to choose from. The festivities range from Food to Blues, Middle Eastern Culture to Arts and Crafts and so much more. There are activities for young and old, families and college kids and there’s always fantastic music at food the New York State Fair. There aren’t many places out there that have as festive summer as Syracuse!

If you aren’t much into festivals with the crowds and the parking, Syracuse has a high number of great outdoor ice cream shops, a famous hot dog house on the lake, and lots of small lakes to cool off in.

2. The Region

Syracuse is located on the edge of the Finger Lakes region which is home to 14, small fresh water lakes. Closest to Syracuse are Onondaga, Skaneateles, Oneida and Otisco lakes – which are home to beautiful parks, small towns, and great summer activities. My favorite is Skaneateles – only 35 minutes from Syracuse, it has a quaint little town feel to it with a beautiful harbor. It’s the perfect place for an afternoon get away!

In the same area sits wine country – home to beautiful scenery, delicious wine, and things to do year round. My suggestion – Wine Trail! In my opinion, there’s nothing better than spending a beautiful spring day in wine country sampling the region’s finest wines.

3. Cost of Living

One word. Cheap. So Syracuse doesn’t have all of the perks of living in a city such as New York, but the price difference sure makes up for it. Rent a 700 sq foot apartment in NYC and you are looking at $1,500. Same size apartment in Syracuse, $700. The difference between purchasing a home is even greater. Land a descent paying job and you can be living the good life with out having to live with five other people to cover the rent. Have a passion for NYC? Bus tickets are cheap and its only a few hours away!

4. The University

What can I say, Syracuse is home to Syracuse University – the Orange! SU is a private university located just a few blocks from downtown and is one of the top universities in the county. It’s well known for it’s beautiful campus, excellent education and star basketball team. If you’re looking for a college that’s urban or suburban, Syracuse is your place. And, if you’re a sports fan, there’s really no other place like it!

5. Make What You Want Of It

So you’re moving to Syracuse, like it or not. You want a city life? You got it. More of a suburban type? Easy. A country girl? Sure thing.

Living in or near Armory Square in downtown Syracuse can give you the feel of living in a city. The hottest bars, clubs and restaurants are all located within a few blocks of each other and is home to quite a night life, especially to those young professionals.

If you are looking for a suburban setting, you’ve got tons to chose from. Syracuse is a small city with suburban sprawl like you’ve never seen. The suburbs run miles north, east, and west of the city with different feels and cultures. Syracuse suburbs are also home to some of the top schools in the country – the perfect place to start a family!

More of the country type? Head any direction for half an hour and have your pick. Even certain areas of the suburbs can feel quite rural. Trees and streams are plentiful is this area of the state and it’s not hard to find a quite place to settle in.

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May 22, 2011

The Competition

Syracuse.com: Central New York Blogs

Strengths: Vast collection of content, over 25 internally run blogs and an additional 32 community run blogs, apple opportunity for user generated content, and has the credibility of a well known name and established website.

Weaknesses: The community blogs aren’t always updated frequently, majority of community and staff run blogs have zero comments, difficult to share, the opportunity for engagement is being missed, and it feels too news-like.

My blog: I offer similar content – a range of local topics and events – but take a more personalize approach as opposed to a journalistic approach. I have less content, making searching my site a lot easier. I also offer lots of engagement opportunities and invite users to share their experiences and opinions.

Syracuse New Times

Strengths: Hyper local, lots of content, easy to navigate, large and interactive social media presence, and very easy to share content.

Weaknesses: Events calendar that is not user friendly, very little user engagement on the site, lot of ads mixed in with content areas, very text heavy with few images, posts tend to come multiple at a time with day between them.

My blog: My blog is also hyper-local spanning across a number of communities. I also plan to be interactive on social media but also interactive on my site. I will offer a user interface that is easier to use and more relevant content that comes out on a consistent basis.

Pulled Into Syracuse: Reviews of restaurants and eateries in the City of Syracuse

Strengths: Comprehensive coverage of restaurants in the Syracuse area, easy to view 5 star rating system, and the reviews include a link to the restaurant, it’s menu, and address.

Weaknesses: Very bland design, very few comments, not much engagement on the site, photos don’t make the food look appetizing

My blog: My blog offers very similar content – food reviews – but also much more. I offer multiple reviews of restaurants featuring different dishes, events at the location, and professional quality photographs in addition to posts about other community events and topics. My blog will be much more visually appealing and engage readers in the comments area.

May 21, 2011

CuseMunchies.com

I am happy to announce the opening of CuseMunchies.com – delivering all of your favorite snacks late into the night and into the morning! At CuseMunchies.com, are familiar with the late night extravaganzas and all night study sessions. Our goal, satisfy your munchie needs all night long. We are open 6pm-6am everyday and have a large selection of snacks and meals.

What can you expect if you order from CuseMunchies.com? That’s simple – a huge selection, quick delivery, and prices even students can afford!

We like to keep you on your toes – when you order, tell us what you are up to and we’ll throw in an extra treat! If you’re studying, we might toss in a Red Bull on the house, or if you’re drunk, perhaps we’ll add some party hats! You never know what might happen when you order!

On our blog, we’ll be telling fun stories about the late night delivery scene – funny stories and characters we’ve met a long the way. We’ll also be taking suggestions on how to improve our selection and share our party spirit with you!

If you order from CuseMunchies.com, let us know what you think!

May 21, 2011

Daily Deals

1. Syracuse Athletics

Rationale: With an audience all over CNY and a passion for Syracuse, it makes perfect sense to advertise Syracuse Athletics particularly on my site where my audience comes to look for things to do in the area. My site reaches an audience outside of the city of Syracuse and might help draw a wider audience to games.

The offer: Banner Adds, side bar adds, sponsored mentions, sponsored reviews and branding around big games and tournaments, daily deals on discount ticket prices

2. Wegmans

Rationale: Everyone has to go grocery shopping and Wegmans is clearly the best local choice – however, they don’t always have the lowest prices. Advertising directly to locals with coupons that are relevant to their lives may be just enough to bring them to the stores, which are located all over the region.

The offer: Banner Adds, side bar adds and sponsored mentions when applicable to local events and happenings, daily deals on select items

3. SoundGarden

Rationale: Syracuse has a small but lively music scene which we could collectively tap into. By offering coupons and discounts for locals performances and music merchandise, SoundGarden can make itself known to those who live outside the city limits and may not know the shop exists or never really had a reason to visit.

The offer: Side bar adds and sponsored reviews and posts of events and gigs, option for users to listen to local music with SoundGarden branding on the player, daily deals on select albums and general coupons

4. Empire Brewery

Rationale: Empire Brewery is a local restaurant and microbrewery located downtown. It’s pretty successful during the lunch and dinner rush, especially on the weekend, but tends to get slow in the evenings and many overlook their in-house brews. By offering daily deals on their in-house brews it might encourage beer lovers to try a new place. I offer a large audience of diverse locals which trust my review of local food and drink.

The offer: Banner adds, side bar adds and sponsored reviews of the restaurant, Brew Fest and downtown events, branding near Brew Fest, Daily Deals on specials and in-house brews

5. YMCA

Rationale: What better place to promote community services than a community oriented blog? Just like my audience, the YMCA has locations all over the region, making them easy to find for all readers who use the coupons. I have a large, community oriented readership who is always looking for things to do – this is the perfect match!

The offer: Side bar adds, sponsored reviews of facilities and community events, Daily Deals on memberships and youth activities

May 21, 2011

Editorial Calendar

Weekly Features:

Mondays: Review and recap of weekend events, etc.

Tuesdays: Food and restaurant reviews

Wednesdays: Community topics

Thursdays: What’s happening around town this weekend

Fridays: Engagement – invite readers to submit content, participate in polls, talk about their plans for the weekend, etc.

 

Key Dates:

June:

  1. June 3: Taste of Syracuse
    1. First festival of the season! Summer is finally here! Posts every day leading up to the event highlights different restaurants, shops, highlights from last year, what to expect this year, etc.
    2. Post about the whole event the Thursday before
    3. Recap, review and photos the Monday after and links to the restaurants and musicians who were featured
  2. June 10-12: Jamesville Balloonfest
    1. Post about the event the Tuesday Thursday with photos from last year
    2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after
  3. June 17: 60/60 
    1. Post about the event the Thursday before with spotlights on some of the artists
    2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after
  4. June 24-25: Syracuse M + T Jazz Fest
    1. Posts highlighting some of the performers the week leading up to the event. Musicians: Felix Cavaliere’s Rascals, Average White Band, Robert Cray Band, Jazz Guitars meet Hendrix, Al Chez & the Brothers of Funk Big Band and Return of Forever IV featuring Chick Corea, Stanley Clark, Lenny White, Frank Gambale & Jean-Luc Ponty.
    2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after links to how to connect with local musicians
  5. June 9-10: Finger Lakes Lavender Festival
    1. Post about the event the Thursday before – this is a less popular festival so I will specifically talk about what the event is, it’s history, and why Lavender might actually be interesting.
    2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after
  6. June 8-10: NY States Blues Festival
    1. Post about the event the Thursday before highlighting some of the performers and an additional piece on Wednesday about the jazz and blues culture and community in Syracuse
    2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after and links to how to connect with local musicians

July: 

  1. July 4
    1. List of the best fireworks shows in the area
    2. Post about the event the holiday a few days before
    3. Recap, review and photos the Monday after
  2. July 15:Empire Brewfest
    1. Post about the event the Thursday before and all you could want to know about Empire Brewery including an interview with the founder
    2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after
  3. July 15-17: 82nd Annual St. Elias Middle Eastern Cultural Festival
    1. Post about the event the Thursday before including a comprehensive history of the event and its influence in the community
    2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after and links to local Middle Eastern restaurants, businesses and organizations

10. July 29-31: Syracuse Arts & Crafts Festival

  1. Post about the event the Thursday before
  2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after

11. July 29-31: Northern Jazz and Wine Festival

  1. Post about the event the Thursday before
  2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after

August:

  1. August 7: Bavarian Fest
    1. Post about the event the Thursday before
    2. Recap, review and photos the Monday after
  2. August 25 – September 5: New York State Fair
    1. Post about the state fair the week leading up to the event. This is an incredibly popular event so in addition to highlighting the events, performers and stands I will give tips on how to make the most of your time there, avoid parking dilemmas, etc.
    2. Recap, review and photos the Saturday of the first weekend – starts on a Thursday – then follow up with additional posts throughout the event on different performers and events
  3. Back to school season – Pillar Posts throughout August
    1. Where to find the best school supply deals
    2. Tips for heading off to college
    3. Study tips for a successful year
    4. Local study groups and organizations for kids
May 20, 2011

Emerging Trend: Citizen Activism

The Trend: Citizen Activism

As someone who has always been at least somewhat interested in activism and social good, I love that citizen activism is now popular and gaining momentum online and off. There are a number of tools that are making donating simple and easy using the technology we use everyday. For example, SwipeGood is a tool you attach to your credit card – it rounds up all of your purchases to the nearest dollar and donates that “change” to your choice of charity or organization. There are other tools similar to this, some based on clicking a link each day, using a specific search engine, or even using location based services to raise money.

Effects of Citizen Activism on my blog:

Citizen activism typically relates to donating money or volunteering for a cause, but it can also mean working to better your community – something my readers are likely to have a natural inclination for whether or not they know it. My readers live and breathe Syracuse and they want it to be a great place for everyone who lives or visits Syracuse. I don’t foresee any major conflicts surrounding this emerging trend and my blog as long as I am sure to highlight and review local activists and related activities – such as walks to raise money, events at local nonprofits and community activities.

Changes to my blog:

I think I will add a section to my blog, or category, that is specifically about social good, activism and community engagement. I will make sure that a good portion of my posts are about nonprofit organizations or social good activities – perhaps profile some members of the community who are active in this arena. I will also keep a running list of local organizations community members can get involved in or donate to.

How I will stay ahead:

I don’t think I will necessarily come to be a leader in the field of citizen activism but I will definitely embrace it. In addition to writing about social good and causes in the area, I will compile a list of local organizations, which users can donate to using tools like SwipeGood, GoodSearch, ChangingthePresent, Razoo, and GiveAsYouLive. Hopefully my blog will make getting involved in citizen activism easy and draw light to those involved in the community who work to make it a fun place to live and blog about!

May 20, 2011

Goals and Metrics

Goal: To provide effective content and a community of engagement – focus on growth and increased reader engagement

Meeting my goal:

  • My site is a blog, not a comprehensive website, so it will opinion and conversation based about places and happenings
  • Ask tons of questions! Readers are often opinionated and passionate and I hope to play off of those opinions to generate comments and build polls.
  • Ask readers to submit their thoughts, tips, suggestions, reviews, photos, etc. – Since this is a blog about a community, I want the community to be active on the page and I might even have a “Community” page just for users to submit their own content.
  • A couple ideas for user content are: Bucket Lists, How-tos, Tips and Reviews
  • Work with local businesses and events to include co-promotion using ads and reviews
  • Connect with similar organizations locally who have a similar audience such as 40 Below, the Tech Garden, CenterstateCEO, VisitSyracuse.com, and more.
  • Build a comprehensive community calendar – a one stop shop for all events in the area which also allows users to add their own events
  • Incorporate job and review widgets into my site such as Syracuse Jobs, Business Finder and Yelp to help readers find places to visit if my own content doesn’t meet their needs
  • Build an engaged community by using real life scavenger hunts, building an interactive city guide, leaving tips on Foursquare and starting a hash tag for conversation on Twitter

Metrics:

  • Keep track of site and page visits and specifically pay attention to time of day, traffic around events, and time of year
  • Pay attention to which pages and posts get the most views
  • Study where visitors come from, pages they enter through and where they go when they leave my site
  • Monitor how many readers are commenting and on what topics
  • Pay attention to how many links are being shard and how
  • Keep count of unique visitors and loyal followers
  • Use analytic tools: Google Analytics, HootSuite, Klout and others
May 20, 2011

What To Do This Weekend in Syracuse: Downtown Living Tour 2011

This weekend is the fifth annual Downtown Living Tour – Saturday May 21 from 12pm-6pm.

This event is for you if:

  • You are planning to move to Syracuse and are looking for a place to live or learn more about the city
  • You are new to the are and want to familiarize yourself with your new town
  • You want to get to know more about Downtown Syracuse and get to know some of your neighbors
  • You want to learn more about the city’s revitalization projects
  • You want to take advantage of the special sales and offers at the local shops and restaurants downtown
  • You are interested in learning about the local history

The official tour of downtown Syracuse business and work spaces costs $12 and tickets will be available in the lobby of Dey’s Plaza from 11:30am to 4:00pm or you can purchase tickets ahead of time on the Downtown Living Tour’s website.

This event is for locals too!

So, you’ve lived in Syracuse for the past 10 years and know the area pretty well… why bother dealing with the parking and crowd? The city of Syracuse is working day and night to carry out a downtown revitalization plan to make your city more inviting and my guess is you haven’t spent much time downtown lately. The weather is supposed to be beautiful so why don’t you spend the afternoon admiring the revitalization progress, checking out the new shops, and taking advantage of the discounts many restaurants will be offering!


“We wanted to do something a little different for the fifth year,” Treier said. “We want people to see downtown as the neighborhood of choice not only to live, but to work.” – CNY Central

More about the event:

Tell me what you think!

What was your favorite part about last year’s tour? What are you looking forward to this year? Any tips about great spots to check out that aren’t on the tour?

Check back on Monday for my recap, thoughts, comments and pictures from this year’s tour!


May 19, 2011

Let’s bring in some cash!

Blog Network: Post Standard/Syracuse.com Community Blog

Explanation: Syracuse.com has both internally produced blogs and community produced blogs. I plan to register for the community blog and contribute content in order to familiarize the community with my name and hopefully drive them back to my site. The Post Standard/Syracuse.com is the largest newspaper in the area and I would say and overwhelming majority of the CNY community reads it or visits the website on a regular basis for local news.

Pros: Large audience, similar audience, similar topics, possible recognition, access to new and applicable topics and events, potential SEO strengthening by linking to my own blog, added credibility and readership

Cons: No direct income, guidelines to follow, set up not as individual blogs but contributors to existing blogs and topics, no control over the look and feel, might lose ownership of content

Expectations: I wouldn’t expect any direct revenue but opportunities for indirect employment via speaking engagements and consulting and hopefully increasing the readership on my site where I am a member of Amazon’s affiliate program.

Affiliate Program: Amazon

Explanation: The Amazon affiliate program, while it might not bring in the most money, seems like a strategic way to bring in some cash. I would probably gear the items towards the season – winter gear, summer fun, and SU athletic wear.

Pros: Simple, easy to use, tracking tools to improve customization, some cash

Cons: Probably won’t bring in a ton of cash

Expectations: I would expect this to bring in some extra money but wouldn’t be able to rely on it at all. I think everyone can find something to purchase on Amazon so hopefully my readers will be inspired by the selection of seasonal items.

Sponsored Editorial Posts: Local and Regional Businesses

Explanation: I plan on writing the majority of posts about local restaurants, shops and events. Inviting local business to sponsor posts will benefit both of us – they will get a spotlight on their business and I will make a couple bucks. I wouldn’t charge a whole lot for sponsored posts since I will be writing similar content all of the time, but will be sure to limit any negative content and include their logo, pictures and a link to their site. I would charge more for posts outside of local businesses, such as tourist attractions or future events.

Pros: Build relationships with local businesses, build SEO with links, create additional content, build readership by having the business link to my site

Cons: Some money but still not a ton, might run out of places to write about, businesses might find more value working with larger sites such as Syracuse.com

Expectations: I would expect some participation and some consistent cash flow

Coupons and Weekly Deals: Local and Regional Businesses

Explanation: Who doesn’t like saving money? Syracuse is a small, but sprawling, city and it’s likely that people have their regulars. In a city with limited options, hidden gems, and tons of favorites, I think weekly deals would be a huge success!

Pros: Increased traffic, increased revenue, increased SEO and more chances to come up in a search

Cons: Time consuming, amount of revenue will vary greatly, Groupon and LivingSocial already exist

Expectations: I would expect this to be successful and bring in some cash on a regular basis – not enough to live on, but perhaps this year’s trip to A Taste of Syracuse .

Consulting

Explanation: I already consult for businesses about using social media and I think that expanding my consulting to include blogging would be perfect next step. Enough local businesses have finally accepted and begun using social media and there is definitely a market for blogging consulting.

Pros: Additional income, networking,

Cons: Time consuming, content restrictions, client turn over periods

Expectations: I expect I would make a fair profit from consulting but it would be a challenge to maintain this blog and devote time to consulting at the same time.

May 19, 2011

RFP for Apple

Benefits of Advertising on this Syracuse Living Site:

  • Access to a large and diverse audience
  • Access to a new audience which has limit knowledge of Apple
  • Annual AppleFest in Syracuse
  • Access to the growing tech community at the University and local hospitals

Opportunities Available:

  • A wide variety of advertisements sizes and location
  • Banner ads, side bar ads, embedded video and sponsored posts
  • As an loyal Apple user myself, I would be very open to sponsored posts with Apple branding
  • I take a lot of photos and blog from my iPhone and iMac – you would be able to brand the images and posts from my Apple products
  • Offer weekly deals to users

Best Ways to Promote:

Since my audience is rather large and diverse, users are of all ages and backgrounds and come from across all of CNY, this opens up the opportunity to target a wide range of demographics. For Apple products other than the iPhone, which is available at local ATT and Version stores, users in the area are limited to shopping at a local Best Buy store, shopping online, or visiting the only Apple store in CNY, at Carrousel Mall.

Due to the limited exposure of Apple products, specifically outside of the University setting, advertising on my site, directly to locals, will provide a valuable method for getting your products in front of a whole new audience.

Since my audience has one thing in common – living in Syracuse – this would be the perfect place to highlight your app store. Specifically, highlighting apps that they can use locally like the Weather App, ESPN for college sports, and location based sites like Foursquare that enhance, personalize and socialize living in Syracuse would be a great way to connect with my users.

“AppleFest by Apple”

A unique way to promote your products would be to promote your products in the fall, leading up to the region’s annual Apple Festival in the fall – or even become a sponsor! The event is a weekend long event which draws huge crowds from across the state. This is an event, and a beautiful time of year in Syracuse, which I attend and blog about annually. In conjunction with this, we can hold a poll asking – what is your favorite type of apple and what is your favorite Apple product – and enter the respondents into a content to win an Apple product the day of the festival.