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Google Pay, built for Singapore

24 de setembre[ —]

When people in Singapore open the Google Pay app on their Android or iOS device, they’re met by some familiar sights—from the distinctive outlines of the Merlion and the Marina Bay Sands building to the island’s much-loved otters. The goal isn’t just to make Singaporeans feel at home. It’s part of a bigger effort to design Google Pay with local needs in mind.


Our mission with Google Pay is to make money simple, secure and helpful for everyone. Singaporeans were already using Google Pay to tap onto public transport and pay for purchases at more than 80,000 checkout counters. Now, together with our partners, we’re improving and expanding the Google Pay app in Singapore to better reflect the growing role of digital payments in peoples’ lives. 


Money made simple with more banks


To make Google Pay more helpful, we’re building on Singapore’s national real-time payment service—known as PayNow. 


With the PayNow integration, you can send money to anybody in Singapore, even if they’re not on Google Pay. All you need is their phone number. It’s a feature that we introduced for OCBC customers earlier in the year—we’re now extending it to customers of DBS Paylah!and Standard Chartered Bank.  


OCBC, DBS Paylah! and Standard Chartered Bank customers can also use their linked accounts to pay any business that has a PayNow QR code displayed, allowing merchants to receive payments in their corporate bank accounts.


Built around you, your friends and the places you pay 


Payments don’t take place in isolation—they’re part of the daily interactions you have with friends, family and local businesses. 


We built Google Pay around these everyday relationships, to make it quick and easy to transact with the people and businesses you know. In just a few taps, you'll be able to see a past payment with a business, or find a friend to pay. Plus, sending money to someone new is as easy as sending a chat message—just start entering their phone number.


And now we’re taking it a step further—Singapore is the first country where Google Pay users can form groups to organize and manage payments, as well as divide bills and other joint expenses within the app.

GPay SG screenshots

Just for Singapore: food and movies

With Google Pay you can already browse cuisines and order takeout or delivery with the Order Food feature. Now that restaurants have resumed dine-in services, we suspect the new Split a Bill feature will be particularly useful for requesting and receiving payments after a meal with friends. 

Singaporeans also love catching a movie, so it’s no surprise there was a collective cheer when cinemas re-opened recently. With the new Google Pay, you can skip the box office queue by booking a movie ticket and reserving your seats instantly within the app. We've just added Golden Village locations, in addition to Shaw Theatres—giving moviegoers a total of 174 screens to choose from across Singapore.

A more rewarding Google Pay

To make it fun to use Google Pay, the app gives out rewards for transactions in the form of virtual scratchcards (you ‘scratch’ them to find out how much you’ve won). You can earn scratchcards with instant cashback rewards on qualifying transactions—and we’re extending the bonuses when you introduce a friend to Google Pay

GPay SG screenshots 3

The ways Singaporeans manage their money and pay for the things they need are changing—and so are their expectations of payment apps. We’re looking forward to continuing to improve Google Pay for everyone in Singapore, building on everything we’ve announced today.  



How Android Enterprise supports a Zero Trust security model

23 de setembre[ —]

The surge in remote and mobile working has put an increased emphasis on how organizations should best manage and secure device access to critical information. New research from Omdia, in a survey of 700 IT decision makers, found that businesses are  expanding and strengthening access controls now that many employees spend very little or no time in the office.

This has piqued interest in the Zero Trust security model, which is built on the premise that access to corporate resources should continuously be verified. In the Omdia survey, 31 percent of the respondents are currently using Zero Trust, with another 47 percent planning to do so in the near future.

Understanding the Zero-Trust security model

The Zero Trust security model enables a mobile and remote workforce to securely connect to company resources from virtually anywhere. Devices are vetted before being granted access to company resources. Companies can use tight, granular controls to specify the level of access whether the devices are connected to a corporate network, from home, or elsewhere.

An effective Zero Trust implementation requires numerous device signals, context and controls to make intelligent decisions about access. A key piece of a Zero Trust architecture is the enforcement point, which is the identity or network component that grants or denies access based on the various device and user signals that are available. For example, the enforcement point may decline access to devices that do not have the most recent security patch or show signs of running a compromised operating system.

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A Zero Trust diagram showing how various device and user signals are used as part of contextual rules that dictate the control.

How Android enables a Zero Trust security approach

Android has a wealth of platform features and APIs that our enterprise mobility management and security partners leverage to safeguard backend services and resources. Let’s look at how Android provides the building blocks you need for a Zero Trust deployment.

Android provides a variety of device signals that administrators can use in building systems to verify the security and integrity of devices. In a Zero Trust model, these signals are used to assess whether a device should be allowed to access corporate information.

The first thing that needs to be checked is the OS version and Security Patch Level of the device. The SafetyNet Attestation API verifies a device has not been rooted, while the SafetyNet VerifyApps API checks for the presence of malware. Admins can also confirm if applications are complying with Android security standards. The NetworkEvent and SecurityLog logs provide data to check for any suspicious activity or anomalies on devices.

The next aspect is context: 

  • Who is trying to access a particular resource—are we sure that this is in fact the right device and person?

  • What resource are they trying to access—is this resource restricted to a select audience or region?

  • When are they trying to access it—is this during work hours or after hours?

  • Where are they trying to access it from—are they in their normal region or traveling?

  • How are they attempting to access it—are they accessing this from a web app or native app, is the device fully managed or BYOD?

  • Why do they need to access it—is this someone who typically accesses this information?

Putting Zero Trust to work for you

Now that we have device security signals and the context we can decide how to control the access to the information.

Here are some examples:

  • If a user is on a rooted device — no access.

  • If a user is traveling international — limited access.

  • If a user is trying to access a resource for the first time in a while — prompt for a second factor during the authentication flow.

The Android platform provides the signals and intelligence in order to understand the context and define appropriate controls in a Zero Trust deployment. What makes Android unique as a Zero Trust endpoint is that unlike other operating systems where you need to rely on the Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM) solution to gather the appropriate device signals and attributes, on Android access to these signals can be delegated so that which ever component is acting as the enforcement point; whether it be the identity provider or the network access control component, can collect all of the necessary information directly off the endpoint device as opposed to integrating with a multitude of backend systems.

If you are currently using Zero Trust or moving in that direction, make sure to confirm that your EMM or your enforcement point can access the plethora of signals directly from the device. And check out the Omdia security report to learn more about growing adoption of Zero Trust security.


Navigate safely with new COVID data in Google Maps

23 de setembre[ —]

More than one billion people turn to Google Maps for essential information about how to get from place to place–especially during the pandemic when safety concerns are top of mind. Features like popular times and live busyness, COVID-19 alerts in transit, and COVID checkpoints in driving navigation were all designed to help you stay safe when you’re out and about. This week, we’re introducing the COVID layer in Maps, a tool that shows critical information about COVID-19 cases in an area so you can make more informed decisions about where to go and what to do. 

How it works

When you open Google Maps, tap on the layers button on the top right hand corner of your screen and click on “COVID-19 info”. You’ll then see a seven-day average of new COVID cases per 100,000 people for the area of the map you’re looking at, and a label that indicates whether the cases are trending up or down. Color coding also helps you easily distinguish the density of new cases in an area. Trending case data is visible at the country level for all 220 countries and territories that Google Maps supports, along with state or province, county, and city-level data where available.

Where we get the data 

Data featured in the COVID layer comes from multiple authoritative sources, including Johns Hopkins, the New York Times, and Wikipedia. These sources get data from public health organizations like the World Health Organization, government health ministries, along with state and local health agencies and hospitals. Many of these sources already power COVID case information in Search, and we’re now expanding this data to Google Maps. 


While getting around is more complicated these days, our hope is that these Google Maps features will help you get where you need to be as safely and efficiently as possible. The COVID layer starts rolling out worldwide on Android and iOS this week. 



Get a better handle on the work day at home with Google

23 de setembre[ —]

While many of us are fortunate enough to be able to work from home during the pandemic, there's something to be said about the in-office environment that breaks up the day. Simple things like mid-morning coffee breaks to recharge or catching up with coworkers on the way to a meeting are definitely missed. 

We wanted to find a way for Google Assistant to help you stay productive and fight the “blur” that can happen when you work from home. Here's how you can use Google Assistant on any smart speaker, smart display or phone to find a better work routine at home. 


Set up a workday routine at home

Using Google Assistant Routines has become a popular way to get multiple things done with a single command. This week, we’re rolling out a new workday routine that automatically reminds you of all the small and big things to do throughout your work day—from staying on top of your calendar to taking a break away from the desk—that can sometimes be easy to forget. 

After you enable the routine in the Assistant settings on your Android or iOS device, you can start with a pre-set routine. For example, every Monday through Friday at 10:00 a.m., you’ll get a message from Google Assistant on your smart speaker or display saying “it’s time to stand up and stretch!” At 2:00 p.m., it might suggest going  for a walk, and then to grab a glass of water at 3:00 p.m. Finally, at 4:45 p.m., you’ll be reminded to start wrapping things up. Assistant will also regularly share the time with you throughout the day, so that you don’t lose track of upcoming meetings. Available starting in English, the individual Assistant actions and time blocks can all be customized to fit your schedule. 

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Schedule faster, and create to-do lists by voice

One of the simplest ways to use Google Assistant is for managing a busy schedule. You can add a new agenda item to your calendar right when it comes up with just your voice, especially when your hands are busy with something else. Just say “Hey Google, create an event” and specify the event name and date to help unload your mental task list. There’s no need to fumble around on your phone or laptop. And at any time, you can ask “Hey Google, what’s on my calendar?” or “Hey Google, when is my next meeting?”

Google Assistant can also help you create to-do lists or set reminders to stay on top of your workload. For example, try saying “Hey Google, remind me to take out the trash on Sundays at 5:00 p.m.” You can optionally specify a date as well, or say “every day/week/month/year” to set up recurring reminders. You’ll be able to pull up your to do list at any time or get a notification for upcoming reminders from any of your Assistant-enabled devices. 


A helpful reminder 

Your Google Assistant can also help you remember random or important pieces of information. Tell it what you need to know—things like “Hey Google, remember that Sam’s five-year work anniversary is next Wednesday” or "Hey Google, remember that the home office Wi-Fi password is ‘1234.’” 

Of course, from your Android or iOS phone, you can say “Hey Google, show my day” to get a Snapshot of important reminders and tasks, like paying your credit card. 


Stay connected with coworkers

While nothing can replace in-person interactions with colleagues, you can still check in by using Google Assistant on your Nest Hub Max. Just say “Hey Google, start a meeting” to connect with up to 100 people using Google Meet. To join your next meeting, say "Hey Google, join my next meeting" and you will easily connect to the next call on your personal Google Calendar. Later this year, you’ll also be able to join a video call using your Zoom account.


Mindfulness matters

It’s also important to take time to disconnect from work. Simply say “Hey Google, silence my phone” to turn on Do Not Disturb. You can also use that command for any specific Assistant-enabled devices, like Google Nest speakers or displays.

Finally, restorative sleep is the best way to stay energized and have a more productive work day. Over the next few days, we are rolling out Gentle Sleep and Wake to all smart lights to help you wind down at night and get up and at ‘em in the morning. In the evening, just say “Hey Google, sleep my lights at 10:00 p.m.” as a reminder to get to bed on time, and let the soothing experience lull you to sleep. 

Similarly, saying “Hey Google, wake my lights at 8:00 a.m.” will prompt your lights to fade in and change color for a gentle wake up. If you use Google Assistant alarms already, just say “Turn on Gentle Wake Up,” and your smart lights will start brightening 30 minutes before your alarm to help you resist the urge to hit the snooze button. 

We hope these tips help you have a productive work day at home. 



Meet the 2020 Doodle for Google winner!

23 de setembre[ —]

This year’s Doodle for Google contest was one for the books. We received tens of thousands of entries from students all over the nation answering our prompt “I show kindness by…” The student entrants this year blew us away with their empathy, artistic talent and eloquence. A few weeks ago we announced our five national finalists, one from each grade group. After careful deliberation from our Google judging panel, today we’re excited to announce the winner of the 2020 Doodle for Google contest is Texas 5th grader, Sharon Sara!

Google for Doodle
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Sharon’s Doodle titled “Together As One” highlights the importance of inclusion and acceptance, and was inspired by her personal experiences with friendship and her strong commitment to spreading kindness. Let’s get to know this year’s  Doodle for Google winner:


You’re in 5th grade now, but you entered the contest last school year when you were in 4th grade. What inspired you to enter the 2020 contest?

My art teacher from school introduced us to the contest in 3rd grade, and in 4th grade I remembered the contest and asked my dad to enter my Doodle.

How did you come up with the idea for your Doodle? 

I thought about my personal experiences. People have not wanted to be my friend because of how I look, so I decided to draw what I do! No matter what people look like, you look on the inside and then decide if you want to be their friend.

What does kindness mean to you? 

Kindness to me means to not look at someone from the outside, but look at their personality, and be open to their friendship.

Were you surprised when you were chosen as a Doodle for Google finalist? What has it been like for you? 

When I found out, I could feel my face turn red like a tomato, I was so excited! I was already excited that I was one of the five national finalists and it still didn't feel real. I was so happy, my parents told me during school which was a big surprise! It’s made me a lot more confident!

What does winning mean for you and your art? 

I think winning will affect my view on art by giving my art more of a meaning. When I made my Doodle it had a meaning and I really want to do this with all my art!

Congratulations again to Sharon Sara! As our national contest winner, Sharon’s Doodle will be seen by the nation on the Google homepage. Sharon will also receive a $30,000 college scholarship, and her school, Vaughn Elementary School, will receive a $50,000 technology package. Thank you Sharon, and thank you to the tens of thousands of students who entered the contest this year and inspired us with their unique Doodles and kind words.  As we close the 2020 contest, we hope you all continue to share your art with the world and spread kindness! 



Help local customers reconnect with your store

23 de setembre[ —]

Since the start of the pandemic, people have built new habits and ways of managing their “new normal.” People and businesses have leaned in to the digital world; in the last six months, we’ve experienced 10 years worth of change. With these changes, we are more committed than ever to helping businesses reopen and recover.

As some communities begin to open up and businesses prepare for the holidays, it’s critical to help consumers know what to expect before they go in store—whether it’s offering opening hours, sharing what’s in stock, or noting if curbside pickup or takeout is available. Here are the new product innovations we unveiled today at DMEXCO that will help you connect with shoppers to grow your local sales.


Bring the best of your business online

People are researching their visits to local stores and restaurants online before they go. For example, searches for "curbside pick up" have grown globally by more than 3,000 percent year over year1 and searches for "takeout restaurants" have grown globally by over 5,000 percent over the same time.2 

Google My Business is a great way to keep customers up to date with the most accurate business information, especially since that information often varies by location. You can add service attributes about your business, like “In-store pickup” and “No-contact delivery”—which appear on Google and the Business Profile page—so customers know how you're operating when planning their visit. 

We’re making more of this type of information available for Local campaigns, to help you connect with nearby customers when they’re searching or browsing Google Maps, Google Search, YouTube, and the Google Display Network. You can now highlight dining service attributes like "Dine-in" and "Takeout.” Soon you’ll be able to feature retail service attributes, like "In-store shopping" and "Curbside pickup.” 

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Service attributes like “Dine In” and “Curbside pickup” now appear in Local campaign ad formats.

Pilot Flying J is the largest travel center operator in North America with more than 750 locations. They serve professional truck drivers and motorists, selling gas, diesel, convenience store goods and fast food. While stay at home orders decreased the number of motorists utilizing their locations, they remained open throughout the pandemic to provide services and food to essential workers, like professional truck drivers. Pilot Flying J, in partnership with their agency, Tombras, used Local campaigns to reach drivers across Google’s properties, including Maps and Search. Local campaign performance generated nearly a 300 percent increase in store visits to Pilot Flying J locations compared to the previous period. VP of Digital & Loyalty Tyler Tanaka said, “Local campaigns have helped us communicate with nearby drivers on the road and connect them to our travel centers. We can keep them updated in real time so they know we’re open and they can get fuel, food and other essential items at our locations along their route.”

Consumers are also looking for real-time information when it comes to the products they need. Searches containing “available near me” have grown by more than 2X across regions and categories.3 We recently rolled out “Curbside pickup” for local inventory ads to help you connect local shoppers with the products they need and promote safer fulfillment options. Today, we’re expanding this capability with the introduction of “Pickup later” for local inventory ads. This gives you the option to promote products that may not be available in store now, but can be available for pickup within a few days. Reach out to your Google team to learn more.

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Show products that can be picked up in store in a few days using new “Pickup later” in local inventory ads.

French DIY and home improvement retailer Castorama launched its curbside pickup service within 48 hours of France going into lockdown. To keep customers informed, the retailer updated its Google My Business profile and started using local inventory ads for the first time to highlight its new curbside pickup offering. Overall, Castorama saw online sales increase tenfold over a ten-week period.


Adjusting to shifting consumer behavior in real time

We know it's more critical than ever to make the most of your marketing investment. Your campaigns need to be able to react in real time to shifts in consumer behavior—whether your customers are purchasing online or at a physical location. Smart Bidding for store visits automatically accounts for fluctuations in online conversions and store visits, and adjusts your bids for each and every ad auction.

Retail and restaurant advertisers will soon be able to use Smart Bidding for store sales to optimize for in-store transactions, not just visits. For example, advertisers can upload their first-party, privacy-safe transaction data to inform ongoing optimization—all with the goal of driving additional sales at the store level. Reach out to your Google team to learn more.


Resources to help you grow your local sales

In addition to today’s announcements, we’re sharing a collection of local sales resources on the Advertising Solutions Center:

Whether you’re a multi-national brand or a smaller, family-owned business, we’re here to help you connect more people to your stores. While we still have much work ahead, we hope these updates will help you on your path to business recovery.


1. Google Data, Global English, Mar 18 - May 16, 2020 vs Mar 18 - May 16, 2019

2. Google Data, Global English, Jun 17, 2020 - Aug 15, 2020 vs Jun 17, 2019 - Aug 15, 2019

3. Google Data, Global English, Feb 26 - Apr 25, 2020 vs Feb 25 - Apr 25, 2019


11 questions with web creator Hetal Vasavada

22 de setembre[ —]

Hetal Vasavada of Milk & Cardamom is a New Jersey native who bakes and blogs from her adopted home of San Francisco, CA. Her cookbooks have been reviewed by The Washington Post andThe New York Times, among others, and she’s even been a contestant on “Masterchef USA.” Before you say wow, consider the fact that she’s also a new mom. Double wow! We talked to Hetal about her tips, goals and history as a web creator. 


What do you think makes a web creator? What does your average day look like?

A web creator is anyone who shares their art or skill via social media or the internet. My average day consists of creating and working through an editorial calendar, recipe writing, photographing and editing images, and finally, going through lots and lots of emails! 


What inspires you on a day-to-day basis?

I only work on recipes that get me excited to be in the kitchen! I usually start by writing down the type of recipes I need to create (Diwali, Christmas cookies, etc.) and then writing down feelings and visuals that bring me back to those moments as a kid. From there I start thinking about recipes that could best represent and evoke those exact feelings. My inspiration comes from my family, events and cultural aspects of my childhood, and more. 


How did you get your start?

I started off in the healthcare industry and made the change to food about five years ago. I had an unusual beginning to my new career due to being on “MasterChef USA,” which kind of gave me the confidence to pursue a career in food. Once I was off the show I started working as a recipe writer and developer for startups in the Bay Area and worked on building up my blog and social media following. 


At the end of the day, what is the ultimate goal of your site? 

Create a record of recipes and thoughts that my daughter can go back to and make when I’m long gone. 


What is something that motivates you?

Talking to my community and seeing how much they enjoy or relate to my food experiences. I really enjoy interacting with the community I have created on the web. 


What’s the best part of your job?

Getting to eat everything I make! 


What’s the worst part? 

Eating all the failures while recipe testing. 


What tools do you use to make your stuff?

Canva, Adobe, Snapseed, Wordpress, and Unfold!


If there was one product or service that could make your life easier what would it be?

So many! An all in one social media post scheduler which does video and photos. An app that automatically schedules in old posts/recipes based on trends and reposts. For example, if chocolate chip cookies are trending this week, it will take an old chocolate chip cookie recipe of mine and repost it to social media with a prompt for me to update the caption. And a sponsored post manager (like Asana but specifically for paid sponsorships) so I can keep track of all the brand requests, needs, contracts and invoices.


What advice would you give someone trying to make it in your industry?

Create dishes unique to you and find your niche and explore every angle of it! 


Name five other people, blogs, brands, or websites doing awesome stuff in your field or beyond.


TheChutneylife.com

LoveLaughMirch.com

Zheelicious.com

ChocolateandCheesePlease.com

DiasporaCo.com


Web Creator Spotlight | Abby Mills

22 de setembre[ —]

“Where did she find that outfit?!” is something you’ll probably think within minutes of meeting Abby Mills, the blogger behind the vintage fashion and lifestyle blog Clothes & Pizza. The next thing that pops into your head might be “she literally has the coolest tattoos I’ve ever seen.” 


Abby Mills is a style icon, but that’s only part of the picture. She’s also a CEO, photographer, model, copywriter, accountant and salesperson all rolled into one.


Which is really just to say … she’s a web creator. But exactly how does one person do all that stuff and still have time for anything else? Read our interview with Abby to see how she turned a passion for vintage finds and deep-dish delights into a thriving life on the web.

What does your average day look like?

No two days are the same, but they are generally a mix of unglamorous behind-the-scenes work like answering emails, shooting photos, writing for my blog and real-time sharing on Instagram stories and elsewhere throughout the day). Most of the time I am in sweats (especially these days), writing or planning future work. But my content is a pretty authentic reflection of my life, so I show the unglamorous casual stuff too.


Right now, I wear all the hats: I’m the CEO, photographer, copywriter, accountant, head of client services, salesperson, and janitor. Which is great because I don’t have to answer to anyone but myself. But it’s bad when I can’t blame Susan for drinking the last cup of coffee without putting another pot on.

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After all the nuts-and-bolts business stuff, how do you get into the flow creatively? 


The more I stay off the internet, the better. I find it hard to focus on my own creative process if I spend too much time looking at what other people are doing. There are so many talented folks out there doing really unique and creative things. And while that can certainly be inspiring, I think it can also lead to a lot of second guessing, or copycatting, if you aren’t careful. 


I don’t approach content creation from a purely *creative* standpoint, I actually think about it more from the standpoint of the function it serves. I.e., what problem does this piece of content solve? How does it answer a question, or alleviate a pain point, or unlock a new idea for my community?


So I usually start with the problem, and then build the content around the best way to answer that problem. For example, if my community is having trouble styling graphic T-shirts, I create a styling video that shows three unique ways to style a graphic tee.

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The bag really ties it all together. So, how did you get here?


A few years ago I celebrated a bunch of big life milestones in a span of a few weeks—I turned 30, got married, and started a new job in a new industry. I had wanted to start a blog for years (like a decade). And I figured I might as well tack another big thing onto a series of big things. 


It was important to me to have a blog outside of social media. A place on the internet that I own outright. So I started my website and my Instagram account at the same time. 


I went into this industry pretty naive and inexperienced in the content creation world. It took me a few years to feel like I found my niche, and start to hit my stride. This industry changes really fast. There’s no blueprint for how to be successful, and no one way to “do it right.” Which is awesome because it means there’s room for lots of people and lots of viewpoints. But it’s also challenging 


I have really enjoyed learning how this industry works, at the same time that the industry is coming into itself. We are definitely building the plane while we’re flying it, but it’s a fun ride.


If there was one product or service that could make your life easier, what would it be?


I love the idea of a web-based place to share ephemeral content. Or a place to take ephemeral content (like from Instagram stories) and make it into something else. Or even have the ability to archive it for public access. I can’t tell you how many DMs I’ve gotten that are questions related to expired IG stories!


On that note, what Google products/services do you already use?


All the things. I would not be able to manage my business without the combo of Gmail, Google Calendar, Google Docs/Sheets, and Google Drive. I maintain my content calendar and track my deadlines in Google Calendar. I manage my outreach, contacts and finances in Sheets. And store/deliver my deliverables in Drive. I’ve found Docs to be a great way to collaborate with my clients as they can add edits, comments or approvals directly to my content before it goes live, without a lot of friction.


What’s the best part of your job? What about the worst part?


[The best part is] being my own boss, having my own autonomy to work on whatever I want (try new forms on content, experiment with different creative outlets) and only work with clients/brands who I believe in. I never have to take on a project that I’m not 110 percent stoked on. The worst part is probably turning off, or unplugging. Because my content is an extension of my life, it’s sometimes challenging to draw a hard separation. There are of course many things about my life that I don’t share with my online community—I keep my family and friends private, for the most part. But I genuinely love connecting with my community over all sorts of things. Setting boundaries at any job is difficult, but it’s especially difficult when part of your job is sharing your life and being a resource to people. 


At the end of the day, what is the ultimate goal of your work?


This is so cheesy, but it’s probably helping people. I see my content as helpful to both my community (individuals who follow me) as well as the brands I work with. I tend to seek out new/small/indie brands, and really love sharing them with my community and being a part of growing their customer base. As an entrepreneur, working with other entrepreneurs is really inspiring for me.


I have always had unusual and particular taste—I love finding the best unique things, and discovering new brands who are really changing their respective industries. Sharing these brands with my community feels like a win-win-win to me. 


I’m passionate about mentorship and advocacy in all areas of my life. And my digital presence is an extension of that passion. I really love supporting other creators, helping them recognize the value of their work, and ultimately sharing how they can monetize their business. I really enjoy giving back to the blogging community—and sharing things I wish I had known back when I started. For example, I do donation-based mentorship sessions, where all the money goes to organizations supporting civil rights and social justice initiatives. 


What is something that inspires you every day about the web or in general?


I’m really inspired by all the different formats of technology that people use to connect with creators and communities—it’s pretty endless. Longform video, shortform video, podcasts, blogs, ephemeral content, etc etc. I’m at the point in my content creator “career” where I don’t feel pressure to jump onto every new format (I never did Snapchat or TikTok). I focus on doing a few things well, and not spreading myself too thin.


I also love learning about new brands who are using technology to change the fashion industry. For example, I’ve recently discovered this shoe company called Hilos—they 3D print the soles of each shoe (no gluing or nailing multiple parts together) which ultimately produces less waste and lowers their carbon footprint (pun intended). 


What advice would you give someone just getting started? Or, what would you go back and tell yourself having learned all you’ve learned so far? 


Maybe this is the same answer for both questions, but I think a lot of people go into the creator space without knowing what they’re doing, which makes sense because it’s a relatively new industry, and creative people usually just want to *create*. So they look at all these other people who seem to be super successful and they think “Oh, I have to be like that person. I have to take photos like them, or emulate that kind of style.” I feel like I did that as well, and it took me a while to figure out my unique perspective, and my approach, and my own style of content. So if I could go back, I’d want to just embrace who I am more and my unique point of view, what really makes me me. And I would just go with that right from the start. 


The creator space I work in, the fashion space, is very saturated so the more you can embrace what makes you different the more successful you will be. Just you being you will give you an element of uniqueness (and authenticity) and people will connect to that.


Web Creator Spotlight | Coley Gaffney

22 de setembre[ —]

Think of a job in the food business and Nicole Gaffney—a.k.a. Coley—has likely had it. Since dropping her 9-5 job in 2010 and beginning a catering business, she’s been a contestant on “Food Network Star,” opened her own smoothie and acai shop, Soulberri, in her hometown of Brigantine, NJ and even published her cookbook, “The Art Of The Smoothie Bowl.” Along this journey, Coley has captivated audiences online via her blog Coley Cooks, where fans and everyday cooks can find Coley’s amazing recipes. 

We chatted with Coley to learn more about how she’s built her businesses by channeling her passion for cooking with a little help from the web.

Tell me how you got started in the food and drink space.

I’ve been involved with cooking pretty much my whole life. I grew up in an Italian family and we got introduced to cooking at a really young age. I really took to it and always wanted to be a chef when I grew up. 

I had worked a couple jobs in sales that I wasn’t loving and previously had always worked in the food & drink industry really since my first job scooping ice cream. I finally decided that I needed to pursue it. 

It was in 2010 I quit everything and I went to culinary school and I started a private chef business. I live at the Jersey store so we get a huge influx of people in the summertime. I found myself obscenely busy in the summer and unable to enjoy anything and it was just crickets in the winter. I’ve always been a fan of food blogs and wanted to start one as a hobby. It was an outlet for me to focus on the foods that I love to cook.

It was a year or two after I started my blog that I went on the TV show “The Next Food Network Star” and that opened up a lot of doors for me. About six months after the show had ended, I had stopped doing catering / personal chef [work] and was focused on blogging and my YouTube channel and it’s been all uphill from there. 

What does an average day look like for you now?

The cool thing about what I do is that everyday is a little bit different. I try to wake up around 7 a.m. to work out, have my coffee, check emails and social media. By around 10 a.m. I settle in and work on my blog, if I'm posting a new recipe I'll edit some pictures, or do some writing and work on recipes. 

I have the smoothie shop (SoulBerri) so we have meetings with the managers, to see how things are going. Then I’ll make a trip to the grocery store to pick up what I need for dinner later. I try to do my food photography later in the day: (1) because the lighting is better and (2) because it’s what we are having for dinner. 

I also do quite a bit of work for a major shopping network, representing two different companies on air a couple times a week. So for those episodes I’ll get all my hair and make up ready—nowadays we aren’t going to the studio so I’ll get all the food prepped, the kitchen cleaned up and ready to record. That’s  usually some time late in the afternoon so after that, I’ll make dinner, clean up and watch some Netflix with my puppy.

Were there mentors along your path? What did you learn from them?


Bobby Flay has been a mentor to me. I met him on the set of “Food Network Star,” he was one of our judges and he actually has a restaurant in Atlantic City which is five minutes from me. He comes here to do events every so often so I’d go to his events and eventually we developed a friendship. 


He’s given me so much great advice and explained the industry to me more, pulling back the curtains. He’s been a great friend and a great mentor and I look up to him a lot. When it comes to celebrity chefs, I don’t know if there’s anyone much bigger than Bobby. 


How do you measure return on investment? 


It’s mostly getting traffic to my blog because I’m making money on ad revenue. The more traffic that I can get to my blog the better. When it comes to working with different brands and getting sponsorship they just want to see that you have a big following and know that you are getting a certain amount of page views per month or followers on social media


Are there particular blogs that you follow and inspire the type of content that you look to put out there?


Yeah Definitely! I started blogging because I was such a big fan of blogs, there are so many big ones that a lot of people know. Smitten Kitchen. Deb, everything she posts looks so good. I feel like we have the same exact taste in food so she’s constantly inspiring me. 


AlsoHalf Baked Harvest which is run by Keegan Gerrard—her photography is so beautiful and artistic, it’s been really inspiring to me with my own food photography. I’m constantly learning new techniques with food styling and lighting. It’s cool to look at what other people are doing and being artistically inspired by that.


What resources do you use to learn more about blogging? 


There’s a blog called Pinch of Yum and they’re one of my favorites. Great recipes but they also have blogging resources for people that are looking to become food bloggers. Pinch of Yum also has a photography course and that’s one of the first courses that I took when I started really getting serious about blogging. So easy for me to get started to learn about food photography. Really get in there and practice because if you're not practicing you're never going to learn anything.
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How have you accommodated to remote blogging? What type of equipment do you recommend people get if they are on a limited budget and starting their own project? 


I’m just using my computer for Skype sessions. One thing that network appearances often require is being hardwired to the internet with an ethernet cord because you do have such a limited amount of time to be on air. If you do have something that’s really important, make sure you're hardwired in. Also lighting is really important, natural light is great but it’s also so up and down, you don’t know what you're going to get and it changes when the sun goes behind a cloud. So investing in a decent light is worth it. A good headphone or microphone set is also really good to get as well. 


What’s next for you in the short term? Are there any larger projects that you're working on that you’re looking forward to sharing?


This one’s on a personal level but my husband and I are building a house. My husband is an architect and this has been a dream of ours for a long time. We bought a lot of land on the water last year and we’ve been in the design process. We’re actually going to be breaking ground next week which is really exciting. 


I want to make sure I include a lot of that in my content and share that with my readers and followers because it’s something that people are interested in. Especially the kitchen design, a few years back we redid the kitchen in our current house and I shared that content with my followers and they really liked it. 


Once we’re in the new house I'm excited to ramp up my content creation even more and get back into creating videos because we’ll be in a brand new house on the water that will be super modern and Scandinavian, unique and I’m going to want to show it off so I cannot wait! 


Last question. If you could have one meal as your last meal what would that be?


There’s so many things that I love! Chicken milanese which is a thin breaded crispy chicken cutlet, with a simple arugula salad with fresh tomatoes, lots of lemon, shaved parm. Now that I'm thinking of that it sounds kind of boring—who wants to eat a salad for their last meal! Maybe it’d be a really good burger and fries—can’t go wrong with that!


Create compelling Web Stories on WordPress

22 de setembre[ —]

Web Stories bring a familiar full-screen, tappable story format to the wide audience of the web. Now it's even easier for creators to create and publish Web Stories with the new Web Stories for WordPress plugin. We introduced the beta version of the plugin earlier this year, and after  incorporating your feedback and adding features, it's now available for everyone within the WordPress plugin directory.

Web Stories for WordPress plugin

The drag-and-drop interface makes it easy to get started in seconds. And for those who want to take full control of their stories, the plugin includes comprehensive visual editing capabilities, a re-envisioned visual media gallery, image masking, gradient editing, saved colors & styles and many more design features.

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And since we’d like you to start with rich, high-quality media when designing a story, we’ve collaborated with Unsplash to make their extensive high-quality photo library just a click away, as well as Coverr, giving you high-quality, free stock video right from the editor.

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The plugin also comes with fully designed templates to help you get started faster. And you can find resources and tips for creating a compelling Web Story on wp.stories.google, your home for the plugin.

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You can download the plugin to your WordPress admin right now, and try it out. We’ll add more templates, stock media integrations and features in the near future. In addition, Web Stories for WordPress is open source and welcomes contributions from the community, whether directly to the code or requesting product features and enhancements. Tell us what you think in the plugin directory comments, and share what you make with us by Tweeting at us or tagging us on Instagram.


We’re encouraged to see the way Web Stories have already enabled creators to engage with their audiences in this more visual and engaging format, and we’re eager to see what this new format can do for WordPress and the web at large.


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