Tuesday, July 26, 2016

HUG of the Month: Tara Wilkins

By Wendy Kam Marcy

Tara and I met over 3 years ago when she introduced me to Camp Tech and we featured Founder, Avery Swartz on our blog. She was a volunteer transiting from fashion to the tech + marketing world. Fast forward to now, where we both teach workshops and she is the full time Admin Manager. Say hello to Tara... the girl with the big smile and bold red hair!

1) What is a typical day in the life of Tara Wilkins?

My day starts and ends with my kitties (#catladyforever)! I wake up and feed my meowing kitties, get ready for work and bike over to the Centre for Social Innovation (CSI) where Camp Tech’s head office is located. I pour myself a mug of coffee, read some Medium blog posts then start my work day. I’ll spend my time on digital marketing and sales activities, coordinating workshops and exchanging funny gifs on our Camp Tech Slack channel. Usually I log off around 5pm. In the evenings I’m usually biking somewhere with my partner, playing with my kitties (aka socializing my foster cat) or plugging in to Netflix. I just finished watching Stranger Things - it was incredible.

2) What's up with the cat fetish and cool hair colours?! It's now red and last year it was green!

Ha! My family has had cats since I was very young. I don’t have any memories in my childhood where we didn’t have a cat. Cat behaviour fascinates me. I’m also a volunteer junkie, so I signed up to volunteer with Annex Cat Rescue in 2009 to combine those 2 passions. That’s when I reached my official cat lady status. Since then, I’ve been socializing and fostering semi-feral cats so they can find forever homes.

As for the hair, I love playing with hair colours and makeup. I don’t think I’ll ever keep the same colour for more than a year - but who knows. Red is really fun.

3) Tell us about Camp Tech. That is where all the cool kids hangout right?

One of my favourite descriptions of Camp Tech comes from Jesse Brown of the Canadaland podcast... “Camp Tech provides workshops for grownups who want to learn how to do computers better.” I love it. He nailed it. Camp Tech doesn’t run super technical coding classes that are weeks or months long. Workshops are either 3 or 6 hours and you learn practical stuff you can use right away about topics like Google Analytics, Blogging or Podcasting. All topics are beginner-friendly. You don’t need to have any technical skills to attend.

4) Congrats, you now teach your own workshop! Give us 3 secret tips on growth hacking and how SMB can market on a shoestring budget.

The single most important tip when working with limited resources is to create a digital marketing strategy! If you don’t have a strategy, you’re throwing something against a wall and seeing what sticks. It can be a simple Google Drive document. What do you want to accomplish? What are your goals?

Sign up for Google My Business - update it with all of your organization’s details and ask your best customers to write reviews about your organization. It will help boost your local ranking on Google and enhance your presence in Google Search and Google Maps. It doesn’t take long and it’s free - so why not?

Sign up for Google Analytics, learn how to use it and check it regularly. It is a powerful (free) tool that you can use to measure the effectiveness of your marketing campaigns. It will help you market smarter on a budget.

5) Camp Tech started with a single founder, Avery Swartz and a small handful of instructors with a shared workspace at CSI. What do you like most about working in a startup environment and on the flip side, what are the challenges?

I absolutely love working in a startup environment - I’m never bored, I get to have my hand in a bunch of different pots and learn something new every day. Like all other startups, we have challenges too like “How do we hire the best employee?” “How do we market effectively?”. Luckily, we have a strong team and Avery, our founder, is always bringing out the best in us. I sound like a kiss-ass when I talk about her, but she really is my hero. We work through all of our challenges together and we have fun while we do it. I feel incredibly lucky.

6) What's next for Camp Tech?!

You’ll have to keep an eye on us to see what we’re up to in 2017. ;)

7) Tell us about your neighbourhood - favourite places to eat, shop and hang out.

I live at Bathurst and Lakeshore in condo land, so I often bike up Portland to eat out. My partner and I go to Wilbur monthly - it’s a Mexican spot on King. They usually have some hip hop playing (my favourite) and everything on the menu is killer. I’m huge into Mexican cuisine, so another place I love is Campechano at Adelaide and Portland. The tortillas there are amazing. My favourite place to shop is at the corner of Queen and Portland - Winners, Loblaws, Joe Fresh and the fun and kitschy Outer Layer. What more could you ask for on one corner?

Visit Camp Tech for workshop schedules and details. Enter "HUGTO" at checkout and receive $10 off.

Connect with Tara & Avery on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Wendy Kam Marcy is the Marketing Director at Adfluent Media (a Certified Google Partner + digital strategy agency). She also teaches content marketing + blogging classes at Camp Tech and is a Mom to a rambunctious toddler boy.

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