What is Ben Parr up to? Well, I’m flattered that you would care enough to ask. This page chronicles my current projects. I provide background, summaries, links, videos, photos, and most importantly, ways to get involved if you are so inclined. Although I work on a lot of projects, I don’t take them unless I believe I can put my all into them.
Associate Editor, Mashable
In August 2008, I joined Mashable (one of the world’s most popular and respected blogs on social media and web technology) as a part-time analysis writer, specifically on the topics of social media, Internet trends, and entrepreneurship. In March of 2009, I increased my role and am now Associate Editor for Mashable. I not only write, but help with promotion, editing, and strategy.
My writing speaks for itself, so visit my Mashable author page to see my articles. In case you’re short on time, I have also picked out an assortment of my favorite articles (and my New Media Expo interview):
- Are Social Media Jobs Here to Stay? (my first article)
- How the iPhone 3.0 Will Create a New Mobile Economy
- How can Facebook Crack its Advertising Problem?
- 5 Examples of Social Media Blunders and What to Learn From Them
- Social Media and Privacy: Where Are We Two Years After Facebook News Feed?
If you’re interested in writing for Mashable, you’re in luck – we’re always looking for guest writers! Send an email to guestwriter[at]mashable.com, and don’t forget to cc me (ben[at]mashable.com).
Analyst and Consulting, Engage Analytics
Engage Analytics is my web optimization, analytics, and social media consulting firm. Please contact me at Engage Analytics if you’re interested in my services.
Author, The Eternal Sphere
On January 24th, 2009, I completed my first novel, a science fiction thriller tentatively titled The Eternal Sphere. It’s about 130,000 words long, with 44 chapters across 3 parts.
I’m currently in the editing process. After I am through with that (and if it passes as acceptable by outside readers), I will be doing everything in my power to get it published.
It is the first book of a planned five book series.
Interactive Content Manager, Spine-Health
Previously, I was the Interactive Content Manager for Spine-health, a health information website on back pain, neck pain, chronic pain, and related conditions. I was responsible for promoting content via search engine optimization (our largest traffic driver), building and implementing new features (i.e. creating 800+ navigation and tag pages; rolling out a site redesign at 5:30 AM on a Tuesday), and constantly testing ad placements, navigation changes, landing pages, and more to end up with the best website possible.
Traffic, pageviews, pages per visit, and time on site went up by double digit percentages during my tenure. I think that means the Spine-health team and I did something right.
The rewarding part of the work was seeing just how much Spine-health’s information helps our users. Spine-health has thousands of people using its chat and message boards to talk about their experiences, providing support, and gaining insight about their respective conditions. Everything I did helps made the experience of using Spine-health better, faster, and less stressful for people with enough problems on their plate.
Free Lunch was a company building Facebook applications. When the company became shorthanded (and shortly after I finished my education at Northwestern), I joined Free Lunch in order to help finish, launch, and promote FriendQuilts, a Facebook Application that builds video and photo mosaics. It allows friends to collaborate to do anything from chronicling a summer trip to creating a dedication to your favorite pet.
I was on the business development side of the project, specifically project management and promotion. How do we advertise the application? What demographics are using the application the most? How can we improve FriendQuilts in future iterations? It involved everything from encouraging people to install the application to building a tutorial for how to make a FriendQuilt.
Its Achilles Heel was the amount of time it took to build an application. Unlike a similar application, Animoto, it could take 15 minutes or more to build a decent FriendQuilt, requiring too much time and commitment from the user to create content. Although the application was beautifully made and still receives traffic today, it never went viral.
Buck The Slump
Buck the Slump was a blog on the recession, built in April of 2008. I wanted to deliver recession news and, more importantly, personal stories and resources for those in trouble. But a lack of experience in blogging, coupled with a lack of interest in some economic subjects led to its end.
Aphon was a company I co-founded during my Junior/Senior year, with a goal to provide online outlets for creativity, passion, and talent and to use competition to bring exposure and credit for peopleâ€™s endeavors. It was my true first attempt at a start-up.
The goal was to help promote talent using the Internet, and our first major project was going to be Vaddie, a video competition website for aspiring actors and directors. I built the business plan and a detailed financial model (note: I love financial models), talked with investors, found smart people to join me in building the website and content, and first learned code to build this company.
However, it never really matured because of the geographic distance between the founders, my lack of experience leading a company, and a lack of cash flow to buy and build features. I took the failure very personally, but that experience has shaped how I do business, how I set priorities, and how I approach problems. It was my kick in the butt.