Entrepreneur of Girls Guide to Paris, Doni Belau has over 9 years experience providing women with the best of all things French and Paris. Continue reading “191. Doni Belau of Girls’ Guide to Paris on Product Diversity & Collaborating With Competitors”
Entrepreneur, composer, DJ and producer for film and cinema and other media, Clemens Ruh has +15 years experience creating and producing music for clubs like Distillery and Elipamanoke in Leipzig, Germany, Continue reading “185. Clemens Ruh on ‘Defining’ Music, Cover Design & How Music Shapes Emotion”
[EDITOR’S NOTE: My line of questioning is based in part from Dave Trott’s June 2012 interview by William Channer of Dorm Room Tycoons: Continue reading “162. Dave Trott on True Creativity & How Creatives Can Start Revolutions”
What is the story behind cizenbayan? cizenbayan translates to “the lady who draws.” My inspiration came from Madame Tricote (“the lady who knits” translated from French; Orenbayan in Turkish) because at the beginning of cizenbayan in 2012 I was drawing all of my projects. I never could have imagined that it would become my life, my job. Thinking more long-term for this project I might have chosen a different name, but cizenbayan is catchy and at this point it’s impossible to change.
In 2010 I was staying up late drawing and tweeting funny links and thoughts under the twitter handle @cizenbayan as a fun break for me during my studies and interships. Later to my suprise the number of people following my work began growing very quickly!
I was loving this "thinking & sharing” thing, so a few months later I officially launched the cizenbayan blog about my travels, the music I loved, relationships, and my life in general. I also began uploading photos to Instagram and I was amazed that little by little I began getting invitations to galas, openings, parties and later on brands started approaching me about promoting their stuff.
I quit my job to focus on my final project for graduation, and when I graduated I had the summer ahead of me and I was faced with an important decision: Use my degree to find a job in architecture or focus full-time on cizenbayan and see what it could become.
After a few interviews and some live television shows, more and more brands began approaching me, I decided to dive in and turn my full attention to CizenBayan. Even today after nearly 4 years I am still not sure if it’s a sustainable business model but I still love the experience, all the possibilities that this project has brought me, all the places I have gone, all the people I have gotten to meet and most preciously not having to work “9 to 5.”
Do you manage CizenBayan by yourself? Yes. I manage it full-time and by myself and it’s a lot of work! I’m always busy going to clubs with my suitcase, catching a flight the next morning to some destination and catching up on my sleep during the flight. I can say that I work 24/7.
But I’m not like Essena O’Neall, the Australian girl who quit social media because she was miserable. I’m genuinely happy. I don’t live with photographers around me. I do not try to create scenes from a life that I’m not actually living. I never spend more than 2 mins on a photoshoot if I’m eating at a restaurant with a friend etc.
Yes I love taking pictures of my food if it’s served really nice and I really mock myself when I do that but I’m sure I’m not disturbing anyone because I’m not climbing up on my chair or letting my food get cold or anything. I try not to be antisocial, and I would feel really awkward and I’m really shy and honestly I don’t even like my photos being taken.
I’m living an amazing life! And whether I’m having lunch at a restaurant, watching a band perform, or travelling, I live by the same principle: When the moment hits me I stop to thank the universe for it by taking a moment to capture it in a photo, and later I find an adequate caption for it and post it. At the beginning of a live gig I snap a few photos with my mirrorless camera and then put it away and just enjoy the show and the moment.
I do not post or share something inspirational if I’m not enjoying it. What I have to do is to live. I live, try to capture the best memories of my life, and share them.
I see cizenbayan as a brand, So when I’m not travelling I:
- Answer e-mails (I answer every email I receive)
- Manage my agenda
- Go to meetings
- Send budget proposals
- Go to my yoga classes
- Write my blog
- Write for magazines and platforms I work for, such as for Canim Istanbul and Yoga Journal Turkey
- Take photographs and post some stuff on instagram / twitter / facebook / my blog etc.
- Attend events, exhibitions, gallery openings, all kinds of launches, parties, festivals, gigs, dinner parties…
- Dj and host events
- Give speeches at universities
Who is your target demographic?Even though running CizenBayan is my full-time job I don’t really approach it like a traditional business; CizenBayan isn’t a mainstream portal aimed at giving EVERYONE what they want, it’s a niche boutique where image & quality content for a few.
I don’t track analytics so I cannot tell you precisely about my target demographic, traffic volume, click-through rates etc., Instead, I understand my audience through our interactions on social media. That is enough for me.
I receive emails, comments & likes from guys & girls alike, and I’m am often recognized by guys & girls on the street. But I do find that girls between the ages of 15-22 are writing me the most emails, asking me questions about my education, my travels, my life and expressing their adoration. I think those girls are the ones who are the more passionate/intense followers and so they get in touch with me. I also know that there are a lot of like-minded people who follow me.
I have lived in Berlin & Santiago de Chile, and currently I live in Istanbul, so I guess a lot of people who follow me are from Turkish, English, German & Spanish speaking countries. Most of my followers speak Turkish, which is most of my content is in Turkish, but I do post articles in English, German and Spanish. And when I travel I often get messages from local people who follow me and who offer to meet and hang out.
What are a few important Cizenbayan moments that made you so famous? One of them was being on live television: on a late night show hosted by one of the most influential men on television in Turkey. Other than that there are some projects I’m really proud of with some really important international brands, but I’m not sure that they brought me ‘the’ recognition.
It’s also worth mentioning that cizenbayan is in no way the most famous blog in Turkey. There is for example Buse Terim, a fashion blogger who’s father is a really famous guy in Turkey and this girl (and her team) have over a million followers on Instagram. I don’t compare myself to that. That’s more mainstream, whereas I’m more boutique.
As of this interview you have 132k instagram, 11k facebook, and 69k twitter followers. Do you spend money in advertising or do you grow through word of mouth? I have grown almost exclusively through my content, retweets, likes, suggested pages, television and magazine interviews and features, and through the projects and works I’ve collaborated with. One example of this was during the anti-government protesting in Turkey in 2013 when one of my tweets was picked up by Mashable.
I did once try facebook ads out of curiosity, but I didn’t feel as though it connected me with the right audience. I have an official cizenbayan Facebook page, but I have found that my personal facebook profile gives me more sincere interactions. So other than that one time I’ve never spent a penny on advertising, neither for Instagram nor for Twitter.
Does each social media platforms attract a different ‘type’ of person? Do you create content unique for each social media platform? Absolutely! Each platform attracts different people and therefore I create totally different content for each platform.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in my interview with Data Consultant Thomas Palugan that as soon as you have a facebook fan page, you have to handle important issues like:
- “What is my community management style?”
- “What is my conversation calendar?“
- "What is the real value for the consumer of becoming a new fan?”
- “How can I distinguish between fans who are merely fans and fans who are also buyers and owners of my product, service, or royalty program?”
Also, it’s really difficult to have a consolidated view of your market. If you’re a brand and you have 20 platforms, it’s not impossible, but it’s difficult to have a consumer-centric view. It’s also very important NOT to have a vertical strategy for each social media platform, but to link them all together. If you’re going to have that many platforms, you’re going to need an approach to help you organize all your data into one easy-to-read location so you can collect and analyse the data from the different social media platforms.]
What is the future for cizenbayan? I’m not really a planner; I’m a believer and a dreamer. Being able to make a living with cizenbayan wasn’t planned, and to be honest I couldn’t have imagined having a job like this. I still can’t believe it, it’s crazy!
So I guess I’ll just keep on doing what I’m doing the best: living, sharing & inspiring.
I’m not sure how instagram, Twitter and blogs will evolve, and what new social media platforms will emerge, and I definitely don’t even know if I’ll stay popular, but I’m confident that I have good know-how, experience, taste, original ideas, creativity and inspiration, so I’m not worried about the future. I would like to write a book, which I’ll force myself to write in 2016, and maybe I’ll run a business or do consulting. Who knows. I’m open to all.
Another plan for 2016 is to spend a couple of months in New York City, perhaps even making NYC a second home. For me, New York is like two poles that I can both benefit from:
- Social life in a constantly changing environment, life, and unbound possiblities and inspirations with parties, events galleries, galas, converts and openings,etc.
- Seclusion to concentrate on my work because I’m literally nobody there, so I can isolate myself and concentrate on my work.
What advice do you have for inspiring bloggers, writers? The most important thing is to be sincere. People can immediately sense it; people can instinctively feel it.
What is Bizarre Love Triangle (BLT)? BLT is a collaboration between Julien Lapierre and myself. BLT also works with a host of other DJs, graphic designers and artists. BLT’s name pays homage to the famous 1986 song Bizarre Love Triangle by New Order, a song and style that has guided Julien and my direction for BLT.
BLT is a monthly party which offers an incredible blend of djs from different universes of musical tastes, passions and energy: underground, Berlinesque, electronic with a hint of house disco. Julien and I launched BLT in 2005 with the objective of bringing many different types and culture of people together under one unifying theme and desire: to dance, reinvent and stimulate the senses, have a good time and enjoy good music. Over the years our guests and music-lovers began referring to our Bizarre Love Triangle nights as simply BLT.
Because BLT encompasses ‘paradox,’ we (Julien and I) collaborate with venues where we can seamlessly blend underground, gothic, gay, straight, chic… together, and where no matter who you are and where you come from, everybody is equal and accepted. This is why since June 2011, BLT has collaborated with Chez Maxim, a club, restaurant and salon founded in 1893 in Paris, France and known for its history and eclectic mélange of art decor.
Each month BLT unites 1,500 et 1,600 people throughout the evening. Our largest turnout so far was 1,800 for our 8th anniversary.
BLT’s 9th anniversary is coming very quickly, and we have planned an unforgettable party.
How did you build BLT into such a large event with so may faithful fans? By treating every guest with respect and equality, and by giving memories of the night back to our guests.
For example at every BLT, photographer Thomas Smith captures the essence of the night though photos and videos. Afterwards, Julien and I carefully sort through the photos, publishing only those beautiful, chic photos which bring out the best in the people being photographed. If we’re unsure about a particular photo, we will try to identify the person in the photo and get permission beforehand, or we won’t publish it.
In addition, as another way of saying thank you for making BLT what it is, the DJs that play during the event record their set live and we make the mix freely available for download on Soundcloud.
With such a diverse collection of people and lifestyles, have you ever had an issue with security, fights, or violence? BLT’s name and branding are pretty clear about what BLT stands for and what to expect, so I think that anybody who comes to BLT knows what is in store for them. If not, door and inside security are quite competent. So no. We’ve never had any problem with homophobia or anything else. We are also very careful about who we let into our Facebook community to prevent hateful and derogatory comments.
You’re about to celebrate BLT #100. What are a few milestones? In total, BLT has had 5 location changes and has gone through several phases (ultra-select private party with only friends, disco, voguing, underground New York…) in music and artistic direction throughout the years, but BLT’s core mission and DNA hasn’t changed.
At Chez Maxim’s we have two floors with two different concepts. The top floor hosts BLT’s original concept, and the bottom floor is more underground.
There were times when Julien and I had to fight to keep BLT alive, but at no point did we consider abandoning BLT.
Today the line outside the door to BLT goes down the street, and we didn’t really realize it growing along the way. Each location had a legal occupancy limit, and once that limit was reached, we closed the doors. In fact, BLT didn’t go to Chez Maxim’s because we needed more space, Chez Maxim’s proposed a collaboration and we said yes because we liked their concept.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in my interview with entrepreneur Hervé Godard of Blake Magazine that when it comes to hosting events, the first Blake party was our one year anniversary house party, and everybody brought a bottle of champagne which we kept cool under ice in the bathtub! 80 people showed up for that party.
3 months later I hosted another Blake party for fashion week. By then so many people had talked about the first Blake party amongst themselves that bars and clubs and journalists began contacting me with offers and introducing me to even more brands and sponsors!
When faced with maximum occupancy restraints and the more people who are rejected, the more exclusive and important those denied entry assume the party, and thus brand, must be.]
We look forward to celebrating our 9th anniversary and 100th edition as well as BLT’s upcoming interactive website launch near the end of November… Yet another sincere thank to all of the people who make BLT what it is.
Could BLT continue without
you? We constantly have guest DJs coming through, but I feel that Julien and I have become key pieces because everyone knows us. We are expected to be there and I am expected to do a set at some point during the night. I have become known as the BLT DJ.
Ironically enough, most people know the name ‘Emmanuel Caurel,’ but don’t recognize or know me, so I can sit in the corner and watch.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in Kevin Knight, owner of Expatriates in Paris’ interview that he manages his +18,000 online community by promoting natural leaders that emerge within the community so that he could actually walk away and the community would be able to continue on indefinitely.]
Speaking of art direction, BLT consistently uses stunning imagery and videos to promote each event. Tell me about BLT’s branding and marketing strategy. Just like no DJ’s music set is ever the same, every BLT event has its own concept, direction and idea. Some strategies obviously have worked better than others. I keep an archive of my ideas and BLT event promotions on my instagram account.
Concerning the BLT events themselves, all photos are taken by Thomas Smith and mostly in black in white, and the very best are shared onto the BLT Facebook page. The quality of the photos alone account for a large majority of BLT’s exposure and people are proud to use the photos as their profile photo and tag themselves in them. Followed by word-of-mouth and further social media sharing.
Concerning each BLT event communications, flyers are shared on social media, sent to our email database and mailed directly to VIP guests through the post office.
All images and videos leading up to each event change with each event and we challenge the art directors we work with to ensure that each communication is innovative and provocative, and each communication includes BLT’s next event date.
We always request permission with the artist to ensure we have authorization on any images and videos we use. Some artists even give us video rushes.
Concerning BLT’s communication and marketing strategy, to keep our updates fresh and our followers aware of upcoming BLT events. Each event communication sequence typically looks something like this:
- Event Calendar: NEXT BLT PARTY #99: SATURDAY (DATE) AT MAXIM’S DE PARIS
- Update: “DAY -5.
BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE #99. BRACE YOURSELVES FOR YET ANOTHER BLT THIS SATURDAY!!!!!!!!!!!!”
“DAY -3. SAVE YOUR EVENING. BLT IS COMING”
- Update: “GUEST LIST FULL!” (depending on responses)
GET READY! BIZARRE LOVE TRIANGLE!″
- Update: “DAY -0.”
- Event: BLT #99.
- Next day: Upload photos, respond to comments, photos and videos.
- 2 days later: Thank you flyer
NEXT BLT PARTY #100: SATURDAY (DATE) AT MAXIM’S DE PARIS
I’m a brand and I want to sponsor/collaborate with BLT… Plenty of sponsors contact us, and we will keep BLT true to its identity and remain close with our fans. Ideal sponsors would understand that BLT parties are successful because they are BLT parties, and brands would be received and welcomed by BLT as guests, not as commercialization opportunities. We want our people to come to feel at home – like a second house. Money isn’t the issue.
For example, on February 13, 2015 Bazarre Love Triangle partnered with Têtu for an extraordinay night. Here is the video we released advertising the event:
[EDITOR’S NOTE: Recall in my interview with Hervé Godard, Editor-in-Chief of Blake Magazine that he actively networks and seeks sponsors for branded events. This allows him to offer ‘open bar’ and gift bags to all of his guests; a win-win-win-win situation for Blake Magazine, the sponsors, the party venue and the guests.]
What is the future of BLT? We have been asked to expand BLT into other countries: London, Tel Aviv, Italy; something Julien and I will think about.
Also, BLT’s upcoming interactive website will launch near the end of November… Yet another sincere thank to all of the people who make BLT what it is.