Shane's Blog

Shane Gramling is a husband and father of three, web & print communications design expert, worship leader, photographer, cyclist, and flintoid

How To: LinkedIn Suicide

by Shane Gramling on October 4, 2013

Suicide is final.
There is no going back, and the same goes for what I to call “LinkedIn suicide”.

I am writing about this because I am starting to see a deadly pattern on LinkedIn. Its something that seems great at first, but long-term speaking, people are just shooting themselves in the foot. This past week I received a message from one of my LinkedIn contacts. But, it wasn’t a real message at all, it was a straightforward sales push. Spam.

The email was titled: “You’re goiLinkedIn Suicideng to Fall In Love with my new FALL Discounts on Websites & Mobile Apps” and the message itself: “Were at it again! Get 20% off any Website Design or get your very own Android Mobile App for only $75.”. Not to mention the grammar error in the very first word which is another topic altogether, this person sent this message to a group of other people, my email address has become exposed to all of those contacts. Whenever you send a message to multiple recipients like this you need to be using the BCC field (That stands for ‘Blind Carbon Copy’) so the email addresses are disguised from each other.

How is this Suicide?
LinkedIn is a business networking site. Not a place to spam people with your sales message. It’s a place where you build up an image and reputation for yourself, make strong contacts with meaningful relationships and share valuable content. Once you start sending messages like this to your contacts, you begin to paint a picture in the eyes of your audience of you being a ‘sales person’ – and no one wants to buy from that guy who is always trying to sell.

I’m going to say that one more time, because a lot of people really don’t get this:
No one wants to buy from that guy who is always trying to sell!

People want trust, and relationship – they buy from others whom they feel they have a connection with or from people they know well. Use LinkedIn for this purpose only and don’t start burning bridges by sending mass sales messages to your contacts.

And hey, while we’re on the topic – connect with me on LinkedIn and ask me anything! 


Defend Your Art

by Shane Gramling on October 1, 2013

Sometimes you have to turn down work for the sake of your art.

This past weekend a local restaurant (a place that I absolutely love, by the way) contacted me for a photography gig. Their fall menu was in place and they needed some good food shots for use in marketing and advertising through multiple outlets.

I was pretty excited about this gig. Not only was it local work (most of my work comes from outside the State of Michigan), but it was an independent place that I really enjoyed (and still do). My mind started running with how I could set up various studio lights there in the shop to achieve absolutely stunning lighting that will compliment their product perfectly. That’s what I consider my specialty, you see – natural light is great, but limited. I shoot for clients that want that ‘high end / magazine’ look, I achieve this by bringing in off-camera lighting, even for outdoor shoots. Thats what makes my photos look like a “Shane Gramling” photograph. Its my style.

I then learned of their budget: $20. There are some okay photographers out there that would be glad to take this gig for $20, but I am not one of them. I simply could not justify walking in there with $4k+ in equipment, spending an hour of my time, and walking out with $20. I almost did justify it in my head…but then I remembered I have bills to pay and kids to feed. My time is worth more than $20, and this is one place where a lot of freelancers will sell themselves short. However, that’s a topic a separate blog post entirely because today we’re talking about another aspect of the job that I learned soon after: the inability to shoot the product with my style.

After I gave them a dollar-rate that I’d have to receive to do the job, and some information about needing some space in the shop to set up studio lights, they asked if I could just shoot with natural light during business hours as the food came up for each order. For me, that was a deal-breaker. The work would look flat and average, and would not be anything I’d want to show anyone because the shots wouldn’t be consistent with my work. To show them in my portfolio would actually reduce the quality of the portfolio as a whole because of the inconsistency. I’m sure there’s some high dollar amount that I would have accepted to do the shoot, but it would be a number that is well worth my time, knowing I won’t be able to use the shots at all, and surely out of their budget.

As a photographer, your portfolio of work should have a consistent feel to it – you want people to hire you for your art. They need to be able to look at your work and know your style. Without that, you’re just another photographer in a sea of a million photographers.

If you are known for playing your guitar while hanging upside down, and someone wants to hire you to play standing on your feet, turn them down – there are a thousand people who can do that, but you are the only one playing upside down. Stick to your art – its the only thing that sets you apart.

Got a story similar to this? Think I should have taken the gig anyway? Tell me about it in the comments section below, or grab me on Facebook or Twitter.


Tech Partnership Lets You Encourage Bullied Victims

by Shane Gramling on August 19, 2013

When you’re bullied – especially as a child, it’s hard to reach out to an adult and speak about the problem.

You may have been threatened by the bully to not tell anyone, or you may feel ashamed of the situation. As a result, our youth tends to bottle-up bullying issues and over time all those small painful words snowball into serious issue – sometimes leading as far as suicide.

There’s a new kid on the block, and he’s YOU…
A non-profit named “Be More Heroic” announced a partnership with social media site named “Dubbler” where users can take a recording of themselves for 60 seconds and modify the voice, and add music/photos so it is posted to the site completely anonymously for any victims in fear of retaliation. The partnership started using hashtags like #BeMoreHeroic, #PassItOn, and #SayNoToBullying.

Simply posting about your problem can give great relief simply by letting the weight off your shoulders – but it’s the massive community who reaches out with text and audio clips of advice and encouragement that sets this service apart from everyone else.

Too many people want to talk about Bullying without taking action, but now each and every one of us have the ability to give some encouragement to a hurting child – whether they live on our street, or a thousand miles away.

So the next time you spend three hours doing nothing on Facebook, think about taking 60 seconds to make someone else’s life better: Snag the app here.



Referral Key Legit? Proceed With Caution – Maybe Scam??

by Shane Gramling on August 2, 2013

Tonight I received a slightly spammy looking email from one of my LinkedIn contacts that read as follows:Untitled-1

I was curious about Referral Key so I looked them up. Turns out, they seem to be a legit referral business on the surface. However, after a little more searching it seems they use some very sneaky tactics to snag your LinkedIn contacts and blast emails like these to your entire list; a dirty tactic that will make you look less than professional.

Furthermore they’re subscribed me to a list that I now have to unsubscribe from. Not cool, and against the can-spam laws.

I’ve collected a number of reviews on this service for your reference:

Claire Diaz-Ortiz compiled a full and humorous review of the service on her blog:

Many fellow LinkedIn members are discussing Referral Key with a good dose of confusion:

Miller Cathy talks about how she fell for it, saying: “Through my fault – through my fault – through my most grievous fault”:

Do you have any experience with Referral Key?
Have you earned some free steak yet with the service?
I’m all ears.


Social Media: 5 Years Out, Will Google+ Rule?

by Shane Gramling on July 31, 2013

Castle Rule Google+

The web changes so very rapidly these days. An hour on Twitter is comparable to an entire day in real life (you know, those things we used to do with our hands and physical bodies). I often wonder “what will be next?” – looking down five years from now, who will be dominating as the main social media player?

Currently, Facebook has over 1.15 billion MAU’s (Monthly Active Users) as of June 30, 2013 and that number continues to grow. However, since Facebook showed up on the stock market, there have been a number of changes on the popular social media site that are geared more toward advertising, and less toward the user experience. That sounds like a good business model, and may work in theory, but so does communism.

All of these changes such as more sponsored stories, and ‘content customized for you’ within news feeds are beginning to irritate the user base – even though it seem to be growing. News is surfacing that Facebook video ads are coming in the near future as well – and that has a lot of people concerned, and many are on the verge of jumping ship. Facebook video ads might be the hair that breaks the social giant’s back.

When Facebook starts shrinking, will they pull back on advertising, or will a decreased amount of traffic with an increase in advertising please the investors? Time will only tell.

I know one things is certain: when people divorce Facebook, they’re going to run straight into the arms of Google. Google was late to the social media sphere, but showing up late isn’t always a bad thing. They are smart, and look to the future. Google was able to study out social media pitfalls, and watch what was working vs. what was not working and I believe they built Google+ with the future in mind, which is why it hasn’t flourished just yet – they’ve strategically designed a puzzle piece that will fit into place as things change over time.

What’s up?
What are your thoughts on Google+ dominating 5-years out? Do Facebook ads irritate you to death or do you just scroll on by? Comment below or find me on twitter @shanegramling – I want to know your thoughts on where things are headed, from your perspective, in your region – and field of work!


Convincing Google to Expose You

by Shane Gramling on July 29, 2013

Fellow local creative Kylee Preseau shot me an email today and asked a good question: “…when you search for your company in google you have all of your page links listed below. Is that from generating enough search traffic or is that something that you did with SEO?”

Here’s a screenshot of what Kylee is referring to:
Screen Shot 2013-07-29 at 2.27.12 PM


This question comes up a LOT, and its a good one. The problem is, there is no real clear answer on how to convince Google to expose your site’s inner pages. However, here some ways to convince Google and other search engines to show sub-links to your pages:

First off, be sure you set up your html links for your pages in list format. Nest child pages under their appropriate headings and so forth.

Next, be sure to use Google Analytics to track your site’s traffic. This lets Google see the hot places where people are going on your site, so they can better determine what links to show.

Clean code matters! Make sure your source code is super clean. Not automated web-slicing junk. Hand code those lines into a piece of art that’s worthy of showcasing in a gallery. If you don’t know how, hire someone to do it for you.

Finally, just think simplicity – make things easy for the user, don’t design for the search engines. There’s no easy way to get google or any other search provider to list your pages, but I hope the tips outlined here will help get you on the right track.


The Wicked Child of Procrastination

by Shane Gramling on April 15, 2013

Yesterday I was encouraging my dear wife to chase a recent flame of inspiration, and through that conversation my eyes were opened to a new comparison I’d like to share:

“If you impregnate Inspiration with Procrastination, it will surely give birth to a monster, and his name will be Regret.”

Yes, we’re gettin’ heavy on a Monday morning!


The Power of Color: Illustrated

by Shane Gramling on April 7, 2013

Some people see pink, others see salmon – tomato, tomato? Or worlds away from each other? A slight shift in color such as this can move a whole different crowd. Color is extremely important, and color has the power to move people, and to move on it’s own, aside from composition and brightness or contrast.

There’s an awesome optical illusion by the Travelin’ Librarian that uses the power of color to blow your mind  – I took their creepy-crawly optical illusion, pictured below, and pulled the color out of it in a few examples. Look how much slower the 1/2 saturation image seems to move, and how very-still the black and white version seems.

Color power, ya’ll.



$125 OFF Portrait Session Packages

by Shane Gramling on April 1, 2013

Announcement time! I’m giving $125 off all portrait session packages scheduled for the entire month of May, 2013. Now there are only 12 slots open for the entire month and I’d like to finish off the month and book it solid. Combine my “$75/$75″ referral certificates and top off your deal with some extra prints along with a $75 print credit for a friend! Check out to see my photo work and call or email me to book a date!

Shane Gramling


Privacy: A Thing Of The Past?

by Shane Gramling on March 9, 2013

Sure, we’re not in flying cars yet, but the future is emerging strong in a field aside from transportation; facial recognition software.

Business Insider recently published an article naming the top five places you’ll be identified by facial recognition software. Apparently all of Japan has become way ahead of the game in this, where vending machines give you recommendations using the technology.

Fight facebook all you want with your privacy restrictions, but know this – soon, even the things you do in your own home might not be so private.