There are 247 sq. miles of Bergen County. There are 247 sq. miles of restaurants, shopping, nightlife, culture and community events and there is 1 man who covers it all with the website Bergenation.com.
Mike Kivowitz is a Jersey guy-born, raised and current resident-and he's also a very busy guy. He is the founder of Bergenation.com, a hyperlocal web news site dedicated to reporting on all things Bergen. But he also runs another website (Leafygreen.info), started his own consutling firm (Creative Consulting & Design, LLC), still works full-time AND is planning a wedding on top of it.
Here's a little more about Mike "I Do It All" Kivowitz:
Q: Tell me a little about your background growing up in New Jersey.
Oh yeah - Union County Pride! Born and raised in Springfield until I attended Ramapo College and moved all around Bergen County. Majored in Computer Science and Graphic Design.
Q: What was your inspiration to start Bergenation and Leafygreen.info? And which came first: your consulting firm or the sites?
Leafygreen.info is almost 4 years old and going strong. We have 12+ writers from all over the county and 1 from the UK. Bergenation.com is only a few months old, but really starting to catch on as Bergen’s Hyperlocal blog. The consulting firm was somewhere between the two. I’ve always done freelance work, but I finally made it official and legal. Gotta help NJ with taxes, ya know.
Q: Leafygreen.info, Bergenation, your private consulting firm AND working full-time! How do you find the time?
My fiancé (that's her sort of on the right with Mike..sort of) would say differently, but I manage it pretty well. Honestly, using WordPress as my application of choice makes my life easier. I manage it by allotting time to do certain things and I keep my priorities in order. Using Google Calendar to keep my life organized has really helped too.[I agree!]
Q: What kind of support/response have you gotten from the towns/people in Bergen with your site?
People seem to like it. Leafygreen.info is not a county or state specific blog, it’s focused on American products, but we’re not too picky and have reviewed international products.
Bergenation is growing quickly. We’ve just hit 640 followers on twitter and almost 200 on Facebook. I’ve been marketing it locally and I want to be a threat to the papers. I want Bergenation to show the papers how people get information about the local community.
My goal is one writer from each town in Bergen County and to have real sponsors and advertisers. I think the word of mouth will help me achieve that goal.
Q: Have you had any cross-over between all of your endeavors? Have you been able to get any private clients through your social media connections?
Of course, that’s what happens. I have a few Leafygreen.info followers now following Bergenation and some of them attended the workshop I ran. It’s bound to happen more frequently.
Q: What is something you really enjoy about running the two websites?
Interaction and engagement with my readers. It could be on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments and of course, actually trying out products and places to go. I also like the design and technologies that go into running sites.
Q: You definitely seem like a Renaissance Man. Got any more tricks up your sleeve for the future?
Aside from planning a few redesigns, I’m going to plan my wedding. I will be working on a few more workshops up in NNJ and all that. But be on the lookout for a redesigned M1K3K.com and updated Leafygreen.info in the future.
Q: When will you be speaking again so your loyal fans and new readers can see you in action?
I actually just booked another day for my workshop. March 24, 2010 @ 7PM. The workshop is called The Internet for Business: Using Social Media & Networking. It's been revamped and will continue to be changed to adapt to the current trends and technologies. You can find out more @ M1K3K.com in the upcoming weeks. I'll be relaunching the site soon.
Q: Since you have everyone's attention, what is one major piece of advice that you can give to the novice blogger about getting their website noticed.
Find your voice. That would be # 1. Blogs get more Google juice by default, but using a good platform such as WordPress helps. Having a clean, SEO(Search Engine Optimization) friendly theme or framework on top of WP helps as well. The other way, at least for me, is word of mouth. Talk to people. Engage them and they'll enjoy reading your stuff.
Q: You obviously love and are good at what you do. And you definitely have pride in your home state. So tell us, what do you love about New Jersey?
NJ has it all. Mountains, trees, rolling hills, oceans, rivers, swamps, urban areas, snow, great summers, great food and it’s close to NY and PA and a bit further away you’re in Boston or DC. It’s a great location to everything I love. I enjoy traveling, beer, food and friends and luckily, it’s right here for me. If real estate wasn’t so expensive, it would be MUCH better and if NJTtransit got their act together and had better train and bus schedules, it would even better than much better, but other than those two things, I love NJ.
Learn more about Mike's consulting company at M1K3K.com. Following his two websites on Twitter(Bergenation | Leafygreen.info) and Facebook(Bergenation | Leafygreen.info).