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Superstar Jen

Q&A 

Jen is a unique person on Creators. Early on, she carved out a niche with her directory of Ning Networks that has grown into a social-media site for people to get together and share tips about many types of platforms. She was one of the Ning Guides who helped get Creators up and running, and she has provided more tips for NCs on Creators than anyone else. Simply put: If Jen doesn't know the answer, there may be no good answer.

What Ning Network(s) do you run?

JenSocial.com Web directory and co-owner of PetBrags Pet Lovers Paradise (marriage of PetBrags and the former Pet Lovers Paradise).

How did you get started with Ning?

Technology has been my business and life for years, and I love-love-love creating and coming up with new ideas. When I first learned about online social communities, I was working on a gig with Time Warner designing client sites. Before that, I had worked my way up to technology management, and I did that for about 17 years. When I took on the Time Warner project, I had no responsibility except to “create.” In no time, Web design became my passion.

One day I was talking with my younger brother about a new online business (we are forever brainstorming together on new business ideas, inventions, branding — you name it). We landed on the topic of pets and business, and his comments were something like: “Jen, you need to open a Web community where pet owners can meet, discuss, and share.”  A Web community you say? What the heck is that? Within a couple of hours, the concept of PetBrags was born, and I started searching for and researching software to build an online community. I was actually pretty shocked that software had already been written to do this. I researched extensively before deciding on the Ning platform.  PetBrags was up and running in no time, and my life of social networking and Ning design had begun!

After PetBrags was established, I needed a new business plan and a way to monetize a social community; and a place where I could work with my design clients for my Web design company, Ning Custom Design. In the midst of this planning, Ning made a huge change from open source to a platform solution. I realized then I had to make a serious change to my business model. I noticed a real need for a Ning directory, and I loved helping fellow Network Creators. So, the Ning Directory was born. When Ning went back to white-label-centric (yay!), I had to change the business model again since it was obvious that white-label Ning sites wouldn’t be too excited about joining a Ning directory. Hence, JenSocial was born. It was all a work-in-progress, and JenSocial has been the best business model to date. JenSocial is here to stay!

JenSocial is a Social Network Directory and Network Creator Hub for all social networking platforms, not just Ning. I specialize in Ning Tips and have a very successful premium group called Jen’s Premium Ning Tips, where I offer high-level tips and special support attention to premium members. Great news: In the near future, JenSocial will be opening up membership to social blogs and Facebook Fan Pages — more of a social Web directory.

Who have been some of the most helpful NCs to you?

Honestly, it would be too tough to name them all. I know I would leave someone out. I will give quick special mention to my business partner on PetBrags, Suzie, and our JenSocial Administrator, Deborah Saralonde. And you wouldn’t believe how many wonderful Admins we have on PetBrags, really unbelievable. I am forever grateful to them all.

What would you learn if you had more time?

How to speak French, write better jQuery, and fly a plane. If I had unlimited funds: My life’s dream is to establish a worldwide organization that would serve as a theatre group for homeless and underprivileged children.

What would you do that most people consider unproductive if you had more time?

Spend more time on the water/beach, NYC, and get back into shooting pool/billiards. Can you believe it? I adore the game. I used to be a pretty serious player and would love to get my game back. Have laptop, will travel. I would travel (anywhere and everywhere). And I would love to take the time to join a theatre group and do a little bit of stage acting. Oh, and take several cross country train trips a year.

What should Ning make next?

A robust integrated directory, status updates conversation, integrated shopping cart (not Ning Apps), and integrated IM.

Can someone hire you?

Yes, of course! That’s how I pay the bills. Check out my site Ning Custom Design.