Web designer Mark Czerniec — Racine & Kenosha, Wisconsin

Hello. I am a freelancer working in web design and digital marketing, primarily building small business websites in Racine and Kenosha, Wisconsin, the greater Chicago–Milwaukee corridor and beyond.

Using technology and media to share stories with a wide audience has been my preoccupation since childhood. As you can imagine, I was thrilled when the World Wide Web emerged as one brilliant system allowing us all to create and publish anything we can dream up, at very little cost.

Local SEO since 1996

My own first website, a guide to Kenosha, went online in March of 1996, just as the general public was beginning to use the web. Before long, I was communicating with people all over the world — former Kenoshans living in Tokyo and Addis Ababa, and former Italian soldiers looking for old comrades back here.

That guide served as Kenosha’s unofficial online Chamber of Commerce long before the real Chamber ever built a website — and long before the terms “search engine optimization” or “local SEO” were coined. Soon, businesses began hiring me to do web design for them, and I have continued to develop and maintain a variety of web projects for the past 21 years.

Work in radio

Before the Web, the medium I loved best was radio, and one personality who really sparked my imagination as a young adult was Chicago radio legend Steve Dahl.

In 1981, I began haunting the WLS-FM show Steve did with Garry Meier as a mysterious caller who phoned in wacky tape creations I had edited together. This turned into a daily job as the Steve and Garry Show’s “All My Children Update” guy, “Mark from Kenosha,” from 1982 to 1986.

A number of other commercial and public radio jobs followed. I worked for WLS, WGTD, WGN (even ran a radio station in a gazebo at Six Flags Great America), and WLIP, and then eventually returned to work for Steve Dahl at WCKG on the afternoon of September 11, 2001.

In order to be better connected after those terrorist attacks, Steve hired me to monitor news, surf the internet, and do research for his show behind the scenes while he was on the air. Employed by CBS Radio while telecommuting from my home office in Wisconsin (plus occasional trips to Hawaii and Mexico), I became The Steve Dahl Show‘s information director for the next seven years — and remodeled its website as well. After a long and legendary run, the show was canceled at WJMK in December of 2008.

Since then, I have immersed myself exclusively in new media, and have been helping small businesses, entrepreneurs, educational institutions, professional practices, authors, and other individuals use these tools to reach wider audiences.

Family

I live with my wonderful wife Amy in Racine, Wisconsin, about 25 miles south of Milwaukee and 60 miles north of Chicago, where I was born.

Most of my life was spent in Kenosha, the next city south. My mom still lives there. (Dozen of people browse her pierogi recipes on my website every single day.) Three of my sisters also reside in the area, with a fourth now living in Ohio. My dad, a WW2 Navy veteran who spent his working life managing Ace Hardware stores in Chicagoland and Kenosha, died in 1980.

Amy and I bought our home in Racine in 2005, and began soaking in the bliss of quiet domesticity. We both enjoy food and cooking, and having a yard allowed us to take up gardening and landscaping.

Culture

In general, I love culture. I enjoy music and food and movies and literature from all over the world.

My acoustic guitar is usually near at hand, and I plink my way through Jackson Browne, Neil Young, and Bruce Springsteen songs whenever I’m thinking something through.

I’m intrigued by the rustic and the traditional, and by folktales, customs, religion and mythology. I have spent years reading and re-reading the work of Joseph Campbell, the single greatest teacher I have had in life. Campbell’s insights into storytelling helped director George Lucas create Star Wars — and can also be put to powerful use in marketing.

Breast cancer

Amy was diagnosed with breast cancer in August of 2013. Although this calamity presented an enormous obstacle, it also became an opportunity to share experiences with the world through digital media.

Amy blogged about her experiences all through chemotherapy, radiation, and surgery at her website, AmyCz.com We also produced YouTube videos to accompany her posts, sharing a firsthand look at what treatment and daily life were like.

These videos and Amy’s blog posts received tens of thousands of views, and we have heard from people all over the world — Belgium, Greece, Philadelphia, Australia, Barbados, Maine — going through similar ordeals. Once again, we are amazed by the power of internet communication.

Creative Root & video production

Our interests in culture and our local community have spawned a website called Creative Root, which began as a short Racine / Kenosha events list, and gradually grew.

To this Creative Root website, we have begun adding Racine / Kenosha videos and stories, using our video production capabilities to focus attention on local enterpreneurs, artists, and events.

Unco Industries

One video, for example, about Unco Industries’ earthworm business in Union Grove, has received over 13,000 views.

If worm manure can be this intriguing, shouldn’t your story should be told as well?

Kenosha Fusion

As another example, look at Fusion, an up-and-coming performing arts venue in Kenosha, Wisconsin. Driving past its storefront in the Harborside neighborhood, you can’t appreciate the extensive remodeling that Don Miller and Steve Hawkins have done to turn an old retail shop into a state-of-the-art performance space for music, comedy, dance, and more.

Through a YouTube video like this, anyone can take a peek inside, see what goes on, and enjoy the story of how things came to be. Video easily breaks through barriers to bring people into your world. Used in combination with a properly designed website, the possibilities are astonishing.

Hawthorn Hollow

Many people travelling between Racine and Kenosha on busy Highway 31 pass the sign every day, but few of them know about the two nature-loving Racine sisters who founded this sanctuary — or about all the activities going on here month after month. Our video gives you engaging overview of this little paradise via Dan Lyons, Hawthorn Hollow’s Director of Education.

Need help building your audience?

So now you know my story. What’s yours?

If you need someone to produce a video, build a website from scratch, update your existing website, or just add a few touches, I would be happy to talk with you about how to make it a reality.

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