One Thousand Words a Day…

 

Write or Die

This isn’t exactly about writing, instead it is about my methods of writing now and in the past. It is time I break away from the past. But you may get a couple uh huh, I have been there out of it.

I have been writing off and on since high school. My first works were screenplays and poems. I wanted to be able to tell a full story with characters completely thought out and I thought perhaps as a screenplay this would be easier for me. I am a visual learner and I see things in my mind’s eye so to speak and I get desperate to put them down on paper and have others see them as I do.

Say you woke up early this morning and you see the sun rising. It is so beautiful how the mist in the air is making so many different shades of red and yellow blend in the sky and there are streaks of clouds that look like cotton candy as the sun glows behind the clouds that are getting in the way of the sun rise. The fluffy clouds of red and pink look edible against the blue sky. And there are beams of light from this mixture of sun and clouds going off in so many directions. If only you could reach them. So you get your cell phone out of your pocket and you take a picture. When you look at this picture it looks nothing like what you saw. Sure, the sun is there and the fluffy cloud and you see some colors but you don’t have the emotional attachment to it that you had when you saw it with your eyes. Writing at times is like that. You are trying to take the pictures in your mind and put it into words. And you are hoping some how you make an emotional connection with your reader and they will see what you see or they get their over version of it that is just as good if not better.

I have a habit of getting stuck in the minutiae of writing. When I was all about pen and paper, it had to be a certain pen and a certain type of paper I wrote on. When it was a typewriter, it had to be a typewriter with an amazing font. I used a manual I some how found for a bit but the letters were a really old typeface. They looked much like the old newspapers of the early 1900s. Then I found my pride and joy. It was an electric IBM typewriter that had such a modern looking font. I loved typing on it. I managed to do a lot of writing with it. I never published anything I wrote. Instead it circulated around and around with a group of friends and extended friends but my writing was never at the level of quality I wanted it to be. Sure, all of the ones I had read my writing said it was really great, but none of my friends are writing critics. What do they know? And my fear of rejection and my life as an introvert prevented me from sending my writing off to magazines back when getting published in a magazine was a “thing”. My early writing fit two kinds of genres, science fiction and teen angst.

I wrote two screenplays (which I never published) about a character who wanted to be a Rock Star. “Life in an American High School” and “Life in the American Fast Lane”. The first was about our main character being in an after school Rock band and falling in love with a girl completely out of his league until a series of events give him a chance and then they graduate. The second was about after high school. The band some how gets seen by a producer who brings them out to L.A. to work on a record and potentially they have a record deal.

My science fiction was all over the map. I was inspired by magazines such as “The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction”, “Asimov’s Science Fiction”, and “Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine”. I was also into mystery. But my Science Fiction style is comedic stories as inspired by books by Douglas Adams; Hitchhiker’s Guide series, Terry Pratchett’s books, and Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series. And it is also influenced by Piers Anthony’s Incarnation series, Terry Brooks’ Magic Kingdom for Sale –Sold series, and of course Robert Heinlein. Any book by Robert Heinlein is a good book in my book. So all of that lead to a book series called “The Life and Times of Johnny Rockstar” about a kid in a post apocalyptic time who eventually winds up being a music superstar in what is left of the world. Music has always been my other passion and it seeps into everything I do in one way or another.

And then life happened. I had to put my writing and musician dreams aside and work for a living, figure out my path, who I wanted to be. And strangely that is still a mystery to me. I do not know who or what I want to be when I grow up. And on the outside I have grown up and on the inside it is a battle between responsibility and dreams. What do I want to be and what do I want to do? As we go through life we will reinvent ourselves multiple times if we want to stay relevant.

So a couple of years ago I decided to dust off my writer’s brain and resurrect it from its banishment. But as live has gone on, I have developed procrastination. In fact, I put the “pro” in procrastination. And maybe you are like me. You get the urge to write but when you sit down and you type and it all seems like garbage, you find something else to do with that creative energy or worse the time vacuum that is Social Media sucks away the marrow of your writing bones and takes you into the future where you land hours later and unable to go back to your original creative moment.

And the minutiae of writing has kicked back in. I needed to have just the right environment to “write” and my old MacBook was too old to be productive. It was limited because it had an old OS on it and was stuck in a time eight years ago. So I desired a new machine. A friend generously gave me a fixer upper PC and I slowly added new pieces to make it interesting and useful for many things. I also bought Scrivener 2 for Windows because so many raved about how great it was for getting you organized and for moving things out of the way of creativity. So I bought a copy (after I found a great deal on it) and loaded it up and for a few weeks yes, this motivated me to write. But my last book I wrote completely in Google Docs. I loved that I could edit it on any device that had Internet access. But when I got ready to convert it to an ebook for Amazon, it was a challenge as I didn’t follow Amazon guidelines exactly and I made a very picture heavy book with the images all in the wrong format. If you want to read about those adventures, visit this link to my old blog to read about “Adventures in Writing a book and then Publishing to Amazon” where I used Calibre for the conversion and some HTML hacks to get it all to look decent but it still could have been better. I highly recommend Calibre if you are using Microsoft Word to create your writings. But if you have Scrivener, it will do the same thing and but is a bit of a learning curve.

And perhaps like me you have bought the ten thousand books on the art of writing, or read great books like The Art of Work by Jeff Goins and You Are a Writer (so start acting like one) also by Jeff Goins. And perhaps you have seen all the books by Kristen Joy like “Author’s Quick Guide to Organizing Your Non-Fiction Book“. Her books are simple and short. The advice is probably the same you would get from a hour and a half chat with a creative writing professor but it is good practical advice if you are the type who listens to good practical advice. I am not. Also if you give Kristen your email address she will try to sell you every writing book and course under the sun. So you have been warned.

So where am I now? This is the start of my true Writer’s Journey. I broke down and spent money I didn’t have and bought myself a refurbished MacBook Pro 13 inch with 8 gig of RAM and a 256 Gig Flash based hard drive. This thing is fast and I am very happy with it. But then I had to buy Scrivener again (albeit with a discount) for my Mac. So I am going to try and push myself to write “1,000 Words A day”. I have to make this investment in my writing. I have things to say both in the nonfiction and fiction realms. I love teaching others through my nonfiction and I want to tell amazing stories with my fiction. It is time. I have no excuses. I must manage my time better. Hopefully you are inspired. Hopefully you are ready to go out there and start writing. Hopefully I am too.

It is time to write or die trying.Click To Tweet

Social Media Marketing for the Small Business (Part 2)

Editor’s Note: This post is resurrected from the dead after this site was hacked. As it was one of the sites most popular posts it had to come back.

Editor’s Note 2: This is part 2 in our Social Media Marketing for Small Business series. Click here for Part 1.

Social Media Marketing Rocks

Social Media Marketing For the Small Business (Part 2).

Authority DefinedFirst we have to establish Authority. According to Google, Authority is “the power or right to give orders, make decisions, and enforce obedience”. That seems a little harsh. Basically, for the Internet, Authority is demonstrating you are an expert enough for people to listen to you and ultimately follow your brand and buy your product. For some things this is easily demonstrated. You can post articles about your product or concept to your website or blog. These articles or posts need to give value and not be fluff pieces. After you establish yourself you can get away with occasionally writing an article about nothing. But if you want your readers, followers, and eventual customers to really pay attention to you, you have to give them something for their time.

If your brand is a fitness center, you should post articles about proper lifting techniques, how to do lunges properly, sit-ups, etc. Basically articles about fitness to match your theme. It is important to include pictures with your posts as a picture is a quick attention grabber. So perhaps you have someone demonstrate the correct form for a particular exercise. Sure there are tons of other sites with the same stuff, but yours is different because it is coming from you. Also if you take your own pictures, it makes you more authentic rather than posting stock photos you have to pay for or searching for images that are public domain or Creative Commons (a licensing format that allows use of photos and often modifications as long as you give attribution to the person who originally created it. Variations apply so you need to always read the fine print to be sure you are in compliance.) Sometimes it makes sense to buy stock photos. Be sure they match your brand and what you are trying to convey.

Then armed with these articles, start sharing them to Social Media. How do you share? There are many ways. You can share one Social Network at a time.

Sharing On Twitter

This would be tedious and time consuming. If you are running a WordPress blog, there are many tools that will share your posts for you on various Social Media sites. Jetpack from Automatic will share your posts to Facebook, Twitter, Google, and others if you allow it access to your accounts. Fairly painless. This only shares but doesn’t give you any tracking or analytics (which we will cover in detail in a later article in the series). But this does beat going to every social network to share.

Another way is to use a service such as Hootsuite or Sprout Social or Buffer

I recommend trying Hootsuite or Buffer first. Both offer free plans that will tell you fairly quickly if you need more than the free plan or if you like their service. Notice in the picture the Hootlet button. I am currently using Hootsuite so even though I was posting directly onto Twitter, it was offering me a chance to use my Hootsuite account instead. By using a service, you can schedule your Social posts. Wouldn’t it be great if you could schedule when your message goes out? All of these services claim to figure out the best time for you to post and to post your shares accordingly. And they offer link shortening service as part of the sharing. This allows you to take the really long link like you see up there and turn it into a very short link so you can add more verbiage to your Tweet or share. Also if you are truly running a business you can sit around all day planning your social media strategy and expect to spend time with your customers face to face.

Posting Via Hootsuite

They all work pretty much the same. With Hootsuite (the one I am most familiar with) you can download a Chrome Browser extension that makes sharing links very easy. When you are visiting a page you want to share click on the Hootsuite icon (an Owl).

Chrome Extensions HootsuiteChrome Extensions Hootsuite

 

 

 

This then pops up a windows that looks like of like this.

Posting Via Hootsuite

 

Notice the AutoSchedule button. This allows Hootsuite to determine when your content will post your various social medias. Hootsuite works with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn. There are ways to add others as well, but these are the most user friendly. Also notice the Twitter Bird with the number 42, this shows your character count. Remember Twitter is only 140 characters and your URL even shortened takes up some space. Also notice an image. On some sites you can pick which image from the site will show up. However, sometimes Facebook disagrees and posts a different picture. This doesn’t happen often but it does happen. So if you are posting from a news site a happy story with a picture of a kid all with smiles and Facebook surprises you by showing the mug shot of the latest prison escapee. Also you need to include Hashtags. Hashtags are a way for people to search Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ for content related to keywords. What your hashtags should be requires some research on your part. An article about Hashtags will probably be in this series all by itself as it is an important topic. If your business is all about Fitness and you are posting only articles about Fitness, then perhaps #Fitness is a hashtag you should include in every post. It is important to find a Hashtag that is all your own if you want to stand out in the crowd.

 

 

There are tools to automatically post to Instagram. Instagram is a picky animal and sees right through insincerity. So be sure post good content. With Instagram there is a love for all things hashtag. Strange as it may seem, Eleven is the magic number right now on Instagram. You should post an average of eleven hashtags with every post on Instagram if you want to get traction with likes and followers. If your product is a visual product then you really should include Instagram in your Marketing campaign. Granted the example below isn’t selling much, but Instagram is about engagement and relating. So posting personal-ish stuff to Instagram allows people to find the human side of your business or image.

You should post an average of eleven hashtags with every post on InstagramClick To Tweet

Remember, you can only post your website link in your profile. So always tell people to see your profile for link details. However, while you can’t click on a web address, with Instagram it is good to have your link in pictures occasionally so people see it. If they are intrigued, they will type it in to visit. If you do that, give them a destination. Something on your site just for Instagram by having a page just for them or a contest page just for them. Example: http://www.aroyrichardson.com might be your address, but say you make a page just for Instagram, http://www.aroyrichardson.com/welcome and perhaps have some images posted there you have posted to your Instagram feed previously.

Pancake breakfast time Let’s eat. #Breakfast #pancakes #foodie #food #Gatlinburg

A photo posted by Roy W. Richardson (@aroyrichardson) on

Also if you are visual, Pinterest is of Interest. Pinterest is growing so fast and you need to publish your content to Pinterest. Every entry you post can be posted to Pinterest.
Pin To Pinterest

 

Back to autoscheduling. So using Buffer or Hootsuite, you can prestage content and have it show up on your social media accounts at times they deem to give you the most traction. And with the URL shortener, this allows you to see how many people clicked on a link. Hootsuite gives you minimal reporting but the paid version gives you more. The Enterprise version gives you everything. But remember we are a small business or just an individual. Do the free stuff until you can determine it makes sense for you to spend money.

Here is snippet of what a link report looks like from Hootsuite.

Link Clicks Owly

Link Clicks Owly

Those are just the top two links. It lists a lot more including which sites links were clicked on and a graph of what countries. Click here to see a PDF of a full report.

If you don’t want to use something to schedule your posts to Social Media, you can use Bit.ly as an url shortner. You will notice that sometimes links do get pretty long and using Bit.ly you can shorten them. Also Bit.ly does offer tracking so you can see how many times people clicked on your links. It will also show popularity. If a lot of people share the same link as you do, it can get pretty popular.

 

Okay, so you are posting interesting content to a blog or website, you are sharing it and links of interest to Social Media using a scheduler.

Here are just some of the benefits of using Social Media for marketing.

Benefits Of Social Media Marketing

That’s it, right?

NO! There is so much more to know. So read part 3 in the series.