Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The Top 10 Blogs for Writers

I'm still out of town, so I thought I'd share something quick and useful with you.

From Michael A. Stelzner's Blog, Writing White Papers, comes the list of the Top 10 Blogs for Writers 2009/2010
  1. Copyblogger
  2. Men With Pens
  3. Write to Done
  4. Editor Unleashed
  5. Freelance Writing Jobs
  6. Confident Writing
  7. Urban Muse
  8. WordCount
  9. Quips & Tips for Successful Writers
  10. Fuel Your Writing

Some of the resources on this list are sites that I use on a daily basis though I would have included Poets & Writers. They have a storehouse of useful information and they give details on contests, grants, and places to submit poetry, fiction & nonfiction. Are there any other sites that you know of, or contribute to, that are set up primarily for writers? Please share them in the comments.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My favorite (recent) posts for writers by writers

So, I'm out of town for the rest of this week. You'll find my posts to be much shorter (yay!) and my commenting to be much less since I won't necessarily have Internet access. Today I wanted to link to some of my favorite posts I've seen around the internet for writers lately.

 photo: Andrew Stawarz

Are there any other good blog posts or articles that you have seen for writers recently? Please share them in the comments.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Real Life Networking for Artists

Branding in a Flash Week is coming to a close. With all the long (and hopefully somewhat useful) posts we've had this week, this one is going to be short.

Monday we talked about the Artist Business Card
Tuesday we reviewed the items needed in An Effective Artist's Résumé
Wednesday we discussed What to Include in a Website and How to Promote It (for artists)
and yesterday we addressed the Rules of Social Networking Online

Today we are talking about the live networking that we do. Meeting people and getting to know them professionally is important. Acting, singing, writing, and many other art forms are not only industries built on skill and excellence, but they are also people industries. It helps to know people, people that you can help and people that can recommend you to a certain gig or agent. Meeting new people and building relationships within our industry and other related industries, should not be taken lightly.

It is something I have not done well in the past, so I decided to try something new. My new list consists of:
  • When I meet people, I tell them what I do and I give them one of my business cards if they appear interested, if they work in a similar industry, or if I think I might be able to help them in anyway
  • I decided to join to local groups in my region: one is for screenwriters of all kinds, one is for mystery novel writers. I have also decided to be a member of a state-wide group that offers writing classes in my city.
  • I have made it my goal to go to at least two related conferences per year. These seem to be a great way to get to know other writers and to learn a lot from professionals in my field.
What "in person" networking do you do? Is it hard for you to walk up to someone and introduce yourself as an actor or writer, etc.? Do you feel you make enough new contacts each month? Is networking a priority to you or something that just happens if it happens?

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The Keys to Online Social Networking: Rules and Strategies for Artists

We are still in Branding in a Flash Week. Monday we discussed Artist's Business Cards; Tuesday was about Building a Résumé for Artists; yesterday was on the basics of What to Include in Your Website and How to Promote It; and tomorrow will be about In-person Networking, but for today we are discussing: Online Social Networking

The top networks and the number of unique visitors they had last month (August 2009-these numbers were taken from

Facebook: 122,220,617
  • uses standard pages for each member. You can add “friends” on this network and post pictures, videos, notes, and short updates about your life.
MySpace: 55,599,585
  • is similar to Facebook in many ways but has customizable backgrounds so that you can make it look more like a personal/professional webpage. MySpace is not used as much as Facebook (and I do not recommend it over Facebook).
Twitter: 23,579,044
  • allows you to share 140 character posts (called tweets) about whatever you want. You can search comment streams to find people who have the same interests as you. You can include links that drive traffic to your blog or website.
LinkedIn: 14,241,651
  • a site for professionals to exchange ideas and job opportunities. A way to link with others who might be interested in your work and to find others in similar fields.
Ning: 6,112,986
  • is a collection of networks. Individuals can join multiple networks based on their interests and connect with thousands of others who care about the same topic. Users can add blog posts, photos, videos and events to their networks.
These numbers indicate "unique visitors" which means that one person who visits the site multiple times is only counted once that month.

The Eight Keys to Social Networking Online

Be Effective
As an artist who has a busy schedule and a million ideas every day, it is best to pick two or three online social networks (OSNs) to join and maintain. One should probably be reserved for your family and friends while the other(s) can be used to network with people in the same field or to build interest in your brand.

Be Active
Get on your preferred networks more than once per week (I recommend you choose one to visit daily). Update your status; comment on other people’s statuses. Find new “friends” with similar interests. If someone has posted a question you know how to answer, help them out.

Be Unique
Personalize your page if you can. Myspace, Twitter and Ning all allow for different backgrounds and graphics to be used. Try to plant your brand everywhere you can, without being tacky.

Be Cordial
Promote others online as well. If someone wrote a blog post or article that is extremely helpful or interesting, post about it on Facebook or Twitter. If all your posts are shameless self-plugs then people will eventually get tired of you (translation: only your mother will continue to follow you online, if she knows how).

Be Patient
Don’t join an OSN and send out hundreds of friend requests each day (unless you’re Oprah). Take it slow as you begin to post useful content. Find people who are posting useful and interesting content and see who they are friends with, or who they are following. Become friends/followers of a few of these people at a time and expand your network from there.

Be Genuine
It is easy to say things you don't mean when online. You don't have to see the people you communicate with online, so it is easy to flit about the web making insincere comments. People can tell if you really took the time to read their posts; they can tell if you really care about what they're saying. We all know the old adage "If you don't have any real support/advice/interest/thoughts/opinions/feelings to tweet about what someone is saying, then don't tweet at all."

Be Professional
Your online presence is a VITAL part of your brand. Your OSNs are probably not the place to bash people or to talk about your seriously wild & crazy adventures...unless that is part of the image you want to portray.

Be Linked
On your blog, set up links to your OSNs that you want people to befriend you on. Include links on your websites, newsletters and e-mails. The people who are interested will find you on your OSNs and establish a connection with you.

So, what other social networking sites do you know of? Are there specific sites that are good for artists?

Here is one for writers that I've yet to check out:

Also, please leave a comment if you are interested in a tutorial on how to use Twitter.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

How to Build an Artist Website and What to Include

Having a professional and artistic web presence is a MUST for today’s artists. If you are anything like me the moment you hear something new, you go to the web to find out more about it, verify it, research it or buy it. (Pretty much) gone are the days where we relied on newspapers and magazines for our news; (pretty much) gone are the days that we turned on the TV to find out what’s been happening in our world. The Internet is an on-demand information resource. Be assured that when you query agents, submit your dance or acting resume to someone, or apply for grants or awards, the people reviewing you and your work will want to know as much about you as they can.

Many agents (who blog) say they search for your name on the Internet when they want to find out about you. Do you know what they would find if they searched your name right now? You should. Lots of kooky and inaccurate information may be lurking there (check out Jill's awesome post on searching for your author name on the web). You should start now (as in last week) building your online presence. If you have a blog, that is an awesome first step. The online tools you should eventually have are: a webpage, a blog (optional, but HIGHLY recommended if you are a writer), a few choice online social networks (Facebook, twitter, or any other platform that has millions of users), and a professional e-mail address. With these things, when someone searches your name (or your chosen nom de plume) they will pull up the things you want them to, rather than random Internet junk.

I’m going to break down how to get a website up and running, what to include on your website, and the basics of promoting yourself online. In the interest of space and time though, you can find my notes on getting a website up, by clicking here (not a lot of technical knowledge necessary to understand this article).

What to include on your website (these things should have their own tab or page)

Home- the page people land on should include a picture and a brief description of what you do. Don't make people guess if you are an actor or a writer or a random crazy person with a website.

About or Bio- so people can start to get to know you better or find something they have in common with you. This section makes you more real and likeable.

Writings/Books/Music/Films/Etc.- include examples of some of your work
-if you are a dancer, include some videos of you dancing or a video of something you choreographed
-if you are an actor include a video of your favorite monologue or a clip from a commercial or film you were in (provided it does not violate any copyright)
-if you are a singer include a video of a performance or of you singing, or just include some songs people can listen to

Contact- a LOT of people forget to include accurate contact information. It is in your best interest to provide ways for people to get in contact with you, should they like your work or have a question. Include an e-mail address that you check daily. Include a form for people to fill out on your website or a phone number for people to contact you. There are few things more frustrating than a website where you can’t find contact information (or the contact info. is outdated).

Photos or Press Kit- As an artist, you will want to include a picture, something people can start to identify you by. You will also want to include high-resolution images of your book covers or album covers. Bloggers/Reviewers will be able to download these photos of you and your work if they want to write about them on the web.

Calendar or Events- if you are really active in your community or if you have upcoming gigs, or classes that you are teaching, include them on your website as a way for fans and potential clients to keep up with you or come support you.

Reviews or Press Coverage- if people are reviewing your work or speaking of you positively on the web, radio, or in print, include it on your site.

Some examples of good author websites:

The basics of promoting your website
“If you build it, they won’t necessarily come.”
I have modified the famous line from Field of Dreams so that it can apply to the building of your webpage or blog. As we all know by now, if you build yourself a shiny page or two on the net, it doesn’t necessarily mean anybody will go view them. You have to actively promote your web presence.

Once your site is built, submit your “www.” to search engines. After submitting mine to Yahoo!, went from not showing up at all, to being the very first selection when you search “Regina Milton”. You can submit your URL to Yahoo! here and to Google here.

Update your content regularly:
Add videos (that rank higher on search engines) and new content regularly. Make sure it is compelling and enjoyable. Ask your friends with blogs to put up a link to your site every so often. These things will help your ranking with search engines.

Become a friend of Google Analytics:
This is a free service that you can use on your website or blog that will allow you to see how many people visit your site, how they got to your blog, how long they stayed on your site, how many links they clicked on your site, and even what keywords they used to search for and reach your webpages. This tool allows you to see where most of your traffic comes from and what your most popular pages or posts are and to capitalize on those things.

-Be a guest on a friend’s blog (make sure they link back to you)
-E-mail your friends and let them know you have a website
-Include your web address at the bottom of your e-mail signature
-Include your web address on your business cards or other promotional materials
-Consider joining sites like or
Which are free social news websites for people to share and discover new content from on the Internet

What other methods have you found useful for promoting yourself on the web?

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Branding in a Flash Week: How to Build an Effective Artist Resume

This week we are continuing with are interruption in regular programming to bring you Branding in a Flash. We are in day two of a five-day overview of how/what we need to do as artists to create and maintain our brand and build our Brand Kit. On Monday we talked about: Business Cards & Contact Info.

Today: Résumés (yes, as an artist you still need one!)

Wednesday: How to build a basic Website and what it should include
Thursday: Online social networking
Friday: Real life networking

How to Build an Effective Artist Résumé
Assuming you want a nine to five job, you’ll make a résumé that highlights your work history, accomplishments, education and experience. As an artist hoping to gain exposure, make money, get published, etc. it is essential that you have a résumé as well. It should highlight your accomplishments (in related fields), show off your experience (that is specific to your art) and display your endeavors and knowledge in your art. Even if you don't need to use it right away, building one now will give you something to pull from when you write a CV, short bio, or query letter.

Your artist résumé should be about one page. Some people prepare two versions of their résumé (short and long). Typically when e-mailing out a résumé you will want to select your shorter one so that your readers can scan it quickly. Your hard copy résumé should not appear cluttered and should have a clean look to it. Whereas (depending on what your applying for) it is okay to include some “artsy” elements, remember to always keep it professional.

The categories you include in your résumé will vary based on what field you are in and what you are using the résumé for. Here are some common elements you may want to include:

Name & Contact Information:
Name (or penname/screen name), address (if applicable), phone number, e-mail address (a professional one), website or blog address (if appropriate).

If it is related or if you just want to include it, then do so. This is not necessary on all artist résumés. Keep it simple: degree, school and year.

Honors and Awards (or Grants):
List all related recognitions, mentions, prizes, grants, etc. in a consistent format. Include the name of the organization and the date, in reverse chronological order.

Professional Experience:
List jobs you’ve held related to your field, classes you’ve taught or other experience you feel is related. This category does not necessarily need to be included on the résumé.

Press Coverage or Bibliography:
List any reviews about you or articles that you are mentioned in. Also include television, online or radio interviews in this section. List these things in a consistent format. Artists can also use this section to highlight where their work was used (example: if your song was used in a movie or your art appeared in a catalogue, etc.).

Professional Memberships or Affiliations:
Optional category that lists professional organizations you are a member or officer of, that relate to your field.

As a writer you may want to also include:
  • Published work- list the title, date, and where it was published
  • Classes or other specialized training (for freelance writers)
As a performing artist you may want to include:
  • Classes and workshops or other specialized training
  • Performances or productions and your role in them- list the date and location. A dancer may want to split this up by listing dance performances and choreography in separate categories. A singer/songwriter may split performances, song compositions and their recordings into separate categories.
As a media or visual artist you may want to include:
  • A list of clients
  • Exhibitions/Collections
  • List of work on films, TV, etc. 
In addition to traditional paper, an emerging popular format for you to consider is a video résumé:
A video résumé is a short video (as in a minute or so) of you talking about your qualifications for a specific job opportunity. Communicate your brand and image through your video. By loading it on YouTube, you will be able to link it to your web page or send the link to prospective employers via e-mail.

Also, remember to update your résumé regularly; you will be glad you did. It makes applying for freelance writing jobs, dance opportunities or auditions very simple. You’ll only have to click and send, instead of trying to remember everything you’ve done for the last eight months before sending it.

Here are some sample résumés for you to get ideas from:
Visual Artist
Artsy Visual Artist

Monday, September 21, 2009

Branding in a Flash Week: Artist Business Card

This week we are interrupting our regular programming to bring you Branding in a Flash. This will be a five-day overview of how/what we need to do as artists to create and maintain our brand and build our Brand Kit.

Monday: Business Cards & Contact Info.
Tuesday: Resumes (yes, as an artist you still need one!)
Wednesday: How to build a basic Website and what it should include
Thursday: Online social networking
Friday: Real life networking

Business Cards:

Whether you are a dancer, a freelance writer, singer, or trying to make your living as an actor, you should have a business card. Since you never know whom you might have the opportunity to meet, it is best to always be prepared. For artists who do not run a traditional brick and mortar business (since we are our own business) it can be difficult to know what to include on your business card...or to even see the necessity of one.

Handing out your business card to the people you meet serves two purposes:

  • it shows them that you are professional and serious about what you are doing
  • it gets you in the habit of introducing yourself as a writer or dancer, etc. It is important for you to say and believe in what you are doing. If you won’t be confident for yourself, no one else will do it for you.
As an artist you should have a biz card with:
  •  your best headshot (if you don’t want your picture on your card, make yourself a logo of some sort and include it- a picture or logo will help your card stand out and will also trigger the memory of the person you gave your card to)
  • up to date contact information- your phone number (if you so choose) and a professional e-mail address (not the one from college-
  • web address or blog address (or both- people will be able to look you up and see what kind of work you do)
Business cards save you time and eliminate error in relaying information. If you meet someone who asks for your e-mail or phone number, or who says they may know somebody who knows somebody who can help you (and yes, this does happen), you’ll be able to whip out your shiny business card (hello, professional!) instead of saying "2-1-2-9-8-7-6-5..." or "". If you do everything online and would like to instead build an e- business card that can be sent or linked to, try

Contact Information:
Certain connections prefer to e-mail people while others prefer to call. Hopefully you can make both options available to potential agents, employers, directors, etc.
  • If you don’t want to give out your cell number to everyone you meet, try signing up for a Google Voice number. It will give you a brand new phone number that will ring directly to your cell phone while keeping your cell number private.
  • Your e-mail address should represent you in a professional manner. Many people choose or a variation of that. We will talk about owning your own domain later this week. If/when you do that, you will most likely be able to set up an e-mail address like
A simple (non-cluttered) card that expresses your artistic self in some way is best. Remember that your card is a part of your "Brand Kit" (along with your website, resume, image, etc.) and should be professional. Places like or allow you to inexpensively build and design your card online.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The 7 Rules of Blogging Professionally

Today I'd like your help discovering the rules of blogging as we know them so far. Not for personal or political blogs (which fall under different guidelines) but for professional blogs (set up for your business or to link and promote you to other people that have chosen the same profession).

Time for a completely unrelated but ridiculous picture about rules:

Now, without further ado these are the guidelines that I can think of, that I have learned, or that I have observed/heard from my fellow bloggers:

    1. Post consistently: Whether it be once a week, every day of the week, or Tuesdays and Thursdays, pick a schedule. Your readers will know when to go to your site for updates. If they come back often only to find out you haven't updated...they will eventually stop coming.
    2. Find your niche: What's the purpose of your blog? Did you establish it to connect with others? To promote your work? Define a niche and stick with it.

    3. Post purposefully: If your blog is for elementary school teachers and is set up to help others learn new teaching methods then it is probably best not to discuss the Kanye drama for three days straight. One mention is sufficient...and try somehow to tie it in to your purpose.

    4. Speak well and find your blog voice: Perhaps (just perhaps) your professional blog is not the best place to display your sailor vocabulary (get it?) or talk mercilessly about the things you dislike (the Lakers, the Cowboys). It is however the place to develop your unique voice. Let your character show; people will continue to read/visit you because of who you are and what you have to say. Take for example fellow blogger Marsha, she has established a certain voice that I love to go back to again and again.

    5. Share the love: Visit and comment on other blogs; you don't blog in a bubble. When you reference someone else's blog that you are a big fan of (like my online writing buddy Bethany) then provide a link to their page.

    6. Involve your readers: Ask your readers questions and give yourself the opportunity to learn from them. Poll your readers to see what they find most useful, or what they want more of. A person who is really great at reader involvement is Jennifer J. Bennett who usually asks a question or two with every post (or at the very lest gets you thinking).

    7. Promote yourself: Link to your posts from your facebook or Twitter account. E-mail your friends. Add your blog/website to the listing with both Google and Yahoo! If you go to or you will be allowed to submit your URL (which may look like this - to the Google and Yahoo! search engines. This can improve your visibility when people search for your name, or search topics that you cover on your site.

So, I know I missed a lot. What else would you add to this list of Blogging Professionally?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Axioms, Idioms & Idiots

"Go with what you know. Only write about that which you know most about." by this precept Lord of the Rings could not have been written because who really knows many hobbits, elves, dark lords and elephants? Oh, the elephants were real? You get my point though.

...and I guess Chewbacca would have been the only one qualified to write Star Wars because frankly, none of the rest of us have been to Tatooine...but do you really want to read a book by Chewbacca? He said very few profound things in my opinion; but apparently is not illiterate.

Lastly, though I've never read or seen a single Harry Potter book/movie (I'll wait until all the gasps of horror quiet down), I'm pretty sure that J.K. Rowling has not seen a boarding school full of child witches (forgive me die hard fans for summarizing your favorite story to something so simplistic and probably inaccurate).

Granted, these are all examples of fantasy and sci-fi so of course no one can really write about what they know in these realms...but I think that other genres can have great works written by people with limited experience. That is the power of the imagination.

Have you heard any sayings or received any advice about your craft that you dislike or disagree with or simply don't know where the heck they came from? Also, did you know there were this many supposed origins to the theater term "break a leg"? You have to scroll down to see them

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