Wednesday, June 30, 2010

I ask you: Why aren't you on YouTube already?

Not sure if it's common knowledge or not, but a crazy thing happened in the Online World in 2008 that should have an affect on how you conduct business online as an entrepreneur or artist. Even though much time has passed since then, that year saw the rise of YouTube to the spot of #2 most used search engine. More people were using YouTube to find information than Yahoo!

I know you see where this is going.

If you are marketing yourself or your business, get on YouTube, now! You're already a few years late (like me) but no one is judging you. You'll still be ahead of the game if you hop on now.

"But I'm a hairstylist (or lawyer, designer, restaurant owner, etc.), what could I post on YouTube?"

If you're a hairstylist, make videos about how to do a certain hairstyle at home or how to care for your hair. Include your web address (you do have a sleek and amazing website design don't you?) in your video and voila!

If you're a lawyer, give free tips or talk about uncommon laws.

If you're an author, give writing tips, read part of your book or make a book trailer (which is like a movie trailer, but better).

If you own a restaurant, post quick and easy recipes online.

Just remember to name your video something useful like "Your Topic by Your Name" or "Your Name: Your Topic" (ex: Love & Change Studios: How to Get More Web Traffic on Your Blog) and include your web address somewhere in the video (text and/or verbally).
"But, I don't have a High Def camcorder."

Get over it. They don't have to be Hollywood quality. Just add some good content (or "nuggets" as I like to call them) and your charming personality.

If you want more ideas on types of videos you can post, then tweet me and I will respond with some!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Action Cures Fear. Knowledge Cures Fear.

It was a high counsel that I once heard given to a young person, "Always do what you are afraid to do." {Ralph Waldo Emerson}

I've lived a (large enough) portion of my life afraid to do certain things. The other day I was talking to a photographer I've worked with and I realized something truly remarkable about him. He was working in corporate America when he picked up a camera and became interested in photography for the first time. He took some classes, bought himself the equipment he would need and then quit his job and built his business.

In a short time (~one year) he was able to build a name for himself in his city. Everyone wanted to shoot with him (because he did things different) and everyone wanted to learn from him (he offered workshops that were quite popular in the photography community). I hope to have him guest post on the blog soon about some of his unique business and marketing practices that made him so successful but for now I'm bringing him up to make the following observation. He was successful because:
  1. He was skilled/gifted and passionate about something.
  2. He took classes and got educated in his chosen craft.
  3. He had the guts to quit his job and fling himself wholeheartedly into his chosen profession.
  4. He learned the ins and outs of marketing himself and promoting himself online.
Take a moment to reflect. Are you missing any of these key things in your work/art? The area I want to improve on is getting educated in my field. I've taken classes before but learning is a lifelong thing. With technology improving every day, I need to constantly learn new things in order to run a web and graphic design firm in the great State of Texas. I also need more writing education. These are my goals. With passion and knowledge, it won't be as scary to step out all the way. Action cures fear. Knowledge cures fear. Take a moment today to think about the things you can do to move you toward your dreams.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Quick Random Thought

Greetings everyone! I hope you had a chance to check out the informative guest post from Friday, Writing a Great Movie Review, with Wes Hemings. I learned a lot and got a few solid laughs out of it, so thanks again Wes.

Moving on to the random thought of the day: When you have to be without your car for a few days, and you live in a city with poor public transportation, you learn to appreciate your car, a lot. Even if your CD player sinks far into the dash because you installed it yourself and you couldn't find screws that were small enough to hold it in place and have been too lazy to go to Home Depot ever since. Even if it is still scraped because you let your cousin borrow it and they managed to not see the wall of the parking garage, thus a slight (3 foot) scrape that you didn't consider it worth fixing. Even if you have multiple bags of plastic recycling in your car that you keep meaning to take to a recycling facility/location. Even if all those conditions exist, you really learn to appreciate your car.

I miss you right now Burrito (my car's name). Come back home.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Guest Post /// Writing a Great Movie Review That People Will Read [Wes Hemings]

Greetings everyone! Meet Wes Hemings. He is an actor, writer and a business man that I admire very much. In addition to running BlackPrint, an informative website with articles, music & movie reviews, poetry and a pinch of snarky humor, he acts, blogs and loves the San Antonio Spurs. Need I say more? He's clearly amazing. Today he is guest posting on this blog about Writing a Great Movie Review.

/// Wes Hemings ///

To me, writing a good review is akin to writing a good TV show like "Lost". You want to start it in shocking fashion, declaring a specific point of view that demands itself to be fleshed out and explored. Simple declarations such as "I liked Lost's series finale." is hardly eye-catching, though it is specific. Instead, "Lost's finale turned me into a smoke monster of hatred toward mindless writing hacks in Hollywood." is a bit more specific, invokes a point of view that promises elaborative answers to the implied question of: "Why did you hate Lost's finale?", and that's when you have the reader interested in your views and voice.

Once you have an opening worthy of Shakespearean tragedy, it's ideal to add any necessary background to the uninformed reader such as the breakdown of the movie/show you're reviewing, "Lost is about (and only about) people stranded on a mysterious island with mysterious powers.", it's also appropriate to include any personal history with the project, "I've wasted 6 years of my life watching, reading, talking, theorizing about Lost, so this finale is important to me.", this helps add perspective to the casual reader so they can fit in their tastes more closely with yours.

I think the most important part of writing a quality film review is removing anything that could be a spoiler, because they're reading it to know whether they should see a movie, not to know that they can claw through over 100 hours of television and walk away not being any wiser as to why Hurley won the lottery with those freaking numbers a mad man was mumbling in an institution or why food was still being dropped by the Dharma Iniative though Ben killed them years ago and if finding the island were that easy then surely Widmore would have found it long ago. So it helps to keep your views more generalized to concepts, i.e. "Lost built its franchise based on mysteries on an island that tied into the characters' past in a fresh take on converging storylines a la such films as 'Traffic' or 'Crash', yet negated to fill in the blanks that attracted viewers in the first place."

Depending on your level of film expertise there are several angles you can take when reviewing a movie. Being someone who shakes hands with acting, writing and producing I often critique a movie from several angles such as the setting, plot, characters, acting, themes, special effects, music, photography, etc, picking whatever seems most relevant. The first episode of Lost I would probably comment on how gorgeous the setting is and how I love the vast amount of characters and sheer contrast they all bring. The last episode I may focus more on how themes overrode the plot and ultimately drove writing integrity back out of Hollywood (the last I heard it was en route to Guam).

My number one rule I try and live by: no generalities, be specific as to "why". This rule must be married to the no-spoiler rule, because if you can't say why you don't like something conceptually then you probably don't have an opinion worth reading. To this end, it helps to contrast similar films to shed light on why you feel a certain way, i.e. "M. Night Shymalan is often ripped for his consistent style of twist endings that come off as flat, but at least they arrive at a promised destination, though the location may not be desired. Lost, however, booked you a ticket and left you on the runway with nothing but emotional goodbyes in the airport, the only twist we're left with is this knife in my spine."

Length is in the eye of the beholder. I keep my reviews almost always to five paragraphs: intro, synopsis, what I liked, what I didn't, outro. The opening allows me creative wiggle room to try and grab a reader, then I can set the stage for my opinions and drive it home at the end. This brings me to the conclusion: Lost is ultimately about murdering viewer intelligence via sporadic coincidences unobligated to explanations outside of using the island in Deus ex machina fashion. Wait, what are we talking about again?

/// Thank You Wes Hemings {website / blog}

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Networking Online

More and more, customers/fans/followers are finding information on what they want (and how to get it) through social media platforms such as Facebook. As an artist or small business owner, it's a good idea to have at least two networks that you use frequently. A lot of the articles & blog posts that I read, I found because I follow the person on Twitter. This made me wonder exactly how many people are using these applications every month. I recently looked up the stats on Facebook, Myspace and Twitter usage per month on You can view my findings below (in a random not-so-good accent):

Monday, May 24, 2010

Important Reasons (and Inexpensive Places) to Get Business Cards ... Now!

This post is for those of you writers, musicians or other artists who have not ordered/made business cards for yourself yet. This is the smallest, least expensive, yet most crucial piece of marketing material that you can have for yourself.

Monday, February 15, 2010

The "I'm Gonna" Disease

Of late, people suffering from the legendary "I'm Gonna" disease have been running rampant in my life. I hate this disease. I've had it many times before but I'm trying to build up my immune system against it. I don't really enjoy associating with individuals while they suffer from this affliction.

What is the "I'm Gonna" disease?
It's that thing that makes you talk about your plans, but never follow through with them. While this is permissible as an "every once in a while" kind of thing, repeat offenders are classified as having the "I'm gonna" disease.

You drop and break my television. I don't ask you for a new one or anything but you say "I'm gonna get you another one." Two years later, you're still saying the same thing.

You have BIG dreams for your career. Every time you talk to your friends you tell them about how much writing you are gonna get done, how many new songs you're gonna record, the people you're gonna meet, and the seven places you're gonna go this year. It begins to get a bit old when you don't do any of it.

You're talking on the phone with someone. Something comes up. Instead of just excusing yourself normally, you tell the person you are gonna call them back in two minutes. They never hear from you, or you call them back the next day. You do this multiple times per week. Guess what? That person will probably be okay if you just say, "I've gotta go." There life will still go on. However, when you start to talk about what you're gonna do, it can get confusing...

You are the roommate/spouse/guest/child who says, "No, don't worry about the trash, I'm gonna take it out," or "I'm gonna wash all my dishes today," or "I'm gonna clean up that mess I made in the bathroom in a few minutes." We begin to wonder what you mean three days later when we are the ones cleaning up after you. This is especially confusing when the person in question is a grown up.

And finally, you are the business associate (co-worker, client, boss, whoever) that is always saying they're gonna e-mail a certain document, they're gonna update you when such and such happens, they're gonna pay you for the job you did last week. Okay we get it! By "I'm gonna" you mean you have absolutely no intention of doing it and you are just saying it because you know we want to hear it.

Good intentions or not, sometimes the "I'm gonna" disease translates to empty words and broken promises. If you are a habitual "I'm gonna"-er then please, seek help today. Do it for your loved ones; do it for yourself. Start to use words like "I'm not sure if I'll be able to...", or "I'd like to...but I may not have the time", or even, "I can't do such and such. I'm sorry." Don't be like me. I used to try to do everything for everyone and promise the world to those around me. I'd like to apologize to all those who have been the victim of me and this disease!

Part of being a successful artist or business person is knowing your boundaries and being honest about your limits or capabilities. Have you suffered from this disease? Do you know people like this?

Monday, January 25, 2010

Being Prepared at a Moment's Notice

This is a list of very simple (as in Elementary level) things that you can do as an artist each week –that are absolutely free – that will help your outlook and your art. They will also help you to be prepared for opportunities that come your way.

Be Social
Introduce yourself to a few new people each week. As an artist, the impression you leave with people is very important. Word-of-mouth gets around faster and is more effective than any form of marketing. Be nice to the people you interact with. Ask them what they do; tell them about what you do. Leave them a business card. Genuinely figure out if there is anything you can do to help them, or if you know of someone who can help them with their goals.

Start with a Positive Attitude
A friend of mine starts each day by making a list of ten things that they are thankful for. I start my day by focusing on the positive things I get to do that day and by thanking God for just being Him. Whatever you do in the morning, start with a fresh outlook (regardless of the day before) and think positively about your new day.

Be Proactive
If you are a writer, then write every day. If you are an actress, take an acting class, look for gigs or join a community group with similar interests. If you are a music artist, write music, sing and brainstorm every day. Time is a precious gift that we must not waste. Even if I have a crazy day, I try to write at least a paragraph of something and look for new opportunities in my field.

Be Ready
Try to have a decent backstock of articles, images, songs, or paintings (or whatever you do) so that if something comes up, you're ready. Also, they don't have to be in perfect condition, but maintain your website and  blog, so that people can find you on the Internet. (Yes, I realize that I have offended the "maintain your blog" policy of late, and I'm sorry!)

These are things I try to do more and more as I’m coming to realize how important my thought life and energy level is to the things I create and to my purpose. What things do you do throughout the week to help you stay "ready"? What things do you do that are important to your creative process?

image: lululemon athletica