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Featured Software

Getting Organized: Notebook by Circus Ponies

I have to admit to behaving like a kid in a candy store wanderingthe notebook aisle at Office Depot. The Office Depot rush only scratches the surface of my excitement when, at he end of the summer,  they start bringing out the new school supplies at Target. Outside covers are only half of the notebook’s "cool". There is just something brilliant about a fresh blank notebook, willing and ready to de-clutter your thoughts all in one place. Its a place to stick your stickies (other than your computer screen) and a home for all the other notes randomly jotted down while in your car “driving” or on the phone in another room. Creative people understand the necessity of having a notebook-  you never know when a random creative thought will pop into your mind. (Normally mine hits in the shower so the notebook isn’t as conducive to my situation, but it’s handy to have waiting for me as I get to work and can unload all my random thoughts. )

So what does this have to do with virtual organizational tools? Well, everything.

Enter NoteBook. A brilliantly designed virtual notebook for the creative mind. This clever tool is the perfect answer to organizing all of your clutter in one place, while keeping the familiarity that we love about our spiral notebook.

NoteBook’s clever “spiral bound” interface is designed complete with pages tabs, sections and subsections allowing you to not only collect your clutter, but organizes it in a way where it can be easily found when you need to go back to it. Each notebook is saved as a file on your computer and you can save as many as you want to organize the largest and smallest of projects.

Use NoteBook to type notes and text, or simply drag in files and folders. I find myself inspired a lot while browsing the web for things. And also get the  random epiphany while emailing. Rarely do I keep track of these thoughts as I am usually in the middle of another task and don’t have a lot of time to stop what I’m you are doing to jot it down. Easy answer. No more “jotting it down”, just "clip" your web findings, mail messages and other content into your Notebooks. No need to leave the application I’m working in and it’s so quick and easy that I don’t loose track of the real job at hand. Lovely for those of us who are totally ADD.


So here is how NoteBook is most handy in my creatively random world… A new project for me starts usually with an email or phone call. So, knowing this project will be a big one with a lot of variables, I start a notebook. The first note being the original email, phone number of client and notes they gave me when I was most likely in the middle of another project. I will then create the project bid and after sending to the client, will clip the bid into my notebook for reference. Once the project starts, other emails will come usually containing content for the project weather it be images or copy or reference to another project online. I copy or clip each of these things into the notebook I have for this project. This way there is never a question of “where did I stick that note”. This is the best way to combine all forms of content used for a project and not only to organize then into tasks, but find then in a pinch. As I have mentioned in previous articles, I am a bit OCD when it comes to my email inbox. I like for it to be clean and my emails to be attended to in a timely manner. It is hard to do this when you have a major project going and your clients sends you small bits of info in 20-30 emails. This is where NoteBook is a saver of my sanity. Rather than letting the emails pile in, I clip the content into that project notebook and move it out of my inbox allowing me to contain all the info in one organized space!

From here I organize the content, assign tasks and deadlines and even make notes for future projects possible inspired my the task at hand. Then once the project is complete you can save your notebook in the customer file and refer back to it when needing inspiration for another project, or and this happens all the time, a client calls and says, “I sent you an email several months ago and I need something from it and just can’t find it, can you send it back to me”. Simple things like this can land you “Super-hero for the Day” in the mind of your favorite client!

Notebook also has excellent annotation features via highlighting, keywords and even voice annotation that can be sent to your ipod, which leads me to my favorite feature. Notebook is setup, well like a perfectly organized notebook, complete with a Multidex™ that locates each and every note you take by text, capitalized words, numbers, web addresses, highlights, keywords, sickies, to-dos, attachments, even attachments you’ve trashed, dates of creation, change or deadlines. Pretty cool that you never have to worry abut accidentally writing on the back of one of your “pages” and ripping it out to take with you only to later find that what was on the other side, was pretty stinking important! With this notebook, you never loose a page.

So many TO-DOs, not sure what to start with first? Join the crowd. Good news is this app makes checking off your TODO list even more fun! Simply add checkboxes and due dates to you tasks. So as you take down notes or clip memos into your notebook, you can then add a check box with a date to complete the task if you wish. No need to make a separate TODO list containing the same items you’ve made note of. I’ve found myself doing this over and over in my “paper” notebook which tends to bring on the overwhelming feeling of never being able to complete a list, not because you didn’t complete the task, but because you have it listed in 4 different places!

If you are like me your first thought is “where in the world do I begin?” So many notes, so little time. We’ll they’ve made it easy for you. First, download your 30 day trial version here….

Then when you open NoteBook for the first time after registration, this handy little screen will come up, giving you all kinds of ideas on what, when and where to begin your organization. This is by far my favorite of all the organizational tools I have reviewed so far and will continue to be a part of my everyday goal for an organized life.

On a side-note for those of you with kids, I never thought I would say this, but I will miss the little “stick figures conquering the world” that always found a place in my paper notebook on days when the kids were on break from school!” I may have to scan a few and clip them in for nostalgia! Happy organizing!

Categories
ArtWorks Featured

Marketing Monday: Building your Mothership

paper_typing_torn-400x171 Marketing Monday: Building your Mothership

After you have  a clear vision of your art business the next step is to build your basecamp, your mothership  your blog. I am not going into detail here on the mechanics of building and using a blog, that subject has been more than adequately covered by others many whom I have mentioned in previous posts. What I am going to do is discuss why a blog is the most important part of your marketing strategy,  how to go about finding the right platform, and how to use your blog as a customer magnet and grow it into the command post for your networking strategies.

Why a blog

I won’t go into the history and evolution of blogging except to say that using a blog to create web presence has far surpassed the use of static web pages. So here are a few reasons why you should build a blog.

  • Usability – Instead of requiring a PhD in computer science blogging platforms allow pretty much anyone to easily build a web presence and keep it current, all you need is a computer and an internet connection.
  • Visibility – By making it easy to keep a site current blogs allow the most Luddite among us to gain high visibility in the search engine world. It is no longer necessary to have a fancy schmancy developer cast a spell on your site to attract search engines, the mere act of posting regular content on a blog does this beyond the needs of most users.
  • Connection and Interactivity – Blogging allows businesses to talk with their customers instead at their customers. For artists a blog allows you to share your process, and work regularly making your readers feel more connected and hence more likely to buy from you because they “know” you. Your blog can be used as a way to gain insight into your buyers and their needs by allowing for two way conversations.

Choose your platform

  • For non-Geeks – For those who just want the basics, who don’t care about the back-end vs the front-end and just want to get moving. The simplest way to get started is to use a free service like Blogger, TypePad, or WordPress.com. These services provide easy set up, don’t require having a web host or your own domain name and most importantly, they are already optimized for search engines. Setting up an account and building your blog can be done in little time and if you ever want to move to self-hosted WordPress you can do so with little sweat. The downside of service hosted blogs is that you have no control over your content should their servers go down and they can change the backend, the place where you actually write and place your content, without notice. Services are also not particualarly easy when it comes to linking your blog up to your network.
  • For Geeks – For those of us who like to tweak and tinker there is but one choice…a self hosted WordPress blog. However, even non-geeks willing to hire a tech person to take care of some of the tweaking and tinkering, can use this free platform. Once set up the WordPress platform offers the most flexibility for publishing your content, whether it be images or video of your work or simply a couple hundred words talking about what you are making. WordPress also makes it extremely easy to connect your blog to Facebook and twitter.

Creating your content

  • Know why you are blogging – This is simple for artists your purpose should be to build and maintain a connection and on gong conversations with your network of buyers and potential buyers.
    Focus your content – More than anything else your ability to focus your content by giving your readers a reason to return, refer and to show up in your booth or gallery to buy. So your content should make your readers want to learn about you and your work do this by writing about what your work means to you, why you like working in the medium you are working in, and how that work reflects your values and vision. No it doesn’t have to deep navel gazing into the meaning of your work but it does need to express your passion which in turn reflects the value your work delivers to those who buy it.
  • Engage your followers – Invite your followers to participate by giving the chance to comment, you will be surprised how positive your readers will feel about your work and how much they honestly want to help you. Feature certain customers and let them describe how your work has added to their lives.

Make it a home

  • Have sections and categories – Build specific parts of your blog that specialize in different types of information think of them as rooms and fill them with the furnature that will make them a comfortable place for your network to visit.
  • Design it like your home – Design you blog so that it is not only comfortable and easy to navigate but also reflects you and who you are. Design it to reflect the way you like to entertain and live.
  • Showcase – Use it as a way to show your buyers all the ways your work can improve their lives and their homes or offices. Incorporate photos and testimonials of people who have your work and let them do the work for you.
  • Make it inviting – Combine all of the above to make your blog intersting, and unique the kind of place your readers and network will feel comfortable and most importantly want to come back to over and over.

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twitter3 Marketing Monday: Building your Mothership

 Marketing Monday: Building your Mothership

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ArtWorks Featured

Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

 

wresler1 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

I saw The Wrestler a couple of weeks ago and have been haunted by the images of Mickey Rourke as Randy “The Ram” Robinson the broken down wrestler trying for a comeback. While the gritty nature of the movie was difficult to watch at times I couldn’t help but see similarities between “The Ram” and the difficulties we as artists are facing today…or at least we think we are. There are three major take-aways that Randy “The Ram” left me with…

Giving up vs. sticking with it

On the surface this seems obvious…we never give up, we are taught to always stick with it no matter what. It doesn’t take long watching “The Ram” before we ask “How’s that workin’ for ya?” A couple of months ago I talked about knowing when to give up, when to walk away, and how to recognize when it is time. Seth Godin talks about knowing when to walk away in The Dip: A Little Book That Teaches You When to Quit (and When to Stick) by pointing out that life and business are a series of ups and downs some are short and some are long, we need to know the difference to be successful. Hanging in there  to long can turn us into our own version of “The Ram” while giving in to the impulse to give up when things get hard can lead to missed opportunities. Sometimes “staying the course” is good sometimes not so much…we need to be awake to know the difference.

“The Ram” chose to stick with it because of any number of reasons not the least of which was not knowing anything else…he made the mistake of thinking his body and his glory days could last for ever. How many of us felt the same way when we decided to become artists? Did you ever imagine your body would give out and you could no longer throw pots or “break iron”? In the end Randy “The Ram” was left ( he thought) with no choice which brings me to the second take-away.

wrestler2 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!The one trick pony

As the movie came to an end Bruce Springsteen asked

Have you ever seen a one trick pony in the field so happy and free
If you’ve ever seen a one trick pony then you’ve seen me
Have you ever seen a one legged dog makin’ his way down the street
If you’ve ever seen a one legged dog then you’ve seen me

Bruce Springsteen “The Wrestler”

So I ask …how many artists are one trick ponies? How many of you rely solely on art fair sales or gallery sales to support your art making? For years we could get away with it, because our bodies let us and we were buoyed up by a sense abundance. We stayed in our studios, quite content to remain where we were and smugly told ourselves we were doing just fine we were above the need to sell our work. Until we noticed we were becoming the “one legged dog” and then……….

A recent survey by the NAIA reflected this tunnel vision  quoting artists blaming the public when the real problem was their own failure to recognize themselves as businesses and businesses sometimes need to diversify in order to grow and succeed. Many of the artists interviewed voiced a concern that they would have to get a “real job”, that may be true for some but not for all especially for those who have paid attention and did not become one trick ponies locked into their false sense of permanence.

Nothing is permanent, we always have a choice

This brings me to the final take-away, and that is we have a natural tendency to think that our world will always remain in it’s current state. We will always be able to throw pots, heft iron, or work a loom, people will always  flock to us ready to buy. So we don’t see a need to anticipate change because everything is great..that is until the trek from the van to our booth site starts hurting, or we have failed to catch a trend change.

wrestler3-331x400 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

So when you start to think about  giving up take a look outside your world and inside yourself and try to see if your lens is focused, and ask yourself…

  • Are you Randy “The Ram” hanging on because you don’t know anything else?
  • Are you that one trick pony?
  • Is the world as you see it now going to be the same way next year, or 5,10 years down the line?

These things that have comforted me I drive away (anything more)
This place that is my home I cannot stay (anything more)
My only faith is in the broken bones and bruises I display
Have you ever seen a one legged man tryin’ to dance his way free
If you’ve ever seen a one legged man then you’ve seen me

Cover of "Working on a Dream (Deluxe Version)"

Cover via Amazon

Lyrics from “The Wrestler” featured in  Working on a Dream (Deluxe Version) Bruce Springsteen

 Rasslers, Ponies and Artists Oh My!

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ArtWorks Featured

Setting up your Twitter Channels

 

I recently introduced the concepts of attraction and network building as two key elements in your 2009 marketing strategy. Both rely on being able to build, grow and maintain networks that can help you bring buyers to your shows. As I have already discussed on-line social networking is going to play a major role in your success or failure not just for 2009 but from here on out. So for the fore seeable future we will be focusing regularly on setting up and using your networks effectively.

Besides having a blog, Facebook, Twitter and Friendfeed are the three most important tools you will need to build and nurture your networks in order for the attraction and networking strategies to work. Starting today, I’ll be covering in specific terms  how to get set up with and use these three tools.

So let’s get started… The first thing you need to do is go to Twitter.com, you will see the following page, Click on the big green button to start.

create_account-1-400x334 Setting up your Twitter Channels

Clicking will take you to this page where you will need to enter your user name and password.

TIP:

Select a user name that fits you and your business, since you are your own brand try to find a username that will be easy for you and your followers to remember and that will reflect your work. For example mine is bwphoto it is both easy to remember and it associates my name with my work. Your user name will be appended to Twitter’s to form your unique URL which is another reason to keep it simple and memorable. You will need that full URL later depending on the sites you join. My unique URL is:
http://www.twitter.com/bwphoto

twitter_create-an-account-1 Setting up your Twitter Channels

After you have clicked the “Create my account” button you will be take to your home page which look very bare, but this is where the fun begins!  Your home page is where you will be able to…

  • see your followers,
  • see those you are following,
  • read direct messages and replies addressed to you
  • Favorite people you want to really pay attention to
  • see the entire public feed, which is like listening to everyone in a stadium

twitter_home-1 Setting up your Twitter Channels

The first thing I recommend people do at this point is to complete your profile by clicking on the “Settings” tab in the menu in the top right of the page. The page shown above also points out the “Settings” tab which we we’ll cover after we get your profile set up.

The “Settings” Page

  • Account–  set your time zone, your blog or web site address, and a one line bio here.

TIP:

Make sure you enter your blog address as a full URL so followers can click on it. Lack of viable and related web site or blog is one thing that may lead me as well as others to block you or decide not to follow you.

TIP:

Also make sure your bio really describes what you do and what you represent, your bio combined with your site link are the only things a stranger will have to determine if they want to follow you…at least in the beginning.

  • Devices – If you have a smart phone and want to receive instant messages (SMS) from Twitter notifying you of new activity then enter your mobile number. Make sure you read the sidebar “Twitter with SMS” any messages you receive via this method will count against your SMS account on your mobile account.
  • Notices – Lets you determine how twitter responds when someone follows, or direct messages you.

TIP:

I find that having Twitter e-mail me whenever I have a new follower helps respond to them on a timely and personal manner. Remember this is all about building relationships.

twitter-_-notices Setting up your Twitter Channels

  • Picture – This is pretty self explanatory, it is where you get to upload a photo or graphic that will serve as your graphic identity.

TIP:

While you can easily change your picture I have found that using something that reflects your brand, which in your case is YOU is the best for attracting the best followers.  Make sure the image is readable and DO upload an image. Absence of an image is often a sign of someone you may not want to follow or have follow you. It can be an indication that they don’t take the network seriously or they are not familiar with the internet. Either way I use it as one of the criteria for not following or even blocking someone.

twitter_-profile_picture-1 Setting up your Twitter Channels

  • Design– Here is were you can really express yourself. Twitter offers several choices for both background and design, to start out  select something that best suits you and your work.

twitter-_-design Setting up your Twitter Channels

TIP:

It is very easy to make your own custom background or you can have one made from a variety of web sites that now provide the service. Mine is shown below.

twitter_page Setting up your Twitter Channels

Finding People

There are many ways to find people and many different strategies people use to make connections. You can use the “Find People” tab in the menu bar which will display four tabbed choices

  • Find on Twitter – Use this to search for subjects,keywords, etc. To find potential connections or friends you might think are on Twitter.
  • Find on other Networks– this tab lets you search web based e-mail services.
  • Invite by e-mail – Use this to invite friends whose e-mail you know and you would like to join you on Twitter.
  • Suggest Users – Twitter will suggest potential matches based on your profile, location and who knows what else.

TIP:

Before the rise of Twitter based sites like Twellow, or others this was the best way to get started. Now I recommend using Twellow which we will talk about later.

twitter-_-find-people-you-know-on-twitter-1 Setting up your Twitter Channels

 Setting up your Twitter Channels

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Featured Gadgets Media The Write Stuff

Lost Your Camera? Did You Look On The Internet?

In 1977 while hanging out with some friends in Philly, I inadvertantly left my camera at an outdoor lunch joint near Second and South. Having shared a few bottles of Merlot (to wash down the double cheese steaks with onions and mushrooms) I hadn’t realized the camera was missing until later in the evening and by then, I figured I was out of luck. In those days, there was no craigslist on which to post lost & found, and I had no idea of the name of the place where we’d eaten lunch (see Merlot ref. above) so I couldn’t call them to find out if it was there.

That was then. The camera is history and as time goes on, the memories become soft and faded like an old pair of jeans. Fast forward thirty some years – timing is everything. What you lose today, has a good chance of showing up tomorrow, thanks to the internet and a few good people who still believe in reaching out.

In the summer of 2008 while hiking in New Hampshire, a man named Matt found a camera at the bottom of a river. The camera was completely rusted out and worthless. A kind and curious dude, Matt took the camera home and fiddled with it until he was able to retrieve the memory card from which, after a little more fiddling, he was able to extract over two hundred photos and movie clips.

Taking it one step further, he set up a blog (http://basinfoundcamera.blogspot.com/ ) and posted some of the photos there with hope that the owner of the camera would see them and he could reunite the two. Eight days later, that’s exactly what happened, giving rise to a great new site, aptly called: iFoundYourCamera. (http://ifoundyourcamera.blogspot.com )

Every Thursday the website is updated with photos sent in by people who have found cameras. Those who have lost a camera can browse through the photos and see if they belong to them. The two are then reunited.

The internet provides us with great opportunity, but people and ideas are what bring it to life. For those who look to reach out and perhaps further the greater good, even if it’s only one camera at a time, there is no chasm that can’t be crossed. All you have to do is picture it.

Categories
Digital Lifestyles Featured Software Workflow

Getting Organized: Simple To Do Apps

Being a very busy business owner of two, mother of two and wife, I am doing good to remember to brush my teeth in the morning!  On most days, I have 5-6 shifts, jumping from one hat to the other.  I joke and say that I need an assistant just to remind me to go  to the bathroom. All that to say, any handy tools I come across to keep me organized so that nothing takes second seat in my life, I at least check out.  Most I implement into my daily routine.  Evernote has been a lifesaver for storing and taking notes, especially when I am on the run. However, it is not as handy at making lists.  So, in search of something to help me not only organize but prioritize, I ironically came across “Simple ToDo” and again “SimpleTODO

The name for both says it all.  They are very simple applications for organizing all of your To-Do’s. Both dashboards are very petite and non intrusive so they allow you to leave them open at all times to add to edit your lists easily.

Here is how they work…

simpletodo by mesamysql

This application allows you to not only document each task you have by simply clicking on a line and typing, but also allows you to assign them to different lists as to keep your “shifts” separate. You can even go further by color coding the items in your list to organize by person, by order of priority, etc.  Here are examples of my three lists.

Features/Advantages of ToDo list #1 as listed on the download site…

  •  Manage any number of lists in one window
  • Edit a list description or status without scribbling or erasing
  • Copy and paste list items to any other program
  • Reorder lists at any time
  • Reorder a list’s ITEMS at any time
  • Assign a priority to list items and sort by priority
  • Assign a status to list items and sort by status
  • Define your own Priority value list
  • Define your own Status value list
  • Select viewing of list titles from Tab or Popup
  • Set item color, caps, bold, italic, and indent from toolbar
  • Print lists or selected items to any size paper
  • Print lists to Franklin page sizes
  • Perform list functions from the menu: Delete All, Enter First Open Cell, Insert Row, Delete Selected Rows, Delete Empty Rows, Remove all ‘Done’ Rows, Toggle List Window

To download this helpful too, go to http://www.mesamysql.com/?todo_home  
Cost is  $10.00, but there is a trial version if you want to compare it to our other TODO before purchasing.

 

simpleTODO by julius eckert

Okay now this one further defines simple.  It does not have all the features as the first in that you can not add columns, print, color code, etc. but you can add “categories or shifts” however you want to call them and organize your lists within those categories. For some people this is all they need. Personally, I love that it is so small and and pops on and off screen as you need it.  I am not much for clunky, over detailed applications so this is more than enough for me.

Here are the keyboard shortcuts to help you maneuver quicker:

  • Up/Down: Select Tasks/Labels
  • CMD+Up / CMD+Down: Move selected Task/Label up or down
  • Enter: Edit Task/Label
  • Space: Check or uncheck selected Task. Show or hide selected Label.
  • Esc: Select Nothing

To download this simple too, go to http://www.julius-eckert.com/project/view/1/5   
Cost: FREE!

Have fun listing!

Categories
ArtWorks Featured

Marketing Monday: What’s all the twitter about?

Did you know that the first report and photo on the recent airplane crash in the Hudson river came from a passenger on a ferry heading to the crash site? Big deal right? Well, it is because the passenger used his iPhone to capture the photo and send the news our over Twitter. The photo and story was picked up by the media but all those connected to the guy with the iPhone got the news first. I was connected to someone who was connected to him and got the news almost instantly. The same thing happened with the earthquake in southern California this pas summer, the news of the earthquake beat the media.
In past posts I have talked about the importance of creating a network with your buyers and fans so that you can communicate with them regardless of their location and most importantly for art fair artists you can use the network to create buzz about your arrival at a particular show.

fnl_twitter Marketing Monday:  What’s all the twitter about?What is really important to understand about Twitter is that it is a TOOL for your network. And what makes Twitter really useful is the ways it can be used, here are just a few

  • You can use it to spread you blog posts by using plug-ins and widgets and other gizmos that will instantly configure your blog post and send it out the minute you click the publish button on you blog.
  • You can connect it to your facebook account and not only will your blog posts be broadcast over twitter they will also show up on your Facebook feed so all your friends can read your post.
  • Your Facebook updates will be sent out over twitter spreading the word to an even wider audience.
  • Twitter can be used to listen for conversations about you and your work by simply using the search feature.
  • You can send a photo by using desktop twitter readers like Tweetdeck. Or just a link to a blog post describing what you are bringing to a particular show.
  • You can use it in combination with a smartphone like the iPhone to contact your tweeps (twitter followers) if you don’t have access to a computer, like if you are traveling between shows.
  • In combination with a variety of new web sites you can identify potential buyers by geographic area. You can also segment your followers into groups by geographic area and have them contact their followers so you have a ready set of buyers when you arrive at a show.
  • Use it to test a market by polling your followers.

twit_fb_final Marketing Monday:  What’s all the twitter about?

You can increase the spread of your network by connecting your blog to twitter, allowing each post to go out over both networks, and increasing your exposure to potentially many other networks.

Here is a list of the web sites I have checked out for their relevance to traveling artists:

Finding the right followers

Twellow Use it to search segmented groups to find like minded souls to follow, you can also use it find people geographically. Make sure you get yourself listed in the categories you want and sit back and watch the magic. You can see people from the group list and follow them

Twittgroups.com –   another aggregator also allows you to set up groups but not as comprehensive as Twellow.

justtweetit.com This is a cool site just launched in the last couple of weeks, the groups are new and you can join them by commenting. They also have a pretty extensive list of resources I have checked here are the ones I found really useful:

grouptweet.com/  A site for sending tweets to select groups

www.crazybob.org/twubble
/ way to find like minded people

mytweeple.com way to help decide if you want to follow someone or not, I haven’t tested this one much yet.

mrtweet.net ……this is a passive way to find the right match

www.twitpic.com ……for adding an image link especially great for teasing your buyers

Advertising

twittertise.com using twitter to advertise on a delayed basis

Guides and other info

tweeternet.com Full of info on twitter and its uses
twitterhandbook.com Very useful guide to all things Twitter
strawpollnow.com a way to use straw polls with twitter very useful for market testing

WordPress Plugins for self hosted WordPress blogs

  • Tweetthis – Puts a button at the end of posts I get a lot of action from this.
  • Twitter counter – Normal counter use it to display your social credibility but only use it if your followers are more than 50. Get it from twittercounter.com
  • Twitter updater – The best of the bunch automatically sends your posts out over twitter including a tinyurl link  if you are hooked up to Friend feed it will go there and if you are on Facebook it will also go there…a great “comment harvester”
  • WP-Twitip-ID – Adds a field to your comment form that allows commenters on your blog to leave their twitter user name. A great way to develop a following of like minded souls.

Computer, phone etc.

  • Desktop – The best is Tweetdeck – it allows you to create groups and send messages only to that group.
  • iPhone – Twittalatorpro the best iPhone app for Twitter it is so good that this is how I send most of non-automatic tweets. Get it from the Apple app store.

15 basic strategy tips for spreading the word using these tools

Something to keep in mind when reading these strategies is to look at Twitter and other social networking tools is to think of them as if they were a party. When you go to a party (depending on its size) you may or may not talk to or know everyone, you may randomly check out people or you may gravitate to those that you may have in common. When you leave the people you have connected with will have an impression of you and you them, your presence will likely be known to all as well. When one of those you didn’t connect with needs something they may end up talking with someone you connected with at the same party if  there is relevant match between the needs of one person and your skills, knowledge etc. you may likely hear from them.

  1. Get a Twitter account, add you photo, some bio info, you location.
  2. Use one of the tools described above under “finding followers” to identify people you want to connect with. I would start with Twellow first since you can also find people by geography.
  3. Put a Twitter badge linking to your twitter profile on your blog.
  4. Put your twitter link in the signature of your e-mails.
  5. Send an e-mail to all of your current followers asking them to join Twitter and follow you and of course you follow them back.
  6. Find friends on Facebook who meet your customer profile and let them know you are on twitter and invite them to follow you. This is another way to find potential buyers in other geographic areas.
  7. Put all of your social network contact points on anything that comes in contact with your buyers or potential buyers. Invite them to follow you when you meet them.
  8. Test ideas out using Twitter by sending polls or asking a particular group a question about their preferences.
  9. If you are using WordPress use the plug-ins suggested above to widen the area your posts cover…you will be surprised how well it can generate readers and followers.
  10. Get Tweetdeck and start setting up groups using whatever criteria you find useful.
  11. If you have an iPhone get Tweetalator pro and yes invest in yourself by paying the couple of dollars it costs.
  12. Don’t always talk about yourself spread the word about who or what has your attention.
  13. Send some tweet luv by providing useful info even if it doesn’t concern you, it will enhance your credibility in the community.
  14. Make sure what you talk about is useful especially when talking about your stuff.
  15. Use social bookmarking tools that include Twitter and Friendfeed that allow you to share sites you find especially relevant. I use Onlywire.com’s Fire Fox tool bar, when I run across a site I want to share I click that button and along with a bookmark on sites like Digg, and Stumbleupon it also goes out over Twitter along with a link to the site.

Staying grounded

  • Only respond to and read the tweets that mean something to you and don’t feel you have to respond to every direct tweet
  • Use the direct message feature to have 1-1 conversations like introductions or thank yours.
  • Using a third party application like Tweetdeck or Twittalator for your phone make managing twitter a lot more sane.
  • Learn to use the URL shortenting tools like TinyUrl to keep your links short
  • There is no right way to use Twitter. There is only the way that makes sense to you. Know the tools and your options.
  • Start conversations by commenting on other’s tweet

Finally, it is important to remember that Twitter like Facebook,e-mail and your blog is part of  a well stocked tool box that can help you find and connect not only with your tribe but also friends and family.

To help you get started we will be announcing a contest in the next week or so that will help you get going.

Please join the conversation and get our tips, techniques, news and support

 

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ArtWorks Featured

Comics and the Warrior, the Healer, the Visionary and the Teacher

Themes and learnings

One of the things that helps me write is to find a theme that over time I can build on and use to tuck ideas into.  2008 was mostly about getting my feet wet, testing directions and getting acquainted with you and you with me. In 2009 I’m going to focus on giving you a foundation and then help you build on that foundation throughout the year.

twitter_page Comics and the Warrior, the Healer, the Visionary and the Teacher

Before I get into the details I want to tell about the graphic above, it’s my new Twitter background. Why is that important? I’ve been wanting to do one for quite sometime and as usual started out seriously designing, until this morning when I revisited what I had done yesterday. Looking at it I realized it was waaaay to serious, it didn’t really say much about me. So scrapped it and started over. This time I took a “I’m gonna have fun” attitude, and since  I love comic illustration or stories told graphically I used Comic Life together with some photos to design the background. The point is I had fun and more importantly I showed up in a way that put a part of me out there that many don’t see.

That brings us to themes…several years ago I became acquainted with the writings of cultural anthropologist Angeles Arrien author of The Four-Fold Way: Walking the Paths of the Warrior, Teacher, Healer, and Visionary. She spent many years collecting the wisdom of people all over the world and she found that when everything was put together a common theme surfaced that provided a fundamental base for living. She identified four archetypal paths or ways for helping us navigate change that are based on centuries old shamanic traditions practiced by indigenous people and how they managed change.  The masters of change among indigenous peoples were their medicine men, chiefs, shamans, and teachers, the recognized the constant nature of change and took on the role of supportively guiding their communities through life events instead of denying them. Arrien calls for a reconnection to the four archetypal paths  common to  all peoples they are,  The Way of the Warrior, The Way of the Healer, The Way of the Visionary and The Way of the Teacher. Expanded they boil down to:

  • Show up be visible and empower others through example and be present to your life invest in yourself
  • Pay attention to what has heart and meaning to your life
  • Tell the truth without blame or judgement be authentic in brining your life gifts to the world.
  • Be open by not being attached to outcomes so that we may have better access to our own wisdom.

The first step

The first and most important thing we as artists need to do to not only survive the current shifts but also emerge as leaders is to SHOW UP. Showing up means starting that blog by putting  the nurturing and empowering nature of your gifts out there for all to see. A strong part of this is self- investment because without it we are blind. When I designed the Twitter page above I decided to show up, by be authentically visible in a way I have exposed I also invested time in doing so because it reinforced my presence.

Showing up will also put you above the crowd of people who can’t seem to show up, it will place you in a position to lead and lead with authority. Because you will be one of the few who chooses to be present.

So in the coming weeks we will talk more about showing up with your blog will look, we will build the foundation using the “Four Fold Way” above together with practical and creative ways start building the structure of your house. We’ll also talk more about each element can help you overcome your fears and empower you to claim your spot.

How are you going to show up? What are your fears? Will you show up with me?

Please join the conversation and get our tips, techniques, news and support once a week.

 

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Featured Gadgets Software Workflow

Getting Organized: Evernote

Organizational Tool Reviews by the Unorganized!
Okay so I found Evernote in my latest handy dandy copy of Real Simple- a magazine I subscribe to in hopes that one day I will be more organized than not. I am getting there. The article started of with a warning that these apps may become addictive. I had no idea they were serious.

On the web. On your desktop. On your phone.

I downloaded first my desktop version of Evernote onto my Imac and immediately started to document all the notes I had stuck to my computer, lying around my desk and in my notebook. After completing this task I felt rather proud of myself as I could once again see the shinny black desk beneath the piles of paper.

I also remembered that this article was originally written as a review for the Iphone so I proceeded to download that version as well and test out the ease of moving notes back and forth. It was fantastic. I could actually type my shopping list on my computer as the items ran across my mind throughout the day – shampoo, laundry detergent, batteries, check. Then at the end of the day all I had to do is hit sync at the bottom of the app window and they were sent to my online account easily accessible by the iphone plugin.

Now, because my Powerbook is not able to run Leopard (which is required by Evernote) I wasn’t able to download it there. However they have an online version that works perfect for when I am traveling with my laptop and need to pull down some notes. Just login to their website with the username and password you registered with and there is your info. Crazy shopping lists and all.

Capture what inspires you, find it when you want.

So lets talk a little bit about what this baby can do yo put a little ease into your life. After all we are all aware that “creatives” are not the most organized people on the planet. If we spent the time it took before these handy apps to keep everything organized then we wouldn’t have time left for our art, right? So here’s how Evernote can help you….

Here are some examples of things you can capture and store in Evernote:

  • Shopping/To-Do Lists
  • Notes and Project Research
  • Webpages for bookmarking later
  • Sketches
  • Snapshots from your phone(very handy)
  • Passwords that you will need remotely

and that is just to list a few…

My number one use for Evernote is to compile lists from client emails on particular projects that are on the calendar for a later date. It never fails when I start a new site for a client the first week after bid approval I will get a flood of content from them. However rather than it being in one email, it will be in several, sometimes 10 or 20 by week end. I am a little obsessed with having unread emails, so I copy the content from each email and make 1 note in Evernote containing all the info. Then I not only have it on my desktop, but phone and laptop if I need it for reference.

Another huge benefit to having the Iphone app is that if I am in a store somewhere and I come across something that inspires me (happens all the time) I can take a snapshot, send it to Evernote and have it for a rainy less inspired day. Evernote allows my memories to be available wherever I am.

My last most favorite feature is the easy pasting option. So, say you are online researching something and come across something totally irrelevant, but extremely interesting. You don’t want to forget that info, so copy the address, or page content then go to the handy Icon at the top right of your finder bar and choose the option to paste into Evernote. Then you can take a look at it again when you have more time or are not preoccupied with other things. This option also works when you are working in other applications, basically anything you can copy can be pasted into Evernote.

Requirements: Not Much!

There are two ways to do this the first requires no downloads and is all online and the second utilizes the desktop tools. I do a little of both….

1. No download required

  • Evernote Web
  • Web Clipper bookmarklet
  • Evernote Mobile Web

2. Downloads

  • Mac OS X Leopard
  • Windows
  • iPhone / iPod Touch
  • Windows Mobile
  • SanDisk U3

 

Getting your chaos organize with Evernote:

There are multiple options to getting your data organized with Evernote and here are a few…

CREATE – notes using desktop, web, and mobile versions of Evernote, synchronizing with all three once you create
SNAP – shots using your camera phone or webcam. Crazy, but there is even text recognition within the image.
CLIP – webpages, screenshots, PDFs or already existing images
DRAG N DROP – content into your desktop clients
EMAIL – notes directly into your account using your personal email address
SCAN – receipts, recipes, tags, brochures, and anything else into Evernote
RECORD – audio and listen to it whenever you want.

For a Quick Introduction to Evernote, visit http://www.evernote.com/ and click on the YouTube video at the bottom. Enjoy your new more organized clutter!!

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ArtWorks Featured

Marketing Monday: Living in an opt-in world

In case you haven’t noticed, the days of persuasion are fast disappearing, being replaced by an ever increasing Opt-in world. This concept  means that consumers are exercising their power of choice, they are looking closer at what they buy, what the “need” and deciding if it is worth their while. Another thing is this is not just happening to the “fluff” stuff, it’s happening to the “necessities”, consumers are looking for value, and help in satisfying their need. While monetary value is an important factor it is becoming less and less  the sole determining factor in buying decisions in fact research is finding that the total perceived value a product makes to the life of the buyer is becoming more and more a factor.

paper_typing_torn Marketing Monday: Living in an opt-in world

The old way of buying was based predominantly on “cheapness” to the point it became a badge of success. Products and brands competed for our attention based on price point, with adds reinforcing the “cheapness” factor. This perception that cheap was good was one of the main contributors to the “throw away society” we have become, because we no longer measured the value of a product by it’s quality, it’s longevity, or it’s contribution to our lives. If it broke we could easily throw it away and buy the next shiny object.

In summary all of this led to persuasion and selling on the part of businesses, our consumers had to be convinced (by using a long list of sales tricks and techniques) that they should buy what we had to offer. Value seldom entered into the argument, at least in any depth, value arguments were presented as appeals to our vanity as in “you will be the coolest dude” if you smoke Lucky Strikes.

Rise of Consumer Empowerment

The death of advertising and now combined with the shift in the way we as a culture do business has left consumers feeling more and more empowered leading to what has become known as an “opt-in” economy. So having a strong group of followers who know the value of your products eliminates the need to convince and persuade.

The twist here for artists is that while we have long been considered “fluff” not necessary to living life most people realized they needed art and the beauty it brings but the “cheapness” story ran their lives. The combination of factors described above are giving us  an opportunity to make our value more visible and identify those who want to opt-in to receiving our message.

Because consumers want connection and remarkable products that will make their lives more meaningful, artists are uniquely positioned for the coming shift…we offer nothing but life affirming and enhancing products.

However, before we can be successful leaders in the shift we need to take a look at our stories, the metaphors that frame the way we see the world. By deeply examining those metaphors and learning that they are just stories we tell ourselves we start to open the door to our full potential, we start the journey to becoming self-directed which in turn makes our contribution to the world more visible and more desirable to those holding similar values. In the end we attract success by being able to provide the value our buyers want, and more importantly the buyers who get what we have to offer…which makes our job even easier.

What do you think? Can you change your stories and metaphors? Can you step into your own greatness and accept that people do want what you have to offer?

Please join the conversation by completing the form below

 

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Featured Photography Photoshop Software

Photoshop Basics: Make Color Image B&W and Sepia

While advanced versions of Photoshop (CS3 and CS4) have the option to produce a black and white print from a color image, older versions of Photoshop and some other programs depend upon other methods of converting the color image to black and white.

Desaturate:

Obviously, the simplest method of converting a color image to black and white is to desaturate it.  This will produce a black and white image that seldom has truly good blacks, so it is often necessary to use contrast controls to increase the overall contrast of the image, or it may be necessary to adjust levels to beef up the blacks and whites.  Try both methods, they produce similar results, but not identical.  Choose the best one for your purpose.

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Featured Illustrator Panels & Gutters & Zip Ribbons Software Tutorials

Getting Started in Adobe Illustrator’s Livetrace

One gazillion years ago (I call it 1989) I used a rather nifty application called Adobe Streamline.  It had the ability to convert pixel-based bitmapped images into a vector graphic image.

But why would you need that?  It is due to the adage of while you can shrink a low-res image, you can’t enlarge it.  That’s because a bitmapped image is made up of pixels.  Blowing them up only creates larger pixel areas creating that all-too-familiar crappy Youtube video look.  With vector graphics an image is drawn through points and calculated lines.  I like to tell my classes that it is like the computer is drawing with math by playing connect-the-dots.  The downside to vector graphics is that if an image is too complex, this creates more and more areas which become clunky for the computer to redraw.  Simplistically, if it’s complicated image and you want photographic detail it is best to go with bitmap.  For images which are simpler in terms of line and color such as type, web graphics, or logos then vector-based artwork is usually the way to go.  With programs such as Illustrator, you could always export to bitmap.  With Adobe Streamline, you could take an image and convert it to a vector-graphic.  It was clunky, and the interface sometimes left much to be desired, but it did the job.  Unfortunately, it dropped off my personal radar around the mid-90s, although it’s last incarnation was 4.0 released back in 1997.  Around Adobe CS2’s release, a function in Illustrator called Livetrace turned up.  It turned out to be the same functionality of Streamline, but in a much more elegant execution.

Let’s say you want to make a logo that you just placed into Illustrator out of this stock photo for your studio "Baker Street Design."  You want the image simplified for use in black & white, grayscale, and color.  Right now in its bitmapped form it would be tedious to go in and redraw and recolor it only to have something that would be as equally tedious to re-size without it aliasing all over the place.  But, it’s got the basic elements and look you want.

Here I’ve brought the image in Illustrator CS4 (although the commands and look are basically the same in CS 2 & 3.)  It is a good strong contrast image to start with.  I select the image and hit "Livetrace" at the top: 

 

Below left is the original image, and below right is one with the default settings which is a "Simple Trace." 

It’s not quite the look I’m going for, so I go to the Livetrace options menu in the top left area of the menu bar at the top.   I select "Photo Low Fidelity" which knocks it into what looks like a posterized image in Photoshop: 

 

Right now there are still too many colors.  So I adjust the Threshold slider to reduce the amount of colors to taste. 

 

Here, after some experimentation, I knocked it down to 11 colors.

However, I don’t like the color of the lamp glass, and would like to play with it.  I select the image and then hit "LivePaint" at the top. 

As you can see, there are a lot of areas of color shapes, including the background.  All the individual color areas now have been converted into a vector shape which can be painted with the LivePaint Paint bucket tool in the toolbar menu.  I select a bright yellow for the color version of our logo and paint the glass areas.  Notice the red line which indicates the vector shape you are painting.

tip:  It’s worth your while to examine your image zoomed in to make sure you do not miss a tiny vectorized area.

So, it is looking pretty good, but ideally we would like just the lamp and not have this big off-white area around it getting in the way of our future logo plans. 

To do this, select the white arrow tool from the toolbar.  This allows you to select points and areas instead of the entire piece.  I draw around the spots I want to eliminate and hit delete, careful not to hit any areas that I want to keep.  To check your work, hit the black arrow selection tool and select your piece to find areas where you may have missed.  You may have to go back and forth several times. 

 

Voila!  After cleanup you have a finished vectorized graphic which you can further manipulate in Illustrator and/or recolor as needed with LivePaint.