Archive for the ‘creative process’ tag
One of my first office jobs was as an admin assistant in a booking agent’s office. The office of four cast the production side of ads, music videos, West End shows, TV shows and movies. I think that was the order that talent moved up the career ladder.
I on the other hand issued faxes full of typos and almost killed the MD when I bought her aspirin instead of paracetamol. I was there for about 3 months of my GAP year and helped cast the crew for a few (6?) music videos.
I mention this because I really had no idea what I was doing but every now and then I watch a music video on YouTube and wish I knew what sort of creative process the musicians, their agent, their manager, the director and the label went through to get to the final product.
It was much easier in the early to mid-noughties when the Eric Prydz “Call on Me” video came out and the trend was to focus music videos around attractive dancing ladies. But every now and then you get something like this by David Guetta, one of the world’s biggest names in house music:
Its a great song and wonderful use of one of my favourite club tracks (Alice Deejay’s “Better off alone”) but at what point did they think “let’s get some twerking* girls in here among the Mexican cowboys” or “what if we had some beauty pageant contestants licking ice creams? Oh, and we had better give one of them a uni-brow”
Apparently the video is a bit of an homage to a slew of high-art influences, which vaguely explains the crazy-toed boots, but I would love to know what goes through people’s heads the rest of the time. There’s no real story here, at least not in the Modjo “Lady” sense of a story. It’s like someone dropped acid and transcribed their thoughts to someone else who was on magic mushrooms.
Which is fine as well, I’d just like to know how they get there.
*Laura had to explain to me what the style of dance was called or there would be a far less politically correct term in there…
This is just a comment on the creative narrative and doesn’t take into account how offensive the Mexican community has found this video.
We tend to think of procrastination negatively, but sometimes waiting as long as possible to tackle a task can be productive—especially if you’re looking for creative solutions. John Cleese, legendary writer, actor, and tall person, shares tips on the creative process. More »
It is every website’s dream to create original link bait that will go viral over time. However, the key for success here is not just creating content all of sudden. It’s in the entire creative process.
Link bait is defined as any web content or feature that’s designed to attract attention and back links. Listed below are different ways on how you can create link bait that boosts website visitor.
Capitalize on Trends
Internet users have the tendency to share content with regards to what’s hot as of the moment. Therefore, link baits that’s relevant to what everybody are talking about gives it greater potential to spread like wild fire. There’s nothing wrong with creating a piece about the latest Internet buzz. What’s important is that you don’t go over what’s already there.
Do a Thorough Research
There are some instances when a sudden inspiration kicks in to create link baits. However, a well-researched and well-planned content has the foundation for success. In order to create a monumental feature for your website, you should observe your surrounding and take note of the people’s insights.
Consider link bait as gold that you need to mine. Rummage social bookmarking sites for content where link baits seems to gather. Read and analyze what makes it compelling, and how people react on that particular piece. In turn, you’ll know what to feature on your website that drive many visitors and back links.
Ask for a Little Outside Perspective
It would also be a good idea if you ask some help from other people when creating a link bait. As the old adage goes, “two heads are better than one.” In order to come up with a great content, you’ll need a list of possibilities which you can generate if you work with other people. Have your friends join the creative process so that you can produce the best web feature.
Learn from Your Experience
Unless it’s your first time to create link bait, taking the lessons from your past experience is one way to come up with a great content. Check your previous features and see which among your content generated the most and least traffic. Analyze the components that worked and failed, and reflect on how you promoted it. It can also help if you ask other people’s opinion on why your link bait went viral or not. That way, you have something to draw for your next feature.
Creating link bait that can attract hundreds of traffic and back links has no formula. However, content that generates a number of social signals takes thorough research and planning.
Source: Fish Baiting by Dani Simmonds/ MorgueFile
The post The Creative Process of Creating the Best Link Bait appeared first on About Social Media.
When does creativity strike?
I struggle with this concept on a daily basis. An old friend of mine is a creative copywriter. I remember back when we were in university how consumed he was with great advertising creative. At the time, there was no Internet and he would wait – patiently – for the latest advertising annual to come out. He would go through these annuals like a detective surveying a murder scene for the first time. These magazines were never loaned. They were reference material and a mythical gateway of ideation. With a notepad constantly in hand (in case an idea struck), there would be times in our friendship when he would simply disappear because something had come to him and it needed to come out (dozens of napkins died by his pen). One summer, a bunch of us did a roundtrip to visit him at university. Over some chicken wings and beer, he said something that stuck with me to this very day about the creative process. We were ruminating about how stressful it can be to have to come up with great ideas on a tight deadline with a limited budget. He said: it’s like jumping off of a cliff naked and hoping that there’s a branch somewhere on the way down to snag some part of your skin (at the time, I think he said an eyelid!). Sounds like more luck than experience, but it isn’t.
The waiting isn’t the hardest part.
Some people, wrongly, assume that waiting for these ideas to strike is the hardest part. Those who have put time into their craft (and this can be anything from writing or being a creative director to painting or programming an app) know that it’s not the waiting… it’s the starting. It’s a message that you will read in every book about creativity, and it’s the same concept you will uncover in every book about personal development. Coming up with goals is not the hardest part: starting to make that list and putting real deadlines against it is the hardest part. Hoping you will overcome your anxiety after seeing a therapist is the wrong approach to take. Once you begin the process, you realize that most of our psychological issues begin to fade when we start to push through that fear by actually starting to heal ourselves. I often reflect on two books by Steven Pressfield: The War Of Art and Do The Work. I am in love with Pressfield’s blue collar work ethic when it comes to writing and creativity. If your neighbor wakes up, brushes their teeth, takes a shower, feeds the kids, gets them off to school, kisses their spouse goodbye for the day and heads off to the office, why don’t creative people do the same? I wish I could say that I bring this type of work ethic to my work, but I don’t.
I do force myself to write. Writing is the catalyst for my ideation (it may be shooting videos or doodling for you). No new ideas come to light in my life without the act of writing. While a good chunk of my day is spent tinkering with words for clients, this blog, a book, an article, a presentation, a pitch or whatever, I can’t follow Pressfield’s dedication to a tee. I do like to wander, procrastinate, complain, occupy myself with distractions (they could be serious distractions like a client meeting or silly ones like a need to buy more socks). In the end, I do force myself to write. Often. Frequently. Daily. Why? Because I know one thing: starting leads to creating. Creating leads to ideation. Ideation leads to excellence. Not always. But, often enough. You can’t fake the critical thinking that gets developed from writing.
My water broke.
I’m in the middle of editing my second business book, CTRL ALT DEL (it will be out in Spring 2013). It took me longer than expected. Not to write it, but to create the right framework. What got it to the place where the concept felt meaty enough for a book? It’s a squiggly and jagged journey, but the timing may not have been perfect. When I let my other three business partners at Twist Image know that the second book was being written, one of them said it would be important for us to figure out if the timing was right and how to make everything work. I (half-jokingly) said, "my water broke… this baby is coming." Again, the creative push came because from the act of starting. Once I got started, neck deep in the words, finding inspiration and ideas was not the problem: finding enough time to let the words tumble out was.
The blank screen.
My MacBook Air is the most intimidating tool I have ever encountered. It just sits there, lid down, waiting for me. With it, I have access to create, nurture, publish and ideate anything. Is it possible for the next big idea to come out of it? Why not? Without the tools, one could complain that they simply can’t create. When you write, produce or nurture, having a MacBook Air makes you realize how lazy and insufferable we all are. What a magnificent tool of creation and I’m squandering it by not using it as frequently as I probably should (why did I watch four episodes of Pawn Stars this weekend when I could have been writing and ideating more?). Your work is your art (don’t believe me? Go and read Seth Godin‘s book, Linchpin) and we have these tools to do things we could have never imagined before. My creative tension doesn’t come from finding a wall to tag, it comes from finding the nerve to lift the lid up.
Lift the lid.
I see people all of the time who are simply not spending enough time starting. It could be scribbles in a Moleskine it could be cracking open a PowerPoint and it could be opening up that blank Word document. Start. Start now, Lift the lid. Start creating.
Change the world.
I’m on my way to Silicon Valley for a few days. I just finished watching a great documentary about famed architect, Frank Gehry, called, Sketches Of Frank Gehry. In this film, Gehry’s therapist is interviewed and he talks about the difference between treating patients with issues like fear and uncertainty and then people like Gehry. Here’s the distinction: the majority of people are trying to figure out how to heal themselves so that they can get on with their day to day lives. People like Gehry (and some of the more renowned artists of our times) are trying to figure out how to change the world. Wow. It was a very profound moment. The difference is that these people start – as hard and as gut-wrenching at it can be. They force it. They force it because they know that something always does happen.
What are you waiting for?
Under the motto ‘Let’s Do This’ Chevrolet collaborated with mural artist Jeff Soto. Jeff created a graffiti piece aided by a Chevy Sonic equipped with spray guns and robotic high-tech wizardry. But rather than the car I now want one of these bad-ass paint rocket launchers!
While Jeff’s voice over reveals nothing too exciting I like the film for its obvious aesthetic quality of video and soundtrack. And that the car and its features became an integral part of the creative process. Check the site here.
Agency: Goodby Silverstein
Mitch Joel tagged me in a meme. I know. How very MySpace of him. Heh.
Last week he wrote a neat post over at Six Pixels of Separation in an answer to a commentor who wanted to know more about how he, Mitch Joel, blogs. It’s always neat to peek behind the curtains a bit and see what others use or do to spur their creative process, so I read the post (as I do with most of Mitch’s).
Much to my surprise, after explaining how he blogs, Mitch tagged a number of friends, including me, asking us to pen a similar post. To my knowledge, Chris Penn and Mark Schaefer are the only other to take him up on the challenge thus far. So, I figured I’d answer the call. Maybe it will give you some ideas on how to better attack your blog, whether from process or product.
I’ll follow Mitch’s general outline.
My Blogging Philosophy
- SME has obviously grown into a group blog. I am the editor, but still provide anywhere from one to five posts per week, depending upon the number of ideas and time I have to write each week. The other posts, I edit for content. Our philosophy has always been that our content should try to push the thinking.
- We post at least one (hopefully thought-provoking) piece every weekday. But if our content is not good enough, we’ll just take a day off.
- For me personally, and like Mitch, it’s visceral and one shot. I sit down to write, write and post (or cue for posting later). I don’t save drafts and I don’t write one post over several sittings. Fortunately, I write very fast (years of writing sports stories on a deadline will help you hone that skill) and seldom have to put a post down and pick it up later.
- When I promote something on the blog, whether through our advertisements or reviews within the content, I make sure it’s something I would use or recommend to a client to use. We call it “curating for quality and relevancy.” We believe this is part of the reason you trust us. Unless you tell us otherwise, that won’t change.
- Likewise, when reviewing a product or service, I try to be as fair and balanced as possible. I attempt to take an analyst’s approach and enumerate strengths, weaknesses, threats and opportunities.
- If there are ever biases present (clients, sponsors, payment, etc.) they will be disclosed.
Pre-show (what happens before I blog):
- I’m really bad about capturing my blog ideas. If I don’t sent myself an email or throw a quick note into Evernote, it gets lost in the ether and forgotten about. I’ve probably lost as many ideas as I’ve written over the years. Sadly, even when I capture the note, it often sits in Evernote or my inbox for months.
- Most of my really good posts — or at least the ones that take a lot of thought — I actually chew on for several days. I’ll get a faint notion (like, I should tell everyone that even the top brands in social media still suck at being social) and mull it over for several days when I have time to think. When I get a general gist of what that post might look like in my head, I sit down and make the donuts. (And yes, that example above is what I’m currently chewing on.)
- Typically, I have the idea and immediately sit and write the majority of the post. Depending upon where I am and how much time I have, I may spit out as much as I can then come back later that night to finish it off. More often than not, however, I start and finish in one sitting.
- I seldom edit what I write, other than one or two read throughs. That’s not because I’m an idiot … or a cocky writer. It’s because I wrote sports game stories on deadline for 12 years. You learn to self-edit while you write when you learn to write on deadline. So when I’m done … I’m done.
Writing the blog post:
- I write better in coffee shops with The Black Keys or My Morning Jacket blasting in my headphones on my 15-inch MacBook Pro. The single screen keeps me focused and I like to people watch while I’m writing. Just helps the neurons fire. If I’m in my office, I look out the window and imagine the people.
- More often these days, and because I have to edit other people’s posts here, too, I write on Sunday nights at home after my kids have gone to bed. Sometimes it’s in my home office in relative silence. Sometimes, it’s in the same room with my wife as she watches whatever crime show is on at the moment. Sometimes its even after she’s gone to sleep, I’ve poured myself a bourbon and Tosh.0 is on Comedy Central.
- I use Ecto for Mac. Largely because it’s simple and allegedly posts straight to your WordPress blog. But it eats my blog posts from time to time. Despite my pleas to the company to fix the bug, they won’t, I paid $27 for it and am philosophically opposed to changing to something else as a result. If you know of a better one, let me know.
- I’m a WordPress guy. I use Posterous for my personal blog, but just because it’s easy and I don’t care about the design there. Here, I’ve had designers hack Thesis and create something I think is pretty hip. If you don’t like my fonts, the RSS feed comes through in whatever font your browser has set for default. Or you can deal with it. Heh.
- My blog posts take anywhere from five minutes to an hour to write. The more in-depth posts (product reviews, lengthy debates over an issue, etc.) will take longer. Most of my stuff is written, self-edited and cued in less than 30 minutes.
After the post:
- I’m probably one of the few folks out there that still manually promotes his blog posts. I do it as part of my morning sharing routine where I find and share content from around the web. SME posts are included in that round of sharing and treated like any other piece of content I find share worthy. I typically only promote each blog post once on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. If I remember to, I’ll promote it on Google+. People who promote the same post multiple times get on my nerves a little. I understand why, but it just doesn’t feel right to me.
- I try to respond to comments that seem to warrant a response on posts written by me. I expect my authors to respond to the posts they write. But I’m very protective of the civil discourse in the comments here, so I watch for commentors that are overly critical, argumentative and the like and chime in where I deem appropriate. (We’re all for discussion and even disagreement, but I don’t tolerate mean-spiritedness or criticism that isn’t constructive. If you want that, go to anonymous comment sections of newspaper websites.) Disqus allows me to read and respond to comments right from email, so it’s easy to do it, even from my phone.
- Also on Sunday nights (or sometimes Monday mornings) I prepare my weekly newsletter, The Navigator. That includes a recap of the SME posts of the previous week amid the thoughts I share with the subscribers.
That’s it. There’s no magic, other than many years of writing and editing as practice. In addition to the aforementioned years of writing sports, I’ve blogged since 1998. My personal blog started as a newspaper column that I wanted to publish online since, at the time, the newspaper it was for didn’t have a website. Over the 14 years of blogging, I’ve used the medium to publish narrative non-fiction, fiction, comedy material and silly man-on-the-street interviews. So when I started SME in 2007 to focus on the emerging world of social media marketing, I kind of knew what I was doing.
Blogging is a habit and a passion for me. I enjoy the creative process, the fact I have the power to publish anything whenever I want and there’s a bit of an audience there to see it and the fact that it can have immediate and long-term impact on my bottom line. It saddens me to see businesses who forego or forget their blogs and focus on micro-exchange platforms like Facebook or Twitter as their primary online marketing or social media marketing vehicle. If I sold Social Media Explorer and retired to a beach tomorrow, I’d still blog over at Falls, off the Rocker, just for fun. Or, I could create a different business blog and build something a little different.
Most of my blogging now is so much of that habit and passion that I don’t even think about how I do it. I’m sure I could do it better, easier, more efficiently, but this is what works for me.
So now it’s your turn. How do you blog? What works for you? Tell us about your blogging habits in the comments.
And thanks, Mitch.
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Experienced bloggers may have a profound understanding of the dynamics of composing an engaging and informative blog but they may also be entirely clueless when it comes to applying their writing skills to a very different medium: their email newsletter.
The creation of an effective email newsletter requires a very specific form of writing moxie and the mastery of a structure which varies considerably from your garden variety blog post.
Promotional vs. informative
The first determination which must be made is what your readers want to read. In order to address this situation you might need to rewind your entire creative process back to Square One and re-determine what the actual goal of your email newsletter is in the first place. Of course you’re trying to drive more traffic to your blog, but are you doing it in a promotional or an informative manner? The two approaches can translate in very distinct results.
Depending on your email subscribing audience they may be more responsive to a form of mini-blog which presents ancillary or even totally separate information than what you are currently featuring on your formal blog.
However, some types of readers would rather receive the information you provide on your blog itself and may be confused or irritated by having to resort to two separate channels to receive “the full picture.” You can certainly rely on your knowledge of the sector, but by far the more accurate manner to make this determination is by extensively testing both approaches to see which one provides the better conversion rate.
Short & punchy
Once you have the overall approach set, it’s time to simplify. Most bloggers craft email newsletters that are way too long, complex, convoluted, and detailed to be effective. The best email newsletters feature short, punchy paragraphs, a wealth of bullet lists, and links that not only lead back to your blog, but to other pages that your readers could find of interest.
There is usually no need to cram in everything but the kitchen sink into your email newsletters, as general summaries with links back to your blog for the meat of the matter is usually all that is required. If you find yourself composing voluminous tomes for your email newsletter content that requires repeated scrolling by the reader, you should channel that time and energy into your blog itself.
Chat, don’t lecture
Your email subscriber is a regular person, not a member of a peer-review scientific journal committee. That equates into your composing your email newsletter in the style of a one on one conversation not a post-graduate thesis. You can reserve the heavy lifting of facts and figures for your blog, as an email newsletter is best written in the way that you would chat with them, not lecture them.
Reward your reader for having the trust and confidence in you to sign up for your email newsletter and then carrying through to actually opening and reading the emails they receive by providing them content that is friendly, approachable, and conversational.
Jargon is one of the greatest enemies of a successful email newsletter campaign. Even though you may operate in an extremely technical industry, you should always aim the readership comprehension of your email newsletter writing at a reasonable eighth grade education level.
Take whatever steps are necessary to avoid writing email newsletters that require extensive technical footnotes, or worse yet read like the Hollywood trade magazine Variety where different movie genres are described in insider lingo as laffers (comedies), mellers (melodramas), oaters (Westerns), or chopsocky (martial arts). Excessive jargon or technicalese can lead to misunderstanding which can alienate a large part of your audience.
You should always place yourself in the position of your subscriber when writing an email newsletter. If you were subscribing to your blog, what would you react to most favorably? If you find that the way you are crafting your email campaign now is actually responsible for disaffecting your subscribers, it’s time that you made a change… while you still have subscribers left!
Hal Licino is a successful author, award-winning freelance writer, and frequent contributor to a blog hosted by Benchmark Email, an email marketing service for small businesses. He also writes a weekly column for Daily Blog Tips.
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Original Post: The Keys To Writing Effective Email Newsletters For Your Blog
Not sure if this is really an infographic but it’s super fun nonetheless! It takes you on the various paths involved in the creative process. You can literally get sidetracked by details, turned around by over thinking or hit a brick wall by trying to take the easy way out. And who couldn’t use a fill up at the motivation station?!