Letter from Phil issue 395 My first local marketing job

Below you’ll find some more of my thoughts on content creation, as promised in the previous issue, but I’m saving the Pinterest piece I mentioned until the next issue, because I’ve been busy doing something entirely different.
And that’s doing my first ever website for a local client. Not a business, as you might expect, but a political one, for a strong candidate for mayor of the city I live near. She’s already served a popular eight year stint as mayor, now after a break of a few years, to concentrate on her business interests, she’s ready to come back. And almost a cert for the job.

It was a rush job because she was announcing her candidacy around 48 hours after she contacted me, and the site had to be fully up and running by then. (I was sworn to secrecy until the announcement)

Anyway, I raced into town and took the photo’s of her against the outside wall of Sexie Coffie (my favourite local café) which provided a perfect backdrop. It took 10 minutes max, then we went inside and discussed the site over a coffee.

I built it with WordPress on Sunday (using a great premium theme) on one of my own domains because of the secrecy angle, and transferred it to her launch site on Monday morning,  just making it in time for the big announcement. Phew!

Still not quite finished, of course. I need to integrate Facebook into it, and set up the blog and add content to it, plus give her a few lessons on how to post to it. And I guess I need to add a mobile theme too, because I’ve just seen it on an iPhone and because of the header image size it sucks.

At the time of writing it’s just one static page, with an incoming Twitter feed, and links along the top to her Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter pages.

But I’m quite happy with it. And more importantly so is the client.

Quite a few people living in my part of the world read this. If you’re one of them please click on Margaret’s Facebook Like icon. Assuming you side with her politics, of course. Do it even if you don’t live here, she’s a lovely lady 🙂

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I’d like to take a moment to say a quick thanks here to my old mate, Bill Burdin, who helped me out with advice on a code fix on the site.

For those of you with long memories, Bill was behind some of the great early site building tools and content generators. And has been a good friend ever since. These days he runs a very successful business concentrating on site building, and social media, for big and small businesses in Canberra (the capital of Australia)

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Last issue I wrote about the importance of getting into creating your own products, to provide you with a steadier flow of dollars than the ups and downs of affiliate marketing or relying on the position of your sites in the search engines. Lot’s of you trusted me enough to grab the less than $20 Product Creation Video Course, so thank you.

Anyway, the special offer for the  “4 Hour Product 2012 Edition” was supposed to be closing last Friday, but because I wanted to mention it here again in case you didn’t read the previous issue, I managed to talk Robert into keeping it open until Wednesday. So that’s tomorrow. Or today depending on what time you see this email.

So act now if you didn’t get it last week. Note: this closes 28th Feb 2012

The current price is just $17. A bargain by anyone’s standards.

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Talking about Content Creation

When you’re trying to earn a crust online you can’t wait for inspiration to slam you between the shoulder blades before you start pounding away on your keyboard.

If you’re a novelist perhaps you’ve got an excuse, but even then you’ve got to get the words out every single day, or the novel will never leave the critic free zone inside your head.

(Slightly of-topic side note… Back in the days when I wrote novels I used to get up at 4am without fail, and write until my daughter Kate woke up at 6 or so. Not that I ever finished
one. Kate was a very expensive daughter because of having Phenylketonuria (PKU), so money worries always seemed to get in the way and I’d have to quit the novel I was working on and write for magazines instead, to bring in some quick extra cash. And, to be truthful, my long but unfinished novels were never very good. Far too weird said one publisher.

Ok, let’s get back to reality. If you’re a novelist you’re probably not reading this, you’re too busy trying to find a publisher, or working out how to format your work for Kindle.

So back to the here and now.

When you’re writing blog posts, or web site content, you need to bash it out. Get it out there. Out of your head I mean.

And the best way, if you find yourself slacking, is to set a deadline. Having a fixed deadline, something you can’t break, really, really works.

Promise yourself (and write it down, plus ideally tell someone) that by 4pm, or whatever, you will have a new, long post on your blog, or you will have done 10 new tweets plus 3 big posts on your Facebook business page. Just work solidly on whatever it is you’re supposed to be doing.

— Sidenote —

If you have trouble sticking to the task here are a couple of tools that might help:

if you use the Google Chrome browser try the StayFocusd Extension (that’s Focused without the E, not a typo on my part).

It works by blocking access to sites for a length of time you choose. So if you’re keep popping into Facebook while you are supposed to be churning words out for something else, you can block it for the length of time you choose and you can’t change it.

Something I find handier is the iPad app, Repeat Timer Pro. It’s just a few dollars on the app store. Basically you can set a timer for, say, 30 mins, another to give yourself a 10 minute break, then it will run the 30 minute countdown again.

—End Sidenote—

Back to giving yourself a deadline.

Deadlines REALLY work.

If you’ve GOT to have something done by a certain time or there’ll be huge consequences, you nearly always get it done on time.

Back in my newspaper days we lived with deadlines. Sometimes several a day. And the next morning’s paper wouldn’t have come out if we’d all sat around waiting for inspiration.

We had schedules to keep. Page 22, for instance, might have to be ready for 2pm. Features for the weekend edition might need to be with the features editor by Tuesday lunchtime. And there’d be hell to pay because you’d be holding up the work of a whole chain of people if you didn’t meet that deadline. Lots of shouting happened.

It’s true that we newspaper folk frequently south out the pub for ‘inspiration’ but that was just an excuse. Two hours in the pub at lunchtime (meeting contacts) just meant you had to stay maybe an hour longer at work in the evening. Why not two hours? Well the beer always seemed to make the words flow faster 🙂

The very best way to get work completed is to know in advance what you want to achieve that day, the next day, and the day after, and then just buckle down and do it. Personally I can’t work at all unless I give myself deadlines. Perhaps you’re the same. Lots of people are, sometimes without knowing it.

If you’ve got to write a blog post on a certain topic then think about it in advance while you’re doing other likes like having a shower, or out doing the grocery shopping. By the time you sit down to write you should know roughly want you want to say, and then just bash it out.

Not straight onto your blog, or website of course, in case something goes wrong before you save it and it all gets lost. Write it on paper with a pen. Or in a file on your computer
and make sure it’s backed up in the case hard drive dies. Personally I do all my writing in Evernote these days, and constantly keep syncing it to make sure nothing will get lost.

Whatever you do don’t publish it to your blog the second you’ve finished getting it out of your head. Unless you’re a certified writing genius you’re bound to want to make
changes before people get to read it.

Take a break. Go for a walk. Get a coffee, or read a magazine or something, and then come back to it.

I can guarantee that on a second read through, you’ll make changes that improve the flow of the piece you’ve written. And you’ll find errors, and probably not just typo’s and
grammatical mistakes.

I found several grammatical and spelling mistakes in this newsletter when I was adding it to my blog, after already mailing it out to thousands of people. I should have proof read it better. At least give you self a chance of correcting it before it’s seen by the public or whoever your audience is.

The reason for the errors is that a) I wrote it late at night when I was over-tired, and b) I didn’t follow my usual procedure which is to print it out and go through it paragraph by paragraph.

What I really like to do is give it some time, by printing it out out and taking it with me into
town where I have a coffee and read the papers, then have another (double espresso if you’re asking) and this time go through my printout making corrections and cutting out words or whole sentences that just aren’t necessary and add nothing to the piece.

Sometimes, when you do this, you will realise that something you write near the end
of the piece really belongs at the beginning. And often you’ll cut out huge chunks that serve no real purpose.

Ok. That’s the end of this week’s content piece. Hope you found at least one useful tip in it.

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This proves I’m brain-dead

After buying Premise 2.0 a few weeks ago I was looking for a WordPress theme for a new site I’m going to use Premise with (to read about Premise see issue 393 on the blog) It’s from the same team that produces the Studio Press themes and (naturally) they say their themes and Premise are a perfect match, so I thought I’d check them out. It makes sense that they would be, but my primary concern was something that had the right look, plus good code behind it.

I knew the code of the StudioPress themes would be good because they all run on top of their highly regarded, automatically updating, Genesis framework (for WordPress). What I hadn’t realised is that all their themes are actually child themes of Genesis.

While scrolling through all the child themes available for $24 a time (after you’ve bought the Genesis framework which is $55) and thinking that quite a lot of them looked really good and I might buy the package deal offering all the themes, I suddenly realised that maybe 5 or 6 years ago I bought a theme package from the same company.

A search through my old emails found my login info for their support forum, and after a bit of digging around, I found that I was grandfathered in and had access to the framework and all the child themes.

It made me very happy, and also feeling very stupid at the same time for spending lots of money on other themes over the years.

I built the political launch site I talked about higher up, with Genesis using the Focus child theme.

As you can see if you go to the Studio Press site and click on the green ‘see all our themes’ image, I’ve changed  the look quite a bit. But it was a doddle. Very easy to
modify to suit your needs.

No sales pitch for the themes here, though if you are in the market for a top-notch WordPress theme they have a great reputation for both their design and underlying functionality. Importantly they’re also simple and straightforward to modify to get the
exact look you want.

I guess that was a bit of a sales pitch after all.

Anyway, they’re very good.

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Had to laugh at something in an email from Conde Nast Traveller magazine. They’re running a travel photo contest, so (as always) I checked the small print to see what usage rights they claim over the submitted entries. And right at the bottom, in small print, it said: “In the event the winner is a resident of Canada, winner will be required to correctly answer
a time-limited arithmetical skill testing question”

Is there something about Canadians I don’t know?

ok, that’s it for today.