The Agile Writer Blog

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Speaking at “Awesomize Your Life”

I just found out about Shawn Furey’sAwesomize Your Life” seminar next week (March 23rd, 2019) in Augusta, Maine. Shawn is a leader in the heroism science community and applies his special knowledge of Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey to help facilitate psycho-educational groups and provide one-on-one counseling to people in recovery from opioid addiction. He’s a true hero.

So, he asked me if the Agile Writer Method could be used in autobiography and memoir to help recovering addicts and others tell their stories. And I said yes, and many people at Agile Writers have done just that. The Hero’s Journey is superbly attuned to just such stories.

So, I signed up for Shawn’s conference and wouldn’t you know it? He asked me to speak. I’ll be presenting alongside other hero science luminaries as David Rendall, author of the book “The Freak Factor” and Dan & Carrie Chavanne who stopped a shooting at a Wal-mart in Augusta, Maine.

I’ll be talking about how we use the hero’s journey to write autobiography and memoir at the Agile Writer Workshop. I hope you’ll drop by Shawn’s web page to learn more and take a look at his Facebook group “The Hero Science Think Tank” where many people in the hero science community gather to share thoughts, opinions, and research on heroes and heroism.

 

 

https://success4.com/blog/the-hero-forge-shawn-fury/

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On Awards Shows

 

Why Watch Bad Films

Every year, my writing partner on ReelHeroes.net, Dr. Scott Allison and I discuss the idea of reviewing films on the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations lists. Scott prefers to review movies he knows are going to be of high quality, whereas I like a sort of random draw – reviewing both bad and good movies. I find I learn more from a bad movie than a good movie. Scott’s position is pretty pragmatic – he just hates to spend money on bad films.

I think everyone should know what the Golden Globes and Oscars are really about. They’re not necessarily the best films – just the films that industry insiders think are good. This doesn’t mean that you, the viewing audience, will enjoy them. It’s just that their peers think they did a good job.

Golden Globes

golden_globe_trophyIn particular, the Golden Globes are awarded by the 93 members of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association. Consider this for a moment. There is an entire awards show that influences the purchase of tickets by the viewing public by a very small number of people.

Do *you* really want to go to a movie because 93 photographers and journalists from 55 different countries liked it? In my estimation, that’s a lot of power for a very small pool of individuals about whom I know next to nothing and may not even have the same cultural sensitivities that I have.

Academy Awards

academy_award_trophyThe Oscars, on the other hand, are awards given by peers of the artists creating the films – as many as 8,000 members. One thing you may not know is that to qualify for an Oscar in 2018, the film had to be released in a certain number of theaters (in Los Angelas, CA)  before December 31, 2018. And, the Academy tends to favor films released near the end of the year. So, very often, Oscar-worthy films are not released until December, and then only in limited release.

The Oscar nominations are announced in late January with the ceremony about one month later in late February. This means that many of the films and artists nominated are for films most of us never saw in theaters.

The voters are grouped in branches or divisions. The actors number about 1300 members and are the strongest influence on the award. The voting is highly political and often sentimental. So, if an actor or director happens to be unpopular among their peers, they may not get up-voted – despite having created great art. Likewise, an actor who has contributed a long life of excellent work, but has never won an Oscar, could be voted an award despite a lackluster performance – just out of sympathy.

Also, the studios will spend millions of dollars sending gifts and advertising to the voters to influence their vote. Very often, the film that most successfully courts Academy members with pre-release copies of the film and bling can win – despite the public never really having seen the film.

So, just because a film wins a Golden Globe or an Oscar doesn’t necessarily mean that *you* will enjoy it. In fact, there’s a good chance that you won’t. Because the films aren’t graded on their entertainment value for a mass audience, but on an elite cast of players’ opinion of the artistic merit of the cast and crew of the film.

Rotten Tomatoes

In my humble opinion, if you want to know if a film is any good, or if you’ll enjoy it, check out two metrics that I look at. The first is box office performance. Generally speaking, if a film tanks at the box office, there’s a very good reason for it. Secondly, I find RottenTomatoes.com is a great reflection of how an audience responds to a film.

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Rotten Tomatoes has two ratings. The first number is an aggregation of what professional film critics think of the film. That may not be useful to you. Like the professionals of the Golden Globe and Oscars, critics often look for things a mass audience doesn’t care about. The second number is based on audience members who saw the film and either up-voted or down-voted the movie.

I find this second number very telling. For example, Adam Sandler movies are often panned by the critics because the quality is very low and critics don’t appreciate sophomoric humor. However, the audience scores will be significantly higher – because Adam Sandler knows his audience and he plays to that crowd.

Recommendations

So, if you want to determine if a film as going to be entertaining, especially if you have tastes that swing wide from critics’ views, check out the Rotten Tomatoes scores. And after you’ve watched the film, check out our review at ReelHeroes.net where we review films based on the quality of the heroic elements of the film. See if you agree with us and let us know what you think.

Guest Post: Build Your Email List With 4 Specific Facebook Ad Strategies

Today there are so many ways to build an email list it almost seems like the opportunities are endless.

But what are the most effective strategies?

With this article, we are going to look at using Facebook ads to build your email list.

So, how can we get Facebook to become our marketing partner and leverage their hyper-targeted ad platform along with all of Facebook’s data to grow an email list?

First, let’s look at the traditional direct marketing customer ascension path – Suspect-Prospect-Customer- Multi-Buyer Customer- Loyal Customer- Advocate.

For this article, being we are focusing on building an email list, it will concentrate on taking people from suspects, people who you think are interested in your products and services to prospects, people who raise their hands and say they are interested.

The primary way to get people to acknowledge that they are interested is to offer something of value in exchange for their name and email address.

Offering something of value can be a pdf to download, a video, or a mini-course that is delivered via an email autoresponder.

It can be to view a webinar, attend a workshop, or to register for an offline event.

It can be to enter a contest or giveaway.

All are relevant offers that can build your email list.

Here Are 4 Specific Strategies To Leverage Facebook Ads To Grow Your Email List.

1. Write and Promote an Article 

With this strategy, write an article on a particular topic that is informative and solves a problem.

Post the article on your website or blog. Within the article include a text link, a banner ad, or a Johnson box with a call to action that takes people to an opt-in page, where the reader can enter their name and email address in exchange for the something of value, commonly known as a lead magnet.

When creating the lead magnet, you want it to be the next step in the process.

So, if the article is about bass fishing, the lead magnet could be about the 4 types of bait to use when bass fishing.

The type of Facebook ad to run for this is a Click To Website Ad. You want the targeted audience clicking over to the article on your website.

Facebook allows you to create custom audiences based on specific pages of your website.

Inside of Facebook’s Ad Manager create a custom audience for the website page with the article.

Then place the custom audience pixel on the article’s page of your site.

By putting the Facebook pixel on each article, it allows you to retarget people that have read the article, or at least visited the page of the article.

Retarget this audience with an ad sending them to the landing page to download the lead magnet.

2. Facebook Live Video Ads

When doing Facebook Live videos for an ad, try to keep the video between 2 and 5 minutes long. In reality, there is no ideal length for a Facebook Live Video. The videos can be longer, depending on how long it takes you to explain one particular topic.

Facebook is pushing live video, so this will bring new people to your Facebook page.

Follow the same strategy as outlined above. Make your video topic specific with the lead magnet being the next step in the process.

Facebook automatically records the video and places it on your Facebook page as a post.

Moreover, once the video is on your Facebook page, then add compelling copy to encourage people to watch the video.

You can include a call to action at the end of the video to download the lead magnet. Plus, in the copy of the post, you can include a call to action with a link to the opt-in page for the lead magnet.

Now promote that video post as a Facebook video ad.

The beautiful thing about Facebook video ads is that Facebook allows you to retarget people based on how long they have watched the video. So, anyone who watches more than 50% of the video, may be interested in taking the next step and downloading the lead magnet.

Setup either a Click-To-Website ad or a Conversion Ad retargeting people based on who has watched at least 50% of the video and then send them to the opt-in page to download the lead magnet.

3. Ads Going To Landing Page

These Facebook ads are simple. Target specific audiences and create either a click-to-website ad or a conversion ad and send them straight to the landing page asking them to opt-in.

Furthermore, you can place custom audience pixels on the landing page and the page after the person opts-in to download the lead magnet.

As more and more people land on these two pages and the pixels start to mature, then you can run a click to website ad retargeting the people who landed on the landing page and did not land on the second page.

Also, create a custom conversion in Facebook ad manager for the thank you page. Facebook will start tracking who is opting in and who is not opting in. Over time the ads become even more relevant and efficient because Facebook starts showing the ads to more people who are most likely going to opt-in.

4. Ads Going To A Webinar Registration Page

Webinar Registration ads are very similar to ads sending people straight to a landing page. You are providing content that is valuable in the form of a webinar in exchange for people opting into your email list. On the webinar, deliver relevant content, and then at the end make an offer to sell a product or service.

As you start implementing each of these strategies, start tracking how many leads you to get from each method. Track how many leads you are getting from each article, from each video, from ads straight to a landing page for an optin, etc. This is to compare the effectiveness of each ad campaign and to track the cost per lead each day.

To calculate the cost per lead, divide the cost of each ad by the number of leads it generated. Each ad will vary in the cost of acquiring a lead. As your business develops and you understand the lifetime value of a customer to your business, then you can start gauging what ads are the most profitable.

The nice thing about Facebook ads and using the Facebook pixels is you are building an audience by getting people to consume your content, and growing your email list. As the Facebook pixels on your website matures, the pixel becomes a valuable asset to your business, by being able to target ads to people that are familiar with you and your site.

Guest Post: The importance of colors to your BRAND

As I say often, BRANDING is largely about visibility and consistency. This relates to what people SEE in respect to your company, product, event or organization. Color plays a huge role in your overall BRAND because it is interwoven in your print marketing ( i.e. logos, business cards, flyers, brochures, banners, signage, product labels & etc.) and in your online marketing ( i.e. websites, social media cover images, online flyers, social media graphics, event flyers, blog images, email images & etc.) You should have consistent “BRAND” colors to reinforce your message and marketing.

Here are five tips for choosing the right colors for your BRAND and using consistent colors to tie your BRAND together!

1) Choose your BRAND colors.

I recommend that every company and organization have 2 main colors and potentially one accent color. Ideally you want to select your BRAND colors early on in the development of your business/organization and in the initial stages of creating your marketing plan. Everything related to your marketing should include your BRANDcolors or compliment your BRAND colors. As referenced above, your BRAND colors are needed before you even have a logo created or order business cards!

2) Colors have meaning.

There are psychological and cultural meanings to colors. The general guidance around colors and their meaning can help validate your BRAND color selection or steer you in the right direction. I found this great color chart from Xtreme Brand Makeover (see below) and it is consistent with the general consensus on the meaning of color. For example, my BRAND colors are navy blue and hot pink. According to this color chart, blue represents authority, dignity, security, confident, classic, stability and trust. Hot pink represents exciting, playful, tropical and flirtatious. Those attributes are all consistent with the BRAND of Mitchell Productions Web Design and Social Media Coaching. I want my clients to feel “secure and confident” working with me and I want the process to be “exciting”. Is this an exact science? No! But again, I think the color chart gives some great guidance.

3) Your professional pictures should coordinate with your BRAND colors.

Your professional pictures play a huge role in your BRANDING because they are included in your website, social media profiles and print marketing. When preparing for a photo shoot, select outfits and backgrounds that compliment your BRAND colors. Ideally, you want some outfits that are in your BRAND colors. For example, one of my clients, Tonya Sloans, Esq. ( www.iampowerwoman.com)  had a photo shoot and she wore a white dress, a red dress and a navy blue pant suit. Her BRAND colors are red and gold so all of her pictures compliment her BRAND.

4)  Your website should compliment your BRAND colors.

As a web designer, I endeavor to bring your BRAND to life with a website. Your website is your communication hub and your 24 hour customer service and marketing center! Your website design should include your BRAND colors. Typically, your logo design and professional pictures are completed before your web design process starts. This will ensure that the web designer can coordinate your site to compliment your logo and pictures which are all in your BRAND colors.

5) Your social media presence should include your BRAND colors.

Whether you know it or not, many small businesses and new entrepreneurs are attracting their customers from Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and etc. Your BRAND colors should be very evident on your social media pages. Social Media should lead the potential client to your website or landing page and so that flow should be consistent for them. One way to do that is with consistent BRAND colors.

When designing your cover images, ensure that they are consistent with your BRANDcolors. The key to all of this is to help the potential customer experience your BRAND in a consistent way. For example, you don’t want your logo to be green and blue and then your website is orange and gold and then your Facebook cover image is black and yellow.

Conclusion

In conclusion, color is very important to your BRANDBRANDING is largely about consistency and visibility. If you have been inconsistent with your BRAND colors, you can fix that! Just start from today and work on identifying your BRAND colors and updating your online and offline marketing to match those colors.

Schedule one on one coaching sessions with Sharvette to bring consistency to your BRAND through color! CLICK HERE.

XBM-ColorMeaningChart-big2 The importance of colors to your BRAND

Compliments of XtremeBrandMakeover.com

Guest Post: Your Content Needs A Solid Foundation

The foundation of your content should begin with your story. Have you ever seen the animated movie, “Rise of the Guardians”? I love movies! Jack Frost struggled to find his center throughout the course of his movie. There is a scene where he is having a conversation with Santa Claus to learn what this means. Santa Claus reveals that his center is “wonder.” Everything he does filters through that center. When developing content for your business, your center is your story. Everything should flow through that, building a solid foundation for your content.

So, you’re probably wondering why your story is your center? How does it build a foundation for your content? Your story is unique to you. No one else has your story, your journey. It builds transparency and erases barriers to allow your customers to connect with you. I’m not an expert in branding, but what I do know is that your brand should reflect you and who you are. If you’re on the path to discover the brand for your business, look within. It should be reflection of you. If your business and your brand does not embody parts of you, there will always be something missing.

Your story reveals the reason why you started your business in the first place. It gives your customers insight into your journey and why you are a credible resource to help them. If you’ve noticed changes in the marketplace in the last 20 years, you realize that people rarely filter buying decisions based on just cost and products anymore; relationship, engagement and service are primary components used to dictate buying. They need to feel that you are a good choice for their needs; it’s not a transactional decision. Revealing your story and integrating it throughout your content marketing puts your future customers at ease doing business with you.

Have you ever wondered why Facebook live has become increasingly popular across social media channels? It’s because of its raw depiction of the real you. There are no filters, editing and sometimes, yes, no makeup! The transparency of this platform takes you off a pedestal with your customers. Don’t get me wrong, you are still respected as an expert, but your customers see you as ‘just like them’, making you relatable.

The rest of your content that you develop for your business – your website, blog, social media, email, etc. – should reflect some level of this transparency. This does not mean that you need to tell your life story in all your content – just pieces of it. I’ll share more on how to do this in a later post.

In the meantime, I want you to look at all of your content and make sure you have a solid foundation. When you look across your different content platforms, do you see a theme? Does that theme trace back to your story? As you walk through this process, I want to hear what you find. Share your comments here. We all have special stories to tell. Don’t leave them on the shelf.

Guest Post: Understanding Psychopathy in Villains

Our friend Tina Glasneck is a USA Today Bestselling Author and will be presenting at the Agile Writer Conference January 26th. Click on the image below to learn more about the conference. In the meantime, she’s offered this article from her website to help you. 

BrainDuring an interview, Ted Bundy, a notorious serial killer and necrophiliac, once said, “I don’t feel guilty for anything. I feel sorry for people who feel guilt.”

I am fascinated by what creates monsters, and today, murderer’s market delves into the darkness, in hopes of understanding it.

During a conversation at a brunch this past weekend, I had the opportunity to discuss psychopathy, and all though all psychopaths or those suffering from psychopathy are not murderers, I find that giving my characters true characteristics and traits, helps to create three-dimensional characters. As such, when I write, I try to create well-rounded characters that speak, and it is then necessary to understand my character’s traits and personality, or it can turn into a gazelle being trapped with a lion type of situation.

According to a recent article from Psychology Today, called  What is a Psychopath?, the term psychopath is used in reference to “a more serious disorder, linked to genetic traits, producing more dangerous individuals, while continuing to use “sociopath” to refer to dangerous people who are seen more as products of their environment, including their upbringing. Other researchers make a distinction between “primary psychopaths,” who are thought to be genetically caused, and “secondary psychopaths,” seen as more a product of their environments.” What this means to me is that some psychopaths are such because of nature, while others are created through nurture, or life’s experiences, which reminds me of the age old debate and discussion of nature versus nurture in that can a psychopath be made.

According to the article,Dr. Robert Hare: Expert on the Psychopath, by Katherine Ramsland, Robert D. Hare, Ph.D, an expert on psychopathy and the developer of the psychopathic checklist revisited,  and his associates clarified  the known diagnostic criteria and offered potential approaches for assessing and treatment psychopathy. Psychopathy is characterized by some of the following traits:

  • lack of remorse or empathy
  • shallow emotions
  • manipulativeness
  • lying
  • egocentricity
  • glibness
  • low frustration tolerance
  • episodic relationships
  • parasitic lifestyle
  • persistent violation of social norms

Just as in the quote from Ted Bundy as stated above, and his lack of feelings of guilt, Hare does describe cases of conscienceless killers who appeared to show no human feeling for their victims. The violence  of the psychopath “is likely to be more predatory, motivated by identifiable goals, and carried out in a calculated manner without an emotional context. They tend not to commit crimes of passion, such as during a domestic dispute or extreme arousal…. Because they don’t understand the feelings of others and don’t feel remorseful for harming them, psychopaths can easily rationalize their violence or deception as acceptable behavior.” See Dr. Robert Hare: Expert on the Psychopath.

The discussion of psychopathy, as provided by Ramsland in her article on Hare, provides great gems, which I find intriguing for my research, including:

“Some theorists believe that psychopaths may be motivated by weak emotions breaking through weaker restraints.They may simply be reacting, showing off or exerting control as a means of proving themselves. For the most part, their crimes are cold-blooded, and they felt excited by them rather than guilty. In those who are serial killers, there appears to be a strong tendency toward sadism.”

AND

“The point is, these offenders find victims easily because they were glib, charming, manipulative, and predatory, while their victims are generally naive. Psychopaths would realize less success if their targeted victims were savvier.”

And, of course,

“Hare does not think that psychopathy is caused by brain damage.Instead, he says, “there are anomalies in the way psychopaths process information.”

With this in mind, I continued my research to look at law enforcement, and how they are dealing with psychopathy. According to a 2012 FBI Bulletin, “Psychopaths are incapable of identifying with or caring about the emotional pain that they have caused victims or their families, so any strategy to appeal to the psychopath’s conscience probably will be met with failure and frustration.” See: The Language of Psychopaths This then means that the usual tactics used during police interrogations will not be as successful with the psychopath as with the the non-psychopath. As Hare stated earlier, psychopaths are calculated in what they do. It appears to be a game of chess, where the thrill is not just the violence they perpetuate, but also the game of cat and mouse they think they are playing well.

My research continues to take me to uncharted territory, for me at least, as I create plots, and come to understand the diverse thinking of the characters, who’ve appeared. As my series moves from plot to character driven, I can’t wait to see what these unique characters are capable of doing next.

And you? What are your thoughts on psychopathy? Do you agree with Hare and the FBI? What tips or tricks are needed to stay safe, and how do you deal with the psychopaths in your life? Leave a comment below!

Guest Post: How to Start a Writing Career With No Experience

Our friend Sarah Lapallo Beck from Ink Book Company will be presenting at the Agile Writer Conference January 26th. Click on this image to find out more about the Conference. In the meantime, she’s offered this article from her website to help you.

SO YOU WANT TO BECOME A WRITER BUT THE REAL QUESTION IS HOW TO START A WRITING CAREER WITH NO EXPERIENCE? HERE’S HOW YOU CAN DO IT AND FIND WORK TOO.

Picture1

Starting a writing career without any formal education can be daunting. Don’t worry though, this article will show you how to start a writing career with no experience.

Don’t let other people discourage you. No, seriously!

You’ll get “the talk” from some people that you tell about your plan to start a writing career. You know, the one that goes something like this:

Can you type without looking at the keyboard? How fast can you type? You know it’s difficult being a full-time writer. Blah blah blah…

Don’t listen to the naysayers or largely negative messages that you’ll get out there. Don’t believe what others say until you try it yourself.

So with that out of the way, let’s move on.

What You’ll Need to Start a Writing Career

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need any experience to start but you do need the willingness to do and a determination to succeed.

So how do you start learning?

Start by reading some publications from other established writers or people that inspire you. Then you need to take the following steps.

1. START WRITING MORE

At first, you may find it difficult to write for hours but most things worth doing are. So don’t be discouraged.

At this stage, you may not have any work or contracts and that’s ok. By writing regularly, you’ll begin to develop the skills necessary to become a great writer.

Also, the best thing you can do for yourself is to start a blog!

A blog will help you focus on a niche topic that you enjoy and come in handy for acquiring higher paying clients in the future.

Most importantly, it’ll give you much-needed experience but make sure that you’re open to feedback.

2. ACQUIRE EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION SKILLS

Communication is important in our personal and work lives. So learn to communicate effectively because you’ll need these skills when dealing with clients.

This article about communicating effectively is a good start: 7 Tips to Improve Your Communication Skills.

3. BUILD YOUR REPUTATION

It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.

Warren Buffett

Luckily, it’s not going to take you 20 years but Warren drives the point home.

You need to build a portfolio to start building your reputation. You don’t need to have published pieces but you do need samples.

Going back to step one:

If you’re frequently writing, then you’ll always have an abundance of samples to show potential clients.

4. KEEP UP WITH CURRENT TRENDS

To keep up with trends, you can subscribe to a few blogs that you enjoy or read current publications on things that interest you.

Many writers focus on a single niche while others can write about practically anything that comes their way. Neither approach is wrong.

It really depends on what you want to do.

5. LEARN THE BASICS OF SEARCH ENGINE OPTIMIZATION (SEO)

A basic understanding of SEO is an asset to most clients but not absolutely necessary. Some clients will want their articles optimized for search engines, so having this skill can help you win those contracts.

Where to Find Work

It wouldn’t be complete without this!

Here are some great places to find work as a writer.

  • Freelance Websites – Sites like Upwork, Guru and Freelancer are great places to find writing gigs. Clients go to these companies to post available assignments and freelancers apply for the work. The competition can seem fierce but you can win bids if you focus on value or customer needs.
  • Content Mills – Similar to freelance marketplaces, these websites act as the middleman. You’ll definitely find work here but the pay is a little lower. Popular content mill sites include: TextBroker, Great Content and Hire Writers.
  • Job Boards – In most cases, you can find the best paying gigs on job boards like Indeed or Career Builder. Often, these are companies looking for full-time or part-time writers. Also, yearly contracts or more are posted on these sites.
  • Market Yourself – This one can be tough, especially when you’re just starting out. If you don’t have one already, get a website or blog and start marketing yourself. You can use social media, email, video or other strategies to do this. However, make sure that you choose one primary marketing strategy and focus on it.

That’s it! You’re ready to start your writing career and build up experience along the way.