Rx for Sloppy Newsletter Syndrome

Guest post by Alyson Stanfield/art biz blog

ArtBizBlog-Newsletter FixThere’s an epidemic going around.

Don’t panic. If it strikes, you won’t need to rush to the ER or be quarantined. But you will need to take immediate action.

Your physical health isn’t in peril, but the health of your art business is at stake.

The epidemic is SENS – Sloppy Email and Newsletter Syndrome. Let me explain the symptoms so you can self-diagnose.

• Symptom 1: Missing Name

This is the most destructive of all the SENS symptoms. I’ve lost count of how many artist newsletters I receive without the artist’s full name in them. Sure, your first name might be there. Or your last name. Or it might be in the footer. But I shouldn’t have to search for your full name. Go look at the last email or newsletter sent to your list right now. Where does your full name appear? If you scroll down, does it appear again to remind readers of the sender?

Your name is your brand. You have to associate your name with your art.

Can you imagine forgetting your name on a postcard? Or a wall label?

Prescription: Make your full name clearly visible in your newsletters and emails!

• Symptom 2: Image Anemia

At a time when images rule cyber-space, why would you, a visual artist, neglect using images of your art in your email correspondence?

In addition, why would you use tiny images when you have the whole width of the email column to fill? We’re no longer afraid of scrolling, and your email is competing with a lot of other bright shiny objects in our inboxes.

WOW us!

Prescription: Images of your art: the bigger, the better.

• Symptom 3: Text Failure

Take your pick of text mistakes:
Your text is too small … your text is too light … your text lines are too cramped.

Any one of these can make it harder for your recipients to read what you have to say. Together they amount to #failure.

Prescription: Larger, darker text with sufficient line spacing.

More >>>>

Creativity and artistic stagnation

Creativity. What does it mean to you? To me it means letting your self go. Getting out of the box. Pushing the envelope. Walking the path less taken. Opening your mind to accept new ideas and directions. Is it the release of creativity and artistic stagnation? Is that creative in and of itself? For those of you who follow the Red Dog News blog you have read similar posts from me about creativity.

Gail Suttelle Graphic ImageJust a few months ago my creativity was definitely stagnated. I was publishing Red Dog News and I had just started Shadow & Light Magazine, but that was it. I really (In my mind) wasn’t being creative, although there are those who would disagree. It took a walk through my house to reignite my creativity. Just as I was walking around turning out lights and locking doors, something caught my eye (pictured, left). It was a graphic image created by the outside power pole-mounted security light, which is very bright. The light came into our enclosed back porch and the image was created by the shadows of window frames, shade pulls, etc. I hadn’t done any new photography for quite a while but that image ignited my creativity.

Suttelle GraphicI immediately went into the room and started rearranging furniture so I could create what was in my mind. I set up tableaus of stuffed animals (pictured, left). I worked for about an hour setting up different scenarios until I had exhausted my ideas for the night. It was almost midnight! That did it for me, however.

From that point on my creativity has surged, but not necessarily by picking up the camera. Lately, I have been spending quite a bit of time going through my archives and re-imagining the finished images with a different “eye.” I have been very surprised and pleased by what I have found.

One “new” series is “French Noir.” Over the years I have been to France about a half-dozen times and have quite a few photographs from those trips. At the beginning of this year I spent about a week sifting through negatives and digital files and came away with about two-dozen pictures that I knew were good but needed some help. The door was opened and I gladly stepped through it.

The point being that we are all creatives and even though our main focus: be it printing, photography, writing, etc., may seem to get stale from time-to-time, we just need to get up and get out!

LensWork 117Brooks Jensen writes about this in the new issue (pictured, left) of LensWork, “Your Artwork, and Then Your Other Artwork.” He writes about using photography as an expansive tool and creative outlet in ways that don’t follow the norm. This is an article well worth the price of a single issue.

Whether you release your artistic stagnation and turn your creativity loose by creating bookmarks, prayer towels, silk-screened fabrics, or more, the message is in the act.

Go ahead… take one of your favorite images and do something entirely different with it, rather than “just” printing it. You’ve already done that!   

The company you keep makes a difference

Portrait of Cassandra by Tim AndersonI recently had a very good thing happen to me. If you are a subscriber to Red Dog News (subscribe on the right) you may have already read this. For the last eight years I have been publishing Red Dog News (the newsletter) I have been extremely fortunate to have as affiliates a few companies that have never failed to come through for me. They have supplied me with contest prizes, gift certificates, product samples, and much more. You can go to the “Sponsors” tab above and see who they are.

My contact at Red River Photo Paper (Drew Hendrix) recently emailed me to request a few of my images (example, left). He wants to use them as displays printed on a variety of Red River photo paper whenever they attending photography events. That was definitely a plus for me. How long do you think it took to reply, “What sizes do you need?”

It also serves to illustrate how the company you keep makes a difference in your life. If I only had Red River as an affiliate without emailing Drew every once in a while, maintaining contact, he may never have asked to use my images. We hear so much about content when it comes to web sites, emails, etc. You can be sure that content doesn’t really make a difference if no one is there to “listen” to what you have to say. If you only contact people when you want something from them, they may soon tire of your contacts.

As you can probably guess, I could write much more about this topic, but the message here is simply that one should stay in contact with the people around them, especially those of like mind. you never know when you might get “the call.”

 

Call-for-entry submission guidelines…

network-cartoon2The guidelines used, are also those used for IMAGE New Mexico, Shadow & Light Magazine, and a whole host of other entities. Here a just a few of those call-for-entry submission guidelines in question, which are the most ignored.

You can even talk it over with your photo friends

What I am talking about, mostly, are two to three items:
• Naming structure
…Each file should be named as follows; Last Name, First Initial, Number of entry (1, 2, 3, 4).jpg; for example, AndersonT1.jpg.
• Size limits
… Digital images submitted should be 300 dpi, JPEG format, measuring 1200 pixels on the long dimension, and set to RGB.
• Physical submitting to calls-for-entry
…Entries should be emailed to info@reddognews.com, and must arrive by midnight (MST) on April 17, 201.

The actual descriptions will vary, of course, but basically remain fairly similar.

You might be surprised by how many different iterations I received just in those three guidelines.The point being that you really have to read the COMPLETE guidelines of any contest you choose to enter. There are many of them that are completely automated and will refuse your entry if it is not “to the letter.” And, as you probably know, there are no refunds!

When in doubt, read the guidelines again.


 

 

Make money while you travel… really!

red-dog-news-unconventional-guides-travel-guide-logoSummer’s coming! One thing we all want to do as photographers/writers/artists, etc., is the ability to make money anywhere we travel. Throughout the years as I have travelled to France several times I had the thought in the back of my mind that there must be a way I can make money while I am having so much fun. You have wondered this as well, haven’t you? Now, the travel I am talking about (mostly) doesn’t have to involve crossing huge bodies of water or traversing mountains of dirt and sand.

My good friends at Unconventional Guides have come out with a program designed to show you just how to do that. Below are some highlights of the book and a link to get you started on fulfilling your adventurous dreams… (it opens tomorrow morning!

Marketing Features:

Working on the Road is written by Nora Dunn, a former financial planner who sold everything she had (including a busy financial practice) nearly 10 years ago to pursue her own full-time freedom. Nora has lived in and traveled through more than 40 countries and built her own business as a location independent freelance writer. She also helps others build a lifestyle of financially sustainable full-time travel through her writing as The Professional Hobo.
Comprehensive Field Manual with step-by-step guidance helps readers identify opportunities to use their professional skills on the road, take first steps to making full-time travel a reality, and handle all the logistics of working away (including budgeting and tools for managing a virtual lifestyle).

Three introductory pricing options ($49, $68 & $97) and resource packages to accommodate a range of buyers.

Job reviews and interviews with professionals in dozens of on-the-road careers and virtual work with tips for getting online work, freelancing, teaching abroad, telecommuting, working on boats and more!

A package of actionable tools to help you build a practical escape plan for on-the-road success including the guide to insurance abroad, what to do with your stuff, options for property owners, audio interviews on developing a freelance business, full-time travel with families, building and selling a blog, and more!

If you have any familiarity at all with Chris Guillebeau and his $100 Startup book, you know this is going to be a hands-on adventure.

Want to find out more? Just click on the link below tomorrow morning to receive all the info you need. Happy Travelling!
Upgrade Unlocked: The Unconventional Guide to Luxury Travel on a Budget

Six email mistakes to avoid

Guest post by , Mailpoet

MailpoetWhen you’re running around doing the jobs of several people, it’s very easy to let complacency creep in and that’s when mistakes begin to happen, or you might send out emails you’re 100% happy with. Use this guide to help you consider six email mistakes to avoid and what’s important to you and your subscribers.

1. You’ve got typos
We’ve all done it. Sent an email out and made a grammatical error or a typo because we’ve not checked our emails properly. The easiest thing is to write out your email copy in a word processor like Word, Pages or even Google Drive and you’ll be able to check the words you’ve spelt wrong.

Also, if you can get someone to check the document, four eyes are better than two! If you can’t do that, walk away from it and work on something else for 20 minutes, then come back to it and read it again. You’ll notice any errors much more easily.

2. Your email doesn’t look like your website
Consistent branding really gives the customer a feel for your company, blog or website, so try and make it all match up with the same colours, fonts, logos etc. If you’re using fancy fonts on your site, you should choose the closest matching standard font. Restrict yourself to one or two fonts and colours. The nicest emails keep it simple.

With MailPoet, it’s easy to build beautiful looking emails with our drag and drop email designer.  We also have themes available so you can get off to a great start. With Premium, you can get even more themes suitable for every type of mood and message.

3. It’s all me, me, me
When thinking about what to write in your next email, consider “How does the recipient benefit from this? Will they want to hear what I’m saying?”

Always remember that if you keep telling the customer what you want to say and not considering what they will get from the email, they’ll soon switch off and stop reading your emails or unsubscribe.

Picture your type of customer in your mind – create a character for him/her and imagine that you’re writing to just one person. You can’t please everyone all the time, but you can create something that is pleasing to read.

More>>>

A photographic New Year’s resolution

Many photographers, when I contact them to see if they would be interested in participating in the Red Dog News Gallery, question the worth such an undertaking, even at such a fair price of what is now being offered. Now might be the perfect time to make a photographic New Year’s resolution.

In an effort to better illustrate the value of being a member of the Red Dog News Gallery we will need to look backward. We will look over our respective shoulders to examine the numbers. During the time that the Gallery has been in existence Kat Moser has received the most clicks, with Dan McCormack and Jennifer Bong following closely behind.

Even though he is only at mid-pack among Gallery members, Roy Pope more than likely had the most effective click-through. Singer Amy Black was searching for images to go along with a song on her new album, This Is Home. Her search led her to the Red Dog News Gallery and Roy Pope.

red-dog-news-roy-pope-amy-black

“I wrote a song about pipeliners called “Layin’ it Down.” It’s based on a true story of an accident that happened when my husband was 18,” she wrote in an email to Roy. “I want to make a video with the song as the soundtrack and I was wondering if you might be up for allowing me to use some of your photography from that shoot in Mexico. I would credit you, of course, in the description of the video and include your name and website at the end of the video as well.”

Granted, it probably didn’t make enough money for Roy to be able to retire, but it did offer tremendous exposure value. Click on the image to view the video.

That’s all the Gallery is about extended exposure. Being able to find a portfolio of your work in a place that is uncluttered, with a bit of personal information as well as some images specs. We make it simple to pay, to create, to maintain. I have even lowered the price, to make it more valuable and easier on your wallet.

Just click on the “Galleries” tab and find out all you need to know. I’ll see you in the Red Dog News Gallery!

Christmas Photo Tips

red-dog-news-darren-rowse-christmas-photo-tips

Guest Post by Darren Rowse
It’s just a few days until Christmas so I thought a quick tutorial on the topic of Christmas Photography might be appropriate. Hopefully this will give you some good Christmas photo ideas.

Here are 16 Christmas Photography tips and ideas to try that come to mind for digital camera owners wanting to capture the big day:

Prepare – Making a List, checking it twice….
Making sure you’re ready to capture any planned event is part of the key to a successful shoot. Getting yourself ready but also the location of your shots is worthwhile.

  • Pack the camera – goes without saying? I forgot mine last year in the rush to get the car packed.
  • Make sure your batteries are charged and you have extras and/or the recharger packed.
  • Pack extra memory cards – have them empty and ready to fill up
  • Put someone on ‘photos’ – our family has someone on drinks, main course, dessert – why not put someone on ‘photos’ so that in the craziness of the day they don’t get forgotten.
  • Consider the light in the room that you’ll be photographing in. Is there enough light? Will you need a flash? Are the backgrounds too cluttered and distracting?

red-dog-news-darren-rowse-christmas-photo-tips-2Set up a DIY ‘Photo Booth’
While you probably can’t afford to hire a photo booth for your party you can set up a ‘portrait zone’ of your own where you’ll take photos of your guest. I did this a few years ago and set up a little place where I asked everyone who came to sit for me so that I could take a nice shot of them. I photographed everyone as they came in and then left the camera (a point and shoot) set up on a tripod and set to a short self timer time so people could photograph themselves during the rest of the party. I set it up in a well lit position with a red velvet curtain looking background with a few Christmasy decorations around the edges. I left a few Santa hats and tinsel for people to decorate themselves with. The shots were great – people went back to it throughout the party and the photos got crazier and crazier as time went on. It was the hit of the party.

Fill your Frame
One of the most common mistakes I see in Christmas photos (or any party/even photography) is that people often end up with shots of their subjects off in the distance on the other side of a room with lots of space around them. Fill your frame with your subject either by using your zoom or getting up and moving yourself closer. While this is one of the simplest tips I ever give it is one that can have the most profound impact on your shots.

Explore Your Neighborhood
If your neighborhood is anything like mine there is an almost unlimited number of photographic opportunities presenting themselves all around you. Christmas carols services, houses covered in Christmas decorations, shopping malls filled with busyness etc. Get out there with your camera and capture it. What a wonderful time of year to practice using your camera. Have fun!

For Darren’s complete 16-item list, take a cyber sleigh-ride to Digital Photography School.

Unconventional Guides offers guide to budget travel

If you have been a long-time subscriber to Red Dog News (the newsletter) you have seen a variety of offers from one of our affiliates, Unconventional Guides (UG). Recently, UG began offering a new guide: The Unconventional Guide to Luxury Travel on a Budget.

Your Life, Your Travel: Right Now

The world of travel hacking is like a game of Monopoly: destinations to be unlocked, hotels to collect, and lots of alternative currency to keep you going around the board.

Like any good game, you’ll want to level up as you go along.

Want to take a large adventure on a little budget? No problem.

We’ll show you how to earn hundreds of thousands of Frequent Flyer miles and points—on a regular basis—and teach you how to actually use them.

You’ll learn where you can find the adventure of your dreams at the best possible value.

The south of France isn’t just for supermodels anymore—you can get there on Air France booked through Delta SkyMiles, and stay at Le Meridien on Starwood points.

People just like you—solo travelers, couples, and even families—have embraced the art of travel hacking to see the world. The democratization of “almost free” travel has arrived… and now it’s your turn!

We’ll help you see the world! Over the past year we’ve been creating a comprehensive resource that will bring you from your bedroom to Bora Bora—all without paying the $1,500/night rack rate on an oceanfront villa.

In the 120-page, action-packed field manual, you’ll learn everything you need to get started right away. You’ll learn how to:
•Earn FREE elite status from your choice of hotel chain—and how to get that status “matched” into other programs as well
• Redeem your hard-earned points and miles for the best possible flights, hotels, and experiences (and what to do when the airline says no seats are available)
• Master the secret codes you can use when booking hotels that immediately drop the price
• Understand what it really takes to keep airline status every year (and a few tricks to make it much easier)
• Gain access to the finest international airline lounges (and the not-so-finest domestic ones) without paying pricey annual membership fees

To find out more about this great, low-priced program, go to Upgrade Unlocked: The Unconventional Guide to Luxury Travel on a Budget

 

A Mission for Each of Your Social Media Channels

alyson stanfield-red-dog-newsGuest post by Alyson Stanfield on May 14, 2014
“I am setting up a social media plan, and I am a little confused about how to use external sites (like Facebook, Twitter, etc.) in addition to my blog. . . . I feel like any update that I could post on Facebook, I’d also like to post on my blog. In other words, how can I avoid duplicate content everywhere?” – Sarah

Good question for evaluating a mission for your social media strategy.

Let’s establish from the get-go that there’s nothing wrong with duplicate content. Odds are quite slim that the same people would see the same content in all places. The problem is that you will probably bore yourself by doing this. You’re using the platforms in the same way. This is more confusing for you than it is for your followers. You need a mission for each of your online channels, which is easier than it sounds.

A mission would consist of When and How you use the site, but it might also include Why you use the site and Who your audience is on that site. Here’s how this could play out.

Your Blog: Sarah told me that her blog is going to be “creative process-focused rather than formal lengthy posts. Hooray! That’s a pretty clear mission, but let’s add the When. Weekly posts? Twice weekly?

Sarah’s blog is where she will write about how, when, where, and why she makes art. It will be image-driven while providing supporting text.

Facebook: Yes, you can share your blog posts on Facebook, but I’m willing to put money down that you have more to share than blog posts. Perhaps a mission for Facebook could be: Facebook is where I share inspiration, quotes, event invitations, finished work, earlier work, and the work of other artists. My goal is to post to my Facebook page at least 5 times a week.

If you want to share the same finished piece on both your blog and Facebook, be creative. Mix up what you write about that piece in order to make it more interesting for you.

Twitter: Twitter, as you know, challenges you to be pithy in 140 characters or less. For this reason alone updates to Twitter are inherently different from those on your blog or Facebook.

I find Twitter to be the best place for promoting others. An example of a mission for Twitter: Twitter is where I announce new blog posts, share quick tips and article links, and make friends by promoting them. I try to send 4 content-driven tweets every day.

Other Social Media Platforms: Then there are Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube. Each one has its merits. You don’t have to be active on all of them, and you’ll save some brain cells if you are clear about how you will use your favorite sites.

Bottom line: Don’t worry about the duplicate content, especially if you challenge yourself to be creative with how you share the same item across channels.

• Alyson will begin her much anticipated Organize Your ArtBiz workshop, December 3, 2014. To find out more about this great class for artists of all mediums and genres. You can find out more, here.