COM0015 – Blog 1

Listening/Monitoring

At the moment I am trying out different tools. I am having trouble finding a platform that really works for me. The two I am currently using the most are Google Alerts and Tweetdeck.

It’s convenient that Google Alerts is free and easy to use. At this point I am not ready to pay for any service. I really want to make sure it works for me first.

I like Tweetdeck’s dashboard and that I can see everything on the screen at once. At first I found this a little overwhelming but now find it very useful for a quick and easy scan and to keep track of mentions of my company or the publishers we represent.

I also like Hootsuite but have already used their free trial period for another class. I think the Hootsuite website is very useful and their blog is full of very helpful information about social media. This is a great free learning resource and a way to keep on top of social media trends.

 

News/Updates

I generally scan Facebook and Twitter for news. This is a quick and easy way to see headlines and then to choose which articles to click on. I also signed up for The Skimm. They deliver a newsletter to your inbox daily with short paragraphs explaining current news and links you can follow if you want to read more.

Pinterest is my go-to when I am looking for ideas or wanting to learn more about something.

As for industry specific news, I have recently set up a Twitter account for my company and am following relevant publishing sites as well as contacts in the industry to keep my eyes on the latest news.

The general theme for listening and learning is a lot of scanning and then choosing which links to click to either learn more or to go into more depth.  I find this challenging given that I don’t have enough time to follow all the links I wish I could.  I also tend to save articles that I wish to get to later.  Facebook is very useful for this and for reminding me of the articles that I have saved.

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COM0014 – Blog 7 – Storytelling

Storytelling is important because it creates connection and connection is a kind of hook.  Once a consumer feels connected to you or your product then they will want to know more.  They will continue to read your blog or sign up for your newsletter or follow the link you posted on Twitter.  The stories we tell are what will draw in customers or followers.

Finding our story is important and discovering how to tell it is as important as the story itself.

I have a personal blog that I write from time to time.  I find I write the best when I am sharing something personal and often emotional.  I have reflected on this in the past and wondered if I am sharing too much.  This course has helped to reinforce the need to be genuine and that it is OK to tell your story and if you tell it honestly then that will shine through.

I have always strongly believed that we all have stories to tell.  We may not all be writers and some of our stories we don’t wish to share.  However, every path we cross is an opportunity to share a story.  Approaching this from a business point of view opens the door… what stories can I tell that will help to grow my business?  What experiences have I had that I should be sharing with my readers or my customers?   How will I genuinely connect with my followers?

COM0014 – Blog 6 – Secret Wish

My secret wish is to increase my freelance work.  I work in publishing and I would like to start working with small to medium businesses by helping them perfect their content.  I would like to offer my services in proofreading and polishing for written content on websites, in newsletters, blog posts, catalogues and other types of promotional work.  Most businesses create written content frequently and sometimes require another set of eyes to ensure that mistakes are caught and the writing is polished.

My goal is to create a profile in the new year and to begin a part time business.  I love working in publishing and love working with words.

I am taking the Social Media Certificate program in order to add to my skill set and to hopefully move in the direction of having my own freelance business.

I would also like to start working with more authors.  I work for a literary agency and my main job is selling rights and negotiating contracts.  I love this part of the business and would like to continue working with co-agents and publishers in other countries.  However, I would also like to add more work with authors.

COM0014 – Blog 5 – Personal Brand

I work with words.  I read them, I write them and I organize them.  I am skilled at paying close attention to detail.  I understand that one word out of place can change the meaning of the sentence.  Errors in business promotions, blogs or on websites can be glaring and off-putting.  Errors in contracts can be damaging.  Errors in communication can be confusing and time consuming.

I am good with words and sometimes I see a document as a puzzle and the original draft isn’t always put together in a way that truly fits.  Sometimes it needs some rearranging and sometimes all it needs is a second set of eyes on it.

I think some of my best traits are that I am committed, dedicated, patient and I will go the extra mile.  I keep my business communications professional yet friendly and thoughtful.  I have always found that everything works more smoothly and efficiently when you are kind and take an extra moment to ensure that your writing is going to come off that way.  There is a saying that people will do more than they are asked for when they feel appreciated and I truly believe this.  I try to live this every day in both my own actions and how I interact with others.

 

 

COM0014 – Blog 4 – Raw

There is a smoothie and juice bar in my neighbourhood called Raw Pulp and Grind.  The store is beautiful with an amazing backyard patio.  Everything I have tried has been delicious and healthy and the staff are always friendly.  They appear to be doing well and have opened up a second location.  In the summer it was a regular outing for myself and my children to get a healthy snack/drink and hang out on their patio.

Last year they created a healthy version of the Unicorn beverage that Starbucks was selling.  They encouraged people to take photos with the drink and post to social media.  They had a display in-store of polaroid photos of customers with their drinks.  This is when I first noticed how active they were on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.  They post beautiful photos of their products and use relevant hashtags.  They also post about the health benefits of juice cleanses or certain key ingredients in their products. Their look is colourful but uniform across their social media accounts.

They are doing a great job of teaming up and engaging with people and stores in the community as well.  They have done pop up shops and sample stands in stores.  They post special photos on relevant days for example Halloween, Black Friday and the Grey Cup.

They are currently offering a student discount between November 15 and December 15th, recognizing that this is a tough time of year for students.  I think this is a brilliant idea since there is a student residence right around the corner.

They also share and retweet photos of their products taken by their customers.

Raw seems to have built a solid community both online and in-person in a short amount of time.

 

 

COM0014 – Blog 3 – Freelancing

I have worked in the publishing industry for about a decade. I have had many different roles in two literary agencies. Currently, I create content and pull together pitch letters or marketing materials and sell the translation rights to books. I deal with people in many different countries. I also draft, review and negotiate author contracts. This past year I took on a couple of additional freelancing jobs and I started to think about how to branch out more and offer my services as a freelancer. Ideally, I would like to freelance as a proofreader. I see errors everywhere. My job requires attention to detail and I love helping to perfect a piece of writing.

Most businesses have a website, many have blogs and newsletters and promotion is happening online. A typo or spelling error can be glaring and sometimes all that is required is a second set of eyes on a piece of writing to catch the mistakes.

My target audience would be small businesses with a strong social media presence or the desire to have a stronger presence. I love the idea of working with women-owned companies and helping them to strengthen their businesses through the written word. I would also consider reaching out to medium-sized companies that do not have in-house people for this job but hire freelancers from time to time. There is also the possibility of working with un-agented writers who need a little help with their manuscript.

I would reach my target audience by first creating a Facebook page  and reaching out to a couple of different online networks that I am already a part of. I would also consider becoming a member of Editors Canada and posting my profile and services on their site. I could create a blog dealing with writing and editing and offering tips on how to polish writing.  I feel as though my target audience is potentially large but figuring out what to do first is a little daunting.

For those working as freelancers, how did you get started?

 

 

COM0014 – Blog 2: Communication

I think the most important thing I learned this week was to consider what I want my reader to do before I start to write. I rarely approach writing this way. My style is generally to share or relate an experience without thinking too much about what my goal might be beyond that. My writing tends to be personal and comes to me sporadically. However, if I approached it from the angle of what I wanted my reader to get out of it then I may be able to work with different styles or formats of writing and even expand my base of readers. Storytelling can take many different formats which was also pointed out in the readings.

The second most important thing I learned is to use active voice versus passive voice. It is easy to unintentionally slip into passive voice and this is a great thing to keep in mind when proofreading.

Other great reminders and things I work with most days are re-reading and cutting, editing and proofreading. Often writers are encouraged to “just write” and to worry about cleaning it up afterwards in the editing phase. This is useful when creating content  as long as there are several rounds of editing before posting.

 

COM0014 – Blog 1: A Gem

A group of my friends have been going to Nangor Resort in Westmeath, Ontario, every August long weekend for many years. This summer was the first time I joined them. Stepping out of my car on arrival I realized that I had stumbled upon a little piece of heaven.

I immediately felt like I had stepped into a simpler time.   The accomodations were basic but the beach was so amazingly beautiful that even now as the days are getting shorter and colder, I cannot wait to go back. My children were so happy to be there as well. Going into nature is such a great reminder that sometimes it takes very little to be happy.

We barbecued outside while the sun treated us to an amazing sunset and the children played freely in the sand. We drank beer and wine and sat on blankets on the sand chatting and laughing. We gathered around a roaring campfire to roast marshmallows and sing songs. We went to bed when we felt like it and not just because it was getting late. We walked everywhere barefoot for the entire time we were there. Best of all, we just enjoyed being and being together.

I have spent a lot of time travelling outside of Canada and I often forget that having an adventure doesn’t require a plane ride. And sometimes the adventures are right on my doorstep.

Being a single parent means that I can’t scoop my kids up whenever I want and fly off to foreign lands to explore. It requires more planning and thought and money. However, it is so lovely when a reminder comes that we will still have adventures and that there are so many gems to discover even on our own doorstep.

Have you found an unexpected gem not too far from home?

 

Instagram

This article (http://tech.co/is-instagram-the-future-of-social-media-2016-12) posted on the discussion board today was very good timing. I have been thinking about Instagram a lot lately and the fact that I want to explore this medium more.

I have been using Instagram for quite some time but solely as a way to edit and store my own photos. I have only a few of my friends added and I rarely look at their photos. However, when I do, I love how the photos look and how this platform is set up.

When I moved overseas with my young children a few years ago, I was full of hope that I would write a blog as a way to track our experiences. I didn’t do that. I wrote a few blog posts after I returned. I do, however, have thousands of photos and actually over ten thousand photos of my travels that started in my early twenties.

I have had this idea brewing for years of writing a “then and now” post or series of posts, somehow bringing together my photos and stories across 2 decades of travels. It had all started with a trip to Portugal a few years ago while I was carrying my son around in an Ergo and I made a joke about trading in my backpack for a baby carrier. Later that day I posted on Facebook an update about how things had changed in my travel experiences. In particular, how it related to my time in Portugal over a decade ago. I was no longer sleeping in hostels or drinking wine out of cardboard milk cartons or hanging out with strangers (2 of whom became lifelong friends) on a beach at night. I was, however, getting to experience all these wonderful things through the eyes of my children. That is often, a really refreshing way to re-visit a place.

While this idea continues to brew in my head, maybe Instagram is my platform. Maybe a series of posts with then and now photos and captions?  I still have my travel journals from backpacking days.

Any ideas or advice?

Connected

As I was looking around my Facebook page thinking of different ideas for my blog this week, I came upon a page I hadn’t looked at in awhile. In my twenties, I lived and worked in Japan for three years. The first year was in Mito in Ibaraki Prefecture. It was a really great year. I still recall how the “honeymoon” period went on a really long time. I can actually still picture one day when I was walking along the cherry blossom trees on my way to work and feeling like skipping and whistling as I was so delighted with my new life. I can remember the feeling.  I was working an average job as an English teacher, in an OK company.  I lived in a tiny apartment and couldn’t really afford much.  And I lived on the other side of the world from all my family and friends.  Yet, I felt so grateful.  I loved everything I was seeing, I loved the students and I loved the friends I was making.

I am a member of a Facebook group of people from that year. I check in now and then and we share some laughs and photos from way back when. I still feel a connection with some of those people. I never see them and haven’t in years.  We live all over the world but we share a common experience captured in time.

I have friends on my Facebook that I met in my early twenties while backpacking in Europe. This was back when you had to find an internet café which was often sketchy in order to get online and the only thing I used was email. Times when someone would scribble an email address on a scrap of paper or you’d make a random plan to meet up in another country in a month or two.  I was able to reconnect with these people when I signed up for Facebook in my early thirties.

I stay in touch with people I met in the UK and Denmark when I was living there a few years ago.  Again, people who share a common experience.

While I have always been pretty good at keeping in touch, I don’t think I would have been able to maintain all these connections if it weren’t for social media. And don’t get me wrong, some of those connections are just skimming the surface of liking photos or comments. But many of them are genuine connections. These are people that I will see and spend time with when I have the chance to travel to their part of the world again or they head my way.

Our lives are so busy and that is something that I am always trying to work on….how to stay present, how to prioritize, how to not get lost in the shuffle of the every day. It is hard to stay connected on the genuine level that I would like to have with everyone in my life. Facebook gets me partly there. And has allowed me to hold on to shared experiences with people all over the world. For all of its flaws, this I am truly grateful for.