Monthly Archives: May 2011

Some Kickstarter Don’ts

For those many artists with vision but not the means to create something amazing, there is this great thing known as crowd sourcing. The crowd-source fundraising tool of choice these days is Kickstarter.

For many it has proven successful, but asking for free money is an art in itself. It’s important to be both gracious and informative.  If accepted, Kickstarter gives your project a funding page where friends, family and fans can kickstart your project by making a pledge for a donation. You get a limited amount of time to raise a specific amount of funds or your project. If you meet your goal, you get the cash. Easy squeezy.

Kickstarter also gives you the opportunity to upload a video describing your project. But you can’t just say, “Hi here’s something interesting, give me some money!” You want to give the basics: Who, What, When, Where, Why and How, and perhaps a little inspiration to get people to donate to your project; a sense of participation if you will.

If you are a creative, but not versed in the art of ask, there will be more on this in the future. Until then, here is some help from the good people at Penny-Arcade.com, who have created a sample of what not to do when starting a Kickstarter campaign. Enjoy!

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Filed under Projects, Tools

Can Twitter make you a better writer?

When it comes to Social Media, of all the things I find that clients are apprehensive about, Twitter is probably the most intimidating. Maybe it’s because it has its own vernacular, or because it is so often referenced in the news.

Twitter can be a world wide megaphone. So, for those who take special care with their words, it can seem daunting.  Once your words are out there, they can be seen by millions.  But Twitter is more than a quick way of disseminating information. It can also be a method to learn clear concise writing.

No really.  Twitter allows the writer to comment about What’s Happening in 140 characters or less, including spaces. While some take the opportunity to use awkward abbreviations and word choices, others have taken to the format with literary aspirations.

I can validly say that Twitter has made me a better writer. When it comes down to it, Twitter requires using writer’s best practices such as avoiding unnecessary words, using descriptive verbs, and not burying the lead. Twitter has made me learn to use effective language that gets to the point fast.

As a rule, I avoid using abbreviations, and cutting corners with punctuation. (I will however use standard Twitter codes such as RT, and #FF.) It becomes a challenge, a game against myself to see if I can do it. Also, since most Tweets include an abbreviated link that takes up 20 characters, it means I have even less space to get my message out. Repeating this practice over and over has bled into my blog writing and journalism work.

So give yourself the challenge of using Twitter as a tool to learn concise writing. You might be surprised what you can convey in 140 characters or in this case, just over 300 words.

 

 

 

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Filed under Consulting, Journalism, Tools

Missing Links

After editing a book review recently, I returned the piece to the writer with a note asking about links. He replied,

I don’t always think about it when I’m writing a review, but have done that kind of thing in several reviews in the past.

The thing about using links is that they are multi-use and multi-faceted little pieces of code that can really bring your online articles to life. Here’s just a few ways how:

The Plug – If you are writing about a specific organization, company or project, you always want to be sure to link them on the first instance of their name in your article and once again at the end. A link that is simply part of the sentence, such as “for more information visit their website,” be sure you are putting the link on the most logical word. Also take the time to link the exact location within a site that you are referring to. That extra attention to detail will be appreciated all around.

Subtext – For many bloggers, this one included, links can often be subtext to what the writer is writing about. Let’s face it. We have a limited amount of time to catch a reader’s attention. There’s not a lot of space for lengthy descriptions about what you are writing about. Often much of that back story can be achieved by using links to direct readers to what you had in mind when you wrote the phrase, “recent disappointments.”

The Inside Joke – Using funny links can add a measure of humor to your writing that also helps create a connection with the reader. It’s a way to invite the reader into your head, giving them insight to what motivates your writing. Making that connection with readers is what will bring them back to your site over and over again.

Reference – If you are writing a blog or news, the use of links are a good way to reference things you have written before. If you are quoting an article, obviously link to the entire article that you are quoting from. If you are writing as part of a group project, links are a good way to create continuity between contributing members.

When writing for the internet, it’s always a good idea to think in terms of where you are taking your reader. The internet, and especially social media facilitate multiple ongoing conversations. And just as is if you were in a room floating from person to person to hear what they have to say, you would be more likely to return to those with whom you connect with, make you laugh, or give you something really interesting to think about. By missing an opportunity for a link, you may just miss that opportunity to connect.

 

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Filed under Journalism, Tools