‘Ms Player’ – A Story About Truth and Brand Building

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“So, where are you from?” she inquired. Not an exceptional thing to ask. Except we were seated in a public park across from the county government seat – in Tapachula, Chiapas México.

She had walked past me moments before and asked “¿Hoy no hay payasos?” “Hoy no” I had replied. The absence of clowns seemed obvious to me.

Her question in English startled me. I seldom hear perfect English so I chatted with her for a bit. Nothing seeming to be out of the ordinary.

I often experience the sensation of being flooded with external sensory input. I notice things that others don’t. And I’m discreet about it.

I wonder how people can miss such obvious things as the odd manner of someone smiling or a dog scratching.

I should be used to it. But it still puzzles me.

As she sat down next to me, I began to ‘notice’ things.

She had been sweating and her last bath long forgotten, her 2 tone feet telling their own part in the story.

Another woman, selling popcorn, walked past us and gave Ms Player a brief, inquisitive look. Ah!, I thought, they know each other.

I was now convinced that she was a ‘player’.

“What’s a player?” you ask. She didn’t know either.

A ‘player’ is a person who preys upon other people. As a livelihood. She claimed that she wasn’t.

I don’t forget what people say either.

As we chatted I learned that she had spent 30 years in the United States. She didn’t look to be much older than that. I made the mistake of asking why she had returned to Mexico.

Her response, in Spanish, was emotional gibberish. She kept repeating the name Donald Trump. She regained her composure just as suddenly as she had ‘lost´it. Bipolar? I wondered.

The popcorn lady gave us another glance. I wondered what their connection was.

“Do you live here?” she inquired. I evaded the question.

I was anxious to make new friends and contacts. Players are  neither of those.

We sat silent for a few moments, I, absorbed in the music streaming from the marimba band playing under the domed roof.

Abruptly she asked, “Me das por un taquito?”

My personal opinion is that a  person who cannot give is the poorest of the poor. Their monetary assets not withstanding.

“Anything short of infinity is poverty consciousness. – Deepak Chopra

I also value the truth.

Her denying that she was a player had sealed her fate. I don’t support liars. Period.

“¿No entiendes?” she asked me after a few moments had passed. “Si” I replied, “Estoy pensando.” So I sat there thinking. To give or not to give? That was the question.

I did not want to be harsh and uncaring.

I did care. I wanted her to have a bath and food and somebody to relate to.

But I also knew that, just being there beside her, was placing me and my brand at a disadvantage.

Ms Player was a liability.

I struggled to move.

Pulling myself to my feet, I told her “I have to go.” “It’s been nice chatting with you.”

I walked away, broad shouldered and standing tall. I did not want to project any of what I was feeling.

I didn’t look back.

Your personal brand is a compilation of all that you have done and said, on as well as, offline.

All brands are judged by standards of integrity.

Don’t be a “Ms Player.”

by James Bradrick

https://plus.google.com/u/0/+JamesBradrickMapa/posts/p/pub

6 Fatal Leadership Errors

Leadership is the art of getting someone else to do something you want done because they want to do it.    Dwight D. Eisenhower

leadership

The journey through life is often a series of mistakes that teach us how to live more constructively. By analyzing some common errors we can come to a better understanding of what it means to lead others.

  1. Leaders aren’t born; they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal – Vince Lombardi.

Believing that one is a natural born leader is perhaps the first and worst mistake. Begin by asking yourself why you want to lead. And be honest about the answers you give yourself. If you find that your answers are anything less than ‘to improve the lot of humanity’ then perhaps you’re not really prepared to be a leader.

  1. Officers eat last. – United States Marine Corps.

Without the ‘grunts’ there would be no need for those to lead them. And if the brawn behind the great idea is not made to feel like a significant cog in the wheel then the ‘wheel’ is not slated to go far. If you aspire to lead then you must be willing to put everything else before yourself.

  1. The first responsibility of a leader is to define reality. The last is to say ‘thank you’. In between, the leader is a servant – Max De Pree.

Those who control the pocketbook must be open and honest about how they go about it. The unsavory or irresponsible handling of funds is a sure way to create distrust. Without trust a leader will find themselves with no one to lead.

  1. Love isn’t an emotion or an instinct – it’s an art – Mae West.

Birth and death are events that happen to all of us. To allow your emotions or those of another to distract you to the point of ineffectiveness is unwise. And potentially hazardous to your position as leader. While sympathy, compassion and love are admirable sentiments, strive for an emotional even keel.

  1. I never gossip. I observe. And then relay my observations to practically everyone – Gail Carriger.

 Few acts burn the very soul of a person more than being talked about. All of us have traits and characteristics that are different from others. Being here, on this earthly plane, is an indication that you are not perfect. Strive to perfect yourself and be content with that journey.

  1. Attempt no direct reforms in the lives of others. Discover in yourself what needs correction and improve yourself, that by the Light of your Life you may point the way for others. – Rosicrucian Code of Life.

Attempting to micro manage the personal lives of those you lead is unwise. At best it results in begrudged behavior and at worst it will cost a precious relationship.

About your team. If what you want to accomplish requires more energy and talent than you alone possess, then you need a team. The team you build to achieve your vision becomes your most important asset. As long as your team believes that their mission is the same as your mission then your vision will be your reality.

This concept places team nurturing as priority number one. Take care of your team and they will take care of your vision. Your task as a leader is then 2 fold. 1) Visionary – You are the one who defines the future. 2) Team Care Provider – You are responsible for the well being of those who will make your vision a reality. You are a fortunate individual if you realize and can embrace this concept. You can accomplish great things. If not, work solo.

Management is a core aspect of leadership and an art of its own. At the very root of managing is a well defined course to follow and the cooperation of all those who are to follow it. Striving to perfect the art of management will allow one to increase productivity and decrease confusion, wasted time and discord. Make sure that all involved have a clear understanding of the overall objective and in particular, their part in achieving it.

Leadership is a quality and talent that few truly polish. To gain a better understanding of the qualities of a leader, studying the lives of great luminaries can offer significant insights. The lives of Gandhi, MLK and JFK have the potential to render insight into  the how and why of leadership. As you study these GREATS remember that each was assassinated. Do you really want to lead??

One measure of leadership is the caliber of the people who choose to follow you.    Dennis A Peer

by James Bradrick

+JamesBradrickMapa

The Minimalist Guide to Punctuation

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Lot’s of folks out there are writing copy. And some of them are  good. But a lot of ‘em suck. Some quite badly. One of the things that separates the good from the bad and the ugly is grammar and punctuation. And in this area I can help. Read on and we’ll talk a bit about punctuation.

My mind functions like an editor. Spelling and grammar errors leap from copy and demand my attention. But what if I’m unaware of a rule of grammar or have forgotten it?

So I boned up on my use of punctuation and what I found was surprising. For instance; did you know that there are 21 rules for the proper use of commas? Now, bear with me, I’m not going to list all 21. But the top 3 would be informative. Don’t ya think?

COMMAS

  • Use commas to separate words in a list of 3 or more items. For example; I want ice cream, cake and orange juice for breakfast.
  • Use a comma to separate 2 words instead of using ‘and’. For example; Alixa is a  smart, beautiful woman. Notice that the word ‘and’ could be used in place of the comma.
  • Use a comma when an ‘ly’ adjective is used with another adjective. For example; The dark, lonely street loomed ahead. If you are not sure if the word ending in ‘ly’ is an adjective check by noting if the word can be used with just the noun itself. If it can, use the comma.

SEMICOLONS

  • Use semicolons in place of a period in between 2 sentences when a conjunction is not used. For example; I was angry; therefore I didn't use my better judgement. Note that the semicolon and the word ´therefore´ could be replaced with a period or the word ‘and´.
  • Usually a semicolon is used after words like namely, however and for example when these words precede a complete sentence. For example; this is an example of a correctly used semicolon.
  • Use a semicolon to separate the items in a list when 1 or more items in the list contains a comma. For example; Athens, Greece; Rome, Italy and London, England all have  rich histories.

COLONS

  • Use a colon after a complete sentence and before a list of items when such words as namely and for example are not used. For example; we will have to do many things: write content, edit and search for images. Note that the colon could be replaced with a phrase like ´such as´.
  • Use a colon after the salutation in a formal letter. For example; Dear Mr. Smith:
  • Use a colon to introduce a long quotation. For example; during the seminar Mr. Davis stated that: “In an effort to increase sales we will implement two additional measures in our marketing strategy. First, all copy will now be forwarded to the regional editor and second, additional social media platforms will be utilized.”
Basic grammar and punctuation is important. While there are numerous spell checkers available where do you turn for grammar issues? You're in luck!
Click on this link to download a pdf version of “The Blue Book of Grammar and Punctuation” - all 177 pages of it.

A quick browse of the web will reveal misspelled words, incorrect grammar and lousy sentence structure. Expanding your editing skills will make your copy read better and increase the chances of your post being given a green light over something less polished.

If you are a writer at heart, increasing your skill set should be a given. You now have a no charge resource. Get a movin’!

The Best of

WEEK 51

This weekend is perhaps the last chance for many of us to relax and catch up on our reading for this year. What follows are 5 great posts on copywriting by some of the best copywriters out there. If you can, take a few minutes to enjoy and reflect upon these posts before diving headlong into the remainder of the holiday season. Be safe, Happy Holidays! and see ya next year.

Usability Tips to Keep Blog Readers Happy and Returning Stream Feed has developed into a primetime source for all things related to social media , technology and marketing. This past week they featured Linda Dessau who is an author and a business blogging consultant based in Ontario Canada. In this post she shares thoughtful tips on how to keep your readers happy and coming back for more.

How Becoming an Authority Can Even Save Your Life by Anthony Sills  I entered the Copyblogger essay contest. Didn’t win. But I learned a lot. Anthony took Grand Prize with this post on the importance of authority – with only 250 words. Kudos, hat tips and a hearty congratulations to Anthony for a job well done.

50 Attributes of a Great Copywriter  Although he can be a bit wordy, Jeff Bullas in one of my favorite bloggers. Here, in his classic style, he describes 50 of the qualities that make great copywriters great.

How to Make Sure Your Work Aligns With Your Values  All of us have values. They are what we use to structure our belief systems and order our lives. Have you ever tried to put your core values into words? Thought provoking huh? In this post Pam Slim says that “values mis-match is the biggest cause of angst, dissatisfaction and conflict in the workplace.” She goes on to describe ways to find our core values, align with them and decrease stress.

How to become a freelance copywriter (the ultimate guide)  Kate Toon is a copywriter based in Sydney, Australia. In this post she offers 12 common sense but often ignored tactics for breaking into the copywriting business. While her advice is aimed at the Downunder marketplace, it would hold true for most anywhere else.

I hope you find these posts as informative as I did. If you have comments or suggestions for sources to be followed, just leave them in the comment section below. They won’t be ignored.

 

 

How to Put the ‘Sell’ in Storytelling

How to Tell a Story

How to Tell a Story

My senior year English Composition teacher is forever enshrined in my memory. Mrs Dorsey was a warm and spontaneous lady with an obvious penchant for the French language. And she adored words.

Although I loved to write and found it no hardship to complete her assignments I never expected to receive recognition in class. Then one day I got a jolt.

The day before we had turned in our composition assignments and the next day Mrs Dorsey was going to personally read the 3 best. The authors would remain anonymous.

Of the 3 that she had graded highest mine was the first she read. The unexpectedness of this sent shock waves through my body. I sat electrified in my seat, my scalp tingling as I struggled to keep my breathing normal. And as she read my essay her love of language was mirrored in the bearing that she gave to my words.

didn’t hear the other 2 essays.  The ambiance on Cloud 9 was that of silence.

And now I know how it feels to win the Nobel Prize for literature.

 Enter Copywriting

And what has this to do with copywriting? Well, you see copywriting is a lot like fishing. Unless you can make the hook appetizing the whole affair is nothing more than a pleasant diversion.

Die-hard researchers will tell you that facts and figures are fascinating. They also make up a small part of the population. The rest have a need to be entertained and enticed to continue giving their attention to you.

Which is where storytelling comes in.

Storytelling connects the writer and the reader with an emotional bond. Jamie Smart once commented that people are addicted to emotions. They really don’t seek experiences, what they seek are the emotions that experiences give them. Give your readers or viewers an emotional reason to engage with you and you’ll have them in your back pocket. Storytelling is a great way to do this.

  What makes a story great?

  • Plot. The plot of your story is the ‘why’ in why you are engaging with your audience. When you create an emotional bond with them they feel as you feel, or at least how you want them to feel. In my opening story I wanted you to feel like a great writer. To feel as though you ARE, or could become, the copywriter the world is beating a path to.

  • Hidden message. As copywriters we should seek to sell a good nights sleep rather than a mattress. Telling your story should gently nudge your readers in the direction that you want them to go. Even if they are aware of the nudge it should be the furthest thing from their mind.

  • Archetypal characters. When your audience can identify with the characters in your story that all important emotional bond is created and sustained. The characters in your story are mental representations of your audience.

  • Setting. Your story should be both influential and memorable. Most who aspire to writing can remember English Composition and identify with it. And a tingling scalp and  feeling of pride can propel one toward more effective copywriting. Telling (and even remembering!) how you got your first guest blog post is a great way to urge others toward more compelling writing as well as serve as an anchor when additional motivation is needed to get you slinging the ink again.

As writers we don’t have to dig far back into memory to find the material for an effective story. Many of us keep swipe files for inspiration. Why not add a sub folder that has your own ideas for a story? Storytelling can be a fun and effective way to connect with your readers. And it’s easy to become a raconteur.

by James Bradrick

google.com/+JamesBradrickMapa

The Best From

Week 50

Most of us are exposed to an inundation of information on a minute by minute basis. And if your work involves a computer it’s more like second to second. So began my interest in curating copywriting, content strategy and SEO content.

From this week I’ve chosen 5 posts that grabbed my attention. I read, and in the case of the Hangout, listened to every word.

I hope you enjoy them.

  1. In copywriting circles, Brain Clark needs no introduction. If you’re serious about being a copywriter, sign up at Copyblogger. In this post Brain uses his wit and style to teach ways to write copy that people WILL NOT forget.

  1. Carolyn Capern declares that she is a bookworm, content writer and social media strategist. And this past week she shared the story of how she became a Google Glass Explorer. In this chronicle she expounds upon her conviction for a cause she cares deeply about.

  2. IMHO Demian Farnworth is a great copywriter. Second only to Brian Clark. There are few who write copy so compelling that the readers eyes flow from one word to the next. Here Demian tells a story so simple and human that most of us can identify with it. And in the process he compels us to read to the last word.
  1. I watched my first Google Hangout the other evening. And I could not have picked a better one to start with. In this Hangout Eric Enge, the host, talks with Jesse Wojdylo and Heather Lyoyd-Martin, all of whom are savvy copywriters, about the process of crafting awesome content. Even though it was late in the evening I held fast to the last word. I’ll bet you will to.

  1. This past week I became a published guest blog author. And it has given me the zing to write and then write some more. Thanks to Eric Enge for supplying the lead infographic.

There you have it. Thought provoking reading and listening for your leisure time this weekend.

If you’ve got ideas about sources to follow why not leave them in the comments? Have a great weekend!

4 Ways to Enhance Web Content Writing

 4 Ways to Enhance Web Content Writing

Web copywriting is challenging, no doubt about it. With over 600 million websites there is a lot of competition making it all the more important to craft content that will get viewed and shared.

This got me thinking – is it possible to use psychologically proven techniques to increase the probability of influencing your audience in favorable ways? Yep! Sure is.

It’s been said the humans are creatures of habit, habits that psychologist have studied and marketers have been taking advantage of for, well since the beginning of marketing.

Let’s take a look at 4 different ways you can craft your online copywriting in a manner that your audience will find tantalizing.

  1. Authority – compelling word isn’t it? So you want to claim that X is better than Y. Who are you? I don’t know you! Well, use a quote from someone they do know – or have quite probably heard of. For example, I want to convince you that headlines are important. Why would you believe me? Would you believe Brian Clark? Well he says that “On average, 8 out of 10 people will read your headline copy, but only 2 out of 10 will read the text”. If you’ve heard of Brian it makes for a convincing argument.

  1. People Remember Peak Experiences (PRPE) And what is a peak experience you ask? Well, to the marketer it means that whatever experience you offer to your audience make sure the conclusion is AWESOME. People remember how events turn out – and guess what? If the experience was poor to mediocre but ended with something great, the great part is what gets remembered. Giving a presentation? Make sure the conclusion is the best part. Want to sell someone a new car? Make returning to the dealership the best part of the test drive. (Think Tony Robbins firewalk!)

  1. Fear! Just the word by itself is scary isn’t it? Quite literally, no one likes to experience fear and the emotion can be used to motivate people in ways that  few other experiences can. Understand however, that the public has been sensitized to certain things that would normally induce a state of fear. Like AIDS and cancer. So the trick is to convince your audience that if they fail to comply, their worst nightmare will result. Remember, people in general want to avoid nightmares.

  1. The “Take it home and try it” close. For this one your product or service needs to be awesome to begin with. Just let your audience try it out. “Give this super duper vacuum cleaner a whirl for a couple of days. It’s on us”! The principle being that after that super product of yours has woven its way into their hearts, few will want to return it and will quite probably do everything in their power to retain possession of it. That’s why you can try Copyblogger Authority “risk free” for 30 days.This effect is increased when there is a “get one up on the neighbors” element involved.

So now we need to talk about ethics. Did you know that for every man, woman and child in the good ole’ USA there are over $3000 worth of paid advertising spent every year?? Sure nuff. That fact really hit me hard. And here I am doing my best to be a part of it and help others do the same. However, I do have ulterior motives. Could we craft copy to compel people to be concerned about the environment? Or convince people to live and let live? Or start treating other people like they themselves would like to be treated? I believe we can. What’s more, I believe we should.

I believe that it’s possibly to put together and write copy for a website that can influence people in positive ways. Ways that enrich the spirit and give hope to future generations. Scott Dinsmore, Barrie Davenport and others are doing it, each in their own unique way. My unique angle would be preserving the planet for future generations. Wanna help?

My Copyblogger Essay Contest Entry

copyblogger-essay-contest-badge-survivedToday at 17:00 PST Copyblogger ceased to accept entries for their first ever essay contest. Of late I’ve been studying SEO and the effects that plagiarism has on search engine rankings. And what I’ve found has been a real eye opener. It seems that the Internet now offers quite possibly the greatest ever opportunity to allow oneself the ability to live a life that is truly unique. A life far removed from punching time cards and having the soul sucked out of you by managers whose sole guiding light were sales figures. But alas this opportunity comes with a dark cloud attached to it. People are now willing to lie, cheat and steal in order to take advantage of these new opportunities.

So I’ve thought it best to wait until now, after the close of the contest, to share my entry with you. I hope you enjoy it, find it inspiring and perhaps use it to build ideas for a unique post of your own.

Is Online Authority Really Essential?

by James Bradrick

To answer the question – no (haha!) and yes, depending on your desired outcome.

What do you expect from your online presence? I’d wager that the majority reading this expect some sort of material return for their online endeavors. And if that’s you, prepare to become an authority. Now. Why? Because all the world loves a winner – and has no time for a loser. If you desire to win at this online game, by however you define ‘win’, then it will be essential that people view you as a winner.

Briefly, some of the more important components of authority are;

  • Quality – Is the content that you create palatable? Precious few of those who click will follow you to the end of your presentation. Make it easy to ‘bite the cookie’.

  • Integrity – An injured brand never fully recovers. DO NOTHING to tarnish your image.

  • Reputation – You are a composite of the five principal people you associate with. Actively create the BEST circle possible.

  • Branding – Check out Jeff Bullas. Nuff said.

Finally, place this quote where you will view it often (or possibly tattoo it on the inside of your eyelids) “Fake it until you make it”.

It’s been said that about half the battle of authority is won by simply claiming the victory. And after that, strive daily to develop your niche dominance. If your desired outcome depends on being an authority, claim it NOW!

6 Tips for Effective Copywriting

6 Tips for effective copywriting

6 Tips for effective copywriting

We can think of effective copywriting as both an art and a science. Writing good copy is artistic, it can read just a well as poetry and just like the poet, the skill necessary to do so is honed with time and practice. There is science involved as well so let’s dive into that aspect of the subject and explore six techniques that have been found to increase the effectiveness of copy.

1. We’ve talked about headlines recently and the optimally worded headline coupled with ideal paragraph structure are one the first things the copywriter should consider. Keeping paragraphs short and to the point helps to keep the reader moving from one sentence to the next.

2. Keep in mind that your reader desires information. Talk to them with your words. Teach and make them appreciate reading your words.

3. Use simple language geared toward a beginner in your niche – if that appropriate for your subject matter. Write for your readership and their education and avoid trying to impress them.

4. Use verbs and adverbs generously. And keep nouns and adjectives to a minimum.

5. Where appropriate, quote facts and figures. External links to authoritative sources adds credibility to your writing and gives your readers an expanded view of the subject. Be sure to make the links a naturally occurring part of the sentence.

6. After absorbing your post readers will naturally want to do something with it (constructive of course!). A call to action can channel their enthusiasm in a desired direction. This means of course that that call to action was the original reason for writing the post. Inspire your reader with mental imagery painted by your words. Apply just the right amount of nudge with phrases like “Act now” and “Start today” or “For a limited time only”.

The art and science of effective copywriting can be an extended learning experience. Along the way you’ll quite possibly discover a technique or two that has been overlooked by your peers. Teaching can be an effective way to accelerate the learning curve and broaden the benefits of your efforts. Your reader can benefit from your desire to improve an aspect of their lives and learn valuable insight into the process of helping others help themselves.

Regardless of the copy that you write, or hope to write, there is only one way to do it and that is to begin. Scour the blogs, read until the words are fuzzy. Learn all you can. Write and then write some more. Inform, inspire and nudge. You CAN make a difference.

by James Bradrick

google.com/+JamesBradrickMapa

The What and Why of Personal Branding

What do people say about you when you leave the room?

What will people say about you when you leave the room?

I would like you to think for a brief moment about a sound. That sound is “Miley Cyrus”. Think for another moment about the mental imagery and other sensations that arose in your mind when you thought about the sound “Miley Cyrus”.

If you’ll bear with me for just one more short example, I’d like you to think about the sound “Coke”. Again, reflect upon the various sensations that arise in your mind associated with that sound.

Do either of these sounds have anything to do with writing? Yes they do. The various sensations that occurred in your mind while thinking about either of the above sounds were a direct result of careful planning on the part of someones effort to build a brand.

Now imagine that your own name was able to conjure thoughts just as powerful as those associated with the two examples above. Do you think that that might be a deciding factor on who and how many of them read what you write? You better belief it would! Or at least you should consider it if you want to make this business of writing one that will allow you to live the kind of life that is now just a dream.

There are probably just over six billion nobodies on the planet right now and most of them are wondering just what they have to do to live even a marginally comfortable life. A large part of the answer to that question lies in developing a personal brand. Sensations so powerful that when people experience them there will be a mad rush to find out what you’ve been up to.
Developing a personal brand can be the first step in building a life for yourself that can now be described as nothing more than a blurry vision.

Here are some important things to consider when formulating your brand;

  1. What will be the promise of your brand? Unforgettable learning experiences? Laughter? Or perhaps inspiration. Start building your brand around what it will promise.
  2. How will you project that promise? What medium(s) will you use to present your promise to the world? Keep in mind that the five senses or a combination of any of them will have to be used so plan to make your promise an unforgettable sensory experience.
  3. Is your promise clearly anchored in your own mind? Before you can convince others you must convince yourself. Start with a simple ‘elevator pitch’ that you can recite under pressure and in one breath.
  4. Brainstorm frequently and regularly about how to develop and improve your brand. Consider enlisting the aid of professionals. The strength of your brand will go a long way to ensuring that dreams are converted into reality. Lay a solid foundation upon which to build your brand.

I personally hope that the age of 90% of us working for the other 10% is rapidly coming to a close. I share Gandhi’s dream of every home also being a business contributing value to the other homes in it’s community. Building a personal brand would be an important first step in making this a reality. Why not start now by crafting your very own elevator pitch? But don’t stop there. Continue to build and develop your brand into something that’s awesome!

What will people say about you when you leave the room?

                                                      Suggested Reading

Personal Branding 101

Personal SEO

by James Bradrick

Copyblogger Essay Contest!!

Quite simply, I am a HUGE fan of Copyblogger. Basically because they give 80% of their content away and it’s amazing stuff. By simply signing up for their newsletter you become eligible to download and study really sound advice on copymarketing and writing. And from what I’ve studied up till now I’m just itchin’ to subscribe to the other 20%. But alas, my ‘Google Wallet’ is a bit on the shy side, but there’s now cause for hope!

Copyblogger has just announced their very first ‘Essay Contest’. It’s centered around the theme “Why It’s Essential To Be An Online Authority” and it’s open to anyone who’s not a professional copywriter.

The prizes are all various subscription lengths to their “Authority” content with a Grand Prize of a ticket to their upcoming “Authority Intensive” on 9-14 May, 2014 in Denver Colorado.

I’ve just finished my rough draft and shortly after submitting the final draft I’ll share it with you all here. Why not check out the contest guidelines and give a look see at the infographic below. If you enter, Lots a luck!

copyblogger-essay-contest-poster1

How Important is Word Count?

                                                                           

how important is word count?

how important is word count?

There are a few guidelines and suggestions applicable to the  perfect word count for a blog post or article. However they are not hard and fast. Better to ask yourself a few questions about what it is you want to say and the best way to go about saying it. If we keep in mind that time is the only real possession that we have we can hopefully avoid wasting that precious commodity.

  1. Is it really important that what I write get read? I’ve run across more than one blog that gave me the impression that it served no other purpose than to be a manner in which the authors could rant and vent their pent up emotions. If that’s your purpose, fine and dandy. Just don’t expect to be well received or high ranking in the search results.

  2. What kind of people make up my intended readership? We often live in a rushed world with many obligations. Retirees might reasonably be expected to have more time to read (or watch your video) than a 30’s something on a fast climb up the corporate ladder. The former might enjoy a leisurely read through your 1500 word post while the latter is almost sure to appreciate short, concise and to the point information.

  3. Do I actually like to write? Believe it or not whatever emotions you feel while writing will have some affect on your readers. Not really wanting to write a long post could result in effectively communicating that feeling to your readers and serving to alienate them rather than developing long term relationships.

  4. Do I enjoy reading what I’ve written? Readability is key. If you must labor through your post chances are that it will affect your readers in the same way. Be your own editor. Reduce your copy to the bare minimum, avoid redundancy and over complication that can turn your jewel of a post into a horror story.

The ideal word count is quite possibly a phantom.

 If we write from the heart and seek always to give benefit to our readers the perfect word count is an unnecessary detail. Far better to focus on quality content that is well edited and written with the reader in mind. (Hint – word count 382)

5 Expert SEO Tips

Writing content that readers and researchers will want to read can be thought of as an art. Here are 5 SEO tips that can increase the number of readers you attract and keep.

Quality Content

Remember that I, you and we are writing for human beings. And while it is the goal of the majority of us to have our content read by the maximum number of people possible, it is still necessary to write something that people will actually want to read. So concentrate on quality first, last and always. Quality is RULE NUMBER ONE. If your post excels in the followings four areas but it is basically unreadable – for whatever reason – it will not get shared, passed around, reviewed, commented upon or READ. SEO optimization begins with quality content – Period.

Mobile Friendly

Earlier this year it was reported that just over 17% of all internet traffic was from mobile devices. And the area where this is increasing the most is in countries where infrastructure has been the most limited. While this percentage continues to grow it becomes evident that to reach the maximum number of searchers possible web content must be mobile friendly.

SEO and mobile internet use

SEO and mobile devices

Some questions to ask yourself are;

  • What percentage of my viewers are mobile?

  • Do I need specific sites for both mobile and desktop?

  • Can I so the design work myself or should I outsource it?

There are many design factors to keep in mind and unless your platform is WordPress.com or another ‘free’ service that does or does not do this automatically remember that a significant portion of your viewers could be affected by the decisions that you make.

Keyword Content

With the introduction of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm update keyword ‘stuffing’ is out. But keywords are still important – probably more important than ever. It’s just important to use them properly. By properly I mean;

  • Use a keyword research tool. Find what keywords are the most frequently used.

  • Use keywords in your title tag at least once.

  • Keywords should be spaced throughout your post but limit the use of each to no more than three times.

  • Use keywords in any image file name.

Maximize Title Tag and Meta Description Space

Your title tag is limited to 69 characters and your meta description to 160. Adhering to slightly less than these lengths will help to insure that you avoid keyword stuffing which could adversely affect your search results. Research indicates that if every word of the title tag is capitalized there is a higher chance of it being clicked on. Additionally using simple words will help to ensure that only relevant searchers click on your link.

Promote

Ensure that your post is promoted on every possible social media platform. And the more the better. Additionally there are unique ways to go about giving your post the maximum amount of exposure possible. Take advantage of them if your are serious.

It is possible to view SEO optimization as a complex subject however by breaking it down to manageable pieces it is much easier to implement and learn. You can take action now by insuring that these 5 steps are incorporated into your next post or article.

by James Bradrick

google.com/+JamesBradrickMapa

Beach-Laptop-Hot-Girl

3 Easy Ways to Write Compelling Content

Believe it or not there REALLY are easy ways to get your content read. In the following short discussion on the subject I’ll take a closer look at just three of them and try to help as many as possible write compelling content.

1. Sub head titles

In the last post, I wrote about great headlines and it’s really easy to extend the idea into the body of a post as well. Breaking up content into bite sized pieces and giving each chunk its own catchy title allows readers to quickly scan your article and pick out  points that are important to them.

  2. Numbered or bulleted lists

  • An itemized list allows quick and efficient scanning.

  • They add just a bit of fascination and mystery – just what is this all about?

  • A break from the usual format also serves to offer a mental break as well.

3. Images

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words – and I firmly believe it. I was recently enticed to click on a link because it contained an image similar to this one.

The post concerned internet marketing and had absolutely nothing to do with the picture. But I landed there and ended up adding its RSS feed to my reader and opting in for an email subscription. Probably just the result intended. And remember – sex sells.

My Conclusions

Many times I’ve felt that it’s been necessary to inundate readers with words in an effort to convince them of my credibility and authority. People today can be hurried with little time to dwell upon in-depth articles, even if those articles are about things that really concern them or they want to get better at. Posts which are shorter, using targeted keywords and include the formatting which I’ve just discussed have been shown to attract more clicks and create more return traffic. And if you’re a blogger isn’t that part of the idea?

To help you keep up with future related posts there’s a handy button over there on the right which you can click on to receive email updates for this series. Hope to have you around for the next post. Happy blogging!

by James Bradrick

google.com/+JamesBradrickMapa

How Writing Great Headlines Can Increase Your Blog Traffic

How to Write Magnetic Headlines

If you stop and think about it, writing effective headlines makes a lot of sense. For example a reader out in cyberspace types (or these days speaks into their Smartphone) something along the following; ‘how to care for my lawn’. In less than a third of a second nigh unto a countless number of pages are returned for said reader to choose from. Now let’s say that you’ve written a recent post on just that theme, you’ve established Google Authorship which included having a rich snippet associated with your name and have your post published and awaiting readers. Just how is said reader going to go about choosing which return to click on?

Research indicates that a return with a rich snippet has a statically higher chance of being clicked on than one that does not. But let’s say there are two or more.

How to improve the odds in your favor even more?

Again, returning to our hypothetical example, we’ll say that the first return is headlined with the words “5 Tips You Need To Know for A Healthier Lawn” and yours just below it carry the following, “Lawn Care”. Which would YOU click on?

The process of writing ‘killer’ headlines is just beginning to unfold for me and to be faithful and serving to my loyal readers I must stop here and strongly suggest that you study the accompanying eBook. It’s a no charge publication that can be re-posted and shared without fear of copy write infringement – as long as it is not altered in any way.

So why not check it out? I’m glad I did. And by the way this eBooks’ publisher is a great place to stop by, bookmark and take advantage of. Best blogging wishes!

by James Bradrick

google.com/+JamesBradrickMapa

 

king-of-headlines infographic

Evergreen content and the blogger

Awhile back I ran across the term ‘evergreen content’ for the first time and since green is one of my favorite colors I decided to research further and I’m glad I did. Evergreen content is especially important to bloggers because it’s about quality, fresh information and insight which remains useful for a year or more into the future. If your readers gain benefit from what you have written and find it to be reliable well past the post date then they are more likely to return and trust you as a source of knowledge. Additionally, quality evergreen content delivers consistently escalating returns due to the fact that an ever increasing research base is attracted to what was written.

Quite nice sounding however there are a few important points to keep in mind.

1)       In attempting to generate evergreen content it is important to know what you are writing about. More and more, higher education degrees and names with initials before and after them are not what determines reliability. Some of the questions concerning people today are ‘do you have practical experience’? and If I follow your directions will I be able to obtain similar results? The importance of finding and writing inside your niche quickly becomes apparent.

2)      So just what is your niche? I struggled with this question for a long time until I came upon something written by someone who had obviously gone through the same situation. They asked intriguing questions like ‘what interests you?’ and ‘what do you want to be remembered for’? As a flood of ideas poured into my mind it became much easier for me to envision writing with authority and passion. Writing which lacks either of these ingredients is easy to spot and even easier to put aside, never to be picked up again. It bears repeating – ‘what is your niche’?

3)       Research indicates that the majority of search queries are made by people seeking entry level or beginner types of information so write your article accordingly. From this angle it’s easy to understand that almost everyone has something worthwhile to contribute to something. Find that something, fine tune it and present it to the world, preferably today – or tomorrow at the latest.

4)      Keep your article manageable. If your area of expertise is extensive take a bite sized piece of it, preferably at the best starting point and initially write about that. Subsequent follow-up articles can and should be used to progress your readers to more advanced levels.  As far as length is concerned about 500 words per article ‘feels’ right to me. This is not cast in stone however and is only offered as a suggested way of not overwhelming your readers.

5)      Write content in such a manner that internal links are a naturally occurring part of your writing style. Link back to what you have already written in order to bring late comers up to date and keep readers nosing around your site. The more they find of use to them should be one of the prime motivating factors for bookmarking your site and returning to it often.

I hope that both you and I now have a better understanding of just what ‘evergreen content’ is expected to be. Remember that not all writing will fall into this category, fiction and short stories are just two examples of writing that might not be affected by the above guidelines. Lastly WRITE and publish. Don’t be put off by so called authorities writing or saying what should or should not be written about. Writing is a grand education and it is very difficult to learn anything about it if you don’t actually write. Pen and prosper!

by Jim Bradrick

http://gplus.to/jimbradrick      

google.com/+JimBradrick

Reader Participation Poll

I think about writing a lot. I wake up in the morning thinking about different things that I could write about. When I read, I read about writing. Quite often when someone is talking to me, I’m thinking about what I could be writing. And it’s been this way for quite some time now. I think I’ve found my passion or at least one of them.

A few weeks ago I ran across the acronym SEO for the first time and was immediately intrigued. Since I use Google+ as my primary social media tool I noticed that SEO and Google Authorship were often mentioned in the same article, sometimes even in the same sentence. I began to dig deeper.

What I’ve learned so far is that SEO stands for ‘search engine optimization’ and if I understand correctly it’s about landing your web published article in the first three pages of returns from a relevant search, with the first three entries on the first page of results being prime virtual real estate. If you add Google Authorship to the mix then next to the result pertaining to your particular post there is a picture of you. According to statics there is a significantly higher percentage of a person browsing the web clicking on a return with a ‘rich snippet’, which is the technical term for that little picture, than for a return without it.

Obviously, I like to write. If I could just record my inner most thoughts in my journal and magically generate income sufficient to support myself and my interests life would be cool. Perhaps I’ll find a way to do just that however I’m not holding my breath. I’m a practical person and practicality says ‘write what people want to read’ – if my desire is to keep both body and soul in the same package and pursue an interesting life.

This is quite probably the real reason behind my interest as I’m not generally a techie kind of person, at least as far as knowing how information technology works as opposed to simply using it.

So the question becomes ‘What do you, the readership of this humble blog, want to read about’? I’ve become quite open about my life and right now I can’t think of anything that I wouldn’t want to answer or write about. So ask away, leave a comment, make a suggestion and in upcoming posts I’ll endeavor to satisfy the needs of you, my revered readers. I love learning and research is one of the ways I fuel and satisfy this love so finding out about what it is that you want to know about will both, keep you reading and me writing and learning.

And a hearty ‘Thank you’ for your participation.

By Jim Bradrick

http://gplus.to/jimbradrick      

Jim Bradrick

The Affects of Yesterday

It was a hard week at the shop. Jose and I cut some big chunks of wood from even bigger chunks and I was really glad when Saturday arrived and I could ease up, slow down and get ready for fasting and my writing time. So Saturday afternoon R asked me to go to Costa Rica and since it involved business, I agreed. Don’t get me wrong, I like Costa Rica it’s lush, green and a lot cooler (temperature wise) than Mapa however all I really wanted to do was chill. And when R started toward A’s house I knew that we were in for more than business. I’ve learned from experience that when R makes up his mind discussion is pretty much pointless so I kept quiet and just enjoyed the ride.

Well the attempt to do business flopped so R drove on to a nice spot in town to enjoy his visit with A. After a few minutes of enjoying the view I returned to the car and just enjoyed sitting on a soft seat and doing nothing much at all.

Unbeknownst to me, A quizzed R about my apparent lack of energy and enthusiasm and this morning R had a talk with me about fasting. He was of the opinion that if I ate more I would have more energy.

It’s difficult for me to talk to people about anything in general and in particular fasting because my ideas are pretty much foreign to most people. However I have experienced how fasting has affected me and I’m quite anxious to experience more of the same. Because I like the affects. Period.

My lack of apparent enthusiasm was nothing more than resigning myself to being somewhere and doing something other than what I really wanted to be doing. Had I been fasting at the time I’m pretty sure I would have felt the same way.

As I’ve written before I consider myself more introverted than not and most of the time I find chilling and going along with the plan to be preferable to protest. And besides, if I want to do my own thing badly enough I try and plan to have that option open and available. So I’m not bitching about the trip to Costa Rica. My problem starts when people, especially those close to me, think that they know why I am and do what I do better than me.

I’m fasting now and I’m glad that I am and I know that when tomorrow morning comes and I start eating again I’ll feel better than had I not fasted. Sometimes people can be very trying.

Have a great week, thanks for reading and if I were predisposed to giving advice, I’d still keep quiet.

by Jim Bradrick

Transitions

As time marches on I realize more and more that perfection is a motivating ideal and not something that actually happens in reality. That is not to say that I try less, I’d like to think that I try to make everything as good as I possibly can. I hope that I do. Anyway, my last writing project – The Fasting Manifesto – is, for all intents and purposes, finished. I’ll continue to tweak and refine it until it’s released however I can, and will, move on. I wish I could share it with you now however ChangeThis.com stipulates that all transcripts be UNpublished and since I plan to have them present it to the world I’ll, for the time being, cater to their wishes. I’ve set a deadline for them and between now and then I’ll research alternative venues so we’ll see how all this turns out. Now it’s time to move on and my next project is (drum roll please!) “The Meditation Manifesto.” I have ideas about the structure of it however if any of you have relevant information, studies, experiences or any other sources that you’d like to share I’d graciously consider all offers. 

I’ve put together a portfolio of my writing and it seems to me to be rather on the slim side. My project for today is to craft my writing resume which I’m sort of dreading as it to will be rather slim also. I’ve written all my life (well, since I’ve known how to write) it’s just that I don’t have much accumulated to use as ‘putting my best foot forward.’ I know that everyone has started from somewhere, as at the beginning and hopefully prospective clients will understand this, notice that I can string words together in an orderly manner and allow me to prove myself. And again your comments and suggestions would be graciously considered.

If you follow my Flickr widget you’ll notice what’s happened at the carpentry shop during the past week. We’ve added an electric planing machine, build a ‘proper’ workbench and set up our own little shop. Although it’s all outside under the shade of a big mango tree and it’s still the rainy season I’m still glad to be moving forward. The rainy season is nearing its end and hopefully before it starts again we’ll be moved into someplace better suited to our needs. For now our little shop within a shop is a welcome relief from having to schedule what needs to be done around the timetable of other people.

I can no longer postpone writing my resume so when it’s done I’ll share it here. Have a great week, thanks for reading and until later, “live long and prosper”. 

 

As I Think, So Am I

As I Think, So Am I

I started this project back around the beginning of the year and pretty much forgot about it after it was uploaded to Scribd. Recently I deleted my Scribd account and ran across this today as I was putting together my writing portfolio. While I’m not the original author, as the editor’s note states, I am responsible for editing it into its present form. Which is still an ongoing project (should you have suggestions). Hopefully you find it useful.

Hope

I read a lot about living life with passion and a definite sense of purpose. There seems to be two major trains of thought, the first being ‘if you’re in a dead end place – get out of it’ and the other ‘developing a sense of optimism that life can and will offer up one’s dreams and aspirations IF I can develop the patience and stop short circuiting the process’. I have the overwhelming urge to build a boat, explore the world and write about it. And I now have cause to believe that I’m making progress toward that end. I’ve spent the past few months building wooden fitness equipment for a proposed gym that would serve to finance my dream – in VERY TRYING circumstances. This past week we acquired the necessary wood to build a workbench and I actually began the process – with our own saw. This may seem rather insignificant but trust me, the work environment where I’m at is so discouraging that this small step in the desired direction is cause for a huge celebration. Really. I now have a dose of optimism and hope that was sorely missing in the resent past. In most situations I consider myself to be poorly advised to offer advise or council however I’m prompted to say that if you are in a what seems to be a rather hopeless situation – perhaps, just perhaps – there is hope just over the horizon. Hang in there just a bit more. 

(If you’re into photos, check out my Flickr link. There are a few shots of the first tablon we cut and the saw we’ve set up and are now using.)

Thank You!

It seems that one of my personal characteristics is the tendency to get caught up in my internal dialog. To the extent that it can be very easy for me to lose track of what’s really important in the world around me. There are techniques that help me to surmount this but I’m not perfect and there are times (like lately) when this very old habit has seemed hard to slay. Please note that I’ve not given up. When this blog reached five followers I thought ‘WOW – how cool people are actually reading what I write’. And now there are more. Today I was reminded about the importance of gratitude and the expression of it and the next post came quickly to mind. A ‘Thank You’ post. So to all of you who read this I want to convey a heart felt and sincere ‘Thank you’. Please continue – and your comments, suggestions and questions are eagerly awaited for. May you all live long and prosper.

Llano Grande

Jose invited Rick and I to visit the little town where he grew up, called Llano Grande. The town is located in the mountains north of Villa Comaltitlan, Chiapas – coffee country. Once you leave the pavement just outside of Villa the drive up there takes about an hour and is all first and second gear – uphill. There is nothing quaint about Llano Grande, all sensory input suggests that live there is regulated by the weather and topography. The inhabitants are friendly, although reserved around strangers – and two gringos with a six month old Doberman are just about the strangest things they’ve seen in quite awhile. The family parcela de cafe was located about an hour’s walk from the village – an hour walking up and down hill in the mud. But like I wrote, live in that village is regulated by nature and as harvest time is just around the corner, there were a lot of guys out walking around in the mud. The thing that impressed me the most was the obvious lack of obesity. After the good ole USA, Mexico has the second highest incident rate of obesity in the world, however you wouldn’t know in Llano. Their diet is high in carbs and kind of low in protein and coupled with the fact that they move either uphill or downhill whenever they move – and they move around a lot – keeps the inhabitants on the slim and trim side. There’s no cell phone signal up there either although I did see a few TV satellite dishes – one definitely gets the impression that there is VERY little downtime there. As I was walking around the parcela – slipping and sliding in the mud – I was frequently reminded that I was getting an excellent Primal workout, the terrain was challenging and I actually fell once – didn’t get hurt though. If you’d like to view some photos taken on the trip you can do so here. Oh – and the next time you visit Starbucks (or whatever they call the most popular coffee vender now) remember my visit to Llano Grande, the mountains, the mud, and the live in that little village. I’ll bet  it’ll add a little different perspective to your morning cup of brew.

Morning

I awoke this morning thinking of you,

As I watched the sky turn bluer than blue.

The birds sang and the sun then shone,

And thoughts of you – in my mind, all alone,

Took their turns dancing to some merry tune.

I awoke this morning thinking of you.

National Hurricane Month

September is what I call “National Hurricane Month” due to the increased prevalence of tropical weather phenomena. Here in coastal Chiapas this means increased rainfall, sometimes we can experience up to twelve centimeters or more of rainfall in 24 hours. In other words, it’s wet, really wet. September and October are also the months when there is increased possibility of flooding. October of 2005 will remain remembered for quite a long time because Hurricane Stan caused severe damage to Southern Mexico and Northern Central America. And this phenomenon is reoccurring. All of this is in way of introduction to what I really what to write about which is minimalism and simplicity. I continually strive to live a simple, uncomplicated life. And taking an occasional ‘rain day’ off from usual routine is no great inconvenience, in fact most of the time I really look forward to it. Sadly I seem to be one of a great minority. Right now this results in me being caught between what I can and don’t mind doing and the desires of others to move forward as quickly as possible. Perhaps further simplification is necessary, or at least desirable. But this results in other conflicts due to the fact that none of us journey through life alone, we are all dependent upon each other and what affects one, in reality, affects all. So here I sit, tapping out these words and watching it rain. With areas of disturbed weather on both coasts AND moving toward each other. Have a happy National Hurricane Month.

The Extreme Minimalist

There is a fellow in Mapastepic who I see frequently who appears to be homeless.  My reason for bringing this up are his possessions – or rather lack of them. He carries with him a feed sack which he’s tied shut and what appears to be a cardboard sleeping mat. Other than what he’s wearing, that’s it. For reason I won’t go into it’s possible that he’s got some sort of mental challenge. What I wanted to focus on is that minimalism and simplicity are infinitely variable experiences and quite personal in there approach and application, what works for one person might be disastrous for another. I’ve spent quite a lot of time traveling in Mexico by methods other than traditional. I’ve logged over 4000 kilometers just walking and have seen and experienced a lot. I developed the opinion, through experience, that sleeping on the ground was not pleasant and then met people who had only the ground to sleep upon. And so it goes, on and on, people doing what I thought was best avoided. This has profoundly affected my thoughts on M&S and caused this self enforced discipline to be the most evolving of all the disciplines that I engage in. How to do more with less and be profoundly happy in the process? I’m not saying that I envy the Extreme Minimalist but every time I see him I wonder and ponder upon the question “How to do more with less?” The Extreme Minimalist is also a teacher.

Spectator Sports

When I arrived at the shop this morning I found the others who had arrived earlier crouched around my bench and intently watching the neighbors. Upon inquiring I learned that they were watching them engage in domestic violence. It was at that moment that I realized just how much my cultural upbringing  effects my perception of the ‘outside world’. Had I been there when the whole affair started I KNOW I would have reacted with, at the very least, great sadness. I cannot imagine treating the suffering of another person as entertainment. I’m not a bleeding heart or a goody two shoes, I  occasionally watch MMA or Steven Seagal beating the ‘bad guys’ into the pavement however I realize that these forms of media entertainment are engaged in by consenting adults and quite probably just put ons anyway. Domestic violence is an entirely different issue, IMHO, and needs to be educated out of the human race. Period. People on the receiving end of domestic violence have my best wishes for turning their lives around and beginning to live a meaningful existence.

Anniversary

I awoke this morning to the sound of sirens about 2 hours before dawn. And they weren’t the come and go type. Then there were fireworks. It was all a bit annoying and curious as I had no idea what the local were celebrating now. It wasn’t until I was at my fasting retreat that I realized that it’s the first of September, the anniversary of my leaving the States thirteen years ago! That’s probably not what they were celebrating about (this date also marks the beginning of Mes de la Patria here) but it did prompt me to think about all that has happened in the last thirteen years. The first 47 years of my life were spent working for the “MAN” – you know Uncle Sam and all the brainwashing that goes along with that. It was my arrival in Mexico that initiated my real education, finding and learning about what is really important. This blog is a reflection of what I’ve learned and my continuing education and while there has been a lot of sharp learning curves in the last thirteen years, I’m glad I’m here and I’m glad I’m learning. May there be another thirteen! Happy Anniversary!

TGIF

Week two of my kinder English class came to an end this afternoon. The idea flashed through my mind that I should give them a short written quiz, and so I did. It was really demoralizing. I believe that I would benefit greatly if I would adopt an attitude of non attachment. It appears that the main reason they come to class more or less willingly is because they can go the the corner store on break and buy junk that has refined sugar in it. Which dramatically reduces their already short attention spans. Of course I’ve really only myself to blame, if I were proficient in effective teaching techniques I would imagine they would probably learn more. I can sense a whole mess of fault and counter fault finding about to occur so I’ll quit for the time being. I missed fasting last Sunday so I’m really looking forward to this Sunday. I’m in the process of writing a manifesto and hope to make significant progress while fasting.

Successful blogging

First, this quote landed in my inbox this morning. “Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”

—Winston Churchill

That is my idea of success. Bogging for me is a part of my education as a writer AND blogger. There have been a number of notable people who have stated that to learn something it is necessary to DO IT. So I blog to become a successful blogger. And I endeavor to enjoy the process.

This was intended to be a ping back to a Daily Prompt post. I don’t think I understand the process. If you can help, please do. Thanks

Writing!

I just finished writing a resume.Which sounds a bit humdrum until I add that it was for another person, translated from Spanish into English AND I’ll get paid (in real life Mexican Pesos!) for doing it. I AM A WRITER. And I’ve been teaching a beginner class in English. There’s been a lot of students sign and show up of late and when I was asked to do it (again for Mexican Pesos) I said “Sure, why not”. All this makes for a bit of a long day but at least I’m not bored – and earning a little cash now. A few words about living with very little income are probably in order. It’s an interesting experience, to say the least and it took just a little getting used to. When I first started it was strange watching people spend money. Then I began to notice more and more mindless consumerism, people buying just for the sake of buying and stuff that was not at all healthy - for them or the environment. That was followed by by a strange sense of satisfaction, I was doing what few others seemed able to do. Sort of like fiscal fasting. As a result of that experience my spending habits have changed for the better. I believe that I can now make and KEEP financial goals and get to where I really want to go.

I came across The Impact Manifesto and thought it looked worthwhile.

Well, it’s Friday, I just finished my ‘kinder English class’ for the week and the fellow I prepared the resume for paid up. The wood drought at the shop ended yesterday and we’re again moving forward with projects. I received and email notice that the guest blog post that I wrote was approved for publication and a fellow Flickr user responded to a message which I sent HER. There are now a few pesos in my pocket and I’m looking forward to my weekly fasting day (Sunday). It might be trite but I feel like writing ‘all’s well that ends well’.

Noteable in the Past Week

This past week I rediscovered that I’m really passionate about journalism. Toward that end I found the Writer’s Manifesto in which the main idea is to simply write for the joy of writing.  For years and years I have enjoyed writing and now it’s time to both write and work with wood WITH PASSION! So from here on out I study, learn and practice both. As far as the simplicity of woodworking is concerned I think I should continue to develop my own basic and non electric set of tools and rent whatever else I may happen to need. This however is still in the process of being thought out.

I’m getting my non negotiable worked out and they go like this:

1)      Health = Yoga + Heal Yourself 101 + Energy Therapy which for me is basically acupressure, EFT and TAT.

2)      Happiness – the goal of all other goals.

3)      Peace Profound – the result of 1&2.

4)      Passion – if I don’t enjoy doing it WHY AM I?

5)      Minimalism/Simplicity – defines my material existence.

Two must watch videos are Arthur’s Transformation and Richie Parker.

Download these two motivating reminder posters Value of Simple Declaration and Creed of Living Legends.

Don’t give up!!!

Is Change in the Wind?

I feel like writing about minimalism and simplicity which is one of my non negotiables as you probably know by now. Part of who I am is wrapped up in the title ‘carpenter’. I like working with wood, being around others who more or less like to work with wood and making neat and beautiful things out of wood. I also enjoy being in the shop. There is ‘something’ really enjoyable about experiencing the operation of a well thought out and designed shop and conversely ‘something’ really disturbing about a shop that is less than well thought out and designed. However both types have a thing in common that seems to me to run cross current to simplicity – they are complicated. And expensive. Lately I’ve thought a lot about that and how I might come to terms with it. And have yet to do so – comes to terms with it that is. And I’ve thought a good bit about the fact that all a writer needs is a piece of paper and a pencil. I know that’s a little simplistic but it’s really true. If I wanted to work on this blog or any other writing project using a computer there are computers available at the local library – no charge. And I really enjoy writing. I’ve invested the last eight years in Mexico learning all I could about woodworking and there is something more than a little disconcerting about the thought of leaving it and starting all over again as a writer. I suppose that I could approach it by working in carpentry during the day and – somehow- getting recognized as a writer during the evening.  Also I would need to read and learn all I could about the craft. Tomorrow is my fasting day which I’ll spend at the river and I’ll give all of this a good thinking over. I need a plan or at the very least a direction.

About EPU

A couple of posts back I made reference to EPU and I thought now would be an excellent time to explain just what that is. So here goes. EPU stands for El Puebla Unido which is Latin American Spanish for We The People. The project involves building a 30 ft Falmouth Cutter (that’s a type of sailboat) and cruising the Americas with young Latinos who are learning English as a second language. The idea being to introduce them to cultures that are other than their own and stimulate them to explore a world other than that in which they grew up. The actual construction of the vessel is the topic of my blog at To Build A Cutter. As a fitting start to the project Jose and I constructed a 10% model that is on display at the Escuela de Ingles in Mapastepic Chiapas and hopefully generating interest. A series of photos detailing the building of the model can be found here. The project is forecast to occupy the better part of four years and actual construction is slated to begin in early 2014. If you have questions or comments please feel free to leave them here.

My Non Negotiables 2

I am in the habit of making commands to myself before retiring and again upon awaking. These commands are a reflection of how I THINK I want my life to unfold. After reflecting upon the discrepancies noted below I’ve changed both my commands and my non negotiables and have experienced a degree of satisfaction from these changes. So these are my current non negotiables.

(1 Health

(2 Happiness

(3 Peace Profound

(4 Passion

(5 Minimalism & Simplicty

My Non Negotiables

Please bear with me wilts I elaborate on what I consider to be non negotiable at this point in my life.

(1 Health. You would probably find the details quite depressing so I’ll just say that life has taught me that without health there’s not much. What I’ve learned along the way, and especially since living in Mexico, is that NOBODY can convince me that EFT, TAT, acupressure in general and quite probably, although I’ve never tried it, acupuncture are not highly effective therapies. NOBODY. I used to encourage people to give them a try however after many rejections I’ve given that up. It’s my own and now your little secret. A far as healthy living is concerned I HIGHLY recommend Markus Rothkranz’s Heal Yourself 101. You can even, as of today, download the book here so if you don’t you’ve only yourself to blame. Your health is your business and don’t let ANY doctor tell you otherwise.

The above was written yesterday and I’ve been thinking about it alot today. Yes I highly recommend Heal Yourself 101. I lived that way for a period of time to the best of my ability BUT I’m not now. And if health is my very first non negotiable WHY aren’t I??? I’ve told myself that I’m dedicated to building EPU – which is another story to be revealed shortly. Then EPU should replace health right? This needs some serious rethinking.

Up to speed

How I got to where I’m at is a long, winding but interesting tale which will be explained (more or less and hopefully) in subsequent posts. For now I would like to leave you with what I’ve found this week that is helpful and interesting. Here goes

First of all the find of the week.

This Epic Life is a web page and blog authored by Kristoffer Carter. You can get his free for the downloading Framework Manifesto” by clicking here. It is a great read with lots of insight that I really resonated with. He centers his life around what he calls his non-negotiables of which there are five. These are themes which define who he is and what he does and just like they are called, they are non-negotiable. Highly recommended.