Sunday, April 20, 2014

My Love, Social Media – Part Eight – Websites and Whats-With-Squid?

Problems. They came up, welcome as badly behaved visitors, and rolled around my winter. Our new book was waylaid, mired in my mind boggle. “What happened?” Our publisher asked me, and then was completely understanding after my terse explanation. Finally face to face with him again, I received a tour of the press and underwent an honest discussion about the issues at hand. The manuscript will return soon to us (the term he used was a matter of “weeks” and my heart nearly stopped upon hearing it – yes another little bit of my observational soul would be revealed through my writing and the thought of the exposure still chills me). Hopefully, this coming version will be near to final form.

At the end of last year Vinita and I had been rushing a bit to put up the adjoining website to the new book thinking that we’d be peddling the short stories by early 2014.  Thus in early 2014 with no book to peddle, we were still left managing a handsome website. For our first book The Bee’s Tour of Gouda Buzzing through Vinita’s Lens we had linked a web domain to the selling domain of Blurb (we self-published). Due to oversight, the website expired and was bought by a Japanese concern. Luckily between us Vinita and I speak about ten languages; Japanese being one of Vinita’s primary means of communication.  She called about; we changed our website domain name and host: we discovered that it was fairly futile to try to regain lost territory.

This time around for A Sample of Gouda Vinita and I decided we now wanted to jointly manage a website.  Agreed upon the content and business plan, we launched “The Bee’s Tour with Vinita.” Still, awaiting the release of the second book, the website has already inspired us to engage in many creative discussions leading to three projects moving about developing on the drawing board. As an artistic collaboration, this platform enables either of us to work on a project together or pursue solo projects under the umbrella of the creative label.

Not wanting to undertake a steady website for the first book back in 2012, we both sought venues to promote the book that would not involve too much time plus would also already have access to a public, cutting down our own frustrations about obtaining visibility. One of the venues that we used was Squidoo. The idea came via a suggestion on Facebook.

I leapt upon the matter and made what Squidoo likes to call a “lens” or page. I had to watch my step because Squidoo frowns keenly on spamming and overemphasizing your product. I put up several lenses over a twelve month period. Three of them got “frozen” as Squidoo deemed that I was too commercial and had not added enough what they like to call “original content.”  Now, I don’t know if you might have noticed that I can come up with a lot of original content and I am not purposefully commercial.  I even suspect one may call me non-commercially minded. and I am meditating on the matter. Reviewing the Squidoo lenses that received honourable purple stars, I often thought that they were monotonous, tedious or basically large info commercials like this one about blogging. So why was I constantly being frozen out? Because our product wasn’t on Amazon? We did attempt to make a kindle product of the guide book but there were issues with colour “print” and file format.

As I check my Squidoo account I see that I still have two lenses outstanding (the rest I deleted out of irritation): Describing a DutchLifestyle and Author Han Suyin. On my account one lens remains in limbo, frozen, and it happens to be called The Bee’s Tour with Vinita. After this last lens was frozen I decided to quit with Squidoo. I must add that I never thought that Squidoo would ever give us any monetary compensation, it hasn’t, and I merely wanted to use it as an additional venue  or magazine type item to bandy about in order to gain attention to our product, at first the guide book and then later our website. In other words, it was a website without being a website. Squidoo fails miserably in this manner, because in my view their content is not king.

In both our minds, Vinita and I agree free website content must remain king and the product both the bonus and star attraction. We’ve selected several themes for our website: Behind the Scenes, Creative Catalyst and On the Street. And we’re ready, chomping at the bit these days, to promote our new book as soon as it appears off the press, or as an option for your e-reader. But we'll leave Squidoo well enough alone.



Friday, April 18, 2014

My Love, Social Media – Part Seven – Soundcloud and Vimeo

It would be quite simple to imagine that musicians might run to attach themselves to venues such as Soundcloud; however, this has not been, as I sit back and watch my colleagues’ activities via Facebook, the norm. It’s been a bit slow to catch on and I can see a few reasons why. A friend of mine, a keyboardist, was recruited for mainstream pop jobs via her postings on MySpace.  She found herself, after a hefty audition, on the world’s biggest pop stages working for a musical legend.  It was exhilarating and phenomenal, and it did not pay her bills. The job was not a full time, steady pay check type of experience. She eventually chose to move to another what one can say a musician’s dream job, on television working in a live band.  It’s a job that is supposed to pay the bills, and basically it does, and to prove her aptitude and professionalism, she puts in many extra hours that are unpaid. As a single woman and keyboardist, she barely survives on what she’s paid for her excellence; most of the other band members have either secondary jobs teaching or supportive spouses.

Is Soundcloud, MySpace, Youtube an answer for the solo artist, the kicking band seeking exposure? Maybe, but like any possibility the potential for success or failure is present. Is it good enough? Enough for what? Which stage is out there listening to us on MySpace or YouTube or Soundcloud? I see more of the people around me reaching out to soundcloud’s potential, and I wonder what will happen to them.  Perhaps the right connection will be made. I certainly hope so, but even dreams come true can be patchy. (One of the problems with YouTube is that both the sound and the visual need to appear professional to make any impact, while soundcloud is only about the audio information.)
“You don’t have your own website.” A website manager sporting a pony tail repeated my confessional information to set his worst suspicions in wordy cement, anchoring me to my ineptitude and him to his sales pitch. Then he asked me why this was the case, cocking his thin-haired head awaiting my defense tactics. What can I say, what would it be? Musician? Writer? Both?  Schizophrenia? My LinkedIn profile is schizo enough, and because of personal circumstances I have had to rewire the whole thing to angle it more towards writing capacities. More attached to the individual media venues that promote certain aspects of my talent, definitely more appealing to me rather than obstinately trying to raise awareness about a website featuring moi, I circle round the non-run-your-own-website-just-go-for-a-freebe-account opportunities.

Let’s get into music, and music ownership: These days, unless you’re a big name, don’t think that you will make money on making a recording and selling it. Copies and copies of copies, if it latches on to a larger public, will become rampant and both boost and flummox your ego. Further my girlfriend, working on television, is trying to release her solo cd this year. The costs are extraordinary. It is hardly viable when we talk about practicality; hope is eternal and a feather wafting around google.

My own Soundcloud page has recordings that I am pleased with and ones that I am less pleased with, but tolerate because nonetheless, and I can’t argue this down, they are representational.  On a whim I recorded two poems just to see if they said something.  (Hey, that’s me just being typically Persephone-esque.)

Vinita came up with the Vimeo platform for our “The Bee’s Tour with Vinita” collaboration. We’ve produced several videos, The Cheese Market, Open Monument Day and a Recap about the collaboration of the first book. The last time we discussed the Vimeo media angle we decided not use it for our street hitching posts photo-concept because we felt the series of photos was more appropriate for our website (yes, we have one for our product: books). That said, again, out of whimsy, I stole into the Vimeo world once more in the heart of last winter and made a solo poetic slide show, “The Christmas Star.”  It was another learning a new medium on my own experience, without Vinita to help and as we all know, there are countless ways to challenge yourself out there in the big world of social media.


Next up: Websites and what’s-with-squidoo.....


Sunday, April 6, 2014

My Love, Social Media – Part Six - Journalism

Murphy’s Law. It’s driving me nuts. No matter what I do, I end up with a gazillion typos. Let’s start from the beginning again, shall we?

It was a tepid cold December, and considering that my relationship was tanking, tepid and cold, I got to looking around for distraction. I found it on Craig’s list. Yep, a few years ago a girlfriend told me about Craig’s list. I had no idea the very existence of such an institution until she told me the tale of two young Asian exchange students seduced by a voracious San Franciscan with absolutely no shame.  Baited them with concert tickets and left them both with an unfortunate disease. Somehow there was also a coffee table in the tale but I can’t remember why this story involved a coffee table. Intrigued by this unknown world online I checked out the scene and was rewarded to read an advertisement by a gentleman looking for a down and out woman with a load of kids, desiring to fix her house and by the by he also wanted to make waffles for her. Desperate and dire was what he wanted, cornered by poverty with a crumbling shack to boot. This sounded serious, as in seriously good writing material. No further research needed other than opening this can of worms online for some real low down scenarios.

So when it came to mid-December and there was no chance to go looking for real employment to get me out of the house, I turned to Craig’s List for cracked employment ideas. Writers, it said, they wanted writers. Send in 500 words about any news item. I whipped up 500 words in twenty minutes and left it at that, only to find myself accepted for a boot camp journalist style. In general I am not an ideal candidate to place in a boot camp. The more they rush me, the slower I go. It’s a trick I learned from an 80 year old composer during his long winded coaching sessions in Germany. I was supposed to graduate boot camp in two weeks.  It took me three and a miracle to keep my attention.

Today I am a certified newspaper woman. Never thought I might say that sentence with a straight face. I got the press badge to prove it. Got it laminated.  Put it in my wallet. I had to write a great deal of stories to get the badge, everything from A to Z. Sometimes I took the mickey out of them, on the sly. I am still unsure what I really want to do with this “opportunity.” Of all the pieces I have written I liked the one about the Francis Bacon exhibit the best. I kinda went to town on it. I found it much more enjoyable to write about honoured depravity in an altar piece than having to spew out 500 words about PlayStation 4, something which I have never laid eyes on.

“Um….Persephone,” a kindly soul said to me, “You need to proof better, there are quite a few typos in that last article.” Oh yeah, indeed there were. I became paranoid about the matter and the Bacon came out the better for it, plus I favoured the subject and spent more time on the piece. I was feeling a bit better about the matter, learning to wrestle with the newspaper wordpress format and kiss-o-Godot system every time I changed on iota on an article to tried to upload a photo without copyright. Then the next article appeared with a massive typo in the title. Christ. No-one caught it. I’m beginning to feel doomed, victim to auto-typos and hey what’s my topic this month temper tantrums. Murphy’s Law, but I’m going to give it a run for a year, just because the dilemmas of Joe and Joanne journalists are finally catching my curiosity; I admit I hardly ever read newspapers and I am beginning to learn exactly why I’ve developed this habit.

Next up, more social media, but what? Part Seven.