Posts tagged Change
My birthday was on Monday (will be to me – I’m writing this on Sunday) . And I’m now officially old. Well, actually I’ve been old for some time now. These grey hairs have been well earned. Even if they did appear overnight (FYI, I got sick and almost died of a blood infection several years ago, my hair turned white as a result and has slowly (and somewhat unsuccessfully) been returning to brown. I figure I’ll have my old hair colour back somewhere around the age of 102. ‘Course I don’t think I’ll live that long but … ).
Birthdays make a great time to reflect. Both on what’s been learned, and what’s been lost and also on where you stand.
There is a tendency in our society to believe that people past that certain age (either 30 or 40 depending on your age), aren’t able to handle the new technology and the changes of modern life. In short, they’re old and ready for pasture.
It ain’t necessarily so, bucko!
Since I turned 55 (not this year btw), I’ve started three new businesses, written three books, learned two new professions, discarded one profession, resurrected one profession and read many, many books. Right at the moment, I’m looking at innovative marketing to resurrect one profession, launching another business (copywriting and web content …. ContentCreators.ca) and writing two new books. All at the advanced level of calcification of 57.
In short, I’m not ready to be buried quite yet.
Bluntly, it’s my leg that’s calcified NOT my brain.
Getting older can mean becoming more experienced. And yes, it can mean becoming set in one’s ways. And it can mean becoming less open to change. And it can mean reduction in energy levels.
But it doesn’t have to.
We each set our own rules. We live our own lives. And we make of them exactly what we want them to be. If that means mental calcification, then so be it. I’ve met many mentally arthritic people in my life time … some of them were even out of their teens and twenties!
Mental arthritis is a function of exercise NOT of age. Sorry, just as I’ve met 90 year olds who were able to walk long distances (my great aunt regularly walked 10 blocks at the age of 103), I’ve met twenty-somethings who could not accept that change happens.
I’ve met many people with so-called twenty years of experience who’ve actually had one year of experience repeated twenty times.
So are you getting older? Or are you becoming more experienced?
Those things you want in life will only happen if you make them happen. Do you want to work for yourself? Then open a business. Now. Today. Not tomorrow. Tomorrow never comes. Do it now. You aren’t too old. What are you afraid of?
Because the fear of change is really just a fear of something else.
Find out what you are afraid of, and manufacture, if you have to, a reason to do what you need to do. A reason that is more powerful than your fear.
Do something new. Every day. And don’t fall prey to mental arthritis.
And the next time someone says to you “He’s too old to be able to do the job”, remind them that mental arthritis is more likely to occur in those who aren’t looking for it — namely the young!
When you start planning to do something like this there is a tendency to think you can spend all your time on the project.
And a tendency to think that the business is going to stop while your are converting.
But that’s just not true. Unless you can get the the changeover done in one day, you still need to release blog entries. You still need to drive traffic. You still need to deal with work not yet complete.
All the little things that continue to need your time while you’re busy doing something else.
And don’t try to hold up the blog. Remember it is a key source of traffic and without traffic you don’t have a business. So keep the blog going.
Lesson Learned #6:
Don’t Forget That The Business Is Going Ahead Without You
Even though you’re busy trying to change some element of the business you need to allocate time to the business.
You need to keep up blogs and other traffic sources. You need to keep your new courses and continuity programs going.
So don’t forget to allocate time for ongoing operations. And don’t try to shut down anything.
So I’ve gone looking through all these themes and what do I find?
Lots of really talented web designer/artist types. With zero ability to develop web programs.
I also found (almost) zero theme’s that matched my needs — artistically or functionally.
In fact, the only theme I found that I liked was so limited that I couldn’t use it and couldn’t adapt it – at least not without a major rewrite.
And while it’s nice … it ain’t got that special thang!
So I’m going to end up going through this process all over again. Fortunately, not as extensively.
So what’s the solution?
First break the problem into two parts. After all, it’s going to take two different specialists to solve the problem. The artist/designer to look after the overall graphics look. And the web developer who makes sure all the php and xhtml and other bits and pieces actually work. Especially the menus.
WordPress is very powerful. It’s very flexible. But it does do only one thing and does it in a particular way. There’s only so many choices that make sense. Unless of course you are really creative in your business. And the truth is there’s no point. This is a business tool not a personal toy.
That means that there are perhaps 1/2 dozen different variations on layouts for the WordPress theme. Plus a half dozen or so menu possibilities.
Spend some time, identify the ones you like and will use. For example, all the ones that have a left sidebar are out. Why? Because Google doesn’t like left sidebars. So there’s no point designing one. (Yes, there are exceptions — this is an example only).
You’ll end up with a selection of basic templates. You should also end up with a basic set of requirements/needs. Hire a web developer and have him/her develop a theme for each of those templates you may want to use. You may find that you end up with only one or two templates.
Then hire an artist/designer to design the overall graphical look. Have him design several screens. Don’t forget to include both static web and blog type pages. Once those designs are converted to CSS, you should be able to plug the design into the theme you’ve chosen.
Result. You’ve now got a quality theme with a look that shouts “BUY FROM ME!”
Lesson Learned #2:
If you’re going to do this regularly … spend some money and get some designs done in advance.
It’s a lot easier/faster to get a site up if you don’t have spend time figuring out which theme is best. And then have to test the theme to make sure it actually works.
So better to spend some money. Get a developer to put together a basic framework or three. Keep it flexible. Keep it simple. Make it easy to modify.
Then hire an artist to put together a number of pages for you (meaning colour schemes, background art, and banners. All the graphics you will need).
Then when you start a new business or change an existing one, just select the form, select the theme and put them together.
Nice, easy, simple. In the end cheaper too!
Okay. It’s no secret that I’ve long decried the quality of tools available to the P/C programmer.
But after this last bit of nonsense I’m not sure who is to blame. The tool manufacturers, the people who work for them or their customers!
Now I’m not the world’s best art director. My wife, the artist, would probably argue that I can’t match socks let alone colour schemes. Successfully I might add. I’ve been married for 18 years — she always wins arguments like that :D
But what I am is reasonably capable as a web developer (aka programmer).
So when we converted to WordPress I made the (wise ????) decision that I wasn’t going to design my own theme. I would go looking for a theme that looked good and then tweak it to have the sidebars & widgets that I needed & wanted. Should only take an hour or so right? WRONG!
What I found when I went looking is that there are a lot of really skilled web designers out there. Some real artists.
And not a blasted one of them can program!
Virtually every theme I liked had at least one major flaw. I can’t tell you how many theme’s I checked where the menu didn’t work. And that’s not counting the number where they didn’t even try to get it to work! (Yo … Note to artists … the reason WordPress allows a structure with pages is that multiple levels are a pretty common technique for organizing what you’re doing).
Of course, every once in a while I ran into a theme that worked well. It was obvious that another developer had put it together. Very obvious. But it was well structured. The only problem is that spending three days trying to understand “pea, pea, where’s the pea?” style coding just doesn’t turn me on anymore. Some day I”ll figure out how to change the framework to display the way I want … but don’t hold your breath.
I could go on with other examples but I won’t.
So what does all this come down to?
Lesson Learned #1:
Find a theme you like and then just live within it’s limitations.
At least initially. Just get the site up with the basic theme as given. Trying to tweak a theme is a study in frustration. Don’t worry about being unique. Don’t worry about it having all the elements you need. Just get it up as written. Do the best you can. Then AFTER you’ve got it up, if you’ve got the time. You can always try to improve/tweak/fix it later.
Well, that was fun NOT! :D
So here’s what happened. We originally set up one site — TrainingNOW.ca. It was meant to be a simple brochure type site advertising our company, its services and our courses.
Unfortunately, things change … (bad word, bad, bad, word) … and we realized that a) we needed to sell our training over the web rather than live b) that we needed to sell other products and c) we were trying to sell too much through TrainingNOW.ca.
Cool. No big deal. Sometimes it takes a bit of convincing. A little learning. We’re not all born marketers, after all. ;>
So we set up a couple of new sites (learningcreators.ca, contentcreators.ca) to promote the extra services beyond the actual courses. No big right? Basic brochure sites. (Okay, so we started to …. it’s a work in progress. Work with me here).
Then we realized that LearningCreators should be doing more than just creating learning content or info products for other people. Better to teach people to fish than to do the fishing ourselves! So we set up LearningCreators.com.
That’s where the first of the problems came in. You see we started out by testing the waters using MyBestCopy.com. When it looked like the market was viable, we created the LearningCreators.com site. Including the blog.
But one of the things we learned was … in order to improve your SEO ratings you really, really need a blog.
No biggee. We created a blog on MyBestCopy.com. It worked. It drew viewers. Just copy it over and we’re set. Right! Nope.
Try as I might, I couldn’t convince any of the sites that www.LearningCreators.com and apps.LearningCreators.com were the same site (domain). So nothing I did on the blog helped the main opt-in & sales pages.
Meanwhile, we’ve been approached to host the training courses of another company. Great. That’s what TrainingNOW.ca is all about. Publishing training and training materials (e.g. books, DVDs etc.). But that meant we needed to upgrade from the basic Doteasy package to the fancy, dancy, super-special Unlimited plan.
Fine. Couple of headaches but no big woop! Cool so far….
But if we did that then there was no need to use the somewhat limited blog facilities provided by Doteasy for their basic customers. We’d be better off switching to WordPress like everyone told us to.
Silly sods … we believed them!
Sit back, grab a coffee. There’s enough material here to keep this blog alive for a week!
For those of you who were hoping I’d start keeping this blasted blog up to date …. sorry.
So what’s happenin’ now?
We’re changing again. We’ve updated the TrainingNOW site to better capabilities and are now going to host LearningCreators.com on it.
Why? Mostly because the site we have now is a proprietary blog tool (DOTEASY provides it) and is actually located in a different location. So Google et al. thinks this is a seperate site.
We, on the other hand, think it should be part of the main LearningCreators.com site.
By moving this site over to the upgraded TrainingNOW site, we get to use WordPress (much more powerful) and also to include it inside the LearningCreators.com site.
But of course, there’s a heck of a lot of work involved. So that’s my focus over the next week. New blog entries need to wait until I can move the site over.
But I will be back …. probably with some comments on spending money.
Keep Learning & Get Earning
Glen Ford & The LearningCreators team.
I’m back … sorry, getting the course up and running kind of got in the way.
Okay so last article was on handwriting … good & bad, today’s on typing your books and articles. Today’s article is on typing … or more correctly today keyboarding.
Now, some of you may remember when people really typed on typewriters. But today most people type on computers.
There are a couple of advantages to using the computer.
First off, it won’t take long before you can type much faster than you can write. Second, it’s always legible. An big advantage over most peoples’ handwriting — unless you’re into Caligraphy — and maybe even then! Third, it’s easy to correct what you’ve written. And fourth, it is automatically in a format suitable for sending to the publisher. No need to reenter it, although you might need to reformat it. Finally, you are doing it all. No delays sending it out for transcription, no need to worry about misheard, misinterpreted words. What goes on paper is what you put on paper.
On the other hand there are some big disadvantages. It’s slower than speaking (sort of middle of the road), and of course, slower than thinking so you may find your fingers slowing down your thought process — or just plain getting out of step alltogether! On the other hand, it’s too easy to change. So you’re going to have to really fight the urge to edit while you write. (Editing while you write is the most popular method of guaranteeing that you’ll never finish your book!) Finally, typing quickly is a learned skill and takes practice! Lots of practice!
Ultimately you’ll have to chose which technique you like best. Next time we’ll get into the voice based techniques.
It sounds kind of silly but writing a book by hand is as useful today as it was 3000 years ago. Better, in fact, because now we use paper and pencils or self-feeding pens. Three thousand years ago they used tablets and chisels or animal skins and quill pens.
And as silly as it sounds writing by hand has a number of advantages.
It’s a skill that most of us have practiced for most of our lives. It’s a skill that takes very little in the way of resources — a notebook or pad and a pencil or pen. It’s very inexpensive — literally only a couple of bucks. And it can be done anywhere — the waiting room of a doctor’s office, a local coffee shop, a local park.
Really it only has three disadvantages. If your writing is anything like mine, going back and actually reading it may prove problematic. Which is why in order to do anything with the manuscript you need to reformat or convert it to a computer-based form. Finally, in order to edit it you need also need to convert it to another form.
But there is an advantage that you might not think of. Because it is so hard to change and fix things, you will be less likely to go back. So getting the writing done is more likely. And getting lost in the editing maze is unlikely.
Then with a little thought, you can use the conversion process to perform your first verbal (non-structural) edit. And every edit helps!
Keep Learning and Keep Earning
One of the techniques to create ebooks that seems to be widely suggested is to put on a seminar, record it and then transcribe the result as an ebook.
The biggest problem with this technique is that it is high risk. You see when you put on a seminar you typically change and leave things off. After all a seminar is a living thing. No one is perfect and you simply can’t remember everything you have to say. Even with notes, you can guarantee that you’ll lose items, put them out of order and generally make mistakes.
In addition, the structure of a seminar is slightly (very slightly) different from that of a book. Once the transcription is created you’ll need to make sometimes very major modifications to force fit the result into a book form. That is why most of the suggestions include the recommendtion when writing ebooks this way to use the transcription as a base (effectively a first draft).
Now ask yourself one final question …. have you ever given a 1/2 day seminar? Do you realize how much work is involved? That’s what you’ll have to do to fill up a 20,000 word ebook. Even professionals add filler to half day sessions (called practice sessions). It’s just to hard to keep your audience alert otherwise. And of course, practice sessions don’t count to your word count.
I’m not saying that transcriptions aren’t a great idea for creating product. But when someone says that you can build your ebook business based on transcribing seminars you need to realize that they are simplifying.
Leave your transcriptions for filling in your product line. You need to build your ebook business by writing ebooks not by transcribing. At least for one attempt at ebook writing. Your main product.
Lord Tunderin’ Jaysus, bye …. why does my accent change whenever I mention COD?
I know I’m fishin’ for an intro with that one. Bait at least it isn’t as bad as my second pun!
(You know you’re in trouble when your intro has more puns than your entire blog entry)!
Alright already … I need to explain what COD is and why it’s important — before you crawl down the ether and throttle me.
COD is the big three ….
It is the way we decide if any information content product (i.e. speech, ebook, course) is well done.
The first question we (should) ask ourselves is “Is the content good?” “Did I learn anything new?” “Was the content valid (i.e. right)?” “Was the content relevant?”.
The second question we (should) ask is “Was the content presented in an organized, well thought-out way?” “Did the content make sense?” “Was the argument well presented?”
The third is “Was the content presented clearly, in a way that was easily understood, and in a way that did not distract from the content and the argument?”
Now in reality, we don’t always judge in this fashion — we tend to do DOC rather than COD. But we should.
BTW, in this case, I am using argument as it’s used in logic or in debating. It is the proof that is presented rather than the.disagreement that obscures it
So when you are writing an ebook (or a speech, presentation or script), you need to keep COD in mind … and let the DOC look after himself!
Have Fun! Keep Learning! And Get Earning!