how to

[video] Roll your own "flix" queue

[Watch "Create your own 'flix' queue" on YouTube; running time 3:34]

I'm a big fan of Netflix streaming video, but there are also other groovy things on the Internet that I might want to watch sometime, "sometime" being "later, not now while I'm busy trying to stop procrastinating with these other five things and get back to work."

As I say in the video, I used to just save videos to my delicious bookmarks, but I'd find myself forgetting to go there and look for stuff in the heat of the video moment. And because I lurve how easy and delightful it is to create nice-looking, well-behaved drop-down bookmark folders in Chrome, I experimented with storing them there, and found it made much more sense. I mean, I'm there, at the computer, usually about to be four feet away, doing Nei Kung or ten feet away, making lunch, and why not just have that stuff at the super-ready.

So if you cannot bear to watch video (I sympathize and empathize), here's the drill:

  1. Create a folder in your bookmarks bar labeled something you'll remember.
  2. Bookmark the video you want to save for later.
  3. Edit the title that propagates the bar (I like to have 00:xx first, then a spacer, then something just brief enough to quickly parse)
  4. If desired, get Virgo on that shit and drag your movie bookmark into ascending or descending order, time-wise.

That's it!

Have fun, and if you use and like this (or modify it to like it better), please do let me know.

xxx c

P.S. I know it is a totally crazy nutball thing, but as I was working on this video, Netflix went down. I KNOW.

* * * * *

Various & sundry:

If you're a professional photographer, you should definitely get your shutterbug ass to Chicago for next week's Midwest tour stop of Strictly Business 3, the outstanding biannual conference put on by the American Society of Media Photographers. Insane quantities of high-quality workshops, sessions and talks, including mine (mine...MINE!!!), "How to Make People Love You Madly: Selling Yourself in the Postmodern Marketplace." April 1-3, the Allerton Hotel (tip-top-tap, old-timers!), Chicago.

As a past speaker at the Creative Freelancer Conference, I have a (not very) secret code to get you an additional $50 off the early bird registration, for a total of $80 off: CCW11. The CFC is back in Chicago, which is a lovely place for a conference, and if you're a creative type who's self-employed, I encourage you to take a look. Lots of great relationships have been born and blossomed at the previous three CFCs, and the information and personal attention is top-notch. (I make nothing on that link, baby, it's all you.)

Finally, I'm DELIGHTED to be performing at this Sunday's Tongue And Groove, Conrad Romo's outstanding spoken-word showcase at the Hotel Cafe in Hollywood, 1623 1/2 N. Cahuenga Blvd., 90028. Six bucks, cheap; starts PROMPTLY at 6pm, and we've got a hard out at 7:30. OLD PEOPLE NIGHT. (Just kidding, I'm sure you'll go out clubbing all night afterward.) The rest of the lineup: James Brown (This River), Jo Scott-Coe (teacher at Point Blank), Alan Berman, J. Keith van Straaten, with musical guest Juli Crocket and the Evangenitals (my new-favorite band name).

iPhone addy hack for introverts [video]


[watch "iPhone addy hack for introverts" on YouTube; 1:35 minutes]

This is so dirt-simple and so effective it will blow your mind. And you don't even have to watch the video, although it's kind of a cute one, complete with A SURPRISE PLOT TWIST, so maybe you might want to.

Here's the deal: many, many introverts hate answering the phone. Hell, as far as I can tell, there are a fair number of extraverts who hate answering the phone. The phone sucks! Except when the phone is awesome, like when it hooks you up with your fave people who cheer you up and make your life nicer and better for five minutes.

So what you do is, dirt-simple, remember?, assign a nice photo to each person you need or want to talk to on your smartphone. Er, iPhone, I'm pretty sure you can do this with any phone that has a camera, but I'm Apple-centric and what do I know from other telephonic devices? Nothing, that's what.

Bonus-extra ridiculous-but-useful tip: if there is someone you really, really do not want to talk to but must for some reason, name them something cute in your address book ("Rainbows and Flowers!" "Ice Cream and Doilies!"), pick an adorable picture of bounding puppies or bunnies in cups, and you will answer every stupid, hateful call with a secret smile on your face. Or, you know, just smile as you watch them go into voicemail.


People in this video (besides me): Heidi Miller (social media/self-promo junkie); Jodi Womack (women's business networker extraordinaire)

When you can't hire me


I raised the price on my main consulting package today.

Well, okay, technically, I raised it several days ago, and then I lowered it slightly to a number that was still higher, but not quite so much. But still, the price ($475) is higher now than it was ($250) a couple of weeks ago. And while I noted it in my newsletter, pretty much the only place I pimp stuff like that, you may have missed the big, fat, hairy announcement.

While I raised my prices almost 100%, the truth is that I just brought the price in line with what it actually costs me to do these things. I started consulting verrrrry tentatively, at the request of a friend who became my first client, over a year ago.

I then created the Main Thing I Offer by way of consulting, the "Full Monty" (still in beta!), as I call it, about 10 months ago, and purposely kept the price low, even as the Monty grew in depth and scope (and goodies, which I've added). I've done a slew of them, and so far, everyone has walked away from the experience ecstatic, unless they're lying to me. They come out of it with clarity and excitement and a plan, and I get to share all this great stuff I've learned and assimilated over the past 20-odd years, and it's awesome. It's a billion times more satisfying, not to mention useful, than writing ads or even acting in them. (And let's not even mention the design, which was an ulcer-inducing year for me.)

Which means that people who need it are happy with it, and I'm happy with it, and it should all be sunshine and roses. And it was, except for what it was taking out of me. Because while I got better and better at doing them, they still require tons of prep. Shit-tons of energy. All good, but completely unsustainable at the old rate.

Problem is, even though it's a reasonable increase given everything that goes into it and still a pretty awesome value considering what you get, it's also a big jump, percentage-wise and I recognize that it's going to put me out of range for even more people than before, an unfortunate but unavoidable reality.


I'm working on some ideas for putting what I do for clients with the not-too-high-priced (but still not cheap, I realize) one-on-one consulting stuff into a do-it-yourself, low-priced alternative. It's a little tricky, but I'll figure it out. This ain't rocket science, and plenty of other fine people have figured it out before me. But in the meantime, until I get these magical, mysterious, as-yet-unknown things out into the universe, what do you do when you can't hire me but you want some help sorting out your marketing messaging, here's what I'd suggest:

1. Comb through the newsletter archives. They're right here. There are a lot of ideas and exercises embedded in the monthly thingamajiggy I put out which, because I am a barefoot cobbler's child and can come up with no better, I call a "newsletter." It is not really a "newsletter", since by weight, it's only about 2% news, if that. (The price hike thingy is news, I guess, as are my occasional "Come here and hear me speak" items.)

The "newsletters" are archived chronologically, with a little description for each. Browse them, see what catches your eye, then pick two or three to work on.

And then subscribe. Seriously. A lot of what I do with my clients is help them apply the stuff I talk about in the newsletter to their specific needs. You won't get a custom fit, but trust me, you're a smart enough cookie to figure it out yourself with a little extra effort.

2. Do the Formula exercise. The Formula kicks ass. Seriously. And it's the foundation of doing ANYTHING right, marketing-wise, on or off the web. Remember: at its core, marketing is the truth of you, translated into the language of them. Here's an example of it in action on my old design website. Here's another one, on Conrad Winter's copywriting site. More as I think of them.

3. Download the DIY version of the homework. Seriously, download it. Won't cost you a cent. No, you don't get me going over it with The Mixmasterâ„¢ (my brain, didn't know it had a name, did you?) Then DO it. If not now, put a time down in your calendar to do it.

BONUS EXTRA: If you want help in any particular area, getting up to speed on social media, becoming a better copywriter, being more productive, check out my copious delicious and StumbleUpon links in your area of choice. Yeah, yeah, there are a lot of tags to sort through. Do a search for what you need, or use one of the bundles I created for delicious. These two spots are where I bookmark most of the truly awesome stuff I find on the web. Again, you'll have to do a bit of the legwork yourself, searching through them, but it's there.

As any real productivity nerd will tell you, a huge part of getting things done is just doing it, starting it. Start with these. Do, read, write, think. See how far along you can get yourself. It takes a while, but it's possible; after all, it's how I learned to do all this stuff.

And if there are specific things you'd like me to address, let 'er rip in the comments. Like I said last week in the Very First Screencast Ever on Communicatrix, I'm looking to do more stuff with audio and video to help share the crazy tricks and tips I've picked up along the way.

Basically, I'm open for suggestions. Wide open. What do you want? What would make your life better/stronger/faster?

If you're just "here for the beer," as we used to say, that's cool, too. But if there are particular things you're looking for, problems you wish I would tackle in my uniquely communicatrix-y way, this would be an excellent time to let me know.

Thank you, and have at it...


Image by sittered via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.

Nerd Love, Day 12: How to write a bulletproof newsletter

coaster news I've been sitting on this post for what seems like eons. Every time I sign up for a new newsletter, I cross my fingers and hope and hope and hope. And almost invariably, I am disappointed.

It's very hard, apparently, to get a newsletter right, and really, really easy to fuck it up.

And so, in the interest of me, me, me...

The communicatrix's top 10 tips for creating a newsletter people will read every time it hits their inbox:

1. Content is king

I'm a designer. I like things to look nice. My two favorite newsletters? The only ones I will recommend at the end of this post? One is text-only and one is, um, ugly. There, I said it. Who cares? I read that sucker every Friday morning, stem to stern. Like I said, content is king.

2. Leave me wanting more

People who subscribe to newsletters usually subscribe to lots. If yours is too long, guess what? There are others that come just as regularly, and aren't. Of course, there is almost no such thing as too long if your content is good enough. But why kill yourself? You've got 51 more weeks to fill, cowboy. Besides, the point of the newsletter, as I understand it, is to get someone interested in your business. I would think the two greatest ways to do that are to tell me incredibly useful information, thereby establishing yourself as an expert, and to leave me wanting more of your expertise.

3. Watch the ads

Hey, it's your dime and your time. I can understand an ad or promo here or there. Just be careful. No one's content is that good.

4. Be as regular as taxes.

Those "when I feel like it" newsletters? Those are articles. Unless you are one of maybe 25 people whose words I hang on, I'm not interested in your articles. Really, I'm not.

5. Regular means once per week, per two weeks and if you're amazing, per month.

I mean, go ahead and send me that once per month email. But know that there are some people sending me an emailed newsletter with great content every week. Which means maybe consider #1 & #2 and go back to the drawing board.

6. Think long and hard before using that email I gave you to send me something else.

I'll give you one, maybe two shots. Then you're outta there.

7. Keep the self-congratulations for friends and family.

I almost never care if you've won something. Unless it directly affects me, in which case, knock yourself out.

8. An HTML email with links back to your site instead of embedded content is not a newsletter.

It is a pain in the ass standing in the way of me and information. Don't do it.

9. Keep it within your purview, but useful to me.

This is incredibly hard to do, but it's really how you hit it out of the park. One of my new favorite newsletters is Mark Silver's Business Heart. It's all text, has a dopey-ass name and is outstanding almost every single week. Silver's area of expertise is "heart-centered business practice", in other words, how to do business without feeling like a tool. He's focused and passionate about what he does, and communicates simply and elegantly about all sorts of things I find helpful, like how to approach writing a book, how to think about marketing in a way that doesn't make you cringe, etc. He's consistent, respectful, gives openly and doesn't push. Guess who I'm going to refer someone to first when they're looking for a coach like him? (UPDATE 6/17/09: Mark's newsletter is HTML-beautiful and easy to read. Slam dunk, baby!)

10. When in doubt, offer tips.

Everyone loves tips. Well, everyone who subscribes to newsletters, anyway. Rebecca Morgan and Ken Braly's SpeakerNet News gets read first, every Friday, even before I click on my Salon links. I'm not even a speaker, but (UPDATE 6/17/09: I am now!) It's chock full of excellent tips on stuff like self-promotion, marketing, travel, organizing, systems, etc. In fact, if someone has a newsletter for me that is as good as SNN and has only organizational stuff, I will pay you five American dollars. (I must subscribe to it for at least one month before you receive your prize.)



UPDATE: I just found another great point about what makes a great newsletter in, you guessed it, a newsletter!

11. Don't forget outbound links.

This is kind of a corollary of Rule #1, but enough of a good point to bear mentioning on its own. I like goodies! All people like goodies! Give away goodies! Lots of other good stuff in this article, although the newsletter itself breaks Rule #8, so it doesn't make the hit parade.

Nick Usborne in "Four Ways the Best Newsletters Are Like Blogs," from the newsletter (link)

UPDATE (11/30/07): I'm going to start a list here of additional newsletters to add to the canon:

  • Michael Katz's newsletter (bi-weekly) continues to hold up to the test of time. Great writing, good information, highly motivating. It should be: he wrote the book on it. (And a great book, which I still recommend for people starting out.)
  • Robert Genn's newsletter (bi-weekly) is crafted for fine artists, but great for any kind of creative soul (and possibly, inspiring for those who don't consider themselves creative)
  • The Lefsetz Letter (mostly daily) is a different sort of "newsletter", really, it's blog posts, sent out via an email service. But it's addictive in the best way that newsletters are, filled with interesting things to check out. Bob's beat is the music industry, so if you're in any creative industry undergoing upheaval, you'll find lots of great info here.
  • Power Writing (bi-weekly) Professional writer Daphne Gray-Grant has tons of useful things to say about writing more easily and having more fun doing it.
  • The MOOsletter (bi-weekly) Outstanding tips on marketing from one of the smartest companies around. A joy to read and chock full of awesome, week after week.

Image (and headline) by Eammon via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.