Supporting Content Creators

You know one thing that really makes me feel good? Supporting content creators.

We all consume some form of free content online—articles, podcasts, newsletters, but even songs, short movies, etc. Sometimes they’re teasers to sell you a complete package, a product, or a subscription, but in so many instances they’re more like side projects whose goals don’t include generating profits.

So how do I support them?

Likes, subscribing and sharing are the classic ways—but what if you wanted to give them something more?

Some use PayPal donation buttons, or other services—I support my content creator of choice on Patreon and I really like it.

Patreon seems to be the standard these days actually. If the content creator has set up their account there, you can send them money on a recurring basis—for example every time they release something.

You can also set up a limit per month, in case you don’t want to end up sending them more than makes sense to you.

How do I decide who to send money to?

It can be a musician, a YouTuber, or someone who manages a newsletter, a blog or a podcast that really gave you something. These days there’s no limit to the kind of content that is shared online.

I chose Kevin Moore, keyboardist for Dream Theater, Fates Warning, OSI, and a bunch of other projects, whose music in his Dream Theater days meant a lot to me in my teenage years. He’s still making excellent music, albeit stylistically quite far from what his previous coworkers do.

Ok, but how much should I send them?

Whilst I believe any amount would make the difference for the content creator, my personal rule is: it should be a fair chunk of money I think they deserve (so probably not a stupid $0.20/month or something), that is still somewhat insignificant to me.

How do you determine what insignificant means, in the context of money? Ask yourself, What’s the thing I buy regularly that’s not essential? I like me a cocktail in a bar from time to time. There you go. $12/song for you, Kevin. The average price of a cocktail where I live, and coincidentally the upper tier of support for him (Collaborator, $10 + $2 VAT).

5 awesome Instagram accounts to follow

If you follow me on the web, you know I’m a huge fan of Instagram.

I was a bit disappointed when they started stealing every possible feature from Snapchat, but I’ve kept using it on a daily basis, just like millions of other people. Uploading my own photos, liking/commenting other Instagram users, and messing around with Stories.

Here are 5 Instagram accounts I’m loving these days.
Continue reading “5 awesome Instagram accounts to follow”

My writing workflow at WordCamp Bristol 2017

Hey everyone, I’m super excited to announce that I’ll speak at WordCamp Bristol!

In my session I’ll basically explain my writing workflow. I think it’s very important to have a clear and well defined writing routine to release content (whether blog posts or internal reports etc.) without reinventing the wheel every time, and my talk will go exactly in this direction.

Sunday 14 May 2017, at the Watershed Media Centre, 10AM—my talk is the first one of the second day.

My speaker profile
My talk’s abstract
WordCamp Bristol 2017 schedule

Remote Work & Digital Nomadism: My interview on Merita Podcast

I’ve recently had the pleasure to be interviewed on one of my favourite podcasts, Merita. Giorgio Minguzzi, the host, is a true professional when it comes to using the Internet to grow a business, so I think you’ll enjoy the conversation—as long as you understand Italian.

We chatted about remote work and digital nomadism, particularly focusing on the challenges and dark sides typically connected to them.

Listen here ⬇️, or on iTunes. If you speak Italian and are on the lookout for great growth and marketing advice I’d recommend you subscribe to the podcast.

Public Speaking: Organisation Tips

The other day I was asked to write about how I approach public speaking from an organisational point of view. Things like “do you have a general roadmap”, “how do you start creating your slides” or “do you use spreadsheets“ and so on.

I thought this was really interesting, so here we are, without further ado: tips on how to keep your life as a public speaker organised.

The Trello board

Just like almost everything else in my life, it all starts from a Trello board. My Trello board for public speaking helps me navigating across the grand scheme of things: biographies, headshots, speaker media kit, talk titles & abstracts.

trello-ps-board

The first column on the left has static info as well as a bit of meta—always explain how to use the board as it has to be accessible to mentors or colleagues. As I write this article, the Info column has four cards: a readme with instructions, a card for the Speaking Media Kit with the link to Dropbox (I’ll talk about this later), my biographies, and the abstract structure.

Second, third and fourth columns are New Ideas, In Development, Completed. Every card in those three columns is a talk, with the abstract in the description and everything else—comments from peers or mentors, checklists, links, attachments and so forth—where appropriate.

Every time I have a new idea for a talk I just create a new card in the New Ideas column. There’s no such thing as Hmm, shall I add this here? Hmm… not sure if… hmm… at this stage. Wild ideas must be encouraged. You never know.

The In Development column have only talks that I’m currently working on. Might be talks that have been accepted for an event, talks that I’m preparing before applying with them, or talks that already exist in some incomplete form for some reason. When a talk is in this column I want slide deck and speaker’s notes to have enough meat as soon as possible. When the talk reaches that stage (talk ready to be delivered, but if there’s time I’d appreciate the opportunity to give it some extra love), I apply a label to it, which I named “MVP” (buzzwords, yay), but remains in the In Development column.

The Completed column has only talks that are ready to be delivered or have been already delivered.

Talks are moved around among those three columns, with the usual movement being left to right—New Ideas ➡️ In Development ➡️ Completed.

Labels help a lot with the process. No label means it’s a regular 30–40 min talk. Labels can include workshops, lightning talks, flash talks, keynotes, “MVP”, etc.

Biographies

You’re probably asking why biographies. The answer might be more than one, notably type of events (I’ve got a bio specifically for WordPress events), and languages. Always keep them updated and make sure they reflect the speaking application you’re putting together: if you’re applying with a talk about business development, make sure your bio highlights your experience with business development.

Abstracts

My abstracts usually have three short paragraphs. In the first paragraph I define a problem, an issue, a current situation worth talking about. In the second paragraph I propose a solution, which normally is the major part of the content of the talk. The third one is all about the ideal audience (answering the question “who’s this talk for?”).

The folder for talks

I have a “Public speaking” folder on my computer, which is sync’d to my Dropbox account. This folder has two folders inside: the Speaker Media Kit and the Talks folder. The Talks folder has one folder per talk, and every talk has a “Images” folder (with all the image files that I use in the slide deck), and the Keynote presentation(s). Why plural? Because if I give the talk at different events the deck will inevitably change (from the event hashtag to cultural adjustments).

To recap: Public speaking ➡️ Talks ➡️ Talk name ➡️ Images folder & keynote file.

The Starting Deck

When I start creating a presentation for a new talk, I don’t want to start from scratch. No one likes blank pages, and let’s be honest here, some elements are common across different presentations—every slide deck has at least a cover and a final “thank you” / “questions?” page, right?

In my Talks folder there’s a “Starting deck” folder, which is set up in the exact same way of other talks: an “Images” folder, and a Keynote file.

The Keynote file has a cover (with dummy title, subtitle, hashtag and background, plus my Twitter handle and company logo), a slide about me, a couple of slides about Human Made, and a final “thank you” slide.

Every time I have to do a new talk, I will go to Trello and make sure the talk is in the In Development column, then duplicate the Starting deck, move it to its talk folder that I had created beforehand, and give the file the right name.

It’s definitely easier and quicker to do it rather than to explain!

Speaker Media Kit

I mentioned the Speaker Media Kit a couple of times already, and it’s time to go a bit deeper on this.

A SMK typically is a folder that has your biography, headshots (include only those you’re happy with, as they’re going on the event’s marketing campaigns, website, etc.), contacts, speaking topics (all the topics you’re comfortable speaking about, with some issue / solution-based explanation, very similar to talk abstracts), and testimonials.

It’s particularly useful when event organisers want your complete profile as a speaker.

The Speaker Sheet

An alternative to have separate files is a “Speaker sheet”, which has everything in one single PDF file. I’m a fan of this solution, in fact my SMK has only a PDF and a folder with headshots.

I would love to know how other people involved with public speaking keep everything organised. There are a million ways to do this, so please do weigh in with your processes or feedback in the comment section!

My Social Media Wishlist for 2016

2015 has been a big year for social media. Periscope and Snapchat exploded, Instagram became incredibly valuable for products and Twitter have been struggling to grow its user base.

In 2016 the industry will keep evolving and renovating itself with its usual speed: predicting what’s next in the industry is, at best, problematic. That’s why I’m sharing a wish list for 2016 – trends, practices and features – rather than predictions. There’s a lot to be excited about, so let’s dive in.

Tweople: More personal stuff!

When you tweet something out, don’t be afraid to add your personal touch, whether it’s yours or other people’s content. A comment, a quote from the tweet, an image that reflects what you’re sharing. Here’s what I believe is a good example:

If I tweeted only a post title, link and hashtag, it would have been just another tweet in the stream. Instead, I’ve sacrificed the post title, added a quote from the post, highlighted the real meaning of the post (the author’s view on a topic), and inserted an image – taken from the post itself – that echoes the topic.

I also wish people sent out less thank-you tweets to multiple handles. Simply put, when you thank people in bulk, what you’re saying is I don’t have time to tell you something meaningful. It might work from a quantity point of view – new followers, new notifications, Klout score going up and other vanity metrics – but doesn’t really add anything relevant. There’s a lot of things you can do instead, i.e. connecting with less people but starting real conversations, intro’ing them to other people that can be interested in their content, and so on.

Less #latergram and #throwback on Instagram

From a product marketing point of view, Instagram has the attention of a pretty good number of people, so the strategies that brands are using to connect with their prospects must include a wide array of visual content.

When it comes to people, I like thinking of Instagram as a real-time tool. People, in fact, are still brands: if I follow them, they have my attention. That’s why I like to learn what they are doing now, not what they used to look like when they were 16.

Less cliché pics

Laptop and coffee. Chicken with avocado. A cat with big, beautiful eyes. We got it, you are a coffee drinker that works remotely, eats healthy food and enjoys the company of a lovely pet.

As working from coffee shops and eating less sugar become more mainstream, there’s nothing unique or inspiring in those pictures anymore.

When I see someone showing off the lack of grey office walls in their life, I’d love to know what they’re actually doing, what tool they’re using and why, how they’re solving problems. Every time I stumble upon the picture of a salad I want to know what’s inside. The social media game shouldn’t be about you, it’s about the audience.

Less motivational crap

motivational

The brutal truth about these “motivational” quotes is that they’re created and posted because they’re excellent at capturing likes and followers. That’s it. Nothing more.

You don’t need those cheap, cheesy and one-size-fits-all posts. Whatever you’re trying to do with your life. In a bad mood? Feeling a lack of motivation? Look for real stories. Luckily for us the Internet offers so many places to share success stories and things that work (looking at you, Medium.com).

More television-like experiences on YouTube

As both smart TVs and Chromecasts (or the Apple TVs for that matter) become more popular, YouTube offers a remarkable opportunity to all those media producers, podcasters and film-makers out there to host their shows, publish their documentaries and distribute short movies, episodic shows and even independent, full-length films.

YouTube is full of talented people, but sometimes it’s hard to know where and how to find them. I really wish to see a significant improvement both in the YouTube homepage and in the YouTube iOS app that makes it easy for everyone to discover new content.

Special mention to 360° videos, which I’d love to see more often during 2016.

Instagram: let us switch between multiple accounts!

For many social media managers, having the ability to switch from their personal to their professional / business account would save so much time. Apparently Instagram is testing this feature on Android, so there’s a big chance to see this happening within the next 12 months. Personally, I can’t wait.

 

What are you looking forward to seeing on social media in 2016?

3 Non Obvious Ways to Improve your Slide Deck

Let’s face it: we’ve all seen slides that suck. Business meetings, sales pitches, conferences, you name it, someone brought a terrible deck with poor colour contrast and tons of text, maybe written in Papyrus or C**** S***.

Luckily those days seem to be over, or at least close to their end. At the last conferences I’ve been to I’ve mostly seen good slides, even from not-designers – slide design is an art on its own: it requires a fairly wide variety of skills (communication, psychology, design itself), and needs you to be familiar with software you wouldn’t use on any other situation.

These are some nice tricks I’ve recently discovered while working on my presentations. The overall idea is to help the audience focus on things that matter. Great slides support your story without stealing too much attention, and are easy to remember and understandable at a glance.

Play with opacity

Let’s assume you have a slide with a full-screen image, followed by some content about it.

This is our team at Human Made.

human-made-team copy

This is the following slide, containing our logo and some information about us:

hm_text

Here’s an improved version of the second slide. It features the same text, but has the previous image on the background, with opacity set at 33% and your deck branding colour behind:

hm_pic_logo

33% is a number that feels most of the time right to me, but it’s not a rule. Play with your image and see if you need a lighter or darker effect.

The transition is quite smooth and pleasant:

TqfOy1

Use the no-shift effect

You may have two slides that look almost the same except for some details. Here’s the idea: duplicate the slide (cmd+D in Keynote) and edit only the piece of content that actually changes.

Let’s get back to the previous sequence, and let’s say we’ve got another slide with more information on Human Made, i.e. some products we have built:

products

The transition highlights the new information.

EakbAx

Respect brand guidelines

If you look at the previous slides, you will notice that I haven’t typed in Human Made or our products’ names. Instead, I’ve dropped logo files in Keynote and adjusted size and position. Let’s do the same when we mention external brands.

Many products these days have brand guidelines on their site. Here’s Slack brand guidelines for instance, and that’s a really good example of a company explaining how to use their brand assets.

Look at the difference between these two slides:

slack

Slack with logo

Whilst the first one may follow your deck branding in terms of fonts, there’s no doubt that the latter stands out more. Logos are designed for people to remember them, and the visual support for a presentation has pretty much the same goal. Take advantage of brand guidelines to increase the chances your audience remember and recognise the object of your slide.

The folks at Slack also explain when to use the coloured logo or when to opt for the white or black monochromatic version instead:

The colored version of the Slack hash logo can ONLY be used on a white background. If you are using the Slack logo on any other background color, use either the black or white monochrome logo.

Brand guidelines are not just annoying requests product people make. Think of them as reasonable design decisions they’ve taken for you.

I really look forward to reading your feedback on these points. Although I’ve spoken quite a few times over the last year, I’m still working on improving every aspect of public speaking. However, if there’s one thing that is clear to me, is that a slide deck you’re happy with design-wise has a huge impact on your confidence and therefore your delivery.

(photo header credit: Yann Ropars)