February 2017 Wrap-Up

What a busy month!

Along with my regular writing, I’ve been busy working on client websites and product photographs, editing a romance manuscript, critiquing and workshopping with other writers, and finishing up edits on DISARM: A Gun Sense Anthology.

#52essays2017 (Musings)
Quantity or Quality – When all else fails, write what you know.
Yet She Persisted – the tagline of womanhood
Soup, It’s What’s for Dinner – sometimes you just need a hot bowl of soup
Word over Weapons – words for change
Representation Matters – what we see affects who and how we are

Children’s Programming
Frozen – Sisterhood?
Secret of the Wings -another Disney flick about sisters that features ice and snow
The Pirate Fairy – Faith, Trust, and Pixie Dust

Words
Less or Fewer – It may be easier than you think
A Part or Apart – Because spaces matter
Riff/Rift – what a difference a “t” makes
Good or Well? – It may not be as easy as you think…

Grammar Guide
Verbs – More than just “what you do.”
Adjectives – a look at how we describe them
Adverbs – their different uses
Pronouns – personal, possessive, relative, and more!

Other Writing
James McGarvey – February Updates
Meridian Photography – February in SoCal

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January 2017 Roundup

Personal Essays:
On Grieving – thoughts on celebrity deaths
Typical Situation – when the words don’t flow
In the News – struggling with results and ramifications
How to Be an Ally – what I’ve learned about standing by people
Politics Is Personal – Rhetoric, fear, and exhaustion…

Kids’ Shows:
Tinker Bell – an origin story
Lilo and Stitch – a family favorite all about family
Tinker Bell and the Lost Treasure – friendship, adventure, and responsibility
Transformers: Rescue Bots – Autobots, first responders, and gender representation
Tinker Bell and the Great Fairy Rescue – more friendship and adventure

Vocab:
Then vs. Than – a personal pet peeve
Focus – keeping our eyes on the prize
Ominous Hominy – misheard words
Alternative Facts – a special installment

Grammar Guide:
Get Ready for Grammar – an introduction
Nouns – looking beyond person, place, thing, and idea

Post Potpourri:
How to Utilize Your Facebook Profile – a top 10 for on your personal profile.
Meridian Photography: January 2017 – favorite photos
James McGarvey: Catching Up – looking back at 2016

 

How to Utilize Your Facebook Profile

The Facebook Terms of Service, under Registration and Account Security, state

You will not create more than one personal account.

and

You will not use your personal timeline primarily for your own commercial gain, and will use a Facebook Page for such purposes.

Given these rules and the inability to participate in groups as a Facebook Page, I know a lot of artists and entrepreneurs who get frustrated with the perception that they can’t promote their businesses.

1. Update your profile photo.

Facebook groups can be imperative for networking and business-building. Your profile picture is your first impression. Keep the basic rules of a good profile photo in mind, and stay authentic to yourself and your brand.

ProTip: Keep the photo of YOU not you and your bestie, your pet, or your kids. People want to know who they’re talking to, a photo of YOU makes you appear more trustworthy.

2. Update your cover photo.

The cover photo is a great place to show off your family, your pets, your favorite vista. Again, keep it true to yourself and your brand, but be cautious about HOW you use it to promote your ventures. If it’s a screen shot of your business logo, your pay-to-attend event, or similar promotions, you may come across as pushy.

ProTip: Make the photo relate to your business. If you’re a musician, use a picture of your instruments; if you’re an artist, take a photo of your materials.

3. Use your intro.

Think of these 101 characters as your speed date. It doesn’t have to be all business, you can shout out your allegiance to a sports team or declare your love for bacon, cheese, and chocolate. What are the people and things that matter to you? What hats do you wear and what roles do you play?

ProTip: Imagine an acquaintance has just introduced you to your idol. What do you want him or her to remember about you?

4. Update your featured photos.

This is another great place to highlight your friends and family. You can also use it to showcase your business logo, event flyer, or book cover.

ProTip: You get five pictures, a maximum of 2 should be business related.

5. Update your workplaces and schools.

If you’re self-employed, a freelancer, or an artist of any kind, you should have a Facebook Page to promote your businesses and services. In the “About” section of your Facebook Profile, you can add your Page as a workplace. So instead of a generic “Singer at Musician” your Profile would link to a Page that people could then Like and Follow.

ProTip: You can choose which of your workplaces are public and which are private or shown to friends only. If you have a “day job” at a company that isn’t affiliated with your Page, make that workplace private or friends only.

ProTip: Avoid being overly cheeky in your workplaces and schools. Relevant education and work experience can lend you credibility, but entries like “Attended the School of Hard Knocks” or “Studied nothing at None” can make you seem flighty.

6. Edit your privacy settings. 

There are two ways of looking at this, either keep most things Friends Only and make certain posts/information Public, or make most things Public and make certain posts/information Friends Only. Either way, make sure there’s SOMETHING on your profile to give people an idea of who you are.

ProTip: Go to Settings/Timeline and Tagging and select “View As” to see what the public sees.

7. Update your Content and Basic Info

This is where you can link to other accounts (Instagram, Twitter, etc) which may have different rules about how accounts are used. The Facebook algorithm seems to suppress posts which were shared from other social media websites, so you should make it easy for potential followers to find you on those platforms if they choose.

ProTip: If you have a blog, register a domain and share that under the website heading. Don’t list your Facebook Profile or Page as your website.

8. Find and participate in groups. 

There are hundreds – if not thousands – of Facebook groups dedicated to any topic you can imagine: music, poetry, reading, photography, etc. Find the groups that are relevant to your field(s) and participate. This is where a LOT of networking happens. Some of my best clients and colleagues have come from authentic participation in groups.

ProTip: If a Facebook group has rules, abide by them. If you don’t like their rules, don’t attack the people who created and run the group, just leave it.

9. Don’t hesitate to make requests.

As it’s grown, Facebook has become less about keeping in touch and more about networking. If you meet someone through a group (or a friend), send a friend or message request. If it’s based on a genuine interaction, you’ll probably be approved.

ProTip: Never, ever, EVER send SPAM. If you send someone unsolicited self-promotional content, it’ll probably backfire. Rather than being interested in your work or business, the recipient is more likely to report you for SPAM and make a note never to work with you.

10. Be authentic.

Bottom line: If you’re true to yourself, you’ll make connections with people who will WANT to support you and your creative/business ventures. 

Resolutions and Reflections

While heartbreaking in many respects, 2016 was still full of wonderful experiences. I found a writing group where I can hone both my writing and editing skills; my husband and I saw FIVE Dave Matthews Band Shows (including three at the Gorge); we took our kids to the polls for both the primary and the general elections; and we celebrated our sixth wedding anniversary.

I wrapped up 19 months of photo-a-day challenges, I’m almost three-quarters of the way through my #52WeeksofCreativity challenge, and I’ve been fortunate to collaborate with some talented artists and writers.

This year, I’ll start each month with a quick rundown of my pieces from the previous month. I start today with the end of last year. I’m hoping this will keep me on track with writing more regularly.

Writing Reflections: 

On Writing
On ReWriting

Vocabulary:

A Lot vs Allot
Happy Holidays
Words of the Year

Musings:

The Llama Problem
Christmastime

Children’s Programming:

Criteria of a Good Show
Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood

ProTip:

Take a Professional Quality Selfie

Photography:

Lake Michigan

ProTip: Make Your Selfie Look Professional

 

If you’re part of the modern world of social media, you know that every platform requires a profile photo. If your business has a logo, it’s easy enough to scale or reconfigure that to a 1:1 ratio that’ll fit the square format required by most apps. But what if your business and brand are you?

Whether we like to admit it or not, we’re a judgmental society; we judge books by their covers, and first impressions matter. While content is the most important part of social media, most people browsing through a feed won’t stop if the profile picture doesn’t look professional.

If you can’t afford a professional photographer, and you don’t have a nearby friend who can help you look good, you can absolutely take your own profile photo… without it looking like a Selfie.

Steps for Success

  1. Look your best. This doesn’t have to mean “fancy” or “done up.” Take your time to think about the image you want to project for your business. If you’re a professional (realtor, consultant, etc.) make sure your photo will reflect that. If you’re an artist (musician, poet, etc.), you can (and should) go for a more creative look.
  2. Find the right spot: well lit with a distraction free background. In a pinch, you can create your own backdrop by hanging a sheet from a tree, window, etc. If you need more light, use a mirror (or reflective car sun shade) to bounce more light onto your face.
  3. Don’t use a front facing camera. The quality is usually lower: they have fewer megapixels, most of them don’t have auto-focus, they don’t allow in as much light as the regular camera, and they sometimes force an odd perspective. (Note: you can use the front facing camera to gauge where you should hold the camera.)
  4. Find right angle. For most people, this is a three-quarter pose to camera, leaning forward slightly, with the camera just above eye level. This requires you to lift your chin just enough to make you look just a touch slimmer.
  5. Focus on your face. Look into or just above the lens. Try different expressions: smiling, laughing, thoughtful. This is where to let your personality shine.

 

Pet Peeves (for the love of whatever deity you worship, please don’t):

  1. Wear sunglasses (we need to see your eyes!)
  2. Use extreme makeup (unless that’s part of your brand, e.g. makeup sales)
  3. Take a Selfie in your car (this should be self explanatory)
  4. Wear gym clothes (unless you’re a personal trainer)
  5. Make “duck lips.”

With all that in mind, here’s my take on some of the quintessentially bad selfies I’ve seen.

protip-selfies

The final result:

maggie-mcgarvey-profile-photo

I found a pose which slimmed my jawline without making my eyes look huge. The background (a hedge) works well with the color tones I chose. My hair, while not perfectly styled, is suitable my somewhat whimsical writer/author profile, and the almost smile hints at intrigue.

 

Bottom line: your professional profile photo is your first chance to make a first impression. If it’s an honest reflection of you and your brand, that’s all that matters.

 

A Call to Action

Like many of you, I often feel powerless to affect change in a world which seems to be heading ever closer to giving greed, hatred, and fear the right of way.

Rather than remain in silence, I’m joining forces with my writer pal, Laura to put out an anthology to raise money and awareness for those who are in the trenches fighting for gun control.

We are tired of seeing the death toll rising. We are tired of sending “thoughts and prayers” to the families of the victims.

If you’d like to get involved with DISARM, check out Black Heart Magazine for full details and submission guidelines.

#DisarmHate

Hashtag DisarmHate

The Liebster Award

For Week Two: Missing This of my 52 Weeks of Creativity Challenge, head on over to my writing blog to see my nominees for the Liebster Award. You don’t want to miss out on what they’re saying!

Maggie Writes Stuff

liebster-awardLast week, Laura Roberts of Buttontapper Press nominated me for a Liebster Award because of my homophone pieces from April’s A to Z Challenge, as well as my new 52 Weeks of Creativity Challenge.

Laura, thank you so much for the nomination, I’m honored to be one among your awesome group of nominees!

These are the guidelines to keep the award going when you decide to accept it:

  1. Display an image of the award and write about your nomination.
  2. Thank and link the person who nominated you for this award.
  3. Answer the 11 questions prepared for you by the blogger who nominated you.
  4. Nominate 5-11 awesome bloggers who you think deserve this award, and create 11 questions of your own for your nominees to answer.
  5. List these guidelines in your blog post.

My Answers to Laura’s Questions:

1. What most inspires you to write?
Observation (and the need to…

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