Frank Chimero recently tweeted this illustration, a poster he made called "Midnight Oil":
It reminded me of this print from years ago:
Both prints I love and I want hanging in my office.
But, to be honest, when I am in my office working into the night, it's usually not my idea and it's never a good idea for my health.
So, I look to this illustration from Margot Field:
Get some sleep.
I just completed the Copyblogger Content Marketing Certification course. I haven't submitted my articles for certification yet, but that'll happen soon enough. Having over 1000 to choose from helps.
I took the course to find out if I really knew everything I thought I knew about what I'd been practicing for 20 years, or if I had a lot more work to do. The answer is: both. I knew everything in the course, but I hadn't always been practicing what I knew.
My excuse on this blog has always been that a personal site is your playground to post whatever you want. It's a place where the rules of content strategy don't apply. So, I wouldn't publish here the same way I published to A Lesser Photographer, The Van Halen Encyclopedia, or at HSBC.
But that misses the fact that we are all businesses of one now, whether we like it or not. Unless you're independently wealthy, you must sell yourself and your ideas to someone. Some ways of selling your ideas work better than others. That's what this course is about.
The art of content strategy is in the balancing of what works for an audience with what makes you different and interesting. This is where I will always be in a state of learning. The course won't help with that, but it does help with how to determine what an audience cares about and how to best serve that audience.
Was the Course Worth It?
Yes. It's a foundation. It won't make you a great content strategist, but without this foundational knowledge, you're going to struggle more than necessary. I went into the course knowing the subject very well, and still learned quite a bit about where the industry is today compared to when I started. As a refresher, I doubt I could find a better course.
For those hoping to use the certification as a selling point to future clients, I have no knowledge yet about how well that works. I'll try it out and report back if/when I get the actual certification.
To yourself: “It’s OK."
To others: “No thanks.”
Last month, Harvard Business Review published an article titled A New, More Rigorous Study Confirms: The More You Use Facebook, the Worse You Feel. It stated:
"Overall, our results showed that, while real-world social networks were positively associated with overall well-being, the use of Facebook was negatively associated with overall well-being."
It was followed up this month by the Wall Street Journal reporting on further research in an article titled Does Facebook Make Us Unhappy and Unhealthy? (spoiler: yes it does). It stated:
"Using Facebook was tightly linked to compromised social, physical and psychological health."
It seems clear now, just like when the early research was completed on cigarettes: Facebook is addictive and harmful to our health. And just like the early research on cigarettes, the addiction delivery company is arguing that the harm doesn't exist, while employing experts to make it even more addictive. In fact, another study found Facebook to be more addictive than cigarettes.
So, what's our responsibility as photographers or writers (the publishers Facebook depends on to fuel its future)?
Facebook dominates social media. Pew Research Center reported last week:
"Facebook continues to be America’s most popular social networking platform by a substantial margin: Nearly eight-in-ten online Americans (79%) now use Facebook, more than double the share that uses Twitter (24%), Pinterest (31%), Instagram (32%) or LinkedIn (29%)."
"Roughly three-quarters (76%) of Facebook users report that they visit the site daily (55% visit several times a day, and 22% visit about once per day)."
Facebook is where your audience is. What happens when publishing to them, in the place they gather, harms them?
Because your creativity doesn't begin and end when a project does. It's a daily practice.
365 projects are a byproduct of a daily practice, as are books, blogs, and careers.
“One of the factors of creating addiction is random positive reinforcement. If you’re trying to train your dog…you don’t want a treat every time. The more random, the more powerful the addiction to the behavior. There is hardly anything that has more random positive reinforcement than email and social media. Any of you golfers out there: one good stroke, one good drive, will keep you coming back to hit 400 crappy ones.”
The golf analogy perfectly describes the addiction to photography we experience.
Combine the random positive reinforcement of social media with the random positive reinforcement of photography and you get the success of Instagram.
Yesterday, my doctor told me I need to slow down. In short, I'm overwhelmed with work. It's not the first time I've been told this.
He said something else that stuck with me, though. He said that we've become a society obsessed with self-imposed deadlines that are ultimately meaningless. He said we'd all be a lot healthier if we dropped them.
He was talking about social media, personal projects, and the daily urgencies that don't stand up to measurement against what really matters – family.
I'm sure he was talking about himself as well. After all, being a doctor has probably meant he has spent way more time away from his family than he would have liked.
His emergencies are real emergencies and make ours seem trivial, but the fact he still believes we all have some reassessing to do, makes it somehow more comforting and motivating.
Figuring out how to drop self-imposed deadlines seems like a daunting task in itself. The rewards may be worth it, though.