Thank a Cop

I love using my art to inspire and celebrate others, so this week I created my own version of the Police Memorial logo to honor and remember officers.

In 1962, President Kennedy proclaimed May 15 as National Peace Officers Memorial Day and the calendar week in which May 15 falls, as National Police Week. Established by a joint resolution of Congress in 1962, National Police Week pays special recognition to those law enforcement officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty for the safety and protection of others.

Until next week,
Pam

Tears Of A Cop


I have been where you fear to be.
I have seen what you fear to see.
I have done what you fear to do.
All these things I've done for you.

I am the one you lean upon.
The one you cast your scorn upon.
The one you bring your troubles to,
All these people I've been for you.

The one you ask to stand apart.
The one you feel should have no heart.
The one you call the officer in blue.
But I am human, just like you.

And through the years I've come to see
That I am not what you ask of me.
So take this badge and take this gun.
Will you take it?
Will anyone?

And when you watch a person die,
And hear a battered baby cry.
Then so you think that you can be
All those things you ask of me?

10 Questions with Wonderful Illustrator Ohn Mar Win



CLICK HERE to visit Ohn Mar Win's website

I am so inspired by the work of other artists and I wanted to share one that has taken a medium that was relatively new to them and created a complete brand.

Ohn Mar Win is a UK based illustrator who creates beautiful, fluid water color illustrations. Her color palettes are inspired and her details are fresh and lively. She has a giving spirit and shares her process through classes on Skillshare and work-in-progress videos on Instagram.

Enjoy learning a little about Ohn Mar Win!

10 Questions

Work:

1. Do you work in any other mediums other than water-colour?
Yes I work in pen and ink, brush pen, and I use PS and Ai on a IMac

2. How do you choose and organize your subject matter? 
More my sketch a day I tend to just pick a subject on that day - perhaps I saw a flower or a palette of colours I liked so wanted to explore them further. I don’t really have a plan most days!

3. Where is your favorite place to do creative research? Online? In person?
I do both. Sometimes I’ll take a photograph of something whilst on a walk or shopping and bring it out when needed.

4. Do you have a favorite piece of art or one that you are more proud of?
Oh gosh I really like a lot of my foodie illustrations but I like some of the sketches where I mix up the mediums

5. Who or what inspires you creatively?
Mostly everyday things or seasonal flowers can be turned into lovely patterns. And I like seeing the art at the Royal Academy Summer exhibition

Personal:

1. What was your favorite toy or item as a child?
I did have a small tin paint set which I treasured and lots of Roald Dahl books

2. What is your favorite movie?
Either Breakfast at Tiffany's or Bladerunner

3. What is your favorite food to eat?
I could eat Sushi everyday

4. Do you have other creative outlets?
I really like watching films and would love to write a screenplay one day

5. Do you have any personal advice for other artists that may be new or unsure about sharing their creative talents?
I’d say just make lots of art, don’t be afraid of making a mistake or a mess as we are all learning. That's why I paint everyday - I’m still learning and developing myself. Soon you’ll se what you are attracted to and then make more art with that in mind


IG @ohn_mar_win

It's official!

CLICK HERE to visit the Artworks! Licensing website

Hello everyone,

I'm so happy to share that last week I signed with an art licensing agent and I am now represented by Carol White of Artworks! Licensing.


I am looking forward to this next creative phase and having the opportunity to create a lot of new work. 

It has been an interesting path getting to this point and I am working on a series of blog posts sharing my journey in art licensing, including learning the business, networking, creating art suited to licensing and ultimately finding an agent.

Stay tuned!

Until next week,
Pam

Photo Storage Organization and Back Up


At last check I had 14,448 pictures on my iPhone.

To say I am a photo junkie would be an understatement. Add that to the huge, layered Photoshop files I have of my artwork and you might see why I need convenient, safe, reliable photo storage and back up options.

For a long time, I chose to ignore the whole topic of photo back up. It just seemed so overwhelming, cumbersome and confusing so, if I didn't think about the threat of loosing everything it wouldn't happen, right? Seriously, that was my thinking. Crazy, I know.

Truth is, there was always this low level of stress every time I went to turn my computer on…what if it didn't startup this time? Then I saw a well established artist post on social media that her computer crashed and she lost everything…EVERYTHING.

That was my wake up call to take my head out of the sand and figure out a system for myself. (more reliable than my occasional back up to an external hard drive)

Now, I am by no means an expert and I am sure there are more steps I could be taking BUT I know I am doing more than I was before…so that's progress.

Below I will share what I do but I recently saw this tip for flash drive storage and I thought it was really simple and clever. 

CLICK HERE to visit the Driven by Decor Website
How do you save, store and protect your photos?

Until next week,
Pam

Dropbox
I expanded my storage size for my Dropbox account for a small fee and now work directly from that. It's so convenient to be able to store my pictures and documents in the same files and to be able to access them on all of my devices. I find it very easy to manage my content in Dropbox and I have downloaded their applications to my computer so it is included in my regular backup.

Backblaze
This is a remote backup service that works automatically in the background for an annual fee. Once you do the initial back up, it will continue to back up on a regular basis. Just a note that depending on how much content you have, the initial back up can take a LONG time…like days or weeks. You can still work on your computer and it just keeps running in the background. They send status emails on a regular basis.

External Hard Drive
I'm not as good with keeping up on this but I do have one and have saved a lot of work and photos to it. I only have one but I know others have several and keep them in different locations. They are pretty affordable now for HUGE storage amounts so it definitely makes sense to add this to your back up arsenal. Mine is a called "My Passport Ultra" by Western Digital and it comes in different size options.

Why Do I Blog?

Last week I didn't write a blog post.

I sometimes question why I write a blog but then I think about all of the useful information I have received from other people's blogs, even years after they have written them. I have always been generous with sharing information and having a blog helps me to do that.

Not long ago, I was doing research on pitching gift book ideas to publishers and came across this article by Ben Hunt. It didn't have a publish date but just said it was from "a couple of years ago".

It was the exact information I was looking for and I was so glad HE had a blog! 

That is why I blog.
To help others.

Check out his super interesting article about finding your "why". It can apply to so many things and really helped me take some big steps forward with my creative business.

Until next week,
Pam

Pic Collage - So Many Apps, So Little Time!

with distressed wood background
with sand background

I realized I needed a quick way to resize and add text to my product and art pictures that I share on social media. I also needed to be able to do this on the run,  without having to go into Photoshop.

I did a little research on photo editing apps and found one called Pic Collage.

I played around with the free option for a while and liked it so much, I upgraded to the paid version.

I have to say that it has been indispensable in helping me quickly convert my images into content for social media, my blog, newsletter and my website.

You can create collages "freestyle", with grids or by using their templates. You can add text, stickers, backgrounds…it's very versatile and simple to use.

Here are some of my favorite features:

  1. You can switch easily from portrait to square with one click, making it great for creating Instagram posts.

  1. You can use their pre-formatted grid templates or toss and layer your pictures freestyle. There is a lot of flexibility.

  1. You can add a colored border to each photo, flip images, rotate, bring to top, etc. They also have shaped templates that can create a square, circle or triangle border around your image.

  1. You can add text with or without a background, change fonts and font size.

  1. There are stickers (both paid and free) that can be resized and rotated, including generic and holiday themes.

  1. There are a huge amount of backgrounds available (both solid colors and patterns) and you can search custom titles like "yellow glitter" or " dark, distressed wood". I think that the backgrounds give my product images a professional, styled look.

  1. The images can be saved to your camera roll and can be edited in the app at a later date, as it saves all of your previous collages in the app.

Below, you can see some of my completed images using Pic Collage.

Do you have a photo editing app that you like?

Until next week,
Pam

showing a collection

creating an inspirational graphic with my art

showing art on a light wood background

showing a collection on a distressed wood background

showing the four seasons of Rhode Island

showing a sample of Mother's Day cards
with green glitter background

10 Questions with Accessory Designer and Artist Rommy de Bommy


I am so inspired by the work of other artists and I wanted to share one that really makes me smile. 

Rommy de Bommy is a super clever, talented artist that creates magical purses and accessories with a fun food theme. Every one is more realistic, more colorful and more whimsical than the last. Also, in my opinion, she has mastered the art of expressing her true self through her branding. 

Enjoy learning a little about Rommy!

10 Questions

Work:

1. How do you style your product photos...wardrobe, location and image backgrounds? Do you have tips to share or a certain format you follow?

Well I actually have a huge closet with tons of rainbow colors. So there is basically always something hanging in there which matches my designs. I know how to combine colors with each other. And besides that I always say: 'Everything is possible, as long as you wear it confidently'. I live in Rotterdam, a huge city based in the Netherlands. There is a lot of grey and white tones everywhere. Which will bring my colorful clothing and designs more alive.

2. Your branding is so strong and cohesive. I think that is what so many artists and crafters have a hard time with. What are your tips for narrowing in on your brand style and carrying that through all aspects of your business?

I actually wasn't part of the plan. I just happened this way. I guess you can say it's my personal style which has a strong connection to everything I make. The most important thing is to make sure you're outstanding and quite unique instead of the same as other designers. You have to think strongly about your unique selling point (USP). But as I said earlier, It wasn't a plan. The whole branding is just me and the thing I love to do the most. 

3. What is your favorite part of having your creative business and why?

For sure my favorite thing is the fact that I'm making cakes and other food purses all day in my studio. How cool is that!? And the way people around the world are dying for my food purses! They are saving money to buy one of them someday. 

4. Do you have a favorite creation or one that you are more proud of?

Yes! Probably all of my cake purses are my favorite purses!

5. Who or what inspires you creatively?

Pastry chefs on Instagram are a huge inspiration

Personal:

1. What was your favorite toy or item as a child?

Barbies!!

2. What is your favorite movie?

Into the Wild

3. What is your favorite food to eat?

Croissants, all day, everywhere... Love them!

4. Do you have other creative outlets?

I'm working on a skirt collection right now. All inspired by food of course. 

5. Do you have any personal advice for other artists that may be new or unsure about sharing their creative talents?

Two important things: Just do it! And dare it! Dare to do something and do not be afraid to fail. Being unique and starting something new which isn't on the market yet will give you more chances to stand out and reach the top.

See more of Rommy's work or snag your own creation! Would you go for dinner or dessert?

They are working on a update of her official site, so in the intirum you can visit her Etsy webshop:

She does special custom orders as well. Customers can send her an email through etsy or rommydebommy@gmail.com



New Title! The Big Easy Series Vol 1, Variety Collection Coloring Book



I'm excited to share my newest release! It is now available on Amazon and through my website. 

(Just scroll to the bottom of the page.)

The Big Easy Series Vol 1, Variety Collection Coloring Book

Coloring for all ages and abilities. Featuring 40 assorted, 8.5” x 11” large format, simple drawings and patterns to color. Fun designs, that are less detailed and easy to see. Great for seniors, the visually impaired, beginners…or anyone that would like a stress free creative outlet!

The pages are printed on one side with a blank backside. All coloring images in this book are original drawings by Pam Vale, including a wide variety of themes, such as nature scenes, flowers, desserts, birds, tea cups, butterflies, simple patterns, hearts, dragonflies, and more!

Creating Coloring Books One Step at a Time


Almost exactly a year ago, I began creating my first coloring books. It was a series of three pocket sized coloring book journals with a 12 step, recovery theme.

Why three at once? With all of the information and art I wanted to include, I thought one would be too long and I felt like the content split naturally into three distinct segments. It was kind of fun to work on them together, as I learned the process of self- publishing.

I now have 13 published coloring book journals with one more in the works. My themes include inspiration, self-love, jewelry, travel, gratitude, recovery, mandalas and even my cats. The book I am currently working on is a large format coloring book with an assorted theme.

So, how did I do it? See my steps below.

Sure this is a super abbreviated list but I think it will give you an idea of the main steps I take when creating one of my coloring book journals on the self publishing platform "CreateSpace". They have all been pretty much the same process.

I am happy to answer any questions. You can see all of my books on my website www.pamvale.com

Until next week,
Pam


  1. I pick a theme, topic or category for my book. For me, I stick to things that interest me or have special meaning in my life.

  1. I research my subject and compile a long, loose list of drawing ideas. I try not to be too limiting in my list and include ANYTHING that might go with my theme, no matter how random it may seem. I would rather end up with too many ideas, than not enough.

  1. I decide on the particulars for the project,  like the finished book size, number of pages and any added features like journal pages or dedications. This will tell me how many main images I will need to create and also any other smaller art for things like title pages.

  1. I create simple pencil sketches for each page to layout my design and adjust proportions. This is loose but clean, so that I can see the balance and tell where more or less detail is needed.

  1. I tape tracing paper over the pencil sketches and "ink" the final drawings using the pencil sketch as a guide. Sometimes I slip a blank white sheet of paper in between the pencil sketch and the tracing paper to see where I may need to add more details.

  1. I remove the tracing paper and add any additional details or patterns. At this stage, I am looking to make sure there is an assortment of difficulties and a mix of shapes.

  1. I scan the inked images into my computer at a high resolution and save them in my "Dropbox". I started using Dropbox as a main storage area for current work about 6 months ago (along with other methods of back-up) and I have really liked having access to my current work across all of my devices.

  1. I open each image in Photoshop where I clean up any rogue marks, adjust the size, add borders, correct components and save as a finished piece of art. I save the finished art in both a layered Photoshop file and as a JPG file.

  1. I download a formatted interior book template from CreateSpace for the size book I am creating and fill it with my art. It is then saved as a PDF.

  1. I upload the complete document to CreateSpace and follow the simple, step by step directions on the CreateSpace site to finished the project. This includes setting a price, listing keyword tags and choosing distribution channels.

How to Select and Use Color. Part 4 in a 4 Part Color Series


So, you have a project and you are ready to go but you can't decide on a color palette. What do you do?

Do you surf online? Do you stroll through shops and look at existing merchandise? Do you look at past work, magazines, watch TV?

Color can be wonderful and overwhelming at the same time.

Here are 5 go-to tips and tools for selecting and combining colors. See if any of them can help you.

1. The Voice of Color® Color Game offers you your own personal set of colors for all the design elements in your room or space. All you do is answer a few questions and select images that resonate with you.This is geared more towards interior colors you personally might like to be surrounded by but I figure if they are colors you like, you will enjoy creating with them. I played the game a few times and it was very accurate for my personal color preferences. CLICK HERE to try The Voice of Color® ColorGame.

2.Adobe has a really useful online tool called Adobe Kuler Color selector. You can create color schemes with the color wheel or browse thousands of color combinations from the Kuler community. It is set up to automatically create combinations based on your selection of a color rule. That way you don't even have to know color theory! It does it for you. CLICK HERE to try Adobe Kuler

3. Coolors was a fun, free color palette generator that I enjoyed using and will incorporate into my design arsenal. It has a quick tutorial that explains how to use all of the features and save your combinations. I really liked the over sized color swatches. I was able to easily and quickly generate some color combinations that excited me. They also have a page with existing color combinations from other users. CLICK HERE to try Coolors.

4. Pinterest is a great place to discover and save new color combinations. There is a never ending supply of inspirational color palettes for all of your creative, design projects. Just search keywords (like seasonal, feminine, vibrant, neutral) along with the words "color palettes" and see what you discover. It's also a great place to create color stories and inspiration boards. I can spend way too much time on there! To see some of my favorite color combinations, CLICK HERE to follow me on Pinterest.

5. Lastly, a great option is taking a course in the study of color theory. There are many online workshops or you can check your local community college if you prefer to learn in person. A little basic knowledge can really help build your confidence where color combining is concerned. There are also books and color wheel tools that you can find at your local art and craft store.

Do you have tools or tips on creating color palettes?

Until next week,
Pam

CLICK HERE to read part 1 in the color series
CLICK HERE to read part 2 in the color series
CLICK HERE to read part 3 in the color series

Ever Wonder Where Color Trends Begin? Part 3 in a 4 Part Color Series


There is a great scene in the movie The Devil Wears Prada where the character Miranda Priestly schools her new assistant on the lineage of color trends. It's a classic scene and really gives a peek into the truth about color trends in the fashion industry. CLICK HERE to see this entertaining video clip. 

In most industries, color trends are selected by a group of people.

I recently read about one such group where they explained their in depth process of selecting their paint color forecast for the year. They also introduced some of the members of their international group. I would love to be a fly on the wall during one of these sessions!

CLICK HERE to see a really interesting behind-the-scenes look at exactly how they created the PPG The Voice of Color® 2017 Color Trends.

For designers, the name PANTONE® is known worldwide as the standard language for color communication. Each year they release their color of the year with much fanfare.
CLICK HERE to visit their site. There is a wealth of information along with tools and training, all related to color. 

While these colors trends don't necessarily need to be followed exactly, they can serve as great  inspiration for your own color palettes. They will also give you an idea of what you might be seeing in stores in the future.

Until next week,
Pam


CLICK HERE to read part 1 in the color series
CLICK HERE to read part 2 in the color series

What's in a (Color) Name? Part 2 in a 4 Part Color Series


There is a funny graphic circulating social media right now that shows two people standing facing each other, separated by a vertical line of stacked multicolored dots.

On top of the person on the right it says "Normal People". On top of the person on the left it says "Artist". The "normal person" is pointing to the colors and lists the most obvious 7 colors…like red, purple, pink. The "artist" is pointing to the same multicolored dots and lists 29 colors…like maraschino, cayenne, maroon, plum, eggplant, grape, orchid…get the point? As the artist, I think it's very clever and true!

This brings me to color names and how they influence our preferences consciously or subconsciously.

Think about how different your gut reaction might be to the color
"pea green" as opposed to "spring meadow ",  just because of the name.

Would you get as excited over "dirt brown" (yes, this is an actual paint color name) as opposed to "toasty" or "down home" or "hickory" or "brunette"?

We are emotional beings and words and names can trigger memories or experiences. A simple word can conjure up a reaction and manufacturers know this.

Did you know that for some, this is their actual job? That’s what the do, they create the most fabulous and marketable names for colors. That goes for all industries from wall paint to nail polish.

I read an article that said when they started, OPI nail polish decided to go against the norm of other companies that named their colors in a more utilitarian way like red #37 and maroon #5. They chose instead, to take a more fun approach and name their polish colors after destinations they traveled to and landmarks they visited. Which would you choose…pink #27 or "Barefoot in Barcelona"?

Successful names spark a connection. It could be to a location, a time period, a feeling, a desire, etc. Whether the consumer realizes it or not, that connection can ultimately cause someone to make a choice between two or more items. 

Have you been drawn to a color simply because of a great, descriptive name?

Until next week,

Pam
CLICK HERE to read part 1 in the color series

The Personal Connection to Color, Part 1 in a 4 Part Color Series


Do you have a favorite color?  What is it about that color or color family that draws you to it? Is it a feeling or a memory? Is it just a gut reaction? Is it based on tradition or history?

On the flip side, do you have a color that you really dislike? Do you have a specific incident, thought or item connected to it that makes you dislike it? Or again, is it a gut reaction?

Color is so personal and the reality is that we all see colors differently based on our physiology and experiences. What might look like one color to you might be described in a completely different way by someone else.

There is also a Psychology to color. We see color based on our experiences and surroundings. When you grew up, where you live, what you eat and wear, it all influences the way you process color.

Below is an example of how color is used in marketing and company branding. It is a strong science and there is a lot of importance placed on finding just the right color combinations based on the action or response the business wants.

Colors are chosen deliberately to cause a reaction…usually for you to make a purchase and specific colors are very important for brand recognition.

Do you find yourself thinking of certain businesses based on color combinations?

It's funny because it seems like ice cream shops use a lot of pastel colors in their branding…and in particular pink. Where I live, there is a local business that uses that iconic pastel pink in their branding but instead of selling ice cream and sherbet, they clean and service porta-potties! A VERY different business and yet every time I see their sign I think of ice cream!

Do you agree with the emotional link to the colors in the image below?
You can CLICK HERE to visit the blog post that this image came from. They provide a simple but comprehensive look into the psychology of colors.

I think it's kind of fun to notice my reaction to color throughout the day. I am organically drawn towards all shades of orange and tend to see those items first. For some reason I seem to see items in shades of blue, last.

Pay attention to what you are naturally drawn to. You might be surprised how often you automatically pass over certain colors. Sometimes I have to force myself to "see" specific colors so that I can step out of my comfort zone and expand my color palette.

Until next week,
Pam

Musicals Fuel my Creativity


Last week I discovered a new-to-me musical.

I usually listen to music when I paint and draw. TV or movies can be too distracting and I find myself looking away from my work too often, causing me to loose concentration.

For me, music fills the background and sometimes inspires part of the creation. I like many genres but seem to gravitate towards easy listening, the great American standards and musicals.

I really like using Pandora because of it's ease of use and variety. I have discovered many new singers and songs that way.

Last Friday I was listening to our "Broadway Musicals" station and heard a very clever song. I wrote it down to share with my son later that day and looked up the play. It looked awesome and I proceeded to google all of the songs. It is filled with hidden and not so hidden references to a lot of other shows so, which I thought was really fun.

Unexpectedly, the show had just started its national tour and the first stop was about an hour away from us in Boston. It was running through the weekend...what timing! We got tickets and went that night.

All three of us LOVED everything about it....the music, the performers and the story. If you like campy, fun, upbeat musicals, I highly recommend you see it if it comes to your area. It was described as a cross between The Book of Mormon, Spamalot, The Producers and The Drowsy Chaperone and it totally lived up to that description.

The venue added to our overall experience. It was at The Boston Opera House. It's a grand, historic, showplace that has been renovated and restored to its spectacular, original glory.

I get so much inspiration and artistic motivation from visiting places like this. Sometimes the details are a little overwhelming for me to take in, so having pictures helps me process all of it. Everywhere I looked there was another amazing trim, finish or accessory.

Here is a link to the shows website and to the YouTube video of the song that started it all for us.

The show is called "Something Rotten".

See what you think!

Click here to visit their website
Click here to see the song "A Musical" performed

Until next week,
Pam

Bonus - Click here to read my past post on music to work by




Being an "Artist" is a Great Excuse!


Do what you like.
Wear what you like.
Decorate with what you like.

Just tell people you're an artist!

As I was packing up our holiday decorations, I decided that I wasn't ready to say goodbye to all of them.

I began thinking how a potential buyer would feel walking through our house and I wondered if they would think it was weird that I left some of my favorite decorations up all year.

But then I pictured the agent being able to say "well an artist lives here" and instantly my eclectic decorations, color choices and details would all be acceptable and make sense somehow.

As a child growing up with a parent in the entertainment industry, there was always a "certain way" to act and "appropriate" behavior for all situations. Maybe my art (as I call it) was my way to have control over my self expression.

Under the umbrella of being an "artist", I could do pretty much anything. There was a freedom in having that creative outlet.

Being an artist came with different rules and expectations. It gave me permission to express myself in personal ways and at the same time it put things in context for others to understand me.

It was almost as if with that title, you were put in a separate category. One that didn't have strict boundaries and one, that I found out much later, other's secretly wished they were in.

It never really felt like an option or choice for me. At the time, I didn't know any different. It was just who I was. But now, I see the reaction some of my choices receive and the reaction people have to other artists as well. I feel like we are seen through a filter.

Do you have something odd you want to wear? Do you have a vibrant color you want to use in your house? Do you like to collect items from past? DO IT! Don't wait for approval from anyone. If you like it, that's enough. 

Tell yourself you're an artist!

I believe we are all artists in our own way.

When you think of artists, do you have a more open, freethinking, expressive, personality in mind and do you feel like you would give an "artist" more leeway as far as what they choose to wear or surround themselves with?

Until next week,
Pam

What to Share in Newsletter vs a Blog Post


When I started my current weekly e-newsletter (click here to subscribe) I was so confused about what the difference would be between what I would share there vs what I share on my blog.

It was such a mystery to me, so I hunted and hunted in every corner of the Internet for the answer. What kind of content do you share in a creative newsletter as opposed to a blog.

Surprisingly, it was hard for me to find any specific guidance, which lead to procrastination and stress. I just couldn't wrap my head around what the difference was between the two.

Add to that the occasional "artist" self doubt, creating the thoughts "What does it matter anyway? …and why would anyone care about what I have to say or be interested in me and my process? Why would someone want to read both?"

It took looking a little outside of my creative niche but I did more research and started to cull together some ideas and suggestions that I will share below. These have helped me stay within certain parameters when planning and creating content for each platform. Maybe they will help you too!

Suggestions for both a creative newsletter and a blog:
  1. Keep it brief. Readers are busy and there is a lot of content competing for their attention.             
  2. Be professional but don't be afraid to write in your personality. After all, these tools are for people to get to know you.
  3. Read and reread your posts and writing. Edit and check for typos.

Blog post tips:
  1. Share content that is less time sensitive. Remember, this information might be found by someone a year or more from now when they search your topic.
  2. Share more universally interesting topics and content. Gearing your content to a wider audience.
  3. Create posts that are useful, like tutorials or tips. Share your expertise or process in a way that can help others searching for guidance.

Newsletter content tips:
  1. I guess my biggest (and most surprising) take-away is that the most popular and successful newsletters are not geared towards "selling" anything. It is more about connecting with your readers and developing a relationship.
  2. The writing in a newsletter can be more conversational, like a visit from a friend. People that subscribe are interested in what you do and who you are, so honor that with an authentic connection.
  3. Share time sensitive information, special events, new releases, exclusive deals and even a glimpse into your personal life. Reward your readers with something special for subscribing and reading.

My number one tip to organize my content:
I keep a running list of topics and ideas in one centrally located place. Right now, that place is the app "OneNote". OneNote works across all of my devices, making it available for a quick idea add at any time.

I have two file tabs in the app. One is titled "Posts in the works" and the other is "Used posts".

In the "Posts in the works" tab I create a new "note" for each idea and start the title of the note with "B" (for blog) or "NL"  (for newsletter). That way I know which direction the writing needs to go and can easily access ideas for both. As I use each topic I move it to the "Used posts" tab.

It's super simple and very functional.

As of this writing I have 15 blog ideas started, 4 newsletter ideas started and 2 that might be able to go either way. It makes sense that there are so many more ideas for my blog because those are not time sensitive. There are fewer for my newsletter because those are more current.


Do you have guidelines you use for blog or newsletter post content?
Do you have a useful way to organize and store your ideas?

I'd love to know what works for you!

Until next week,
Pam

Making Changes, One Minute at a Time


Do you think one minute can change your life?

Recently, my husband shared something that he had read about a Japanese practice called Kaizen. The principal of the practice is to choose something to do for one minute, at about the same time, every day. The task can be something for self improvement or even work related.

It made me think about all of the artists that I see participating in daily challenges and projects. I love seeing what other creatives do on a daily basis to build their skills and stoke their creative fire. I follow many that sketch or paint every day for a set amount of time or that focus on a specific medium. How wonderful to be able to look back and see your progress and growth. It also provides lots of new material for future jobs and projects.

I have always liked the idea of having daily rituals or joining a creative daily activity  but honestly, I usually start off great and then end up forgetting about it. I do "create" something every day (usually painting or drawing) but I don't count that because it's my love and usually my work.

It makes sense that doing something every day (no matter how small) will help to build a strong foundation for a new habit so, I started thinking about how I could use the tool of Kaizen in my personal and professional life and what habits I would like to establish.

The first thing that came to mind is that I really like the idea of meditating every day and always feel better when I'm done. The problem is that I often forget or don't chose to make the time for it. I might do it daily for a week or two and then forget about it for a month.

I find that meditation helps stimulate my creativity, so this habit would benefit me both personally and professionally.

One minute a day? I think I can handle one minute a day.

I am about a week in to my experiment and only missed one day…because I forgot. Agh! It seems that in the beginning, I might have to set an alarm.

I am interested to see where this goes, as right now it feels a little like a chore (defeating the whole purpose of meditation) but I am going to give it a chance and keep an open mind.

Is there anything you would like to incorporate into your daily life that the Kaizen, one minute a day practice could help with?

If you do a web search for "Kaizen, one minute practice" you will find a lot of reference material and can also read about the history of it.

Until next week,
Pam