One frequently asked question at a workshop on Web 2.0 was - what to do first when getting started in online marketing... here is a one answer written with Luddite friends in mind.
PREACHING (A NEW HYMN ) TO THE CHOIR: WEB PRESENCE AND HOW TO START CREATING IT
By Norah Dooley (© 2009 first published in Hearsay edited by Carolyn Martino)
Old modes of marketing have changed so completely that they are now nearly as outdated as ice carts and ice boxes. The good news is that as expensive as the old forms — like a full-color brochure, a fully-produced audio CD, packaged DVDs and mass mailings — were, the new forms are almost free.
Hardware: You need access to a good computer, a digital camera and DSL internet connectivity. If you are lost already by my list, then we need to slow down and have a heart to heart. I was once where you are now and found the very words I now spout with ease, alienating. The technical jargon of any field can be daunting from the outside, but we must get beyond annoyance and fear. We all need some level of mastery in computers in the twenty-first century, and there is nothing to be gained by refusing to learn about a tool most of you are using already.
Your computer needs a high speed processor. This means it has at least 1 Gig hz on PCs and Microsoft XP, or the newest operating system. (Skip over Vista if at all possible; even Microsoft admits that it is awful. Windows 7 is just out.) You’ll need at least 80 gigs of memory (more is better) on your hard drive, and you’ll need an external hard drive as well. The good news is most libraries and cable TV stations have these kinds of computers and you could simply get a 4 gig or larger gig thumb drive and a small digital audio recorder for as little as $50. And along with any size digital camera (I like the Canon Elph for many reasons – quality, reliability and because it makes decent videos as well), but even a CVS digital recyclable will work. With these three tools you will be good to go.
Software: All public computers have the tools you need. Having these same tools at home on your computer is a huge help and FREE — you simply download them from the Internet. You’ll need: A photo editing/online posting account, like Picasa, Photobucket. For sound Audacity works on PCs while Apple computers come with GarageBand. You wil also need a way to get video into a digital file you can send to youtube. I use a MacBook (laptop) and highly recommend Apple computers for people who are easily frustrated by technology. All the software you need for a Mac computer is pretty standard and for $100 you can take a lesson a week at your local Apple store. These lessons are great and, at two dollars or so a lesson, very cost effective as well.
Some people may have their hackles up already. To you I say: you didn’t jump into a car and expect to drive it without learning how, did you? Computers are way more complicated than cars but much less intuitive as well. While they are hard to figure out, unlike cars, no one gets hurt while learning new skills. Of course, when computers don’t cooperate, we all — geeks and techno-peasants alike — want to throw the machine out and get a dip pen and a pot of ink. BUT if we intend to communicate about our art and entice the wide world to come and hear us, our PR must look good and make sense. So if you lack computer know how, I suggest you find a beginners computer course at your local Adult Ed center, public library or Cable Access TV station. Or find a friend who will teach you, or a kind person who will carry you. Or find a friend to work with as you learn. Education is key to excellent, up-to-date marketing tailored to who you are and what you do. Independence and skill are the keys to nearly free access. You owe it yourself — unless you want to pay someone to do all this for you, and that is really very expensive !
It wasn’t that long ago that I hired someone to fix my computer at home and teach me how to use it better. Those six hours, plus one year of Apple lessons and countless disasters and experiments on my own, have served me and all the people I have taught, very well. There are so many ways to connect using the internet. This article aims to tell you what to do (once you have the basic skills) and where to do it. You are the choir – you already know about storytelling. Instead, what I am preaching and teaching is some new hymns to the choir.
I could write you a step by step outline, but I would just repeat what is already on line at www.blogger.com. You will be doing this online, it’s easier to move from screen to screen than from newsletter to screen and back again. To access this free service, you will need to start a gmail account. This is very simple as well. Read and follow the directions at gmail.com, and you will be on your way.
At first glance, a blog is really just an online journal that displays a series of posts, displayed in chronological order. But blogs also have space for contact information and pictures and video. These posts are typically written in a conversational, informal tone, and invite response. Blogs are a huge part of social media. Here are some positive features of blogs:
• Blogs are interactive - it is both conversation and up-to-date information.
• Blogs can be updated by anyone who knows how to send an email and remember a password.
• Blogs are really easy - it is easier to blog than to keep track of emails.
• Your blog is a dynamic flyer about your events and performances.
• Blogs can attract a whole new demographic - younger people online- to storytelling.
• A blog URL can be sent to other discussions, widening the awareness of our work.
• A blog can be attached to the website; not meant to replace it.
• People can subscribe to blogs and get notice of updates automatically.
• Blogs can contain video and links to sound and pics – look elegant and so simply
• I love this part – BLOGS ARE FREE. Completely and absolutely.
If you do not have a website, I hope you will go to blogger.com and set up a blog. Today. Take a look at the blogs of some storytellers you know for ideas about content.
New Hymn # 2 – I have a friend in Facebook! It’s free and a way for people to find you. Facebook is great place to post your videos and keep up with a ton of fans and other storytellers. Facebook will also link to your blog, etc. If you are in the swing, you will set up a Twitter and join a storytelling .ning. But first, join Facebook. And make sure you add a profile picture. A profile without a picture is as jarring as a business card with your name spelled wrong. You will stand out but not in a good way. Once you have a profile picture you like, you can use it over and over again. If you want, you can use another image — an icon or anything — but if your thought is to be known and hired for live performances, people want to see you.
Once on Facebook you need to “friend” people. You can use your email contact list to see who you already know on Facebook. Or friend someone you know who will suggest people to friend you.
Tom and I made and uploaded video this at the work shop.
New Hymn # 3 – Youtube can Be Saved! Once you have a gmail account, it is very easy to create a free youtube channel and post your work as video, and/or you can post sound recordings with as few or as many images as you like. You can post and direct prospective clients to recordings of your stories there.
New Hymn # 4 – Onward LinkedIn Storytellers - LinkedIn is like Facebook, but it is all about business. Build a profile the same way you did for Facebook and use your email account to see who you know already is LinkedIn. Your name and the profession of storytelling will be in the workday world of millions. You fill in the data the same way as with any of the above sites. Use the same “connection”- building strategies as you used for Facebook to get the word out about you and your work.
And yes there is more, but this is plenty for a start and never forget this old chestnut...
Old Hymn - Live meetings will Never be Replaced - There is no replacement for getting out there and talking and performing. Creating the opportunity to do so is what these web site presences are for. They are as expected as a business card (still used – with your web info on it) and a good brochure once were. It is important to have web presence because it is very expensive to send out press kits and CDs and DVDs. In fact, presenters may not want load your discs onto their computers for fear of viruses. Instead, presenters will look at your information on line. They will expect to find you online, And if they do not? Or, if what they find is inferior quality sound or video? They will think you are not serious about what you do. In fact, if they do not find you, to them, you do not really exist.
The more you post, the more people will find you. And everything on line with your name on it raises your rating with google, so people will find you more easily. But, everything you post should be of the highest quality possible. And that is another article.
So start now, with Hymn #1 — a blog and some good digital pictures of yourself. Always include contact email and phone in everything. And work your way up to singing all the new hymns.