Fiverr Fail

A wise man once said, “Experience is a hard teacher. It gives the test first and then teaches the lesson.”

Following this principle, I now know that in the future, I must read the fine print. As a general rule, you should read everything. Just in case.

Case in point, I recently opened a new page on my blog, dedicated to my Freelancing ventures via Fiverr.com.

It’s a fun little website, where I can sell my services to others and get some extra cash.

But unfortunately, my first real investment in the platform resulted in a Fiverr Fail.

To cut a long story short, I purchased on Fiverr a beautiful video explaining my service as a ghostwriter for comics, meant to service artists who can’t write.

Unfortunately, the Fiverr team did not approve my video, as it contained the web address for this blog, in violation of Fiverr protocol.

But it wasn’t a total loss. I may have spent forty bucks on a video I can’t use on Fiverr, but I can use it here.

I do hope you all enjoy this lovely video, created by a Mr. “Artwong.”

Please see my new Freelancing page for more information!

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How Talk Radio Can Attract Millennials (1/4): Intro

My day job is listed on my Twitter account as “Marketing Director at the Renton Printery.”

My family’s print shop is a brick-and-mortar, blue collar establishment.

To while away the countless hours working on the machines, starring at computers, or even sitting at desks occasionally, we listen to a lot of talk radio.

I’m generally fine with talk radio, even though I don’t usually tune in outside of the shop.

I have a short commute and don’t drive much, so that nixes opportunities to listen to full broadcasts of Rush or The Great One.

The point here is that without a lot of Millennials tuning in with our smartphone apps that can stream radio and podcasts whenever we want, older talk stations are missing out on a sizable chunk of listeners.

Meanwhile, their primary audience, the older folks who crew the shop where I work, are slowly shrinking in numbers and influence.

Thus, the only advertisers interested in leasing airtime on talk radio are peddlers of mattresses and men’s health products.

This is The Problem.

The other day, the Marketing Guy-half of my brain sat down with the half of my brain that was listening to Michael Medved and put together a thought:

“There must got to be a way to get more people my age to listen to talk radio! I like it just fine when it’s convenient, so there must be others like me who think the same.”

Enter The Campaign.

I began constructing in my head what it would take for my local talk radio station to make me, a representative of a sought-after target demographic, want to go out of my way to listen to their programming.

The goal of this series is to explain the current marketing funk that conservative talk radio has found itself in, how it might lure a new demographic into its audience, and what the benefits of such a circumstance could be.

Talk radio’s listener base has few young people in its audience, myself included. But with a targeted marketing campaign tailored to millennials, new life could be breathed into it, leading to The Reward.

Stay tuned for the next installment of this series, in which we discuss The Problem.

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Goodreads Review: Save the Cat!

Save the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You'll Ever NeedSave the Cat!: The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need by Blake Snyder
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was the first book on screenwriting I’ve ever read. Despite its subtitle, it made me want to read more books on screenwriting.

“Save the Cat!” is probably the most well-known book on screenwriting there is. For this reason, I see now that its advice has been disseminated among and copied by a multitude of other writers of books on writing, such as “You Can Write a Novel” by James V. Smith.

What all of the books I’ve read on the subject have in common is they all copy at least some of the advice in “Save the Cat!” in one way or another. Most of them also copy Blake Snyder’s smarmy style of writing.

But Snyder has a leg up on all of these posers. Unlike the majority of writers of books on writing, Snyder has actually written and sold screenplays to studios, and therefore has credibility.

At this point, the peanut gallery will probably say, “Well, just because he sold some screenplays doesn’t mean those screenplays were good.”

Meanwhile, this same peanut gallery (including other writers of screenwriting books) haven’t sold any screenplays. Presumably, if they knew how to write a good screenplay, they would have sold some by now.

The aforementioned James V. Smith, however, also uses this tactic, though he has to his name a handful of obscure military fiction novels, not quite the same as screenplays one sells to Hollywood big-wigs.

Smith therefore has all of Snyder’s ego but none of his achievements. If Smith had gotten a well-known book published by some big publisher that I’d heard of, that would be a different matter.

The advice Snyder himself gives is nothing short of eye-opening. He cuts right to the chase, spending little time hyping himself or trying to prove to his readers that they should believe him. Such an approach is all to common in modern guru books.

Snyder’s advice on genre, story structure, various tricks of the trade, and most importantly, “The Board,” are so fun to read about.

It’s more than just writing advice. Snyder is explicitly nonacademic in his approach, making it feel like you’re having a conversation with some guy you met at a Starbucks.

Indeed, Snyder is indeed a product of a unique era. He hailed from the spec-script hey-day of the 1990s, a prosperous time in Hollywood, yet just before the internet had fully blossomed into the informational juggernaut we know it as today. I wonder what he would have thought about the superhero craze that’s going on presently.

Snyder passed away in 2009. If he still lived, I imagine he would still be going strong in the era of Facebook, Twitter, and Web 2.0. Rest in Peace, Mr. Snyder, and good job on having “How to Train Your Dragon” dedicated to you. You would have appreciated it, I’m sure.

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Don’t Get Your History from Comment Sections

Shortly before I started this blog, I signed up for a Quora account. On Quora, you can write detailed answers to people’s questions, complete with editing tools absent from standard comment sections. It allows you to find, ask, and answer pretty much any question related to any topic under the sun.

But while this is a useful and fun tool, the information available from Quora is not infallible. Although useful for finding specific and arcane knowledge from people of various walks of life, it shares all the shortcomings of any social media outlet. This includes the tendency of people to give extremely lopsided, ax-grinding accounts of rather prickly issues.

For example, one thread involved a handful of people comparing Winston Churchill to Hitler and Stalin. Comparing just about anyone to Hitler is not new on the internet, but as a lover of history, I found this assertion incredibly asinine. The topic in question involved Churchill’s stance on the British Empire’s rule of India.

I am hardly an expert on Churchill, but I knew enough about history to think a detailed response was warranted. I was fully prepared to do so, except I was out of internet range and my phone was nearly dead, if I recall correctly.

The long and short of it is that I completely forgot about this incident until a few days later, and then got the idea to write this blog post. Mercifully, my now cooler head prevailed and I did not write a reply to that Quora comment.

Nothing I say is going to stop people from getting information online. Plenty of people continue to do so, and I think it’s for the better. More information, true and false, accurate and mistaken, is readily available to more people than at any other point in history. The question is being discerning enough to sort out the good from the bad.

But there is a reason that I prefer books over the internet. It is easier (for now) to qualify the author as a reliable source, whereas on the internet, literally anybody could be writing about anything. Typically, when one seeks an incisive record of past events, they either get a sterile catalog of the raw facts, or else they get a polemic infused with the most virile historical revisionism.

It is absolutely possible to find trustworthy information on the internet. It’s only a matter of seeking out the right sources. It’s no good trying to find a completely “unbiased” account of history, as so many people foolishly yearn for. But it is equally foolhardy to believe that no account of history is to be trusted, from which we get the moronic truism, “History is written by the winners.”

(A more accurate statement would be, “History is written by historians.” Please remind me what Herodotus or Thucydides “won” that made them able to write their historical accounts.)

If you really want to learn the history of Winston Churchill, find an article about him on the internet which has citation notes. Yes, Wikipedia counts. Then find citations which refer to books. Read those books, and then you’ll have a good idea both of what actual historians have to say about Churchill, and you’ll know the context of the hodge-podge of information you read on Quora.

Just don’t, by all that is holy, get your information about history from comment sections, whether on Quora or anywhere else. Even the History Channel is better than that.

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