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The Magic of Ghostwriting

The Magic of Ghostwriting

Part 1, By John Onorato

Do you need content created for your website?  ✅

Do you yearn to be an author?

Do you seek to make your content relatable and understandable? 😍

We can all write, sure.  It doesn’t take any special training to help others understand our thoughts and feelings.  Words are available to everyone!

We can all create a “first draft” of material we want to communicate.  Some of us can do that faster than the next person.  

Here’s the thing, though.  If a person doesn’t have a real affinity for writing, if they don’t really enjoy it, then they’ll rush their work.  They won’t take their time with it.  They won’t read it out loud just to see how it sounds, and how it comes across.  

And in circumstances like these, quality suffers.  

When writing quality suffers, your message suffers as well.  

Let that sink in.  In fact, let me say it again:  When writing quality is poor, your message suffers.

Tell me, what is the point of having content on your site, with your name on it, that people can’t understand?  Or even relate to?

Perhaps more meaningfully, what does poor writing like that say about a company?  What does that say about a leader’s thought process?

Clearly, it’s best to leave writing — especially mission-critical writing — to the professionals.  👍

Ghostwriters to the Rescue!

If you want to write a book, but don’t have the time …

If you want content on your website, but only have a few ideas …

If you want to improve the way you or your company is perceived …

If you want quality communications coming from your office …

Then you are not alone!  More and more business owners, entrepreneurs, and industry professionals want to write books and put quality content on their websites, just like you do.

Ghostwriter logo designed by calicoowl

This is where the ghostwriter comes in.

But what is a ghostwriter, anyway?

A “byline” is the attribution given to a written work.  Typically, it names the author of the book, article, or other piece of writing.  This article was written by me, so I put my byline under the title.  

A ghostwriter is simply someone that writes under someone else’s byline.  

That is, the ghostwriter creates the piece, and someone else gets credit for it. 

Many famous books have been written by ghostwriters.  To name a few:

  • Many of the popular Goosebumps books (by R.L. Stine) were ghostwritten after the series got too popular to keep up with demand
  • The Jason Bourne series, started by Robert Ludlum, was continued by Eric von Lustbader after Ludlum’s death in 2001 
  • Ian Fleming started the series, yet many of the James Bond books were ghostwritten

Politicians also use ghostwriters.  Hillary Clinton, Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump’s books were created this way.

And industry leaders use ghostwriters.  Billionaire Richard Branson wrote a book this way, as did Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca, Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz, and Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

In fact, many of the books I read and treasured as a child, I am only now discovering were ghostwritten!

Photograph by Hugh Kretchmer
  • My father read me the Hardy Boys detective series, by Franklin W. Dixon.  Ghostwritten!
  • The Nancy Drew series was written by Carolyn Keene, yet that name is a nom de plume (pen name) for a larger collective of writers
  • Even Victor Appleton didn’t write all the “Tom Swift, Boy Inventor” books that I loved so much!

If so many famous people benefitted from employing a ghostwriter … shouldn’t you do that as well?

Yes, But Why Would You Do This?

Sure, ghostwriters create famous books.  They also write blog entries, white papers, social media posts, magazine advertorials, and even newspaper articles.

Ghostwriters are often part of a corporate team.  They create lots of content using the byline of an executive, or maybe under no name at all.  Alternatively, a ghostwriter may work freelance, working on only one or two projects at a time.

Many people want the acclaim and accolades that come with being a published author.  Having a book or two under your belt makes you seem credible, trustworthy and reliable.

It’s also worth mentioning that books and blog posts can grow your business.  Especially if you’ve got a personal brand, a well-written book attributed to you is worth a lot of street cred.  

And a freelance ghostwriter like myself can create content for your small business, helping you get more customers and driving more traffic to your website.  Or even to your fancy new brick-and-mortar store!  (Or your old store. We don’t discriminate 😁 ) 

Isn’t it better to focus on growing your business?  

Isn’t it better to concentrate on what you already know, rather than trying to master yet another new skill?

People who are busy changing the world don’t have time to write.  People who don’t have the skill or the time to write quality content have an alternative:  They hire ghostwriters.

Conclusion

Ghostwriters are an incredible resource to tap into.  They can position you and your business well — creating content, managing blogs, and generally making it seem like you are superhuman.  

I can see your readers now:  “They’re changing the world and they have time to write this fabulous content?  Wow! I wanna know more!”

In my next post, I’ll talk about how to hire a ghostwriter.  (Hint: it’s as easy as clicking the Contact link above!  😁 ❤ 🙏 ) And we’ll talk about some things to consider when hiring a ghostwriter, as well as how to prepare for hiring one.

Hiring a ghostwriter might not be the first thing you think of.  But when you do, the results can be downright mystical.  

Mystical, get it?  Because ghosts. 👻 (Did I mention I’m a father?  I sure do love me some dad jokes.)

Posted by John Onorato in Blog, Portfolio, 0 comments
How to Make Your Business Even More Successful with Blogging

How to Make Your Business Even More Successful with Blogging

by John Onorato

Are you a life coach?  

A conscious business leader? 

Are you the owner of a business whose aim is not only to earn money, but to do good?  For other humans, for animals or for the environment?

You are?  Awesome! Keep reading, then 😃

So  … how do you get your message out?  

One of the best ways to market your business is through blogging.  Blogging is a great way to build awareness of your brand.  Blogging also makes it super-easy to serve your customers by providing content that’s both relevant and useful.

There are several more reasons blogging is good for your business.  

  • It drives traffic to your website or store
  • It enhances your other inbound marketing efforts
  • It attracts more potential customers
  • It makes your search rankings better (SEO/SERP)
  • It can help position your brand as an industry leader
  • It helps you develop better relationships with your customers

In fact, according to HubSpot, businesses that make blogging a priority are up to thirteen times more likely (13x) to see a positive return on their investment.

Let’s talk a little more about these benefits!

More Traffic, Better Traffic

Blogging gives you a chance to provide relevant content for your customers.  It is a very effective way to drive traffic to your website or your storefront.

It doesn’t matter if your main presence is on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest or even StumbleUpon (are they still around?).  With little to no investment up front, you can start a blog. Then you’ll send notifications to these services, linked to your articles.

Doing this makes it easy to make your blog the basis of all your social media activity!

All you have to do is provide a reason for your followers to click through to your website.  Your content provides this reason.

Better Search Rankings

Who wants to improve their Google search rankings?

You do, of course!  😃

Blogging will help you do just that.  Fresh and original content is still the best way to beat your competitors on the search engine results page.  

Liberal use of keywords is a great way to do this.  Make a list of the topics, categories and keywords you want your business to be known for.  When writing your posts, use these and other related words frequently.

Even if you can’t figure out how to wedge those keywords in there, a regularly maintained blog about your product, business or industry will naturally improve your search rankings.  This is because Google favors original content.

Of course, being intentional about keywords will only improve your results.

Usage of keywords on your website is a great way to tell Google that your site is a good place to find information about those topics.

Once a Leader, Always a Leader

Want to position yourself as an industry leader?

Write a blog!

Want to show off your knowledge and resonate with your market?

Write a blog!

Have something to say?  

Write a blog!  😁

Well written blog posts position you as an industry leader.  When you post about topics that impact your market and demonstrate your knowledge, people recognize you as an authority in your field.

If you have a physical product, write about how it improves the lives of your customers.  If you have a service, write about how happy people are after experiencing it. Your customers will grow to understand that you are the source for knowledge about the things they are interested in.

Blogging builds trust as well.  The more relevant knowledge you demonstrate, the more your customers will trust you to provide what they need.

Not only that, but your readers will benefit from the value you provide them!

Improving Customer Relationships 

A good blog deepens the relationship you have with your customers.  By providing information directly on your website, you maintain control over what they know about your offering.

An informed client is a happy client.  And they will appreciate the fact that you are the one talking to them — they are not having to dig up some third-party information that may or may not be true.

Additionally, your patrons want to be seen as people, not as numbers.  Or, heaven forbid, as dollar signs.  Who is your ideal customer? Customizing your blog for that person will attract that kind of person.

Regular blogging not only improves the relationship you have with your customers, it boosts customer retention as well.  People want to buy from other real people, and a blog proves there are real people on the other end of that transaction.

The Next Step

So yes, blogs are great.  There are many ways to make them happen.

Yet you can’t just snap your fingers and expect to have an effective blog.

Or can you? 🤔

ThreeOwl Media specializes in writing blogs.  The information provided above comes from direct experience with the thousands of blog posts that we have written.  

Maybe you already have a blog.  That’s okay! ThreeOwl Media can make it better.  We guarantee it.

See, I am a freelance writer. I do it full-time. I love the act of stringing words into sentences and paragraphs.  

And I love serving people.  I love making people look their best.  I love helping people shine.

So if you don’t have time to write, let me do it for you!

If it’s not convenient for you to write, let me do that for you.

If you have more of a numbers brain, and not so much a word brain, let me write for you.

I’ve been writing ever since I could push crayons around a piece of paper.  And I’ve been writing professionally since 2013.  

To say that writing is my passion is to understate it completely.

Yes, writing is my passion. But it’s also my life. That’s how my brain works. That’s how I process feelings. That’s how I express myself. That’s how I relate to the world.

So let my expertise help you!

With your marketing efforts, with your manuals and documentation, with your correspondence, with your video scripts … whatever! Anything you need written, I am happy to write it for you.

And if you already have written material, I guarantee I can improve it.

Contact me to arrange a call or meeting!  Use the Contact Me link, found under About Me.

I look forward to helping you with your writing projects!

Posted by John Onorato in Blog, Portfolio, 2 comments
Sharing, Don’t Overshare: The Key to Making Friends Fast

Sharing, Don’t Overshare: The Key to Making Friends Fast

by John Onorato (ghostwritten for SpeedFriending Events)


Stacy Jules didn’t know anyone in Austin after she moved.  She had spent 38 years in San Francisco, and making new local friends was a priority for her. “It was pretty devastating to be so anonymous,” the 66 year old artist says.

Jules made herself leave her house every day for the express purpose of meeting people. She visited a tea house, took yoga classes, went to senior centers, joined a gym and a community garden. She describes herself as being a shy person, but she still compelled herself to strike up conversations at the grocery store and on the bus.

Lasting relationships were still a problem, though. Most people were nice, but they had nothing in common together. Others simply didn’t want to get close.

Then, a short time ago, a woman complimented her blouse when Jules was in a store. They began to chat, and discovered not only that they both liked to write, but they liked to work with textiles as well. After a few minutes,  Jules asked a risky question. “Would you like to come over to my house for coffee … now?”

The other woman accepted the invitation, and now the two are extremely close.

Jules thought that all good friendships had to be “slow cooking,” based on years of experiencing life together. This contrary experience was a marvelous revelation.

Is it really possible to forge such an intimate relationship so quickly?

Yes it is, say research psychologists. “Fast Friends” is a protocol that many use to study friendship in the lab. It takes about 45 minutes, and helps strangers attain a certain level of interpersonal closeness. The key is for both parties to disclose personal information – and do it gradually.

Curious? People working in pairs are given three sets of 12 questions. The questions must be answered in order, with partners taking turns. Questions in the first set are only slightly personal, like:

  • “Do you ever rehearse what you are going to say before making a telephone call?”
  • “When did you last sing to someone else? To yourself?”
  • “What small things make you happy?”

 In the second set, the personal-ness is edged up a little.

  • “Is there something that you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?”
  • “What is your scariest memory?”
  • “Which of your possessions could you not live without?”

And the last set is the most personal:

  • “When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?”
  • “Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find the most disturbing?”
  • “What are your top 5 most beautiful things in the world?”

Each set of questions also includes an exercise, for instance “Tell your partner what you like about them,” which is intended to
build the relationship.

The idea is to grow the connection slowly and organically.

Arthur Aron, professor of psychology at Stony Brook University, developed the protocol. “You want to be slow and reciprocal,” he says. “If you disclose too much too fast, you put someone off.”

If you’re not sure how to find that sweet spot between disclosing too little and way too much, just think of this: Remember how desperately you wanted to get off that plane the last time someone in the next seat did a brain-dump into your head?

Yeah, that.

Dr Aron says that oversharing is often seen as overwhelming, one-sided and generally socially inappropriate. If the other person seems tense, shifty, fidgety or at a loss for words, then you might be oversharing.

There are a plethora of situations that the Fast Friends technique can be used in, to great effect: Improving business connections, romantic bonds, and relationships between neighbors. Researchers have also used it when studying how to create closeness between groups that typically distrust each other, such as police officers and residents of low-income neighborhoods. It also helps between people of different ethnic backgrounds.

I’ve made friends quickly while waiting in line to vote, talking to homeless men outside of Target, and delivering packages to offices. Sure, I strike out from time to time. There has to be some chemistry there in the first place. When I meet someone I might like to know better, I like to share something about myself that is both personal and slightly self-deprecating. People often appreciate it when I tell them that I’m divorced.  That tends to spark their curiosity and opens them up some.

If you want to establish intimacy, the only way to do that is to be willing to open up about yourself. It’s easy to open up about more intimate details, once each person sees the initial connection.

When Jules’ new friend, Susan Simmons, came over to her house on the day they met, they talked about their creative projects. The more they talked about themselves, the more they realized that they were very much like each other.

It wasn’t long before Simmons alluded to a sad time in her own life. Then Jules shared a story she usually keeps under wraps, about how she had to rebuild her life after the end of her first marriage. The sharing was careful, a consciously building thing.

The two now describe their friendship as as unexpected gift. The sharing and spontaneity are beneficial in a mutual way. It has been exciting for the both of them to discover that they could forge deep a friendship so quickly.

“I learned that life can be shared in the moment and be just as alive as if it had been experienced together,” Simmons says.

Published Link:
http://speedfriendingevents.com/the-key-to-making-friends-fast-speed-friending-events-reports/

Posted by John Onorato in Portfolio, Relationships, 0 comments
Converting Addiction into Productivity

Converting Addiction into Productivity

by John Onorato (ghostwritten for Toshiba)

Have you heard the term “nomophobia?”  Perhaps, perhaps not. This is an actual thing, though:  Nomophobia refers to the fear of being out of mobile contact, due to a user having no network coverage, losing their phone, running out of battery life or not having credit.

The word itself is an abbreviation of sorts, standing for No Mobile Phone phobia.  It makes the language geek in me cringe, as it should properly mean “an irrational fear of the law.”  (Nomos, in Greek, means “law.”) Still, there’s no accounting for taste, or Internet pundits, for that matter.

And apparently this is a big problem, as well.  47% of 2,163 women assayed have this fear, and 58% of men have it too.  The level of fear participants experienced compared to those experienced on wedding day, trips to the dentist, and so on.

Of course, in many cases, this may not be an actual fear — or phobia — but may be simply a more typical anxiety.  Yet still, this points to dual growing trends in Western culture — those of mobile phone overuse and Internet addiction disorder.

So the question is — is this a real problem?  And if it is, should we address it? How?

To be sure, mobile productivity applications and cloud-enabled networks, along with Unified Communications technologies and others enable workers to “make better use of their time.”  They can email while standing in line at the grocery store; they can work on a presentation while waiting for their car to be serviced; any idle bit of time can be transformed into a moment of productivity.

The downside to this, though, is that it’s disconnecting humans from one another, and pulling our focus into devices, a million miles away from the people standing right next to us.  We’re increasingly addicted to our tech, many enterprises having workers that are spending every free moment tweeting, emailing, and chatting, with the line demarcating work-related tasks and personal ones growing more blurry all the time.

Mobile devices are great ways to give us things to do.  Many times those things are even quite useful. Too often, though, these devices take priority over the other people in the room with their users.  This is enough of a problem in a social setting; in a business setting, it can be disruptive and even insubordinate.

Again — how do we deal with this easy-to-distract workforce?

The first thing that needs to be done is basic parameters need to be laid down.  Like what parents do with children, ground rules for good screen time habits need to be set.  Firm corporate expectations need to be established. Let your employees know, for example, that it’s your priority that your company be seen as on-task during meetings.  In other words, no phone use during meetings, especially when clients are present. Of course there are extenuating circumstances; information needs to be looked up, and so on.  Phones are indeed useful tools. But when that situation is dealt with, put the phone away. And for heaven’s sake, no personal use.

Simply put, boundaries need to be set.

Another possible strategy might be to try convert disruptive habits to a more collaborative and productive effort.  Take, for example, business VoIP applications. Most of them offer cost-effective ways of maintaining constant communications, and even collaboration between departments.  There’s video conferencing, SMS, IM, and the various features of UC as well. So if, by their own choice, your employees are going to be cyborgs anyway, you might as well leverage that to your advantage.

For instance, do you have an employee that’s overloaded with work?  Try shifting some of that over to one of your more smartphone-addicted workers, and you’ll have a shot at remediating two problems at the same time.

And of course, there’s always the last step:  Bringing in an outside expert to talk about device etiquette in the digital age.  They can also deliver talks on how to deal with addictions to their devices, and actually get more done … instead of simply checking their phones 110 times a day.

Posted by John Onorato in Mobile, Portfolio, 0 comments
IP Phones can be Six-Figure Liabilities Just Waiting to Happen

IP Phones can be Six-Figure Liabilities Just Waiting to Happen

by John Onorato (ghostwritten for Toshiba)

Bob Foreman’s seven-person architecture firm is using the latest technology in IP phones.  Thinking they were safe and protected, they went about their business normally, until one day they opened their phone bill to see that they had run up a bill of $166,000 in one weekend.  Quite odd, given that no one was in the office at the time.

Based on the firm’s normal phone bill, it would have taken them 34 years to amass those charges legitimately, as stated in the complaint filed with the FCC.  But the charges weren’t a mistake. Malcontents had hacked into the phone system of the company, and routed the calls to premium-rate numbers in Somalia, the Maldives, and Gambia.

The Fraud
The firm, based in Norcross, Georgia, is one of the latest victims of an old fraud that’s found a new life, now that most corporate phone lines are IP-based.  This swindle is easier to pull off on the web and infinitely more profitable. The targets are largely SMBs, and cost global victims $4.73 billion last year. That’s up almost $1 billion from 2011, states the Communications Fraud Control Association.

Tier 1 carriers have anti-fraud systems meant to catch hackers before they mount false six-figure charges.  They can also afford to credit their customers for millions of dollars in fraudulent charges every year. SMBs, though, often use local carriers, that lack these sophisticated systems.  And worse yet, some of these carriers are leaving their customers to pay for the calls they didn’t make.

The Law
There are no laws that assist in this area, as there are no regulations that require carriers to reimburse defrauded customers the way credit card companies have to.  Lawmakers have occasionally taken up the torch, yet little progress has been made.

How It Works
Hackers lease premium-rate phone lines, typically used for psychic or sexual-chat lines, from one of many web-based services that charge callers over a dollar a minute, then give the lessee a cut.  In the US, these numbers can be easily identified by their 1-900 prefixes; furthermore, callers are told they will incur a higher rate. Elsewhere, though, such as in Estonia and Latvia, these numbers can be more difficult to spot.  The profit for the lessees might be as high as 24 cents for every minute a caller spends on the phone.

The black hats then crack a SMB’s phone system in order to make calls through it to their premium number.  This is typically done on a weekend, when nobody will notice. Using high-speed computers, hundreds of calls can be made simultaneously, thereby forwarding up to 220 minutes’ worth of calls a minute to the pay line.  Ultimately, the hackers get their cut, usually delivered through MoneyGram, wire transfer or Western Union.

This plan can be quite profitable, when executed well.  This is why premium rate resellers are on the rise. In 2009 there were 17; in 2013 there were 85, says Britain’s Yates Fraud Consulting.

What’s Being Done
The problem is moving fast, say many industry groups, yet they are still trying to tackle it.  One slow solution is to routinely input known fake “hot numbers” into a fraud management system, then sharing that with carriers so they can be blocked.

Catching the elusive hackers is hard, if only because the crime can cross up to three jurisdictions.  In 2011, the FBI worked with police in the Philippines to arrest four men who used the ploy to collect $2 million in fraudulent charges.  This money was funneled to a militant Saudi Arabian group that US officials believe underwrote the 2008 Mumbai terrorist bombings.

Bob Foreman’s firm has turned to the FCC, the FBI, and several other agencies for assistance, yet they are still on the hook for their $166,000 phone bill with their local carrier, TW Telecom.  It now includes $17,000 in termination fees and late charges. The telecom’s VP for corporate communications said that Foreman’s firm ought to have taken measures to ensure the security of its equipment.

Mr. Foreman responded that his firm didn’t even understand that this was a possible risk.

To avoid this happening to you, be sure to turn off call forwarding, and ensure there are strong passwords for international dialing systems as well as voicemail.  Treat your phones as Internet-connected machines, because that’s what they are. Hackers are already doing that. When you put a computer or an IP phone system on the Internet, it immediately gets probed for a weak point.

published link:
IP Phones can be Six-Figure Liabilities Just Waiting to Happen

Posted by John Onorato in Portfolio, Technology, 0 comments
True Fans and the Footprint of Core Audience

True Fans and the Footprint of Core Audience

by John Onorato (ghostwritten for PMD Partners)

To date, there have been many campaigns that happened mostly online.  One very successful example is the Occupy movement.  The “We are the 99%” crusade began in 2011.  Another effective endeavor that still continues is the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), which went viral in 2013.  These campaigns had many grassroots-type elements in them, allowing people to feel as if they had a personal stake in the destiny of the movement.  These elements also contributed financially to the endeavors and got the groups talked about — thus ensuring their success with Crowdfunding Promotion.

There are many similar examples to be found in various places.  Two great places to start looking are here on pmd-partners.com and also on kickstarter.com, where screenwriter Rob Thomas’ Veronica Mars movie project recently enjoyed so much success.

Fanaticism makes things happen …

For those not familiar with the TV series, Veronica Mars was set in a fictional California town.  The eponymous character, played by Kristen Bell, was a high school student who at night was also a private investigator.  She operated with the assistance of her father, a detective.  The series lasted three years, over which time it accrued a significant fan base.

After the series ended, Thomas continued the project, writing a feature film script for Warner Bros. studios, who declined to back it.  And here’s where the commonality with the other online campaigns is seen:  The fans.  Or, if you will, the fanatics.  These two words have at their root the Latin “fanaticus,” a word describing speech or behavior that manifests when one is possessed by a god.

The fans certainly delivered for Thomas and Co.’s Veronica Mars.  The project goal was $2 million; that was met within just ten hours of opening.  Over 30 days, they raised over $5.7 million dollars, allowing Thomas and Warner Bros. to release the movie on March 14, 2014.

Clearly, fans can make things happen.  Fanaticism makes things happen.  Therefore it’s important to understand fanaticism, so as to be able to use its power within your own projects.  It’s especially important to use within crowdfunding campaigns, which don’t have the same resources as large studios.

Primarily, there must be a reward for fans.  In the case of the Veronica Mars fan base, the movie itself was the reward.  Promise the fans something they really want, and they will be more willing to assist your endeavor.  The cinematic continuation of the series was the whole reason why the project was backed in the first place.

Since Thomas ran the project on Kickstarter, he was able to promise additional rewards for higher levels of support.  At $10, a backer would receive a PDF copy of the movie’s shooting script; at $35, a Veronica Mars T-shirt; and at $50, a physical DVD of the movie.  If a person donated $1000 to the cause, they would also get two tickets to the movie premiere in either New York or Los Angeles, attended by the cast and creators, plus the after-party.

It’s interesting to note that not only is the pre-bought merchandise an expression of choice and desire for a certain thing, but it also conveys a recognition as a member of a common fan group.  This, therefore, assists with the need for identification and belonging, which is well-documented that all humans have.

Many people, however, opted for no physical reward, choosing instead to funnel the resources that would be diverted towards their rewards back into the project.  That says something for the nature of their fanaticism, and their devotion to the cause as well.  This altruistic concern for the project may be for the project itself, but may also extend to other fans, so they too get to reap the benefits.

The power of cable television has changed the way programming is offered.  At one time, several major networks delivered all available programming.  Now the there are many different channels, some serving niches as small as The Horror Channel and Movies4Men.  Moviemaking, too, is changing in a similar way.  The fans are making this change possible, through the power of their fanaticism.  With this they wield great power; clearly, as we see in the case of Veronica Mars, they can decide what gets funded and what does not.  Although the fan base is not typically important for large studios, which have large amounts of money to invest in the next big budget film, it doesn’t necessarily deliver to the people what they want to see.

Therefore, fanaticism is a way for people to overcome the traditional unwillingness of larger studios to give them what they really want to see.  It gives the people a way to take a stand on what they want to watch.  Not only that, but it gives them a means to make it happen as well.

published link:
https://pmd-partners.com/true-fans-footprint-core-audience/

Posted by John Onorato in Crowdfunding, Portfolio, 0 comments
Facebook or website?  Self-promotion on a shoestring

Facebook or website? Self-promotion on a shoestring

by John Onorato (ghostwritten for Austin Visuals)

Marketing and promotion are important parts of any animator’s toolkit.  Unless you want to create videos by yourself and for yourself, it’s important to let people know about your work. 

Yet there are many ways to accomplish these tasks.  You can benefit either from having a dedicated website, like this one for Dunkirk, or a Facebook page like this one for 2016’s Arrival.  Many films have both.

Before Facebook allowed pages that weren’t directly related to people, a website was how you promoted your film.  A website helped your film attract fans and a following.  When someone expressed interest at a networking or other event, it was pretty easy to give them your URL.  When they visited, there was all kinds of data about your film:  contact information, about the crew, backstage photos, credentials and the like.  And the better the site looked, the better you and your project looked.  But it costs money.

Creating a website from the ground up, though, is neither easy nor cheap.  Today it’s easy to do that on Facebook.  And Facebook is free. 

Big plus, huh?

So let’s take a look at the pros and cons of each method.

How Much Will It Cost?
For those of us who have yet to create a website, let’s look at the very basics.  We’ll assume you’re going to use the WordPress.org content management system as it’s easy to use.

One of the great things about WordPress is that there’s lots and lots of themes (or skins) aimed at creatives.  There’s even a number of themes aimed at short films.  You can easily use these to make a unique website.  Sure, there’s a learning curve, but it’s easy to glean what you need to know.  And they usually offer the essentials at a discount for first time buyers.

If you’ve never created a website before, let’s break down the basics. We’re going to assume you’re using something like a wordpress.org hosting platform. (Learn the difference between WordPress.org and .com here ).

For your first purchase, you can get the essentials at a discounted cost:

  • Domain – Also known as the website’s URL, you have to purchase the right to use JohnsAwesomeMovie.com .  This runs usually a dollar or so for your first year, and $10 a year after that.
  • Hosting – Your site has to be hosted on a server so that it’s accessible to the rest of the Internet.  This usually costs $10 a month, or less if you’re able to pay for a whole year up front.
  • Theme – Without a theme, your site will look like everyone else’s – like you simply dumped a bunch of stuff on a page.  There are some available for free, but the better ones cost between $40 and $150.

So to get started with a basic package, you’re looking at between $50 and $160.  Sure, you might have that in your back pocket right now, but for a low-budget film, that can be a big chunk to let go of.  And that’s not even factoring in the time you’ll need to put in to make your site work right.

What About Facebook?
On the other hand, a Facebook page is free.  They’re easy to get up and running; might take you ten minutes.  There is no daunting learning curve or fussy plug-ins.  And there’s no code to mess with either.  But you won’t own the page outright like you would with a dedicated website.

Now if you wanted a website that’s completely unique and new, you’d incur the additional expense of a web designer.  That’s a good way to catapult your site into the hundreds, if not thousands of dollars. 

Given that, it’s usually best to pick a theme you like and then tweak it so it doesn’t look like the original.  Or you could hire a WordPress theme designer, who are generally more affordable than creating a whole site from scratch.

Engaging the Social Element
There is a lot more to having your own website, too.  You have to think of discoverability – you might have created the greatest site in the world, but if no one knows about it, and therefore no one visits it, then you’ve wasted your time and money.  Webmasters spend lots of time on making pages that are friendly to search engines (also known as SEO, or Search Engine Optimization).  They work on the site content as well, all with an eye towards increasing the page rankings of the site.  If all that’s on your site is a short film, and no additional content to add value, people will soon stop visiting your site.  And thus your site will slip to the bottom of the search rankings barrel.

Even if the video players on Facebook and YouTube are pretty basic, they do get the job done.  And again, they’re free, aside for the time you put into content creation.

So there’s a lot of value in examining the benefits of promoting – and maybe hosting your film on Facebook as opposed to a conventional website. 

There are a lot of benefits to hosting your work on Facebook.  Granted, there are several ways of getting it out there:  You can put your film on YouTube (or Vimeo), you can create a website, or you might create a Facebook page.  Regardless of how that happens, though, people are at some point going to start talking about your film on Facebook.  It might even start making the rounds there.  But the reach of people sharing your Facebook page versus that of people sharing your film’s site will be much much greater.  One major reason for this is that the algorithm that Facebook uses to share things strongly favors content that will keep a user on the Facebook site.  The more times advertisements get pushed out in front of users’ faces, the more revenue Facebook gets.  So if a few people watch, then share your film, you’ll probably get more people viewing your Facebook page than if those same people shared a dedicated website.

Now About Your Audience …
Sounds like a done deal, doesn’t it?  Facebook seems to win all around.  But there’s one more perk to creating a Facebook page, and that has to do with how you communicate with your audience.  On Facebook, that communication can be real-time.  In other words, you can use Facebook to communicate with your fans on a moment’s notice.

On Facebook, as soon as someone posts a thing, you get a notification.  You can’t beat that for ease and speed of use.  You can build a following, an entire community surrounding your film on Facebook.  And your audience will grow, as communities tend to do.  About the only area in which a dedicated website beats Facebook is if you wanted to have multi-threaded forums.  Of course, those can be pretty tedious to install.  And Facebook does offer the one thread to you, which is great for disseminating information about your project.  People can talk about it on there, too; always a plus.

Sure, it’s easy to configure WordPress.  It’s even easy to do so on the fly, from your phone.  But it’s still not as easy as using the Pages app provided by Facebook. 

If you’re making a low-budget short piece, setting up an entire website solely for promotional purposes just isn’t feasible.  You’ll be spending money that you’ll likely never get back.  On the other hand, though, if you want to sell merchandise (or if you wanted to install forums, as above), a dedicated site is the way to go.  Although they are improving it, the merch portions of Facebook are currently pretty fickle.  So if you think you’ll have a market for hats, shirts, pom-poms and DVDs of your movie, then for e-commerce purposes, a dedicated site is the way to go.

There is one more situation in which a full website is preferable.  That’s when you have a large body of your work to showcase.  Using a dedicated site, it’s easy to put all of that work on a single easily accessed page.  It’s harder to do on Facebook.  Not only is there a river of status updates to navigate, but any additional work has to be buried at least one or two clicks deep.

And let’s face it:  The harder people have to work at finding your great Making Of featurette, the less likely they are to actually watch it.

The Takeaway
What’s the takeaway here?  If you want to have an entire exhibition showcasing all of your project, then make a website.  On the other hand, if all you have is a short film (and maybe one or two other things) then it’s better to avail yourself of Facebook’s great Pages feature.

On Advertising
When was the last time you took a look at your Facebook feed?  If it was any time in the last month, you’ve seen a Sponsored Post.  These are “smart” promotions.

Facebook Pages looks at what categories a thing is in, and pushes content out to people who have expressed similar interests.  For example, if you already follow several different romance pages, and I had a film named “Pretty Woman Redux,” then posts about my film would likely appear in your timeline, since I’ve targeted those kinds of keywords.

You can do pretty much the same thing with a website, but the process is much more involved.  And you have to use a third-party ad manager.  More money down the drain.

Facebook can be a thing that you either love or you hate.  Either way, it’s an indispensable tool for any sort of creative type — even filmmakers! — to promote their work.  It’s a great idea to use it for any creative venture.

Posted by John Onorato in Portfolio, Technology, 0 comments
The Secret of Making Money in the Mobile Industry

The Secret of Making Money in the Mobile Industry

by John Onorato

These days, you’re hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t have at least one mobile device in their pocket. Odds are that they have at least one game on that phone, music player, or whatever it might be. True, that game might have been preinstalled – remember the iThings that had Maze, where you would tilt the device around, causing the accelerometer to move the ball through the game?

More often than not, though, games that people have on their devices far transcend the paltry OEM offerings like Maze, Vortex and Klondike, which are Apple’s current out-of-the-box offerings. We use the iTunes Store and the Android Play Store to download better and more popular games. And as phones get more and more powerful, we now have games on those phones that rival offerings on dedicated devices such as the Playstation Vita or the Nintendo WiiU.

The living room landscape is quickly changing …

Turns out that so many people are playing mobile games these days, it’s beginning to look like the landscape of the living room will soon be changing forever, at least in terms of game consoles changing. Let’s face it: Smartphones and tablets are still changing rapidly, whereas the Xbox One is pretty much just an incremental upgrade from the 360. Same for the PlayStation 4.

And let’s not forget the mobility factor. You take your phone with you wherever you go; your tablet gets tucked in your bag when you dash. At the same time, though, your console is more or less permanently tethered to your television set. That mobility counts for a lot, especially in urban areas, say, on a long commute, where there’s ostensibly nothing to do.

Just don’t get me started on how the rise of mobile technology is contributing to the separation and fracturing of humans who would rather have their noses in a phone, and not making friends with their neighbors. End rant.

Interested in where the money is going?  There’s an awful lot of it in mobile gaming.  According to Gartner, a leading information technology research firm, mobile gaming alone is expected to take up at least 20 percent of the market by 2015. Purchases made for mobile platforms are expected to amount to roughly $112 billion by 2015.  And as reported by Flurry Analytics, a leading mobile analysis provider, upwards of 80 percent of all proceeds generated last year by mobile applications were – you guessed it – games. And very recently, of the top 100 money-making iOS apps, more than three out of every four were games.

$112 billion? Really. Better start working on your app now, huh?

Where is all the money going?

And for the largest slice of that pie, get cracking on the next version of Flappy Bird. Because mobile gaming is huge. Huger than huge. You think Texas is big? Texas ain’t got nothin’ on gaming, which overshadows pretty much every other activity. That eclipses activities that might seem to be universal among smartphone owners, like checking email, texting, reading news, or even actually calling people. Gaming is capturing the eyeballs of about 60 percent of tablet owners, as well.

You might think users would be more engaged with friends on Facebook or other social networks, but interestingly, they’re spending more time playing games on their tablets and phones. Perhaps more dramatically said, add up the time that users spend reading books and magazines, listening to music, and watching videos. That time doesn’t even approach, much less equal the total time spent playing games.

Like it or not, we’ve got miniature computers in our pockets and backpacks. Small wonder that they’ve become gaming platforms, as well as being taking on the tasks that they were originally designed for. They just happen to be able to do a lot of other things as well. Sure, we can read news, watch videos, talk to friends, whatever. We’re human, after all, and we just love our games.

Just get working on that Flappy Angry Maze Klondike Bird game if you want your slice of that mobile pie.

Posted by John Onorato in Mobile, Portfolio, 0 comments