2014 is going to be our year to shine!

As we prepare to start a new year, I thought a crash course in my inky efforts might be useful. As I’m sure you know, one of the primary goals of Ink & Alchemy and More Ink is provide a place for writers and artists to network and show off their stuff. Another of my goals is to teach by example. I work diligently on my platform and hope that by doing so, each of you will pick up some useful ideas for strengthening your own platform.

1o19

As I reflect on 2013 and consider how to improve I&A and MI in 2014, one fact keeps swimming to the surface. We haven’t used this platform as effectively and consistently as we could have. Much of this is my fault and I have an incredible number of ideas floating around in my brain aimed at improving in the future.

I don’t mean to point fingers here, but some of this is also your fault.
2d14eb1a3eea86eaf69e584926e72a99

There are many ways that you can take advantage of the free marketing I’m offering, but many people don’t. This surprises me. People are downright desperate to get their work out there, and I don’t blame them a bit. So am I. The market is tough and it’s hard to make yourself heard above the roar of the crowd.

This blog post is a friendly reminder of myriad of ways that you can take advantage of the promotional opportunities that I offer in the upcoming year. Let’s work together so that we’re more successful than ever before.

003
  • My website has lots of free resources, including lists of recommended sites and a reading list, links to help you promote your ebook during your free KDP days, and a PDF describing the basics of building your social media platform.
  • I offer Featured Artist and Featured Writer programs. Submit your work. There is no cost to you and the bottom line is increased exposure for your work. Use these enthusiastically. When I feature you, you should re-post that link far and wide and comment when you can. Leverage every single bit of exposure for all it’s worth.
  • A tip about features: I do my best to give everyone a fair shake, but the bottom line is that if you regularly frequent the page, interact with others, or share my links, you’ll likely get featured more often. Reciprocity. It’s just the way it works.
  • If you have an upcoming event (book release or signing, exhibition opening, etc.), send me the info. I’ll do my best to post it throughout my platform. You can increase your odds of being promoted by sending me a well-formatted blurb complete with links and an image. Copy, paste! How much easier can it get?
  • Along the same lines at the previous bullet – I offer guest blogging or features on a regular basis but people seldom participate. This is a win-win. Fresh content for me that I didn’t work very hard to get and content for you that you can smear all over cyberspace. You can wax poetic about how incredible you are and blame it on me if you like! Just send me a piece that is publication-worthy (with links and images). Please, please, I beg you – do not send me poorly spelled and punctuated ramblings. Because I’m basically a nice person, I spent way too much time correcting and editing this kind of thing in 2013. New year, new rules. In 2014, I will do light editing, but I don’t have the time to re-write submissions.
  • Sometimes people apply to be featured and then shoot themselves in the foot. You really need to have a website or at least a FB or blog page that is regularly updated. I can’t promote what doesn’t exist. If you’re still starting out and building your platform, consider submitting a guest blog. See previous bullet.
  • I’ll admit that I like to control the content at Ink & Alchemy. It’s kind of my baby and I’m a little protective of it. Every once in a while, I open it up for link sharing (like today RIGHT NOW), but for the most part, I curate this page. More Ink is another story. You may feel free to post useful links, events, and anything else you think will energize us to greater creativity! Think of More Ink as ourpage, yours and mine. If you’re a part of Ink & Alchemy, you should probably also frequent More Ink. It’s a less formal, more open forum and I’d love to have you!
  • My platform reaches far and wide and isn’t just limited to the FB pages. Try to branch out in the upcoming year and use a new medium. How about Vimeo, Behance, or Tumblr?

644526_4775230220890_1919190819_n

If I were going to summarize what I think successful promotion looks like, I’d say this:

Consistency

Content

Reciprocity

Cross-linking

What do I mean by cross-linking? Imagine that networking is…well, a gigantic net. Every single interaction that you have in cyberspace is tiny potential thread in the larger mesh. You can’t build a strong, reliable network by rushing or using a shortcut. It’s not quick because you have to earn the trust of your followers. Every little thread should be carefully placed and secured. How can you do this? The best approach is to consistently post quality content. Regularly interact with others. Be patient. Be genuine. Your network will build itself slowly. I’ve talked about this in many other places (like here, here, and here), so I’ll spare you the details.

jaeyeol han 4[3]
I encourage you to take your platform seriously. Take action in 2014. Come up with a plan and hold yourself accountable. I recently started a new series designed to help you become a (social media) badass. My plan is to post practical, useful actions throughout the year that you can take to learn how to better manage your platform. Try it and let me know how it works.
original_02
Join my mailing list or check out the archives. You’ll find lots of links and information to help you with promotion.
tumblr_mtlar9UybX1r6rzxao1_1280

This art knocks your eyeballs around a bit, doesn’t it? I adore the work of Jaeyeol Han. He’s a Korean artist who works primarily in oil bar on canvas and is part of the I&A Featured Artist Program.Pay him a visit at his website by clicking here or on any of the images in this post.

Need a creative kick in the ass? 

Pop over for a quick art or lit fix.

P.S. Wanna hear something fabulous? Sheila Cameron has made my day. She is one of my favorite artists (not to mention just a terrific and kind-hearted person) and has created a very special discount today in celebration of Ink & Alchemy.  I am beyond honored.Go to her Etsy store and enter coupon code: INKANDALCHEMY for 20% off. But you’d better hurry, because I’m heading over now and I can’t guarantee that I’ll leave anything for you.

il_570xN.429801488_g6dj

Losing it.

Change involves loss. 

I always forget  – or choose to ignore? –  that part. If you’ve been following me in cyberspace for any length of time, you know that I’m all about change. Growth, transformation, and all that jazz. I truly believe in it.

simonbirchlwamfob15

But it isn’t always easy.

5302492079_f0fabb4e7a

I was recently reminded of one of the dirty little secrets about this kind of life-affecting change. It involves loss. There’s no way around it. Sometimes there’s just no way to move forward without lightening the load, and unfortunately, this sometimes means letting loose of people in your life. I’ve done this many times and I understand how it works, but every single time I have to learn this lesson again. I have to force myself to do it and I usually don’t get there until it’s outrageously overdue.

Why? 

Mysterio- 2ft6in x 2ft6in.640x960

Well, I like people and I understand foibles. Oh my goodness, do I understand mistakes – I’ve made more than my fair share.  I think some of the wackiest people are some of the most interesting ones. I believe in second – and third & fourth & sixteenth –  chances.  I don’t want to judge people because I know things aren’t always what they seem from a distance.

But still. 

Powerful-Colorful-Art-from-Simon-Birch-7
Certain relationships just run their course. Not only do they not add anything to your life, they begin to detract from it. They become weighty and too complicated, loaded down with obligation and guilt. When there is no evidence, not one single shred, of positive change in a person’s life, spending time with them inevitable drags you down a wee bit. Life is too precious for that.
sb2c

Of course, my first instinct is to inspire that person. In fact, I hope to inject life and energy into everything I do and every interaction I have. I try.

But you can’t save them all. Some of them don’t even want to be saved. And who the hell am I to make that determination? I’m not in charge of anyone else but myself. It’s me I need to worry about.

293080_456988541002278_892131577_n

I’d been wrestling with a relationship like this for several years and last week I stopped fighting. I harbor no ill-feelings toward that person. In fact, I hope he goes on to a very happy and successful future. And of course he, like every single one of us, is free to define ‘successful’ in any way that he chooses.

But I will not be there to watch, because I’m consciously choosing to spend my time in a different way. I won’t lie and say that I’m completely alright with that. I feel like a selfish ass. I feel like I’m being judgmental. Yes, I’m still feeling some residual backlash from the decision, but I know it’s the right thing to do and I need to get better at doing it when it’s warranted.

SimonBirch_3

On another topic,I was interviewed recently via Skype for a podcast and you know what? I kind of sucked. I don’t say that in a self-deprecating way, but as a fact. I was surprised and chagrined as it unfolded to realize that I really didn’t have anything that interesting to say. Surprised because I almost always have something to say. Further, the interview was about art and creativity and these are topics that I can talk about all night long. In my sleep. (In fact, I probably do – I’m making a mental note to ask my husband about this.)

SimonBirch11

So, what happened?

I’m not really sure, but at the very least, life has offered up yet another opportunity for growth. Funny how many of those pop up along the way, isn’t it? The tricky part is to recognize them and take action, which may require introspection. I’m just spitballing here, but it probably requires at least five freaking minutes to think about the problem and come up with some possible solutions.

Simon-Birch
I don’t allow myself enough of this kind of time.
1382957_655759977791799_1832935319_n

I’m one of those insane people who are always doing something. Seriously, unless I’m sleeping, I’m engaged in some activity and my life is carefully planned to make sure everything fits. What this plan fails to account for is unplanned time. (Ha! I’d better plan in some unplanned time!)

Time to just sit around and think about the world. Ducks. Time loops. How to draw flowers. Maybe I could just sit around and think about nothing. Nah. That’s crazy talk.

tumblr_mwpfo05Q8h1t2du45o1_1280

Hey, you know what? Maybe I’m just not good at interviews. It’s okay to not be good at everything, isn’t it?

(Ouch! That was even difficult to type. I’m gonna admit that I may not be completely buying that last bit, but it’s a start. I’ve got a long way to go.)

551308_546809175353547_1340546951_n
I’ll probably set some specific goals this year related to my career, my relationships, and my creative endeavors. I just can’t help myself. But the most important resolution that I will strive toward in 2014 is to be a little kinder to myself. Control my life such that the negative is minimized. Stop being such a perfectionist. Take time to enjoy the world. How about you? Got any big plans for the upcoming year?

1208906_652873078080489_1438715457_n

Simon Birch is a Featured Artist at Ink & Alchemy and it is his art you see sprinkled throughout this post. Incredible, huh? See more at his website or Facebook page. And as always, you are invited to visit me for art and inspiration.

Happy holidays from Ink & Alchemy!