Gracelle Mesina

Nuthin' but a g-thang, baby.

49

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Doing Too Much At Once

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When I was a teenager, I made a few blogs on Xanga and Blogspot to express my angst to the world, but for obvious reasons, none of them took off. However, I got back into writing last year, but it took to the form of a TinyLetter. I chose this format instead of a typical blog because I wanted to keep it more intimate. I've been re-evaluating it a bit so that my audience (aka friends) could read something more meaningful. This is my process in improving my monthly letter.

Define Blogging Strategy

1. Purpose: Why do I want to write?

  • To express my ideas and thoughts
  • To reflect on my life so far
  • To document my experiences
  • To provide resources for friends
  • To hone my creative, communication skills

2. Audience: Who is this for?

  • Designers, artists, and makers who have several creative interests
  • For any person of any age who is open, empathetic, and curious
  • People who are go-getters, driven, and ambitious

Meet Chloe, the fictional embodiment of who I envision reading my letters–

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Chloe struts to the beat of her own drum. Yet, she's keen on learning about the other drums that are out there so that she can continue to hone her unique sound. She has big-picture aspirations, but she's still figuring out how to get closer to them. Chloe makes [life] decisions that she knows are right for herself based on her intuition and on what she believes will make her feel fulfilled, but she appreciates getting others' input and perspective about those choices. When you get her talking about her passions, her energy is unlike any other; she wants to meet others that have a similar spark, positivity, and zest for life so that she can continue to grow and develop her own groove.

3. Style: What are the vibes?

  • Thoughtful - Pretentious = Reflective
  • Human - Disguised = Creative
  • Easygoing - Passive = Casual
  • Honest - Awkward = Conscientious
  • Fun - Childish = Open-minded

4. SMART Goals: What am I trying to accomplish?

Simply, I want to have written twelve interesting and diverse pieces by the end of 2016 to be able to make an illustrative zine out of it as a recap.

5. Brand Statement: What's the bigger picture?

"Doing Too Much At Once" is an open, conscientious, and creative TinyLetter focused on providing written works about my makings, thoughts, and ideas to my friends, my Twitter followers, and curiosly ambitious individuals so that I can practice my writing while providing an honest space where I can reflect and share my experiences with others.

Purpose: Why am I doing this?

  • So I can practice being a better communicator overall
  • To put myself out there and be vulnerable
  • To stretch the ways I perceive things, ideas, etc.
  • So I can have more meaningful conversations with friends, acquaintances, and people within my networks

By putting in the effort to develop quality content on a regular basis, I plan to...

  • Create/design/make every month so I can share my progress and ideas
  • Read more to absorb, retain, and distill what I've learned
  • Continuously grow and hone my creativity while being real, yet humble about it

Search for Inspiration

1. Content Pillars: What is the structure?

  • Brainwork - personal opinions, observations, and/or perceptions about something I've done or consumed
  • Bullets - listicles, tips/advice
  • Linkage - randomness that I want to share that's entertaining, informative, on fleek, etc. that will usually be tacked on the end of a letter (and sometimes based on a theme)
  • [Insert adjective/noun here] Matter - things I've made/created/designed, the process that went into it, and the things I've learned
  • Prose - personal real life experiences told in a descriptive, storytelling manner (as if it was an excerpt of a fictional book)

2. Brand Journalism: How do I get my audience engaged?

a) Example topic: "Getting out of creative blocks"

b) Using a hard sales approach: I will be sharing tried and tested methods that allow anyone to get over any roadblocks that might hinder progress and innovation. Implementing any of these methods to the creative process will ensure more ideas, better connection-making, and enhanced mental-resourcefulness.

c) Using a brand journalism approach: Creative projects are enjoyable challenges to tackle, but what happens when the team is at a loss for good ideas? Most of the time, we have to work for those "aha" moments, but before we get there, here are some ways to get over the many hurdles that might come our way during the creative process...

d) I'm not sure if I wrote these summaries correctly. Assuming I did, the obvious way to go is with the brand journalism approach. The hard sales approach is quite pushy, egotistical, and sounds over-confident, whereas the brand journalism approach is more relateable, feels like it authentically wants to help the audience, and breaks the topic down to a more human level.

3. Source Library: Where do my inspirations come from?

Sourcing:

  • Twitter
  • Podcasts
  • Snapchat Discovery

Storing:

  • Pocket
  • Google Keep

4. Interviews & Guest Posts: How do I invite other people to contribute to my TinyLetter?

a) Example topic: "The Daily/Weekly/Monthly Routine of Someone Who is DTMAO"

b) Example pitch template–

Hey _,

I've noticed all the rad things you've been doing lately, like _, _, and _. I've been really enjoying seeing your progress, and you've been sharing great work! Would you be interested in writing a guest segment on my TinyLetter that shares your process, influences, experiences, and advice? My readers and I would love to gain your perspective.

Let me know if this is something that speaks to you!

c) Emailing, Facebook messaging, and/or Twitter DM would probably be the best way for me to contact people appropriate for a piece like this.

Create Your Calendar Template

1. Publication Channels: How will I share my writing?

As an additional way to share my TinyLetter, I would definitely consider reposting something on LinkedIn, Tumblr and/or adding a "Blog" section in my personal portfolio website.

2. Publication Frequency: How often should I be posting?

I plan to post one lengthy letter (of at least three topics) on the last day of every month.

3. Roles & Responsibilities: Who is a part of my team?

Besides asking friends to do guest posts/segments, I would probably just have a good friend of mine proofread my drafts as I plan to be a one-woman show for this writing endeavour.

4. Project Flow: How will this "content machine" run?

Original project flow:

  • Spontaneously decide to write
  • Spend an hour doing additional research
  • Spend four hours straight writing, deleting, rewriting
  • Spend 10 minutes looking for quick images
  • Spend 30 minutes proofreading it myself
  • Release into the world
  • **Note: all done in one day (or two if I get writer's block)

Streamlined project flow:

  • First two weeks of the month = gathering ideas and research
  • 15th (mid-way through the month) = refine ideas, decide on which ones to pursue, outline a structure
  • 15th to 28-29th of the month = write, write, write, make, write, make, write
  • 29-30th of the month = self proofread, get a close friend/family member to proofread, revise and refine
  • End of the month = sign, seal, and deliver

Complete Calendar Details

2. Date-Specific: What types of letters need to be published on a timely manner?

  • Seasonal/Holiday-related (ones that matter the most = Christmas, New Year's, personal birthday, summer, winter), Thanksgiving
  • When music festivals are occurring
  • Vancouver-specific events that I participate in

3. Required Planning: Which types of posts require more time and attention?

  • Guest/Collaborative posts
  • Compilations/Listicles
  • Case studies
  • Project progress that require photography

4. Evergreen Content: What would be relevant and worthy of my reader's time for future audiences to come?

A few pet peeves about the digital design industry

a) There's just too much information out there to be able to keep up at a good pace– it gets overwhelming sometimes

b) A monoculture is developing and a lot of shit looks the same

c) Younger generation of millenials are becoming professionals, and there's not too much niche/specific information/resources that we can relate to as we transition from students in a digital-heavy age (we're being bombarded with "trends")

d) Caucasian men still dominate this industry– not a bad thing, but I want to hear more diverse perspectives from women and from people of other nationalities/ethnicities

How I'm acknowledging these issues

a) I'm not trying to be an expert in this field, because I don't really think anyone can be at the pace things are evolving at. So my letter won't be trying to regurgitate articles or expert opinions; my Twitter, other's Twitters, blogs, and websites will be doing that already... Go to those places if you want that kind of information.

b) If there are topics that I'm passionate about, I will address them from my perspective. I will give honest opinions with backed up reasons that aren't necessarily objective.

c) Perhaps my little corner of the internet can address some of those things.

d) I'm an Asian-Canadian woman who just started in the industry.

To be continued...

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