Every business needs some form of marketing. But, not everyone feels they have the skills or time it takes to properly create a brand and market it well. Especially since most new business ventures start out as something you do on the side as a hobby, to gain extra money, or even just to start getting your name out there. Which generally means a lack of funds to put into marketing efforts. So, you can basically rule out hiring externally for graphics, photos, videos, social media, and everything else you may need. Since you’ll most likely be doing it all on your own, you need to make sure what you’re putting out there properly represents your business and looks good while doing it. Sometimes, bad marketing is worse than no marketing at all. But, don’t fear! I’m here to help with some simple ways that you can look like you’ve hired professionals to work on your marketing materials, when really – you can do everything on your own! As well, as my personal recommendations for programs to use that have worked well for me in my current endeavors and in the past.
Graphics may seem like one of the hardest parts of marketing your brand. But, there are a ton of resources out there to make creating graphics super easy! If you simply search online for a “free online graphics creator”, hundreds of websites will pop-up. These websites are designed to make the creation of graphics extremely easy, and kind of fun! Generally, these sites have a variety of graphics sizes for different needs such as blog posts, social posts, posters, infographics, presentations, logos, and basically everything you can dream of. Not to mention, custom dimensions if you can’t find what you’re looking for.
Still strapped for time and creativity? Don’t fret – these websites not only make it extremely easy to create beautiful, professional looking graphics. There are usually hundreds of templates to choose from where you can go in and edit things like colours, fonts, text, etc.
A word of advice – before you get to this point, make sure to think of some sort of brand identity you’d like your business to have. Even if it’s just as simple as two or three colours, it’s a good point to start from and will make it easier when creating your graphics. Make sure to stick to these colours and guidelines you set for yourself so you can create a brand identity. Making yourself recognizable to customers.
Personal recommendation - Canva and Adobe Spark Post (both are websites and smartphone apps)
Photo & Video Editing:
Creating beautiful looking photos and videos can really add some quality to your marketing and branding. Now, not every business requires photo and video – but, I’d say almost any can find some way to incorporate it into your plans. Any simple research will show that video marketing is everything right now, and most customers expect it. As well, people are more likely to interact with a social media post (Twitter, Facebook, etc.) when there’s a photo or video attached.
The best programs I’ve used can be found right on that little device glued to your hand all day (kidding, maybe…). There are seriously, hundreds – if not, thousands of apps available for video and photo editing. Better yet, you can edit your photos and videos while just hanging out on your couch. Usually, even the photo editor programmed into your phone has great settings for adding filters, adjusting the lighting, colour, and giving it that professional feel. Just clicking the “auto-enhance” button in your editor can do wonders.
As for video, again, you can work with the built-in video editor on your phone or tablet. Generally, they just assist in cutting out parts of the video. Which, is very useful, but if you want to go the extra mile, there are some great apps for phones and tablets that are awesome and very simple to use. There are literally apps where you can upload all the clips and music you want and in a couple minutes (or less) the app will stitch it all together into a video - So easy! You can then go in and edit the order and add in any text you want. Alternatively, there are usually video editors on your computer as well (e.g. iMovie) that are just as easy to use but require a bit more work.
Personal recommendation – Photo: VSCO Cam and iPhone Photo Editor. Video: Adobe Spark Video, Adobe Premiere Clip (for tablets).
Balancing your life can be difficult, regardless of how much (or little) you have going on. But, simply reminding yourself to work on your business or giving yourself deadlines, can be a huge help with growing your business.
A great place to help to manage your busy life is using some sort of project management system. You can create tasks that need to be done and set different lists for different projects. You can then, assign tasks to different projects and set deadlines for them. These are extremely helpful with staying on top of your business, day-job, freelance jobs, and even personal tasks such as grocery shopping. Creating a way to balance your work and life will ease some stress and put your work-load into perspective. And, who doesn’t love making lists?! Keep everything organized by having all your day-to-day tasks all in one, organized system.
Personal recommendation – Asana and Trello (both are websites and smartphone apps)
So, having a business means having some sort of social media, presence, correct? Great! Glad we’re on the same page. Sometimes, your whole business is a social media account, and that’s totally fine. But, managing a social media account, or multiple for that matter is A LOT of work. Whether you think it is or not, it is. Trust me! And, ideally, as a business, you should be posting on social media daily. Keeping a consistent online presence is very important. There are companies that hire people to run social media accounts full-time, and if you’re handling all aspects of your business you may not have the time for that.
But, of course, there is a solution to that problem. Social media scheduling tools. Where, you can attach all your social media accounts (except, unfortunately, usually not Instagram) and then program and schedule in your posts for the week, month, couple days, whatever you need basically. All you must do is take some time to think of content for a few days, plug it into the program of your choosing, and decide what date and time you want it to go out, and you’re done!
The program will then post on your behalf, and all you should do is monitor the engagements with your posts and really, just sit back and relax. Your job is done, and your social presence will be taken care of. Easy-peasy!
Personal recommendation (and definitely the most popular program) – Hootsuite.
There you have it! Try out some of these resources and your marketing efforts will improve tremendously. Take some time to get to know the programs, watch videos, use their help functions, and take tours of the sites so you can fully grasp them. But, a big reason why these ones were suggested, is because they are all very easy to use and will make your life a lot easier. Not to mention, save you a lot of money and time hiring someone else. That is until you’ve become wildly successful and can afford to hire some employees. Until then, my best advice is to “fake it ‘til you make it” and everyone will be amazed at how well you’re managing your business endeavors.
Pepper Prep Contributor
Volunteering your Way to Success!
Volunteering your Way to Success!
It’s the age old tale that volunteer experience is a huge asset to finding a job. No matter which industry you’re in, it’s extremely valuable. It’s a sign of good character, that you’re willing to work hard, and showcases different experience that will relate to the job force. Especially, when it comes to transferable skills.
I do believe volunteering in any capacity is valuable. Experience is experience after all, especially if you’re gaining skills like customer service, administration, leading others, phone and email etiquette, etc. You just need to learn what you can take from each experience and how it can apply to your future. For example, if you want to be a Social Media Manager one day but you have volunteer experience serving beer at a festival. What skills can you take from that? To name a few; customer service, problem-solving, and acting fast on your feet. All of those can be used in a way to get you where you want to be. What’s even better than that, is volunteering in your desired field! It’s basically the easiest way to start gaining experience in your industry. Yes, it is not as ideal as actually being paid and working full-time in your industry. But, it’ll definitely help get you there and it’s a lot easier to get accepted for those types of positions. You are volunteering your time, after all.
The media industry is especially prominent in the world of volunteering. There are a ton of opportunities to volunteer in the industry, all you have to do is be aware of them and be on the look for them. Any local festivals that happen in your city? Chances are they need volunteers to manage the media, take photos and videos, do social media, etc. And that of course does not only apply to festivals but any events, charities, conferences, and wherever else you can think of. Can’t find a posting? Look up contact information for the event and introduce yourself while offering up your services. It may not lead to anything immediately, but it can create a contact for you and lead to future opportunities. I always like to say “if you don’t ask, you don’t get”.
Another great source for finding volunteer opportunities is on job boards. I have personally found a lot of calls for volunteers on different job searching sites. It can be a bit tedious, as job boards generally are for paid positions but the search function can be your best friend when it comes to snagging those opportunities.
Success comes to those who work for it! We’re not all going to graduate school and instantly fall into the career of our dreams. Volunteering is a great way to kind of “cheat the system”. You’re gaining fast and efficient experience in a new and different setting. The great thing about volunteering too, is that it’s usually a smaller period of time so the amount of positions you can gain in say, a year’s time is much more vast than working in the same position in a less desirable job.
So, get out there and find those opportunities. Volunteering is a huge benefit to gaining valuable skills while searching for your next dream job. Especially all of the industry connections it can gain you. Who knows, maybe your next volunteer experience will turn into your dream job. You’ll never know if you don’t try…!
Zachary Rees-Sirotich Pepper Prep Contributor
I’m not sure if you’ve noticed but we’re literally re-living the 90’s and early 2000’s. Okay, maybe not “literally” and maybe not “re-living”, but it feels like a constant stream of revitalizations are surfacing. Just to name a few examples… Full House, X-Files, Gilmore Girls, TLC (the music group), Arrested Development, Twin Peaks, the list goes on and on. Some of these reboots aren’t necessarily a bad thing, but it feels like every other week an old reboot is being brought back. Is the entertainment industry really suffering so much that they just bring back nostalgic content instead of coming up with new ideas because they know it’ll peak a ton of interest?
Don’t get me wrong, I am excited about a few reboots here and there. But, are some things better left in the past? Where we can admire from afar and be brought back to the good ol’ days? Personally, I think we should all learn a lesson from Friends. Friends, was an excellent TV show stretching over 10 seasons with the final one ending in 2004. As there is a rumour probably every couple of months stating a Friends reunion, it is almost always shot down just as fast as it can go viral. The cast of Friends have been very vocal about how a reunion will never happen. Of all the reboots that are going on, Friends is probably one I’d like to see the most. On the same token, I admire that they just want to leave the past in the past.
At first, the whole “let’s relive the 90’s” fad was really exciting. It’s fun to see memories from the past be brought back to life. Old characters or artists from your youth becoming relevant again in your adulthood sounds really appealing. Until it started happening ALL the time with EVERYTHING. Of course, that’s how it happens. One person has a great idea and the competition starts rolling in. But, when will it end? When will we just start creating new content and new ideas that will one day be looked upon with the same feeling of nostalgia and remembrance?
In my opinion, it needs to end soon. It’s no longer exciting to see what will be rebooted next. It’s time for new ideas to be brought to the forefront and to sit back and admire the past for what it was. We’ll never move forward in the entertainment industry if we’re just recycling old ideas. I don’t want to speak for everyone, but I think we’re all ready to be wow’d with the new and not bored with the old.
Pepper Prep Monthly Contributor
The Creative (Dis)advantage
Although, I do believe everyone has a creative side, considering yourself a “creative” person, whether it be for work or hobby, has a lot of advantages to it especially if you can incorporate those skills into your career. Your work life will feel fun, exciting, and new all the time. It barely feels like work when you’re enjoying what you’re doing. As your skills develop and you are getting faster and more efficient in your work, whether it be graphic design, video editing, creative writing, voice-over work, etc. There gets to be a point where you think to yourself, “hmm I’m pretty decent at this, I should really start freelancing out my skills.” Which is a great idea, it gives a bit of extra money, can turn small jobs into bigger and long-term jobs, and most work is remote so you can do it from home, which all sounds great, right?! Unfortunately, it is quite competitive, and there will be a lot of jobs that you apply for that you’ll never hear back from. But, if you really dedicate the time to applying for jobs and crafting your portfolio they start to come easier. And the more jobs you get, well… the more jobs you’ll get! Turning your creative skills and sometimes hobbies into money and experience is very exciting.
And yes, those are some awesome advantages to fulfill your creative spirit! But, here’s where your work can turn on you. The disadvantages of being in a creative work field and lending out your skills can be quite disappointing but rewarding if avoided. A great tip to be successful in freelancing is to price yourself appropriately! This is easier said than done but, make sure to do some research and see what a typical freelancer in your field is charged based on experience and skillset. Also, make sure to consider the time frame of the project. Will this only take a couple of hours? Or will it take a few weeks? And price accordingly. The most important piece of advice, above all, is to include revisions in your pricing! I can’t stress enough how easy it is for the client who hired you to get carried away with revisions and before you know it you’re basically working for free. Set an amount of revisions for the project, and a price for how much it would be for over that amount. This way, you’re still getting paid every time you make edits to the project.
Which all leads to the biggest disadvantage of being a working creative. People will be a lot more likely to try and take advantage of you. Now, I’m not saying it’s going to happen to everyone. But, it is very common! A lot of the time, someone who’s hiring a freelancer is in a very different field of work than you. And, a lot of the time there’s a misconception about how long these sorts of projects can take and what kind of work actually goes into them. Don’t do hours of work for pennies, because there will be companies who offer right around $5.00 for a commercial script, or a “quick” voice-over piece. And, most importantly charge your friends and family for freelance work! I know it sounds cruel, and you’ll feel like “I’ll just do it for them because they’re close to me.” But, don’t! You want to set a precedent and order with your work. Now, you can maybe accept a dinner, or a gift, or a trade of services instead, but please get compensated! Because it’ll only lead to the expectation of more free work and that’s not how it should be. Your gifts are a valuable skill to have, and they should be rewarded!
Now, I know this piece seemed quite negative toward the creative field, but don’t let it scare you away! There are disadvantages to every career path and these hardly even compare to the benefits of being able to be creative and do what you love for a living. In my opinion just being a creative is one of the best advantages of all!
To Post or Not to Post?
To post or not to post, this is an important question because it can definitely be a deal-breaker when it comes to employment, credibility, and even your personality, which some might argue that there’s nothing wrong with that, and I agree… to an extent.
When I post, retweet, or share something, the first question I ask myself is “will anyone be offended, turned off, or think lower of me for posting this?” Now, let’s set the record straight, I’m not interested or wanting to post obscene and offensive content, but if something is a little too “humorous,” political, or taking too strong of a stance on a topic, I might think twice as you should too. Now, maybe I’m thinking of this a little differently as I am currently deeply ingrained in the job searching process but, just because you’re in a job or in a field that doesn’t have any correlation with your online presence, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Because who's to say they aren’t looking?
Now, when it comes to social media posts, I believe you should express yourself, show your personality, your interests, your feel good moments and whatever you want to post. I also believe everyone is well within their right to share their opinion on politics, social issues, the economy, and whatever else they may be passionate about. The point I’m getting at is just to be careful. Be careful of the sources you’re posting from, are they legitimate? Are they credible? Are they real? Also, be careful that you’re not going to post anything too controversial. You never know who’s toes you might be stepping on, and who you might be turning off. Imagine submitting an excellently crafted cover letter and resume to a job and they turn you away because your social media feed is full of controversial topics that they don’t like or agree with? If you ever found out, you’d really kick yourself. Unfair as it may be, it can and does happen.
On the flip side, like I said above I do believe everyone is within their right to post what they want. If it’s your passion to debate and comment on politics, by all means, do! If you want to post scandalous and “inappropriate” memes, again please do so! Maybe just consider making your accounts private, or creating a professional and personal account. Or, tell me I’m straight up wrong and what you post is your business. That’s 100% valid.
I don’t necessarily believe it’s fair to be judged on your social presence, but it happens. So, my advice would be to edit yourself a bit and think before you post. Show your personality, show your beliefs, be yourself. But, be your thoughtful self and ask yourself that daunting question “to post or not to post” even if you have to spare those likes, retweets, and comments. It might be worth it, and you don’t even know!
Monthly Contributor to Pepper Prep
Boxing Yourself In
Zachary Rees is our new monthly Contributor to Pepper Prep.
Boxing Yourself In
In an industry full of so many different opportunities, is it a good idea to box yourself into one category? Or should you expand and dabble in all different areas? That is a question I find myself asking, a lot! Personally, I believe there are pros and cons to both...
On the one hand, if you specialize you’ll only grow your skills and continue to get better and better at that one thing. And, I’m not talking to those of you who are deeply in love with what you’re doing and want to do it forever. This post is for people like me, who love this industry and want to try out all different areas eventually.
For a little context, I currently work as a videographer. I honestly never really saw myself in a “behind the scenes” type of position such as shooting and editing video. I saw more of a job that put me in front of the camera or on-air. This job has been a learning experience for sure and has shown me how much I love this area of the industry. Not only that, but my skills have improved immensely from the time that I was in school learning all of this. Now, this is where I struggle. I’ve been doing this type of work for just under two years now. And, I’d be more than happy (over the moon, really) to accept another position as a Videographer. But, one day I’d also love to expand and do something else as well.
I have started gaining experience in other areas such as hosting and voice-over work, through freelance positions. Which is great, but I feel like I’m being pulled in all these different directions. One way, I’m experienced and knowledgeable in video production but do I want to do that forever? On the other hand, I have ongoing freelance work that I love but am not as experienced or well-versed in, and it most certainly does not pay the bills... but it is an area that I would like to work in full-time one day. These are just a couple of the million thoughts that run through my head every time I think about this topic.
The main questions I find myself asking are... Do you; A: continue in the field that you know, and potentially “box yourself” into that type of work forever. Or B: do you completely shut that part of your career out and start from an even lower “entry level” and try to find work in the areas you want to explore more? Then there’s option C: do both… which may sound easier said than done, but I believe it can be accomplished through freelancing, networking, and just personal projects that will advance your skills. I'm a firm believer in following your dreams but also providing a comfortable and stable life for yourself. The trick is finding a balance between the two.
If no one’s hiring you, go and do it yourself! May not make you any money, but one day it might.
This field is one big confusing pot of opportunities, and it's interesting to find where you fit in. There's certainly comfort in knowing where you excel and where you don't. When it all comes down to it, I'd say it's better to have a stable career that you can settle into for awhile. That just means you got to work extra hard to find those side freelance opportunities, but that's just all part of climbing the (seemingly) never-ending career ladder. At least that's how I feel, everyone will think differently about this. But, after being settled into a contract job for just under two years now, I am very ready for a permanent position where I can get comfortable at for awhile. Some might call that boxing myself in, but I think I'm okay with that. Are you?
Breaking into Broadcasting
Please welcome guest blogger Zachary Rees
Zachary has been working in the media industry for a few years now after graduating from Mount Royal University with a diploma in Broadcasting. He's currently finishing up a 2-year contract as a Videographer as well as working as a freelance host, voice-over artist, video editor, and volunteers as the coordinator for the Media Tent at the Calgary Folk Music Festival.
Breaking into Broadcasting
In school hey taught us a few key points of getting started in the Broadcast industry:
Now, don’t get me wrong there are exceptions to these standard points everyone in this industry has probably heard a million times. But, as time goes on I am unfortunately starting to learn that these points are in fact, pretty spot on.
Luckily, I listened to the advice and got my start in the industry in my second year of university by working as the manager of our school’s radio station. Then, went on to my first one-year contract as a videographer, which then became a two-year contract that is now reaching its end in just a short couple months. Needless to say, I am just a little scared/nervous/worried about finding a new job.
Literally applying and searching for jobs daily, the job search has been… okay. Which, I’m not going to lie I was thinking/praying/hoping it wouldn’t be. I think everyone in this industry has that one thought in the back of their mind that they’ll beat the system and they’ll be a different case. I am victim to this as I have worked in the industry in my city, but now that I’m trying to find work once again… it’s definitely a struggle. So, here I am now applying for customer service, retail, and banking jobs on top of industry jobs.
The silver lining is… there’s always freelance, there’s always gearing up and moving to that small town, and there’s always time! One day, it’ll happen, I’m almost sure of it. I believe if you keep pursuing the dream, one day someone will be looking for someone exactly like you.
To summarize, yes the struggle is real… real difficult and exhausting. But, what job search isn’t? When you finally get that interview or even those couple of freelance opportunities it’ll all be worth it and remind you why you got into the industry in the first place.
Where Are The Opportunites?
Please welcome guest blogger Nails Mahoney.
Nails Mahoney has worked on air for over two decades in Canada, the UK and Ireland. He has been coaching on air talent since 2007 and is currently based in Dublin and Nice. He has written two books on the subject of Radio Presentation, holds Presenter Workshops across the UK and outsources coaching to stations worldwide.
He provides some GREAT advise for announcers and podcasters and has given us some good advice.
Where Are The Opportunites?
Genuine question: If you are starting out in radio as a presenter...where do you get your experience?
I ask this because I posted a quote on my facebook page yesterday from a PD in California who puts her new talent on the midnight-3am shift. Then airchecks once a week. Simple idea. Unfortunately very few stations still nurture like that.
So, if you are new - where do you go?
Community radio? College radio? Pirates?
So many stations automate evenings from 7pm, all weekend in some cases, even weekday blocks. The opportunities for live experince are less now than ever.
How, then, are you getting feedback?
Is there someone helping you find your way while teaching you how it really is inside the studio?
Studying radio and doing radio are two completely different animals. Nothing wrong with studying it (some courses like the Radio Kerry one in Ireland are really good) but it's like learning to drive - once you pass the test, you develop your style!
So, again - legit question: Where do you go to learn real world radio?
Nils Mahoney - On Air Coach
For more GREAT blogs on Nils' insight on the radio industry check out:
Please welcome guest blogger Evelyne Nemcsok from Nemcsok Farms in Ontario Canada. www.nemcsokfarms.com
Evelyne offers tips on gardening , DIYs, Recipes, Crafts, and other great ideas for how to use the things around you to create a better, more natural lifestyle. Last year Evelyne contacted CJTT FM with a GREAT community initiative…..A Mitten tree…This local initiative was promoted throughout the fall/winter season on CJTT FM and saw a great success.
Here are excerpts from her blog on a great initiative that any radio station or podcaster and start or promote this fall/winter season.
For the Complete Blog check out:
Mitten Tree Free Range Charity
I have a vision. I have a vision where people who need stuff, can just get it.
Take away the paperwork. Remove the complications. Make it simply about giving and taking.
Keep it Simple. Make it free range. HENCE, THE MITTEN TREE
HERE’S HOW TO SET IT UP
Find a place that is easily accessible to the public. Obtain permission from a resident or business to use their space.
Ask your community to make, and or purchase mittens and other items to keep people warm, like hats and scarves, and have people decorate the designated tree or fence or whatever with these items that are free to whoever needs them.
Those that need them, can just take them.
If you’ve got something free for the taking, make it just that. Free for the taking, no scrutiny. No judgement. No justifying your situation. Simply free for the taking.
Evelyne Nemcsok from Nemcsok Farms in Ontario Canada.
For the Complete Blog check out:
The Job Hunt
Please welcome Guest Blogger Christine Roy.
Christine is currently a freelance writer who interned at CJTT FM in Ontario Canada. She has written articles for: Glue Magazine, OttawaTonite.com, BayToday.ca, The Vimy Ridge Project, Métis Nation of Ontario & more.
Christine is blogging about "Job Hunting in the Media" which unfortunately is what MANY in the media are facing.
THE JOB HUNT
Some months ago, I remember hearing about how many reporters had been suddenly laid off at the Ottawa Citizen and the Ottawa Sun. While I felt no small amount of sympathy towards these individuals--some of which I'd met in the media industry--my first thought was, "Crap...the industry is about to get flooded with competition."
I was nearing the end of my job contract at my current location at the time and I was already on the hunt for a new position. Moving wasn't exactly an option for me so knowing that there would be other journalists in my area looking for the same kind of work I wanted really lit up warning signs.
It's been a bit of a struggle ever since. I haven't managed to secure a position since my contract ended other than a bit of freelance bits here and there but nothing reliable for a proper income.
I have plenty of experience in communications but even that is a competitive industry when you don't have more than four years under your belt. So you do what you can with the skills you have: blog, write, pitch where you can and just keep on looking.
I'm luckier than most and qualified for EI but I'm really looking forward to a salary again. To say I've had cabin fever for a few months isn't a joke. I am totally ready to work but while I send out my resume to as many outlets as I can, I seldom get any calls and when I do, I'm told I interview well but the position has been filled.
Even my bilingualism doesn't seem to help right now.
The competition is disheartening but I'm far too much an optimist to throw in the towel. I love to write and I want it to show. I'll convince someone soon, I'm sure of it!
Christine Roy, Journalist