July 2008

stands for WOW!

Let me explain – a week ago, I wrote up this post: While I was sleeping…

In it, I was pretty excited that I’d gone from starting this site to over 500 visits in about 5 weeks. Not too shabby. Today, I took a look at my stats and decided I needed to write up something about it – and come up with a catchy headline. How do you think I did? Feel free to leave a comment below…

Speaking of below – below is a picture from my wordpress blog stats today. It represents the number of visitors who stop by on any given day. Another term for this is “traffic” and we’ll be learning about traffic soon enough from Ed Dale.

And I say this because – this year’s thirty Day Challenge is set to begin with a kick-off show on July 31st at 8PM Eastern time in the US. The place to go is http://www.ustream.tv/channel/thirty-day-challenge-tv

Then – the challenge begins – unleash the awesomeness!

While I’m waiting, imagine my surprise when I woke up this morning and saw this?

The Traffic Graph

The Traffic Graph

Okay, okay – so I took a day and dedicated it to the whole Ed Dale mankini phenomenon. This can’t always be about work – I’m just not wired that way. Things settled down and everyone had a chance to catch up – then this morning, there was a surge of traffic. It’s still happening as I write…

And me, being curious – and having a 10 year-old who is even more curious – I had to find out things like:

Where are they coming from?

Where Did They Come From?

Where Did They Come From?

You can see a lot of Google Reader views, also Friendfeed. Several visitors come from the Thirty Day Challenge forums, StumbleUpon and Twitter. One that I’m still scratching my head over – apogeonline.com – best I can tell, it’s a backlink from a Spanish website. Maybe I should set up a Spanish translation – hablo Espanol?

On to the next question – what did they like?

What did they like?

What did they like?

This one makes sense – the three most popular posts all revolve around getting set-up and/or caught up for the thirty day challenge. I’m a bit surprised about the “11 Things” post with 25 views – I finally finished and posted that one last night…

What were they looking for?

What Were They Looking For?

What Were They Looking For?

Well, isn’t that special? Ed Dale mankini, right at the top of the list. Things that make you go, hmmm…

Once everyone had had enough of this site – Where did they go?

Where did they go?

Where did they go?

Mostly, people clicked away to go get their Flock add-ons – which is kind of the point, right? I wanted this to add value to the already awesome training – hopefully, visitors like yourself are finding this to be a valuable place to visit. A few went on to the thirty day challenge site. Some of the links above also show some social bookmarking is happening – like digg, stumbleupon – don’t worry if you don’t know how to do that yet. We’ll be learning about social bookmarking soon enough too.

So – what does it mean?

What does it mean?

What does it mean?

In a nutshell, the number of visitors doubled in about a week. Nice.

As we go through this year’s thirty day challenge together and get to the point where we’re putting it all together, you’ll start to see traffic – and you’ll get excited about it – and hopefully this post gives you enough hope and encouragement to stick it out until you’re enjoying your own success.

Enjoy this year’s Thirty Day Challenge!

And if you are into it – take a moment to do a social bookmark or two…

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I have to reveal something – in a former life, I had some experience in music performance and audio recording. I was able to work in a few commercial recording studios on a variety of projects. Some of those projects involved adding music to video.

While I’ve never shot video myself before, I’ve been around some talented people who really knew what they were doing. So when the video contest was announced, I thought that would be something I could try.

I knew I’d need to do some brainstorming – you know – come up with some ideas. And I had a few, I jotted them down on a post-it – no judgment at first, just some random thoughts:

1) The Ideas…

First was the excited kid, trying to wake up the parent on Christmas morning, whispering – except being excited to start the Thirty Day Challenge.

Next, I thought a conversation in the car might be interesting – kind of like the commercials they run for “Sonic.” If you’re not familiar with those, it’s okay…

My other idea was to just sit down in front of the camera and have a conversation.

2) The Script / Storyboard

I roughed out some script notes for each idea on the computer trying to see if I could cover the main points and stay under 2 minutes. At this point, I was trying to flesh out each of the ideas – still without judging. With some notes, I could begin to imagine a storyboard.

Now that part was interesting. Just the night before, we were watching the movie “Aladdin.” In the bonus material, they went through several minutes of storyboards from the movie. It was fascinating and as it turns out, well timed.

I took the boys and myself for haircuts and picked up a sketching tablet so I could draw up some storyboard frames for my notes.

3) Location

With some script notes and sketches, I needed to think about the location. Not easy. It turns out that shooting the way I wanted to in the car would probably have required removing the windshield. And the excited kid waking up Dad was going to be dark and take a lot of movement and cutting.

I wanted to get it uploaded by Sunday evening, so I needed to go with simple. We picked a space along a wall in our basement.

4) Equipment

I knew I would need my Laptop, a WebCam w/mic, Video Capture Software, Camtasia for rendering, and an account to upload to on YouTube. Fortunately, I had all of that already. I knew video was going to become more and more important. I’d used my income tax return to upgrade the RAM in my laptop to 2 gigs and bought a $100 Logitech Webcam. It’s not the best camera in the world, but it’s decent. Now, If I could just get to a place where I can pick-up a MAC – hopefully sometime before the end of 2008.

Here’s a basic overview of how we arranged the main equipment and seating – we’ll come back to this a little bit further down…

5) Lighting

Once we had our equipment and chairs in place, we turned on the capture software and did a few tests. Our faces and skin tones looked horrible. So we started turning lights on and off and moved a couple of lamps around until it looked better. Yes, lighting is important – obviously it’s not critical all of the time for everything – but if a video is going to be judged in part by how it looks; taking a few minutes to improve the lighting is worth doing.

6) Background

After a few test takes and looking at our results – we decided the plain white wall with the clock wasn’t going to cut it. I tried a dark blanket with a nice pattern on it – but it was too dark. I wish I had a more professional background, but the light striped blanket worked and I could hang it on the wall with thumbtacks…

7) Sound

While the picture was improving, the sound was awful. I double checked all the sound card settings and re-ran the audio wizard for the web cam. Big improvement – I wouldn’t have been able to upload any video if I hadn’t been able to fix the sound.

8) Quiet, Lights, Camera and Action

Time to actually start recording. We did several takes and kept messing up. I would miss a line, Stephen would miss a cue. We’d already spent a few hours in prep on Saturday evening and most of the afternoon on Sunday just making it work. Now we were feeling the pressure and couldn’t seem to remember our lines…

9) Takes, Takes and More Takes

I think THE smartest thing I did was type up our lines on the computer. Of course, I wasn’t smart enough to start there, but after blowing lines for 15 – 20 takes, we needed to do something else. So, I typed in Stephen’s lines in Wordpad on my side of the monitor and my lines on his side. The camera was positioned on a stand in front of the laptop. This forced us to look “through” the camera to see our lines.

I’m hoping this diagram will help illustrate:

9) Re-writes and revisions

Once we got into a rhythm, it didn’t take too long. We made a few revisions to the script, trying to keep it upbeat and fresh and real. At one point, I thought we had it. Then in reviewing the latest take – we both realized that Stephen was pronouncing a word in a way that was not understandable on playback. Back to the drawing board. We recorded about 5 more takes and decided we had it “in the can.”

10) Save, Render and Upload

I opened up Camtasia and went through it’s wizard for web video. I’m honestly not sure I did it right or in the way a video veteran would recommend, but it worked and I got it uploaded by about 7:30 PM my local time…

11) The ideas that came after…

Like a lot of projects, once it was done – and we put everything back – I had a few more ideas, like:

A) Make sure that veteran marketers know there’s a good chance they’ll learn something too.

B) Say $1 in 30 days, not $10 in 30 days. I mean it could be $10, hopefully more – but the point is the process, not the money.

C) This one’s still my favorite – When the line – “There is no charge for awesomeness” comes up – put on sunglasses in sync – and them take them off. I just thought that would give the line some extra “pop.”

That’s what we learned, I had Stephen working on making sure he was all caught up – We’re all set to kick off this year’s Thirty Day Challenge.

P.S. Our entry for the contest is here – Our YouTube Entry for the Thirty Day Challenge

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So Dad comes home from work tonight and tells me to make sure I’m all caught up.  Then he says I should blog it…I think I’ll need some help….

X    1. Get Flock 1.2.x
X    2. Set Flock preferences / options

Note to Dad – The options window gets in my way and won’t let me scroll??  What do I do?

Dad’s edit – You’ll have to do the steps you can see, then close the options window by clicking the “okay” button.  Scroll down the catch-up page for the next steps – then open the options window again and make the next set of changes.  Repeat those steps until you’re done…

X    3. Make Flock faster

X    4. Install the add-ons

X    5. Sign up to Twitter

X    6. Follow Ed’s, Dan’s and Gurubob’s Twitter

Note to Dad – We already did some of this stuff…

Dad’s edit – It’s like being in Boy Scouts kiddo – Be Prepared.

X    7. Setup TwitterBar

X    8. Install Twhirl (and Adobe Air if it’s not already on the computer)

X    9. Connect Twhirl to your Twitter account

Note to Dad – Twhirl isn’t working, it wants to do an “upgrade” then there is an error…

Dad’s edit – I’ll look at it tonight – okay it’s fixed…

Another note to Dad – Dad, I forgot my Twhirl password…

Dad’s edit – Your Twhirl password is really your Twitter password – try that first.  If that doesn’t work – You can go to the twitter sign-in page (http://twitter.com) and click the link that says “forgot password.”  Type in your e-mail, then go check your e-mail for your password.  You should be able to change it from there…Again, that’s the password you’ll use to link your Twhirl to your Twitter.

X    10. Sign-in to Google Reader with your Google Account

X    11. Add the Thirty Day Challenge Blog feed and Ed’s Twitter Feed
X    12. Join Stumble Upon
X    13. Sign-in to YouTube with your Google account – Subscribe to Ed Dale’s channel
X    14. Subscribe to Ed Dale’s Google Subscribed Links
X    15. Sign up with FriendFeed

X    16. Add Twitter, Google Reader, StumbleUpon, and Blog into FriendFeed
X    17. Add Thirty Day Challenge room in FriendFeed
X    18. Change your signature lines in 30DC forum to a quote + FriendFeed

Okay Dad, I’m ready…I’m ready…

Good work – kiddo!

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No, not a list of people to e-mail.  Not a list of hungry prospects in my auto-responder account, just waiting for an offer, ha!

I’m talking about a list of things to do – that I wrote out before I left work today.

1) Contact xxxxxx – ask him about backlinks – okay – I made contact.

2) Fix/Add to the Table of Contents page – I was able to do that too.

3) Run a certain term through Market Samurai to determine a niche potential – mostly for giggles.  – That made for a funny little screen capture or two

4) Work on some of my draft posts: Here’s where I suck

A) Traffic/Stats Update – nothing

B) Things I Learned Making Our First YouTube Video – nada

C) Help Stephen with his post on the same topic – from his perspective – bad dad

D) See if I can turn the screen capture from #3 above into a quick post… – well at least I have the picture…

I won’t beat myself up too much – but if fresh content is the life-blood of a blog, shouldn’t I be working on content first?

Since I am a list-person, meaning – I need a to-do list: I’m going to have to switch my priorities around if I want to develop better blogging habits.  Tomorrow, I’ll put post-related stuff at the top of the list and see how I do.

For now, it is late – there’s always tomorrow night…

30DC TV – Preseason 09 – 2008

Thirty Day Challenge TV – European Edition – 2008

On July 23rd, a contest was announced on the Thirty Day Challenge Blog. You can read the entire post here:

Want To Win A Year On The Immediate Edge?

Now, I don’t have much in the way of graphic design skills. I’m not all too sure about my copywriting skills either. Oh heck, I’ve never shot my own video before today – so I’m not sure how this will do.

But when I was reading the post, I didn’t have any bright ideas about a logo or copy – however I did have a few thoughts about a video. So here’s our first attempt.

After jumping in and doing a bunch of things I’d heard of, but never done before, we came up with a finished product – and uploaded our first video to YouTube.

I’d heard of writing scripts and storyboarding – but had never done it. After about a dozen versions and literally over a hundred takes, we worked out a video that is simple – and hopefully effective. Here it is:

If you’re ready to give the Thirty Day Challenge a try, here’s a link where you can go to sign up:

Sign up for the Thirty Day Challenge

“There is no charge for awesomeness!”

We’d appreciate your feedback and comments below – and if you somehow end up on YouTube to view it, please take a moment to rate it 🙂

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With less than a week to go – I thought I better put a condensed checklist together for people who are just now signing up for the thirty day challenge. There is a link on top and along the side – but what the heck, I’ll include one here in this post too.

Preseason Catch-Up

I know I needed something like this last year – if it helps you or you think it would help someone else – feel free to leave a comment and/or spread the word by social bookmarking.

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