Being A Model

A few days ago I got called to do a modeling shoot. Yeah, I know what you’re thinking because I thought the same thing; model… me?!?!? Well yes! It seems that most of us don’t think of ourselves as model material, but not everyone is looking for only the beautiful people, if you will. There are often calls for regular folks like us to fill a role, and this time I got the call, my first ever.

I was asked to show up at a location around 9AM that was about 30 minutes from where I live. I hadn’t been to this community in more than 30 years, which tells me I really do need to learn more about my surrounding area. The studio was located in a beautiful area that I can’t necessarily say was out in the country, although, since the photographer owned 37 acres, it almost has to be called that I guess. I was also asked to bring 2 suits, 2 shirts, and some colorful ties. Since I only have 3 suits I took them all, took 3 shirts, and took 10 ties, just to make sure I’d covered it all. By the way, have you ever had to carry 3 full suits at one time? Sucker’s heavy! lol

The studio was very large. It was a converted truck garage that the guy had totally painted white, with only one of those large heaters in the top back corner of the room; no, it couldn’t totally overcome the cold, as it was around 20° outside. And I wasn’t the only model for this shoot, as there was this lady who I thought was around my age but turned out to be 74 years old who I was going to be shooting with. Sorry, no details on what we were shooting, as that’s part of the agreement. But I can still talk about the process.

If anyone thinks modeling is easy, they’re wrong. It might seem glamorous when you see those model images and you’re saying “man, based on what I do that’s some easy work.” Nope, sorry kids. Sure, it’s not like shoveling holes, but it has its own bit of work and effort. For instance, the poor lady I was shooting with had to keep walking and “almost” sitting at one point for about 10 minutes as the photographer kept trying to capture just the right image. Imagine what “almost” sitting is like; that’s tough on both the back and the knees.

And you have to keep that smile up; at least she did. Sometimes I didn’t have to smile, other times I had to smile on demand, and even though there were a lot of shots of me from behind, I had to keep my eyes on her eyes to help guide her through her shots. We had a good working relationship, which is always nice no matter what you’re doing.

There were also some strange contortions both of us had to go through. What some big time photographers do is work from a storyboard and someone else has drawn up of what they want. Well, turns out some of those poses aren’t, well, realistic, but it’s what they want. At one point he needed me to twist my arm into a strange position acting like I was receiving something, but he needed to see my open hand in the picture. For another series of shots I had to lean way over onto this desk because that’s what was in the storyboard, but it meant I had to lean over about a foot and kick one of my legs out in order to get into the pose. I didn’t even know they made short desks except for little kids; ugh!

Of course there’s the obligatory standing around time as well. I got lucky in that my standing around time was early, when they were taking prep shots. My partner, whose name was Juanita, had to sit around waiting later on when it was time for just me alone in a picture.

Finally, it was time for my main shot, and I got to sit for this one. I was holding papers and a pen in one hand, and I had to alternate between looking serious, looking stern, looking content and smiling, both with and without teeth. They had to change the set because his assistant realized that they had the same pictures in the new shots that they had in the original shots when we were turned the other direction; that wouldn’t do. And I couldn’t look at the papers; I had to remember to look straight at the camera, and that’s another lesson. After all, you know how you always feel like you want to blink when you see a camera flash? Can’t do that with a photo shoot.

I was there just under 3 hours, and it’s a good thing photographers don’t use real film anymore. What a process; digital camera, computer hooked up so they can immediately see what’s going on and what they might have to photoshop out later on. The guy said I was perfect; I didn’t comment because what could one possibly say to that? It was fun I must admit, but I’m glad it was relatively short also because it turns out that Juanita will be modeling for up to a week; she has a really prominent role in the story, though it also seems they didn’t tell her just how prominent.

My takeaway? I get paid and I got the above picture of his puppy Lucy, who was just the cutest thing, and when I got to play with her she kept going for my tie, actually getting it once. What an interesting day, and an interesting lesson to learn. Tyra girl, you do some work! 🙂
 

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Black Web Friday – 1/20/12

As I stated on my 1,200th post, I’m starting a new weekly series that I hope I can and will continue through the end of 2012. I decided to call them all Black Web Friday and have them separated by the date so they’re easy to find. I’m also creating a new category of the same name like I did when I was doing my Sunday Question series; if you missed those you should check some of them out, as I thought they were generally entertaining.

Black Web Friday

Today is the first day, and I don’t have any real rules for what I say about these sites except to say that I plan on introducing at least one blog each week, whether I go with multiple sites or not. Bloggers are who I really want to highlight to begin with, but I just feel there’s so much more that folks don’t know about that I’m going to help highlight. Also, if I mention a blog, I’ll tell you what the commenting system is, since many of you know I’m particular about the types of blogs I’ll comment on, in case you go visit a site and wonder why you don’t see a comment from me somewhere there. Of course, some blogs I probably won’t comment on anyway for certain reasons, but that doesn’t mean they’re not worthy of being visited.

These could end up being relatively short posts compared to my normal missives; I’m sure some of you will be thrilled by that prospect. 🙂 So, here we go.

The first site I want to highlight is called The Grio. It’s basically a news site that’s geared towards black people from a black perspective. It offers both news and commentary, and you’ll see many of its articles quoted or linked to from CNN quite often, which is how I discovered it. It also has a great entertainment section and offers many other features that you’d see on more traditional news sites, only in my opinion way more. I find it incredibly entertaining.

The second site I want to highlight is something a little different, yet not unexpected. It’s called The Angry Black Woman and it’s a blog written by three black women that offer their opinions on a variety of issues; one of them is eponymously named as the blog. They make a very interesting point that many black women make but few people seem to hear, that being that just because black women might get mad at something doesn’t mean they’re angry all the time. Not that they don’t express their anger at a lot of different topics on this site but I feel their points of view are important, and I agree with many of them, including this latest missive surrounding the naming of Beyoncé’s baby. And their site is set up for traditional commenting.

The last site I’m highlighting is one that I’ve highlighted previously, and someone who deserves a lot of credit for my initially deciding to do some types of list posts in the first place. That site is Basic Blog Tips by Ileane Smith, who just received accolades and kudos from her friend and a long time friend of this blog Kissie. Her site is definitely blogger friendly with the traditional commenting system, and it’s grown in leaps and bounds in the time that I’ve known her. She accepts lots of guest posts on her site as long as they’re social media related, so anyone looking for a good space to highlight themselves should check it out. This is the example of a blog that’s not a black blog written by a black blogger that many people probably already know, and she definitely deserves recognition for her online accomplishments. Why she doesn’t show up on many of these other lists I certainly don’t know. And she’s also got a big time YouTube channel with 65 videos to date; lots of great stuff there as well.

There you have it, the first Black Web Friday. Let me know what you think, and be sure to check these sites out. Until next Friday y’all!
 

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Post #1,200; Wild And Wooly Times

Goodness, we just keep plowing along in this little space, don’t we? The title says it all; this is post #1,200 on this blog, and like Post #1,100, it’s taken me 5 months. It would have been exactly 5 months if I’d gone ahead and written the two posts I thought about writing but I wanted yesterday to be about the King Holiday, which I wrote about on my business blog.

1200

So, how well did I stick with the mission of this blog, if I can call it that? I stated that I’d probably mainly talk about blogging and social media. I ended up with 24 posts on blogging and 15 on social media; that’s pretty true to form. I wrote a 6-part series on affiliate programs I’m active with, which was something different. And what was pretty amazing, at least to me, is that I actually touched on 25 different categories, the most ever in one month.

I got personal these last 5 months as well, as I had to deal with my grandmother passing away and some other personal stuff as well. I talked about the 10th anniversary of the Twin Towers tragedy from September 11th, 2001. I talked about my first (and maybe last) colonoscopy. And I talked about my feelings as an older black man lost in a mission that sometimes feels like I’m the only one out there, as old radical if you will.

It’s that last one that I’m going to expand a bit more on over the next bunch of months, which I’m actually hoping to extend for the rest of the year. But I want to tell you why I’m going to do it.

Last year I ended up highlighting 58 black people in social media. That came about because I kept seeing lists of bloggers and social media “celebrities” and not seeing any black people on the list. The campaign did what it was supposed to do in a way, but in a way it failed as well.

Why do I say it failed? Last week there was a post by our buddy Marcus Sheridan where he talked about making someone’s top blogger list and how there wasn’t any real significance to it. Of course I’ve written here why there really is some significance to it, so I commented on his post.

The creator of the list wrote me there and it turns out she’d also written the list the previous year which got me going. We had a brief conversation in the comments where she owned up to the fact that she doesn’t know any black bloggers; heck, what was I? lol Anyway, she said that maybe it was something she should look at since her list only ended up having one person of color as well.

Then someone else piped in, saying I was looking for a quota (folks, if there’s not even one, talking quota makes you look stupid) and how it had nothing to do with race because there were a lot of people of color blogging. She then proceeded to name 2, and followed that up with “I’m sure there’s others”. Wow, if you can only name 2 you haven’t done your homework; did I happen to mention that I came up with 58 here last year?

So, my plan is to have what I’m going to call “Black Web Friday”, so that I don’t pigeon hole myself. The idea is that I’m going to highlight anywhere from one to 3 websites either written by, about, or for black audiences. This allows me to be as broad as I want to be because with the series last year, the major criteria was that each person I highlighted had to have a blog. My concentration will be bloggers, individuals, but it’s not all I’m going to share. You know that thing about niche and not limiting oneself? That’s the plan.

And it’s going to be a test as well because truthfully I’m not expecting those posts to get many visitors; heck, I don’t expect this one to get all that many either. But that’s not always the point is it? I was talking to our buddy Mitch Allen about it and he said if I felt strongly enough about it that I should do something, no matter what anyone thought, including the people I may write about.

So, that’s what I’m going to do. Now, I might mention some of the people I mentioned before, though that’s not the major plan, because last year I just listed people; this time around I plan on writing more than just a one line introduction. I want to bring these sites and folks to you in the hope that maybe some of the topics or conversations might interest you enough to go take a look. That’s the goal; let’s see how it goes.

One final thing. The post before #1,100 talked about not responding to all comments anymore because some comments just weren’t all that good. Then two weeks ago I was having a conversation with our buddy Adrienne Smith on her blog about the subject and she said that she responds to all comments because those comments from new people that she thinks are bad, suspect, or don’t bring anything to the conversation she just deletes. I had already been deleting any comments that didn’t follow the comment policy but she makes an interesting point. If a comment isn’t worth responding to, is it worth keeping, especially from someone you don’t know who may never come back? I’m going to be thinking about that one over the next couple of weeks but as a test to see how many people actually read this entire thing what’s your thought on this last point?

Enough; I love these milestone posts because they make me look back through my blog, and then share some other posts that I hope are somewhat intriguing to you, the readers. Let’s see what the next 4 or 5 months brings.
 

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Social Media & The Concept Of ROI

I belong to a consultant’s group where monthly we have a presentation on something that most consultant’s probably need to know for their business.

A few months ago I was the presenter, and I gave a shortened presentation of the one I did back in 2010 on social media, which was a 5 hour presentation. I had to strip it down to 50 minutes, which wasn’t all that hard since I concentrated only on certain things for these folks, most of whom are older than me.

It’s that “older than me” part that makes it interesting because I always get the same question from the same guy: “Have you gotten any business from it?” When I say I have the next question is “what’s your ROI?”

That, for the uninitiated, stands for “return on investment”, and for many businesses it’s a critical question that has to be addressed. For instance, if you spent $25,000 on a print campaign that involved paying someone to create flyers, going to the printers, mailing everything out, and it resulted in an overall loss or a profit of less than $5,000, you’d probably have to say that your ROI was pretty bad.

When it comes to social media, evaluating ROI is much different. If you’re going to base everything on costs, they could end up being minimal or costly; it’s up to you. For instance, you could start a campaign of Twitter posts and if you do it yourself there is no cost, assuming you’ve already got everything else in place if you’re sending traffic somewhere. The same goes for Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, or anywhere else, even if you own a brick and mortar business.

Or is it cost free? See, with social media, even if you do it all yourself there’s an inherent cost; it’s just how you decide to evaluate it. The cost is in time and what your time is worth.

Let’s look at this in two ways. One, do you count the time if it’s outside of 40 hours, which is the American standard for working hours? Some might, since many of us (yeah, even me) work more than 40 hours if we own our own businesses. Some might not if they stick with traditional times and consider anything else as free time.

For someone like me, based on which business I’m doing at the time, I get paid anywhere between $50 and $250 an hour; yeah, I’m like that. Anyway, this means that if I’m putting in a 10-hour day and 2 hours of that happens to be writing my blog posts, which you might not think about like this but at least 4 of them I consider as business related in some fashion, then it’s costing anywhere from $12.50 to $62.50 each time I write a blog post (I average 10 to 15 minutes per post most of the time). If we look at one of my business blogs, where I try to write a post every 3 days, that averages out to around 120 posts a year, and if I use the lower figure it means it costs me about $1,500 a year of an investment towards writing that blog; that’s not counting responding to comments (I don’t have a lot yet so y’all need to go check it out).

Since posting a link to these social media platforms takes almost no time whatsoever, this pretty much means that I need to generate at least $1,500 a year from that business to break even. Of course I just started that blog in August, but already I’ve made that much, though it wasn’t from blogging, but it doesn’t matter. The thing is that as a marketing campaign, one isn’t always sure where they’re getting their business from, but even if it was related to the blog I could still say that, based on time, I’ve about tripled my initial investment.

Here comes the next stage though. What if you want to pay someone else to handle certain social media aspects of your business? For instance, say you hired someone like me to write your blog posts for you. I’m not saying this is necessarily my fee, but say it costs you $400 a month for a certain number of blog posts, and those posts automatically go out to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook (although I know Facebook just shut down one program and I’m not sure if there are others still working right now)? The approximate cost to your business is $4,800 a year; do you have the kind of business to overcome that amount of outlay? Is there the possibility that your business will generate that kind of money online, or will it come from offline sources?

That’s just it; you don’t know. Do you consider it offline if someone found you on Google and called you up, as opposed to contacting you via email? I don’t, and we all know that more content on one’s site helps them gain more prominence on the search engines. If you’re someone like a Marcus Sheridan, whose business is swimming pools, how many sales would he have to make because someone called him because they found him on Google to have made back all of his money if he paid someone to write his posts (which he doesn’t)? For that matter what’s his ROI now from blogging and obtaining business? I’m thinking it’s probably pretty good.

Every person has to evaluate for themselves whether they think they’re getting out of social media what they’re putting into it. However, you can’t make an evaluation if you don’t try. So, what are you waiting for?
 

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Sidebar Toolbars; The Next Scourge Of Blogs And Websites

For those of you who are relatively new to this blog, let me tell you something I hate: toolbars. That is, I hate them on websites and on blogs; I don’t mind if you want to have a toolbar on your browser because that’s not getting in my way, although I keep fighting the Google sidebar (a toolbar in its own fashion).

Of course I just led into my newest gripe; sidebar toolbars. In a rant I wrote last June on things that irritated me about blogs, I commented on these toolbars getting in the way of trying to read a post for a couple of reasons.

One, I like reading things a little larger than the norm. When I increase the size of the font, these toolbars increase as well, and suddenly they’re blocking all the content, making me bring everything down to size again. That’s irritating.

Two, you have your sidebar following me down the side as I try to get into some of your content. Now it’s not only big, but I can’t outrun it; that’s irritating as well.

You know, I get it. You read somewhere that you need to make sure people know how to share your stuff on Twitter, Facebook, Google +, etc. You’ve tried other things and you’re not sure if people are actually seeing these things because you have no idea if your traffic is going up or not. So you’ve figured “hey, if this thing is always in their line of sight, there’s no way they can miss it.

You got that right; what you don’t have right is that now people can’t read your content, and if they’re like me they’ll just leave and, well, so much for anyone sharing anything. And if I don’t like you I’m never coming back; so much for traffic as well. See the image above? That’s what I’m seeing with my text enlarged. Not only did it cover text, but as you can see the bottom part is cut off anyway, so if I’d wanted to share it via the final 3 options it gives me I’d have to reduce my text just to see it.

The funny thing is that what finally prompted this post is that someone I like recently wrote a post talking about how her traffic has dropped, and I can’t read it unless I make everything smaller because there’s this large sidebar toolbar blocking everything on the left side, and no matter where I go it’s there. I’m thinking that can’t help. And no, I’m not naming names; I’ll say something if she sees this post.

Of course, though I’ve been busting on sidebar toolbars, I can’t resist busting on those other little toolbars that follow you as you’re scrolling down a post as well. They’re sometimes on the bottom and sometimes on the top, and the purpose is the same as those moving sidebar toolbars; irritating as sin because it distracts you from reading. At least it distracts me.

I’m seeing these things starting to pop up on news sites as well, and it’s driving me nuts. I know I talked about our reluctance to market ourselves but this isn’t the way to overcome that if you ask me.

Folks, how many times does one have to state the fact that if you have things on your blog that irritates people and it’s not the content that you’re going to drive people away? Toolbars, popups, music playing when you get there, too much flash, people walking out from the side and talking to you (that always freaks me out)… stop it! lol

I know I can’t be alone on this one; speak y’all!
 

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