Noshings #4

“I’m not sure how I fit into the media industry,” I said to a media consultant earlier this year. 

I still haven’t figured out the answer, yet I follow industry news and how-to articles as if I was still working in media. Perhaps in this day and age, we all are. 

I have been fascinated lately, by reports on how young people consume news. I believe that it’s important information for both media companies, as well as companies that do content marketing. 

Back in 2012, when I still officially a journalist, I was often asked if I was working in a dying industry. It’s 2019, journalism isn’t dead yet and I still believe now what I did then: journalism will evolve. Rasmus Nielsen who is the Director of the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism wrote a beautiful essay about the fight for the future of journalism

I’ve been experimenting with podcasting for a while now. I get decent sound quality by recording in a quiet room with no moving air (no fans / air-conditioners). This article in journalism.co.uk provides six tips for getting even better audio quality.

My other obsession currently is newsletters. Anne-LaureLe Cunff shared a case study on how she used ProductHunt to launch her newsletter and got 2,000 news subscribers via the platform.

This article on the Global Investigative Journalism Network about how English is “skewing the global news narrative” was thought-provoking. Does having good English equate to being a good journalist? What sort of news goes international? 

Test

One of my hobbies is testing out website builders and content management systems (CMS). I recently got around to building a proper website on Squarespace and this time around, it seemed a lot easier to use. 

Got this basic website up in about half an hour. Blog posts are from the demo.

Previously, I couldn’t get over the fact that the only way to access the CMS was through the page builder and that put me off working on the pages. 

But after today, I realise that the website building experience is actually a lot simpler compared to WordPress (which is usually my first choice). 

It also has email marketing built into the website, which can be convenient. There’s no need to sign up for separate marketing software. 

On the other hand, I don’t love the fact that, compared to WordPress, there’s limited flexibility in terms of design. It’s also slightly more expensive and there’s no free tier. 

The email marketing plans are also on the pricy side, compared to tools like Mailchimp, Mailerlite (current favourite for marketing) or Substack (current favourite for content). 

In terms of analytics, Squarespace again provides a lot of convenience with their built-in analytics, which is comprehensive enough. Using it means one doesn’t have to set up Google Analytics (Google Search Console still required though). 

After trying it out this time, I’d say I would probably use Squarespace to build a portfolio website or a content website with a fixed focus but likely not as a personal blog. 

Fantasyland

Hours turn into days, and days into weeks. Even as she sleeps or tip-tap-types on her laptop, her mind is only halfway present in the world that her body exists in. 

Most of it is alive in Fantasyland

There, she spies on the lives of Men Without Women. She relives the events that led to the Animal Liberation movement. She follows Egwene through her training to become Aes Sedai. 

Sometimes she dives through the curtain of words and lives for days in the world between those book covers, half emerging only to eat or sleep (only when she absolutely has to). 

Walking through the “real world” is like being underwater. Everything feels like too much, and yet, everything feels muted.

She resents the tasks that require her mind to remain solid within her body, never allowed to wander (or wonder). The feel of her skin, pulled tight against her spirit gives her blisters. 

Even as her face puts on a smile and her legs take her from point A to B, she is drifting. She longs to go on The Great Hunt, to try to understand The Soul of an Octopus. 

She wants to escape. She wants to go home.

Forgiveness

Some people are difficult to get along with, and that’s okay. Humans have their curves and rough edges. Their different personalities and idiosyncrasies.

I’m learning to accept people for who they are. I may not always like the things they do, but then again, who always likes the things I do? I have my rough edges as well.

It’s possible to respect someone without liking them. To admire some of their traits, even though they have others that completely goes against your values.

To disagree and still be able to hear each other out. To be on completely opposite sides of the fence but still be able to care about each other anyway.

It’s possible, and perhaps even required, to treat someone with human dignity even if you hate them.

It’s possible to forgive someone who’s tried and is still trying to destroy your life.

Forgiveness doesn’t mean we’re rolling over and giving up. It means that we’re strong enough to get over things and move on. To not let someone else’s negative actions affect us.

To realise that a person has to be in so much pain in order to want to cause that kind of pain to someone else. And instead of feeling anger or the need to retaliate, show graciousness instead.

Noshings #3

I’ve been a reflective phase the last week and thus, have been struck the most by content that’s somewhat related to reflection and self-examination. 

I found this post about how one should “cross the world four times” very beautifully written. I’ve only crossed the world once and I’m not sure if I did all I could have done. Now that I’ve read this, perhaps I’ll do better when I cross the world for the second time.

Carl Sagan’s paper on The Art of Baloney Detection provides some tools for “skeptical thinking”, which I felt was important seeing as I’ve been reading a bit about the treatment and eating of animals in Animal Liberation

Sidenote: I subscribe to the Fermat’s Library newsletter, which sends a “paper of the week” each week. It’s a great way to read academic writing from a range of different topics. 

After reading Josh Spector’s post on how being specific can help one’s success, I realised that I tend to be a little too vague at times. Spector provides five areas where being specific can be especially helpful. 

Sam Andrew left his hedge fund job after nine years working in finance to travel the world. He shares some of the lessons he’s learned after “a year of discovery”. One thing he’s learned is that one should “enjoy the journey”.

He writes, “If the journey is not fulfilling, don’t fool yourself into thinking the destination will miraculously bring you fulfilment.

I also found this Simon Sinek video on how to measure success quite insightful. He says that the metrics that we use to measure success is incomplete. For example, there are metrics to measure performance, but none to measure trustworthiness. 

Sword & Sorcery

I have been caught up in the world of The Wheel of Time. The complete series in ebook format has been sitting on my e-reader since earlier this year and I’ve been putting off the re-read. 

Now that principal photography for the TV series has begun, I thought it was time to begin. 

I first started reading The Wheel of Time at 14, when nine of the books had already come out. I kept up with the series up till the 11th book, then somehow after the four-year gap until the next book, I never continued. 

It was the first sword and sorcery fantasy series that I’d picked up, and it spawned a love for the genre. It broadened my reading horizons — which at the time, was mostly chick lit and sci-fi. In a way, WoT led me to The Lord of the Rings

In discovering WoT, I found myself discovering more and more fantasy stories and as always when it comes to reading, one thing leads to another. I eventually found Terry Pratchett, who led me to Neil Gaiman, who led me to even more writers. 

In the past couple of years, I haven’t read much fantasy. And now that I’m immersed in the world of high fantasy again, I realise that I’ve missed it. 

Copy

Having been fascinated by ecommerce for some years now, I tend to follow brands and stores that excite me. 

One of these is Whisky River Soap Co, an amazing example of how ordinary products can be made special through great copywriting. 

Their products include soaps, candles and stationery. When said this way, it sounds utterly ordinary. 

Take their “First World Phobias” collection for example. It’s a range of soy candles with different scents and features names like Burn Away Guacophobia (the fear of missing the two-minute window of a ripe avocado). 

Now, I’m not saying that all brands have to write in the same irreverent way. 

One of the keys to great copywriting, I think, is knowing one’s audience ie. who are you selling to? 

And it’s also about knowing yourself ie. who are you and why do you exist? 

The struggle to appeal to the masses results in a watering down of one’s brand identity. 

Like the story of the father and son with the donkey, if you try to please everyone, you end up pleasing no one, including yourself. 

Having a good product should be a given, not a USP. The question is, how can you go further?