Updates 2018

I <3  Garner's Modern American Usage

I <3 Garner's Modern American Usage

So many things. Fasten your straightjackets.

1. I moved to L.A. Well, Pasadena, technically. I also ran a live music-live lit variety show at my friend's bookstore for an entire year. That was pretty great.

2. A few wonderful ideas dawned on me. I could get my MBA online to rid myself of my imposter syndrome once and for all. I could suspend TML in order to get a full-time gig in order to fund things, including my co-working space/board game cafe and my short film. I could keep writing stuff that may never see the light of day but keeps me sane.



3. And so you'll have to forgive my post lag. I've been busy working on things that I hope to share with you soon. But if you want me to cover a topic for you here in this tiny nook of the internet, I'd be delighted to do so. Just hit me up.

Content Strategy, a definition

That white goose black sheep knows how to position itself.

That white goose black sheep knows how to position itself.

When I introduce myself at networking events as a content strategist and copywriter, people usually ask me about the writing that I do but not the strategy. A few days ago, I was surprised to meet a fellow content strategist who asked me the question I'd been waiting for: what is content strategy?

According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, content is information made available by a website or other electronic medium. For instance, this blog post is considered content. Strategy, meanwhile, is the art of planning and directing. Keeping these definitions in mind, I've concluded that content strategy includes the following:

  • planning the information to be presented (the content itself, i.e. the words that make up the paragraphs of a website, blog post, etc.)
  • planning the execution of content (the context/schedule, i.e. Monday Emailing, Tuesday Tweet, Wednesday Blog, Thursday LinkedIn, Friday Facebook)
  • directing the presentation of content (the design, i.e. the amount of white space, the use of headings, format)

Wikipedia's definition mirrors the above: "Content strategy refers to the planning, development, and management of content--written or other media." The entry cites other useful definitions taken from the mouths of established content strategists.

When I first started this biz, I expected freelance writing to mostly involve typing away on my laptop, reading sources, interviewing clients, and typing some more. I soon realized, however, that writing isn't enough. I could write a marvelous blog post, hand it over to my client, and it might never see the light of day. If you want people to read your writing, you need to handle it strategically--you need to plan how it will appear on a screen and when it will appear on a screen. You need to make sure you're covering SEO and basic human elements, like humor and voice. Obviously, the most important thing is to make sure the quality of the content is mind-blowingly good, but content without strategy is no better than a letter lost to the bottom of your junk drawer.

Next time I introduce myself at a networking event as a content strategist, this is what I will say: "There may be plenty of people who know how to write a decent sentence, but there aren't many people who know how to create stuff that actually gets noticed."

On Storytelling: The Importance of Reframing Reality

I came across a very TML-relevant article today on one of my favorite blogs, Brain Pickings. In it, Maria Popova discusses Phillipa Perry's book How to Stay Sane:

At the heart of Perry’s argument — in line with neurologist Oliver Sacks’s recent meditation on memory and how “narrative truth,” rather than “historical truth,” shapes our impression of the world — is the recognition that stories make us human and learning to reframe our interpretations of reality is key to our experience of life:
— Maria Popova

My latest client contacted me with an unusual, forward-thinking, and therefore especially welcome request: to write her story. Not for a website or a brochure or a stage introduction or a speech... Just for her. She wanted to clarify her story so that she could feel more focused and motivated while moving forward with her career as a motivational speaker. While I was somewhat thrown by the lack of guidelines, the end result, a pseudo-fantasy-editorial feature, really excited me and I found myself feeling more focused and motivated, too. This assignment was storytelling at its best: reframing reality to use for life experience purposes. And, as I network, meet new people, and describe my business, I find that most people don't understand the benefits of reframing reality. As Maria Popova and Phillipa Perry know, stories can be more powerful than facts, more lasting than memory, more real than actual life. That's exactly what excites me about this work. I hope to come across many more clients who are as open to the power of stories as my last.


The Beginning

Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise.
— Horace

The inception of The Magma Lab took me by surprise. I was expecting to find a "real job" and work at a handful of "real companies" before trying to make it on my own. But then I kept hearing the same message, like it was stalking me: "You can do it... if you get out of your own way." Everyone starts somewhere; one only needs to be willing to show up. Alas, being a beginner can suck. I remember my high school and college freshman years... Eww.

To counteract the awkwardness, I will log the development of this business on this blog. I will share information, lessons, stories, and anything that could be of use to people interested in business, advertising, marketing, copywriting, and the like. As a woman entrepreneur, as a writer, as a curious learner, as a beginner, here's to showing up and sharing stories that aspire to be both educational and entertaining.


'Ello 'Orace!

'Ello 'Orace!