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    My Advice: Tips for the New Year

    By Lizzie Stafford

    Photo by Karina Sharpe

    Photo by Karina Sharpe

    Two weeks in to the start of January this year I signed a lease on a new shop. The year before was a bit of a ‘nothing’ year, and when I got to the start of January it was one of those moments when you think ‘Right, what is actually going on here.’ I sat at the kitchen table with coloured pens and a sheet of poster board and decided it was time to get real. I wrote down my ‘resolutions’. They had to be possible, but still challenging, and about doing ‘good’ rather than ‘lose 5 kgs’ or ‘get better hair’. Then I just wrote things I really, really wanted to do in large capital letters, like OPEN A SHOP, and I kept the poster visible so it was staring me in the face whenever I went near my desk. For the first time ever, I actually managed to come through with my resolutions. (Okay, most of them, anyway. Nobody’s perfect).

    Normally I wait until the end of January to start to do anything, because everyone is on holidays, or it’s too hot, or I have the rest of the year to do it. And then before I know it it’s December and I’m adding it to next year’s resolutions. But I found getting motivated from the very start, and ticking off as much as I could in the first month, gave me the momentum I needed to keep me going for the rest of the year.

    Of course, everyone’s different, and there is nothing wrong with taking time out in January to reflect and recharge. That’s the advice of one of the creative women when I asked about what she does to get motivated in the new year, and a trip to Europe sounds pretty darn inspiring to me.

    Nick off overseas!

    Elizabeth Bull, photographer and owner of One Fine Print

    My first knee-jerk-reaction response when asked about tips for the new year, about getting motivated and making the most of new beginnings was: nick off overseas! As that’s what I am doing on the 1st of January next year. It’s a completely self-indulgent trip I’ve decided to take right in what historically has been quite a busy time for me! It was also what I did last January. So I thought, really am I the best to comment on this?

    But then I thought about it and considered how time away from the business is actually what I’ve always done to prepare myself for the new year. Very early on in my business I did something that has now become my end of year activity that sets me up for the year ahead and something I look forward to and feel keeps me grounded for the busy year ahead. I go down to the beach for a few days, I sit around in a deck chair and do nothing much. It feels like a great relief after a busy December and year gone by. It really gives me the ability to just sit and think, and to discuss and play with ideas that have been swimming around in my head.

    Now don’t get me wrong; I travel and take breaks all the time. But rarely do I do the relaxing, sit around holiday. But when I do the “sitting around and relaxing” thing in December, I come back in January refreshed and ready to go. Over that period I think about my goals and what I’ve achieved in the previous year. I re-evaluate and think about what I really want out of the next year. Not in a New Year’s resolution type of way; more like a to-do list of what I’d like to achieve and how I could go about doing it.

    A couple of things I’ve found help me clarify my thoughts during this time:

    1) We completely shut down. It’s the only time we do. No email correspondence; just a nice “see you in the New Year” auto responder. This time away from the computer helps me think and have real clarity without any distractions. (I don’t even like cats, why am I looking at this cat video!). I guess it works for me the same way as why the best ideas always come to you in the shower.

    2) Don’t put pressure on yourself to “figure stuff out”. Sit back and relax, and the good stuff will come to you. Surrounding yourself with people who you feel inspire and challenge you helps as well because you can bounce those thoughts around and talk them out.

    3) Put your thoughts and goals into a to-do list that is achievable and manageable. Break down your ideas into small tasks so that when you are back at your desk in January you don’t become overwhelmed and disheartened.

    Set the intent but leave the specifics of it open-ended.

    Karina Sharpe, conceptual artist and product photographer

    At this time last year I was in the process of a big decision. I had been working at my jewellery design business Karina Jean, part-time amongst motherhood, for a number of years and had just had my biggest success with a design called The Pencil Necklace. Yet in the midst of filling all the beautiful Christmas orders, I was feeling a calling to switch paths. It wasn’t an entirely new calling or an entirely new path as I had been making imagery of one kind or another, alongside the jewellery, for some time and had spent much of the previous 12 months feeling torn between the two endeavours.  I knew at my core that I couldn’t actually do both with any noteworthy success. I realise now that sometimes it takes success in something to really test your love of it, and I found my love lay elsewhere. So in January this year I began to make changes from a product-based selling business to an image-based service business / artistic practise. And much of the rest of this year has been about putting things into place and finding my niche.

    For me, 2015 feels like a time for cultivation and creative exploration. In January I will make some plans for the New Year. I don’t really do New Year’s resolutions in the traditional sense. I don’t go “I’m going to get fit and join the gym”, “I’m going exhibit my art” or “I’m going to make more money”. I choose to phrase things in a way that is based more on the concept or the feeling of the things I want more of in my life, rather than them being fixed goals. So instead I will say things like “I’m going to feel happier in my body”, “I’m going to make beautiful progress with my art” and “I’m going to feel richer in all areas of my life”.

    I like to set the intent but leave the specifics of it open-ended. That is because I believe if it is up to me personally to set the specifics of the outcomes, I can really only set them based on how big I can imagine them to be and that can really only be based on a reasonable extrapolation of what I have already experienced. If I leave things open-ended for the Universe to deliver in its own way then the outcome can be beyond what I could have imagined for myself and things seem show up in amazing, random, and wonderful ways.

    Use charts and lists and schedules, broken down into three simple questions.

    Amalie Wright, director Landscapology

    Charts and lists and schedules come pretty easy to me, but to know what needs to go on all those charts and lists and schedules for 2015 I’ll be taking time to answer three deceptively simple questions:

    1) What is the big aim for this year? This sets the broad parameters for all other decision-making on a yearly, monthly and daily basis.

    2) Who were the most inspiring, engaging, talented and fun people I worked with last year, and how do I get to do more work with them, or people like them, this year?

    3) What are the things I need to do less of this year, in order to achieve numbers 1 and 2?

    Lizzie Stafford is a lifestyle and entertainment writer and owns and runs Künstler, a magazine and bookstore in Winn Lane, Brisbane.

    Posted by: Lizzie Stafford
    Categories: my advice, regular columns | Comments Off
    Posted on

    7 Tips for Starting a Podcast

    7-tips-for-starting-a-podcastBy Tess McCabe

    Now that you’ve had a week since my article ‘How to download and listen to podcasts‘ to download shows, binge-listen and basically become obsessed with podcasting, perhaps you’re thinking: I could do this!

    That’s great! Today I’ll offer some tips on how to start your own podcast.

    But first, another tech disclaimer: Emma and I are relatively new at this too, so we don’t have it all down pat yet. But the info contained herein is a pretty good foundation for getting your first ep online

    1. Decide on a topic.
    As discussed last week, most podcasts have a niche theme or overarching format, and that’s what draws in listeners. When deciding what to make a podcast about, I first looked to my interests. One of my main interests involves asking people about their creative businesses (which, lets face it, I do a lot of already in various other forms!). I like TV and film, but I can’t really talk about those topics in a ‘critical analysis’ kind of way without sounding like a dum-dum. I do like talking about my kid though, and asking people about their family situations, and talking to my mum friends. Ding! Hours of interesting content ideas suddenly presented themselves.

    Having some kind of structure to your talk-topic also helps. Emma and I have somewhat of a content calendar in terms of planned interviews (which helps when one or the other needs some time off, to, like have a baby or other such important life event). We also have a running list of interesting conversation topics and topical questions to ask, and apply these to guests as we see fit.

    2. Decide who you will talk to.
    Most of the podcasts I listen to feature between 1 and 4 people talking. Grace Bonney, for example, sometimes does an episode of After The Jump on her own about her business experiences, and sometimes she has a guest or two to interview. WTF with Marc Maron and Conversations with Richard Fidler are usually a one-on-one interviews with a different person every episode. Chat 10 Looks 3 (the brilliant new podcast by journalists Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales) is just the two of them chatting. On The New Normal, it’s generally always Emma and I interviewing a guest.

    Having different guests on your podcast comes with its pros and cons. Pro, you (and your listeners) get to meet and hear different perspectives from different people. Con, it can be a logistical effort to organise guests and find new people to feature every episode.

    The pros of working with a partner on a podcast are obvious: halve the workload, double the fun! Given that I have a podcasting partner, I can’t think of any cons right now… probably just the logistical effort of coordinating schedules.

    3. Practise talking.
    This one sounds like a joke, but it’s not. I did NOT realise the weird and annoying (to me at least) things that I do when I talk until I heard myself recorded! Eek! With the help of editing software (see below) one can edit out unnecessary ‘ums’, voice cracks, and pauses post-recording, but it helps to train yourself instead to be conscious of how you talk. If this involves practise, then do it. If it involves writing down notes re: witty anecdotes or questions for your guest, then do it. No-one likes to hear drawn out ‘soo… um, there was something else I wanted to ask… ummm’.

    It’s also worth considering the format. Practise holding back if you’re inclined to talk over people. Practise speaking up if you tend to mumble. And most importantly, if you’re interviewing a guest, practise listening – it’s likely your listeners will want to hear what they have to say slightly more than you!

    4. Figure out how and where you’re going to record your podcast.
    We record TNN on an iPhone through an app called iTalk. It’s free, and the quality of the recording is decent even without needing a separate microphone.

    Considerations such as how quiet your location will be is important. Again, test your equipment in your location to see what works (I never realised how squeaky my dining table chairs were until I thought about sitting down to record there!)

    5. Edit and add music.
    Who doesn’t love a catch jingle at the beginning of a radio show? Our theme tune was custom written just for us (helps to have friends with songwriting/producing skills!), but for the CWC podcasts and recordings I found some royalty-free music online for which I pay an reasonable annual license fee to use.

    Remember, you can’t just use any old song as your theme song, as these would more than likely be protected by copyright.

    In terms of editing a recorded file, we use Audacity. It takes a little getting used to using but once you’re accustomed, you’ll be cutting and editing like a pro. In an editing program you can add your theme music to the start and end of your episode, tighten the episode by removing ums, ah’s, coughing fits and even boring conversational tangents, and export the file ready for uploading online.

    6. Get it out there.
    There are a few ways to get your complete audio file online and into the ears of your loyal listeners, but often it can be a bit of a convoluted process of workarounds if you want it to remain free and (relatively) easy. Our episodes are uploaded to our BandCamp page, embedded from there via HTML code into our website blog, and then that RSS feed talks to iTunes so the episode pops up there.

    iTunes is where you really want your podcast to be, but there are a few rules – you have to be 5 episodes deep before you can apply, and they have to approve your show before they put it on their system.

    7. Promote and build an audience.
    Just like any blog or creative business, promoting your podcast and building an audience takes time, determination, and some marketing know-how. Becoming more readily ‘findable’ on iTunes involves gathering listener reviews, and encouraging listeners to subscribe, so that you pop up in search results near the top. TNN has its own social media accounts and listeners can sign up to receive an email whenever a new episode is released. We’re still building our audience, so you can follow us over here, here and here!

    Let us know if you start your own podcast this summer!

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    Posted by: Tess McCabe
    Categories: podcasts, technical tips | Comments Off