The Sunday Letter, 9 December 2018

Look out the window.

Hi, Pixie friends!

I wrote this letter on Thursday, when it was 33 degrees at 9 am, and I was wishing I could stay in my air-conditioned office all day! Ha!

This week I bring you a tip that I learned earlier in the year as a result of my Wednesday creative leave days. If you haven’t heard about these days, they’re a day in which I don’t do Pixie work, but instead spend the time in personal writing projects. The projects are designed to stretch me creatively and professionally, and the insights have been quite amazing. I’m going to be talking about it in my next Patreon podcast, so if you want to hear about it, you have to become a Patron.

This week’s reading is nothing short of fascinating. I’ve dug up an antitrust case against Apple, which may change how ecommerce stores are handled. There’s a lovely little piece about why looking out the window is better than scrolling on your phone; a link to one of my favourite usability tools; the best marketing campaigns for 2018; and - just because it makes for juicy reading - a very sharp piece about Informer 3838.

If you’re not in Australia, and you haven’t heard about Informer 3838, are you in for a treat! Reply to me and I’ll send you a bunch of links. The TL;DR is that a barrister acting on behalf of underworld ganglanders in Melbourne was simultaneously working as a Police Informant against those same people. What a story.

Enjoy the reading this week!

Lots of love

~ Leticia Mooney, 
Queen Pixie at Brutal Pixie

Tip of the week

Forget your elevator pitch, write a logline.
A logline is used in screenwriting and is developed before anything is done on a script. The logline is pitched to as many people as possible to get feedback, and only when responses become a universal hell yes I’d go see that film does the planning stage begin. This is so far ahead of writing a film, you can’t even begin to imagine. (It took me more than 6 months to go from my first logline to pen on script this year!) Imagine what shifts it could make in your business if you were patient and did the same thing.

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The Sunday Five

Here are the best articles we’ve found from the past week. If you find any gems during your week and would like to see them included, email them to hello@brutalpixie.com.

[ Performance ] Hack your commute: Look out the window

Were you aware that you can improve your memory and recall by going for a walk through the trees? That you’ll remember more if you aren’t looking at a city street? Well, it’s true. A new study suggests that aimlessly looking out the window is really good for us! Read this here.

Key takeaway: Work isn’t about doing-doing-doing-doing. Go for a walk and daydream. You’ll solve more things more quickly. (Yep, even content things.)

[ Tools ] Usability Hub

I am a MASSIVE fan of Usability Hub, and we at Brutal Pixie use it all the time for usability and understandability studies. They’ve just updated a whole lot of their features - and their blog is really worth an hour of your time if you’re in charge of content-related projects. Check it out here.

Key takeaway: Some of the very best tools you’ve never heard of are Australian. ;)

[ Marketing ] Best campaigns of 2018

Don’t you LOVE everyone else’s roundups? I used to hate doing them myself, which is why I adore the effort that other people go to when they create them. Marketing campaigns is no exception. We might not be a marketing agency, but as a content pros, this kind of intel is priceless. And fun! Marketing Week brings us Part 1 of the Best Campaigns of 2018. Get it here.

Key takeaway: Being confronting - done well - is really bloody good for your brand.

[ Law ] When Justice is hacked, we all lose

If you consume any news media, you would know about Informer 3838. (And if you don’t know this story, man are you in for a treat! Reply and I’ll supply you with some links.) In this article, Ruth Barson, who is the Director of Legal Advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre argues that when legal and judicial processes become tainted by misconduct, so does our entire legal and political foundation. She argues that the problem isn’t just that Vic Police engaged in misconduct; she argues that self-assessments of misconduct are problematic in a whole range of ways. It’s burning and sharp, and you should read this here.

Key takeaway: Think about how you deal with misconduct in your business, especially if you’re in law or finance. I wonder if it’s worthwhile setting up an independent review process, even in your small business? Food for thought.

[ Business ] Apple Lawsuit could impact how courts view antitrust cases

This is about a US case titled Apple vs Pepper. The writer tells us that the outcomes may change how big tech defends itself in antitrust cases. At the heart of the case is whether or not Apple has engaged in anti-competitive actions in order to restrict consumers to buying apps exclusively from the Apple Store, and that they’ve been paying premiums as a result. While there’s the potential for a precedent to be played by the tech giant, it’s unlikely that it’ll fly. For Illinois Brick Co vs Illinois to apply, Apple will need to argue that they’re not the direct seller of apps. If Apple is not successful, this case may be groundbreaking, because it may change how people manage not only their ecommerce stores in the US, but also their pricing. Read this fascinating piece here.

Key takeaway: Anti-competitive behaviour is never cool, mm’kay?

The Sunday Letter, 2 December 2018

Heyy Pixie Friends, can you believe it’s December already?

We are literally only a few weeks away from the long-awaited (dreaded?) Christmas/Summer break. We’re closing down from 22 December until 7 January, and will be in Slow Mode during the summer, to take advantage of beautiful beach days, opportunities to travel and visit friends, and generally enjoy life.

And we hope you are doing the same thing. :)

We’re hosting our final Pixie event on the last day of the year - 21 December - and will very soon be issuing invitations. Our paying subscribers have already got theirs (it’s one of the perks of subscribing!). If you aren’t one of them, reply or comment to let me know you want to be added to our list.

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Have an amazing week this week, won’t you?

~ Leticia Mooney, 
Queen Pixie at Brutal Pixie

Tip of the week

Be aware that there are industry-standard rates for content folk, particularly writers, editors, videographers, photographers, and artists. Make yourself familiar with them so that you know what your budget needs to look like in the new year. A good place to start is the Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance’s freelancer rate table.

The Sunday Five

Here are the best articles we’ve found from the past week. If you find any gems during your week and would like to see them included, email them to hello@brutalpixie.com.

[ People] The CEO of a startup that just raised $25 million asks every potential hire the same question, and it has nothing to do with work

Tally is a US-based startup that consolidates your credit card debt and charges you a lower interest rate. The question the CEO asks of people is, As a human are you happy? It’s not a trick question, but one designed to get to the heart of what deep motivations drive their potential hires. The reason? To find out if their values align with the business. Read this article here.

Key takeaway: Getting to the deeper reasons why people work with you is a surefire way of working out whether they’re more or less likely to work well with you.

[ Goals ] An Intentional System for Working with Goals

If you’ve been a reader for a while, by now you’ve worked out that I am a big fan of Leo Babauta. And if you’ve ever set goals in your life (I hope you have!) then you’ll know that they’re not all they’ve cracked up to be. It’s more about using goals to bring wonder back into your life. And that is something that Genevieve Bell would encourage all of us to do. Read this here.

Key takeaway: Bringing your actions back to the present is a better way to work with goals, because it makes them more flexible.

[ UX ] UXMas 2018

This is a super-fun and awesome site that is a UX advent calendar. I wanted to link you to 1 December’s article but couldn’t - so you get the whole calendar instead! On 1 Dec, Tim Broadwater presents Tips for UX Battles: A Game Walkthrough. It’s THE BEST. From the introduction: “This game walkthrough provides three tips for safely negotiating UX battles which The Team may encounter throughout your career. Ready. Set. Fight!” Get it here.

Key takeaway: Navigating the UX battles you’ll face in your career (or that your team will face in theirs!) requires the right weapons, the right choices, and persistence against difficult bosses. If you’re a boss, read this!

[ Content ] Instagram Study: We analyzed 9 million posts and here's what we've learned

Quintly learned a lot by studying so many instagram posts. They learned that you get maximum growth with 1000 - 10,000 followers; that carousels are most used by influencers; that you get more interactions with videos; that you get more interactions without hashtags (unless you already have more than 10 million followers)…and more besides. You have to sign up to get the full report, but if you leverage Instagram it is worth your while. Read this here.

Key takeaway: You could do what everyone else is doing, or you could learn from the data and break out on your own to do something different.

[ Decision-Making ] The danger of using your preferences instead of data to make a content‐related decision

This is a deep-dive article about decision-making, including rigged and biased decisions. It illustrates how we make rigged decisions about our content and marketing without even realising it, and talks about the difference between this bias and real instinct. It also gives you a short, sharp and shiny method of getting a functional decision-making framework in place. So much gold! Read this here.

Key takeaway: When you have a decision-making framework in place, you’ll never have to wonder what you should do next.

The Sunday Letter, 25 November 2018

The REAL one

It’s Sunday but for all of our subscribers, they got their usual Sunday mail from us on Tuesday. It sparked a few comments like ‘what’s with this coming out on Tuesday?’. And a few others giving us a heads-up and some comments about why they love it.

You may also have noticed that we didn’t send additional emails with apologies. We didn’t run around in a flurry.

We did tweet this…

… but that’s all.

The lack of follow up was intentional.

Have you noticed that people always send apologies after they screw something up?

We could have sent an email with OOPS in the subject-line. We could have issued another newsletter immediately, explaining that in a different browser the publishing UX from Substack excluded the scheduling options (pro-tip, if you use Substack, avoid Brave or turn all of its shields).

But we didn’t.

We didn’t apologise, because apologies make you look even more incompetent.

When it comes to publishing - in all kinds of publishing - sometimes shit happens. You hit the wrong button by mistake. You have a spelling error you caught only after something was sent. You have a chapter in a book with (accidentally) different running headers different, and had 20,000 copies printed. You have a photo that looks weird. Or your headline wasn’t the right one.

Whatever it is, shit happens. It happens to the very best in the business. And it happens to the very newest.

When it does happen (because it will, eventually) you have to decide: What action is better for (a) our reputation, and (b) our time.

In my long experience of sending EDMs, I’ve found that sending apologies doesn’t make you look like you ‘fixed it’. It just makes you look rushed and unsure of yourself. You are better off owning the mistake. Yeah, we sent a Tuesday Letter this week. But it’s no big deal: Nobody’s going to die. It made some people smile. It got us some outstanding feedback.

And I got the opportunity to write a lesson in publishing smarts to you.

In this way, one little error has become a really positive, beneficial thing to have done.

Your key takeaway from this

Is two-fold:

  1. Shit happens. It always will. So prepare for it and expect it.

  2. Having a procedure to address it when the proverbial muck his the fan helps you and your team.

ONE THING YOU SHOULD DO RIGHT NOW is to document what your procedure should be when you make an error. Giving your team a known process to follow when they screw up is helpful for everyone. It stops them re-sending things with ‘oops’ in the subject. And it stops you from having a go at them for being human.

This is the kind of feel-good risk mitigation you can bash out in an email and move on, knowing you’ve got your bases covered.

Remember that if you have a paid subscription, you have access to our Office Hours program for free guidance and conversations about how to do this - whenever you like. So don’t hesitate to jump in and book yours here.

Have a splendid week this week!

~ Leticia Mooney, Queen Pixie at Brutal Pixie
www.brutalpixie.com

The Sunday Letter, 25 November 2018

Make your readers smile

Happy Sunday, Pixie friends!

The letter this week is for those of you with a vested interest in growing your businesses, but who are also flat-out working inside the business. You might be flying solo or have 3-50 employees. The articles this week are right up your alley.

They cover social proof in online retail; creating emotionally engaging content; the technical basis for content experience; and there’s a crash course in content intelligence, too.

And then, right at the end, is a beautiful story about Victoria’s tiniest school. I’ve included it for you because it’s heartwarming - and for no other reason. Yes, these tiny schools of 7 kids do still exist. And the experience of a Sydney-raised woman teaching there is nothing short of beautiful.

I hope you are inspired to do good things in the world after all of this week’s brilliance.

And if you’re looking to transform your content, publishing, or business development in the new year, let me know. I have about 10 places available for strategy consultations, which you can book here. And in 2019, we will be offering editorial advisory retainers for just $1,200 per month, so you can keep building your team’s capabilities. Reply to this email if you’d like to know more about that.

May you have a sparkling week this week. :)
~ Leticia Mooney,
Queen Pixie at Brutal Pixie

Tip of the week

Your biggest issue with a team of enthusiastic writers is editorial. Remember to put the editorial function inside your workflow. If you don’t, you’ll get a mishmash of style, and you’ll increase your level of risk.

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The Sunday Five

Here are the best articles we’ve found from the past week. If you find any gems during your week and would like to see them included, email them to hello@brutalpixie.com.

[ Marketing ] How social proof helps retailers on Black Friday

The notion of social proof is that people take action by following the actions of others. Can you say baaaaaa? Haha! This article gives you loads of tips for demonstrating what people’s peers are doing: Ratings, popular purchases, pop-ups that tell browsers what people are buying, and so on. And it gives you some service tips as well. Read it here.

Key takeaway: Running an e-tailer at a competitive time of year means imagining that you’re in a busy store. What creates a sense of urgency, desire, and happiness if you were to put yourself in a customer’s shoes?

[ Content ] How to create emotional content that engages your audience

Using - and writing about - emotions can help your content to go viral, according this article. But the challenge is knowing which emotions are beneficial. Overwhelmingly, people love positive emotions. So, research them and write about them… once you know who you’re writing for. Go read this one here.

[ UX ] The technical basis for content experience

The author argues in this article that nobody wants content. They want an experience to meet a need. The article considers what makes a content management system (CMS) a CMS. How do we handle relationships in data? When does a database become a CMS, actually? When is a respository transformed into an experience? It might be beyond you if you’re a non-technical person but I still highly recommend that you read it. You’ll definitely learn something new. Read it here.

[ ANALYTICS ] A crash course in content intelligence

This is actually quite a boring and saying-nothing article, but I have included it because the concept of content intelligence may be new to you. Now, it doesn’t mean intelligent platforms like Narrative Science. It refers to platforms that can go beyond providing data to providing insight and why it’s important. If you’re a customer-centric kinda person, it might be a bit motherhood, but hey! You never know. Go read this here.

[ LIFE ] Educating Anita: One teacher. Seven students. Welcome to one of Victoria’s tiniest schools.

Ermagherd. I am not even going to talk about this one. Just go and read it. (Beware - the scrolling on the page is horrible, so if you don’t mind not seeing the photos, switch on your browser’s reading mode. Go go go.

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