Help, someone just gave me flyers to give out!

Spend any time doing community theatre and someone will almost always give you a stack of flyers or posters to “give out” to help promote the show.

Make no mistake, this is a hugely important way of getting the word out – friends, family and your community networks are one of the best ways to generate ticket sales.

Here are some ideas around what you can do with them. If you are leaving a pile somewhere, generally a stack of 10 is a good number.

  • Take them to work and put them out in the break room, noticeboard or around your desk. If a noticeboard is your only option then put up two – the front of one and the back of the other. If your desk is the only option everyone who interrupts you should get a flyer as punishment.
  • You might get away with giving them to customers at work too – but its best to get permission from your boss first.
  • Ask your favourite local cafe if you can leave some out – they usually have a space for flyers or you might get away with leaving them on the tables. Ideally you want them somewhere they won’t get tided up . This goes for any regular shop you visit – could be a bar or bakery too.
  • Your local library, visitor centre or information centre will probably take a small pile to put around the noticeboards. Most libraries will find space for a poster too. The trick is to tell them you are in the show and that its a community show, not a for-profit production.
  • Give some to your partner to take to their work. Alternatives include your mum, dad, siblings or your friends. It’s not really all that awkward to say “hey, can you put some flyers for my show out at your work” once you get used to it.
  • Mums (and Dads) are pretty good at this sort of thing too. They have no shame at promoting their actor-children to anyone who will listen. If you give your Mum (or Dad) some flyers they’ll be gone before you know it.
  • Most schools and universities have noticeboards or similar where you can leave notices of flyers.
  • If you are involved in other plays, other hobbies, the gym etc this is also a good option.
  • If you are totally out of ideas, go for a walk and deliver them into your neighbours. Out of the thirty households that get a flyer someone will be interested (and if you know the neighbours, attach a little handwritten note – “Hey, its Bob at 32. I’m doing a play! Hope you can make it”

If you are interested in computer programming

If you are even slightly interesting in computer programming, you should check out The Coding Train on YouTube.

There are so many great videos to get lost in, but this was took up an hour of my time today.

Quick Tip : How to remember how to do links in Markdown

Found this on Twitter today. Where has this been all my life:

Web links look like rectangles, so the text is in brackets. The URL, as an additional detail to what you’re reading, is in parentheses.

How to find content for your personal blog

A collection of papers to illustrate ideas

While I’ve been on the Internet for many years, one of the stumbling blocks I’ve found in making blogging a habit has always been finding ideas for content. I think I’m getting better at it, so here is what I’ve been doing.

Ali Abdaal asked on Twitter what people’s common questions about starting a personal website were, and it turns out that finding content ideas is a pretty common problem.

Start with content

If at all possible try and find a few posts to import while you are setting it up and tweaking the design.

When we hired a professional web designer to redo our work website they insisted on having the content before they’d show us any design ideas. It was frustrating at the time, but once we went through the process it was clear what a difference it made.

We could see how things would come together and be presented, and it made the initial version of the website feel useful and “lived in” when it went live.

So, if you are starting from scratch, where you do find the content?

Write once, use often

The first thing I did when I started this website was to gather the various versions of blogs and articles I’ve written over the years.

While the angsty poetry of my early 20’s can probably stay hidden, and I can’t find the first website I ever made about the Hale Bopp Comet in 1994, I was happy to be able to find some content that gave my blog some structure.

Quite a few of my early blog posts have been based on Reddit posts or expanding on things I’ve written on Facebook.

This philosophy of “Write once, use often” was something I learned working in a corporate communications role. My journalist colleague called it “re-nosing”. You can republish the same content on multiple platforms with only minor changes to the introduction or to the style.

The truth is most people won’t see the content you post in every single location so not only is it a second chance to grab someone’s attention, but it also allows you to reach different audiences but framing the content in different ways.

You’ll see a lot of people doing this online by posting transcripts of podcasts or YouTube videos as blog posts, or shortened versions of blog posts as email newsletter content.

Document, don’t create

In Ali’s video he quotes Gary Vee’s advice to “Document, not create”. The idea being (at least when you are getting started) that you share what’s happening in your life or things you’ve found rather than setting out to create totally brand new content.

I’m going to try this a bit more – perhaps posting one interesting thing I’ve seen each day online. Essentially this post was an excuse to save Ali’s video for future reference but I’ve magically found myself expanding on the theme and creating a proper blog post.

In the future this will be a good way to remember the things I’ve seen online and found useful that’s a bit more interactive than just collecting bookmarks (does anyone still bookmark things?)

Ali’s video about making a personal website is on YouTube:

My top 10 personal blog post ideas

Over the last few months I’ve collected a few drafts in WordPress, and a folder of ideas in Ulysses that I’ll use as the basis for blog posts. Even writing this post has given me ideas for future posts. Here are 10 personal blog content ideas that I’ve been thinking about that might inspire you:

  1. Scan and post old school projects or writing. Don’t forget to transcribe them for both SEO and accessibility.
  2. Find emails where you’ve explained how to do something or documented your travel adventures and turn them into a travel diary
  3. Post your go-to recipes. I 100% only did this so I can look up the cooking times when I need them
  4. Play the “two truths and one lie” game as a blog post. Share it on social media so people can guess the lie.
  5. Write a post about your first job, what you studied after school, a memorable birthday, your first concert or rank your favourite author’s books
  6. Brainstorm some random facts about yourself – each one of them can be expanded into a post in the future
  7. Document your room, desk or the things you use each day. Ali does a great job of this on his blog, and its a great place to add affiliate links in the future if you go down that path
  8. Make a list of your interests and then write an article about each one. What is it? Why do you like it? How do you get started, or are there some links you can share that beginners may find useful. This doesn’t have to be hobbies – if you are into crime fiction suggest some good authors for beginners to check out.
  9. Write about how you did a thing – started a blog? learned to ski? started a journal? met your partner? For anything you’ve done there will be someone who will find your story helpful
  10. Write about your favourite local cafe, restaurant or bar. It forces you to reflect and explain why you like them which will improve your writing.

For each idea start a new document (it doesn’t really matter where you write them so long as you can copy and paste into your blog platform later) and then flesh out the details when you are in the mood. As you get more ideas (and you will) start more documents.

Bonus Tip: Something I always enjoyed about jwz’s website was the way he linked between posts – even with seemingly random words. It helped me discover more of his content and it’s good for SEO too, if you care about that sort of thing.

My (unabridged) life in travel

In early 2021, I was invited to write about my life in travel as a way of promoting Shakespeare in the Park 2021. You can read the actual article on the NZ Herald website, but here are my answers in full.

What do you miss most about travel right now?

I love the thrill of arriving in a new city and having to figure things out. There’s a certain adrenaline rush to figuring out Shanghai’s subway to get to your hotel.

Where was the first overseas trip you ever took, and what are your strongest memories from it?

I’d been to the UK twice before I was five, but I only remember sitting on my father’s shoulders watching a Guy Fawkes bonfire.

I remember going on a family holiday to Sydney when I was very young. I wrote a story about it for school and won an award from the Principal.

What was a standard family holiday like when growing up?

My dad would travel quite a lot for work and the family (my brother and my mum) would sometimes tag along. Mostly around the North Island saying a motels. We’d explore the local town while my Dad went to work.

Who has most inspired your travels?

TV shows like MacGyver really inspired me to learn about different cultures. The TV series Intrepid Journeys absolutely convinced me that travel was something I could do too.

What is the greatest trip you’ve ever been on?

For Christmas 2018 I toured the Christmas market of Europe then headed to the northern tip of Norway to look for the Northern Lights. On new year’s eve I was sitting around a campfire on the Norway/Finland border as the clouds cleared and the lights began to move through the sky.

And the worst?

I spent three days in New York with a terrible head cold. I went to three Broadway shows and fell asleep at all of them. I would absolutely recommend visiting the United Nations if you are in New York. The tour is well worth it.

What’s your approach to packing for an overseas trip?

One carry-on bag only. I tend to pack and repack until my bag is as light as possible. I us a Go Ruck GR1 in Black and a NutSac Satchel as my day bag.

What is the destination that most surprised you – good or bad – and why?

Shanghai was young and vibrant and could easily have been New York or London. The brand new but empty apartment buildings and shopping malls fascinated me – it’s a city waiting for the people to arrive.

Where was your most memorable sunrise/sunset?

Riding a bike on top of the ancient city walls of Xi’an with a new friend. The atmosphere, the view and the company were perfect.

What’s the first thing you do when you get home from a long trip?

Hug my cat and make a proper cup of tea. The world’s inability to get an English Breakfast Tea right never ceases to amaze me.

What do you miss most about home when you travel?

My family and friends. And my cat (of course) but honestly things like Skype and Messenger have made the world a lot smaller and it doesn’t take much effort to catch up for a video call either before or after a day of exploring.

Where is the one destination you must see before you die, and why?

Iceland is high on my bucket list, along with some notable sci-fi landmarks in the USA like Roswell and Area 51.

What’s your favourite thing about travel?

Figuring out how the streets in New York work, random strangers on a bus helping you find your destination in Beijing, nearly being arrested in Hong Kong. When you usually work at a desk you start to feel very much like Indiana Jones.