One of the things that helps any online profile get more success is a good profile photo. It’s been reported lots of times that Linkedin finds that profiles with a photo get more views, and I know I’m more likely to look at someone’s stuff if they have a decent picture.

The challenge is getting a decent picture. Being cheap, and having a nice camera and a tripod, I’ve always been convinced I could get the right picture myself. I’ve tried several times and gotten good results, but I wanted better and a few weekends ago I got it. No rocket surgery in this – give it a try!

  • Find a spot by a large window
  • Wait for an overcast day, or early or late in the day if it’s sunny, or try a north facing window. NO shadows!
  • Wear a button down shirt in a simple color – white, blue, maybe yellow. Failing that, a polo shirt. Something just dressy enough to say “business”, but casual enough not to say “just business”. These shirts kind of disappear – we don’t really notice them.
  • Have someone else take pictures as you pose, or film yourself using video, and then talk to the camera. Film gets you a lot more shots and higher probability of getting something really natural looking, but lower resolution and it’s a lot more work to go through frame by frame.
  • Squinch.
  • Don’t over smile – if your eyes are squinty, you’re oversmiling
  • Get yourself to chuckle, or talk to your assistant
  • Be happy! You’re about about to get a great profile pic for free!
  • Take lots of shots. Lots. Film is good because you’ll catch lots of expressions, very natural ones, that you didn’t even know you made. I ended up using one that my daughter took because I wanted the higher resolution.
  • Look through the pics quickly and instantly delete any that are out of focus, or are obviously unacceptable. This should get you down to just a few to pick from.
  • If, after an hour or so of trying, you don’t get the results you’re looking for, then hire a pro. You won’t have any trouble. justifying the money, since you now know how hard it is. They have better lenses (to get that out of focus background) and instincts. Also, because they work with people a lot, the good ones can help you pose correctly to get make a good impression.

The hard part for me was getting the right expression. In 38 pictures I found 3 I liked enough to use. Still, all in it took about an hour and I didn’t have to leave the house.

So if you’ve been avoiding putting a picture on your profile, try taking one today!

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So with Ulysses on the iPad I’ve started writing at lunch time. It’s not possible every day, but I grab my iPad, wander to a different part of the building, find an empty cube and sit for a while.

Get away from the cube

I sit down with only one rule: I have to write something. I can write a blog post, or work on a story, or whatever, but I have to keep typing. Not non-stop like with freewriting, but I know if I’m just sitting there surfing then there was little point in leaving my desk, I feel guilty and I get moving.

Write something…anything!

It’s a nice break, it helps clear my head if it needs clearing, or sometimes it will get me thinking. Engaging in a creative process that is unrelated to the problem I’m solving often knocks something loose that helps.

If I’m working on blog posts, I’ll start with one idea, take it as far as I can, then I do a CMD-N to get an empty sheet and start something new. If something has some value, I move it toward the top of the list. When I’m done with it, I add it as a post. If I don’t at the start, I will add a heading to describe the idea – it will probably end up being the post headline, or will be close.

Change subjects/projects if necessary to keep moving

Not having to figure out where to store things, or what to call them, or what tags or categories or whatever to put on them makes it much, much easier to just bang out some ideas. The barriers are lower and it’s freeing.
If I’m working on a story, I just look over the scenes I have, or open an empty placeholder – a sheet with only a sentence describing something that has to happen – and start writing. It might prove to be awful (ok, at this point, most of it is 8-) but I’m getting words down and it’s easy to hop around.

Breaking down the barriers is the aim. If I can get trick myself into writing just a little, it will turn into a lot. Eventually that will turn into a book.

If you’re not a full time writer and you’re fitting it in here and there like I am, give this a try.

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Quick Thought: Ecopaper sugarcane paper

Thoughts on thin/airmail weight paper, and my experiences trying out sugarcane paper from www.ecopaper.com – is it as good as Staples’ Sustainable Earth? Check out this episode!

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Quick Thought 001 – The sleeper pencil

My first podcast episode! Yes, it is short. For now I will be making short episodes, which I will call “Quick thoughts” until I get better with the workflow and all. The pencil is the Tombow MONO 3B Hardness, Set of 12

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