Category Archives for Creative Solopreneur Adventures

How I Use GIMP to crop and scale photos

Today I posted my first Loom how-to video on YouTube. This one shows how I use GIMP to crop and scale photographs.

Watch the video here

Hope you find it useful.

By the way, all three of these software programs allow limited use for free! Thank you to everyone who helped produce them and continues to upgrade them so they work so well. Thanks to you, creators like me get to produce and publish our work while learning new skills. We live in such an awesome world.

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How Can Women Generate More Confidence?

To watch this in video form, click here

There are three senses of confidence, and all three of them define feelings about something.

They are:

  • trust, as in “I have complete confidence in my employee”
  • truth, as in “I am confident that the earth spins” and
  • self-esteem and a belief in the ability to succeed, as in “I am a confident person.”

This essay deals mostly with the last sense of the word. I want to talk about confidence because it’s an important business skill. Actually, it’s a necessary life skill too.

Women less confident than men

Also, studies show that women tend to have less confidence than men. One of the most impressive of these was conducted by University of California researcher Dr. Wiebke Bleidorn and six co-researchers. After interviewing 985,937 people from 48 different countries over a period of eight years, they showed that men express higher self-esteem than women and both men and women become more self-assured as they age. The results appeared in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology in 2015.

The eight-year study by Bleidorn her co-researchers analyzed data from over 985,000 men and women across 48 countries, from Norway to New Zealand, Kuwait to South Korea, asking them to rate the phrase: “I see myself as someone who has high self-esteem study found that across the board – regardless of culture or country, men have higher self-esteem than women.”

So: where does confidence come from; what influences it; and how can people become more confident?

Where does confidence come from?

Thanks to human behavioural tendencies towards imposters’ syndrome, self-doubt and procrastination, confidence is something that has to be continually regenerated.

All of these tendencies stem from a natural human behaviour of narrow framing.

Nobel-prize winner Daniel Kahneman says narrow framing is natural since people face problems one at a time, under circumstances in which the immediate consequences of the choice is so clear that other possibilities might be hidden. That means we make decisions from a more narrow perspective than might be rational. An impending deadline only feels urgent when it is only a week or even a day away. Then we realize that we can’t succeed as we hope to, and our confidence wanes.

What influences confidence?

The opinion of others can influence confidence, but so can other factors.

In 2018, a group of European scientists reported in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology how stress affects our degree of confidence. Here are their conclusions:

  • Stress generates competitive and economic inequality.
  • Competitive confidence is unaffected by trait anxiety under control conditions.
  • Stress makes low-anxiety individuals over-confident and high-anxious people under-confident.
  • Stress affects self-confidence under high-uncertainty conditions.

How can people become more confident?

Taking action, changing your body posture and setting and accomplishing goals all lead to confidence.

Frances Bridges summarizes ten ways to generate confidence in an article for Forbes:

  • get things done
  • monitor your progress
  • do the right thing
  • exercise
  • be fearless
  • stand up for yourself
  • follow through
  • think long term
  • care little about what others think
  • do more of what makes you happy

Peter Economy focusses more on mindset hacks in his Inc story:

  • make lists of goals and things you are grateful for
  • prepare
  • generate positive enthusiasm
  • change negative thoughts to positive ones
  • improve your posture

Economy also says: “You might have to fake it at first and merely appear to be self-confident, but eventually you will begin to feel the foundation of self-confidence grow within you.”

How I generate self-confidence

My own way of generating self-confidence can be summed up by five elements:

  • write down three things that I’m grateful for every day
  • keep enthusiastically making plans and following them
  • generate courage, which often looks like confidence
  • aim to fail until I succeed, so that trying again becomes routine
  • frequently adopt the Wonder Woman post (shoulders straight, head back, hands on hips)

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Freedom to Read Week in Canada begins today

It’s awesome to be able to celebrate Freedom to Read Week, which begins today.

See this in video here

Do we still need this kind of celebration? Isn’t censorship dead in Canada?

Not all. Did you know that politician Victor Doerksen and 810 others tried to get John Steinbeck’s “Of Mice and Men” banned from all Alberta schools in 1994?

Of Mice and Men sits among 30 works that have been challenged in Canada over the last 35 year of this event. You can read the entire list on the Books and Periodical Council Freedom to Read Week website.

Reading about such things surprises me, but it shouldn’t. People are always trying to impose their taste on others.

Canadian creators, librarians and schools set up Freedom to Read Week events to celebrate and encourage the right to freedom of expression. It has taken place in Canada for the last 35 years.

This year, it begins on February 24 and ends March 2.

Initiated by Creator Association Representatives

Freedom to Read Week operates as a project by a committee set up by the Books and Periodical Council. The Council represents creator associations across Canada, including one I’m in, the Professional Writers Association of Canada.

Freedom of Expression matters a great deal to all of us.

At the same time, we do not condone hate literature, something that is illegal in Canada.

Defining Freedom of Expression can be difficult. The Books and Periodical Council uses a joint statement written in 1997 and reaffirmed in 2017 to do so. Here it is:

What is Freedom of Expression?

Freedom of expression is a fundamental right of all Canadians, and freedom to read is part of that precious heritage. Our Committee, representing member organizations and associations of the Book and Periodical Council, reaffirms its support of this vital principle and opposes all efforts to suppress writing and silence writers. Words and images in their myriad configurations are the substance of free expression.

The freedom to choose what we read does not, however, include the freedom to choose for others. We accept that courts alone have the authority to restrict reading material, a prerogative that cannot be delegated or appropriated. Prior restraint demeans individual responsibility; it is anathema to freedom and democracy.

As writers, editors, publishers, book manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and librarians, we abhor arbitrary interpretations of the law and other attempts to limit freedom of expression. We recognize court judgments; otherwise, we oppose the detention, seizure, destruction, or banning of books and periodicals – indeed, any effort to deny, repress, or sanitize. Censorship does not protect society; it smothers creativity and precludes open debate of controversial issues.

Challenged Works

The list of challenged works that someone in Canada deemed offensive includes many works. A diversity of cultural expression works about gender identity, multiculturalism and panoply of other politically-sensitive issues appear.

The nonfiction books among them include:

  • 100 Questions about Islam,
  • Bad Medicine: A Judge’s Struggle for Justice in a First Nations Community,
  • Banksters and Prairie Boys,
  • Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America,
  • La première fois,
  • Lethal Marriage,
  • Noir Canada: Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique,
  • The Importance of Muhammad,
  • The Star Weekly At War,
  • The Valour and the Horror,
  • The Wars,
  • Three Wishes,
  • Under the Gun: Inside the Mohawk Civil War,
  • Waging War from Canada,
  • Within His Keeping: God’s Embrace of Your Life, and
  • Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women’s Sexual Fantasies.

Demeaning and Profanity

Of Mice and Men fits right in.

The 811 people who signed a petition presented to the Albertan legislature in 1994 claimed that Steinbeck’s classic book “demeans or profanes the name of God and Jesus Christ.”

I can’t argue about the profanity. Consider the following quote from paragraph 62 on Saturday Night.

“I seen hunderds of men come by on the road an’ on the ranches, with their bindles on their back an’ that same damn thing in their heads. Hunderds of them. They come, an’ they quit an’ go on; an’ every damn one of ’em’s got a little piece of land in his head. An’ never a God damn one of ’em ever gets it.”

Not sure how a quote from a fictional character demeans God though. Nor do I agree that that would be a reason to ban a book anyway.

Steinbeck’s work expresses an intense period in American history. It’s also extraordinarily well-written.

Think I’m going to make a point of reading it to celebrate Freedom to Read.

Or maybe I’ll just read Travels With Charlie again. That’s my favourite non-fiction work of all time. Steinbeck wrote it too.

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Six Treaties Creators Need to Understand

Listen to my brief video about creator treaties

Did you know that international treaties determine creator rights? They also determine how we can sell our work.

  • What’s a compilation and can it be sold?
  • How can computer software be protected?
  • Must you live in a country to have your copyright in that country recognized?
  • Do you have to register your copyright?

The answers to all of these questions and many more can be found within copyright legislation in each country. The rules within that legislation, however, usually stem from international treaties.

International treaties determine:

  • which work by creators has legality as a piece of intellectual property,
  • how that property can be commercialized, and
  • who has the right to consume a creators’ work for free (a concept captured in the phrase “public domain”).

The balance between these three rights alternates depending on the authority, popularity and power of the people arguing for each right.

Copyright Commercialization

In the early days of copyright, commercialization formed the only property right worth protecting. This tradition began in England soon after Gutenberg discovered his printing press and printers hired writers to create books.

Initially, the government passed laws regarding who got the economic benefits and to ensure censorship.

Later John Milton and John Locke complained about the system to argue in favour of a free exchange of ideas. Then legislators revised copyright to create a public domain.

Public Domain

A similar argument took place in Paris almost two centuries later.

Famous author Victor Hugo defended the public domain, as shown in the following 1886 quote:

The book, as a book, belongs to the author, but as a thought, it belongs – the word is not too extreme – to the human race. All intelligences, all minds, are eligible, all own it. If one of these two rights, the right of the writer and the right of the human mind, were to be sacrificed, it would certainly be the right of the writer, because the public interest is our only concern, and that must take precedence in anything that comes before us.  [Numerous sounds of approval.]But, as I just said, this sacrifice is not necessary.”

Creator’s Intellectual Property

Hugo also became a chief proponent of “author rights” as the most important form of property right that exists. Unlike other forms, he said, the idea of an author’s right hurts no one since it covers an entirely new creation.

He became so incensed about the subject, he founded The International Literary and Artistic Association (ALAI), “an independent learned society dedicated to studying and discussing legal issues arising in connection with the protection of the interests of creative individuals” that still exists today.

Copyright Duality in Canada

In Canada, our Copyright Act encompasses two distinct traditions: an English-speaking one and a French-speaking one.

  • In French-speaking countries, rights not specifically spelled out in law are assumed to belong to creators and copyright laws usually include moral rights that ensure that creators can determine how their work is used.
  • English-speaking countries tend to focus on protecting economic benefits for copyright owners, regardless of who actually created the work with rights not specifically mentioned in law left unprotected.

Like the international situation, the Canadian Copyright Act provides differing levels of rights to creators, distributors and users based on popular trends. The 1997 revisions took economic rights away from creators to give them to educational institutions.

Canada Copyright Act to be Revised

Another revision will occur later this year or next, primarily due to our signature on the NAFTA treaty last autumn. This article from last fall outlines what was expected. I haven’t found any clear outline of what we actually have to do under the deal now that it’s passed.

The Standing Committee on Industry, Science and Technology just finished hearings about how it should update the Copyright Act. If you’d like to read the submissions, they are available on the committee website, where presumably the report will also appear once it’s ready.

Europe also has a revision of copyright rules underway that are continuing to evolve based on the discussions around Brexit.

Given that copyright laws are being updated in Canada and elsewhere right now, I thought it was a good time to highlight the international treaties that enable all creators to own and sell our work.

Here’s my brief infographic to give you an idea of which treaties you want to understand.

Treaties for creators

 

 

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Jumping on the Affiliate Marketing Bandwagon

Watch the video here

What is affiliate marketing?

If you’ve been following my blog recently, you’ll notice that I’ve added links to products that I recommend onto various posts. Those links identify me to the company involved. If you purchase a product using one of my links, I get a commission.

I’ve identified my affiliates as a list of recommendations under the “work with me” tab.

Technological Hurdles

I experimented with this brand of marketing a few years ago. The hassle of getting the affiliate links to work on my site made it too difficult given the few visitors who clicked on the links.

Recently, I decided to experiment with them again, because people have been asking me where they can purchase my books.

Also, affiliate revenue makes sense as I explore the self-publishing model more deeply than before.

But I’m still struggling with the technology.

Companies want assurances that your relationship with them will lead to sales, so you have to apply to get the right to put links on your site.

Then you have to learn their operating system to get the links you actually want. My site is not an e-commerce site, so I have no desire for those massive banners all over the place.

Creating Deep Links

All I want to do is give you the appropriate deep link so that you can buy my books, buy a book I recommend; or try one of the services I love without too much trouble while also supporting my work.

That takes time and I’m not that proficient at creating deep links properly.

The result, once I get it set up will be awesome though. Country flags tell you which link to use. If you’re in Canada, you can order from Canadian stores. If you’re in Brazil, you can order from stores in that country.

Affiliates Enable Companies to Quantify Word-of-Mouth

I also believe in the model itself. Affiliations enable companies to track new clients with recommendations from customers and put a value on word-of-mouth.

It also gives companies a chance to fix something when they mess up.

I’ve purchased many products using affiliation codes from people I love. Recently, I had a mild problem with one of these services. My business isn’t crucial to this company yet, but I contacted the person who recommended them to me. That person kindly sent them an email on my behalf and the company in question fixed the problem right away.

That’s the kind of community these affiliations create. It’s like living in a small town. All of a sudden, none of us are numbers anymore.

We’re all people.

Creating Community

When affiliates work the way they should, and when everyone takes a personal interest in the products they recommend, everyone ends up knowing someone who can help when things go wrong.

So I apologize for any broken links or frustrations you might experience. Just let me know, and I’ll try to fix it.

And thank you to everyone who purchases something from one of the companies I recommend.

Also, thank you to the people who recommended the products I love.

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