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Facebook is my main news hub where I share upcoming releases, gigs, photos, videos, and blogs. Typically, I post 3–5 times a week.

Telegram and Twitter duplicate what I post on Facebook, with occasional extra content.

On Vkontakte, I write in the Russian language for my fans out of from Russia and CIS.

I also upload vlogs and gigs videos on YouTube and share travel photos, selfies, and studio routine on Instagram.

9 posts tagged

Management

Managing things, people, and ourselves.

Managing a record label duties with Trello

An insight look at an A&R routine

When I joined the JOOF Recordings team as an A&R assistant in 2015, things were done using the typical tool that everyone uses — email. Each release goes through various steps, such as getting the mastering done, getting the artwork done, arranging remixes, making sure everyone got what they need etc. So as a big label that typically has a few dozens of upcoming releases in the pipeline, we had a bunch of emails sent back and forth. The problem was obvious: it was difficult to get an overview of the pipeline and hard to track individual status of each release.

Eventually, I came up to using Trello as a mission control centre for our releases, and in this blog I’d like to tell more about it. Perhaps, my experience will be helpful for other label managers out there, and for regular listeners, it might be just an interesting insight look at an A&R routine.

What is Trello

If you never heard about Trello and don’t know anything about it, I suggest watching the Getting Started With Trello or read the Beginner Tips for Using Trello first to get an idea of what this service is all about.

Basically, Trello is a free web-service for organising stuff. One of its common application is using it as a Kanban board, with cards moving across that represents a task in a production process. Like this:

Drag-n-dropping a card in Trello feels very intuitive and works really well

This concept allows you to get a big picture and see each individual task simultaneously in a nice visual way, something that a typical to-do list fails to achieve. It is commonly used for software and web development, marketing, customer support, and other teams and businesses.

The workflow

Our board has lists that represent the workflow and cards that represent releases. Here are the lists:

Forthcoming For releases that we’re expecting in the foreseen future, usually from the label’s artists. E.g. “A follow-up EP from John”
New demos For incoming demos that we found something worthy and for the releases from the previous list once it’s done. Here we have our internal discussion whether this particular release fits or not
In Progress For approved releases from the previous list. A release in this list means we’re currently working on the mastering, the artwork, the remixes etc
Submitted For releases that are good to go and submitted to the distributor. Once a card is here, we just waiting for the release date
Released For released titles that are out in stores, our back catalogue. It means our job is done here
Rejected For tracks that don’t fit JOOF for any reason. Rejected demos go straight here from the second list above
Profiles For cards that include our artist information: name, contacts, address, pictures etc. We use it a shared contacts book and for the contracts

Feel free to use these lists as a template for your label board too.

Here is the overview of our JOOF board just to show you how these lists look like visually (all text labels are pixelated on purpose, for obvious reasons):

Trello board with JOOF pipeline

Even through the pixelated filter you probably see some colour strips on the screenshot above — that’s the labels, a sort of a tags system built in Trello (I will call it tags to avoid confusion with the word “label” in this context). You see, recently JOOF Recordings launched two more labels under its wings, JOOF Mantra and JOOF Aura, so formally speaking we’re managing three labels at once at this Trello board. And this is where those tags come really handy.

Here are the colours of the tags we use corresponding to each:

  JOOF Recordings
  JOOF Mantra
  JOOF Aura

Such colour code helps dramatically as I can instantly tell what’s status in each of our label just by looking at the board. And of course, I can also filter these tags or just search when I need to find something specific.

Card details

You probably noticed some square icons on the screenshot above, they are visible even through the pixelated filter. Let me show you a zoom-in screenshot of a card:

Trello card

See my user icon at the bottom right corner? Since here at JOOF we have several people receiving demos, we assign a person who managing that particular release to avoid miscommunication. A kind of “account manager” in sales and customers relationship.

For example, if I see an icon of my fellow colleague Gary, I know that he’s taking all communication with that artist regarding this particular release.

If you open up a card, it shows all the juicy details such as attached files, lists, due date, and the chat our team have about this release. Here’s how it looks like:

Trello card detailed view

Well, that’s pretty much it. Trello is a great tool for collaboration and management, but its application can go far beyond this. Personally, I also use it for tracking my radio show, vlogs schedule, gigs database, and so much more.

Feel free to ask if you have any question, I’ll keep the comments box below open.

Read also: Managing social media with Amplifr

Sep 13   A&R   Behind the scenes   Management   Music industry

Managing social media with Amplifr

Scheduling, publishing, and analytics on social media

My typical morning starts with checking the email and planning social media posts

As a music producer and DJ, social media plays a big role in my life. It connects people to my music and allows them to give instant feedback through shares and comments which, in turn, builds a relationship that I appreciate a lot. The problem is, however, that managing social media takes time. Quite a lot, actually. I bet everyone who has at least four to five active accounts knows this pain.

In this blog, I would like to tell about a new service I started using recently that helps me manage social media, called “Amplifr”. To be clear, this is not an ad and I’m not in any way affiliated with this company. I hope my experience will be useful for those who actively use social media on a daily basis like I do myself.

What is Amplifr

In a nutshell, Amplifr is a social media management tool. Once you connect your social media account, it allows scheduling, publishing, and tracking analytics on your behalf. It works with all major social services and costs $5 a month per account. 


amplifr.com

How it works

If we look closer, the tool basically looks like a calendar table with time slots. By default, Amplifr suggests optimal daily posting times based on your followers’ activity. For example, on Friday the best time in my case would be 16:25, while on Saturday it’s 21:50. Of course, you can schedule as many posts per day as you wish.

Suggested time slots based on the followers activity My slots
Amplifr caledndar: suggested time slots and my posts to give an example

When you click on the slot, a post editor pops-up. From there, you choose accounts where this post should be published, add text, links, and attach images. The great thing is that you can customize post contents for specific social media channels. For example, you can schedule a long post for Facebook and a shorter version for Twitter, all from one page.

Once the post is published, you’ll see its performance with key stats: shares, likes, comments, audience reach, and clicks. These stats update once per hour or so.

Post editor and published post performance

In the analytics section, there are more stats which change over time. For those who want to dig deeper, there are even more options and tools including URL shorteners, UTM tags, and integration with Google Analytics. Now I can finally see how many people reach my website through social networks, and which posts they come from precisely. I’m sure SMM pros and marketers will appreciate these features.

You can also invite other people to work on the project and configure permissions to determine whether they should have access to the post scheduler or just analytics, which is great for teams.

A quick note: click tracking works only when URL shortening is active. I had it set to “off” until today, so my past stats didn’t include clicks. If you want to track clicks, make sure to remember to enable this feature:

It’s inspiring to see how your audience grows over time. Typically, mine is growing at a rate of about a hundred new followers per week

Pros

I like Amplifr for various reasons. Here are the three major ones:

  • It saves time. Prior, I had to manually post one place at a time, then copy-paste the contents to another channel — and If, say, I’d forget to add a link or had made a typo, I’d have to retrace my steps and go back to the beginning. Now I can schedule everything in one place, and Amplifr takes care of everything else. It’s not just about time savings, but rather about focus and attention.
  • I can rely on the scheduler. Whether I’m on tour with no Internet connection or just want to spend a few days in the studio with no distractions, I can be sure that my posts will be published on time, automatically.
  • It increases engagement. I had never had enough time to post something on Twitter, so I had Facebook-to-Twitter cross-posting which caused those ugly breaks in the middle of sentences. The same applies to Vk.com (Russian social network) which at some point I just abandoned due to the lack of time. With Amplifr I can post everywhere I want with no extra effort needed, and as a result, it helps me increase engagement and boost overall audience growth rate across all of my networks.

Cons

To be completely fair, Amplifr has a few drawbacks as well:

  • It can’t tag or mention someone on Facebook. Somehow it works for scheduling on Twitter but not on Facebook. If I want to mention someone with a “@” sign, I have to edit an already published post on Facebook and add the tag manually. I submitted this issue to the support team who then told me they would to add this feature. Let’s hope they hold on to their promise.
  • The analytics section doesn’t gather all stats. For example, it doesn’t include audience reach from my personal Facebook profile (only public pages) and acts weird when it comes to Twitter where it sometimes gathers stats and sometimes doesn’t. I guess it’s an API limitation of some sort, so keep that in mind.
  • There is no way to upload Instagram photos from a computer or a laptop. Formally speaking, it’s not Amplifr’s fault: Instagram allows posting only from mobile devices, and those services that allow using a backdoor to upload photos from PCs violate Instagram terms of use which might lead to account ban. Nevertheless, I’d be happy to upload photos directly from Amplifr if Instagram would some day allow doing that though its API.

Bottom line

I think Amplifr is a great tool for managing social accounts. I would recommend it to music producers and DJs like myself, to label managers, and pretty much all public figures or brands.

Read also about other tools and services I use:
Telegram channels review
Grammarly for grammar check

2017   Management   Social media

How to prepare a remix pack properly

In electronic music, making remixes is a common practice. It helps to build a relationship between the producers, gives extra exposure, and brings extra variety.

As a producer and A&R manager, I’ve seen a lot of remix packs and each 9 of 10 were totally messed: bad file names, mixed file formats, no any additional info. Like this:

Remix pack is a folder containing all necessary files for other musician in order to make remix 

Imagine fifty files with names that make no sense... such a chaos!

It makes much harder for remixers to figure out what these files are, and sometimes even may kill a desire to make the remix in the first place.

Producers! Please spend extra five minutes to prepare your remix pack properly. Here are a few simple tips to do so:

  1. Put an original version of the track in the folder.
  2. Add short info file containing the track’s tempo, key, and your contact details.
  3. Include MIDI files for all or at least some melodic parts.
  4. Put audio and MIDI files into folders separate folders.
  5. Name files properly:
No Yes
scream.wav Voice – Scream (Wet, EQ with Delay).wav
phrase.wav Voice – 14 Millions Years Ago... (Dry).wav
main melody.wav Lead – Main 303 Acid (Dry, 16 Bars Loop).wav
melody 2.wav Lead – Upper Bright (Wet, 16 Bars with Reverb Tail).wav

That’s it, simply and effective. Trust me, remixers will appreciate it.

2016   Advice   Management

Template this

How templates can help to deal with routine

cover black

Please tell us about personal efficiency and how you deal with the routine.

Daniel 

I used to think that being a music producer is all about creativity, and well, you know, music production. Later I realized that it’s not really is.

Music producer’s routine also includes dealing with record labels, agents, other artists, and press; doing marketing communication with the fans over social media, websites, emails, and newsletters; and much more. And it’s very easy to get lost and overwhelmed with it.

The situation gets even worse if you add a full-time job to this scenario, which many upcoming producers have besides the music. Doing all these producer’s routine seems impossible!

Re-energizing for music production after 9-6 work

It’s good to have a manager or some sort of personal assistance that would take some of those tasks off from your shoulders, but in reality, not every producer can afford to have one, or actually need it.

Artist manager

So, I’d like to share few tips on how to save your precious time using templates.

Use templates for emails

As an A&R at JOOF, one of my responsibilities is listening to incoming demos, and I receive a few dozens of demos every day. Some tracks are great, some are not quite, some others are absolutely out of format, like a pop dance song with some vocal.

Most labels simply ignore the demos that didn’t fit, but I believe leaving a message with no reply isn’t really polite. So I do reply to every single demo, however, I would spend half a day if I’d actually write every email from scratch.

Here come the templates. I’ve written templates for all possible occasions, and all I need to do now is to simply copy and paste the right template. Takes 10 seconds, literally.

Here are two just to give you an idea:

“Here’s my Dubstep demo for your label”, a funny name for a template used when the demo is completely out of place
“Maybe next time”, a template for promising demos

I’m using Evernote to keep all my templates library, but obviously, there are plenty of other tools: Google Docs, Notes app, Trello, simple text files in a shared folder, you name it.

I also have templates for any other kind of emails, such: when a party promoter sends me booking request, or when a fan asks when I’ll be playing next, or when a DJ wants to make a guest mix for Rave Podcast.

And guess what happens if I don’t have a template for some specific request? Right, I make a new one!

Use design templates

Do you often use similar images, or making press releases, or sending a newsletter? Invest some time and money to create a good template once, and it will serve you for years.

I use templates for pretty much every kind of graphics I share on a regular basis: Rave Podcast covers, announcements, mockup templates for the website, and more. And it saves a lot of time.

Templates used for various graphics

Use project template

When I work in Ableton, I always put a limiter on a master channel just for the sake of precaution, especially when dealing with a filter resonance while sitting in the headphones.

I also realized that every track a guaranteed has a kick, a bassline, a set of standards drums like closed hi-hats, open-hats, snare drum, and crash cymbal. So I was thinking, if I always have these layers and a limiter on the master channel, why not pre-made all these channels and save it as default? And in fact, I did.

Now when I create a new project, it looks like this:

A default project in Ableton

This default template doesn’t have any actual sounds or plugins, it just a structure of pre-made channels, labeled with proper colors and text tags, just the way I like it. It allows me to instantly dive into creativity and start making actual music as soon as I open a new project rather than do some boring organizational stuff.

Organizing music project

It saves time, too.

To save a default template in Ableton, go to Preferences (⌘,) → File/Folder tab → “Save Current Set as Default” → Save.

Bottom line

Templates are huge time-savers. Take notice of what you’re doing repeatedly, whether it’s replying to similar emails or posting the same kind of images in social media, and make template accordingly. This is when a creativity comes in!

I hope your routine won’t be the same frustrating as before.

On cover image: if I’d had my templates library existing in the real world, it would look like this. A frame of Jedi Archives taken from “Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” (2002).

2016   Advice   Behind the scenes   Management

Organizing music project

3 tips how to organize projects, files, and folders

cover black

Hi, Daniel. Looking at your Ableton screenshots I’ve noticed that you colorize all channels exactly the same way, with kick being red, bassline being orange, and so on. Does it have a meaning? How do you organize projects?

Ewan Wood 

Well spotted, Ewan! Yes, I use color labels for all channels in my projects indeed, it saves time and helps a lot. But not only that.

Taking this opportunity, I would like to share my 3 tips for organizing projects, files, and folders.

1. Use color and text labels

My very first Ableton project had absolutely random colors, channels positions, and no text labels at all. It was such a mess! Although there were just about 20-30 channels in total, so it was kinda okay. 


Laidback Luke is trying to find a bass in his project;
“So funny because I keep everything gray as it just looks nicer, but I will always be searching for my channels”

On a contrast, my current projects usually have around 90-120 channels, so I would spend nearly half of my studio time scrolling and looking for a right channel if I’d keep being such irresponsible to this chaos.

So I’ve set myself a rule: whether I create a new Audio or MIDI channel, I always add color and text labels first before putting any plugins or devices, and same applies to Audio and MIDI clips.

I divide all channels into larger categories and group them together, even if they don’t have any common processing. In other words, those groups are mostly used just to keep things clear. Usually, my groups and color labels will be like this:

Group Channels in there
Beat Kick and bass
Groove Percussions, cymbals, hats
Transitions Drum fills, noise sweeps
Textures FM, glitch sounds, stabs
SFX One-shot special effects
Leads Synths, aprs, chords
Atmo Ambient pads, strings
Voice Vocal samples

These colors don’t have any hidden meaning in it, although someone may find a similarity with chakras where red is also the base color and violet is on top :-) The point is I always know where is my bass, lead, and even “that peeeeow sound”. No more wasting time of scroll through the project window!

Going further on the previous point, I also suggest naming your channels properly. Imagine if you would open this project one year later, having a hundred of channels named like “New Audio Copy 2” is certainly not the best way.

Make yourself’s life a bit easier by naming it like this:

No Yes
Audio 89 Bassline main MIDI
Sub Sub-bass with sidechain MIDI
Sylenth1 Copy Chords progression MIDI
VEE Clap 13 Clap reverse reverb WAV

2. Name project files and folders properly

Quite often I see funny pictures in social media and blogs about music producers who name their project files like “New1”, “FinalFinal” etc. 


“Every producer in the world have this problem”

I always thought it’s just a geek’s humor, but after speaking to fellow producers, it turned out that this problem is real: some people really struggles to find their own project files because of this! I never had this issue because, intuitively, I’ve made myself a system keeps things clear.

So, basically, I have two folders on my disk called “Drafts” and “Finished”.

When I create a new project, I save it in the “Drafts” folder and name it by the current date, e. g. “2016.08.24 Project”. This helps me to see when I started this project to make sure I don’t work on this for too long. If during production I do some significant change, I save it as another version with the incremental numbers, like v2, v3, v4 etc. So usually each project folder has several files (versions) in it.

Once the project is done, I rename it to the final track name and move to the “Finished” folder, which groups tracks by release title — albums and EPs.

These manipulations are so simple, yet makes all projects easily accessible. At any time, I know exactly where to find a project folder of “Enuma Elish” or “that track which I started a month ago”.

Enuma Elish, 2015

The drafts folder. Note the files names the path bar

3. Put your project folder in the cloud

We used to think that everything lasts forever, including our computers and disk drives. In reality, I often see how music producers get lost the results of their hard work for very various reasons: the DAW had crashed and not saved the last session, or the neighbor accidentally shut down power in your apartment, making your HDD died.

To keep your projects and nerves safe, I highly recommend get yourself a cloud storage and put your entire project folder in there. Google Drive, Amazon, Dropbox, Apple, whatever.

Personally, I use Dropbox. Every time I save the project, it gets instant and continuous backups, automatically. And if something goes wrong, I can download it back to another computer or even restore from a different version (Dropbox has “Version history”, not sure about other services).

Another little tip is to use “File → Collect All and Save” function to make sure all of the samples used in this project are gathered in the project folder, and hence, get a backup in the cloud. This way you won’t open your project with a “missing audio” warning.

The real story: Philip Reid, a DJ at Digital Om Productions, has lost his track due to not having a backup copy

Recap:

  1. Mark all channels and clips with color and text labels. Wrap channels into larger groups to easily navigate through the project
  2. Make yourself a system to name project folders properly. Current date can work.
  3. Put your entire projects folder into Dropbox or Google Drive to get continuous backups. Still, do manual backups to external disk from time to time.
2016   Advice   Management

Organizing music library

cover black

Hi Daniel, I’m an up and coming DJ, and it seems my music library is getting out of control with all those countless songs and folders. Beatport Pro app looks attractive, but I found it more confusing rather than helpful. What is the best way to organize music library?

Eric H.

According to the entropy law, everything in the Universe goes from order to disorder. From structure to chaos. And we need to put some effort to keep things organized. I’m kind of obsessed with music and order, and especially when both things come together.

As a DJ myself too, I have plenty of incoming music: from stores, promo pools, demos, and so on. Also, I like to listen to podcasts and various ‘non-format’ music (the one I didn’t play, but just enjoy listening), so in total, it’s a huge amount of new music every week.

Eric, I don’t know the best way to organize music library, but I’ll share the way how I do it, and it’s works just perfectly.

Basically, I’m using iTunes. This is the essential. It’s flexible, free, cross-platform app, made to be synced with mobile devices (needless to say how important to re-listen your playlists on the go) , and easily integrated with pro-DJ software, like Traktor or Rekordbox.

Apple iTunes.
Free, OS X, Windows

First things off, iTunes organizes entire music library structure for you. No more need to create folders and move files across your hard drive. Let the smart machine do all dirty job.

To make sure it works this way, go to Preferences → Advanced, and turn on the “Keep iTunes Media folder organized” option.

From now on, Just drag-n-drop files to iTunes, and it automatically put files in the right place on your hard drive according to ID tags:

~/Artist Name/Album Name/01 Track Name.wav

Probably, the only thing that missing on iTunes is BPM matching. What is a DJ’s collection without BPM information, right? To solve this, I’m using Mixed In Key software. This app made for harmonic mixing, but it also matches BPM of the tracks. And what’s most important, again, you don’t need to do anything with files on your hard drive, like move or rename it. Just drag-n-drop files right from iTunes to Mixed in Key, and that’s it — you’ve got BPM information for your songs back on iTunes, automatically.

Mixed In Key
$58, OS X, Windows

Now let’s get back to iTunes. Having numerous new tracks on a regular basis, it’s not an easy task to remember all of this. Which track makes you thrill, and which one is decent, but you won’t play it on a peak time? What was its title? Here comes the rating.

I’m using star rating system to measure such parameters as production quality, a richness of musical content, and energy level. These matters are subjective, but what’s most important — it helps to sort out the tracks. To give an example:

Read also: Production quality vs. musical content

Rating system

Another great feature that helps to sort out music is Smart playlists. In fact, it’s dynamic playlists that updates automatically when it match the criteria you’ve set. Think about it as a filter. For instance, you would like to find Psy-Progressive tracks, in tempo range of 135–138 BPM, rated as 4-stars and above, and added to your collection in the last 4 weeks? Easy:

At last but not least — instant search. This is not a marketing trick, it’s really instant. The secret is following: all information about your entire music library is just a small text file. So once you type a search request, iTunes search inside this text file — not across all your hard drive — so you get search results in a blink of an eye. Do you looking for tracks from a specific label, let’s say, Digital Om Productions? Here we go, 33 releases found even before I finished typing:

Instant search

I tend to agree that iTunes isn’t perfect, there are plenty of room for improvements. But I’m using iTunes for nearly 5 years, and it solves the task excellent.

Dear readers, if you know viable alternatives, feel free to share your experience in the comments below.

2015   Advice   iTunes   Management

Less is more

I use principle “less is more” and it works great in every aspect:

  • In music production: less plugins means in-depth knowledge of each device, less CPU usage, easier mixdown. And budget savings, too.
  • In radio show: less periodicity mean more diversity in tracks and guest mixes. This is the reason why I’ll never turn Rave Podcast into a weekly show.
  • In web development: less features means more attention and polishing for other important functions, as results — launch on time with no bugs.
  • In workouts: less exercises means more focus on each muscle group.
  • In food: eat less at once (but more often) to stay healthy.

Do less to get more.

2015   I am   Management

Getting real

“Getting Real” by 37signals is an amazing book that I’ve just read, and I very recommend it whether you are an entrepreneur, web developer, or music producer like myself.

“While this book’s emphasis is on building a web app, a lot of these ideas are applicable to non-software activities too. The suggestions about small teams, rapid prototyping, expecting iterations, and many others presented here can serve as a guide whether you’re starting a business, writing a book, designing a web site, recording an album, or doing a variety of other endeavors. Once you start Getting Real in one area of your life, you’ll see how these concepts can apply to a wide range of activities.”

“Getting Real” is available on Amazon as well as a free web version.

I’d like to put some of my favorite quotes here in this post.

  • A great way to build software is to start out by solving your own problems. You’ll be the target audience and you’ll know what’s important and what’s not. That gives you a great head start on delivering a breakout product. The key here is understanding that you’re not alone. If you’re having this problem, it’s likely hundreds of thousands of others are in the same boat. There’s your market. Wasn’t that easy? When you solve your own problem, you create a tool that you’re passionate about. And passion is key. Passion means you’ll truly use it and care about it. And that’s the best way to get others to feel passionate about it too.
  • If your app doesn’t excite you, something’s wrong. If you’re only working on it in order to cash out, it will show. Likewise, if you feel passionately about your app, it will come through in the final product. People can read between the lines.
  • Here’s an easy way to launch on time and on budget: keep them fixed. Never throw more time or money at a problem, just scale back the scope. There’s a myth that goes like this: we can launch on time, on budget, and on scope. It almost never happens and when it does quality often suffers. If you can’t fit everything in within the time and budget allotted then don’t expand the time and budget. Instead, pull back the scope. There’s always time to add stuff later — later is eternal, now is fleeting.
  • The more massive an object, the more energy is required to change its direction. It’s as true in the business world as it is in the physical world. When it comes to web technology, change must be easy and cheap. If you can’t change on the fly, you’ll lose ground to someone who can. That’s why you need to shoot for less mass.
  • For the first version of your app, start with only three people. That’s the magic number that will give you enough manpower yet allow you to stay streamlined and agile. Start with a developer, a designer, and a sweeper (someone who can roam between both worlds).
  • Differentiate yourself from bigger companies by being personal and friendly. A lot of small companies make the mistake of trying to act big. It’s as if they perceive their size as a weakness that needs to be covered up. Too bad. Being small can actually be a huge advantage, especially when it comes to communication. Small companies enjoy fewer formalities, less bureaucracy, and more freedom. Smaller companies are closer to the customer by default. That means they can communicate in a more direct and personal way with customers. If you’re small, you can use familiar language instead of jargon. Your site and your product can have a human voice instead of sounding like a corporate drone. Being small means you can talk with your customers, not down to them.
  • Don’t waste time on problems you don’t have yet. Do you really need to worry about scaling to 100,000 users today if it will take you two years to get there? Do you really have to hire eight programmers if you only need three today? People often spend too much time up front trying to solve problems they don’t even have yet. Don’t. Otherwise you may waste energy, time, and money fixating on something that never even happens.
  • If you try to please everyone, you won’t please anyone. The customer is not always right. The truth is you have to sort out who’s right and who’s wrong for your app. The good news is that the internet makes finding the right people easier than ever. Know who your app is really intended for and focus on pleasing them.
  • Take whatever you think your product should be and cut it in half. Pare features down until you’re left with only the most essential ones. Then do it again. Start off with a lean, smart app and let it gain traction. Then you can start to add to the solid foundation you’ve built.

“37signals” is the company that has developed Basecamp and few more web-services.

  • Copywriting is interface design. Great interfaces are written. If you think every pixel, every icon, every typeface matters, then you also need to believe every letter matters. When you’re writing your interface, always put yourself in the shoes of the person who’s reading your interface. Do you label a button Submit or Save or Update or New or Create? That’s copywriting. Do you write three sentences or five? Do you explain with general examples or with details? Do you label content New or Updated or Recently Updated or Modified? Is it There are new messages: 5 or There are 5 new messages or is it 5 or five or messages or posts? All of this matters.
  • As soon as you can, use real and relevant words. If your site or application requires data input, enter the real deal. And actually type in the text — don’t just paste it in from another source. If it’s a name, type a real name. If it’s a city, type a real city. If it’s a password, and it’s repeated twice, type it twice. Do as your customers do and you’ll understand them better. When you understand them better, and feel what they feel, you’ll build a better interface.
  • If an app launches in a forest and there’s no one there to use it, does it make a noise? The point here is that if you launch your app without any pre-hype, people aren’t going to know about it. To build up buzz and anticipation, go with a Hollywood-style launch: 1) Teaser, 2) Preview, and 3) Launch.
  • Blogging can be more effective than advertising. Advertising is expensive. And evaluating the effectiveness of various types of advertising can wind up being even more expensive than the advertising itself. When you don’t have the time or money to go the traditional advertising route, consider the promote-via-blog route instead. Start off by creating a blog that not only touts your product but offers helpful advice, tips, tricks, links, etc.
  • Get advance buzz and signups going ASAP. Get some sort of site up and start collecting emails as soon as possible. Pick your domain name and put up a logo and maybe a sentence or two that describes, or at least hints at, what your app will do. Then let people give you their email address. Now you’re on your way to having a foundation of folks ready and waiting to be notified of your launch.
  • Share your knowledge with the world. And when the subject you’re teaching is your app, it serves a dual purpose: you can give something back to the community that supports you and score some nice promotional exposure at the same time. As a promotional technique, education is a soft way to get your name — and your product’s name — in front of more people. And instead of a hard sell “buy this product” approach, you’re getting attention by providing a valuable service. That creates positive buzz that traditional marketing tactics can’t match. Teaching is all about good karma. You’re paying it forward. You’re helping others. You get some healthy promotion. And you can even bask in a bit of nobility.

Why you should run a blog

  • Hire good writers. If you are trying to decide between a few people to fill a position, always hire the better writer. It doesn’t matter if that person is a designer, programmer, marketer, salesperson, or whatever, the writing skills will pay off. Effective, concise writing and editing leads to effective, concise code, design, emails, instant messages, and more. That’s because being a good writer is about more than words. Good writers know how to communicate. They make things easy to understand. They can put themselves in someone else’s shoes. They know what to omit. They think clearly. And those are the qualities you need.
2015   Books   Design   Management   Marketing

Dealing with procrastination

Sometimes you have to do some important things, but instead, you just scrolling Facebook feed, reading blogs (oops) and doing anything else but your important task. Do you know that feeling? Yeah, I’m talking about procrastination. It happens quite often, but good news — it’s treatable.

The method I recently discovered called Pomodoro Technique by Francesco Cirillo. It’s an old technique, but all new to me. The main idea is to work on intervals with frequent breaks, traditionally 5 minutes break for every 25 minutes of work.

Key points:

  1. Once you set up a timer, work focused regardless of distractions things, like social networks;
  2. Once “pomodoro” is complete, i.e. 25 minutes of work, enjoy a short break: grab a cup of tea, read emails, reply to messages, surf websites and so on. Then back to #1;
  3. Every 3-4 tomatoes do a longer break, 15~30 minutes.

You’ll be surprised, but it actually works.

To get started, you need a timer — a classic “pomodoro” kitchen timer or an app. I like this Pomodoro Timer:

Tweak up the settings by your taste:

Pomodoro Technique also gives a good sense of measure, for example after using it can easily say how much tomatoes will take to do specific tasks, which means you could plan your time better.

From now I’m using this technique every time I have to keep focused: when producing a track, selecting music for a mix, or writing a blog.

If you’re experiencing procrastination too, I definitely recommend this method.

2014   Management