6 Easy Tips to Avoid Trouble With Your E-Letter

When Reed Art & Imaging decided to publish an electronic newsletter. I went on an expedition to investigate what was the best software to use and how to comply with the anti-spam laws. Initially I tried two programs; Constant Contact and Autoresponder. Constant Contact has templates that were fairly easy to edit and use. I initiated a trial with Constant Contact for 60 days. During that time, I worked with their templates and basically had a test drive. I found Constant Contact, fairly easy to use. Autoresponder allowed me to cut and paste the code in from Adobe Dreamweaver. I used Adobe’s Dreamweaver to design and create the HTML e-letter. We used Autoresponder to send out the e-letter. We currently use A Better Email which has some great features. All of these programs helped you to comply with the CAN_SPAM act. These federal laws, must be followed or you can be heavily fined. Here’s the website address to download a pdf file of these requirements from the Federal Trade Commission.:

http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-Compliance-Guide-for-Business

Below is a rundown of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

Don’t use false or misleading header information.
Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.

1) Don’t use deceptive subject lines.
The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.
Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.
Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.

2) Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you.
Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.

3) Honor opt-out requests promptly.
Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.

4) Monitor what others are doing on your behalf.
The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

5) Do not ‘buy’ a list.
The best results always come from people who opt in and that know or know of you. Also, Constant Contact does not allow you to use purchased lists. We work within our own customer base or use an opt-in to receive the e-letter. We include an unsubscribe feature and honor any request we receive to opt-out from receiving the e-letter.

5) Make Your E-Letter Unique!
Our e-letter has monthly contests that I find. We hold frequent contests for our Facebook fans too! Every week the theme changes and around once a month we hold a contest and the winner is chosen by the amount of likes that their image receives. Whenever we find something that promotes a community group, we try and let our readers know about it. Additionally we promote through a short video, selected customers. Each video has an interview and a slide show of the customers work. One of our core beliefs, is that when our customers win, we win.

Making Videos While Stressing Less and Sleeping More

Once I have my subjects signed up and ready for the shoot, I like to make the most of the opportunity. I plan on at least 30 minutes to one hour on-site. I get as much footage as possible so that I can edit to my hearts content and maybe even get enough for TWO videos. If you have interesting subject matter and talent that feels comfortable in front of the camera, you may have a multi-part series. If your subject is comfortable and keeps on talking….keep on shooting. You never know what jewels you can come up with.

Schedule More Than One Subject Per Day
I find that when I am in my groove and setup for shooting, I can get alot done in one day. I try to schedule more than one subject per day. This allows me to focus on shooting when I’m shooting and editing when I’m editing. Same thing for creating the music in Garage Band.

Setup Private Viewing on YouTube
I upload my videos to YouTube but don’t let them go public until I am ready. Once they have been uploaded, I can take them public anytime I want. So if you want your video to go live on the 15th of the month, change your settings and go live on the 15th. It’s just that easy.

If you have questions or suggestions, please leave me a comment.

Next Time: Making Music in Garage Band

Flip Ultra HD video camera

Creating Videos for YouTube

In this post, I’ll go over the equipment and software you need to get started.

I’m a graphic designer at Reed Photo Art. Among other things, I design and publish our e-newsletter and create our YouTube videos used in our social networking. So far, all of my work has been done on a 17” MacBook Pro running Mac OSX version 10.6.4 with 4 GB of ram.

Reed Photo-Imaging recently started creating and posting to YouTube short (2-3 minute) videos of our customers and employees. These short segments highlight their experience, tips and tricks they like to share and their professional work. Topics range from fine art photography to well, fine art. Our goals are to promote our customers and to maximize the benefits of adding original content to our web site and Facebook page.

Flip Ultra HD video cameraI started with the Flip Ultra HD video camera by Cisco. This is a compact and easy to carry camera that costs $199.00 suggested retail. You should be able to find a better price online at locations such as Costco or on Amazon.com. I purchased mine at Costco for discounted price of $149.00. The Flip Ultra HD has an 8GB storage capacity which equates to two hours of recording time. The output resolution is a hefty 1280 x 720, which is more than you need for the web. The lens is fixed  going from 1.5m (approx 4.5 feet) toFlip Pod mini tripod infinity. Audio is provided through a built-in mic. The fixed video and the built in sound, in my experience, can be a problem and you have to create a work-around to compensate for them. The video quality is great and the camera is very easy to use. to avoid camera shake when recording the interviews, I used a mini tripod made for the flip called the flop pod.

I use Final Cut Express by Apple for video editing. Final Cut Express is the light-weight version of Final Cut Pro and has limited functionality. Even with it’s limitations, the rice tag of $199.00 can make it an excellent entry level choice until your needs outgrow it’s capabilities.  If you want professional level video editing right away, Final Cut Pro is in the toolbox of many professionals who edit commercial movies.  It can be purchased at any Apple retail store, online at apple.com the App Store or through any certified Apple reseller. Final Cut Express comes with a font animation program called LiveType.

Knowing that any good editing app will have a learning curve, I took a class at Lynda.com, which made the curve much shorter.  Lynda.com costs a reasonable $25 per month, for as many training videos as you can stand to watch in a month. In addition to the audio tools in Final Cut Express, I used an audio scrubbing application called Sound Soap 2. This scrubber essentially washes the audio track of distracting background noise. It does a good job minmizing wind and other noise that may be in the video due to the built-in mic found on the Flip Ultra HD. Sound Soap 2 is made by Bias Inc. Their website is www.bias-inc.com. Sound Soap 2 as a free-standing application is $129.00. If you’re on a Windows machine, try Pinnacle Studio Ultimate Collection 14. Pinnacle Studio is the consumer version video editing software made by Avid.  It retails for $129.00 at www.avid.com.

There are plenty of free ware applications available for video and audio editing, but in that class of software, you usually get just what you pay for. Free apps often suffer from harder to use interfaces and less than stellar results in the end product. There are some excellent exceptions to that statement, but that conversation is outside the scope of this posting. Perhaps we can revisit the freeware options in another series down the road.

If you have used a particular piece of software you are excited about, be sure to leave tell us about it by leaving a comment:

My total startup expenses for the two software packages, video training on Lynda.com and the camera was around $500.00.

Publishing an E-Letter

This week’s blog is about publishing an e-letter. This summer, Reed Photo-Imaging decided to publish an electronic newsletter. I went on an expedition to investigate whether or not we should use a service like Constant Contact or make and publish our own. I initiated a trial with Constant Contact for 60 days. During that time, I worked with their templates and basically had a test drive. Even though we ultimately made and published our own, I found Constant Contact, fairly easy to use. I use Adobe’s Dreamweaver to design and create my HTML e-letter. Dreamweaver offers tools that allow me to design and create rich content in a HTML document. Once the design was approved, I saved that as a template. That is what we use each month to generate new content for our e-letter. We use an email program called Autoresponder to send out the e-letter. This program helps us to comply with the CAN_SPAM act. These federal laws, must be followed or you can be heavily fined. Here’s the website address to download a pdf file of these requirements from the Federal Trade Commission.:

http://business.ftc.gov/documents/bus61-can-spam-act-Compliance-Guide-for-Business

Below is a rundown of CAN-SPAM’s main requirements:

Don’t use false or misleading header information. Your “From,” “To,” “Reply-To,” and routing information – including the originating domain name and email address – must be accurate and identify the person or business who initiated the message.

Don’t use deceptive subject lines. The subject line must accurately reflect the content of the message.

Identify the message as an ad. The law gives you a lot of leeway in how to do this, but you must disclose clearly and conspicuously that your message is an advertisement.

Tell recipients where you’re located. Your message must include your valid physical postal address. This can be your current street address, a post office box you’ve registered with the U.S. Postal Service, or a private mailbox you’ve registered with a commercial mail receiving agency established under Postal Service regulations.

Tell recipients how to opt out of receiving future email from you. Your message must include a clear and conspicuous explanation of how the recipient can opt out of getting email from you in the future. Craft the notice in a way that’s easy for an ordinary person to recognize, read, and understand. Creative use of type size, color, and location can improve clarity. Give a return email address or another easy Internet-based way to allow people to communicate their choice to you. You may create a menu to allow a recipient to opt out of certain types of messages, but you must include the option to stop all commercial messages from you. Make sure your spam filter doesn’t block these opt-out requests.

Honor opt-out requests promptly. Any opt-out mechanism you offer must be able to process opt-out requests for at least 30 days after you send your message. You must honor a recipient’s opt-out request within 10 business days. You can’t charge a fee, require the recipient to give you any personally identifying information beyond an email address, or make the recipient take any step other than sending a reply email or visiting a single page on an Internet website as a condition for honoring an opt-out request. Once people have told you they don’t want to receive more messages from you, you can’t sell or transfer their email addresses, even in the form of a mailing list. The only exception is that you may transfer the addresses to a company you’ve hired to help you comply with the CAN-SPAM Act.

Monitor what others are doing on your behalf. The law makes clear that even if you hire another company to handle your email marketing, you can’t contract away your legal responsibility to comply with the law. Both the company whose product is promoted in the message and the company that actually sends the message may be held legally responsible.

Do not ‘buy’ a list. The best results always come from people who opt in and that know or know of you. Also, Constant Contact does not allow you to use purchased lists. We work within our own customer base or use an opt-in to receive the e-letter. We include an unsubscribe feature and honor any request we receive to opt-out from receiving the e-letter. Our e-letter has monthly contests that I find (This month, the photo contest being promoted is by the Smithsonian Magazine). We hold monthly contests for our Facebook fans too! Every week the theme changes and around once a month we hold a contest and the winner is chosen by the amount of likes that their image receives. Whenever we find something that promotes a community group, we try and let our readers know about it. This month’s e-letter showcases the recent Facebook winners and their images. Additionally we promote through a short video, selected customers. Each video has an interview and a slide show of the customers work. Our basic belief is that when our customers win, we win. Our community feature this month is: Denver’s Big Picture – Putting Cameras into Children’s Hands to Jumpstart Creativity – A Project with Deep Sleep Imaging LLC.