Hello Monday – April 13, 2020
Welcome to Hello Monday, the weekly, company-wide news show for the volunteer-run 501(c)3 nonprofit, Blue Legacy. We were founded in 1989 to empower underrepresented storytellers, bring light to the shadows, voice to the silence, and make storytelling accessible across all mediums.
Every Monday we share all the changes, announcements, casting calls, job openings and news for our four divisions: Blue Forge Films, Blue Forge Press, Blue Forge Gaming, and Blue Forge Records.
If you are one of the 800+ artisans who work with us – an author, musician, game designer, filmmaker or actor – keeping up with Hello Monday keeps you in the loop AND it increases the budget granted to your division (more on that later). And you don’t have to watch: You can just listen to the episode or you can read the transcript at www.tiny.cc/hellomondayblog
My name is Maxwell DiMarco and I’m a co-owner, actor and editor at Blue Forge. I’m also your host for today’s episode. My thanks to Faith DiMarco, the dedicated editor of Hello Monday as well as an actor, producer and co-owner of Blue Forge.
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Fresh Eggs for Free. This is the third announcement of this offer but we think it’s worth repeating. For the last month, the Blue Forge campus has been closed and staff have been quarantined on campus together. We continue to work and we continue to care for the large flock of rescue chickens. And that means: Fresh eggs are abundant right now.
If you are an artisans working with any Blue Forge division and you do not have fresh eggs right now, please text us at 360-550-2071 and let us know. We can set up a time for you to swing by the campus and pick up a dozen!
There is a large bin outside the closed campus gate for no-contact pick ups and deliveries. We sanitize the bin before and after every use so it’s safe.
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Filtered Masks for Free. This is the second announcement of this offer but again, worth repeating :) If you are an artisan with any of our divisions or if you are quarantined in a household with any of our artisans, Brianne is making filtered, washable, re-usable masks according to guidelines shared by the CDC.
If you or those in your household need masks, please text us at 360-550-2071 and let us know how many and we can set up a time for you to swing by the campus and pick up masks for free from the bin.
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Weekend Closure. Once every month, the nine-person Blue Forge Board of Directors meets. This month some pretty big changes were made – most of them influenced by the current global health crisis. Basically, there will be far more checks and balances across all divisions and for all staff here at Blue Forge and more direct correlation between budget and actual actions (more on that soon).
One of the simplest changes though is that starting in May 2020, the campus will no longer be open on weekends. Additionally, no email or orders will be processed on weekends.
Once events and filming at locations off campus are happening again, those may still occur on weekends but the campus, as a general policy, will be closed.
We are very proud of the fact that Blue Forge will not have to lay off or let go of any staff, nor will we have to cancel any projects. Yes, we are rescheduling and changing certain events from public to online, but no one’s contract has been terminated due to the current situation.
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Budget Allocation for Active Artisans. While most of what was decided at the April Board Meeting affected only staff and Board members, one of the biggest changes affects all of us and all of you.
We’ve often mentioned how vital it is for artisans to stay informed and watch Hello Monday. And also how important it is to attend real-world events (when we can hold them), participate in online events, and be active on social media.
The Board of Directors allocates the marketing and production budget for each division quarterly. From now on, Board members will follow artisans on social media, keep an eye on comments on Hello Monday, and watch attendance and participation. Each division will be granted a budget reflective of how many of its artisans are actively engaging in content creation and promotion – not just of their own work but the work of other Blue Forge artisans as well.
This means that the divisions with the artisans who are the most engaged and the hardest working will receive the highest budgets for paid marketing and increased manufacturing. For instance, let’s use me as an example:
I have a weekly show with Blue Forge Films. That show has a cookbook. If I’m posting about the show and the cookbook on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook, and I’m participating in the online Feast of Words event and sharing stories of other kid-friendly content from Blue Forge, I would count as an “active artisan.” That would help increase the budget for Blue Forge Films and Blue Forge Press!
A big part of this decision is because thousands of dollars have been spent to produce albums, books, games and dvds for artisans who don’t seem aware that time and money has been spent to create and release their product. They are not staying in the loop and watching Hello Monday, they don’t volunteer when we call for volunteers, they don’t share posts or launches, etc. We have to turn this around.
Why is this so important now? Because of the current health crisis, revenue for many retail arenas has taken a sharp downturn. This means Blue Forge is making less and so we have to make sure our hardest working artisans are the divisions that are the highest rewarded. Active artisans means we have allies working with us to help a division succeed.
Right now, more than ever before, we must work together. If you have any questions about how you can be an active artisan in ways that work for you and will be recognized, please reach out to your division manager via email or text any staff person.
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Seriously Cereal & Create4U Youth Group. It makes sense, of course, with so many companies forced to lay workers off, that having the freedom to donate to a monthly cause is not as common as it was a few months ago.
Seriously Cereal, our show that supports our Create4U youth group for at-risk ad disabled young adults, has seen a 200% increase in costs as we try to provide essential support to members. But our monthly revenue from pledges has decreased 30%.
If you’d like to help us continue our autism awareness efforts, support of Create4U members, and our wholesome weekly show for kiddos, please consider donating $2 a month, if you can, at www.tiny.cc/seriouslycereal. You can also learn a lot more about everything we do for the show and the youth group at that new official website.
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Online Feast of Words Sample Video. So many artisans from all different divisions want to join the online version of Feast of Words so they can earn extra income during these uncertain times. It costs nothing to participate. As we discussed last week in Hello Monday, you just need to send a video where you talk about one of your Blue Forge products – a book, game, album, or dvd.
Videos should be under five minutes, start with an introduction, and include what about your product you’re the most passionate about. You can film yourself on your cell phone and we’ll add the special opener and closer for the online event. Find all the other details in the April 6, 2020 episode of Hello Monday at www.tiny.cc/hellomonday.
Want to see an example video? Here’s Jennifer’s online Feast of Words video for her graphic novel, From the Debris:
[The online Feast of Words video for From the Debris by Jennifer DiMarco, can be viewed by watching the April 13, 2020, episode of Hello Monday at www.tiny.cc/hellomonday.]
Pretty good, I think. The biggest reason that videos for the online Feast of Words are being rejected or sent back to artisans is because of one of these four mistakes:
1. It was shot in portrait (vertical) orientation instead of in landscape (horizontal) orientation.
2. The artisan introduced themselves by their legal name... but their product is under their stage name or pen name. Always only introduce yourself by the name on your product or you’ll confuse your viewers.
3. The video was shot somewhere noisy or with too busy a background. There should be a soothing background behind you (a bookshelf, a colorful wall, nature, a blank wall, etc.) not a messy room or a television that’s on.
4. You’re too far away from the camera and didn’t speak up. Videos should be in midshot or medium shot. This means we should see you from the waist up or closer. Speak slowly, clearly, and be friendly! Viewers should watch your video and want to buy your product.
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Author Introduction Video Sample. This topic is specifically for Blue Forge Press authors.
Another huge change that came about after the April Board Meeting is that the Blue Forge Press website has been moved up the work queue. Every single Blue Forge Press author will have their own dedication author page at the website and, if you want, your author page can include a video introduction where you greet your readers.
Now... I’m spoiled. I was raised by two moms who believe in hard work. And Jennifer in particular was raised specifically how to be a working author. Not an author who writes as a hobby or side job. A full-time author. So it’s clear to me that NOT having a video introduction would be a huge mistake. Readers love to “meet” their favorite author. And to get the chance to welcome people to a page with links to all your Blue Forge Press books? Of course I’ll be doing that!
However, the Board decided NOT to make an introduction video mandatory – mostly because we don’t have the time to chase authors down. But it is important to note that having an introduction video will definitely show that you are actively engaged as an artisan.
Want to see an example of an author’s introduction video? Here’s Jennifer’s:
[The author introduction video for Jennifer DiMarco can be viewed by watching the April 13, 2020, episode of Hello Monday at www.tiny.cc/hellomonday.]
You can make your video as long or as short as you like. But when someone reaches the end of your video, they should want to explore your work.
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Amazon Smile Donations. Every time you shop at Amazon, they’ll donate .5% of your order to Blue Legacy – that’s us! Your prices won’t change but .5% will go to help Blue Legacy and give Amazon a tax write off. Amazon Smile is a program offered by Amazon where you can select a nonprofit company to receive a donation with every order you place and it never costs you anything extra.
There’s just two steps to sign up:
1. Go to www.tiny.cc/bluesmile and you’ll be taken to Amazon Smile. Amazon Smile is just plain Amazon.com but with the ability to donate to a nonprofit. When asked what nonprofit you want to support, type in Blue Legacy. You’ll only have to select Blue Legacy once.
2. Then, whenever you want to shop at Amazon for anything at all, instead of going to Amazon.com go to www.tiny.cc/bluesmile or smile.amazon.com and shop as you normally would.
If you accidentally go to Amazon.com to shop, instead of to Smile, you can open a second browser tab and go to Smile any time before you check out. Your cart will transfer to Smile automatically.
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That’s all the news for this week. If you have questions or would like us to cover something next Monday, please don’t hesitate to write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post a comment below.
And remember: Monday doesn’t have to be a day you dread. Monday can be the first day in the best creative week of your life.