Tips to Make Your Blog More Visual

Leave a comment

This was written for an agriculture audience, but is very applicable to rabbits as well.

Many in agriculture have been inspired to tell their story through groups like the AgChat Foundation. So you’ve decided you’re interested, you have a digital camera or video capability but what next?

In either case be aware of lighting. Too dark photos don’t show your topic off well. Remember that with camera settings they see the light as it is rather than adjusting as our eyes do. Sometimes photos late in the evening can look like it’s dark.

At the same time lighting can be a factor during the strong light of mid day – if you’re shooting livestock this can bring unwanted shadows. For other things, such as a combine or tractor in the field, bright light can be a good thing. If your image has a lot of white – such as Charolais cattle, sheep, white rabbits or some dairy cattle – you might get better results in the morning before 10 or so or in the afternoons after 4 – this allows you to position so the light is behind you. This also comes into play if you’re shooting winter pictures with snow that reflects light.

If you’re shooting a video beware of movement. If you’re walking to the barn and multitasking it may save you time but changing backgrounds can leave some viewers dizzy! Background is also important for still photos – with people and livestock pay attention to background so there’s no poles, trees or other objects appearing to come from the subject’s head!

Know when to come in close and when to back off. A field at harvest or planting may warrant a ‘big’ shot while one of a baby chick or an ear of corn means getting close. For close up shots use the macro setting on the digital camera – there’s a setting often depicted with a little flower, then you scroll to adjust and the lens will zoom in on tight shots like an ear of corn. Be sure to change it back so your other shots aren’t fuzzy! Also with macro shots it’s even more important to shoot steady. A blurred image can result from unsteady hands so brace yourself on a doorway, ledge or other solid surface if you have to.

For video consider an inexpensive tripod that eliminates all ‘bounce’ from your final video. As much as can be watch the noise interference in the sound and pick a video location that is quiet enough to hear what you’re saying. There may be some situations – such as dairy calves bawling at feeding time that it can be a benefit but mostly you want the viewer to be able to hear you!

Good photos show off your farm and are not difficult to get. It allows transparency without trespass. Farmers and agvocates need to be a part of the conversation about food and farming. Photos and videos are a way to do that in a very visible way.

  • agchat.org/
  • www.trufflemedia.com/home/blogs/trufflemediaadmin
  • www.causematters.com/
    • Pay attention to lighting and background.
    • Use a mix of “big” and close up shots depending on your subject.
    • Use photos in combination with other social media – blogs, Twitter, Facebook

    Did you know photos and videos allow consumers to see farming as it is, and allows for increased transparency between farm and consumer’s plates. It’s a way to share the world of agriculture with consumers.

FluffyCows & Golden Opportunities

Leave a comment

Perhaps you’ve seen the internet sensation about Fluffy Cows. Many who have grown up around agriculture know them as market steers, club calves – beef! But the public has hit on it as something they weren’t aware of – and it’s opened doors. Or has it? What if it’s rabbits tomorrow? Can we stand the pressure? Not if we don’t prepare *now*!

Stay with me here folks! What seems like a great opportunity to talk about beef, livestock and agriculture is, for some, a huge opportunity to not just shoot themselves in the foot but set off a trip wire. We can change the conversation – we can teach people – or we can insult them and drive them away. Which would you do? Are you sure?

Let’s take some lessons on examples. Beef magazine questions whether it’s a good thing.

We need to refocus the message on the online forums and news stories reporting about “fluffy cows.” We need to introduce ourselves as the ranchers behind the beef consumers love and put the spotlight on the farm families in this industry.

Now this is a farm that’s been selling show stock, fitted for fairs, many pictures online. Not unlike show animals of any species. Someone saw it, and it went viral. This farm has been cast into viral publicity, the subject of television media, celebrity blog posts and much attention. They put some shirts up on their store – the first 50 were gone in 9 minutes! What a “problem” to have right? What an opportunity!

The farm itself knows there’s groups watching. PeTA is asking how people can eat those cute fluffy cows. Right next to the mashed potatoes or fries perhaps?

Phil Lautner tells BEEF Daily, “We are very vigilant that anti-animal agriculture groups try to turn conversations negative. With the #FluffyCow phenomenon it is our mission to keep the conversation about youth, family involvement and production. We feel it’s necessary to try and educate others about our way of life and what animal production is.”

MoreThan-1_0This is a fantastic example of taking a risk, reframing it, taking control and *using it*! It’s an awesome example of not letting others tell anyone what you do, or use your message for their use. They took the hash tag, a Facebook page and are leveraging to use it to teach much more than cute cows.

At the same time it’s concerning to see the negativity, not from vegans or animal rights but from within the agriculture community. How would you feel to hear or see something like city people are so stupid for not knowing these things – that city person that just bought burgers for the family?

Then there’s comments of how do they taste and more:

I didn’t know that they had cow show like they do dog shows.

“The cows, a cross between high-quality breeds”. Yum!!!

With all the beauty aids you spray, rub, comb in and wash these cows with, is the meat safe to eat?

They really have a show for each animal now, don’t they?

This is an ideal way to reach the public. With a Facebook page there is a contact point.

How can this be used for rabbits. Rex. Mini Rex. Show rabbits. Show and function. Rabbits are multipurpose and in a prime spot. We never now what will trip the public interest. But one thing is for sure – with beef shows in every state fair and most county fairs, if folks don’t know about them, they don’t know rabbits are shown too.

Don’t condemn them. Educate. Have a conversation. Teach them. Take some time with those folks with questions at the next show, or if you’re on the way to the ring say that nicely! “I’m sorry I need to get these rabbits to the show table – could you follow me or check back in a little bit?”

Fair season is coming. Publicity comes around and we can either use the example of this farm, or let the power be taken from us in the media. We better hope that we’re all half as prepared as this show cattle place! Watch and learn, take part in the conversation.

Pick out good examples and what not to do. It’s not rabbits in the spotlight, but we can sure learn by example what to do and what not to do.

5 Ways To Reach Out in Rabbit Promotion

Leave a comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWe all want to promote rabbits. We want to insure we’ll be able to breed and show next year, or maybe expand our meat rabbit market, or sell rabbits for pets.

Many have looked at advertising, social media and other online aspects. Many see the legislation put forth that can affect rabbits, and some blindly support it under the guise it’s for *those* breeders or *that* species.

A minority of people raise the food we eat every day, and that which we feed our rabbits. A minority of people keep rabbits and the misinformation is extensive.

While we can do incredible things to promote the keeping of rabbits online, don’t ever underestimate the impact of promoting offline. Indirectly. In your community.

1. Be a good neighbor. Keep your rabbit area as clean as possible, dispose of manure regularly, keep flies controlled. The vast majority of people already do this – but we should continue to strive to do better as much as we can!

2. Pursue other activities. Maybe the kids are in soccer, or there’s a bake sale at church, or other things that you’re involved in. Those people already know the kind of person you are – but may not know you have rabbits. Be a good rabbit representative.

3. Share your rabbits. It might be some fiber from rabbits you use and wear or a photograph on your office desk. Don’t push rabbits, necessarily, but be open to questions when people have them.

4. Be the source of rabbit information. If you don’t know, don’t fake it – find someone who does. This goes for general as well as those who misrepresent breeds they don’t have and aren’t familiar with. This goes for your online activities also! Be approachable. When someone sees a rabbit they think of you.

5. Work on your social and communication skills. We all need to do this sometimes. We talk when we should listen, then misunderstand what someone is saying. Stop, learn better ways to communicate. “Homeschool” yourself on the topic if you need to.

Rabbit Photo Promotions

Leave a comment

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPeople are visual creatures. We all are – and it’s worked against us for too long. Get those photos out rabbit folks!

With blogs, Pinterest, Facebook and a host of other social media platforms, there is a huge amount of publicity we can do that is *free* – and we should be doing it. Visual works!

Think it doesn’t? Quick – what do you think when you hear hog farm? Beef cattle? Dairy? For many the first images are horrific *visual* images put forth by animal rights organizations along with “go vegan” slogans. This has worked against agriculture, and left many in catch up mode trying to show their clean, well run operations that are not horror houses.

We cannot make the same mistake. Photos are something we can control. We can show our rabbits without leaving home. If you are on Facebook or Twitter, you can share photos easily but go beyond just conformation shots. Those are what we want to see as rabbit breeders, yes.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut think of the rest of the world. Those who don’t raise rabbits. Think of the opportunities we have at least once a month to bring a smile to those who aren’t involved with rabbits. Break outside the box.

Take your clean rabbits and get some good photos. Get some casual photos – babies playing on their mother, or set up some unposed photos with props.

Now take those photos and go get familiar with Picmonkey.com – it’s free. You can use another photo editing program, but Picmonkey gives you a lot of options. Always put your name in the corner. Use your rabbitry name, or personal name if you prefer – but have it in a consistent place if possible. This insures that it isn’t taken to be used in places we don’t want it used, like certain organizations we probably wouldn’t want to be associated with.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAYou can alter the exposure if the photo is a little too light or dark. You can crop it, rotate and even fix redeye issues under the touch up section (looks like a little lipstick). (Tip – for white rabbits and literal red eye use the people setting – for dark eyes that come out green use the “furball” setting.)

When you shoot some photos leave spaces – in the text setting you can add things for birthdays, holidays and other occasions. Some examples are on this page.

You can even go to the symbols and get creative – I put a clover “tattoo” in an ear for St. Patrick’s day. Of course it’s not on the real rabbit. Most people will realize that just like they realize their morning cereal doesn’t really talk to them. 🙂 If you look close above the Easter and St. Patrick’s day pictures is the same picture – with different ‘dressing.’

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAGet creative. Post birthday greetings with rabbits in them to people on your wall and promote rabbits at every birthday. Make up some for holidays – look at the online listings of national <whatever> day or month and make some that are funny and play into that.

Make some serious, some funny, some just because (hey it’s Friday! or “it’s Monday already”).  Some examples – think up how you can use the same principles. Visual works! They get clicked on, shared, passed along to friends. And guess what…when it’s shared the friends friends all see rabbits. That’s free promotion and smiles we can’t reach on our own.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

4 books to help your blog

Leave a comment

Many people like what a blog can do in the terms of traffic but not so much in the maintenance. It can be an effort to keep it interesting and fresh. Here are four books worth investing in to help your blog.

No One Cares What You Had For Lunch – 100 Ideas for Your Blog by Margaret Mason – This isn’t a big involved book, but brings forth a host of great ideas that every person reading can use in a unique way. If you use each idea just three times in a year there’s nearly a year of blogs!

Content Rules – How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and more) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business. Long title, lots of information! Mix it up – video in a blog, asking questions and so much more. Lots of ideas here that with a little creativity could be great for farm and rabbit blogs!

Likeable Social Media goes a bit beyond blogging alone but worthwhile to getting people to listen. If we get more listening there is more support when it comes to zoning battles and other issues.

Will Write For Food – The Complete Guide to Writing Cookbooks, Blogs, Reviews, Memoir and more. Some great tips to connecting “outside the choir”. People love to talk food – and what does farming of all types do but produce food. Especially for those with meat rabbits – talk meat dinners! Cooking tips, meal ideas, what works, what doesn’t…you’ll be surprised how many love to eat rabbit and are looking for information! Connect with a great meal and it creates demand for rabbit not only in your area but everywhere.

The investment here is less than a few bags of feed. The investment can mean an increased demand and decreased speed bumps for all who raise rabbits. That’s worth a look!

Friend Or Foe

Leave a comment

By Mark Klaus

Remember the “good ole’ days”, those days in which we proudly displayed our animal enterprises for the entire world to see? I know I certainly do.

As a very young man on our farm in Iowa, I had many agricultural enterprises. The cattle and hogs bought me my first transportation and paid for my college tuition. I also had what I considered my “hobby” animals which did not contribute much to my bottom line, but contributed greatly to the family’s table.

Infrequent visitors to our family’s farm, mostly consisting of church pamphlet distributors and vacuum cleaning salespersons were almost certain to inquire about the animals located on the farm. The barnyard smells they were perhaps unaccustomed to, as well as the various noises sparked their interest. Being quite proud of the great care I gave to my animals, I would proudly give these individuals a tour and explain what my daily chores consisted of.

I would not even consider such activity today.

I am certain Animal Rights Extremists existed in those “good ole’ days”, however I was largely naive to their activities and the threat they pose. The lack of technologies such as pinhole cameras now affordable to many and probably more importantly editing software made my naive behavior far less risky than it is in today’s world.

I’m an agriculture advocate, and try to stay on top of the actions of Animal Rights extremist groups. I also do a bit of writing on the subject for an agricultural publication.

Although I fully realized that all animal interests are threatened by the various national Animal Rights organizations and some local groups, the widely publicized Dollarhite and Belle cases sparked my interest regarding the threats faced by the rabbit industry.

For full disclosure, I must first state that I do not current own any rabbits. My total experience with rabbits was a project as a youngster raising a handful of animals which later were placed on the dinner table. The thinning of the local rabbit population for consumption completes my knowledge of rabbits. In short, I am indeed no expert on proper rabbit husbandry.

Nonetheless, my interest was sparked after hearing of the Belle case, and I decided to hear what the “rabbit world” was saying on social media regarding the case.

I remained a silent observer for many days, gaining a better understanding of the issue, and what was seen as the biggest threats to rabbit owners. Occasionally I asked a question regarding something I was unfamiliar and inexperienced with. However, soon the discussion led itself down a path in which I could remain silent no longer.

The discussion developed into an all-out attack on more “mainstream” animal agriculture, a topic I am very familiar with. Quite simply, I was shocked at what I was reading. What had appeared for weeks to be a group greatly opposed to the animal rights movement suddenly appeared to me to be furthering their agenda. The same inflammatory terms and misinformation spread by these groups was being repeated by this very group that was so vocally opposed to them.

I withdrew from the conversation, concerned that by remaining in the discussion I was doing nothing but distracting from the group’s mission. Shortly after, I came to realize something that I feel as animal owners we all must recognize.

We all have been influenced to some extent by the very same animal rights organizations we oppose. Refusing to acknowledge this is what leads to the disconnect between animal interests in what could be a more united group to oppose the threats we all face as animal owners.

Perhaps a cattle rancher may not understand the threats faced by rabbit owners, and may fall victim to misinformation presented by Animal Rights extremists, thinly veiled as a mainstream media report.

Maybe the recent events in Ohio concerning exotic animals has led many to believe that taking away animal ownership rights of individuals with proper knowledge of the care of such animals is a good thing, again helping to further the agenda of the animal rights machine.

Lastly, as I observed by a few rabbit enthusiasts on social media, belief in the misinformation spread by animal rights extremists regarding more mainstream agriculture exists also.

As a first step, perhaps as animal owners we should first attempt to have discussions with others regarding the issues and concerns they have in their own enterprises. Gain knowledge from those with experience rather than accepting what you feel you know, which may have come from an unreliable source.

I will leave you with a rather simple question. In regards to fellow animal owners versus animal rights extremists, which is our friend, and which is our foe?

9 Free Ways to Safely Share Videos

Leave a comment

We’ve been gone to the ARBA Conference and are playing catch up – sorry for the delay!

Guest post from AgChat 2.0 Conference M. Valentina Escobar-Gonzalez, MBA

 

Thinking of creating a video to promote your brand and what your company does? Remember this:

Provide: Inspiration, Entertainment, Enlightenment, Education
19.4% of viewers abandon a video within first 10 seconds of video
By 60 seconds – 44% have stopped watching
Be Short & Start Fast (from Enchantment by Guy Kawasaki)
List of video sharing sites:
  1. Wikisend.com (easiest to use)
  2. Videosprout.com (no downloading involved)
  3. Dropbox.com (allows 300MB transfers.com)
  4. Shutterfly.com (creates your own video sharing website)
  5. Facebook.com (most convenient to use, since everyone is online & comfortable with it)
  6. Minigroup.com (10GB of storage with free account, for families)
  7. Chattertree.com (family-focused too, private for specific individuals)
  8. Vimeo.com (offers privacy control, basic account 500MB of weekly storage)
  9. Youtube.com (can be strictly private, most used)
(list from local newspaper article, originally from WestStar TalkRadio Network)
*Don’t forget to add keywords, categories, and a detailed description of the content of the video to increase your chances to move up the SEO ranks!

Older Entries

%d bloggers like this: