• Having no website is often better than an out of date one

    The other week I meant to write about this, but it totally got away from me.  Outdated websites can actually hurt your business in my opinion.

    Being on the road means new towns and new places for us.  And when we get to a new town we sometimes need to find out where we can get products or services.  Two weeks ago I was in desperate need of a new ink cartridge for my Canon IP100.  The Wal-Mart in town didn’t have them, so I thought I’d hunt up an office supply store.  And I found one.  Office Outpost (cool name).

    Using my handy dandy iPhone I found the local business and made a call to them.  Sure enough, they had my cartridge and let me know they’d be closing at 3 that day.  So I hopped into the Titan and took a ride into town.  I had their address, and even had an image in mind of what I was looking for (they had a photo of their store front on their website).  Unfortunately the business had moved, and the site hadn’t been updated.  I had to call again, find out where they were, and turn the truck around.

    Fortunately in this case I found the business and they were literally the only game in town.  However, in larger places I probably would have continued on to the next possible store.  I’m glad they kept their original phone number, otherwise I wouldn’t have been able to find out where they moved to.  And yes, I’ve seen outdated websites that point to businesses long gone, or moved to somewhere else with no information as to where.

    When I asked the woman at the counter when they’d moved she said, “Oh it’s been a few years now.”  Yeah, their webmaster needs to get on a few updates to be sure!

    September 30, 2014 • Notes from Rich • Views: 46

  • Travel Adventure on hold for a few days

    The Old Paria Movie Set

    The Old Paria Movie Set

    Well, the real world always calls you back, doesn’t it?  This week is going to be a dull week from the standpoint of travel posts.  We relocated over the weekend in order to meet with a potential client.  If all goes well the Airstream will be stationary for a few weeks with few forays into the wilderness.  Clients come first.  And since I’m signing one tomorrow, and hopefully another on Wednesday, our attention will be turned to working with our clients.

    One of the reasons we are trying to do some crowdfunding is exactly what I was worried about initially.  If we really want to focus on bringing a guidebook to market for campers, travelers, and RV’ers who want to know more about the National Monuments of the Southwest, stopping for client work every few weeks takes away from that focus.  See, we really aren’t trying to fund a vacation or something here.  We very much want to create a guide (now a series of guides) to these amazing places that get overlooked so often.

    Don’t get me wrong.  I’m always thrilled to work with new clients.  And this year we’ve walked away from each job with very happy customers, who are still happy to this date.  And I was really blown away last week with a contact asking if we’d travel to a new client’s location to work with them on updating their web presence and help them reach new markets.  That’s great.  But when I set about doing a job, well it becomes all consuming.  And that means setting the National Monument work to the side for a little while.

    I hate putting unfinished things to the side!

    So, if you see “light posting” here for a little while, understand it’s work and it has to be done.  And if you’d like to see us fixate on The National Monuments of Arizona, well help get the word out!  We’ve reset the project on IndieGoGo, set a lower amount required (1 state instead of 4), and if we can get the funding for November 1st we’ll be wrapped up with the 2 new clients and ready to dive into 18 National Monuments by January!

    Oh, and when we wrap up with our new net clients I’ll be posting some links here, as each project is very cool, and very unique to be sure!

    Finally, for subscribers to our newly launched site Living In Tin, good news.  A new featured article should be posting next week.  It’s a long read to be sure, which is why I want to review it once more before it goes live.  Set aside about 18 minutes to read it, and to start planning for your next travel adventure!


    September 29, 2014 • Notes from Rich • Views: 67

  • A few social media tips I’ve learned

    As I’ve been baptized by fire into the world of extreme social media I’ve learned a few things that I thought I’d share here.  As we relaunch our campaign to get started on the National Monuments of Arizona (and then we’ll look to the other states) these few tips are geared toward reaching the most people possible.  Get your message in front of many, right?


    So many people are on Facebook.  That’s why people setup business pages, launch campaigns, and invite you to seedy bar after seedy bar on it.  Heck, I even created an event on our last effort to launch the larger project covering the National Monuments of the 4 Corners States.  When you see something that you appreciate and want to help promote we’ve got a simple do, and a simple don’t:

    Don’t “Like It”:  Liking something on Facebook is the equivalent of saying to yourself, “Oh, well that’s nice.”  Likes, while they can make someone feel really great about their post internally (them saying to themselves “ooh, someone likes me and I’m validated”) don’t get you anywhere further on Facebook.  It doesn’t identify to those in your circle that anything has gone on.

    Do Share It:  When you share a post or page that someone has put up, it appears on your wall and is visible to the people who follow along with you.  Suddenly the person who posted it has not only reached the people that follow them, they have now reached your 4000 friends as well.  Thus making something go viral….or viral-esque.


    Twitter has been the place where the social media baptism really occurred.  I have learned to read those cryptic 140 character messages, I now know that a “#” is not the pound symbol, but rather a hash tag.  Hash tags are rulers of their domains, and help you reach a person or two in between the several thousand other tweets that occurred 13 seconds after you posted.  It’s nice to know at 42 that I’m adaptable and can still learn things.  And if you’re interested in Twitter here are a few gems.

    Home made non-dairy pizza, dough made from scratch so there is no possibility of honey in it!

    Home made non-dairy pizza, dough made from scratch so there is no possibility of honey in it!

    Marking something as a favorite gains you followers:  If you want to gain more followers, go around and favorite their posts.  You don’t actually have to read the post, act on it, or do anything that might be alarming.  Simply Favorite the post.  The poster will receive a message that you have favorited their post.  And similar to liking things on Facebook, this will help their ego temporarily, inflate their self worth, and they’ll come see who you are since you were so kind as to raise their spirits for the day.  Favoriting their post will most likely get you a new follower, as they’re hoping you’ll continue validating them post after post in the future, and with luck you’ll sit down to a pizza dinner with them someday and play rummy.

    Marking something as a favorite doesn’t help the poster at all:  Favoriting something is all about you, not about them.  See, nobody in the Twitter Universe pays much attention to what you’ve favorited.  Things are moving too fast in Twitter.  And in order to see that someone has favorited something you have to go to their profile and click on their infinitely long favorite list.  The lists are long because people use favorites to gain followers for themselves, not for others.  Favoriting something is designed to gain you followers, and pizza party buddies.  Today I gained 10 new Twitter followers by favoriting 15 posts just to see.

    Re-Tweeting is the Grail:  Re-tweets are the bread and butter of Twitter.  See something you like while you’re looking through “#Travel”?  Well then, for the love of all that is good Re-Tweet it man!  Re-tweeting a post gets the post out in front of all of your followers, as well as the original poster’s followers.  This is how one simple post can suddenly reach 1.5 million people.

    The lessons in a nutshell

    With all of this in my head, here’s what I’ve taken away.

    1. For every like I’ve gotten on my Facebook posts about our project without someone sharing the post I’ve gotten 1 extra gray hair.  If you’re gonna like it, go ahead and share it too.
    2. For every shared post I’ve gotten during the process I silently wished great things for the person who shared it.  The volume of “Likes” to “Shares” was something like 400 to 1.  Which tells you, I’m going gray fast.
    3. For every “Favorite” I’ve gotten on Twitter I’ve mentally screamed, “The freaking re-tweet button is to the left damn you, to the left!”  The odds someone will see your re-tweet are slim anyways, so why are you holding out on me man?
    4. Every Re-Tweet I’ve gotten is my validation.  No, I don’t need validation as a person.  I need as many people to see the project as possible so we crowd source this thing and get under way.  :)  I’m on the verge of making a video of us making Vegan Potato Salad in the Airstream!
    5. Every time I see something I dig on Facebook or Twitter, I share it or re-tweet it.  I want to make sure I’m not adding to anyone else’s aged appearance.  And if I’m lucky they’ll invite me to a pizza party that has non-dairy pizza that I can eat, and dough that was made from scratch so I don’t go into anaphylactic shock.  And yes, I enjoy playing Rummy in case you were wondering.

    Wrapping up.  If you like our project idea help us promote it.  Share it with friends, re-tweet it with followers.  Make a sandwich board sign and stand on a street corner if you’d like, we’ll take all the help we can get.  Also, you could do a zany thing like backing the project too, as every bit helps.  Skip Starbuck’s tomorrow morning and donate a fiver to the cause.  And if you like the project and our posting, please don’t like or favorite it.  Share it, re-tweet it…..or get that sandwich board sign.  If I see you on a street corner I’ll stop by and we can play a game of Rummy.

    September 28, 2014 • National Monuments of the Southwest, Notes from Rich • Views: 118

  • Testing out the aerodynamics of the Airstream

    As a fun exercise today I thought it would be a great idea to drive into a storm with strong winds.  Okay, that’s not a great idea and it isn’t what I did.  However with the ominous billowing black clouds in the distance you’d think that might have been something in my head.

    This morning we pushed out from Cortez Colorado.  The Airstream was pointed south to Gallup, then west toward Holbrook.  Yes, we’ve ventured back into Arizona for a few days on a secret mission.  A potential client would like to have a chat about a massive site overhaul, so I thought meeting in person is way better than a phone call.  All about really getting to know what clients want you know.

    Go figure that getting up this morning and looking at Intellicast I almost had a stroke.  A wall of clouds over the Grand Canyon with big RED and ORANGE swatches everywhere.  Oh yes, that’s something I really want to drive the Airstream into!  Hmmm…hail sounds like just the thing for an Airstream!

    Travel plans were quickly changed, and stopping at Navajo National Monument was written off for this quick trip.  Instead we opted to head to Gallup and then to Holbrook.  From the forecast the weather wouldn’t hit Holbrook for a while and we could be of the road.  Glad to say the plan worked well.  Of course now I’m looking at some pretty nutty clouds in the distance, strong winds, and hopefully no hail.

    The Airstream will be tested tonight I think.  And I’m sure it will meet the challenge.

    Tropical storms / hurricanes affecting Arizona?  Say it isn’t so.

    September 27, 2014 • Airstream, Arizona, Notes from Rich, Travel • Views: 110

  • Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and $1500

    Okay, after my initial post on the USFS fees for commercial photography article I read I’ve composed myself and done some additional reading.  Specifically I just went through the Federal Register’s posting from September 4th, 2014.  I have to say, reading through the entire directive I’m left extremely disturbed.  The language isn’t specific, and really could open up a can of worms for many folks photographing our nation’s public lands.  Keep in mind, these are OUR public lands, as we live in the nation of “We The People.”  Federal land is our land, paid for by us.

    Several articles that I’ve read this afternoon downplay the potential impact for still photographers, and the writers have the opinion that these rules apply more toward “cinematic work.”  You know, a Hollywood film crew wants to do some movie production at Yellowstone about the end of the world or something (I’ve seen that movie).  But right off the bat at the start of the directive we find:

    The Forest Service proposes to incorporate interim directive (ID) 2709.11-2013.1 into Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709.11, chapter 40 to make permanent guidance for the evaluation of proposals for still photography and commercial filming on National Forest System Lands. The proposed amendment would address the establishment of consistent national criteria to evaluate requests for special use permits on National Forest System (NFS) lands. Specifically, this policy provides the criteria used to evaluate request for special use permits related to still photography and commercial filming in congressionally designated wilderness areas. Public comment is invited and will be considered in the development of the final directive.

    Do you see the words “still photography” in the bold text?  Yes?  Good, I do too and I know I’m not going crazy now.

    Under section 1 the issue is repeated just to make sure the point is clear.  Let’s have a read:

    The proposed directive is necessary for the Forest Service to issue and administer special use authorizations that will allow the public to use and occupy National Forest System (NFS) lands for still photography and commercial filming in wilderness.

    Okay, it’s pretty well established right up front that we are not just talking about commercial film work.  We are in fact talking about still photography as well.  And this isn’t new, it’s been quietly on the books for 4 years now.

    The current language has been in place for 48 months. This proposal would make permanent guidelines for the acceptance and denial for still photography and commercial filming permits in congressionally designated wilderness areas.

    As you continue reading through the directive you will find that this does in fact apply to still photography as well as filming.  So what does this all mean?

    Commercial use of images or video produced on public lands comes at a price

    If you are using images or film that you have produced at our National Parks, maybe National Monuments, National Historic Sites, etc, you are subject to needing a special use permit in order to create and use your images commercially.  What is commercial?  Fortunately the government is on top of that, and they’re happy to share their vision of commercial with us (go to section 251.51 for the definitions of commercial use in case you disbelieve the quote below):

    Commercial use or activity—any use or activity on National Forest System lands (a) where an entry or participation fee is charged, or (b) where the primary purpose is the sale of a good or service, and in either case, regardless of whether the use or activity is intended to produce a profit.

    So, does your travel blog count?  Well yes if your travel blog includes a few Google or Amazon Ads.  You’re generating revenue, even if it’s small, on a site where you posted the image.  That is a commercial use.  How about posting on your Facebook page or Twitter.  Both Facebook and Twitter are commercial entities that have advertising, offer you advertising opportunities, and allow pages like business information pages to be posted.  Are you specifically involved in a commercial endeavor when posting on these services?  Maybe not, but the language in the directive is loose enough to where I’d be concerned to ever post another image without fear of receiving a bill.

    Fortunately this will have little impact at all

    According to the directive, the impact will be fairly unsubstantial.  I’m quoting a whole paragraph from the “Regulatory” section as I’m a little taken aback with their evaluation of the impact:

    The proposed directive has been reviewed under USDA procedures and Executive Order 12866 on regulatory planning and review. It has been determined that this is not an economically significant action. This action will not have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy, nor will it adversely affect productivity, competition, jobs, the environment, public health and safety, or State or local governments. This proposed directive will not interfere with an action taken or planned by another agency, nor will it raise new legal or policy issues. Finally the proposed directive will not alter the budgetary impact of entitlement, grant, user fee, or loan programs or the rights and obligations of beneficiaries of those programs.

    Less than $100 million in economic activity will be impacted.  Is that the annual revenue of small photo studios across the U.S. who sell images of our National Lands?  Currently I’m in Cortez Colorado, a short drive from Durango.  There are 3 really great photo galleries in Durango, and all of them have images from the surrounding Forest Service lands in the area.  What does this mean to future images taken on Federal Lands?  I mean, these galleries are commercial, the photographers are trying to make a living aren’t they?  Are they part of that $100 million in economic activity that is so insignificant (their livelihoods are pretty significant to them I expect).  The Coloradoan weighs in on this point perfectly and you should read their article.

    What can be done?

    Well, the last time I posted something that I hoped would go viral it didn’t.  But that doesn’t mean you don’t try again.  So once more, to all the readers here, we can take some action.  There is a public comment period and you can get in touch to voice your opinion on this issue.  From the Register’s posting you have the following ways to get in touch and voice your opinion:

    Submit comments electronically by following the instructions at the federal eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulation.gov or submit comments via fax to 703-605-5131 or 703-605-5106. Please identify faxed comments by including “Commercial Filming in Wilderness” on the cover sheet or first page. Comments may also be submitted via mail to Commercial Filming in Wilderness, USDA, Forest Service, Attn: Wilderness & Wild and Scenic Rivers (WWSR), 201 14th Street SW., Mailstop Code: 1124, Washington, DC 20250-1124. Email comments may be sent to: reply_lands@fs.fed.us. If comments are submitted electronically, duplicate comments should not be sent by mail. Hand-delivered comments will not be accepted and receipt of comments cannot be confirmed. Please restrict comments to issues pertinent to the proposed directive, explain the reasons for any recommended changes, and, where possible, reference the specific section and wording being addressed.

    I would suggest you read the beginning of the posting and reference the directive specifically, otherwise your comments might go into space.

    The Forest Service proposes to incorporate interim directive (ID) 2709.11-2013.1 into Forest Service Handbook (FSH) 2709.11, chapter 40

    The 11th hour update

    To be fair and keep this as up to date as possible we have an update!  I set this article to the side for a few hours to continue watching the latest updates on this issue.  And sure enough, Rob Davis from the Oregonian has put an update up on the issue.  Apparently the Forest Service is now “clarifying” the issue.  So there is momentum against this crazy idea.  But here’s the thing folks.  Until the directive is actually updated and explicit I would not let this issue go.  So, keep reading, keep commenting, and help to make sure that this pretty zany idea gets buried for good.  And to leave on a good note here’s a quote from Rob’s update:

    Earlier Thursday, the Forest Service said it was extending a public comment period by a month, to Dec. 3, to allow more input on its photography rules. A host of bipartisan lawmakers said the proposal should instead be scrapped.

    September 25, 2014 • Notes from Rich • Views: 175

  • A new twist from the Forest Service – Fees for photography?

    Ansel Adams was an incredible photographer.  And for anyone who loves photography even a little…well, I’m sure you’ve seen some of his work.  The National Parks benefited greatly from Adams work, and he inspired people around the world to come see natural wonders where ever he photographed.

    Today I think he’d hang his head.  The Forest Service wants to collect fees (licensing / permission / call it whatever) for commercial images created on “public” lands.  Basically if you benefit in any way from creating an image and using it commercially they’d like to charge you….up to $1500.00.  Think I’m joking?  I’m not, take a read here.

    The photographic work of Ansel Adams sold the parks to people across the globe.  His images, along with the images of countless photographers after him, have inspired so many people to visit the parks, to help protect the parks, and to inspire conservation movements the world over.  But now photographers are going to have to “pay to play?”  Come on?

    From the article we have the following:

    Yes, it’s true that the lion’s share of the Forest Service budget is now going to dealing with wildfires, but is it so desperate for money that it has to hit up the people who do most of its marketing, photographers? A new policy, quietly proposed by the USFS on September 4 but now catching the public’s attention in a big way, would require $1,500 permits for media taking pictures in wilderness, with fines up to $1,000 for failing to comply. The rules could be applied to anyone taking pictures that result in some kind of commerce, from bloggers to amateur photographers who sell a print or two.

    So, what could be considered commercial?  Let’s say you have a blog from your travels and you have some Google Ads up on your site.  If you generate revenue from those ads your site could be considered “commercial.”  Hey, you generated $200 this year, and part of what drove people to your site were the images you produced.  Pony up the cash buddy!  Sure, we know you only made $200, but your fine is going to be a little higher.

    This photo was taken from Mesa Verde National Park May of 2014.  I have used it commercially on this site and on a client site.  New images going forward?  Who knows?

    This photo was taken from Mesa Verde National Park May of 2014. I have used it commercially on this site and on a client site. New images going forward? Who knows?

    Choking off independent media

    Let’s see, what’s been in the news lately?  Net Neutrality mean anything to anyone.  This is where some companies can buy higher speed connections on the Internet.  A fast lane for providers who pay to play.  And the rest of the folks on the net who don’t have the bank account to buy into the fast lane.  Yeah, the slow lane for you.  That plays favorites, doesn’t it?  If you’re a multi-billion dollar company who can afford the fast internet then you get favored and can bring information to the masses.  Smaller startups, new media outlets, and individuals sharing information to the world?  Yeah, you’re going in the slow lane.

    For free markets to work there has to be “Zero barriers to entry,” into the competitive marketplace.  With a two tiered Internet there are barriers, created by our government, setting up further monopolization of information.  This proposal from the National Forest Service is another such barrier.  If you’re a media outlet with plenty of cash on hand, no trouble.  If you’re a small business owner, maybe trying to make a living off of your photography, yeah you’re screwed!

    Small business is not a priority these days

    I’m sorry to say it, but small businesses are under assault, and the assault is coming from our own lawmakers.  As the owner of a small business for 6 years now I can tell you, nothing is made easy.  From doing the state’s accounting work on sales tax, to tax penalties for being an independent contractor, I have felt since I first started my business in Prescott that the state is not on my side.  The most recent blow came from the new healthcare legislation that was supposed to help all of us.  Instead it cost me my primary insurance (the coverage was dropped and I was notified in July about that due to the new policies).  So, for a guy who has maintained independent health care all of these years my reward was the loss of a good policy, and a more expensive policy with less benefits put in to replace it.

    The debate on net neutrality is one more example, and now that idea of fees to photograph on any public lands?  What small studio owner can afford the fast lane for internet when competing with big companies for bandwidth, or $1,500 in fees to produce an image that they’ll be lucky to sell $500 worth of prints on?  I suppose we can look at it this way…..maybe they just all want us taking “selfies” as those images are always so compelling (for the love of all things good, blow your nose before taking one please).

    wpdawn (1 of 1)

    Taken on public lands and on a blog that has ads on it. Commercial?

    Get them while you can

    I suppose my best suggestion to all of the photographers out there?  Take those images while you still can.  To my friends who write and shoot for small magazines an find a few hundred dollars a month in image sales to those magazines…..  Guys, we’ve got a lot to shoot around these days!  Lets add the USFS lands to that now.  One more place we won’t be able to afford to shoot.  At least National Geographic has the budget for it, but the rest of us don’t.

    Oh, stupid question…… Don’t we pay taxes already?  This is another tax on small businesses who are already paying in.  Want to read the whole dull proposal?  Here’s the writeup from the Federal Register, Sept 4th 2014.  If you’d like to comment on the proposal you can e-mail directly from this link.

    This past Spring while shooting for a client in Scottsdale we learned that we’d need permits to photograph our subjects anywhere in the city of Scottsdale.  If it was public property it was subject to the fee.  So we got creative, found private locations, and purchased passes to the Arizona Botanical Garden as we were allowed to photograph there with our passes. 

  • Is this what you’re looking for?

    Last week I wrote a little about our experience in “social media.”  One big part of gaining followers on Twitter is regular posting.  But when you start looking at all of the posts you find yourself re-reading the same thing.  Why is that?

    Many of the super popular posters don’t write their own posts.  Instead they use different websites and apps that keep updating their feed often.  The topics can range, and often it doesn’t matter if current followers are interested in the topics.  It’s all about gaining new people.

    Today I took a look at “Buffer.”  It’s an app that I used when we were promoting the “RV’ers Guide to the National Monuments of the Southwest.”  In addition to writing our own posts which could go up every hour, half hour, 15 minutes…. you get it…. Buffer offers me canned posts to keep my feed looking active.  Right now I’m being offered a few generic posts that could automatically go up for me today.  Let’s list out a few:

    • Email as an API: Physical Interactions With Email:
    • In 1947, Ten Comic Strip Artists Were Asked To Draw Their Characters Blindfolded
    • Paul Rand’s Design Lessons From 60 Years Ago That Are Still Deeply Relevant Today
    • A Rad Collection of 1980s-Inspired Prints
    • The Next Big Thing In Responsive Design
    • A Life Worth Living: Why Happiness Is Our Moral Obligation:

    I think that’s enough to make the point…..  Well, is it enough?  Yeah I guess so.

    Now here’s the thing.  Anyone reading this post today who is on Twitter most likely saw these posts today.  It’s like a “post mill.”  I went looking around for a little while and watched the feed streaming by.  And yes, several of the folks who follow me or who I follow post a lot (they’re the ones with big followings).  Indeed they’re using these canned posts to get people to follow them.  But what for?

    When you go out to read something on the Internet, are you just looking for a headline?  Or are you looking for real content?  Personally whenever I’m hunting on the net I’ve got something specific in mind.  Trip ideas, programming help, new apps for the iPad, fix it advice for the water inlet on my Airstream leaking (yes that’s going on today).  I think you get what I’m saying.  So why is it that many people will follow social media gurus who do nothing but post stuff other people have written about topics they’re not even interested in????

    Please, somebody help me with this.  I really don’t get it.

    The whole inspiration for this post came about due to spam comments I keep getting.  Even with my spam filter some get through, and the most popular showed up again today on one of my posts:

    Probably you  spend a lot of time writing, i know how to save you a lot
    of time, there is an online tool that creates unique, google friendly articles in seconds, just search in google  -Name Removed free content source

    This is something I’m seeing on more and more blogs.  Not the comment.  Instead I’m seeing generated content that was not created by the blog owner.  Many blogs today just compile articles from other blogs.  They don’t generate content, they just round up your content and present it on their site.  Is this all about clicks?  Is this about showing high numbers for advertising?  Why create a site where you contribute nothing?

    You don’t have to answer this.  I’m thinking out loud.  And I’m thinking back to the Time article I linked to last week.  The author was talking about the “Attention Web,” and I really like the concept.  I also like the idea of the “Content Web.”  You know, sites that actually have information and not just noise.

    So yeah, totally thinking out loud.  I think we all want to find useful information and entertainment on the web.  And I think a lot of noise has gotten into the signal.  So, how do we get providers to add useful content, and less noise?

    I’ll think about it, and if I find an answer I’ll share it.

    September 24, 2014 • Notes from Rich • Views: 158

Traveler’s Guide to the National Monuments of Arizona

Subscribe to Living In Tin – Premium RV Travel Guides

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Purchase Favorite Landscapes Magazine




Visits today: 381


Arizona Links

Photo Reads

Random Reads