Rewarding customer service features

By Rhonda Campbell

Found at Hanfantheinternetman.com

Found at Hanfantheinternetman.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

To be effective, customer service features have to keep how the customer feels as top priority. Sales, increased customer interest and revenues cannot trump how the customer feels. You understand this during the marketing and promoting stages.


Generating confident, happy, sexy, trusting and adventurous feelings in customers is what marketing is primarily about. Tie welcomed feelings to your product or service and you could see a pick-up in sales as customers start to believe that getting your products or services will create those welcomed feelings within themselves.

Customer feelings don’t stop with marketing and promoting
Why abandon the focus on customer emotions when customers call your service line to tell a representative that the product arrived in the mail damaged, that a repair technician refused to uphold their warranty or that pricing was 10% higher than it was advertised? Give your customers the best experience by listening to them fully.

Ensure that customer service representatives receive sufficient and focused training. Teach customer service representatives not to cut customers off when they are voicing an issue or challenge. Patience is an absolutely necessary customer service feature.

Other absolutely necessary customer service features are empathy, a positive attitude, communication and clarity. Grove goes into each of these and other customer service features in more depth.

Organizations that offer customer service training include:

Dale Carnegie (the training is broken into modules)
Skillsoft (they offer software training programs)
American Management Association

Colleges and universities also offer training programs that focus on customer service. After your representatives are trained, make sure that you have enough representatives. This prevents workers who communicate directly with customers from feeling stressed and as if they don’t have enough support and bandwidth to perform their job effectively. All of the training in the world won’t make someone feel good about their job if they’re working 12 or more hours a day.

Showcase representatives
Reward customer service representatives when they positively resolve complicated customer service issues. It’s not uncommon for representatives to be located away from other employees, spending hours responding to one telephone call after another.

Recognize your representatives. Put them in the spotlight and don’t hide them away. After all, other than sales professionals, few (if any), people connect with customers as much as customer service representatives.

Thank customers for telephoning or writing in an issue, bringing a potentially larger issue to your attention. Keep in mind that you could have one customer to satisfy or that customer could remain silent and you end up having hundreds of angry customers to face. So, the first customer who brings an issue to your attention could serve as an ally, keeping a challenge from growing.

Check in with customers
Measure customer service satisfaction by surveying customers. Give customers a gift, price discount or other incentive to take the survey.


Keep in touch with customers by sending them holiday greetings, birthday cards (print or electronic) and anniversary greetings. For example, if customers bought a new laptop from you, send them an anniversary greeting and an invitation to save 15% on a laptop accessory, all because it’s the second anniversary for when they purchased their new laptop from you.

Posted in Business Management | Tagged | 1 Comment

Signs you have bad freelance clients

By Rebecca Davis

Picture by Graphikamaal

Picture by Graphikamaal

More than 53 million Americans earn their income freelancing. Clients that they work for cross all industries and range from hospital administrators to corporate human resources directors to major motion picture studios to financial services institutions. Some of these freelance clients are demanding, requesting constant revisions, travel to in-person meetings and long work hours.

Freelance clients that drain you

These client demands can etch away at the benefits of being a freelancer, including attractive salaries. At the top end, freelancers earn six figure salaries. On average, a freelancers annual income is about $50,000 – $60,000, depending on the field that freelancers work in. But, it’s flexibility and the ability to shift incomes upward with experience (instead of waiting for a once a year salary increase at a traditional job) that attracts skilled professionals to freelancing.


Freelance for a year or longer and you’ll learn that money isn’t always enough to make a client worth sticking with. So, how do you know when it’s time to let freelance clients go?

At the top end is low pay. Even if this is your very first time working with a client as a freelancer, you deserve to be paid a reasonable rate. Do a quick search online to find standard, low and high rates for jobs in your field. Professional associations sometimes post rates at their websites.

It also might be time to let freelance clients go if:

  • Clients ask you to edit or revise a project three or more times. Set a limit on the number of revisions you will perform before you start working on a freelancing project. Include this limit in your contract.
  • Late payments are becoming the norm with a client.
  • During meetings with prospects or third parties, a freelance client repeatedly disrespects you, despite your attempts to educate them to stop this behavior.
  • You are expected to adhere to unreasonable deadlines as a freelancer. This includes tight work deadlines that regularly chip away at your weekends.
  • A client is engaged in a scam. Believe it or not, this happens.

Protect yourself as a freelancer

Do your homework on prospective freelance clients. Don’t send clients money or work for free, even if a client tells you that she can get you exposure. Set clear boundaries and stick to them. However, stay flexible and be open to reasonable negotiations.

You teach clients how to perceive and treat you. Respect yourself and your talents and skills. As a freelancer with a sharp business acumen, you’ll attract far more great clients than the types of freelance clients that you need to let go. Yet, when it’s time, be willing to pull the plug. The last thing you want is to drain your time, energy and resources on a client who is never going to pay you or who doesn’t respect your talents.

Posted in Employment and Finding Jobs | Tagged | 1 Comment

Blending freelance careers with full-time jobs

By Belinda Johnson

Picture by Acglab

Picture by Acglab

Freelance careers are a leading change factor impacting the workforce. First, it was telecommuting jobs that were on the rise. Now, it’s freelance careers that are growing at a significant rate. About 54 million of American workers freelance, according to the Freelancers Union. However, Fast Company reports that a smaller number of people working freelance careers earn all of their income freelancing.


The fact that a smaller number of Americans are working freelance careers full-time could show that more Americans are blending freelance careers with part-time or full-time jobs. The desire to work reduced hours, gain more control of their personal time and use their passions and hobbies to generate income are a few reasons why more people are blending traditional jobs with freelance careers.

Advancing freelance careers

Attractive or not, blending two jobs isn’t always easy. Following are steps that could make your traditional job and freelance careers marriage successful.

Create a clear work schedule – Your employer will establish clear work hours for you at your traditional job. To avoid working at all hours of the day or night, set clear work hours for freelance careers that you work as well. Communicate your work hours to clients who push or demand that you take on more work than you care handle effectively.

Let contacts know that you’re accepting freelance work – Since you’re pursuing freelance careers, you may be someone who values networking. You may not meet strangers because you see common human elements in everyone who you meet. Forgetting former colleagues, neighbors, friends and relatives simply is not what you do. Let your contacts know that your door is wide open when it comes to accepting freelance work. Getting the word out is one of the best ways to grow freelance careers.

Understand non-compete policies – To advance freelance careers smartly, read non-compete policies at your traditional job from top to bottom. Depending on your traditional employer, you may not be able to work for clients who operate businesses in industries similar to your traditional employer’s.

Respect your full-time job – Respect the needs and the requirements of your traditional full-time job. Fulfill assignments associated with your traditional job. You’re getting paid to do your full-time job. Honor agreements that you made with your traditional employer when you signed your employment contract.

Be assertive – Include the link to your freelancers portfolio or website is a good way to introduce prospects to the fact that you are looking for and accepting new clients. Create a professional email address to send and receive correspondence from prospective clients as you continue to grow your freelance careers. Also, add your website link or portfolio to social media networks, postcards and other communications (not related to your traditional job, of course).

Keep learning – Stay apace of changes and trends impacting industries that your freelance careers operate in. Attend classes, seminars and participate in online learning opportunities. For example, you might get SEO certifications or professional licenses to set yourself apart as an expert.

Understand tax implications – It may not sound exciting, but, it’s worthwhile to hop over to the IRS website and familiarize yourself with small business deductions, quarterly taxes and other tax laws that directly impact freelance careers. You may want to create a separate account to save money to pay your quarterly taxes with. Another option you could use to handle quarterly taxes is to reduce the numbers of deductions that you claim with your traditional full-time job.

Maintain good records – Piggy backing on tax implications, make sure that you keep good records. Examples of good records that you’ll need as your freelance careers progress are office product receipts, freelance related mileage records, 1099 forms that you receive from clients and individual payments that you receive from freelance clients.


Strong project and time management skills can make it easier to blend freelance careers and traditional full-time jobs. So too can setting clear boundaries, balancing your personal and professional lives and asking for support when you need it. As a freelancers, support could come through taking on contractors to complete more complex projects.

Posted in Employment and Finding Jobs | Tagged | 1 Comment

10 Content Marketing Strategies

By Rhonda Campbell

content marketing traffic

Found on Viralnova

Content marketing strategies matter because, as it is with music and stage, so it is with writing. Great writing, by itself, may not be enough to get your business, books, online portfolio or mobile app noticed. Fortunately, much of the work required to attract attention to your online content doesn’t have to be performed manually.

Grow your content marketing range

Automated tools, networking and sincere social engagement play a role in the following 10 content marketing strategies that may drive traffic to your business, books, blog or portfolio. The first of the 10 content marketing strategies is simple.


Use larger font sizes for your blog posts titles and subtitles. Major media publishers use this technique. Check out articles at media publishers like the New York Times, Ebony, Huffington Post and Publisher’s Weekly. Larger title font sizes can attract the eye of readers and search engines.

More of the 10 content marketing strategies are:

Interview industry leaders and feature those interviews at your blog, video site and social media networks. Interviews are great because it ensures that content at your blog is unique. Use clips, images and snippets from the feature interview to create short videos and social media content. Get approval from the leader you interview to use their feedback at these other spots.
Identify someone to lead your content marketing strategies. If you’re a one woman show, tag – you’re it! Hold this person responsible for developing print, audio, video, mobile and online marketing plans.
Follow social media influencers. These are people who have 10K or more followers. They may also be people who only have a few hundred incredibly engaged followers. Look for comments and likes. Even if an influencer only has 300 followers, if 25% or more of his followers respond to his posts, his followers are engaged.
Respond to social media and blog site comments and questions. Respond quickly and consistently to start building relationships. Thank people for connecting and communicating with you.
Spice blog posts up with large, clear images. Similar to feature interviews, shoot for pictures that you or one of your team members’ takes. Uniqueness goes a long way. Add alt tags to your pictures (don’t forget the copyright) to get the most out of these content marketing strategies.
Create a slide share that enhances the written content in your blog posts.
Develop two or more social media profiles. Do you write novels, take wedding photographs and work as a dentist? Create a profile for each of your personas. Develop online posts and content marketing strategies for audiences that fit each of your passions or lines of work.
Try a podcast. Create a podcast and offer tips and advice. Steer podcasts content marketing strategies toward a specific passion or line of work. Open and close the podcasts by alerting folks to your blog. Give out your blog URL two or more times during each podcasts.
Offer contests, free mobile apps, quizzes and surveys at your blog. Track the metrics. If you see an uptick in your blog traffic after posting contests, apps, quizzes or surveys, consider adding these reach-outs at your blog on a weekly, bi-weekly or monthly basis.

The last of the 10 content marketing strategies is a must. Be consistent. Scheduling social media posts using automated publishing tools like HootSuite and Buffer is one way to increase consistency.

Stay positive. Some of your content may take off at once, attracting hundreds or thousands of readers, seemingly without effort. Others may only pull in dozens of readers, regardless of how much time you spend sharing and marketing them. Keep at it. Continue to incorporate changes to your blog.

Posted in Growing Business | Tagged | 1 Comment

Open up to new job opportunities

By Eric Bradford

Found at Idealistcareers.org

Found at Idealistcareers.org

New job opportunities surround you. Finding these opportunities requires a measure of openness on your part. To start, your mind needs to be open to consider several different new job opportunities that are only an email, a telephone call or a drive away.

For instance, if you work at a Fortune 500 company, a dozen or more new job opportunities could be available through your current employer. If you transfer to a different division or department, you’ll likely work with a different manager. These two changes could both change and improve your job situation.

Moving into a new job

Check your employer’s career page to search for new job opportunities that match your skills, background, your passions and your career goals. Other actions that could lead to new job opportunities include:


Get clear about what you want to do with your life. You may benefit from being open to reaching your ultimate career goals step-by-step. For example, if you want to act but have struggled to land television or major motion picture gigs, you could search for advertising jobs that require you to act in corporate training videos, commercials or online info spots.

Align your new job opportunities search with what you truly want. Focus and type in specific keywords (i.e. insurance underwriting analyst, non-profit human resources representative) when searching for employment at job boards.

Spice your resume up with targeted keywords. Recruiters, especially job recruiters at large organizations, search on keywords to pull up resumes that match open jobs they are seeking candidates to fill. You don’t need to be a SEO expert. Add three to five keywords to your resume that you find in job descriptions employers post at job boards.

Tell other people, including former colleagues, friends, relatives and neighbors, that you are looking for new job opportunities. Many companies pay employees referral fees if they refer qualified candidates for open jobs. If you stay at the new job for six months and meet or exceed performance standards, you could position the person who referred you to receive extra money. When people ask if they can help you in your job hunt, consider letting them.

Build and maintain a professional online and offline presence. Only post professional pictures, videos and text posts at social media networks. Steer clear of complaining on the job. Keep a positive attitude. Motivate yourself and believe that you deserve and will receive the very best.

Consider how your current work experience aligns with more senior roles. For example, you may currently work as an administrative assistant. If you manage projects, you may have the skills to step into a project management role. This is another benefit gained from keeping an open mind as you pursue new job opportunities.

Start your own business. Learn about local and federal tax requirements that your type of business must meet. Build a website (make sure that it’s mobile friendly), learn about SEO marketing, online and offline advertising, employment laws (if you plan to hire other workers) and business insurance. Seek advice and guidance from successful entrepreneurs. Consider starting a business in your passion area to avoid burnout and to have the motivation to keep going should challenges arise. Be hopeful, yet realistic. Be open to change.

More actions to land new job opportunities

  • Set up job alerts at career boards like Indeed, Monster, CareerBuilder and professional association job boards.
  • Practice interviewing with a friend or relative.
  • Consider revising your resume and/or job cover letter if you don’t receive responses from 20% or more of the employers that you contact during your search.
  • Follow up with recruiter and/or hiring managers four to five days after you apply for a job.
  • Create a professional voice mail message on your landline and cell phones.
  • Attend professional networking events.
  • Be open to relocating to secure the job you want. Ask if the company will pick up your relocation expenses.
  • Create an online portfolio. Showcase your copyrighted or patented works.
  • Develop a video that puts your communication skills in the spotlight.
  • Take courses and get licenses that new job opportunities you want require or ask for.
  • Attend company career fairs (some major corporations host or sponsor career fairs that allow prospects to interview on-site with the company’s managers).
  • Participate in campus recruiting events if you’re in college or university.
  • Search for and be open to working offline or online jobs. Research companies that you want to work for, ensuring that they are ethical, dependable, solvent and forward moving.

Give your personal critic a break and open your mind to positive career possibilities. Pump the brakes when you catch yourself working to believe that you’re too something (i.e. too young, too old, too quiet, too brazen) to get jobs you sincerely want. Incorporate action into your job search. You could create a spreadsheet and track jobs that you apply for each day; be sure to add contact information of hiring managers, recruiters, etc. to the jobs.


And stay open to new ideas, fun ways to learn about new job opportunities. Career boards, networking events and discussion forums aren’t your only options. Keep in mind that an open mind invites more creative ideas, the kind that might find you engaging with potential employers (or clients) in genius ways.

Posted in Employment and Finding Jobs | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Your Happiness and Success Definitions

By Rhonda Campbell

success happiness motivational quote

 
Happiness often seems elusive, particularly because of personal success definitions. At best, it lingers for several hours or days and then flees. Christopher Gardner, genesis for The Pursuit of Happiness, may have described it best when he said that we never hold or own happiness. We’re always in pursuit of it.

Part of the reason why happiness is not constant has to do with how we define success. Your success definitions may involve people comparisons. If that struck a nerve, pay attention.

Comparisons sabotage happiness
People comparisons occur when you set a bar for how happy you will allow yourself to be based upon how your achievements, connections, finances and relationships rank against one or more other people’s. According to Psychology Today, comparing yourself to others is a shortcut to unhappiness.


Jack Canfield says that, “Comparison is the fast track to unhappiness.” If you’re in the habit of trying to align your life to success definitions that demand that you compare yourself (i.e. your looks, your age, your finances, your home) to anyone else, expect happiness to be fleeting.

One way to tell if your success definitions involve comparing yourself to others is to be aware of how you feel right now. If you feel peace and contentment only to spiral into feelings of frustration, worry and maybe even anxiety almost immediately after you learn of, see or hear from someone who has more money than you, turns heads, receives several awards, gets promoted or moves into a house that’s larger than yours, there’s a good chance that you align your happiness with how you compare to others.

Comparing yourself to others can encourage you to keep striving to have or to achieve more, but, it won’t allow you to experience constant happiness. Why? People have, want and achieve different things and at different levels. You can see that happening all around you. These differences alone would keep happiness away if you only allow yourself to experience happiness if you think that you are outperforming someone else.

Getting to lasting happiness
Another success definition that could keep happiness at bay is defining success as an instant when you achieve someone else’s goals. An example of this is when you earn a doctorate degree to please or appease your father or mother. This definition keeps happiness at bay because your happiness is linked to your destiny. Your inner guide knows what your destiny is, generally not your parent, friend, boyfriend, girlfriend, supervisor or spouse.

Defining success as times when you believe that other people like you also keeps happiness at an arm’s reach, at best. To experience lasting happiness, allow yourself to feel happy when you achieve reasonable goals. Other ways to experience lasting happiness is to, as simple as it sounds, permit yourself to experience happiness regardless of what is happening, communicate with people who support you (not manipulate you) and who value you and love being with you.

Setting healthy boundaries, being aware of your blessings, continuing to learn and awaken and investing in private quiet time are other ways to experience lasting happiness. The next time that you feel happy, pay attention (practice awareness) and see if you push up thoughts, fears, etc. to sabotage your happiness. Take responsibility for what you do with your mind, similar to how you take responsibility for what you do with your body.


Should you notice that you use your mind to sabotage your own happiness, you may want to consider seeking professional assistance or taking up the confidence to pump the brakes when you catch yourself using your mind to snatch happiness from yourself. You might try giving yourself 15 minutes a day to think about things that upset you, and then stop pondering and pouring over those things after the 15 minutes are over. After awhile, you might decide to stop using your mind to sabotage your own happiness for even a second.

Posted in Staying Motivated and Inspired | Tagged , | Leave a comment

African American actress and filmmaker creates and advances winning faith based films

Alison-Newman

Actress Alison Mills Newman

 

MEET ALISON MILLS NEWMAN: Alison Mills Newman is a film director, film producer and an actress who began her career during childhood when she made history, acting in Julia, America’s first TV series that starred an African American woman. Alison has also written, directed and produced films such as The Tree Widow which was released in 2015. This artistic dynamo has worked with legends such as Diahann Carroll, Maya Angelou and Leslie Uggams. She’s open and candid and inspiring. Find out what she’s up to now.

WMI: As a child did you dream of growing up and acting in movies? If not, what did you dream of becoming when you were a child?

AMN: When I was about twelve years old, I simply saw a TV series called Peyton Place, starring Mia Farrow, and I decided that I wanted to act. I was able to connect the make believe pretending I would do when it rained, or while I was in my bathroom or bedroom at night or whenever I was alone, as acting. I connected the two experiences. Eventually that that connection led me to acting in movies, especially as I grew up watching great films like Wuthering Heights with Merle Oberon, or a film with Betty Davis. Those old great movies, with great stories, great acting and great cinematography were powerful. The movies usually had a moral to them. Eventually, I wanted to be in movies as an actress, not any movies, but great movies.

WMI: Where did you go to school and what was your major? How have you been able to leverage what you learned in college as an actress and as a book and screenplay writer and major motion picture producer?

AMN: I went to college later in life, earning a Bachelor’s in Theology, at the age of fifty, after my husband passed away. I had also raised my children and helped them get through college. Originally, I got a scholarship at the Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. I also studied for four years at the American Theatre of Being under the direction of Frank Silvera. While there, I worked on a play of African American poetry, starring alongside Maya Angelou, Beah Richards and Dick Anthony Williams. I also understudied in James Baldwin’s play, The Amen Corner.


I was exposed to great literature and great artistic and intellectual thinking. I was also introduced to the great American playwrights, both black and white. In acting school, we were required to do scenes from plays. So, I even played Juliet to a Caucasian Romeo, I played Oletha in Shakespeare’s Hamlet.

The depth and breathe of the culture that I had to digest became a part of me. Imagine at the age of twelve being exposed to such great writers and actors. I loved to read. I was already a poet and song writer. I grew up writing songs on my mother’s grand piano. So, my education was on hands. I met these people, lived with these people and travelled in plays. I met James Baldwin. I met Paul Newman when we were travelling and doing plays in Arizona. Frank Silvera had done a movie with Paul Newman, I think. It was a great political time as well with the Civil Rights Movement and a real celebration of recognizing humanity in all its fullness and diversity

WMI: As a child, you acted on the historic television shows, Julia and The Leslie Uggams Show. What was it like working with Diahann Carroll and Leslie Uggams? I remember Julia. I think it was the first American TV show that starred an African American actress. It must be exciting to be a part of history!

AMN: Julia….Yes, it is amazing being a part of television history. I am still amazed when I see my name in history books. I think it has more to do with God and His plans for our lives and how He engineers things and events and circumstances….to God be the glory!

In any case, yes; I got the part of Carol Deering. The first year of the TV show, I was the babysitter and a regular cast member. It was pretty amazing to be on such a pioneering positive TV show, and working with Diahann Carroll was, of course, the gift that kept giving. I was already exposed to fantastic, powerful, lovely, black women — Beah Richards, Maya Angelou my mother — when you grow up around greatness it’s not that you take it for granted, it’s just that you are a part of it, It is required, I suppose, to be your best God created self…during that time I also think that was a goal and desire of black actors to be great, to do their very best to represent our people in a way that celebrated our brilliance and humanity…..so it was fun….

Diahann was, of course, elegant and regal and, oh, so professional. There was always peace on the set. We came and did our work, our lines. We laughed. We did parades together, riding on the back of cars and stuff…like the Watts Parade in TV Guide. The whole TV life was our life. I hung out at Diahann Carroll’s house, met her daughter, saw her private life.

She’s a lovely human being who happens to be an actress. These people are just people….and Leslie Uggams — I adore her. She was so generous and kind to me. We had a ball on The Leslie Uggams Show. I hung out a lot at Leslie’s house. She took me in, I ate at her house. Sometimes the whole cast did. I ate pigs’ feet for the first time in my life at her house in the Hollywood Hills. Just great people, beautiful people.

Virgin Again

Movie by Actress Alison Mills Newman

WMI: When and why did you found Keep The Faith Films and Ministries?

AMN: I gave my life to Christ and my life was transformed. It was no longer my way. But, a yielding took place in me. A kind of separation from the world and its way and all that it had filled me up with….and a cleansing taking place. It’s still a daily process, everyday. But, initially it was just that huge surrender, that acknowledgement of God the Creator and salvation through Jesus Christ, the door, the truth and the way and the life when I got saved. I didn’t think about acting or writing or singing much. It was all about winning souls and wanting to introduce people to Jesus in the hopes they would see the beauty of the righteousness of God. What God did for me, I was compelled to share with others. So Jesus became my first love and ministry was of most importance. I forsook Hollywood basically.

I got married and had five beautiful children. I spent that portion of my life serving God through ministry with my husband and raising our children to be good citizens. Our children became my art and works of art and I enjoyed raising them. Then, as time went on and the process progressed, my late husband, who was also an evangelist and pastor ,began to sense that God was calling him to make movies. He had made documentaries for PBS. Eventually we produced Virgin Again which won an Honorary Mention Award at the International Philadelphia Film Festival. He passed away and I moved to Atlanta. I felt the Holy Spirit calling me to continue making movies, to continue to act through faith based films, to extend ministry into the arts, which, since childhood, had been a great gift and love of mine. I am passionate about film making. It is a way to incorporate ministry, message and the gifts and experience and expertise that I have been given.

WMI: Tell us about a major challenge you faced in starting your business, especially since much of your early development in the arts was as an actress. Also tell Write Money Incorporated visitors what steps you took to overcome this challenge.

AMN: The major challenge would be money; money remains the challenge. It may get easier. As the years have gone by, I have made connections with distribution companies. The films are commercially rewarding. Now is a great time to make faith based films. Years ago, there were not so many of us who wanted to do films about Christ or the word of God. Now, there are so many faith based films and so much growth.

WMI: What’s the title of the first independent movie you produced and what was that early movie making experience like?

AMN: The first independent film I was executive producer on was Virgin Again. The movie was screened on Robert Townsend’s late Black Family Network. The Tree Widow was screened on AIB.tv here in Altanta. It got a distribution deal even though it was a short.

When we first started talking to Hollywood about our concept, they thought we were crazy and impossible. We.conceived a black Jesus in modern times. You can still purchase Virgin Again at amazon.com,or Barnes and Noble. Nobody would listen. Nobody would even consider it. The cast is interracial. We placed the Bible in modern times. We didn’t tamper with the word of God. We kept it as close as we could in modern style. We hustled to make that movie and we prayed. Dick Anthony Williams signed on to star in the film. You realize that some of the visions that you have will not be received by the mainstream. For that reason, independent filmmaking is wonderful. I would love to have a screening of Virgin Again at a theatre in memory of my late husband’s work.

the tree widow

New movie by actress Alison Mills Newman

WMI: Have your movies which you created as a director, producer and actress appeared at film festivals, and if so, which film festivals? Also, why is it important to debut or show films at these and other festivals?

AMN: Virgin Again was at the Cannes Film Festival. E Entertainment interviewed us and did a story about us on their TV station a few years ago. Our interview ran on E Entertainment for two weeks. Virgin Again has been screened at the Pan African Film Festival, Motor City Film Festival and the Philadelphia International Film Festival. At the Philadelphia International Film Festival, Virgin Again won an honorary mention award.
The Tree Widow short won an award for Best Director of a Short at the Philadelphia International Film Festival and has been screened on AIB.tv here in Atlanta. The short is available alongside Virgin Again at Barnes and Noble and amazon.com. The feature film was screened at the Milledgeville Film Festival and the Garden State Film Festival in New Jersey. We got a standing ovation in New Jersey. Word of mouth really worked at the Milledgeville Film Festival here in Georgia.

I think film festivals are important for any director or cast. Film festivals are great opportunities to have your film seen and to experience the reactions to your film with an audience. It’s a great help in many ways and often there are distributors around who are looking for films. Film festivals are great places to network. You get a sense that you aren’t alone and that your crazy stories, setbacks and disappointments are not unique. You also get chances to share the victories and joys of film making with peers. The entire process of film making is strengthening and can make you grow as a person.

WMI: To grow a business, you have to find and engage your target audience. That said, what strategies do you use to grow your businesses?

AMN: Growing an audience is easier today. There is great help via the Internet, Facebook and direct email. I do a lot of film screenings at churches. Pastors have been good to me, giving me time to share the film and talk about its messages. Churches have been a great advertising opportunity for me. In fact, December 5, the feature film the Tree Widow was screened at Mount Vernon Baptist Church in Atlanta, Georgia.

Interviews also play a role in helping to get the word out. I often ask the actors to help advertise and to help market. I think it is important for actors to help market the film and help build the product. Of course, you can pay for PR. But, there is so much that can be accomplished with hard work on your own. Hopefully, the distribution company helps with the promotion and marketing when you get a deal.

WMI: How much capital did you initially invest in your business and how did you raise this initial investment?

AMN: I’m still raising money. I am in need of an investment or business partner. I do the writing, producing and directing, seeing the vision through to the end. I am seeking a business partner who can handle the finances, someone who wants to make a contribution through the arts to bring light to media. My faith based films are not cookie cutter. They are marketable and artistic, intelligent films that have a Christian flow or theme.

WMI: Tell us about the Tree Widow. What is the movie about and who are some of the actors and actresses in the movie? Also, are you an actress who appears in the movie?

AMN: In the Tree Widow, a widow experiences the emptiness and the loneliness of losing her husband, her best friend. She also experiences the temptation of a handsome young man. The word of God says this is the will of God that you abstain from fornication. What will happen? Will this older woman remain strong and not give into the pressure of loneliness and turn from the faith in God that she preaches? Or will she cave? She takes in younger women who are broken from dysfunctional relationships and teaches them truths. I am grateful for all of the actors in the film. I am the actress who plays the lead character in the movie.


WMI: You also produce musical artists like Leaf. What was it like working with Leaf and when will her album be on the market?

AMN: Leaf is a beautiful artist. More importantly, she is a wonderful mother and person. It’s beautiful to see my children grow up and become what they have become. Leaf has been singing since she was four years old. She has enjoyed a lot of success and recognition. She continues to work on her music.
WMI: What other services / products do you offer through Keep The Faith Films and Ministries?

AMN: I am the author of Francisco. It’s my first book. It was written before I got saved. I also have a book titled Maggie Three. A Tree Widow study guide is available at amazon.com. I am finishing up a novel and an autobiography.

WMI: What’s next for Alison Mills Newman? Where would you like to see yourself as an actress, movie director and movie producer — as well as your business — two to three years from now?

AMN: Two or three years from now, I hope to have had a couple of films in movie theatres and a TV series on national television, an offshoot of the Tree Widow feature film. I’m also looking forward to making a movie out of Maggie Three. I’ll keep writing and listening to God.

NOTE: Support The Tree Widow at GoFundMe.com/thetreewidow. Thank you!

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