My daughters and I at 2nd Depot Lake last weekend
We’re 32 weeks into the Ontario Lakes Project and we’ve only just launched into the letter ‘C’ (which used to be for Cookie, but last week was for Canoe lake). We still have a long way to go. as we work our way through the entire alphabetical list of Wikipedia List of Lakes of Ontario, we thought it was worth talking a pause and reflecting on the valuable lessons we’ve learned so far:
1. Focus Breeds Discipline:
All of us at Hypenotic are supposed to be blogging on a regular basis, but in the midst of pressing client timelines blogging often falls by the wayside. I’m sure you know the feeling.
With the exception of very few weeks, we’ve kept this Ontario Lakes Project thing up. Why? Because we made a commitment to a focused idea. Every week I go to my List of Lakes, see which one’s next and dig into my research. As a result, much of the initial thinking/wondering “what should I write about?” is out of the equation. What’s the take away? That we’d all be better off if we planned out blog topics in advance. It’s a big challenge but tools like Divvy exist for the sole purpose of taking the guesswork out of blogging. I can attest that this approach works.
2. Collaboration is Awesome:
Each of the Ontario Lakes is a collaborative effort between myself and one of our talented graphic designers (to date Chris and Angelica have run the show). I write the content and without any direction, one of them designs what strikes them as the most intriguing or interesting aspect of that lake’s story. Sometimes it’s just as I imagined (Crappie Fishing at Cameron Lake pretty much drew itself) and sometimes I’m entirely surprised (The Mink Milk one for Birch Lake wasn’t what I was expecting). But this cool collaboration keeps it interesting.
3. Be Willing to Change Course
If you look back at Lake Abitibi, the first lake we featured, it was pretty straight-ahead in terms of focus. A little about the lake’s name but nothing too snazzy. We figured out that we’d all get bored fast if we didn’t find a way to find more interesting content. By Lake Ahmic we hit on a bit about swimmer Marty Sinn and we were hooked on a whole new way of approaching content. Pardon the pun, but we decided to “look for the hook.” Each lake needed an interesting narrative, and our job was to find it. We’ve been doing that ever since.
4. Be Relentless and Curious
No offense, but some Lakes don’t offer much in the content department. I am forever grateful to Phil the Forecaster for painting Canonto Lake, otherwise I would have skipped it all together and hope no one noticed. Here are a few tricks for unburying hidden content:
- Add the word “famous” before a term you’re googling–that’s how I found the one about Lake Baptiste. Also, words like “weird,” “news” “funny” used in conjunction with your search term yields interesting results
- Check out what’s on YouTube (the world’s second largest search engine), and don’t forget Vimeo (if youtube is about quantity, then Vimeo is about quality).
- Get Local. Local papers are great for providing on the ground insight. After all, a Cottage Associations have their ear to the ground. There’s no better place to find knowledge than within a group of people so invested in a place , issue or idea they’re willing to write about it.