Tag Archives: blog

What is an RSS Feed & The Benefits of Google Reader

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The Big Work & Little Work of Seth Godin

Seth Godin (Flickr: Joi)

The now legendary Seth Godin probably blogs more than any other blogger I know or follow. Sometimes they’re the standard blog length of between 400 and 1000 words. But more often than not they’re a short few brief sentences, almost like a thought of the day. Most people couldn’t get away with one line blog posts. There’d be moans and a huge unsubscribe rate.

But Godin’s proven himself time again with books as manifestos for his arena-shaping ideas. When people use the words ‘thought-leader’ for a field, Seth Godin might be a prime example in the area of modern marketing and work, with paradigm shifts such as The Purple Cow, Lynchpin, Tribes and The Dip to name but a few. We even directly refer to The Dip in our own Website Planning Course, as it’s so helpful. He’s taken the publishing industry in another experimental direction with the Domino Project.

But always there is his blog. When you blog at his rate you’re going to inevitably have hits and misses. (more…)

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Without Implementing the 5 Quick Things to Improve Your Blog Posts

Below is what this post may have looked like had I not followed the advice of the 5 Quick Things to Improve Your Blog Posts. There’s no difference in content, only a little tweak here and there on the presentation which makes it that little bit more appealing.

Use the More Tag

So simple and yet so many still don’t do it. It allows people to scan through your blog roll easily to find articles of interest. If they have to scroll through each entire article many will get fed up and leave. If you give them an opening paragraph or two and maybe an image, it’s a teaser and can entice them in. It also just looks neater and more manageable to the eye. You can change the wording to ‘continue reading’ or other variations if you prefer. Newspapers and magazines list their articles with a paragraph blurb about them on the content page to whet the browser’s appetite. So should you.

Add Images

A good image can transform your text into something that bit more approachable. It breaks up what would otherwise be quite dull blocks of text. Regardless of how good your prose might be, an occasional image can make it look more accessible and appealing. Just make sure they are copyright free, you attribute where they came from or you’re legally allowed use the images. You can pay a small fee per image at places like iStockPhoto but there are free alternatives. You can search on Creative Commons on Wikipedia or search on other photo sharing sites such as the free sxc.hu. Or click here on Flickr and tick the box for “Only search within Creative Commons-licensed content”. It depends on what you’re looking for, but there are a wealth of usable images available to you.

Put In Plenty of Sub-Headings

Breaking your blog posts into smaller pieces makes them a lot easier to digest, it will flow and look better. Also I’d argue it makes you structure your thoughts to be that bit more logical. The other benefit is that with each sub-heading readers are primed for what’s coming or intrigued depending on whether you go for descriptive or quirky/mysterious headlines. It should allow them greater attention to your writing, which means less likelihood of them leaving in mid-article. Use the headings bar, making it either “Heading 2″ or “Heading 3″ for example. For our posts on SelfAssemblySites blog, we use the latter.  The point is, don’t just make line of text bold.

Chop It Up Into Smaller Paragraphs

It’s probably the simplest of all the points, but so often writers and bloggers have exhaustingly long paragraphs. James Joyce wrote for pages without a paragraph break or even a full stop, you and I are not Joyce. Chop it up and it suddenly looks far more readable and less daunting or dreary to the reader. Paragraphs that may look perfectly normal if you’re an avid book reader aren’t quite suitable to the web. All those clichés of reduced attention spans and visitors hitting the back button in a matter of seconds are fairly accurate. Overly long paragraphs are a small barrier to people feeling comfortable reading your work, why not remove as many barriers as you can?

Inter-link Your Own Posts

You may already be linking out to your sources which is great, if not, you probably should start. But one common error many bloggers make is not inter-linking to their own posts. Where relevant you should link back to old posts which touched on similar themes. Just hyper-link a few of the keywords not whole sentences and don’t over do it by linking every paragraph. This also goes the other way. Go back to old blog posts and update them where relevant with links forward to your newer blog posts. The benefit is several fold. Your viewers will appreciate it as you’ve given them some further reading should they want it. Also it’s positive for you with Google, as it tells them the content is still relevant and to re-index it.

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WordPress 3.4 Beta 1 Video Review

WordPress have released just WordPress 3.4 Beta 1. I’ve made a short video review of the new version, particularly comparing the v3.4 new features against a current WP 3.3.1 install.

“If all goes well, we hope to release WordPress 3.4 in May. The more help we get with testing and fixing bugs, the sooner we will be able to release the final version”

New Features in WordPress v3.4b1

Headline Feature: Theme Customizer

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Web News Round Up – March 16th

Click To View Full Cartoon

In this week’s web news round up we see Path partnering with Nike to make running more social, all the flexibilities and functions of PayPal’s new Digital Wallet, Amazon creeping into Google territory and revenue and Facebook’s 6 Point Plan for building your social brand.

"Path & Nike" (Image: DigitalTrends.com)

Path and Nike Team Up to Make Running More Social

Path, or Facebook for only your real close friends, has launched its latest version of the app today, including a new integration which features the company’s first partnership ever. The collaboration with Nike will allow users to log their running paths on a map and share your route with friends. Read the article.

PayPal’s New Digital Wallet Will Offer Deals, Flexible Payments & More

The new version of PayPal will allow you to create personal lists of items you want among many other features. Via PayPal, you can search for items, compare prices, pay by multiple methods and create lists of things you want to buy for a variety of situations. PayPal will then find deals and coupons for these items on your list whether you are in the store or online. View the video and Read the article.

Amazon Is Already Doing More Than $1 Billion In Ad Revenue – Should Google Worry?

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Web News Round Up – March 2nd

In this week’s Web News Round Up we look at the 3 most innovative social networks, see how Twitter is pairing its interest graph with ads, find out how you can charge your phone by breathing and we look for the ultimate spaghetti sauce!

"Study" (image: Xkcd.com)

The 3 Most Innovative Social Networks According to Inc.com

Every day, new and exciting platforms emerge for distributing great ideas, products and answers, and the boundaries keep getting pushed further out each year. Flavour a soft drink, community feedback on your big product idea and quality answers to nearly any question. Read the article.

How Twitter Is Pairing Its Interest Graph With Ads

Unlike Facebook which knows vast amounts of your personal information, Twitter on the other hand knows nothing of where you’re based, your age or where you went to school. Instead it knows who you follow, what you like and link to, so it will be enlightening to see how successful this information model is for advertisers compared with Facebook. Bloomberg’s Brad Stone accurately describes the data Twitter collects as “both revealing and non-invasive”. Read the article.

Charge Your Phone by Simply Breathing

Designer João Paulo Lammoglia created the AIRE Mask which is outfitted with small wind turbine-like system to help convert your breaths into energy. The mask is also made to be used both indoors and outdoors, so you can charge your phone while you sleep or while you’re out for a jogging exercise. (more…)

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Why You Still Need a Website Not Just a Facebook Page

One thing that we hear occasionally is “why do I need a website these days, can I not just use a Facebook page?”. The simple answer is you can do what you like, but if you want to do well, you’d be best investing in a good website, and also having a Facebook page in your arsenal. Why do either when you can do both?

It should be clarified that this is not a Facebook bashing article, I actually quite like FB for social catch ups as well as for business growth and feedback, not to mention chuckling at witty comments and reminding me of birthdays. However context is everything.

Control & Scope

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Web News Round Up – 17th Feb

"More Accurate" Property of Xkcd.com

 

Apple App Store Logo

App Economy Creates Nearly 500k Jobs in US: Before the iPhone there was no app industry, but with the meteoric expansion of it and rival devices, the sector now employs in the region of half a million people in the United States alone.

Flexible Screens Have Arrived: C3Nano, a company that makes transparent, flexible screens has secured a round of funding worth $6.7, and is building relationships in Japan and Korea with giants such as Samsung. The technology boasts it’s robust and cost effective. (Includes demo video)

StartUp May Save Businesses Fortunes in Legal Costs: Technology has limited, changed or destroyed many long established industries, now it might be the turn of the legal professions to take a battering, having to compete with technological solutions to some of its core business practices.

The World’s Smallest 3D Printer (Video): What could you do with the world’s smallest 3D printer? At TEDxVienna Klaus Stadlmann demos his tiny, affordable printer that could someday make customized hearing aids or sculptures smaller than a human hair.

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Upstart vs Startup: What’s The Difference?

‘Upstart Business’ is a phrase that seems to be creeping into the journalistic language used on tech and entrepreneurial blogs in the US. The first time I heard it I thought the writer was simply playing with the normal term ‘startup’ to be witty and focus on a particularly ballsy and inspiring effort of a young entrepreneur. Then a week or two later I read it again elsewhere. This got me thinking: Was ‘upstart’ just a meme that one clever writer used once and then suddenly caught on with the blogging fraternity or is it now a well known and accepted term? More to the point does its origin matter and is it more important to ask which is better?

Googling the term, you get a myriad of results. Many are for business or consultancy related groups and services that use the ‘upstart’ interchangeably with ‘startup’.

The online dictionary definitions which appear are all similar to this one:

n. A person of humble origin who attains sudden wealth, power, or importance, especially one made immodest or presumptuous by the change; a parvenu.

adj. 1. Suddenly raised to a position of consequence.
2. Self-important; presumptuous.

Reading between the lines in the tech blogs it appears that the difference is this; ‘Startups’ are entrepreneurial businesses that begin with external funding from venture capital from their inception. However, ‘Upstart’ businesses begin without significant external funding, just savings and personal loans from friends and family and usually the founders maintain all equity. This is in keeping with the upstart definition, springing from humble origins to wealth, rather than having lots of cash to play with before you have a customer.

A Big Upstart

Felix Dennis, Author of How to Get Rich (Image: BBC)

Felix Dennis, Author of How to Get Rich (Image: BBC)

Felix Dennis, author of the refreshingly direct, ‘How to Get Rich’, is very much in the upstart mould and believes a business owner should do everything in their power to hold on to the most equity possible. Each percentage of equity you manage to own, could be worth millions when you eventually sell your business. In one chapter he describes how two important employees at his magazine demanded a small share of the business or they’d start a rival publication.

He instantly called their bluff, fired them and wished them well in their new venture. Within a few years their business was bust and they were back working for him, no hard feelings. When he sold up and moved on, that tiny percentage they had demanded was worth millions; his baby, his millions. Dennis put it in uncompromising terms:

Talent is indispensable, although it is always replaceable.

Just remember the simple rules concerning talent:

Identify It, Hire It, Nurture It, Reward It, Protect It. And when the time comes, Fire It.

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Web News Round Up – 10th Feb

The Oatmeal - What I want from a restaurant website (click to view full image)

The Oatmeal - What I want from a restaurant website (click to view full image)

Image by Carrot Creative

Twitter is More Addictive than Nicotine: People are more likely to give in to the urge to tweet or check email than other cravings a US study has found, making it more addictive than both alcohol and cigarettes. Could it just be that twitter isn’t as obviously costly or damaging to your health?

Beijing Micro Bloggers Must Use Real Name or Be Banned: The Chinese government says all microbloggers in Beijing must post under their real names by March 16 or they’ll be banned from the service. The move from the Chinese government is the latest in a series of ways they want to monitor and curtail social media activity in their country.

When the SuperBowl Bored Americans, They Opened Apps: At the less captivating moments of this year’s Super Bowl audiences turned to their second screens, you can see clearly which ads and which game play were captivating and hit the mark and which fumbled and dropped the ball.

YouTube Expands Channels Initiative: Last October, Google announced it would begin rolling out over 100 new channels featuring original programming across YouTube, turning the site focus from one-off videos into a major online content destination, two new automotive channels are its latest offering.

 

 

 

 

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