Before I get rolling with today’s post, I wanted to invite everyone to please email me some questions you might have for my upcoming interview with Shanna. You can send your questions to: email@example.com.
Moving on to today’s topic…
I’ll be totally and completely honest with everyone out there. When Shanna and I started heading down the blogging path, we were clueless. Babe-in-the-woods, deer-in-the-headlights, 100% in the dark about what it takes to successfully run a blog.
Now, after three years, I think we’ve progressed to “only somewhat knowledgeable”.
Here’s the rub: There are so many complicated facets to running a web site, and the landscape evolves so quickly, you can spend all day researching tools to help you and still only gain a little traction.
I thought I’d spend a little bit of time sharing some of the tools we use to help us learn more about running a site, working with ads, building content, etc.
This first one sort goes without saying — but I will anyway.
Google is almost always my first stop for research. But it can be overwhelming when you enter a search query and it returns 6,000,000 results.
Here are some quick tips for improved searching:
- Ask Google a question, but leave out the small words:
do Iadd acreative inDFP
- Add a plus sign before word that must be in the result:
- Add the “site:domain” feature to search a specific site:
- Add a minus sign to exclude words:
french buffet -fries -toast
By making a few minor tweaks to your Google search, you can make some great strides toward finding more meaningful search results.
The other day at work, someone asked me for tips using an older version of Microsoft Word. Since the classes and training that are offered in the classroom tend to target current versions, he was struggling to find any meaningful help.
When I suggested he turn to YouTube for assistance, I received a bit of a befuddled look — using YouTube for something educational hadn’t occurred to him.
YouTube has such a vast selection of videos, you would be hard-pressed NOT to find one that’s relevant to one of your hobbies/passions.
Sure, YouTube can be used to watch all sorts of cooking fails, talking dogs, and Twilight Bad Lip Reading.
But you can also find amazing training videos on Adobe LightRoom, DFP, and this fantastic video from Beckie Farrant (and friends) on Better Blogging.
I use it all the time. I’ve used to to learn how to tile a bathroom, how to do a proper rope climb, and how to layout the perfect duck decoy spread.
Try it sometime.
Podcasts are sort of my newest addiction.
It’s sort of a cross between YouTube and talk radio.
You simply use your favorite podcast player (I prefer Overcast for my iPhone), tell it which podcasts you want to subscribe to, and whenever a new one is published, it automatically downloads to your phone.
On our recent trip to Dallas, Shanna and I spent hours upon hours listening to blogging podcasts, news podcasts (my choice), and the obligatory “feel good” podcasts from best selling authors.
And like YouTube, you can find podcasts on most subjects if look. For blogging tips, check out Dan Morris’s Amplify or Michael Stelzner’s Social Media Marketing Podcast.
And if you’re into other things, check out these subjects as well. I really like NPR’s Hidden Brain, as well as Pursuing Health with Julie Foucher.
I attend a number of conferences throughout the year. Some a great. Some are not.
The key to getting the most out of a conference is choosing the right one.
I know in the blogging world, there are a few big ones. Shanna has attended Haven for the past three years and always returns home with great tips, wonderful stories, and tons of SWAG.
If you’re looking for one to attend, here’s a list that seems pretty extensive. This seems pretty recent — but I have to add that Kansas, once again, doesn’t get much love…
Like conferences, webinars can offer some fantastic training opportunities … but without having to leave your house (or pajamas). They typically are less expensive and, often times, are viewable on-demand to fit into busy schedules.
Interested? Just Google blogging webinars, and you’ll find tons of options.
I’ve only had the opportunity to participate in a few of these, but I have to admit … it was a really cool experience.
A Google Hangout is sort of like a Skype session with multiple people, and the Beckie Farrant video I reference above demonstrates how one plays-out.
But here’s what the video misses … the dialogue. The entire time the presentation is going on, there’s a chat thread off to the side. You can ask questions of the panel or the other attendees, and they can answer. It’s pretty great.
If you participate in a tribe, this could also be a fantastic method for staying in touch and hosting a private group hangout.
The final topic is probably the most important.
You MUST be part of a community.
Let me repeat that.
You MUST be part of a community.
Thankfully … you live online. And you can have a tribe consisting of someone from every nation — and even the space station.
The internet brings us all closer, and it gives us an opportunity to gravitate toward people with similar interests.
So find a Facebook group that appeals to you. Join a tribe with like-minded individuals. Get a text-group together.
And once you’ve found your people, use them. Tap them for their tips, suggestions, feedback, and knowledge.
You have never had more of an opportunity to be in touch with friends — even if you never meet-up in real life.
So there you have it. Saying “I don’t know” is now only a temporary excuse. You have resources at every turn. Use them.
Please check out some of my other posts below:
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