Links Roundup #24

saddle and ropeApps for Students

A previous roundup mentioned Lifehacker‘s annual series of posts on the best current apps/software for different operating system.  Now they have published editions of best apps/software for college students, for Windows, Mac, Android, and iPhone.

Blog/Website of Interest

Faculty Focus is a website on higher ed teaching strategies.  It now has a column called App of the Week:

App of the Week is a new feature here on Faculty Focus written by Dave Yearwood, PhD, associate professor and chair of the technology department at the University of North Dakota. Dave is an avid collector of apps and is always on the lookout for new ones that can improve student learning or simply make academic life more organized, productive and fun. Through this column, he’ll provide tips for getting started, app reviews, best practices, sneak peeks, and more. Reviews from guest contributors are welcome as well.

 

One of our favorite blogs, Gradhacker, has moved and is now available from the Inside Higher Ed site.   The new URL for it is https://www.insidehighered.com/blogs/gradhacker.

Citation/Reference/Bibliographic Management

The Evernote blog mentioned an app called RefMe, which can read the barcode of a book and create a citation for it.  It is available for Android and iPhone.  There is also a web version, through which you can manually add citations, or search for a book or journal article and it will fill in any information it finds.  The web page has a paucity of information, it needs more thorough explanations of features, but looks like it works with a variety of document formats and citation styles (though it may be that the free version has eight styles, while the premium has thousands).  The document formats is impressive – includes types such as artwork and interviews, as well as more common ones.  It also integrates with Evernote, Gmail, and Microsoft Word.  Like most apps these days it syncs in the cloud.

Importing PDFs into Zotero is a recent post by Catherine Pope of The Digital Researcher blog.  Excellent instructions including screenshots.

Educational Technology

In this blog, we do tend to prioritize discussing productivity tools that are freely available.  But now and again other tools are worth mentioning.  If you campus has access to lynda.com, they have a category of tutorials for education, and it includes what looks like a number of useful videos.  There is one on writing a research paper (haven’t looked at it, but have high hopes for it), plus ones on Google Apps for students, visual teaching techniques, flipping the classroom, and many many more.

Top Ten Educational Tools, by our friend Bonni Stachowiak, is an annotated list of tools useful for higher education faculty.  Her list does not overlap much with other lists I have seen.  Bonni’s post are always well organized, thoughtful, and infused with her warm personality.  Tools mentioned are Tapes, Zotero, Heads Up (which sounds like a good game to play with friends, as well as having educational uses), Poll Everywhere, Drafts, TimeTrade,  Attendance2, Planbook,  iAnnotate, and the Livescribe Pen.   Be sure to read Bonni’s post for her reasons for choosing these tools.

Email

In 6 Tips and Tricks for How I Stay at Inbox Zero, Jamie Todd Rubin discusses tips and tools that help him manage his email quicker and smarter.

10 Killer Ways to Tackle Your Email Inbox gives some useful tips and tricks for reducing the time you spend on email… which makes it timely.  ;-).

Evernote/OneNote/Note-taking Software

In a previous links roundup I mentioned an article on how to export your Kindle highlights and notes to Evernote, but this article Kindle + Evernote = [heart symbol] goes much more in-depth and includes annotated screen shots.  The article is on Tim Challies’s blog.

8 Evernote Tips for Book Nerds is an article on Ebook Friendly by Piotr Kowalczyk.  It has some nice tips, like taking pictures of a stack of print books, or a set of pictures of a bookcase (the spines must be readable).  Evernote will make the text it can OCR so that you can search on the titles.  That and some of the other tips might be useful for researchers.

Evernote: How to Annotate Your PDFs is a post by Garth Scaysbrook, who wrote a small book that was a good introduction to Evernote.

Cindy Grigg, About.com’s Office Software guide, has published several posts on tips and tricks for Evernote.  They are 10 Tips and Tricks to Customize the Evernote User Interace, 17 Tips and Tricks for Sharing and Collaborating with Evernote, 10 Basic Tips and Tricks for Evernote, 15 Intermediate Tips and Tricks for Evernote, and 15 Advanced Tips and Tricks in Evernote.  An earlier links roundup mentioned her wonderful article Comparison Chart of Evernote, Microsoft OneNote, and Google Keep, which also links to more complete reviews of Evernote, OneNote, and Google Keep.

Graphics

11 Tools to Create Awesome Images for Social Media is a post by Leslie Walker, who is the social media expert for About.com.  The tools can be used for other purposes than social media.

Instruction Recorder

Georgia State University has released as open source a WordPress app Library Instruction Recorder (LIR).  If those of you who are instruction librarians don’t already have a system for keeping track of sessions offered and statistics about the sessions, this might be a nice option.

PDF Management

Readcube has been a desktop application that improves readability of PDFs by adding links to article references where it can, allows you to find altmetrics for the article, add notes and highligts to the PDF, and more.  Now there is a web version available.

Productivity

Best Productivity Books is a Lifehacker post by Melanie Pinola that provides and annotated list of some books and is open for others to add more.

To-Do Lists

Any.do for Android Now Lets You Attach Files to Your To-Do List Items is an article by Paul Sawyers in TNW.  The article discusses this new feature in the Android version, and mentions that some other to-do list apps such as Wunderlist offer a similar feature.

Twitter

In What Twitter Changes Might Mean to Academics, Anastasia Salter‘s Profhacker post discusses that Twitter users are less active than previously and so Twitter is considering changes to its algorithm that might negatively impact the features most useful to academic discourse.

Windows

Microsoft Fix It Solution Center is a review of the Microsoft site by Bob Rankin.  Looks like a useful page, though as he points out, it falls down in a few areas.  Give it a try when having troubl with Microsoft products.

WordPress

Here’s How to Be the Worst WordPress Designer on the Planet (In 8 Steps or Less) is a really really tongue-in-cheek post by Karol K. in the CodeinWP blog.  The one that resonated with me is the use of flat design which I just hate – I have mild cataracts and I just can’t see flat design elements well at all.

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Why I Will Never Use Microsoft Word Again

I wasted years of my life doing all my writing on Microsoft Word. But that’s all over now. I have finally seen the light.

MicrosoftWord_1 After hearing so many writers I respect (people like Michael Hyatt and Andy Traub) talk about the magic of Scrivener, a word processor designed for serious writing projects, I decided to give it a go.

I had no idea what I was missing.

What’s so bad about Microsoft Word?

First things first. Here’s my beef with MS Word:

  • It’s complicated. I find the auto-indents and instant formatting cumbersome and frustrating. And yes, you can turn this stuff off, but navigating a plethora of menus is anything but easy.
  • It crashes. Like, all the time. I thought this was just me until I heard from other writers who struggle with this, too. Word will just randomly crash on you and unless you’re saving every seven seconds, you’re likely to lose some of your work. I have lost more than a few chapters of my books thanks to this feature.
  • It’s irrelevant. Those who swear by Word tell me they love the robust features like being able to add footnotes and chapter links and the like. Yes, that’s cool, but the problem with these features is that they’re pointless for authors. Any fancy formatting that Word lets you do doesn’t register with most typesetting software (subheads, bulleted lists, and endnotes/footnotes all have to be marked up manually and then designed by a book designer). So who cares?
  • It’s ugly. This may not be a big deal to you, but I like using beautiful, simple tools. They inspire me. And every time I open up Word, I feel like I’m making my life as a writer way more complicated than it needs to be.

What I really want when I write

As a writer, I basically just want to write.

I don’t want to have to worry too much about making sure the tools work right or having to fix some funky formatting because of an invisible rule that Word set up because it “intelligently” thought I was doing something that I wasn’t. And I don’t think I’m alone in this.

By no means am I an accomplished technologist, but I know my way around a computer and can figure a lot of things out. And I know for a fact, I have wasted days of my life trying to fix something that Microsoft Word messed up, just trying to get the text back to normal.

But what’s a writer to do? For the longest time, I thought the answer was just “grin and bear it.”

Well, not anymore.

Enter Scrivener…

As soon as I opened up Scrivener, I was amazed at how much easier it was than Word. Yes, it’s a robust program, full of features I know I haven’t taken full advantage of (more on that in a minute), but immediately I made a vow to myself.

“I will never use Microsoft Word again,” I said to myself after writing my first piece on Scrivener.

I just finished my last book, The Art of Work, and wrote the entire thing on Scrivener.

Guess what didn’t happen while writing book? I never lost a chapter due to the program crashing. I never screamed at the computer for forcing an indent I didn’t actually want.

It just worked.

Why I love Scrivener

Here are a few reasons why I love this program and recommend it to any writer:

  • It’s affordable. At most, it’ll cost you $ 45 ($ 40 for PC). Compare that to Word’s $ 139 price point, and it’s a no-brainer (consider Scrivener is way better and much more writer-friendly). Find out more here.
  • It’s simple. Unlike MS Word, there’s a distraction-free mode that allows you to just write and not worry about anything else. If you’re a Mac user, it’s similar to what Pages allows you to do (but better).
  • It’s easy to use. One of my favorite features of Scrivener is how you can create small mini-documents (called “texts”) and drag and drop them in whatever order you want. This is essential for me when writing a book, as I am writing it piece-by-piece and often moving chunks around. In Word, you have to copy, scroll, and paste. It’s not very efficient or easy. This is my favorite feature of Scrivener.
  • It’s ideal for authors. You can export your work to any digital book version, which allows you to publish directly to Amazon, B&N, or wherever without having to hire a designer (which can easily cost you $ 500 just to format the book). That feature alone is worth the cost of the software.
  • It’s multifaceted. Scrivener comes with templates that allow you to write for whatever form or style you prefer (screenwriting, novel, nonfiction book, etc.). I have even heard of people like Michael Hyatt using it for blogging. The possibilities are endless, but honestly I am just beginning to learn all the potential uses for this tool.

So what does this mean for you?

I think if you’re happy with MS Word, by all means keep using it. As for me, I’m done with it. It just doesn’t compete with Scrivener. And finally, after years of feeling frustrated, I’m able to write without worrying about anything else.

If, however, you’re looking for something to make your writing life easier, something that will help you be more creative and product, I recommend you do the following:

  1. Go grab a copy of Scrivener. It really is a steal for the value you get. There’s even a free trial version of it. Check it out here. Use the coupon code “selfpublishing” during checkout to receive $ 9 off.
  2. Sign up for my upcoming webinar. This Wednesday, my friend Joseph Michael will be sharing how to use Scrivener to its fullest potential (there are some advanced features that I admittedly don’t know much about and am excited to learn from the Scrivener Coach himself).

Whatever you do, I hope you don’t spend as much time as I did feeling frustrated, just trying to get your words out into the world. You deserve a tool that helps you get the job done. I’d love to hear more from you in the comments about what tools you use to get your writing done.

Do you like using MS Word? Why or why not? Have you ever used Scrivener? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

How to Wow Your Audience with the Right Image

Editor’s note: This is a guest post by Barry Pearman who lives in Auckland, New Zealand.  Barry blogs about Spiritual Formation and Soul talk for Mental Health. You can follow him on his blog and connect with him on Twitter.

There was something about this picture that grabbed me. Was it the black and white starkness? Shadow’s hinting of something unknown? Male or female? Poor or rich? Going unnoticed in a crowd to a home of loneliness?

Create Wow with the Right Image

Photo credit: SpaceShoe (Creative Commons)

Something grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. Images can have a spellbinding effect and shape our thinking. They can trigger off memories of past events and places. Images speak the words we never thought we could say.

When I saw this image it triggered off a Jim Wallis quote:

Only those willing to stand close enough to listen will ever hear those closest to the problem.
–Jim Wallis

I have stood close to those who have been wrecked and interrupted by Mental Illness. I have listened to the stories. Images of suffering seared into my mind that keep me grounded to a reality unknown to most.

Pictures have power

What thoughts and feelings were triggered when you saw this image for the first time?

A group of young people gather around a large block of wood. With hammer and nail in hand the first contestant comes forward. How many swings of the hammer will it take to drive that nail home. The count is taken with the winner being the one that has mastered both strength and accuracy.

I want to make one point in my writing. Every tap of the keyboard needs to hammer that one point home.

If you give people too much to remember they won’t remember anything.
–Andy Stanley

The image is a big hit of the nail. I place it at the start where there isn’t much friction yet between the nail and the blockheads, oops people, who read my material.

Where to find the right photo

Finding the right image for your article, webpage, or slide presentation requires a little digging, but it’s worth the result. Here are some places to look (depending on your budget)

  • Personal. With photos of yourself, family, holiday, office you literally invite the world to ‘come on over’ and ‘pull up a chair’. You are inviting them into your life and to be friends. Just a word of caution here, make sure other family members are ok with this world famous exposure.
  • Bought. Stock images are available from many different sources such as istockphoto. Stock photos do make your blog feel more professional, but you have to ask yourself if this is what you are aiming for. Also, you have to be careful here as sometimes the same image can get over used and you don’t get that ‘Wow’ effect because you’ve seen it before.
  • Free. I use mostly free images from Flickr. The amount of photos available is enormous. The photos are generally of high quality and have can have an arty feel to them. Compfight is a search engine that can search through Flickr’s library and also has a gadget for WordPress users. Using Flickr also enables you to support and encourage other artists like yourself, just make sure you give proper attribution to the artist.

Here are some practical pointers

Now that you know where to find your images, here’s how to choose the right one:

  1. Look for an emotional connection. Look for an image that emotionally connects both with you and the reader. Whatever grabs you will most likely grab others.
  2. Use photos that attract attention. Try to find pictures that scream “Look at me.” No more nice boring cliche clips. Just as your writing comes from within you, the story behind the picture needs to also connect with something of you.
  3. Remember the size of a thumbnail. The first time your picture will most likely be seen will be in the size of your thumb. If you want people to hit your thumb it has to stand out and beg to be hit.

What sort of images grab you and why? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

Mastering MOOCs with Evernote

I have been using Evernote more and more as my research portal. The Evernote Clipper makes it so easy to clip whole blog entries or articles or even pages from the internet. Copying an article or set of powerpoint slides in PDF form is also very cool. It will display the whole article one page at a time with the page turners at the top of the article. I can even highlight and annotate the article. mooc_evernote_figure_1My most recent discovery of the power of Evernote was when I recently began taking a few MOOCs for professional continuing education and also for my own fun and interest. A copyright MOOC that I finished this summer is one case in point. The MOOC was set up with videos, accompanying powerpoints and pdfs, both of which could be downloaded. There were discussion groups and weekly assignments.

I began by creating a new notebook. I have chosen to preface each notebook name with MOOC so that all my MOOC notebooks are together. I could have also created a stack for MOOC notebooks. That being said, my new notebook was called MOOC-Copyright for Librarians. I always make one of my first notes the syllabus for the class. This gives me a good reference point in the future when I want to see where specific topics were discussed. It is also really nice to have the syllabus at my fingertips so that I don’t have to keep loading it at the MOOC site while I’m in the middle of taking the class.

Most MOOCs are arranged by weekly sessions. They generally have one or more videos where the instructors present material, as well as discussion questions for a discussion wiki area, additional resources (either included if they are open-source, or listed in bibliographies), and a weekly assignment. With some MOOCs the instructors are kind enough to post their powerpoint displays separate from the video so that they can be downloaded. Those I download directly with separate notes for each. Since I am only using these files for my own study, this is a permissible use under copyright provisions.

I organize my individual Evernote notes by means of tags. I always have one tag that corresponds to the session or week number so that I can later easily sort my tags for a particular session together. Then I will have additional tags based on topics. This is becoming increasingly valuable as I find myself taking a new MOOC which sometimes revisits or expands upon topics discussed in other MOOCs I have previously completed. By using common topic tags, I can retrieve a tag and all the notes on that subject will be gathered together, no matter which MOOC or workbook I happened to be using the that note was created.

By assigning a tag of “to do” on notes that are related to assignments, I can easily organize those items by then dragging the “to do” tag to my shortcuts area in Evernote, making all those items immediately available and easy to review for due dates.

mooc_evernote_figure_2I also find Evernote a great place to directly record any notes I take while watching the instructor’s videos. If the instructor has a particularly illustrative graphic during the video that I wish to refer to later, I can both note the number of minutes into the video where the discussion occurs, and also use my windows snipping tool to capture the moment of the video with the graphic displayed. I can then paste that snip into my notes and then continue on with the video and taking notes. I found myself doing this a number of times during a beginning astronomy course.

mooc_evernote_figure_3My final use of Evernote for my MOOC study came from the discussion threads of the courses. I often found that other students had both insightful comments I wanted to capture, as well as posting interesting links and article citations that I wanted to revisit later. I found by creating one note specified as Bibliography or Links to Revisit or Additional Reading, I could easily accumulate all those valuable resources together throughout the class. Since we generally had weekly topics to specifically discuss, I also captured my answers from the discussion thread so that I had a record of my own contributions.

MOOCs are a wonderful way to expand our horizons and hone our skills through free, continuing education. While Higher Education is trying to decide how MOOCs fit into a student’s university experience and whether MOOCs give the same (or better) training as classroom-based instruction, I am reveling in the opportunity to learn from great teachers at universities across the country for free and at my own convenience. The asynchronous, “audit only” structure of MOOCs allows individuals to sample interesting topics and learn at their own level and speed.

Have I finished all the MOOCs I have signed up for? Sadly, no. Life gets in the way. But Evernote gives me an easy to use, convenient way to document all that I do learn, which puts me far ahead of where I would be had I never attempted to join a MOOC.

What about you? Have you taken any MOOCs? They are available on a wide variety of topics. I have taken MOOCs on content curation, astronomy, happiness, copyright and “new librarianship”. How have you used Evernote for study or research? Share and continue the discussion.

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The Most Overlooked Piece of Real Estate on Your Blog

Note: For the month of October, I’m leading an Intentional Blogging challenge. If you want to start a blog or take your existing one to the next level, check it out (there’s a free course, community, and more!).

There is a place on your website that you’re probably neglecting. It’s the same place new visitors flock to every day to see if what you have to say is worth listening to. And many of these would-be readers leave your website, disappointed.

blogging

Photo Credit: Kevin_Morris via Compfight cc

What is this place, this magical part of your blog that, if you paid more attention to it, could be a big-time difference-maker?

It’s your about page.

Say what? You mean, that silly little “about me” page I created on Day 1 of my blog and haven’t been back to since?

Yep. That’s the one.

Why your about page needs more attention

Other than your homepage, which is usually the first place most first-time visitors drop by, your about page is the most important, and often the most viewed page on your website.

Why is this?

  • Because nobody reads something from a writer they don’t trust.
  • Because people want to connect with other people – especially on social media.
  • Because sometimes it’s hard to tell what your blog is actually about, even after reading a few articles.

An about page is a powerful resource, because it can quickly and easily address those three issues in one fell swoop. A good about page will immediately build trust with a first-time visitor, make readers feel more connected to the person behind the blog, and give them an idea of what to expect in the future.

Three keys to awesome about pages

So what does a good about page contain? A few things (with some real life-examples):

  1. A welcome. This could be as simple as a headline that says, “Welcome to my blog!” followed by a brief bio on who you are and what you do. Chris Guillebeau does a great job with this without getting too wordy, as does Penelope Trunk. (Note: I recommend writing your About page in the first-person as this makes people feel more like they are talking to a real person. I learned that tip from Michael Hyatt.)
  2. A promise. This is where you tell the reader what it is you do, why you do it, and how often. For example, my friend James Clear promises on his about page to send you helpful habit-building articles via email twice a week (every Monday and Thursday). He sticks to that schedule and to his published values regularly, because he understands that delivering on what he promises is essential to building an audience.
  3. An invitation. This is where you ask people to follow your journey, to read a few articles, or maybe even to subscribe to your blog. See how I do that on my own about page. I learned this from Derek Halpern who leverages his about page to get more email subscribers. It’s a smart strategy.

It has to be epic

Okay, so you’re still not convinced. Or maybe you are, but you don’t know what that means for you. Fair enough.

How about one last story, and some practical application for how you can turn your about page into a powerful resource that gets shared across the interwebs? Great. But I have to warn you: this isn’t easy. Your about page has to be over-the-top awesome.

As an illustration, let’s take a look at Clay Collins.

Clay is the founder of a software company called LeadPages. But before he did that, he was just a blogger trying to generate leads for his online business. When he turned his average, run-of-the-mill about page into an epic story of awesomness, he saw his social shares go through the roof and his traffic explode.

This is what I call the “Epic Story About Page.” It tends to be more long-form, usually 500–1500 words, and it only works if you have a really good story to tell (fortunately, you do).

Basically, this is just an article sharing your story and inviting readers to join you. It works when you offer valuable content that encourages people.

The lesson: Don’t just tell us about you. That’s a rookie mistake. Instead, share an inspiring story that will compel people to not only join you but tell their friends about you. Good stories spread.

So what does this mean for you?

Well, that’s kind of up to you. I suggest you begin here:

  1. Review your about page. If it’s less than a few hundred words, you might want to beef up the content. Make sure you have a welcome, a promise, and an invitation.
  2. Tell an epic story. In addition to the three keys, make sure you bio section is amazing, the kind of thing that could be turned into a movie. How do you do this? By focusing on your struggles, on the areas in your life where you saw some kind of extraordinary breakthrough (you may have to dig, but we all have those stories).
  3. Ask people to read and share. This is the last step, when you see if what you’ve written is actually good. Because if you share your about page and people don’t respond by telling others about you, then you haven’t scratched the right itch. You need to go back and tweak things.
Want more advice on blogging? Don’t forget to sign up for this month’s free blogging challenge! Click here to begin.

What’s something that I missed? Have you seen other examples of powerful about pages? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

027: There is No Easy Button: Johnny B. Truant & Sean Platt on Self-Publishing [Podcast]

Do what you love and the money will follow. We are all tempted to believe this myth. But it simply isn’t true. Along with pursuing what we love comes a lot of hard work. And this may be most evident in the field of writing.

027: There is No Easy Button: An Interview with Johnny Truant and Sean Platt [Podcast]

Photo Credit: Bert Kaufmann via Compfight cc

Recently, I had the privilege of interviewing Johnny B. Truant and Sean Platt, two of the guys behind Sterling and Stone, an independent publishing company.

I met both of these guys years ago when they were more focused on online marketing, and since then, they’ve taken the leap into becoming full-time authors. But they haven’t completely left their business sense behind.

In an age when every writer seems to be trying to build an online platform and then publish, these guys did the opposite. They left their big blogs and online membership sites to just write books. And I wanted to know why.

In this episode of The Portfolio Life, we talk about all their transition from online marketing to writing fiction, what success looks like for them (and maybe most writers), and why doing what you love is always more complicated than you think.

We also discuss the process of publishing, from start to finish, and why it’s a journey worth sharing.

My interview with Sean and Johnny

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email, click here).

You can also download it at iTunes or on Stitcher.

About the guests + some interview highlights

In this interview, Sean and Johnny talk about following their heart and the process behind it, as well as what it takes to succeed as a writer in the Information Age.

Even though they decided to focus primarily on writing, these two are living portfolio lives. Along with their friend David, they write and publish serialized fiction. They also host The Self-Publishing Podcast and recently wrote Write. Publish. Repeat., a walkthrough of the self-publishing process (and why it’s way different than it used to be).

We also discussed:

  • How following your heart is not easy — it comes with a lot of hard work.
  • How authors must think business too — why it’s important to be an author and entrepreneur.
  • If Kickstarter is a good platform for writers (their advice just might surprise you!).
  • The process of publishing a book from start to finish.
  • The importance of being prolific as a modern writer.
  • And a lot more!

And of course, I ask all kinds of hard questions. ;)

Special bonus: The self-publishing process from start to finish

Johnny, Sean, and Dave, decided to let you in on the entire process of writing and publishing a book.

They wrote a book from start to finish in just 30 days. They started without a single idea. They didn’t even know the genre before they began. And by the end of the 30 days they had a published book.

In that short amount of time they brainstormed, generated ideas, and came up with a storyline. And they filmed it all. At the end of 30 days, they had a 100,000-word novel, and lots of video, audio, and written content, documenting the entire process.

And they share the whole process in Fiction Unboxed. Check it out here.

I hope you enjoy the interview. Feel free to download it and share with friends. And I’d love for you to take a moment and leave a review on iTunes.

Have you ever considered self-publishing? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

3 Reasons Why You Read Those Ridiculous Lists on the Internet

“13 Ways to Look Sexier.” “47 Celebrities Who Have Killed People.” “8 Secrets to a Happier Marriage.” If you’ve ever scanned a celebrity website, read a marketing blog, or browsed your local grocery store magazine rack, you’ve noticed that media outlets love lists. But why?

Grocery list

Photo Credit: SeanPressley(Peezo) via Compfight cc

What’s all the fuss about list posts and so-called “click bait”? The Internet is full of these lists that we know aren’t the best journalism out there, but we can’t help but read them. Can we?

Here’s why list posts and click bait work

The truth is this stuff works. In certain moments of weakness, I can’t resist clicking those tantalizing headlines. I’ve tried to reform my ways, but still find myself crawling back to this embarrassing addiction.

Maybe there’s a reason why. (In fact, there are three.)

  • Lists create order out of disorder. Even if it’s sometimes artificial, the numbers in a list tell the reader there’s a defined start and end point to the article. The organization gives the person a sense of security. You know what to expect, which makes it easy to “get in” and “get out.”
  • Lists (the right kind) provoke the reader. It’s not just that these lists are about some random topic. The numbers themselves are not enough to create interest; there’s always an element of mystery and intrigue to the catchiest headlines we see on Buzzfeed and similar sites. Whether it’s a voyeuristic look into the lives of celebrities or a painfully honest portrayal of teenage life, we can’t stay away from these articles.
  • Lists are easy to scan. Whether we like it or not, the Internet is full of scanners — busy people browsing the web, asking, “What’s in it for me?” A good list post can capture a person’s attention and keep them engaged long after they’re done picking through a website.

I know. It seems cheesy and beneath your intelligence to do this. But why would these magazines and high-traffic websites do this, if it didn’t work? They care about one and only one thing: eyeballs. And they only do stuff that gets results.

So what can you and I who have a message to share with the world, a message that hopefully matters, learn from this? We can redeem the list post, using it to capture attention while doing more than contributing to the noise.

Redeeming the list post

Here are three simple steps to take to make your list best better than the average Internet drivel most readers encounter:

  1. Write a good “lede.” Don’t just jump straight into the list. Use the first paragraph (often called the “lede” or lead) to tell us what you’re going to share and why. Actually write an article — don’t just drop a bunch of random bullet points on a page.
  2. Don’t go crazy on the list items. Don’t write a list of seven things when three will do the trick. Refrain from doing a brain dump and expecting your reader to follow along, and please, for the love of Pete, don’t just pick some arbitrary number and try to fill it. Value your audience’s time.
  3. Make it exclusive. Write something specific that not everyone will be able to relate to (examples: “7 Signs You Grew Up in the 90s” or “19 Awkward Moments Every Vegetarian Understands”). What makes this content go viral is that it’s extremely relevant to the reader. These bloggers aren’t writing for the masses; that’s impossible to do nowadays. Instead, they are targeting a particular niche. And it’s working.

Oh, and here’s a bonus tip: Tell the truth. Don’t use the list to manipulate or coerce someone into reading your stuff. Use the power of a list to share something important that when they click your link, they are wowed, not disappointed.

Your readers (the real ones, not just those scanning for free tips) will thank you.

Note: I’m currently running a blogging challenge this month for anyone who wants to use a blog to reach an audience and share their message. We’re several days in, but you are still welcome to join.

What’s an example of a great list post or article you’ve encountered (or even written) lately? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

026: The Single Best Way to Grow Your Influence [Podcast]

It’s better to give than receive, but we gotta eat. Right? We can’t keep giving forever… or can we?

Photo of gifts

Photo credit: torbakhopper via cc

What happens when we try to take more than we give? Or when we try to take credit for things that aren’t really our work? I discuss this and more on this episode of the podcast.

Click to listen

To listen to the show, click the player below (if viewing this in email click here).

You can also download it at iTunes or on Stitcher.

The secret to success

When they’re trying to get ahead in life, people normally ask “what’s in it for me.” In fact, I tried the “what’s in it for me?” approach for a lot of years, but nobody was really interested. They were all interested in themselves.

When I stopped and looked around, though, I realized the most successful people I know aren’t takers — they’re givers. And when I tried to follow their lead, I discovered an amazing trick:

Stop keeping score. (Tweet that)

Instead of worrying about whether something will benefit me or cost me, I learned to just think about what was right. I stopped wasting time keeping track of favors, and I ended up just being a friend.

More highlights

Be sure to listen to the episode to catch the detail behind these nuggets:

  • 3:20: Marcy from mudpiewriting.com shared a little bit about how devastated she was when her literary agent quit before she had a chance to sell her debut novel and how she recovered her confidence after finding Jeff’s blog.
  • 12:20: The most successful people in the world are givers. But some of the least successful people in the world are also givers. So what gives? Check out Give and Take from Adam Grant.
  • 18:29: Find out what happened when bestselling author Jonah Lehrer decided to not give proper credit, and my own example of how tempting it can be to embellish the story…just a little. (You’ll also find out how smart my wife is.)
  • 26:20: “You can have everything in life you want, if you will help just enough other people get what they want.” – Zig Ziglar (Tweet that)
  • 28:40: I predict a new market emerging for simple dumb phones. People will crave a more minimalistic experience. And I will buy one.
If you’re enjoying the podcast, I’d love for you to leave an honest review on iTunes to help other people find the show.

And if you’re not a fan of iTunes, you can also copy and paste this URL into the podcast player of your choice: http://feeds.feedburner.com/ThePortfolioLifeJeffGoins

Thanks for listening.

Be a friend

I know a lot of people are skeptical about this. I sure was when I started trying it. But trust me, it works.

What can you do for someone today to help them get what they want? Share it in the comments.


Goins, Writer

Evernote for Research and Outreach

Below are the slides for the presentation Crystal and Mary did for the COMO 2014 Georgia Library Association (GLA) conference.  The talk was on Evernote, what it is and its most useful features.  Emphasis was on how to use it for research and how to show it to your users to enhance their productivity.

 

 

Evernote for Research and Outreach

 

 

The post Evernote for Research and Outreach appeared first on Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians.

Personal Knowledge Management for Academia & Librarians »

The Surprising Self-Discovery Lessons of Blogging (Plus a 21-Day Challenge!)

I am a writer. It’s what I do. But the truth is I didn’t learn this truth about myself and then go do it. Confidence came slowly and awkwardly. The epiphany didn’t precede action; it followed it. And I learned a lot of this from blogging.

Self Discovery Blog

Photo Credit: angelocesare via Compfight cc

I love writing, not just because it’s my job, but because it’s a tool to help you better understand yourself. Sharing my thoughts on this blog helped me understand that writing isn’t just something I do; it’s who I am.

This, it seems, is true for others, as well. Flannery O’Connor said that she never knew what she thought until she read what she wrote. Writing and journaling, even blogging, can be a means of self-discovery.

Why writing?

Because:

  • Writing is honest. It’s something you do in solitude, which means that in that privacy you can be a little more truthful than you might normally be.
  • Writing vulnerable. When you put words to paper (or on screen), you share a part of yourself that the world doesn’t normally get to be. You stop hiding behind your shadow self and reveal who you really are.
  • Writing is a process. It takes time, and with that time comes revelation. You understand yourself in ways that you wouldn’t normally consider, because you’re forced to work through your ideas and thoughts in a slow, methodical process.

When I began blogging, I realized that I wrote first for myself and second for an audience. As big as I am on helping others and serving your readers, there’s something cathartic about writing just for the sake of writing.

If you’ve ever wondered what your place is in the world, if you’ve considered the possibility that you might have a calling – some purpose that’s bigger than you — then maybe it’s time you started a blog.

A free blogging challenge

I’m dubbing October “Intentional Blogging” Month. For 21 days , I’m going to be leading a group of people who want to get serious about blogging and are willing to let the process teach them something about themselves.

If you join this free challenge, you’ll get exclusive access to me, a 12-part blogging course, and opportunities to connect and share your work with other bloggers. I’ve never done this before, so it could be a lot fun!

You don’t have to be a great writer to start a blog.

You don’t need a plan or a big budget.

You don’t even need to have any aspirations of making a ton of money.

You just need to want to grow. I promise you: blogging will push you and challenge you in ways that you’ve never before experienced. It certainly has for me. And you just might learn something about yourself that surprises you.

What to do next

The “rules” for this are pretty simple: do one thing every day for 21 days to grow your blog. If you want to jump in, here’s what you need to do:

  1. Join the challenge (be sure to enter your email address for some free resources).
  2. Follow the community on Facebook for daily blog challenges.
  3. Make sure you’re set up with a blog (watch the video for step-by-step instructions).
  4. Leave a comment on this post, saying you’re in.
  5. Tell your friends (totally optional, but why not?).

See you in the community!

By the way, you don’t have to blog every day to be part of this challenge. These will be very small steps to start a blog and then take it to the next level. The first day, for example, you just have to set up your about page (spoiler alert).

We’ll get started on October 8 (you have until then to sign up and get setup — be sure to pop into the group to connect with other bloggers in the challenge).

What do you hope to learn about yourself from this blogging journey? Share in the comments.


Goins, Writer

Attributes and Procedure of Getting CPD Accreditation Status

The term Common Professional Development (CPD) is a well organized approach to acquiring the pre determined specialized education, knowledge, practical training practice for pursuing a certain profession that is mandatory in many countries including the UK. CPD requisites can pertain to several professions such as medical, judicial, research and fellowship programs, logistics and transport etc. as per the regulations in an institution or governmental laws. For instance, according to the CPD rules in practice in England and Wales, a legal executive or solicitor executing full time legal practice in the country (working 32 hours or more in a week), needs to complete at least 16 hours of CPD every year that will earn them 16 CPD points.

Obtaining CPD Accreditation

There are several authorized organizations that offer CPD accreditation programs. Before you proceed to acquire your accreditation it is mandatory to complete your CPD program with minimum attendance fulfillment, participation in several activities as a registered college/university candidate etc. Completing this formality will bestow the recognition of an accredited CPD provider status. More or less the following procedures are adopted by all major organizations that offer independent CPD accreditation to a professional.

Application: The first step is to register and apply for an independent CPD provider accreditation status. While applying the candidate will have to submit proof of attending the CPD program, details, of participation in activities, hours completed etc.

Review: The institute awarding accreditation will take about a month of time to review the certificates and credential submitted to verify the authenticity of the documents before processing the application to the final stage where the accreditation awarded to the CPD provider.

Accreditation Awarding and Conditions: The final stage is the accreditation awarding when the candidate is assigned a particular date when he will receive the status of accredited independent CPD provider and gain the privilege of promoting himself in the professional domain to set a milestone in his career. He will then have the facility to approach potential clients or join any institute as an accredited member. To ensure that the accreditation remains valid for lifetime, keep updating it as and when there are any changes in the terms and conditions introduced in the regulations of the particular profession.

  • Gain better client prospects as an established accredited professional
  • Beat the competitors in the professional world and get exposure to premium career opportunities
  • Explore the new job opportunities for which you meet the criteria of accreditation requirements
  • Build a network of clientele with whom you can keep pursuing your profession with peak high progress

The CPD obligations are formulated in accordance with requirement of the essential and advanced skills and education to pursue any said profession with complete accuracy. Many organizations have strict codes for CPD fulfillment of the all the recruits. However the independent professionals not yet associated with any organization or enterprise, in their own interest can opt for taking CPD to ease out their way to getting hired and setting firm foot in the professional world.

Apprenticeships are also another route you can go down and with Gordan Franks Birmingham apprenticeships it is easier than ever before.