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A Day in the Life of a Blogger

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Woke up, get out of bed, dragged a comb across my head……Oh wait, that’s a song. A Day in the Life, by the Beatles. In fact, since I was asked to write here and was deciding how to start my first post I have had that damn song in my head. Think yourself lucky it’s no longer the 1990’s and I don’t have access to one of those awful midi players that annoyed the life out of everyone when they opened a web page, because I would be sharing.

I decided I would start with a day in the life of a blogger – at least part of a day; I don’t want to bore you with an entire one.

So how does my day start? Pretty much the same as the song, although it has been a long time since I had enough hair to be worth dragging a comb over. Wake up, get out of bed, make a cup of coffee and sit down in front of the computer. Open up my coffee-stained, dust-covered, scratched-to-bits, ridiculously expensive, brand new MacBook Pro and see what the day has to offer. Or more appropriately – what yesterday produced.

First stop, the WordPress Dashboard, check the stats. Oh look, blog no 1 has had a new link from the International Herald Tribune, and it’s sending traffic, and woah! One of my posts got picked up by a sphere plugin over at XYZ and that’s sending traffic. Which post are they coming to and what did they write that caused it? Hmmm…. Blog no 2 has less visitors than usual, what’s up with that? Which posts are they looking at? Guess nobody was interested in that subject. Blog no 3…. And so on and so forth.

Next stop, google analytics. Where did my traffic come from? Oh, would you look at that, some kind soul must have submitted one of my posts to mixx. Who on earth are they? Oh, never heard of them, but I appreciate the traffic. What keywords are people using? Hmmm, that’s a new one, why would anyone find me with that term? Oh yes, I remember, I wrote a post about having my content stolen by pornforwomenanddykesandthepeoplwholoveit.com. Never expected any traffic from that…..

Next stop, the big one – google adsense. How much money did I make yesterday? Woooo, a good day. Lets have a look in more detail, check the URL channels. Hmm, that sux – nobody clicked on that one, that was really good the day before. But, hey, my eCPM is better than average…and on to the other affiliate sites, see what happened there. Woohoo! Somebody bought a 200 foot sailboat through Amazon – I can retire. As if.

By the time I take the trouble to look at the clock, I realize it is now 11.30 and I reflect on what I have achieved. I finally come to the conclusion that despite the fact I have been “working,” for two hours, I have achieved precisely nothing. Just like I did the day before.

Actually, that’s not strictly true – I have learned finally to curb my enthusiasm for statistics. Google Analytics, the WordPress stats plugin and all the other statistical analysis tools you can buy, steal, download, install or sign up for provide valuable information, but it’s really easy to lose yourself in them. I have finally decided to use them what they were designed for and for me, that means answering the following questions:

Where did my traffic come from and more importantly, why? Was it something I did intentionally, or did it just happen? If it just happened, how do I make it happen again?

What keywords or phrases are people finding me with and are they the ones I want them to find me with? There is nothing more annoying than to be searching for “designer purses,” to find yourself directed to the Louis Vuitton Plumbing Supply Warehouse. ( And yes, that’s a new one – I will be reporting on it as time goes by.) I don’t like it when it happens to me and I certainly don’t want to do it to someone else. Not entirely my fault when it happens, that’s supposed to be google’s job – nonetheless I prefer to avoid it if possible.

Conversely, and perhaps more important – what terms are they NOT finding me with that I want to be found by?

There are, of course, more questions to be answered, but I think I have rambled enough for one post. I will be introducing myself properly over the next few weeks, but if you agree, disagree or just generally want to be a pain, feel free to leave me a comment – there’s a link at the bottom. And let me know if you can get that song out of your head.

Woke up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head….. 😆

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Oh, Now I Get It! How to Explain Complex Topics to Your Audience

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Technical writers have a great number of skills, but perhaps the most important is the ability to adapt your language to the level of comprehension your audience has. A highly technical and complex article can overwhelm readers or even bore them.

“But it’s impossible to delight my readers and keep them engaged when I’m talking about the

IEEE 802.11ac principle of broadband technology,” We hear you cry. And, we get it. Turning a technical article into a sexy piece of content can feel like a daunting task, but it’s not mission impossible.

Here are a few content creation tips that will help you explain complex topics to your audience in a delightful manner.

Imagine That You Are Explaining the Subject to a Non-Tech-Savvy Friend

One of the most important things when creating technical content for a more broad audience is consistency. So, as much as possible try to use the same tone, level of knowledge, complexity of vocabulary, and so on. The easiest way to calibrate your writing style is to imagine that you are writing for a friend or a relative that has nothing to do with your area of expertise.

Imagine you are trying to explain a particularly complex topic to them, in a friendly and light discussion. How would you approach the subject? What elements you think would bore or frustrate them?

What helps you in the real world is adapting your style and vocabulary to the other person’s knowledge. You know that you don’t have to explain what an Internet browser does, but you might have to tell them more about the coding behind it when discussing responsive web design, for instance. Use common words and keep them engaged with a lighter, friendly style.

Adapt Your Vocabulary and Structure

Let’s take a look at how you can flip your technical writing to be more approachable. First of all: use concepts that your audience is familiar with or at least has a general idea about them.

A good start is to check what search words visitors use when browsing your website. You will identify commonly used terms that are related to the technology that interests them. Use those keywords yourself to keep visitors on your page.

Also, be careful about the structure of the text when writing online, especially when you are trying to explain something complex. Make sure to split your text into readable chunks. You can also help the reader understand the subject better by using titles and subtitles to separate the main ideas of your article.

Build up the Knowledge of Your Audience, from General to Detailed

Once you have established a common language and vocabulary between you and your target audience, start methodically presenting your topic, from general level information to more detailed aspects. Applying this rule will help you readers understand the topic better without wasting too much time. Online readers tend to ignore content that is, irrelevant or hard to understand.

While it is important to get the basics straight before getting deeper into your subject, make sure to summarize the purpose of your article at the very beginning, as it will let your audience know what they will learn about after going through it.

Use Style Tools That Help Your Audience Relate to the Topic

The fun part of writing about technical topics for a general audience is getting creative with it. Because you can’t use the “boring,” “stiff” technical jargon, you must come up with expressive comparisons, examples, and analogies. You can even evoke anecdotal evidence to support the facts since they are highly relevant for many of the users.

Helping them relate to the topic you are writing about is the key to grabbing their attention. Use day to day examples for the systems and processes you are describing, or mention the best-known similar thing. Give them examples of possible situations when they can come across the topic you are writing about and enable them to talk about it themselves.

Ultimately, is all about correctly identifying the level of knowledge your audience has. Encourage them to comment and ask any questions and keep the conversations alive.

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IT Management Solutions: What is the Key to Improving Employee Efficiency?

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There are many ways you can improve your employees’ efficiency. From decluttering the workspace to encouraging a stress-free environment, there is a whole range of things you can do to make your work life run smoother. One such technique you need to adopt for your company is an IT management solution.

What Does It Do?

An IT management solution such as SysAid takes all of the day-to-day programs that a business will use and consolidates them into one easy-to-use package. Every employee should be able to log on and complete all their work without having to leave the initial program.

It can contain such subsections as project management, customer relationship management, billing and invoicing, and a whole host of other features.

Why Should Employers Implement Such a Solution?

A system such as this allows managers to have better visibility over the company as a whole. They will be able to tell if an employee is completing their daily tasks to the best of their ability and will also allow them to see where they are lacking.

The data from the completion of these daily tasks can easily be tracked and analyzed to see where employees are struggling with efficiency. With some adjustments, efficiency can then be improved in these areas.

Project Management

One of the key reasons to install an IT management solution is for the project management aspects. A good project management program lets all employees know where they are with their projects at all times. Whether you are just working on the project or a project manager, you will be able to see the stage that the project is at and all the steps and processes that still need to be completed.

This collaborative nature helps improve speed and efficiency and stops the project becoming grounded in a lack of communication. If you are not yet using a project management system, you will notice that many small but important problems like misuse of resources will be greatly reduced.

Customer Relationship Management

By having your customer service staff use one portal for all their needs, you will see a great improvement in efficiency when it comes to handling customer enquiries. An IT management solution can contain a database with all your customer’s information. This means that if a case needs to be passed from one team member to another, there is little to no chance of any relevant information being lost in the transfer. Everything should be in place in the one database.

Invoicing and Billing

Keeping your various accounts and invoices in different places can lead to items being forgotten or double-charged. By using an IT management software, your managers and accountants will be able to successfully keep track of all costs and reduce unnecessary spending. This will improve efficiency as multiple enquires are not being made to complete invoices and other reports.

There are just some of the ways an IT management solution can improve your business. If you feel you need to improve your company’s efficiency, consider implementing one today.

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7 Less Obvious Keyword Research and Content Analytics Tools

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Digital content has several powerful benefits over print content: It’s cheaper to distribute, it’s open and global (especially when it’s in English which most of the world can understand) and it offers an unprecedented opportunity to understand your audience better.

Actually, technology and digital content do wonders: Having both you can target your customers precisely when and where they are most willing to engage.

“Content and technology are strange bed fellows. We are joined together. Sometimes we misunderstand each other. But isn’t that after all the definition of marriage?”

To get an idea of how powerful digital content metrics can be, read and bookmark these articles:

Here are a few free or cheap content analytics options any blogger can afford:

1. UberSuggest

UberSuggest

UberSuggest is a free keyword research tool that offers quite a few cool content analytics features.

This tool is a bit broad but I felt it deserved a place on the list. It works by letting you put in key phrases and then gives you data on that and alternatives, including the power of that phrase on Google. You will be getting an idea of what phrases are already being cornered by competitors, as well as which ones are easier for you to target.

I also like this one as a content planning tool as I can find ideas for content related to an idea I had. I have come away from UberSuggest with my editorial calendar full many times.

2. Cyfe

Cyfe web analytics

Cyfe is not just analytics tool. In fact, you can use for anything under the sun, it’s a Swiss knife of business monitoring. And it has some cool analytics integrations that will make your analytics reports much faster and easier to access.

Use Cyfe to integrate your favorite Google analytics reports, monitor your social media growth, traffic spikes and more.

3. Tweriod

Tweriod might not be quite as relevant as it once was, but it is still a useful tool if you post a lot of content on Twitter. Find out what times your followers are most active. Discover optimal posting time. See what content was most popular and when.

All of this will help you use Twitter more effectively as a content marketing platform, as well as an engagement platform for one on one and influencer marketing.

4. Scoop.it

Scoop.it is pretty cool but the free plan is very limited. Basically you get a single page and up to ten “scoops” per day. Basically it is going to curate relevant content to give you insights into what is working well within your industry.

As an overall marketing tool, the professional version is a pretty cheap way to improve your ROI and get more bites when it comes to clicks. It is worth signing up for a free account and getting a taste of what they are about.

5. HotJar

HotJar

HotJar is a cool heat map generator allowing you to clearly see which parts of your content attract most attention.

Heat maps are pretty cool. They work by tracking what visitors to your site are spending the most time looking at and clicking on. Then it gives you a visual of hot and cold areas of your site, which can point to anything from design flaws to lackluster or thin content. You can try them out for free and get a more complete picture from both a website and content perspective.

Here are more options for data visualization which will help you understand your audience and analytics reports better.

6. Social Mention

Is your content being shared or talked about? Is your brand being mentioned? You can find out on Social Mention, which allows you to search for proof of that very thing and find out what people are saying about you and what you post.

It is a bit simplistic, but very helpful.

7. iSpionage

ispionage

Adwords and SEO keywords are a bit part of what you and other brands on competing for, not just customers. iSpionage gives you a look at what it is that those competitors are using and how it is working for them.

It is surprisingly affordable compared to many other similar tools and has a decent features list. I would definitely give this one a try.

Are there any other affordable content analytics tools except for the most obvious ones (like Google Analytics)? Please share them in the comments!

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