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Blogger makes Mobile Blogging a Whole Lot Easier!

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phone-imageAlthough we have been able to post to our Blogger blogs using mobile devices for a few years now, the service was never quite perfect. Many bloggers outside the US were unable to post by SMS due to cellular network restrictions, while posting by email had certain issues too (such as the lack of including images in posts).

However, this past weekend the Blogger team have made a massive update for mobile bloggers, creating a simple, easy and user friendly service which we can use to post to our blogs using our mobile phones using SMS, MMS or email.

Now if you log into Blogger in Draft, you will notice two new icons beside each of your blog names. If you have not set up either email or mobile phone posting, both of these will be in a muted color; for a service which is set up for use with this particular blog, these icons will be highlighted:

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Blogging vis SMS and MMS

To set up your mobile phone and post by message to your blog, click on the phone icon beside your blog name in your Blogger dashboard;  a pop-up screen will appear which looks like this:

blogger-sms

This allows US residents to link their handset for SMS posting by texting their unique code to 256447.

If you live outside the United States and use an MMS enabled handset, you can choose to link your phone via MMS instead. Simply click on the MMS link on this pop-up page to be presented with a slightly different screen:

blogger-mms

In this case, you need to create an MMS (multimedia) message including your unique code and send this to go@blogger.com.

Note: Blogger has not yet verified if the code should be inserted into the “subject” section or the actual body of the MMS message. When testing this for my own blog, I included the code in both areas.

Once you have set up your mobile device for either SMS or MMS, all messages which you send to 256447 or go@blogger.com (depending on your message type) will be posted to the blog you have linked to your handset.

Blogging by email

If you have more than one blog, or are experiencing difficulties linking your handset to your Blogger blog, you may want to choose to blog via email instead. Most modern mobile phones allow you to send emails using your handset, so check your phone’s user manual if you are unsure.

To set up email posting for your blog, click on the envelope icon beside your blog name when viewing the Blogger dashboard. A pop-up screen like this will appear:

blogger-email

In this section, you can add secret words to complete your unique email address which can be used to post articles to your Blogger blog. This email will considt of the following format:

[yourusername].{your-secret-words}@blogger.com

Once you have chosen your secret words, save these settings. Then you can create a post in your email editor to send to your Blogger blog for publication.

Creating the title for your post

When using email to post to your Blogger blog, the subject line of your email will become the title of your post.

Adding images to emailed posts

Now it is possible to attach an image to your email which will be posted along with the body of your email as your post. Your picture will appear right at the top center or your post, beneatht the title and before the main body of your article. As far as I can tell, it is currently only possible to attact one image for each post (though I will experiment and update this article if I discover something new!).

iPhone Blogger?

If you use an iPhone, you may be interested to try using the BlogPress app for posting to your Blogger blog rather than using Blogger Mobile. Using BlogPress, you can add multiple images to your posts, and can even attribute labels to your posts. This is currently priced at $9.99 and is available through the Apps Store.

Limitations and issues for mobile blogging with Blogger

I personally have found this new system for mobile blogging to be easier and more user friendly than before. However, I must say that there are some limitations and issues you may encounter when attempting to register your handset for mobile blogging.

  • Non-US Bloggers cannot post by SMS. Networks outside the United States are not currently supported for SMS posting. Also it should be noted that Bloggers using the T-Mobile network cannot currently send SMS posts to Blogger.
  • MMS may be difficult to set up. Personally I have been unable to verify my mobile phone number to post by MMS yet (though I have been assured by other bloggers in the UK that this is possible). I think this may well be a network issue, rather than a problem at Blogger’s end.
  • Not all networks are supported. You can check if your mobile network supports MMS sending to Blogger on this page. I can’t be sure when this list was last updated, so it’s worth trying to register your handset at least in case your network has not been added to the list of successful providers yet. You can also request your carrier to be accomodated using the form on this page.
  • You can only link your phone number to one blog. Once you have successfully linked your mobile phone number, any messages sent to Blogger will appear as posts on the blog you have linked it to. There does not seem to be the option at present to link your device to more than one blog, or to disconnect this number from the particular blog.
  • Labels cannot be added when using Blogger Mobile. Instead you will need to edit your posts after sending them, through the Blogger dashboard.

What can be said though is that the updates for mobile posting are currently “in draft” and not available through the regular Blogger dashboard. This enables the Blogger team to update the service and resolve any issues related to this service before they are rolled out to the main Blogger interface.

If you have experienced problems using the updated Blogger Mobile service, the Blogger team invite you to post details of this in the comments section of the introductory post (be sure to include details of your mobile carrier, the method you used to post and your blog’s URL).

What do you think about mobile posting with Blogger?

Have you used your mobile device to post to your Blogger blog? Do you think this is a useful addition to Blogger’s array of services for bloggers? Let us know about your experiences and what you think about this update by leaving your comments below.

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Amanda is a freelance blogger and web/blog designer. She writes about Blogger at www.BloggerBuster.com and maintains several other blogs on various subjects.

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7 Habits That Can Make You a More Efficient Blogger

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Starting a blog is exciting, whether you’re using it as an extension to promote your current business or you’re just trying to maintain the blog as a personal endeavor. In any case, part of your success will depend on your ability to write new blog posts at an efficient rate; if you aren’t producing new blog posts fast enough, your audience could lose interest in your content. Similarly, if it takes you too long to write a new blog post, your profitability is going to decrease.

The solution is to focus on improving your efficiency as a blogger, so you can accomplish more in less time and end up with more raw content as a result.  

The Best Habits to Improve Your Efficiency

These are some of the best habits to improve your efficiency as a blogger:

  1. Dress professionally. If you’re working from home or blogging in your free time, you’ll be tempted to wear the most comfortable clothes and lounge in the living room while writing. But if you want to be successful and work efficiently, it’s much better to dress professionally and establish a professional work area. The idea is to treat your blog work like it’s your job. You’ll take your work more seriously, and you’ll be less inclined to follow distractions. It may also change how you think about your work and how you approach problem-solving.
  2. Practice good hygiene. While you’re at it, make sure to practice good hygiene—especially if blogging is your full-time job. The most obvious habit here is to shower regularly, but you’ll also want to keep your clothes clean, take good care of your environment, or as 14K Gold Teeth suggests, clean accessories like custom gold grillz. You’ll feel more professional in your environment and will have less clutter to distract you.
  3. Stick to a routine. Routines are vital for improving your efficiency. They help you establish consistent processes, which you can follow to save time and refine your habits. They give you something predictable to work with, so you aren’t scrambling to figure out what to work on next. They also reinforce your most productive habits, so you can continue working without thinking too much about it—in other words, they’re procrastination-busters.
  4. Set a strict schedule. While you’re developing your routine, try to create and stick to a strict schedule. For example, you might set a timer for one hour to read the latest news, a half hour designated to preparing an outline, and another hour to finish your full first draft. These temporal limitations help you avoid Parkinson’s law, which states that the amount of time it takes to do a task will swell to fill whatever amount of time is allotted to it; in other words, the tighter you set your timetables, the more efficiently you’ll be motivated to work.
  5. Keep an editorial calendar. Create a high-level editorial calendar as early as possible, and stick to it the best you can. This will help you ensure your high-level goals and priorities never fall out of your sight, and make sure you never run out of work. Set target dates for drafting and publication, so you’re always working toward something, and jot down your new topic ideas whenever you get them.
  6. Stay organized. This should go without saying, but the vast majority of new bloggers suffer from not being organized. They read new material that could serve as inspiration for a new post, but lose the original article. They set goals for themselves, but forget them or change them too frequently for them to take effect. Create a system for taking notes and keeping track of your high-level priorities, and stick to it.
  7. Keep reading on a regular basis. Reading is one of the best ways to consistently and reliably improve your writing, so make time for it in your schedule. Reading work like yours can help you generate new ideas, improve your vocabulary, and increase your fluency, so you can write faster.

Learning and Improving

It’s a good idea to track your time while working on blog-related tasks. It will allow you to gather data on your productivity habits, and ideally, see how they improve over time. If there’s a particular task that takes up a disproportionate amount of your time, you can drop it or focus specifically on improving it. If you notice a strategy is making you more efficient in one or more areas, you can use it more frequently or apply it to different areas.

In any case, the real secret to becoming a more efficient blogger is committing to improve over time. Pay attention to how your habits develop, and continually refine your approach.

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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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