COM0014 – Blog #2: The Birth of a Blogger

…”And, so, we had to drag the body out through the back yard.”

That sentence was at the top of a multi-page letter my brother sent me years ago. Of course, I flipped back to the bottom of the previous page to see if I’d missed something fairly significant! Maybe I was just giving it a superficial read, as mentioned in Brian Clark‘s How to Read article (not that I knew that term then … just learned about it!). But, no, of course he was playing a trick and the next line said something along the line of ‘fishing me in’. The joke certainly kept me engaged and I felt closer to my brother, like he was in the same room with me bantering back and forth.

So, I’ve been remembering the importance of storytelling in my life and seeing the relevance in today’s digital communications. I’ve also been reflecting this week on how much I miss creative writing. I hadn’t done it in so long that I vaguely assumed that I had lost the talent entirely. Now, I’m actually thinking of continuing with a blog! A week ago, I barely had blogs on my radar at all and couldn’t tell you if they were even a thing anymore.

Spark of creativity

It is amazing the unexpected things that light a spark in our lives. Maybe you remember a time when something out of the blue motivated you to do something you forgot you knew how to do? Or, encouraged you to start something brand new? Let me know about it!

Who knows, the stories we tell may light a spark in someone else’s life!


Here’s a little fire to remind us of the spark that is in all of us.

Image by Debra Beauregard; outdoor fireplace in the backyard; 2020

2020: Was It the Year of All Things Social Media?

Photo by Tatiana Syrikova on Pexels.com

We have officially made it to 2021, a year of recovering and hope, a year that seemed to have taken it’s sweet time getting here. 2020 was a devastating year to many, it was a time where the world was locked in their homes, away from friends and family, leaving them to turn to social media to connect. This was the biggest year for social media according to Hootsuite, 3.8 billion people, or 49 percent of the planet’s population, were active on social media. I would be lying if I said looking at my screen time these days didn’t alarm me, I devoted most of my 2020 year to watching TikTok video’s and planning out my Instagram feed, as I am sure many of you can relate.

For a year that was mostly distanced, I did find it one of my most social, I found myself on Facetime, Imessage, and Messenger more then ever before. I had nothing but time to reach out and check up on what some of my friends and family were doing, it confused me as I had never been closer to people, despite the physical distance. The amount of new apps that were downloaded on my phone in 2020 was at an all time high, I had downloaded TikTok the week of the first lockdown, I truly believe it was one of the only things keeping me entertained, as my attention was only needed for a 15-60 second video, until I would swipe to the next, which I did for countless hours and days. I don’t believe that the app would of had as much success as it did if it wasn’t for the pandemic, people chose to laugh and bond over an app that helped escape the reality that was 2020.

Photo by Polina Kovaleva on Pexels.com

With much of the world in a stay at home order, many people lost their jobs or had to work from home, you could say that people involved in social media work were quite lucky as it was almost like business as usual, but in their pyjamas. Influencers also had the ability to continue working almost as normal, with people turning to their phones more then ever, the attention was on them to grow and promote. Online shopping was heavily abused throughout the year, I can promise I made up a good chunk of that percentage. With people constantly scrolling through their social apps and seeing all the brands and influencers posting about the latest trends, and with nothing on the calendar to look forward to, why not order a little something to keep a lookout for in the mail. In many ways, social media had a hand in keeping 2020 afloat.

So if 2020 was the year of all things social media, what is in store for 2021? Will we top the numbers from the year before? How will this affect us once we return to our normal routines? Will we be doing TikTok dances at our desks? These are the questions I am left asking myself. I am hopeful and excited to see what is to come for 2021 on all things social media and our normal lives. What app did you spend your time on in 2020? What do you think is to come from all of this in 2021? Share your thoughts below!

Sources :

https://www.hootsuite.com/

https://www.bbc.com/culture/article/20201216-how-tiktok-changed-the-world-in-2020

Marketing and Social Media Tools that Surprised Me

Marketing and Social Media Tools that Surprised Me

Photo found on Unsplash

During the last few months, while taking this social media certificate at Algonquin College, I have found quite a few new social media marketing tools and applications. Some were completely unexpected to me.
The two applications that I am going to mention in today’s blog, I want to explore more in the next few months.

TikTok

I started exploring a few new tools and I must say that I thought that I would be too old for TikTok because their demographic is between the ages of 16-24. But after giving it a closer look I started to like it and made an account. I am not sure yet how often I will post something there, because I am still figuring out the platform but the more time I spent on it the more I like it.
And quite honestly, I never thought I would say that about TikTok.

With 800 million active users this app can just be worth a try and be a powerful tool in the marketing strategy of any business.

Photo by: http://www.canva.com

Canva

The second social media marketing tool that was unexpected for me is Canva. Before I took the courses at Algonquin College I had heard about Canva, but I was surprised how user-friendly the tool is and that even the free version lets you create beautiful content for your social media platforms.
Recently I started using Canva to help create content for my first client that she used on her Instagram page (see screenshot below). This will be my go-to tool for the future for creating content.

What social media marketing tools and applications surprised you? Let me know in the comments below.

Personal Reflection – Digital Communication

Personal Reflection – Digital Communication

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio (Pexels.com)

What I learnt in this course is, that we need great storytelling for compelling content marketing that will grasp the attention of the consumer. Especially in the fast-paced world of social media in that, we live today.

I also learnt that we should not be afraid to make mistakes and not to over-edit our work. We learn and grow from our mistakes – as writers and marketers. In the past, I was always too scared to make mistakes or thought I should not write about a certain subject, but after this course, I will change that.

We also need to remember to be transparent in the relationship with our customers. So, I will try and find a piece of myself in every story that I will write from now on.

I was also too afraid to be too personal in the content that I post online, but now I will start to embrace that and be more transparent and share more personal stories.
Thank you!

Com0014: Blog#7: Recipe for Success: Blog Plating 101

Photo by Trang Doan on Pexels.com

Just like a chef, bloggers need to prepare and present content that looks so appealing that it will entice the customer to consume it. Throughout this course, I have found many similarities between the culinary and literary worlds, so much so that it has left me hungry to develop this easy-to-follow recipe:  Blog Plating 101

Step 1: Know your audience

Who is going to be consuming this?  Audiences can be diverse – – different generations, backgrounds, interests and tastes.  Write with the audience in mind, not yourself. What is their experience level?  What type of appetite do they have for jargon and terminology? 

Step 2: Create a Framework

Pick a main idea (or ingredient), do your research and build a framework by listing the most important information first as many do not read past the first few sentences.  Be sure to include interesting tidbits and a cue for engagement.  Be clear and concise and format the material so it’s easy to digest. 

Step 3: Make it Appealing

People connect with people and their stories rather than encyclopedias and lists of information.  Titles should be tempting and support images eye-catching. You can even sauce it up with your own humour but don’t overpower your main topic.  Garnish with your own style.

Step 4: Taste Testing

Test everything before it goes out the publishing door.  Personally, I utilize speech programs and listen to the content being read aloud  – – Did that passage make sense?  Is punctuation needed to make it flow more smoothly?  My goal is to create content that will inform and engage, not sour the reader’s taste buds.

Everything on the blog plate should serve a purpose and be a literary expression of one’s many flavours.  

Comment below with your own ‘secret ingredient’ for blogging (and try to keep it within the ‘culinary’ theme).

4 Ways to Tailor What You’re Seeing Online

Even though the Wild West of Web 1.0 has been wrangled with the advent of social media, there is still more content published online than any one person could hope to discover! So what’s the best way to go about finding what we want to see, as personal Internet users, and as a digital brand?

Brand Feedback

There are so many options for social media listening tools that it can be hard to narrow down which ones to use! Though tons of paid options for social listening are out there if you’re willing to spring for them, simple tools like Google Alerts can help you stay up to date on what audiences are saying about your brand. I consider it one of the best unpaid listening tools out there as it creates an RSS feed of keyword notifications that you can choose, including hashtags. You can always trust our Internet overlords Google to provide us with a good system to monitor our brands’ digital presence! Google has also created a program to monitor website and social media analytics (Google Analytics)! These two free programs provide you with a combination of quantitative and qualitative data to know what’s going on with your brand and it’s digital presence, and are super easy to set up and navigate.

pretend edward cullen GIF

My Personal Feed

When it comes to getting news and web content curated to my interests, Google doesn’t have quite the same iron grip on my Internet use. Here, Reddit (reddit.com) holds the key to my heart, as it provides a front page similar to an RSS feed based on “subreddits” (collections of community-curated web content based around any and every subject you could imagine) that you subscribe to. This allows me to go to one website for anything from Black Mirror discussion groups to local Ottawa news to Lord of the Rings Memes and everything in between. As much as I love Reddit for personal use and don’t personally use it in any professional respect, I can see the potential that a site like Reddit holds. Reddit is often one of the most up-to-date sources of news, memes, and other Internet content, and appeals to an audience that is not always as present on traditional social media. The specificity of the communities that exist on this website are the perfect source for community observation and discussion. Stay away from a sales-push on Reddit though! Users are quick to sniff out a sales tactic and generally don’t tolerate the use of the platform as a marketing opportunity – another reason why I love to use it!

episode 2 my safe space is reddit GIF by Portlandia

I’ve also been a huge fan of the new Instagram feature of following hashtags the same way you can follow users, with a collection of tagged photos showing up on your feed! While, again, I have made liberal use of this on my personal accounts (hello #guineapigs!), it is also great if you are planning a campaign based around hashtag use, as now the content generated from this campaign will show up directly in your feed. If your brand is present on Instagram, hashtag campaigns are great because they generate both free publicity by encouraging people to post related to your brand, and the potential for free content (and community kudos) by regramming the best shots!

beautiful late night GIF by PBS

These are just a couple of my favourite online sources for curated content and digital feedback. What are you using right now to stay up to date on your favourite web content? Let me know in the comments below so I can check them out!

COM0014 – Blog #2: Are Your Reading Level & How You Write – Connected?

“Think of reading this way, and you quickly realize how this allows you to deliver unique value to your readers as a publisher.” says, Brian Clark of copyblogger.com, “How to Read”.

       This week my eyes were opened to the obvious fact that being a great reader can make me a better writer. I didn’t know four levels of reading existed, I could tell I had trouble reading more analytical and syntopical blogs because these are meant for deep conversations in topics filled with data and philosophical questions. Nope. Whereas reading elementary and inspectional blogs came easier to me with more terminology I could understand with a broad knowledge of understanding. WooHoo!

      I have been working on my reading since giving this blog a read and it is improving where I publish, how I write and what ideas would be most beneficial when planning my blog. I strongly suggest you check out the link I embedded in the article, as you can learn to be a better writer in 10 minutes.

     I’ve learned about writing before and have always been in love with it, over the years my knowledge has been persuaded to focus on other paths and have lost my time with it. I feel out of the loop, I wrote blogs with meaningful information, links and perfect grammar but I still felt like something was missing. Thanks to my course, I am pretty sure I found the diamond I was looking for.

Blog Post #3: Professional Networking Now and in the Future

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 10.43.56 PM

Photo from Eventbrite

In the past while I was living in London, networking was easy. I would attend multiple events per week in the evenings after work, as well as connect online on LinkedIn and Instagram. 

There was always something going on, which made for a pretty hectic work week but kept up the excitement to the point where I never really had time to be nervous about meeting new people since it was so fast paced. 

Since being back in Ottawa, over the past few months I have definitely let the cold weather keep me more indoors. There’s not as much going on in terms of events, but through different search mediums I can get the most out of my location.

Eventbrite is a great source for finding events in cities all over the world. Some events cost money, but quite a few of them are free. You are able to search by location or key word, and input dates to refine your search. 

Another application I use to find events is Couchsurfing. This is primarily an app that lets you find hosts for free accommodation. There is also a feature where you can search for events in whatever city you are in.

I was able to network and meet amazing people in Paris, for example, when I was doing photography for a festival. We met at the Louvre, all not knowing each other, had a picnic and then went to the festival together. How cool is that?

Screen Shot 2019-03-08 at 10.31.55 PM.png

Couchsurfing friends and I in Paris, Lollapalooza 2017

Currently, I have been looking at Facebook events to see what events are coming up or that show friends in attendance. Eventbrite is also still a great tool to find both online and in person networking events. 

In the next 6-12 months I will be working at a new job, so I hope to network as much as I can there and meet new people. I also plan to attend any relevant events I can find that interest me or can aid in my professional development. 

After meeting someone in person, I could also be more vigilant in connecting online via LinkedIn as well. Making the extra effort and keeping in touch with people is necessary to building that connection. 

Instagram is a growing platform for networking—following certain hashtags can allow me to find new people or brands to connect with that may share my same interests. 

I would like to attend at least one in person networking event per month—whether for work or for personal endeavours. I also want to post three times per week on Instagram with insightful and artistic content highlighting my photography or other skills. 

Just showing up to events is half the battle for me, since I can be quite anxious when I am by myself—but I also realize that I have the most potential for networking when I am alone as it forces me to get outside my comfort zone.

When I attend events I usually like to set a goal, like talking to three new people and collecting at least one business card or contact information. Making one strong connection is better than saying hello to many people and not fully resonating with anyone. 

Connecting online is generally much easier than in person; however, if I can get through to someone in person and then follow up online, that is my preferable route to building a strong professional relationship. 

What is your favourite way to connect? Let me know in the comments!

Online Theft: Protect your blog against copyright infringement

 

Photo by Picography on pexels.com

You work hard on your blog and the content that goes into it. How would you feel if someone stole your content and passed it off as their own? That’s what we call copyright infringement.

By definition, according to Wikipedia, copyright infringement is the use of works protected by copyright law without permission, infringing certain exclusive rights granted to the copyright holder, such as the right to reproduce, distribute, display or perform the protected work, or to make derivative works. The copyright holder is typically the work’s creator, or a publisher or other business to whom copyright has been assigned. Copyright holders routinely invoke legal and technological measures to prevent and penalize copyright infringement. (Copyright Infringement, Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia, January 24, 2019, Retrieved January 28, 2019, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Copyright_infringement).

In simple terms, it’s theft.

Myths vs Facts

Copyright is a pretty complicated issue. I think many people misunderstand what’s allowed and don’t necessarily realize how to go about using photos and content from different sources for their own use, or maybe they just don’t care and take their chances because it’s easier than going through a lengthy process to get approval.

Here are some myths around copyright:

Copyright Infringement: 5 Myths vs Facts

Internet Copyright Infringement by Visually

How to Copyright your blog

Did you know that as soon as your blog is published online, it is protected under Canadian copyright law if your content is original? This means that others must ask for your permission to use your work. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

Here are a few things you can do protect your blog content:

  1. Complete a copyright registration through Industry Canada. When you register your copyright, you get a certificate of registration that can be used in court and gives you leverage for collecting damages.
  2. Place a copyright notice at the bottom of each page of your blog. Include the word “Copyright” and/or the copyright symbol (©), the year of publication, your name and the phrase “All Rights Reserved.” You can place a copyright notice on your blog pages even if you have not yet filed for copyright registration.
  3. Develop a strategy to detect infringement. You may also want to invest in software that can detect theft if you have spent the time and money to register your copyright But, I guess this all depends on how serious you are about pursuing legal action if you detect a theft has occurred with your content.
  4. Have a system in place to allow others to ask for permission to use your content. You don’t want anyone to steal your blog content so why not make it easier for people to ask for permission to use it. Include a section on your website about how to go about this and include the details they need to provide in order to consider approval.
  5. You could also go as far as registering a Trade Mark for your blog. You can find more information about this here. (http://www.trademarkcanada.org/)

What’s your take?

I think these are all great strategies to protect your content. I’m not sure I’d go as far as ordering infringement detection software for a small personal blog but I can see this being very relevant for large blog owners or businesses.  What do you think about these strategies? Do you have any other suggestions? What are strategies you would use to protect your content? I’d really like to know!

 

   Bloggers! Don’t get caught by copyright infringement. Learn how to protect yourself. https://bit.ly/2CQ6gUs #copyrightinfringement

  Are you a hard working blogger? Know how to protect your content. https://bit.ly/2CQ6gUs #copyrightinfringement

References:

Government of Canada, (2018, April 27), Retrieved from:  http://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cipointernet-internetopic.nsf/eng/h_wr00003.html

CARNES, D. , Retrieved from: https://info.legalzoom.com/copyright-website-canada-22586.htmRetrieved from: https://info.legalzoom.com/copyright-website-canada-22586.html

 

Fear and Loathing in Las Blogas

For those of you, who like me, are new to the world of blogging, you might also feel like the only people you are blogging for are your mother and your best friend. I’m here to tell you that you are not alone. Far from it. In fact, many, many successful bloggers have written about how to persevere with your blog when you don’t have an audience. Below is the digest of my research and how I plan to overcome my frustration of writing for no one – YET.

Promotion, promotion, promotion!

I have learned in these last few weeks through a lot of reading and listening to experts, and also through this course the value of promoting your content. Sonia Simone from CopyBlogger writes “until you build an audience that’s interested in what you are doing, you have to promote your content.”

In other words, you shouldn’t just wait for people to find your content. You should invite them to see it.

A little further in Sonia’s article, she writes, “waiting for social sharing to ‘just happen’ is like waiting for search engines to ‘just rank you’. You may be waiting for a long, long time. Until you are well established, you’ll want to get in there and give your content a good push.”

She suggests that sites like Facebook and LinkedIn are a great start for content promotion. I’d like to throw Twitter into that mix.

The flip side of not having an audience

You may think “how could I possibly benefit from not having an audience?” After all, the point is to gather some steady followers who enjoy what you have to offer and engage with them as often as you can so you can stay psyched to keep on creating and publishing, right?

Kali Roberge from Creative Advisor Marketing serves up 4 fresh perspectives on how not having a strong following can benefit you here. I am especially fond of number 4!

“Don’t be discouraged by a slow start. It offers the time and testing you need to lay the right foundation for success.” – Michael Hyatt

A few words about fear

The fear of publishing is real. I’ve been there and I have the tee-shirt in a few colours and sizes. Whether it’s not knowing exactly what it is that you want to write about, the fear of failure or just plain social anxiety, Mike Brown from The Blogging Buddha has you covered here.

He touches a bit on those aforementioned issues and suggests a few strategies to overcome them in a very down-to-earth way.

These posts that I have listed above are definitely ones that I will be revisiting in the future to boost up my confidence level. I hope you will too.

Here are a couple of other noteworthy resources to visit if you are a blogging novice and feeling shaky or you simply want to learn more:

  • Medium (they have an app too!)

Hopefully after reading this blog post, you went from feeling like this:

Source: giphy.com

To feeling like this:

Source: giphy.com

If you had a magic wand that with one wave could solve your biggest social media woe, what would you wave it for?

Tired of blogging for an audience of your mother? Head down here for some pointers on alleviating some of the most common blogging woes.

https://bit.ly/2EsJx3Y

Got the blogging blues? You’re not alone. Pick yourself up here: https://bit.ly/2EsJx3Y