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Podcasting Experiments

Podcasting Experiments is all about experimenting with your podcast. We explore ways you can implement and test different ideas to improve your podcast by looking at different strategies and ideas from other podcasters.
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Now displaying: December, 2014
Dec 31, 2014

Many are concerned about the design and layout of their websites. This session covers several things that you want to consider regarding your website design:

WordPress Theme
Clean layout
Minimalism
Sidebar - to have or not to have?

Your website design
As you get started, you want to put a good consideration into the theme that you choose. A great design for your website isn't a one-size-fits-all - everyone's needs are different. Take enough time to choose wisely.
Your website theme
You can choose between free and premium themes. There are also great WordPress frameworks available, such as the Genesis Framework (which this site it built on).

 

The post Simple web design and layout tips for your blog (2-6) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 31, 2014

Many are concerned about the design and layout of their websites. This session covers several things that you want to consider regarding your website design:

WordPress Theme
Clean layout
Minimalism
Sidebar - to have or not to have?

Your website design
As you get started, you want to put a good consideration into the theme that you choose. A great design for your website isn't a one-size-fits-all - everyone's needs are different. Take enough time to choose wisely.
Your website theme
You can choose between free and premium themes. There are also great WordPress frameworks available, such as the Genesis Framework (which this site it built on).

 

The post Simple web design and layout tips for your blog (2-6) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 23, 2014

If you are blogging, you are likely wanting to create a conversation with your readers. A great way to do this is utilizing a comment system.
Why you may not want comments
There are some cases where you may not desire to have comments. There are some thought leaders that have opted to disable comments on their blogs. Seth Godin, for example, doesn't allow comments. He chooses to give to his readers and have them share the post on social media. He wrote a post about his reasons back in 2006.

One reason you may choose not to allow comments is the potential time commitment. Especially if your readership grows, the number of comments will grow. This increases the amount you need to read and potentially respond to. This increases the amount of possible spam comments or trolls looking for a fight.
Why you might want comments
Despite the work involved, you want to cultivate a deeper relationship with your readers by creating a conversation. You start the conversation in the body of the post, then the readers respond to it, and hopefully the conversation with continue.

You may be looking for the extra perspective that your readers may provide. You probably don't know everything about your subject, and your readers may be able to provide a different perspective that you hadn't considered. Maybe you'll be able to get ideas for future blog posts based on the comments and questions in the comment section.
Managing the comments
1. Use a commenting system
WordPress comes with a built-in commenting system. Some people use it and love it. Personally, I don't care for it too much. I like using a third-party plugin. Two that I have used are Livefyre and Disqus (pronounced "discuss"). I started with Livefyre several years ago, but switched to Disqus after seeing and using it on many blogs I followed.

Both Livefyre and Disqus require you to sign up for an account, which is simply providing your e-mail address or utilizing one of your social media accounts. They both also have a feature that e-mails you future comments on that post, allowing you to keep up with the growing conversation. (note: as the blogger, you'll receive notifications of comments anyway, but your readers that comment will be notified as well.)

One important aspect is spam filtering. Both of these systems help filter spam out. It's not fool-proof, but it's pretty good.
2. Use a spam filter
One popular spam filter is Akismet, which is a plugin that comes pre-installed on WordPress. You'll need to either sign up for a Wordpress.com account or connect to it to enable Akismet. There are different price points for Akismet, both free and paid.
3. Moderation
There can be debate on moderation of comments. One suggestion is to have all comments approved before they appear on the site. This is the best way to make sure spam or hurtful comments don't make it to the public. On the flip-side, it can hinder some of the interaction that can take place on the blog.

Based on recommendations from some top bloggers, like Michael Hyatt in his book Platform, I think that you should make it easy for people to leave comments. If you use a system like Disqus along with Akismet, you won't have to worry much about spam. The occasional may still show up, but you can easily blacklist them on the admin dashboard.
4. Comment policy
It would be wise to have a comment policy on your site. Michael Hyatt has some great resources regarding this: Do you need a comments policy?
5. Interact
One of the main reasons for having comments available is so you can interact with your readers. If you write your blog post and let your readers comment, but you don't show up again, you're being rude. Imagine doing this at a dinner party: would you start a conversation with someone and then walk away while they are talking?
Other helpful plugins

Dec 23, 2014

If you are blogging, you are likely wanting to create a conversation with your readers. A great way to do this is utilizing a comment system.
Why you may not want comments
There are some cases where you may not desire to have comments. There are some thought leaders that have opted to disable comments on their blogs. Seth Godin, for example, doesn't allow comments. He chooses to give to his readers and have them share the post on social media. He wrote a post about his reasons back in 2006.

One reason you may choose not to allow comments is the potential time commitment. Especially if your readership grows, the number of comments will grow. This increases the amount you need to read and potentially respond to. This increases the amount of possible spam comments or trolls looking for a fight.
Why you might want comments
Despite the work involved, you want to cultivate a deeper relationship with your readers by creating a conversation. You start the conversation in the body of the post, then the readers respond to it, and hopefully the conversation with continue.

You may be looking for the extra perspective that your readers may provide. You probably don't know everything about your subject, and your readers may be able to provide a different perspective that you hadn't considered. Maybe you'll be able to get ideas for future blog posts based on the comments and questions in the comment section.
Managing the comments
1. Use a commenting system
WordPress comes with a built-in commenting system. Some people use it and love it. Personally, I don't care for it too much. I like using a third-party plugin. Two that I have used are Livefyre and Disqus (pronounced "discuss"). I started with Livefyre several years ago, but switched to Disqus after seeing and using it on many blogs I followed.

Both Livefyre and Disqus require you to sign up for an account, which is simply providing your e-mail address or utilizing one of your social media accounts. They both also have a feature that e-mails you future comments on that post, allowing you to keep up with the growing conversation. (note: as the blogger, you'll receive notifications of comments anyway, but your readers that comment will be notified as well.)

One important aspect is spam filtering. Both of these systems help filter spam out. It's not fool-proof, but it's pretty good.
2. Use a spam filter
One popular spam filter is Akismet, which is a plugin that comes pre-installed on WordPress. You'll need to either sign up for a Wordpress.com account or connect to it to enable Akismet. There are different price points for Akismet, both free and paid.
3. Moderation
There can be debate on moderation of comments. One suggestion is to have all comments approved before they appear on the site. This is the best way to make sure spam or hurtful comments don't make it to the public. On the flip-side, it can hinder some of the interaction that can take place on the blog.

Based on recommendations from some top bloggers, like Michael Hyatt in his book Platform, I think that you should make it easy for people to leave comments. If you use a system like Disqus along with Akismet, you won't have to worry much about spam. The occasional may still show up, but you can easily blacklist them on the admin dashboard.
4. Comment policy
It would be wise to have a comment policy on your site. Michael Hyatt has some great resources regarding this: Do you need a comments policy?
5. Interact
One of the main reasons for having comments available is so you can interact with your readers. If you write your blog post and let your readers comment, but you don't show up again, you're being rude. Imagine doing this at a dinner party: would you start a conversation with someone and then walk away while they are talking?
Other helpful plugins

Dec 17, 2014

We all have an inner-editor that can help us improve the quality and flow of our writing. But, there is tremendous value in having someone else take some time to edit your work.

Today, Jim Woods joins us to talk about editing, and his experience on both sides of the process. You can check out his website, connect with him on Twitter, or join his Facebook group, Writers Unite.
Resources:
Five incredibly simple ways to help writers show and not tell

Bury the "I"

Common words/phrases in Scrivener
An example of an edited blog post
Jim Woods edited a blog post I did ("What's the ideal post length"), and I show you the before and after of this process in this PDF:

Editing a Blog Post Example

Quotes from the conversation
[Tweet "It's amazing how much extra #perspective can really help. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "Most #writers are intimidated by the process of #editing. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "A good #editor has the best final piece in mind. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "You have to put out your best product. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "What's logical for you may not be logical for your ideal reader. - @jimwoodswrites #editing"]

[Tweet "Sometimes we hit the publish button too quickly. - jimwoodswrites #editing"]

The post How to utilize the power of editing your blog posts with Jim Woods (2-4) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 17, 2014

We all have an inner-editor that can help us improve the quality and flow of our writing. But, there is tremendous value in having someone else take some time to edit your work.

Today, Jim Woods joins us to talk about editing, and his experience on both sides of the process. You can check out his website, connect with him on Twitter, or join his Facebook group, Writers Unite.
Resources:
Five incredibly simple ways to help writers show and not tell

Bury the "I"

Common words/phrases in Scrivener
An example of an edited blog post
Jim Woods edited a blog post I did ("What's the ideal post length"), and I show you the before and after of this process in this PDF:

Editing a Blog Post Example

Quotes from the conversation
[Tweet "It's amazing how much extra #perspective can really help. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "Most #writers are intimidated by the process of #editing. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "A good #editor has the best final piece in mind. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "You have to put out your best product. - @jimwoodswrites"]

[Tweet "What's logical for you may not be logical for your ideal reader. - @jimwoodswrites #editing"]

[Tweet "Sometimes we hit the publish button too quickly. - jimwoodswrites #editing"]

The post How to utilize the power of editing your blog posts with Jim Woods (2-4) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 12, 2014

As we dive further into blogging, we are going to look specifically at the content itself.

Utilizing some of the ideas from the previous session (looking at search engine optimization), there are several key areas that we need to look at regarding our content. Remember that SEO covers both the front end (the visual end) and the back end of your website. We are just looking at the front end today.

1. You need a powerful headline
This is one area I need to really work on improving. Headlines are the title of your post. They are the second thing people usually see (after a relevant image) and the first thing people read. They are the doorway into the post, so you want to make it as appealing (yet truthful) as possible.

Copyblogger has some great resources regarding magnetic headlines.
2. You need an intriguing opening
If the headline can be compared to the door of a house, the first sentence and paragraph would be the entrance welcoming you to come further. Just as the entrance to a house can set the mood for the entire house, the tone is set in these first few words.

Jeff Goins suggests starting with a quote, a question, or a bold, audacious statement. A short, relevant story can help draw the readers' attention and create a desire to keep reading.
3. You need headings and sub-headings
It's an older study, but the Nielson Norman Group deduced in 1997 that 79% percent of Web users scan content rather than read it. One reason they give is that it is more difficult to read on a screen than it is to read on paper, slowing the person down. If you couple this with the fast-paced society we live in, people what to quickly find what they are looking for.

Heading and sub-heading help to make the major points stand out. A scanner of your content should get a good idea what you are talking about just from a quick look through. Hopefully, you can entice them to slow down and read more thoroughly, but you should make it easy for them.
4. You need shorter sentences and paragraphs
Longer, complex sentences make it more difficult to read. I know, I know. In English class, you were taught to write with a variety of sentence structures. But that doesn't always work well online.

Remembering that many people are just scanning your content, they will miss more if there is a large sea of text. Shorter, simple sentences make it easy to see the point. Short paragraphs make it easy to visually break things up.

White space is good.
5. You need to emphasize your text
Well, don't emphasize all of your text. Just the text that needs to stand out more. Not everything can fit as a heading, but still needs more attention that the text around it.

You can emphasize text by using bold, italics, or strike-through.
You can use lists, both numbered lists and bullet points.
Underlining is not a good method because it can look like a link.
Putting a word or single sentence on its own can help bring emphasis, too. (white space is good)

Other considerations
I plan on covering some more regarding the content itself, but here are some other things to keep in mind:

Post length - short or long?
Call to action
Images
Links
Guest posting
Republishing

Question: How can you improve your content? Is there anything you would add to this list?

The post How to improve the content you are creating (2-3) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 10, 2014

As we dive further into blogging, we are going to look specifically at the content itself.

Utilizing some of the ideas from the previous session (looking at search engine optimization), there are several key areas that we need to look at regarding our content. Remember that SEO covers both the front end (the visual end) and the back end of your website. We are just looking at the front end today.

1. You need a powerful headline
This is one area I need to really work on improving. Headlines are the title of your post. They are the second thing people usually see (after a relevant image) and the first thing people read. They are the doorway into the post, so you want to make it as appealing (yet truthful) as possible.

Copyblogger has some great resources regarding magnetic headlines.
2. You need an intriguing opening
If the headline can be compared to the door of a house, the first sentence and paragraph would be the entrance welcoming you to come further. Just as the entrance to a house can set the mood for the entire house, the tone is set in these first few words.

Jeff Goins suggests starting with a quote, a question, or a bold, audacious statement. A short, relevant story can help draw the readers' attention and create a desire to keep reading.
3. You need headings and sub-headings
It's an older study, but the Nielson Norman Group deduced in 1997 that 79% percent of Web users scan content rather than read it. One reason they give is that it is more difficult to read on a screen than it is to read on paper, slowing the person down. If you couple this with the fast-paced society we live in, people what to quickly find what they are looking for.

Heading and sub-heading help to make the major points stand out. A scanner of your content should get a good idea what you are talking about just from a quick look through. Hopefully, you can entice them to slow down and read more thoroughly, but you should make it easy for them.
4. You need shorter sentences and paragraphs
Longer, complex sentences make it more difficult to read. I know, I know. In English class, you were taught to write with a variety of sentence structures. But that doesn't always work well online.

Remembering that many people are just scanning your content, they will miss more if there is a large sea of text. Shorter, simple sentences make it easy to see the point. Short paragraphs make it easy to visually break things up.

White space is good.
5. You need to emphasize your text
Well, don't emphasize all of your text. Just the text that needs to stand out more. Not everything can fit as a heading, but still needs more attention that the text around it.

You can emphasize text by using bold, italics, or strike-through.
You can use lists, both numbered lists and bullet points.
Underlining is not a good method because it can look like a link.
Putting a word or single sentence on its own can help bring emphasis, too. (white space is good)

Other considerations
I plan on covering some more regarding the content itself, but here are some other things to keep in mind:

Post length - short or long?
Call to action
Images
Links
Guest posting
Republishing

Question: How can you improve your content? Is there anything you would add to this list?

The post How to improve the content you are creating (2-3) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 3, 2014

In this episode, Ilya Fainstein joins us to share his tips regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You can contact Ilya on his website.

SEO is basically sending out a proper signal to the search engines so they can interpret what your website is about, make a judgment about your website, and then rank your site accordingly in search results.
Submitting your site to search engines
Sometimes you may get e-mails or see advertisements for people offering services to submit your website to search engines (making you think that you won't be found if you don't).

It's not really necessary to do this because the search engines are good at finding sites. Through Google Webmaster tools, you can submit an XML sitemap to them. This may accelerate the process, but it's nothing to worry too much about.
Back-linking
It is one of the most important thing in SEO, but it has changed. There were bad practices of paying for rubbish links to your site - this will lead to negative consequences from Google.

A good example: you write a blog post and then someone authentically links to your article from a relevant site.
Get quality links!
Meta tags
Meta tags are really important, but not to SEO rankings. There is no need for stuffing the keyword meta tags - Google ignores these for ranking purposes. You have to write your meta-tags like a good ad. They won't help your ranking, but will help the click-through rate.
Keywords
Consistency is key.
It is half-art, half-science.

Have the keyword be consistent throughout the entire structure of the post:

Post title
Post url
Throughout the body of the post

Use the keyword naturally!
Use synonyms - Google is smart enough to figure out that you may use other variations throughout.
Creating content
Just creating great content isn't enough. It is vital, but it doesn't stand on its own.

Write your content for people (not computers), but you have to get out there and promote your content.

Derek Halpern talks about an 80-20 rule regarding this: 20% content creation, 80% promotion.
Extras
SEO is a very confusing topic. There's a lot of information and things change quickly, so you need to pick your sources carefully.
SEO is not dead!
As long as Google provides search results, SEO will be very much worthwhile.

The post Search Engine Optimization with Ilya Fainstein (2-2) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

Dec 3, 2014

In this episode, Ilya Fainstein joins us to share his tips regarding Search Engine Optimization (SEO). You can contact Ilya on his website.

SEO is basically sending out a proper signal to the search engines so they can interpret what your website is about, make a judgment about your website, and then rank your site accordingly in search results.
Submitting your site to search engines
Sometimes you may get e-mails or see advertisements for people offering services to submit your website to search engines (making you think that you won't be found if you don't).

It's not really necessary to do this because the search engines are good at finding sites. Through Google Webmaster tools, you can submit an XML sitemap to them. This may accelerate the process, but it's nothing to worry too much about.
Back-linking
It is one of the most important thing in SEO, but it has changed. There were bad practices of paying for rubbish links to your site - this will lead to negative consequences from Google.

A good example: you write a blog post and then someone authentically links to your article from a relevant site.
Get quality links!
Meta tags
Meta tags are really important, but not to SEO rankings. There is no need for stuffing the keyword meta tags - Google ignores these for ranking purposes. You have to write your meta-tags like a good ad. They won't help your ranking, but will help the click-through rate.
Keywords
Consistency is key.
It is half-art, half-science.

Have the keyword be consistent throughout the entire structure of the post:

Post title
Post url
Throughout the body of the post

Use the keyword naturally!
Use synonyms - Google is smart enough to figure out that you may use other variations throughout.
Creating content
Just creating great content isn't enough. It is vital, but it doesn't stand on its own.

Write your content for people (not computers), but you have to get out there and promote your content.

Derek Halpern talks about an 80-20 rule regarding this: 20% content creation, 80% promotion.
Extras
SEO is a very confusing topic. There's a lot of information and things change quickly, so you need to pick your sources carefully.
SEO is not dead!
As long as Google provides search results, SEO will be very much worthwhile.

The post Search Engine Optimization with Ilya Fainstein (2-2) appeared first on Creative Studio Academy.

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