Welcome to Edition #6 of the Weekly Wrap. This week, there’s snippets about new words in the English language, audiobooks and inspiring visualisations. I also look at a cool new writing tool, listen to a helpful new podcast for bloggers, review Hootsuite University and more.
This Maya Angelou quote really resonated with me this week. I know a couple of families who are dealing with shocking, unexpected tragedies right now, and this image reminded me of the fragility of life, and our ability to say or do something to brighten someone’s day. I photographed this gorgeous butterfly in a butterfly farm in the Angkor complex in Cambodia a couple of years ago. What I loved most about the Cambodian people is that despite the country’s horrifying past, the younger generation is upbeat and bright, and I’m sure, the rainbow in the older generation’s cloud.
I’m reading about:
- Oxford English Dictionary adds ‘meh,’ ‘fo’shizzle,’ ‘sext’ and more by Kevin Allen – I loved this piece about recent new additions to the Oxford Dictionary. It’s fascinating to see how our language evolves.
- Why audiobooks are changing my (reading) life by Claire Diaz Ortiz (@claire) – On a mission to increase her reading intake from 100 to 150 a year, Claire explains how she is using audible books to consume more books than she otherwise could. I’ve been a fan of audio books and podcasts for a couple of years, and can attest to the fact that they allow me to consume more information on my daily commute, and otherwise dead time in my schedule.
- What makes a good visualisation by David McCandless (@infobeautiful) – David is the author of the book Knowledge is Beautiful, and creates extraordinary data and information visualisations like this one. “All four elements in this graphic seem essential. With just two, you get something prototypical and sketchy – which is okay if you’re at an early stage. With three, the end result is strangely lacking,” he says.
At least 750 words a day, using 750words.com. I’ve been using this site for 10 days, and I’m getting addicted!
It’s based on a concept in Julia Cameron’s best-selling book, The Artists’s Way, one of my all-time favourite books about writing. In the book, she discusses the importance of morning pages – that is, cultivating the habit of writing three pages every morning, of unedited, uncensored thoughts. It’s a process which helps to clear your mind and build the habit of writing.
This site expands on the morning pages idea (750 words is about the equivalent of three typed pages of content), and provides a clear, distraction-free white space for you to write in. It times your writing and does analytics on the sentiment of what you are writing about – whether it’s generally positive or negative, whether you’re writing more about the past, present or future, what you’re generally concerned or happy about it. It’s quite revealing, and interesting to reflect on what’s going on in your mind. For the competitive types, it provides little badges based on how frequently and fast you write, whether you write in the morning or evening and other little measures that make writing fun.
There’s also a monthly writing challenge, where you commit to writing 750 words a day. It adds the people who complete the challenge to the Wall of Awesomeness, and those who drop out to the Wall of Shame. This is all in a password-protected site – so it’s not out there for the world to see, but it does encourage accountability.
750words.com offers a free monthly trial, then charges $5 a month after that. It’s really helping me to get into a daily writing habit, even though what I write is not going to be published anywhere. Some of the members use it as their place to write books, and given that it provides a running word count, I can see this being a very useful tool for drafting a book.
If you want to improve your writing while clarifying your thoughts, I recommend 750words.com!
I’m listening to:
The new Problogger Podcast by one of Australia’s most successful and prolific bloggers, Darren Rowse. In the opening edition, Darren said that a podcast was one of the things his sizeable audience most frequently requested.
He launched the podcast with a 31 Day blogging challenge based on his eBook, 31 Days to Build a Better Blog. I worked through this book last year and found it really useful. The podcast revisits and adds to the material in the eBook, and is currently running on a daily schedule, where Darren discusses one new aspect of blogging and then sets a challenge.
The podcast and book are helpful for beginner and experienced bloggers alike. Newbies will get a solid overview of what’s possible with blogging and how to get your blog off to a great start, while more experienced bloggers will find value in some of the tips – perhaps new strategies for building audiences and expanding your blog’s reach. If you’re interested in blogging, definitely check this one out.
A heap about, Hootsuite, the social media management tool. I have used the free version of Hootsuite as a social media dashboard for a while, but got chatting online with Adel de Meyer, one of the awesome, Brisbane-Based Hootsuite Ambassadors, about the Pro version. I had also been considering signing up for Hootsuite University, Hootsuite’s online training and certification program. Adel was kind enough to give me a 2-month trial to both Hootsuite Pro and Hootsuite University – and I’ve been working though it for the last few weeks.
Hootsuite University is well worth the investment in time (it’s $21/month at full price, which is still excellent value). The certification process is straightforward, and you simply complete an online multiple choice quiz after each module. Once you complete all the modules with a pass rate of at least 95%, you get the Hootsuite Certification badge. It took me about a week to watch the material and work through each exam, although it could be completed in a couple of days.
As well as explaining in depth how to get the most out of the platform, it also provides excellent general training about social media, best practices, how to set up and optimise various social profiles, an introduction to social selling, how to generate and share content and how to grow your online community, and much more.
For small business owners, marketing teams or anyone who wants a better understanding of how social media works and how Hootsuite can help you to do that, Hootsuite University’s training is straightforward, informative and practical.
For marketers, I also recommend this training to anyone who you may be considering making a social media spokesperson for your company, or getting a newly formed marketing team on the same page about best practices in social media. In that case, the Enterprise modules are particularly relevant.
As well as Hootsuite, I still currently use Buffer, Feedly and Coschedule to manage various aspects of my personal blogs and social media activities. There’s much of overlap between each of the tools, and they each have their own strengths and limitations.
If I were starting from completely from scratch, Hootsuite would be excellent, because it does most of what the combination of the other three tools do. And while I have well-established routines for Buffer, Feedly and Coschedule, Hootsuite will sit nicely amongst those tools to provide a central dashboard. If I were introducing social media into a new company or client, I would definitely start with Hootsuite, because it has similar news aggregation features to Feedly and social post scheduling and posting as Buffer.
I’m looking forward to:
This weekend’s annual Teneriffe Festival. The festival has been running since 2010, when Teneriffe officially became a suburb in its own right. It’s a fabulous day, where the main streets of Teneriffe are closed off to make way for markets and food stalls, live bands and general awesomeness amongst Brisbane’s historic wool stores.
For some reason, they’ve removed the Running of the Rams from this year’s program – it was always pretty amusing to see people dressed as sheep, racing round the wool stores! Here are a couple of photos from previous years at the festival.
I hope you have a great week!