6 Cool Tools for Bloggers

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Blogging is hard, albeit rewarding work!  As a form of writing, it comes with all the same woes: writer’s block, time constraints, discouragement, and frustration. But don’t despair, there are many cool, easy to use online tools to help you keep going. Consider the following six:

  1. Feedly is an excellent RSS tool that provides a single place for you to monitor and quickly read the news sites and  blogs you follow.  It is available on both the desktop and mobile, thereby allowing you to access it while at the office or on-the-go.
  2. Pocket is a great app for saving articles for later reading that you happen to stumble upon while on-the-go.
  3. LinkedIn and LinkedIn Pulse are great sources for trending topics and leading edge ideas from your network of LinkedIn professionals and LinkedIn Influencers.
  4. Evernote is a free app for taking notes and serves well as a catch-all place for entering any those blog post ideas that come to mind anytime, anywhere. Simply launch the app from your mobile device and enter your idea for later retrieval.
  5. Unable to put into writing what you’re thinking? SpeakWrite lets you verbally record your thoughts, upload to the service, and receive a transcript of your thoughts to quickly edit and publish to your blog.
  6. Sometimes the best thing to break writer’s block is coming up with a good title. Hubspot’s Blog Topic Generator is a great resource for finding ideas to write about. Simply enter three terms, click on the Give Me Blog Topics button, and get a list of potential blog post titles hat can be swiftly turned into articles.

Happy blogging!!

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How to Make Presentations Pop: 6 Mobile Apps


PowerPoint has been around since the early 1990’s, and while it is sufficient for presentations, it’s popularity is waning. Myriad newer, cooler, and all around better applications (including one from Microsoft itself) exist making it easy to create, edit, and show your presentations using mobile devices.

  1. Keynote has been a mainstay presentation app for several years now. Designed specifically for mobile devices it has all the necessary features for making slick, professional presentations. Version 2.0 boasts a “stunning new design” that offers a  unified file format across all devices making presentations “consistently beautiful everywhere you open them.”
  2. Haiku Deck available for the iPad and the Web, is an easy to use app for creating beautiful slides. Offering multiple text screen layouts and a  variety of images, charts, and background colors from which to choose and many sharing options makes it a good tool if you want to create presentations with no training and little effort.
  3. SlideShark is for devotees of Microsoft PowerPoint, but who prefer the ability to present it using an iPad, iPhone or iTouch. Simply upload your presentation to SlideShark or utilize the option to directly integrate it with OneDrive, Dropbox, Box, or several other cloud storage providers.
  4. Prezi is a cloud-based tool that allows you to create, edit, and present on the go. It syncs across a variety of mobile devices so you always have the latest version of the presentation at your fingertips. Offering multiple templates from which to choose, a massive library of content that you can reuse, and a plethora of images, videos, and text to enhance your presentation make it worth the cost in your choice of three reasonably priced plan options.
  5. Google Slides a free app available for Apple and Droid devices, offers multiple presentation themes, hundreds of fonts, embedded videos, animations, and much  more. Changes are saved automatically and converting PowerPoint slides is easily accomplished and the real-time collaboration feature is a plus.
  6. Sway profiled in my Microsoft in the Cloud: 2 New Offerings post rounds out the list and if well received will likely replace PowerPoint in the future. Designed to be more than a basic presentation app, it offers the ability to quickly design and share professionally looking presentation ready documents.
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Microsoft in the Cloud: 2 New Offerings

Officially rolling out today, and developed by their in-house legal department Microsoft’s Matter Center for Office 365 is receiving good reviews. Designed with attorneys in mind, it allows real-time access and simultaneous collaboration both internally and externally to documents across all devices. Additional features include the ability to control who can view and edit documents and track changes with automatic version control.

Released nearly a year ago in Beta, Microsoft Sway is more than just a presentation application. It also permits sharing of reports, newsletters and personal stories. A unique feature is its suggested searches that assist with finding relevant images, videos, tweets, and other content that you can easily drag and drop into your creation.  It is available on the Web, Windows 10, iPhone, and iPad.

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8 Apple Watch Productivity Apps for Attorneys

Primarily designed for quick looks and interactions such as getting and responding to messages and phone calls, the Apple Watch comes with several built-in apps. Beyond the pre-loaded ones, there are more than  3,000 apps currently available for it via the iTunes App Store. Start with these 8, and your productivity could soar.

  1. iBillable Hours a bargain at $9.99 is great for tracking your billable hours by client, case or overall right from your wrist. Filtering your hours to a specific time-frame,  add notes, share reports and import / export data using Dropbox are just a few of the features it offers..
  2. Todoist is a list-making app with voice control and a slew of other features. As an extension of the free Todoist iPhone app, it syncs with the cloud and allows collaborative to-do lists and productivity management.
  3. Twitter  lets you dictate, view Tweets, and re-tweet from your wrist.
  4. Uber lets you to track your booked ride and see how far away it is without having to take out your phone, and notifies you when your ride has arrived.
  5. Evernote the well-known and highly used mobile app lets you dictate notes, view and create new notes, or update existing notes, and set reminders and get notifications on your Apple Watch.
  6. Citymapper lets you zero in on public transport, provides precise, clear instructions on getting from place to place, and keeps you informed on bus, train or tram schedules for select supported cities.
  7. NYTimes app lets you quickly view one-sentence stories specially designed for the small Apple Watch screen. You can also receive alerts when big news breaks and via the Handoff feature continue reading on your iPhone, or touch Save for Later to build a personal reading list for another time.
  8. Calculator Watch Pro is just one among many calculator apps for the Apple Watch, which surprisingly does not come with one already built-in. This app lets you sync back and forth on your phone, thus allowing you to continue calculations on your phone without having to re-type.

Of course this is just a small sampling of Apple Watch apps, but hopefully will help you in putting this new mobile device to great use. With native apps coming to the Apple Watch this fall, this will be an interesting space to watch.

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Will Your Website Survive “Mobilegeddon”?

Ready pictureUnless you’ve been living under a rock, you are no doubt aware of the warnings covered across the blogosphere and in my recent post Google Changes Signal the Imperative for Responsive Web Design which provided information about the upcoming changes to Google search results rankings that will favor mobile-friendly Websites.

Perhaps you’ve checked your statistics and mobile traffic to your site is very low,  therefore, you assume the Google ranking changes won’t matter. However, consider that Mobile is the new primetime. Time spent on mobile eclipses TV already so you can bet those numbers will rise over time. So why not prepare now rather than rushing to catch-up at the last-minute and risk losing potential visitors to your site in the interim to someone else?

Check out the following sites for measuring and improving your Website’s mobile-friendliness level.

  1. Mobile Friendly Test page lets you plug-in your site’s URL and get a quick mobile friendly or not mobile friendly rating, followed by suggestions on how to improve your rating if it is deemed non mobile friendly.
  2. W3C mobileOK Checker provides an overall “failures per severity” report on your URL followed by a detailed description report with links to suggested best practices for improvement.
  3. HubSpots’s Marketing Grader site gives your site an instant numerical rating out of 100 on several key areas including mobile.

Finally, a few best practices tips for site design include:

  • Avoid software not common on mobile, such as Flash
  • Use text that is readable without having to zoom
  • Space links far apart for ease of tapping
  • Size page content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally

Now, you are either armed with some effective mobile optimization tools and tips or you are among the fortunate and your website is already perfectly optimized for mobile!

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Google Changes Signal the Imperative for Responsive Web Design

According to Wikipedia, Responsive Web Design (aka RWD) “is an approach to site design aimed at crafting sites to provide an optimal viewing experience—easy reading and navigation with a minimum of resizing, panning, and scrolling—across a wide range of devices.” In simple terms – your Website or blog adapts to the device of the end-user.

With the consistent and rapid rise of mobile browsing the importance of having a responsive web design has long been clear. However, if Google to start penalizing non-mobile blogs on April 21  is true, it is now imperative that your site be device neutral. With this upcoming change, Google is signalling its intention to provide searchers with the best results possible and serving up results to sites that are not device neutral means a poor end-user experience that Google wants to avoid.

Mobile usage continues to climb and not getting a high-ranking in Google search results due to Google favoring responsive design sites in its rankings is just one, albeit crucial, imperative to use RWD for your blog and Website. Beyond the Google mandate, there are a myriad of other reasons for using it.

Better user experience is key to getting return visitors to your site.  With responsive design, your visitors will have a similar and consistent experience no matter what device they use when they land on your blog or Website, which translates to happy and likely repeat visitors! Also, using responsive design lifts the burden of having different website designs for various devices.

If you’re still not convinced, consider that according to a study from ComScore, 55% of social media consumption happens on mobile devices, and a 2010 Google User Behavior Study found that 61% of users are unlikely to return to a mobile site they had trouble with and 40% said they’d visit a competitor’s mobile site instead.

Don’t risk losing visitors to your blog or Website – use Responsive Web Design!

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5 Tools to Boost Social Media Productivity

Managing your social media presence does not have to be time-consuming. There are several excellent tools designed to help boost your social media productivity.

Reignite is intended primarily as a paid enterprise social media management tool but it does offer a limited free service for bloggers. Via a single platform you can schedule posts in advance, promote posts on social media with campaigns, and track the activity of posts.

IFTTT an acronym for If This Then That, lets you automate a plethora of things by simply creating IFTTT “recipes”. Consider the following examples.

  • If your LinkedIn profile picture changes then update your Twitter profile picture too
  • If someone mentions you online then send a notification email to your account
  • If sharing a post on LinkedIn then share it on Facebook also
  • If you get to the office automatically mute your phone
  • If you miss a phone call from a specific number then generate an email to yourself
  • If you gain a new follower on Twitter automatically send a thank-you
  • If you write a new blog post automatically post it to LinkedIn or Twitter

Hootsuite offers basic plans for free and fee-based pro and enterprise plans. Features include the ability to create a schedule for your social media messages and then automatically post, tweet, and share the messages to LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and more all from a single platform. Additionally, real-time data reports on everything you share can be viewed.

Sproutsocial offers fee based services only. Features include a single stream inbox that ensures you never miss a message, and tools for posting, collaborating, and scheduling messages to Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Also monitoring tools with excellent analytics help you track important metrics.

SocialOomph is a web-based tool that provides a variety of free and paid productivity features to assist with your social media management needs. Features include scheduling of Tweets, status updates, sharing LinkedIn posts and much more.  Limitless accounts are offered for those with multiple LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook accounts.

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