A Career in What You Love Ain’t So Easy

I’ve never been fired from a job. Up until recently, I’ve kind of considered that a badge of honor. It meant that I was never bad enough at a job that someone couldn’t bear to keep me on, that I wasn’t hard to work with, or, let’s face it, that I wasn’t unlucky enough to be at a job that had to severely downsize. I’ve only failed hard once, and that was when I tried to sell knives. Kudos people who can make a living at that stuff. I couldn’t hack it. Recently, however, I’ve been listening to a lot of podcasts. Some of them have featured great speakers like Seth Godin, C.C. Chapman, and Mitch Joel, who’ve all talked about how much they’ve learned by failing. Have I failed myself by not failing? Have I not pushed myself far enough out of my comfort zone cocoon and simply made it too easy? These are the questions I’m stuck with at the moment.

This about sums up my carrer direction

This about sums up my carrer direction

It’s easy to say “Find what you love and get paid to do it.” There’s very little out there that tells you how to find what you love to do, if you’re not exactly sure what that is. This is my boat. I have no idea what I love. Some people innately have a passion for something that drives them toward a goal. I just sort of move forward in a general, indistinct direction. I haven’t found that *spark* or that aha moment. I’ve been pretty apt at most jobs I’ve tried my hand at, and I’m a quick learner. You can’t really look those skills up on LinkedIn and narrow a job search, though. They’re skills that everyone wants from an employee, sure, but they’re not an interest. Not a passion. As a community manager, I love the social aspect of social media, but I’m not a numbers guy. Trying to calculate metrics and ROI and advertising dollars sort of makes my head spin. It makes me question my longevity in the industry of social media as businesses continually want proof that this will bring money in the door, and community managers become more intwined with marketing manager roles.

Failure IS an option, as it turns out.

A different way to look at failure.

So I think I’m going to try things, and if I fail, I fail. They don’t have to be big things. Maybe a blog post that I just want to throw out into the word will fail. Maybe acting on an idea to see if it sinks or swims. Failures that move us forward, I think, don’t have to be large, life-altering fails. Just something to help us make forward progress. I guess I’m understanding that we have to give ourselves permission. And that’s hard. As Chris Brogan said in his short podcast I recently listened to, you just have to do it, and it doesn’t have to be perfect every time. So there you are. Be imperfect. Go fail. I guess we’ll all be better for it. Let’s discuss how this works out for us respectively, ok?

What about you? Have you had some failures that have made you better? Are you struggling to find our aha moment? Share your perspective below.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Sometimes, you have to blog naked.

Nope, I didn’t stutter. You heard me right. Sometimes, you simply have to blog naked. Let me explain.

Maybe don't go quite this far...

Maybe don’t go quite this far…

I’ve been blogging for just over a year now. Each post is not only an opportunity to share the things I know and am interested in, but also opportunities to learn and grow as a blogger. Some of my posts are carefully crafted, pined over for weeks of adding notes into Evernote or saving and resaving as drafts. Some post ideas come to me in the shower, and I’ve literally sat down at my computer still wrapped in a towel to get my ideas down before they leave me. That’s kind of the idea behind this post.

Laptop in shower

I don’t recommend this method. At all.

Not all your ideas have to be carefully crafted. Many of my most successful blog posts have been rather off-the-cuff, and written more in the moment. An idea strikes me, or is really timely, so I just get it in a format I feel good about and send it on to the world. Maybe that will work for you, and maybe it won’t. When an idea hits you, however—act on it. Waiting until later may reduce the salience of your idea, or potentially have it lost altogether. I highly recommend some sort of idea-saving tool like Evernote, or even just your portable device’s notepad feature (most have them). I’ve even considered putting a dry erase board in my shower, so I can jot down ideas when they come to me in the shower (as they so often do!). So yes, sometimes you have to blog naked to make sure that your ideas are getting out into the world. Go do it!

Do you have a recommendation on an app or method that works for you? Share you thoughts and ideas with a comment below!

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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The Internet Is Out of Control This Week

SXSW announcments galore, major changes to the things you know and love–ladies and gentlemen, the internet is out of control this week.

First off, I had an awesome SXSWi experience. I met some awesome folks and I’ll be writing a blog post about that soon.

If you haven’t heard already, Google has announced that it’s getting rid of Google Reader. It’s not worth their resources anymore, so you have until July 1st to get it together and aggregate elsewhere. For the full story, click below.

Also, just when you thought you knew Twitter’s format, it’s changing things up. You can now use line breaks. This could be awesome, or it could make your Twitter feed the most annoying thing on the planet. Let the unfollows begin. More information below:

OH, and then Facebook was all like “Hey guys, what about me? I’ll start working on allowing hashtags!” The internet is no longer as we knew it.

 

What do you think about these two developments in social media? Has this week completely disrupted your work flow, or could you care less. Share you thoughts with a comment below!

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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A Blogger not Blogging

Confused  Face

Mind…boggled…

If you’re a blogger, I don’t have to tell you how difficult it can be to keep pumping out interesting and relevant content. I haven’t posted in a while. Partially, it’s because I’ve been swamped with a gazillion other things, and partially because I’m having an existential meltdown. These things happen, I suppose.

Whenever I work out, I listen to podcasts: Marketing Over Coffee, The Human Business Way, The Content Warfare Podcast, Social Media Marketing, and others. Sometimes, I have no idea what they’re talking about when they dive too deep into the true marketing and analytics side of social media marketing. I’m a people person. I love the people and social side of this digital stuff. The numbers and ROI and analytics are all things I’m struggling to pick up. Recently, there have been a slew of interviews with Seth Godin and C.C. Chapman, both promoting their respective books. These interviews have been inspiring, invigorating and terrifying…

Podcasts worth listening to

Some of my favorite podcasts from geniuses on the internets

Both of these guys are pretty into the human side of things. They also tout the mantra of “find what you love, and go make money doing it!” I love that. It’s brilliant. It’s obviously the key to happiness. Just one problem…what if you have no idea what you want to do with your life? How do you commit gung-ho to something when you have no idea what it is? This is the conundrum that I find myself in.

I write this blog. I feel I’m ok at it. I’m not terrible, but I’m no Mitch Joel or Chris Brogan and don’t believe I ever will be. I work in social media as a community manager. I’m pretty good at it. I write some content that gets engagement, and I love the interactions when it does happen. I’ve worked in retail and was pretty good at that, often loved by my customers. Nothing ever seems to fully click, however. I never feel like, “Yes. This is what I should be doing. This is that gratifying thing I’ve been searching for!” Now, I’ve never been fired from a job, so maybe I’m not experiencing Seth Godin’s idea of having to fail to succeed. How does one push oneself into new and dangerous territory, when you just don’t know where to start? This, readers (all, like, 8 of you), is the situation I find myself in. Any advice for a lost soul? If you made it to the end of this post, and my existentially grasping questions, thanks for hanging in there. I’ll get back to writing about social media soon.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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That Social Media Mojo

For a while, I lost my mojo. I became disillusioned with the overwhelming feeling that I couldn’t keep up with blogging, social networking and my job, and I didn’t think blogging was getting me anywhere. I didn’t think anyone cared, wasn’t sure if anyone was reading and I felt like I was just pumping out my content to no one. So, I stopped. I haven’t written a blog post for weeks. I wanted to, but then I would just get flustered and tell myself that it didn’t matter anyway. I considered deleting my blog, but I didn’t. I’m glad that I didn’t.

I received a comment out of the blue this week on a post I did a couple months ago. It was an engaging comment and in the end the person thanked me for writing the post. This small gesture reminded me why I blog. I don’t do it for constant comments, retweets on Twitter or raving fans. I do it so I can connect with people who are interested in the same things I am. I do it to share information with those who are seeking it. The glory of the internet is that posts just float out there, and can show up again when people are looking for them.

I sometimes look at the big names in blogging, the social media pros, and I wonder how the hell they have time to still have a life. I realized it’s because they don’t try to do everything. They focus on the things that are most important to them, keep the peripheral in mind without completely fragmenting their focus, and thus are able to have time to do other things. I’ve wanted to be so “engaged” that my focus has been in too many directions. I haven’t been able to give anything enough attention, because I was trying to focus on everything. And so, just in time for Halloween, I’m coming back from the dead.

blog, blogging, blogger, zombie, social media

The horror! The humanity! The blogging!

Also, I’m currently reading a pre-published copy of Chris Brogan and  Julien Smith’s “The Impact Equation” (affiliate link) and I’m already telling you to pick it up when it hits on 10/25. You’ll love it, and be inspired by it. These guys are no b.s. about how to make an impact, and it’s not the same old crap you hear everywhere else.

How do you keep your social media mojo going? What inspires you to blog, even if you’re not getting the engagement you wish you were?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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3 Tips for Doing Twitter Outreach Without Being a Creep

By now you’ve probably heard that social media does not follow the Field of Dreams mantra: “If you build it, they will come.” (I know, for all you die hard Field of Dreams fans, that’s not the factually accurate quote. But that’s what it has become in pop culture so bear with me.) Simply setting up your social media profiles and waiting for people to come swarming to them will just not happen. You have to give them a reason to come to your page. You have to seek them out by knowing your business, knowing your customers, and knowing your community. One great way to seek out potential customers is by doing Twitter outreach. I’m not going to go through the use of Twitter’s search features here. Those articles have already been written by much more knowledgeable bloggers to varying degrees. I did recently write a guest post for Main Street Hub, a social media management company that focuses on local businesses, in which I discuss three tips for doing Twitter outreach without coming across as a creep or spambot. Twitter is fraught with both, so differentiating yourself from them is critical. You can read the post here:

What are your thoughts on Twitter outreach? Have you been reached out to or poached successfully? What did the person do that worked, or didn’t? Do you have any more tips to add? Let me know below with your comments. Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on! Follow this blog on Google Currents! Download the app in your app store or marketplace and click here to subscribe.

LinkedIn’s Profile Facelift, and a Feature You May Not Know About

As many of you have probably heard or seen, LinkedIn announced that it is giving profiles a facelift and working on making the site better equipped for social interaction. This surely is in part due to the split from Twitter. If you haven’t seen the changes on your profile and mobile apps already, you will soon. It’s cleaner, clearer and an undeniable upgrade. Here is a great article outlining some of the major changes and discussing how they may effect you. Perhaps it’s time to spruce things up a bit on your profile.

While checking out my shiny new page, I noticed that LinkedIn is focusing even more on the important stuff. As you scroll down my page, you see my summary, experience, publications, and projects. In that order. This means that as people are viewing your previous experience, they are likely to see your Projects too. Are you using this great, but highly undervalued feature on LinkedIn? I’ve included a video below explaining how to add one, and the great benefits that come along with creating Projects (like strengthening and increasing your connections). I guest posted about this on Entrepreneur Magazine columnist Starr Hall’s blog a couple months ago, but I feel it bears mentioning again.


What are your thoughts on this feature? What do you think of LinkedIn’s new profile pages? Do you have any speculation as to what’s coming next for the professional network? Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Rise of the Social Homepages

Time is becoming a very precious thing indeed. Trying to keep up on blogs, social networks, news, friends, family, work, and having non-computer related experiences create a life of constant pull on our attention. This constant pull in a gazillion different directions is exactly why I think these “Social homepages” are becoming more and more relevant. I’ve only joined two so far, and each has some functionalities that they can boast. Basically, they connect all of your social status updates and put them in a visual ‘homepage’ where one can visit and see everything that you’re sharing. The key here is the visual element. Photos you take, images pulled from links, videos; all these create a visually engaging aesthetic that will save your friends and followers time from visiting all of your networks. Let’s take a look at them.

Social networks all in one place

RebelMouse was created by by the former CTO of The Huffington Post, Paul Berry. It’s still in beta but is receiving a huge amount of buzz. Features have already been added from when I first received my invite. You can now embed your RebelMouse into your website or blog, thus making all your social updates visible from either. This is huge because your customers, potential clients, or friends don’t have to leave the place you’re putting your best work, as well as your products or services. You also have the ability to highlight certain posts that you want to stay stationary and maintain good real estate on your page, which I love!  As of right now, RebelMouse allows you to pull updates from Facebook profiles and pages, Twitter (you’ll need to use either to create your account) and just recently, Instagram. In an interview on July 9th, Paul Berry states that more networks are coming, such as Google+ and Tumblr. You can also manually add stories, which I imagine people who fully embrace their RebelMouse page as a homepage will be doing often. You can create separate RebelMouse pages for Facebook pages of which you are an admin, which is a great advantage to admins of multiple pages that aren’t really related. You can view others in your Facebook or Twitter networks that are using RebelMouse and follow their pages. Since it’s still in public beta, I can’t wait to see what new things come out of this already-popular platform.

glos.si for social networks

I was actually reached out to on Twitter by glos.si’s co-founder Sandy Lin while tweeting about RebelMouse (good poaching!). Since I dug RebelMouse, I figured it was worth a look, and I set up my own glos.si page. The first thing I noticed was that glos.si takes the same approach that Klout does and connects just about every social network under the sun. The designers to a great job of helping users show off their networks by listing them with icons in the profile heading. This is nice, just in case followers want to go and focus solely on a single network. glos.si uses the same idea I mention above for RebelMouse of creating something visually engaging, with your Foursquare updates staying stationary on the right and your other updates visually represented in tiled columns to the left. The option to change your view between images, articles, videos and everything makes reading pages a breeze. You also get to choose a background image, thus creating an even more personalized experience. The site uses a pretty cool randomized search to allow you to connect with other glos.si users not already in your other networks. As for connecting with friends using glos.si, you can only search Facebook and Twitter. One feature that I find really cool is the Newsstand feature. This creates a glos.si page of updates from everyone you follow, saving you even more time.

RebelMouse is already a slick platform with a very believable promise that there’s more to come. glos.si has a great interface already, and is strides ahead of RebelMouse since it was started back in September last year. Once RebelMouse comes of out beta, these two will certainly be in head to head competition. I’ll be interested to see where the two of them go.

Are you using either of these sites? Are there other “social homepage” sites that you’ve come across? Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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Brand Your Instagram Photos Using Over App

Over App

Taken with Instagram, text added with Over

A couple weeks ago, Chris Brogan tweeted about an app he was digging and shared a Google Hangout he had with a guy named Aaron Marshall. The app was called Over, and it allows you to add text over pictures on your iPhone (for the time being) using a really slick interface. You can then post your edited photos to Facebook (profile not page, yet), Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr (having issues getting mine to show up though) or send the image via email. I’ve yet to have Chris Brogan steer me wrong, so I checked out the app myself. Seemed like a fun way to spice up photos and I really enjoy the use of a scrolling wheel to go through all of your options. Later, I read a blog post shared by Valerie Deveza reminding bloggers that you can (and should) easily use your own, royalty-free images in your blog posts. This saves time scouring for usable images (and potential distractions of perusing the internet) and any concern of copyright infringement. Then. It hit me.

Over App

Taken with Instagram, text added with Over

A fantastic use for Over is to “brand” your photos that you take on your iPhone. If you already use Instagram or Facebook Camera, take your pictures and add your filters as normal. Open Over and load the picture in, add your company name, website, your name, message, etc, choose a font (more are available for individual purchase) and suddenly, the photo is officially yours. Also, if you’re a fan of Paper by 53 for the iPad (of which I am a raving fan), you can doodle your image, email it to yourself or screen capture it, add your text with Over, and suddenly it becomes branded as well. (Conversely, you could write out your company’s name/info in Paper if you have a steady hand, but I know many professionals whose handwriting is pretty atrocious.) Either way, you’ll get to show off your creative side and never worry if you’re going to receive a cease and desist letter for an image you’re using. Even with proper credit, you just can’t be too sure when using others’ intellectual property.

Fifty-Three, Yelp, Over App

Drawn with Paper by 53, text added with Over

The best part about using Over with the apps I’ve discussed is that you don’t have to go and buy (or illegally download) any expensive software. Over and Paper may cost you a few bucks, then you’re off to writing your blog safely, further engaging your creativity and artistic side. Just think. You could even create your own memes!

What are your thoughts on this approach? Are you using any other text-overlay apps that you’re hooked on? Are you already using your own images in your blog posts?

Let me know below with your comments.

Thanks for reading. Now go get your social on!

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The Social Gnome’s Hoard

Welcome to the Social Gnome’s Hoard, a collection of this week’s most interesting finds from the Social Gnome’s internet travels.

Week of July 19, 2012 (“Get to know our customers” Day. Find out something new about those who keep you in business.)

Social Gnome hoard image

  • This could be a game changer for this year’s election. USA Today reports that the state of Washington will be the first state to allow voters to register via Facebook. If ever there was a way to make registering to vote more accessible to the general public, this is the way to do it. Facebook users will be able to register to vote through an app on the secretary of state’s Facebook page, and they’ll even be able to share the app on their timeline for friends to see. This is going to be the new ‘I voted’ sticker for the digital age. Kudos to the state of Washington for taking the initiative on this and force feeding democracy on those too busy to register to vote because they’re clicking ‘Like’ on the latest meme.
  • I. Love. Lists. I use lists for everything. I use Evernote to organize lists of blog ideas. I use the notepad function on my iPhone to make lists of movies to see or places around Austin to check out. When I saw this headline on Twitter, I got uber excited. Lifehacker provides the Five Best To-Do List Managers apps. I will be checking these out myself to see which works the best for me, but the prospect of using some the listed features to organize my many to-dos has me tingling with delight. What? I like lists…
  • Jay Baer offers up a really interesting post discussing the difference between Social Media Influencers and Brand Advocates. He makes some very interesting points both in how each can be useful in their own way, and how very different they can be from each other. For those of you who prefer a more visual approach, the post includes a great infographic. For those of you who have a little bit of a nerdy streak, there’s even a dig at Aquaman. Who doesn’t love a good dig at Aquaman? I’d also like to take this moment to thank Jay for introducing me to Curate.Us, which allows me to quickly clip visual snippets from sources and place them in my blog posts as you see here. It’s such a useful tool.
  • As long as Stumbleupon.com continues to find me crazy weird things like this, things I would have never found  on my own, I will continue to let it eat up valuable resources from my time. (It is a great way to stay occupied on the bus ride home from work though.) Since I found this on Stumbleupon, and there really aren’t any other links or info on the page, I can’t tell you much about who made it or where it came from. You may find yourself fiddling around with it regardless. Who doesn’t love taking 15 seconds to drag the mouse and create unique melodies? I submit that there are very few people on that list.
  • Here’s an really interesting dynamic chart following the changes in how we consume music over that last 30 years. It’s really interesting to simply watch the trends from one technology to the next. I’d love to see the jump in just the two years after the chart stops. Once again, I found this on Stumbleupon, so I don’t know who exactly created it or where they are pulling their data from, but it appears relatively accurate, or at least it makes sense. From the web address, it appears to be coming from digitalmusicnews.com.
  • Lastly, Stanford of Pushing Social shares an interesting analogy with regards to why you may not be getting the interaction you want or hope for in your blog. It seems a pretty simple concept that he discusses, but one that still so few seem to grasp in this digital world of “look at me, look at me!” Stanford always writes great stuff and is quickly becoming one of my favorite go-to people for blogging advice. Pushing Social is worth following for bloggers of any caliber to find quick, to-the-point advice that you can put to use. This one is a quick read, and worth checking to make sure you’re not THAT guy that he points out in the post.
  • Last minute addition to wrench your heart a bit. Thursday night, at the midnight premiere of the Dark Knight Rises, a man in a gas mask wearing all black decided to throw tear gas and open fire into the crowd. At the time of writing this, 12 are dead and many more wounded, some of them being children. I simply don’t understand it. 24-year old James Holmes has not given a motive yet, but that doesn’t matter. People were excited about a movie and he ruined their lives. Unbelievable.
So there you are. Another weeks’ worth of noteworthy, interesting or just funny content to keep you in the know. Did I miss anything great that you came across? What do you think about the ability to register to vote on Facebook? Would you like to see more social integration into important parts of our society as we know it?  Are you a list-maker yourself, and do you already use any of the apps Lifehacker spotlights? Weigh in below with your comments.

Now go get your social on!

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