Category: Blogging

How to Easily Make Videos

Have you ever wanted to easily make videos to add to your blog posts or share on social media or add to YouTube? I discovered a cool tool called Lumen5 which allows you to easily do this for FREE. You can take a blog post you already have and convert it into a video.

Note: Anyone may use this information but if you are a participant in the Biannual Blogathon Bash and you complete the mini challenge at the end of this post you can get another chance to enter to win prizes. It’s not too late to join the Blogathon!

I’m going to show you how it works so you can make cool videos too. But first, here is a video I made in less than 20 minutes with Lumen 5:

Easily Make Videos Like This One (how-to below)

Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5

How to Easily Make Videos

Go to Lumen5.com and enter the URL of a blog post you would like to convert into a video.  Click Create!

Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5 - Example 1

Once it processes (which doesn’t take long) you will be at the Build Story section. Here it has taken the main points of your blog post and displays them on the left and then you can move them over to the right or add in sections you might need to make it work. It will display the current video length on the top right. Edit the text if needed but for the most part you should be able to take the parts of your blog post and just add them with one click to the right.

Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5 - Example 2

When your story is the way you want it, you will move on to the Add Media section. This is the most fun part in my opinion. You can choose from TONS of stock photos that are free to use as well as any images from your blog post to use as a background to each slide. Backgrounds are put in automatically but you can change as needed.

On the left will be suggested images based on keywords it takes from your post but you can search for something if it is not what you want. Just drag and drop. You should know that the images are not static meaning they will move during your video (again reference mine at the top.) If you want to preview what the movements will look like, click the little white arrow on the grey at the bottom of each slide.

Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5 - Example 3

Besides the backgrounds you can also edit what part of the text is highlighted. Below is what it gave me as a default but as you can see from the video at the beginning, I chose to highlight the words colour and fruit. Just touch the blue A to highlight. You can also click on the down arrow next to the blue A to change the colour used for highlighting. In my video I made it orange.

If your text is all in one box, it will display all at once. If your text is in two boxes as below, then the first line will show up first, then it will fade and the second line will show up.

Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5 - Example 4

At the bottom of the slide where it says Text or Title, you can change it to quote if you have something that should be in quotation marks. Don’t forget to add your source. Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5 - Example 5

The images was all done in the media section. If you move to music you will find tons of song choices for background music. These are all free to use. Click the little blue arrow to listen and click the choice you want to select it.

Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5 - Example 6

In the branding section you can add your watermark (shown in top right of each slide lightly) and logo (shown at the end of the video).  Although it doesn’t go in automatically, I suggest adding your url to the last slide as well with your logo. See how I did it in my video.

Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5 - Example 7

Finally you will check out the preview and see if it looks just like you want. When you are happy with your video click Publish. Please note it will take some time for your video to process. It started off around 20 minutes but my last few took 5 hours. It all depends on how popular the site is so it will change. You can exit out of the site while it processes and you can choose to receive an email when it’s done or just check back.

When it’s all done, go to the website and click on your video to download it as an MP4. Then you can share it! Add it to a blog post, upload to social media, add to YouTube, whatever!

Learn How to Easily Make Videos with Lumen5 - Example 8

That’s it! Now you can easily make videos.

Mini Challenge

Use Lumen 5 to make a video and add to a blog post or share on social media. Leave a link in the comments to where I can see your video.

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Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed

You should never stop learning but it can be tricky to learn new things without getting overwhelmed. We are surrounded by how-to videos, self-help books, people with well meaning advice and blogs and websites (like this one) with how-tos and tips.

So what’s a person to do?

Note: Anyone may use this information but if you are a participant in the Biannual Blogathon Bash and you complete the mini challenge at the end of this post you can get another chance to enter to win prizes. It’s not too late to join the Blogathon!

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - 11 Ways

Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed

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Figure Out HOW You Learn

You’ve probably heard before that different people learn in different ways. There are people who firmly believe in this idea and those who believe it’s all hogwash. I’m in the middle. I’ve seen with my own eyes that some people need to see something to learn it while others need to try it with their hands. However I don’t think anyone should ONLY try out the methods that work best for them.

You may just know what type of learner you are and often people are a mixture of the different ones (Auditory – Hearing, Visual – Seeing, Kinetic – Touching/Doing) Here is a test you can try to help you figure out your learning style BUT be warned that it’s just a guide. It said I was an Auditory learner but I’m definitely not. Take the test with a grain of salt.

Visual learners should watch videos. Auditory learners should listen to podcasts or audiobooks. Kinetic Learners should find how-tos that they can follow along with or have someone show them how physically.  Just remember, start with the one that matches your learning style but don’t ONLY stick to that style.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - How Your Learn

Speed Up Your Videos

I like learning with videos because with certain skills, seeing what you will be seeing when you do it can help imprint it in your mind. The problem with videos for me is that I’m a fast reader. It would take me longer to watch a video than to read an article. I also talk fast and understand fast so when someone talks, it often sounds like they are speaking very slow to me.

Most videos however give you the option to speed it up so you can watch it at a faster speed. Even if you aren’t on super speed like I am, training yourself to understand videos at a faster speed can save you time. Watching videos at 1.5 speed saves time by 65% Certain videos can be sped up faster than others. It all depends how fast they are talking to begin with. Start with 1.25 and work your way up. Make sure you ARE understanding it though. There is no point in speeding up the video if you come away from it not knowing what you were supposed to be learning.

Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - Speed Up Videos

Speed Up Videos on YouTube – click the little wheel to get to options

Pick Certain Times for Research

Instead of stopping what you are doing to look something up that you have come across, make a certain time each week for research or learning. For example, maybe Sunday will be your research day. Keep a running list of skills you want to learn more about and on that appointed day, sit down at the computer or at the library and do some research.  If during the week you find out about a certain thing you don’t know how to implement, add it to your list and look it up on your research day.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - Pick Times for Research

Do Something Productive First

Researching new skill scan pull us in just as much as social media does. I know I can think, “Oh I’ll just look up how to do X and then go back to work.” The next thing I know it’s hours later and sometimes I haven’t even figured out how to do X because I got side tracked. If you need to figure out how to do something and it can’t wait till research day (see above) then make sure you get something productive done first.

With blogging as an example, perhaps I’m working on a blog post and then I notice that there is an error on my website I’m not sure how to fix. That can’t wait till research day because it’s an error. But it can wait till I finish writing my post. If I stop writing to fix the error, I will have to go back to the post at some point and will have lost my groove.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - Be Productive First

Make Notes and KEEP Them

Watching a how-to video or reading an e-book on a certain skill is good but if the next day you’ve forgotten what you learned, it’s not really that helpful is it? There was a reason we were told to take notes in school. You need something to refer back to at a later date.  Take notes but not on some random piece of paper. Keep a notebook specifically for taking notes when learning something new or use papers in a binder so you can sort them. Keep the notes.

This is especially important if you are learning about something you don’t plan to use yet. Perhaps you are trying to absorb information on starting a webinar but you aren’t ready to do that till next year. You need to keep notes on your research somewhere safe so next year when you are ready to implement them, you have all the information you learned in one spot to refer to.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - Make Notes and Keep Them

Be Mindful While Learning

Mindfulness has to do with keeping your mind focused on the task on hand and not getting distracted by something else. If your mind is elsewhere while you are watching a webinar, listening to a conference speaker or reading a blog post it will take you twice as long to digest it which is a waste of time. Have you ever read the same paragraph over and over in a book before? It happens because you are distracted.

You can’t control everything but do what you can to eliminate distractions. Turn off Facebook, put your phone on vibrate, go into a room by yourself or sit as close to the speaker as possible.  Practice mindfulness when you aren’t learning so you can bring your mind back to what you are focusing on if it wanders when you are learning. I highly recommend The Miracle of Mindfulness book.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - Be Mindful

You Can’t Do It All

There are millions of books, webinars, podcasts and online courses available. You can’t do it all. If you sign up for every free or paid course or download every eBook on the topic you want to learn you will just overwhelm yourself. This is what we are trying NOT to do. Take some time to look into the course, webinar or book you are interested in and find out if it’s for you. Check out the testimonials/reviews and the syllabus or table of contents.  If you start a course or book and it’s not working out for you, dump it and find a better one. Don’t feel like you HAVE to finish it if it’s clearly not for you.

Trust me, I WISH I could read every book in the world but I just can’t, and neither can you.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - You Can't Do it All

Understand the WHY

When you are learning, the speaker or author or podcaster or webinar host will be telling you to do things. Make sure you understand the why. Why are they telling you to do it? Why are you supposed to do A before B? Why are you supposed to do it THAT way? You need to understand the why to really understand the skill. Following a plan someone lays out for you is not learning a skill. It’s being a follower. If they why is not covered and there is an opportunity for feedback, ask for clarification.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - Understand the Why

You Need Alone Time

You need time to digest what you have learned and this works best when you are alone. So many times I have been thinking about something I read or learned or heard while I was alone. I worked through any questions I had or confusions I had about the skill/task. I do my best thinking when I walk to pick up my kids from school or when I’m alone in my office but haven’t started any work yet. Or when I have migraines surprisingly enough.

When I have mad migraines (which is a lot) I can’t read or type or watch TV. I have to just lay in the dark, absolutely still with a cold pack on my head. When I’m not sleeping, I’m thinking. I’ve planned blog posts, thought about ideas I’ve had and thought about things I’ve learned or read that I hadn’t fully figured out yet.  Trust me, you need alone time.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - You Need Alone Time

Learning is Only Half of It

All this learning is great but remember, you have to implement the idea, practice the skill or use the workbook to see any good come of it. At some point you have to stop being a passive learner (reading/watching/listening) and be an active learner (doing). How many self-help books have I read and ignored the questions or tasks included with them? Too many to count. All that reading was really wasting my time. Self help books and do it yourself courses only work if you DO something.

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - Learning is Only Half of It

Learn With Others or Share

Have you ever heard the advice that if you want to start working out, you should get a work out buddy? Someone to keep you on task, bounce ideas and troubles off of and someone to share your wins with? Well I say you need a learning buddy. Find someone who wants to learn the skill too and learn together. Or at the very least, share with others that you are learning a new skill and keep them updated on how you are doing.

Status Update: Hey all. I’m learning to knit and here is a picture of my first creation, what do you think?

Status Update: Hi guys I am learning how to do X with this video here. Wanted to share in case anyone else wants to learn with me!

How To Learn New Things Without Getting Overwhelmed - Learn with Others or Share

I hope these tips will help you learn new things without getting overwhelmed in the future.

Mini-Challenge: Comment below with which of these ideas click the most with you or which one you need to work on the most.

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Who is Your Ideal Blog Reader?

If your answer to the question, who is your ideal blog reader is everybody or something equally as generic such as moms or men then you need to do rethink how you are marketing your blog.

NOTE: This is a mini challenge for the Biannual Blogathon Bash. Anyone can use the information but if you are participating in the blogathon, read this post and complete the challenge below in the comments for another chance to win prizes. It’s not too late to join the blogathon!

Who is Your Ideal Blog Reader?

Figure Out Your Ideal Blog Reader

Niche vs. Ideal Blog Reader

Hopefully you know what niche you are blogging in. Niche is basically like what topic your blog is about: parenting, eco-living, blogging, book review, disability, pets etc.  It’s important to know your niche BEFORE you think about your ideal reader. Then you can learn the difference between them and move on to ideal reader.

niche – distinct segment of a market

ideal reader – best/perfect reader

So for example with my blog Great Gaming Blog, its niche is gaming. However its ideal reader is younger person ages 18-40 who enjoy playing board/party games and/or video games and/or mobile games and loves to learn about new games.

With this blog, my niche is Blogging/Business but my ideal reader is a blogger 25-45 who has been blogging 1 year-5 years and wants to take their blog to a more professional level by monetizing and making their blog a business.

Can you see the difference? There could be many blogs under the gaming niche but not all of them will be for the same type of reader. Some may be for those who play video games daily, mostly alone and are young 18-25 while another might be for those who play mostly on their mobile devices.

In the parenting niche, blog A might be for first-time parents while another is for large families (5+ kids.) Cooking might be your niche but if you focus more on vegetarian recipes while another blog focuses on gluten-free meals, you are going to have a different ideal reader.

One could consider some topics to be sub-niches such as special needs parenting or homeschooling parents. However one still might have a slightly different ideal reader, but not always.

For homeschooling parents, one blog might be Christian homeschooling parents (with an emphasis on homeschooling with faith) while another might be for those homeschooling a kid with special needs.

Think of niche as the broader topic (but not too broad) while the ideal reader is a specific type of person who would benefit the most from your blogs posts and products.

Why Does Ideal Reader Matter?

You need to know your ideal blog reader so that you know who you are talking to when you write posts or market products or services, whether your own or others. In the example earlier, this blog is in the blogging/business niche but my ideal reader is a youngish blogger (25-45) who has been blogging from 1-5 years and is looking to take their blog from a hobby to a business.

When I am writing a post I want to keep my ideal reader in mind because I want to tailor my posts to that reader. If I make a comparison while explaining an idea, I will want to use something that the 25-45 crowd would understand. I won’t focus a lot on a blogging tool that costs hundreds of dollars because my ideal reader is just recently moving from hobby to business so they probably haven’t made a lot of money blogging yet that they can reinvest.  If I create a product to sell on my blog for additional income, I will create a product that fits that ideal reader.

Who is My Ideal Reader?

Think hard about this for a while. Try answering some of the questions below. Imagine WHO you are writing for. Who would benefit from your blog the most? After you answer the questions, form them together into a pretend person. This will give you a more detailed ideal reader than the ones mentioned above.

What is my ideal reader’s…

  1. Age or Age Range
  2. Gender
  3. Income Level
  4. Job
  5. Interests/Hobbies (reading, surfing, cooking, writing, fashion, etc)
  6. Marital Status
  7. Parental Status (are they parents)
  8. Dislikes
  9. Financial Viewpoint (live frugally or likes expensive things etc)

Not all of these will be as relevant as others. It all depends on your niche. Feel free to give your ideal reader a name as well. If you put this together you can come up with your ideal blog reader.

Blog A – My Happy Home – niche – homemaking/SAHM

Ideal Reader:

Lyla is a young woman age 18-35 who is a married stay at home mom. She enjoys taking care of her home and her family but is new at it and could use some pointers.  In her free time she enjoys reading, cooking and knitting. She doesn’t care for the latest fashion trends or expensive things. She prefers to live frugally by gardening and living on a budget.

Mini Challenge – create your ideal reader by using the questions and tell me your ideal reader in paragraph form in the comments (just like was done above.)

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What Can Grey’s Anatomy Teach You About Blogging

What Can Grey's Anatomy Teach You About Blogging

Can TV shows teach us about real life? Sure! Here I cover What Can Grey’s Anatomy Teach You About Blogging.

Grey’s Anatomy is a popular medical drama about surgical interns and residents and the drama associated with their lives both in and out of the hospital.

So how can a medical drama teach us anything about blogging? You’d be surprised.

What Can Grey's Anatomy Teach You About Blogging?

What Can Grey’s Anatomy Teach You About Blogging

If you are familiar with the show you know that there is a narration at the beginning and end of episodes that talks about the lesson learned during that episode.

Fear of Failure and Making Mistakes

From Season 1 Episode 6

A couple hundred years ago, Benjamin Franklin shared with the world the secret of his success. Never leave that till tomorrow, he said, which you can do today. This is the man who discovered electricity. You would think more of us would listen to what he had to say. I don’t know why we put things off but if I had to guess I’d say it has a lot to do with fear. Fear of failure, fear of pain, fear of rejection…Sometimes the fear is just of making a decision because what if you’re wrong? What if you make a mistake you can’t undo? Whatever it is we’re afraid of, one thing holds true. That by the time the pain of not doing the thing gets worse than the fear of doing the thing, it can feel like were carrying a tumour.

This is so true isn’t it? The show was referring to patients putting off coming to see a doctor only to end up making it worse because they waited. But in this could refer to the world of blogging too.  How many blogging tasks you know you should do, do you end up putting off? So many times I was told how important an email list was and to get it started right away. However I just kept putting it off and putting it off and now my list is much smaller than it could have been by now and I missed out on lots of targeted traffic.

The early bird catches the worm. A stitch in time saves nine. He who hesitates is lost. We can’t pretend we haven’t been told. We’ve all heard the proverbs, heard the philosophers, heard our grandparents warning us about wasted time, heard the damn poets urging us to cease the day. Still, sometimes, we have to see for ourselves. We have to make our own mistakes. We have to learn our own lessons. We have to sweep today’s possibility under tomorrows rug until we cant anymore. Until we finally understand for ourselves what Benjamin Franklin meant. That knowing is better than wondering. That waking is better than sleeping. And that even the biggest failure, even the worst most intractable mistake beats the hell out of never trying.

Fresh Starts

From Season 2 Episode 13

Fresh starts, thanks to the calendar they happen every year, just set your watch to January. Our reward for surviving the holiday season is a new year. Bringing on the great tradition of new years resolutions. Put your past behind you and start over. It’s hard to resist the chance of a new beginning, a chance to put the problems of last years to bed.

These words of wisdom about fresh starts makes me think about what happens when you fail with your blog or business or when you have a set back. It might be something out of your control like extended illness or something in your control like choosing to step back from your blog to spend more time with your family. Taking breaks from your blog usually means lower traffic and abandoned followers but when you start over you get a fresh start.

Who gets to determine when the old ends and the new begins. It’s not a day on a calendar, not a birthday, not a new year. It’s an event, big or small, something that changes us. Ideally, it gives us hope. A new way of living and look at the world, letting go of old habits, old memories. What’s important is that we never stop believing that we can have a new beginning. But it’s also important to remember, amid all the crap, they’re are a few things really worth holding onto.

The Future

From Season 5 Episode 22

When something begins you generally have no idea how it is going to end. The house you were going to sell becomes your home. The roommates you were forced to take in become your family and the one night stand you were determined to forget becomes the love of your life.

If you’ve been blogging more than a year, is your blog where you figured it would be when you started? The longer you’ve been blogging, the more the answer is probably no. I still run two blogs I started 14 years ago but they aren’t the same as when they started. Your life is probably different than it was 5 or 10 years ago too. Not knowing what the future will bring does not mean you shouldn’t have a plan though. Make a plan for what direction you want to take and update it every few months. But be open to change and be excited to see where your blog/business/life will lead.

We spend our whole lives worrying about the future, planning the future, trying to predict the future. As if figuring it out will somehow cushion the blow but the future is always changing. The future is the whole of our deepest fears and our wildest hopes but one thing is certain. When it finally reveals itself, the future is never the way we imagined it.

Minimalism in the Face of Technology

From Season 9 Episode 13

We’ve all heard the buzz words: streamline, optimize, integrate, adapt. Every day someone comes up with a new strategy or tool or technology to increase our efficiency. The idea is to make our lives easier but the question is, does it?

Our world is so much different than it was just 30 years ago. When I was a kid there were no cellphones, digital cameras or tablets and the internet started when I was young but it was way different than it is now.  These advances in technology can be great and can sometimes make things easier – except when they don’t. Evaluate new technologies and tools and if it truly is making things easier for you, great. But realize that not everything makes your work or life better and be ready to eliminate it if it’s not what you need.

To really be efficient, you have to eliminate what doesn’t work. You have to figure out what is important and hold on tight to the things that matter most.

Commitment

From Season 10 Episode 5

Here’s what I learned my first day at medical school. Think long and hard before choosing to become a surgeon. It takes 100% commitment. You have to be on your A game every single time you walk into that OR. When patients are lying on your table, completely at your mercy, they need to know that when you make that first cut you know what you’re doing. No other specialty requires the time, the focus, the complete dedication… Except maybe being a mom.

Anyone can blog and they don’t have to commit 100% unless you are planning for your blog to become a full time professional business as well. That’s where commitment comes into play.  Blogging Groups full of new bloggers are also full of questions like how often should I blog. You can find all kinds of different answers to that question too.

The thing is, quality and consistency are much more important than quantity. You need regular, loyal readers to keep your blog and business going and in order to have that, you need to be consistent. Blogging only once a week is much better than blogging 3 times one week, then once the next week then not at all for a month and then 3 times a week again. If you are serious about your blog becoming a full time job then you need to commit to that decision and go all in. Blog regularly but also make a point to take yourself seriously and treat your blog like a business.

What if your focus splits? What if you can’t be all in? Are you left with nothing at all? Maybe you just need to find a different path. Here’s what’s horrifying, what if you can’t give 100%? Maybe you just need to go back to the beginning and start all over again.

What Can Grey’s Anatomy Teach You About Blogging?

It turns out, quite a lot. I couldn’t pinpoint one episode to illustrate it but I have also seen the show talk about how other doctors are not your competition and that’s true of other bloggers as well. Very few bloggers are your direct competition. For example I blog about blogging here.  I would want to connect with other bloggers like me, maybe share guest posts to connect our viewers. We could help each other out. We might all blog about blogging but we are not exactly the same and our ideal readers are not exactly the same. Our audience crosses over but are not identical.

What Can Grey's Anatomy Teach You About Blogging?

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