Category: staying connected

To Blog or Not To Blog … That is THE Question. Here’s My Answer.

Forgive the pun with the clichéd Shakespearean quote.

In my defense, deciding whether to start a blog is THE question for:

  • Entrepreneurs
  • Trendsetters
  • Marketers and Content Strategists
  • Small, Medium, and Large Businesses
  • Researchers and Scholars
  • Political and Social Activists
  • Nonprofit Organizations
  • Government Entities
  • Statisticians and Data Experts
  • Freelancers
  • Hobbyists

… As you can see, the list can continue…

C’mon, everyone’s doing it. But, should you? … Should I? …

Time is our most precious commodity. Planning and managing any type of content can be very time-consuming in the beginning stages, especially if you haven’t the foggiest notion where to start, or if you should even start in the first place. I hope to shed some light on this conundrum, as I navigate through this experience myself.

If you want to get straight to business, you can skip to the Eye-Popping Stats About Blogging and 5 Reasons Why I Started My Blog sections below.

 

My Experience- Why I Started a Blog

A year ago, I was living in Chicago working for a Fortune 500 company. I was a small fish in a very big pond. And I wanted to swim! I was new to the tech scene and I was a sponge, soaking up all of the information I could get my hands on about systems’ integrations and coding websites (among a lot of other things). I wanted to learn everything there was to know about technology. The possibilities made available to me through learning more about technology were endless! I went in head first.

When I started to get involved with a group inside the company that discussed issues about women and minorities in the tech scene, I instantly became a supporter and advocate for these issues. At this time, I also started volunteering with organizations outside of the company that helped middle school and high school students learn how to code; they also worked to set the students up with internships and relevant job skills in the tech industry. It was amazing to help these kids and to be a part of the future of tech. I was inspired.

By way of being involved with these groups and organizations, I began to learn more and more about the digital divide, as well as the lack of a clear and coherent definition across sectors and industries regarding what exactly it is. Behold, my passion and mission were born. Answers were needed!

After years of perfecting the craft of writing an academic research paper and marketing copy for organizations—writing for others— I finally had something to say about a topic that was important to me and members in my community, something I wanted to talk to everyone about. I wasn’t in it to make money. I wanted to be engaged with others and help move digital literacy initiatives ahead in any way possible.

I started networking… a lot. I met a lot of amazing people in the startup industry and co-working spaces, technical experts, leaders and founders of nonprofit organizations, politicians, researchers, executives, and individuals (like myself at the time) who were passionate about a variety of different noble causes… but were unsure of where to start.

I received some amazing advice from a lot of influential people and respected peers. Some said I should start my own nonprofit. I should be a consultant. I should write a book. I should interview experts. I should travel abroad for extended periods. I should talk to anyone and everyone starting a new venture to build a support system. I should go to events with contests. I should speak at events and conferences. I should volunteer more. I should get certified in this or that. The list of amazing ideas continues…

Yet no one ever suggested to me that I should write a blog. And while I thought about the idea of starting a blog…at the time, I was okay that no one encouraged me to start a blog. I had the impression (unfairly so; as at that time I had never even subscribed to a blog before) that blogging was either for complainers who like to rant about anything and everything about an overly specific niche, or for people who were exceedingly extroverted and wanted to be the center of attention at all times. That may sound shocking to others who regularly read blogs, and I’m sure a few social marketing strategists will shutter at those statements too. However, that was my perception at the time. I liked writing and creating content for others because I didn’t want to be at the center of everything. In all honesty, it petrified me.

My conundrum, however, was that I am extremely passionate about digital literacy initiatives and standing beside those individuals, organizations, and businesses that would really benefit from learning more about technology in order to gain more exposure, obtain better jobs, enhance their bottom line, and achieve a better quality of day-to-day experiences; just by gaining access to, and learning about trends in technology. But, I didn’t have an online space to share those ideas with others who cared about the same topics too. I thought I would be able to make an impact and contribute to the conversation without a blog, without engaging in a conversation that many people around the country and globe could access, consume, engage with, and share.

Now I realize how incredibly wrong I was. And my findings and the numbers prove it. Here are just a few eye-popping stats for businesses, organizations, and social ventures to consider.

Eye-Popping Stats About Blogging

  • Companies who blog receive 97% more links to their website. (source)
  • 81% of U.S. online consumers trust information and advice from blogs. (source)
  • On average, companies that blog receive 434% more indexed pages. (source)
  • Small businesses that blog get 126% more lead growth than those that do not blog. (source)
  • 56% of leading business bloggers are hiring additional resources in the next 12 months. (source)
  • Long-form blog posts generate 9 times more leads than short-form blog posts. (source)
  • 57% of business bloggers’ outsourced blog posts originate from non-paid guest posts.(source)

The above stats are enticing and telling. People want to engage with small businesses, organizations, and social ventures online, via blogs. While this is no longer a secret to many, it still is to some. The above stats are a powerful testament to how essential it is to continue the conversation you think is important to start, and to create a space to facilitate that conversation.

I have now officially started my blogging schedule to keep the conversation going. Technology impacts every facet of our daily lives now. And it is imperative that we don’t leave so many others out of the conversation. Technology impacts our economy (locally, nationally, and globally), how we get jobs and achieve our income levels, how we engage with political movements and ideals, our education attainment levels, the opportunities we have to start our own businesses and social ventures, and so much more. Below are five reasons why I decided to take blogging more seriously than I did in the past. Hopefully you can tailor them to your own unique situation. You may have similar reasons or different reasons, but as revealed above, the stats behind the benefits to blogging are enticing. If you want to get your brand or message across to the right group, blogging is a truly viable option.

 5 Reasons Why I Started My Blog

1- I Want to Find My Audience and Expand My Reach

While I have found a lot of individuals interested in how technology impacts society and business, I find it difficult to find local in-person events or initiatives that are solely about this topic and at once all-encompassing. I want an online space where people can come to discuss the many and diverse facets of how technology shapes our lives, work, education, businesses, and communities—no matter their locales.

2- I Want to Engage in Conversation

I have many years of experience writing academic and corporate pieces, but I want to finally be able to engage with others about topics that are important, in a conversational manner. I want there to be a back-and-forth, and interesting view points and questions from others who are from all different walks of life.

 

3- I Want to Help Facilitate the Conversations that Others are Already Having

I want to create an actual place (albeit virtual) where people can go to engage in conversations about the ways technology has influenced everyday life, as well as things that are interesting and new; such as information about a new business application, a new or free coding class or platform, a fundraiser for a social venture, a new skill that can be acquired to stand out in the job market, market research and trends, etc.

 

4- I Want to Encourage Collaboration

Whether you are a CEO of a marketing company, a college student in the humanities, a 50-year old starting a new career path, a woman learning to code, a web development expert with over 10 years of experience, a manager of a nonprofit that assists job-seekers, an immigrant who is navigating the tech space in a new country, or an entrepreneur interested in creating a new mobile app (just to name a few concrete examples)… this is a space where you can find something of value, and contribute to the discussion. In fact, the value of this space is dependent upon you being a part of this discussion.

 

5- I Want to Inspire Others

I want others to know that this conversation is indeed being had and that they do indeed have a space in this ever-changing and ever-challenging world of technology, social media, and web content. I want to create awareness. And I want to inspire others to share the resources, experiences, and wealth of knowledge they have with others.

 

You can join this conversation by following this blog. Click on the “Follow” button below this post. And if you start your own blog, please SHARE your experience!

 

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6 Apps for Giving and Staying Connected During the Holidays

During the holiday season it has become tradition to travel across the country to visit family and friends. We cook wonderful and elaborate meals, fill our plates with too much food, pepper our social media feeds with what we are thankful for and cute photos of our kids and or pets in festive garb. Many of us rush out the door during the early hours the Friday after Thanksgiving to wait in lines at superstores to get the best deals. And after arriving home frazzled and drained, I am sure the promise to never forget about what the holiday season is actually all about is uttered… that is, until Cyber Monday rolls around. And then we spend the next few weeks panicking about what to buy others and what type of drink options to have at the party we’re hosting, while trying to squeeze attending our coworker’s  charity fund raiser into our schedule that is already filled with lunch meetings, holiday plays, and potlucks.

Stress is unavoidable during the holiday season. The below list of apps is here to help you stay  focused on what I believe most of us believe the holiday season is all about… GIVING and BEING CONNECTED. Even while you are busy, these apps make it easy to give and stay connected. 

All apps listed are available on iOS and Android devices for free unless otherwise notated.

1.Elfster

Their slogan: “Elfster is a FREE gift exchange website to make gift-giving easier. We make Christmas, holidays and other gift exchanges free, easy, and fun!”

Through this app, you can get gift ideas for friends and loved ones in the “shop” section that is arranged by categories of interest, price range, and even links to items on Amazon and Etsy.  You can also set up a Secret Santa gift exchange, as well as utilize their free online giving platform for your family and friends, local community, charities, and business. Additionally, you can share gift wish lists with family members and friends so they know not only what you want but where to get it.

2. Charity Miles

Their slogan: “Raise money for charity when you walk, run, or bike.”

Through this app, bikers earn up to 10¢ per mile; walkers and runners earn up to 25¢ per mile. Select which charity you’d like to run, walk, or bike for and press “start.” The app tracks your distance and earns money for the organization you selected. Organizations include, Feeding America, Autism Speaks, DoSomething.org and more. This is a great way to earn money for an organization during the holiday season (and even after) while staying fit or just walking the dog.

3.  Givelify Mobile Giving App

Their slogan: “One app, any cause, any time.”

If you are traveling during the holidays, this app makes it easy to donate to a cause that is important to you while you are on the go. You only have to follow three easy steps: 1) Choose a donation amount 2) Select the fundraising campaign to which you’d like to contribute, and 3) tap “Give Now”. This app also makes it incredibly easy for those who are leading fundraising and donation campaigns to track details so that when tax time rolls around you have all the information you need in reports.

4.

My Christmas Tree (Android)

Christmas Tree (iOS)

These apps allow you to decorate a Christmas tree and share it with others through social media, email, and SMS. This is a great idea for those family members who won’t be able to come over to trim the tree with you this year. It can also keep the kids occupied.

5. Stre.am

Their Slogan: “Share your world & watch live video with just your phone.”

If you want to share video of your kids opening their gifts, playing in the snow, or singing in the choir, this app helps you capture and share these timeless moments. It’s also a great way to share your moments, in live action, with family and friends who are on the other side of the country or world.

6. Pinterest is a great platform to use for sharing holiday recipes with others, and to get ideas for  new traditions; for instance, gingerbread cheesecake bites. There are also a lot of great ideas for decorating the house and hosting parties.

There are so many apps out there for the holidays. Share your favorite app to use during the holidays with others, below.