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It's Time To Play!

It’s Time to Play

On my way to share a blog post about being “blessed not busy”, I got sidetracked when I went to concert last night.  As I was dancing and listening in the awe of the amazing talent of The Lone Bellow – seriously having some soul stirring moments, I was reminded how much harder it is for us adults to play and how sad that it for our souls.

In our younger years, there just seems to be more opportunities to play – to physically move, to dance, to sing, to create music, to create art, to experience something so profound that it stirs your soul.  It was part of how we grew up. It was integrated into our schooling and our extra-curricular activities and our free time.  But as adults, we seem to get caught up in day-to-day trappings of being serious grown-ups with serious jobs and serious to-do-lists and playing seems frivolous.

So stop for a moment and ask yourself, “What stirs my soul?”

Now do it. Make it happen.

You can dance in your closet, dance with your kids, dance with your spouse, sing in your shower, sing in the car, color in your kids’ coloring book, paint pottery, book a concert, go to a museum or climb a wall.  Just do something fun for you! It’s good practice.

Whatever that “soul-stirring” creative play looks like to you – whether it’s drawing, crafting, photography, videography, singing, dancing, playing music – whatever it is, your heart and soul need it now.  We should be nurturing and stirring our souls a regular basis.  It’s what makes us who we are – our to-do list certainly doesn’t.

Though it sounds totally contradictory, I keep hearing the more you play and the less you work, the more successful you will be – I’m really starting to believe it.  The more we are aligned with the experiences that make us happy and heart-ful, the better we are able to give back to the world in a positive universe shifting way.

So I’m off to more concerts . . . what about you?  Please share in the comments what soul-stirring moments you will be experiencing or connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.  Thanks!

SocialMonday Podcast – Social Media Tips for Authors and Writers

Last week I was honored to be a guest on the SocialMonday Podcast! I was sharing social media tips and online marketing strategies for authors, journalists and writers.  Hosts Bob Turner and Jason Goff were really fun and engaging.  They were kind enough to hear the story about how I got started in this business – and I divulge where my handle @sheesalt came from.  Any guesses?
Listen in and if you like what you hear, you can subscribe to the SocialMonday podcast on iTunes for weekly social media tips, news and advice.

What's The Difference Between A Web Designer And Web Developer?

Web Design vs. Web Development

The world is not short of people, experts and agencies to help you build your website – the question is:  what is best for you?  You will have the best success if you have a clear understanding about what you need and know exactly what you are looking for – a website designer or developer?

If you are truly starting from scratch, with no branding, logo, colors and/or font directive, then it’s important to start with a designer or someone who can help you with your visual identity – or your brand.  A designer will help you bring the personality of you and your business into your marketing elements – in this case – your website – with the creation of a logo and/or particular font treatment and color scheme.

This design process can be as a big or minor as you want it to be.  In some proposals, the design work is estimated to be more time and expense than building a website.  So be clear in how important it is for you to get this branded element work established.  It is an investment but can serve you for many years if it’s done right.

Once your logo and brand is established, your design work is not yet done.  Now it’s time to create the design, look and feel of your website.  Things that you might consider and review with your designer:  Will you have lots of white space?  big pictures? lots of text or lots of visuals?  What fonts and colors will you use to complement your logo/brand?  What are some examples of sites you love? sites you hate?

As you start to establish the look of your new site you and your web designer will start to plan out the architecture of the site.  Questions to answer in this phase of the work would be:  How many pages? What do you want visitors to do?  How does information flow or get discovered or transition?

While a designer and developer can be the same person, most people in the trade tend to lean toward one skill set or the other.  In bigger web firms or digital agencies, you will find that once you finish working with the designer, your website work will then fall into the hands of the developer.  (Similar to building a house, once you have your drawings and specs from the architect, you will then begin to work with the contractor.)

The developer’s role is to make sure that your website actually looks and functions the way you designed it.  Whether your developer is using a template or theme or he/she is completely coding your site from scratch – the web developer’s job is to build the site.

The developer can also assist in making sure that your site is optimized for search (SEO), is responsive, mobile-friendly and is connected with Google Analytics. Also, make sure that your developer sets up access to manage and update your site once it is up and running.  (Ask for a how-to manual or training session!) Lastly, the developer is the main person who can help you with security, back-ups (don’t forget to set up regular back-ups!) and ongoing maintenance on your site.

Note of caution!!!  It is neither the designer nor the developer’s job to create content for your site (unless you have otherwise agreed).  It is your job to supply all of the copy, images, page titles and relevant links/accounts to whomever is helping you with your site!  This is often the biggest surprise for people who are creating websites for the first time. 

With this clearer understanding of how web designers vs. web developers work – here are 6 questions to ask to help you figure out the right fit for you – and for creating the best website for your business!

1) Do you already have branding and logo figured out?

  • No – start with a designer.
  • Yes – OK to start with developer.

2) Do you have a clear sense of how you want your site organized and what you want from each page of your site?

  • No – probably start with a designer.
  • Yes – OK to start with developer.

3) Do you have all of your content (logo, copy and images) ready to go?

  • No – start with a designer (or get help from photographer or copywriter).
  • Yes – OK to start with developer.

4) Are you fixed on having a site that looks customized and does not feel like a cookie-cutter template?

  • No – then you would be in good hands with a smaller shop and smaller budget.
  • Yes – creating a customized look can accomplished with either a designer or developer, it depends on their approach.

5) Do you have a small budget or big budget?

  • Small to medium budget ($500 to $10K) – website work in this price range means that you will probably work with a smaller team that might subcontract out some the work and may use customized themes or templates as the basis of your site.
  • Medium to big budget ($10 – $20K+)) –  bigger projects with bigger budgets affords you the expertise of a bigger team that typically includes a project manager, designer and developer and more customized design and coding work.

6) Are you a techie type, or have someone techie who can help you update your site?

  • No – consider a maintenance contract after your site is built for ongoing support.
  • Yes – consider using a template or easy to use theme for updating and managing and ask for a how-to manual and/or a few training sessions.

If you are still unclear, I’d be happy to answer any questions or make suggestions for the right web design/development support for your project.  Shoot me an email, at: nancy “at” nancysheed.com.

I’m also curious – what has been your experience with building a website? What lessons did you learn or what did you wish you had known?  Please share in the comments.  Also feel free to share this article with anyone you know considering a new website.  

Where Do I Find Content for Social Media Posts?

Congratulations.  You’ve got your blog posts up and running and your promotional posts all set, but then you realize it’s all about you – and you haven’t begun to share anything else on your social media platforms.  Hold on a minute . . . to state the obvious, social media is about being social and engaging with others while sharing valuable information that is relevant, timely, informative and ideally even entertaining.

Balancing your social media posts with a healthy dose of third party (other people’s) content is a terrific strategy to keep your social media consistent and robust as well as establishing you as a reliable source for interesting and engaging content that resonates with your ideal audience.Instead of spending hours scouring the Internet, here are five easy (and FREE!) go-to sources for finding great content:

 

Your Facebook News Feed – Ideally, you have “liked” other Facebook pages that are relevant to your business or industry.  They could be news sources, associations, blogs, partners or other like-minded parties in your space.  Regardless, a regular run-through your Facebook Page’s News Feed, where you find the top or most recent posts from these sources is sure to garner many ideas, articles and posts for you to share (using Facebook as your business page, you can find the business page News Feed when you click on “Home” in the upper right hand corner of the Facebook page).

 

Twitter Lists – Using Twitter lists is an easy way to filter Twitter feeds into manageable streams of related content from a select group of Twitter accounts.  For example, I have a created a “SMPeeps” list of people who post regularly and often about social media.  Going directly to that list enables me to dive right into a treasure trove of current, trending and popular posts that I can easily retweet and share (you can also simply search on keywords (ex. #socialmedia) for a quick filter on a particular subject but the caveat is that you may not have as reliable sources as you would if you had selected them for a Twitter list).

 

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Feedly – Whether you are sharing other people’s content or you simply want to get caught up on all of your favorite blogs and websites, Feedly is awesome at bringing it all together in one place for your easy review.  You can set up Feedly by logging in with one of your social media accounts, then start adding your favorite blogs and article sources to your Feedly account.  You can also slice and dice the feeds by subject matter, if you find that you have added varied and unrelated sources.

StumbleUpon – Though it’s been around for a while, I’m relatively new to StumbleUpon. I find it helps to discover recent and relevant content that others have already established as popular or engaging, so you already know that this will probably be popular with your audience.  Like the others, StumbleUpon relies on you to select interests to help you find content on a particular subject.

 

Industry Newsletters – Let others do the work for you.  If you subscribe to any sort of industry or insider email newsletter, chances are that they are also sharing “other people’s content” with the focus on keeping you up-to-date with what’s new and hot.  One of my favorites is Mari Smith’s “Social Scoop.”  Every Friday she shares what she considers the best of the best in the social media space.  What email do you most value and what can you share from it?

Also, if you are using a third party social media applications like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or Rallyverse (sadly, Buffer shut down their “Suggestions” tool this month), most of them use algorithms that review your accounts, posts, keywords, trending news (among other things) to find and recommend content customized for you. It’s not necessarily 100% accurate, but it’s a good place to start to sometimes discover something you might otherwise have missed

With the exception of newsletters, each of these options requires a small amount of time to set up with the right sources or searches, but once you do, you’ll see how they can become your one stop resource for staying up to date and finding the right content to share.

Lastly, a few ninja notes about sharing others’ content: 

  • Share your perspective or point of view about why you are sharing the content – don’t just throw something up for the sake of posting.  It’s a missed opportunity to use your voice and differentiate yourself or your business.
  • Don’t share an article or post unless you have read it – many times you may find great sounding titles of posts or articles that have nothing to do with the actual content of the piece.
  • Always give credit and/or tag the source of the content you are sharing.  It often can become a great way to get know peers and influencers in your industry.
  • Thank others when they share your content – what comes around goes around!

Do you have a favorite source for finding content? Please share in the comments below.  Interested in learning more about online marketing? Sign up for my newsletter, or connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, or Instagram.   Thanks!