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Date: Thursday, 19 Aug 2010 21:39
Blogging Tips

Getting organized as a new blogger can be an intimidating, often overwhelming chore.  There is always more to do, much more to learn and never enough time.  This post will focus on one aspect of your blogging life . . . your education, specifically how to set up a system to follow your “online mentors”.

If you’re new to blogging as part of your business strategy, you’re driven to learn as much as possible as soon as possible:

How to learn the basics of blogging.
How to drive readership to your site.
How to build an e-mail list.
How to write better content.
How to improve your visibility using SEO.
How to incorporate social media your marketing plan.
How to keep yourself motivated.

The list goes on.  As part of your education, you want to follow the leaders and experts in the blogging and social media world to learn their techniques, gather tips, and acquire new skills.  The best way to do this is to read what they write.

As a result, you’re going to follow a lot of blogs -- I follow over 100 blogs daily and add more every week.  Bookmarking and visiting each site is time consuming. I recommend using a RSS aggregator . . . it allows you to quickly scan, review and organize your reading.  This is much more efficient than going to each site; though you’ll want to visit them occasionally.  My preferred aggregator is Google Reader.  It’s simple and easy to set-up.  Go to Wikipedia for a comprehensive list of online and offline aggregators.

Here’s how to follow hundreds of blogs, cherry-pick most relevant information and without consuming a lot of time.  Once you've created your subscription list in your aggregator of choice:

  1. First and most importantly, prioritize you interests.  What are the top three to five subjects that you are most interested in learning about NOW?  Make a list and keep next to your computer.
  2. Open your RSS reader and quickly scan the list.  If you’re like me it can encompass a few hundred posts.  Mark each post that uses that has the relevant keywords for your highest priority subject.
  3. Repeat this process again for your second highest priority, and continue to repeat this process until you have worked through your entire list.
  4. Once you have completed the process mark all the others messages as read.
  5. Now return to those posts you have saved.  Re-read the titles.  Scrub the list further by opening each post and scanning them quickly.  Some posts you’ll eliminate immediately, others you’ll want to return to because they have the real meat you’re after.
  6. Finally, read and study those that remain . . . the ones that have actionable information that you can use today.

With practice, you shouldn’t spend more than 30 minutes a day reviewing, reading and learning from the best in your field.

Other recommendations:

Do not follow bloggers who only publish an excerpt of their posts on their feeds.  This slows down the process for you and wastes precious time, as you must make a special effort to go their site.  You’re striving for efficiency.

Do visit the sites of your favorites occasionally.  You can learn a lot about their style, presentation, and products and services.  This is a learning experience in itself.

Remember, prioritize your learning objectives, focus only on your priorities, and strive for efficiency.  In short order, you’ll be an expert too.

Image by liewcf on Flickr

From a free agent |LIFE.

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Blogging Tips"
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Date: Friday, 13 Aug 2010 23:40
Passion Many authors of successful books and articles espousing entrepreneurship and an escape from the corporate rat race frequently cite the need for one to pursue their passion.  Without passion, they say, your odds of building a successful business and escaping the world of 9-to-5 are greatly diminished.  That's true.  Without some level of passion you are not likely to be truly successful in any endeavor either as an entrepreneur or employee.  Unfortunately they often abandon the reader at that point.  I heard recently that if asked, over 70% of people could not tell you what they were passionate about.  And, that same group didn't know how to go about discovering their passion.  It's no wonder that people never take that first step in changing their lives.

So how does one go about finding their passion?  The following is a list of useful articles and one video that just might help your discover your passion.  I strongly recommend that you begin with the short video featuring Randy Komisar, author of, The Monk and the Riddle - The Art of Creating a Life While Making a Living.  I say that because Randy takes a unique departure from the traditional, 'find the one thing' approach to discovering your passion.  That one change in perspective can make a huge difference.  It's no longer about 'the one thing' approach -- it's about the many possibilities and the direction you want to take your life.

Finding your passion won't come from answering a few simple questions -- the "aha" moment is very rare.  It comes from changing your perspective, taking action and experimentation.  You don't just find your passion . . . it's going to find you as well.

From a free agent |LIFE.

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Creating the Vision"
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Date: Thursday, 05 Aug 2010 21:03
Lonely Work Coaches, planning systems, personal organizers, and calendars -- just a few of the tools and resources available to the person seeking to gain more control over their business, career or life.  Each serve an important function -- they help bring order to disorder; they help organize and manage information so it can be retrieved quickly, when needed, and use that information to make important decisions or choices; they they can even help add discipline and accountability to your life.   But, despite all their usefulness, they can't do one thing -- they can't make the decision for you, they can't make the best choice for you.  Only you  can make that critical decision, that important choice.  And that is the lonely work -- you are on your own.  You must shut out the chaos and noise. . .and decide.

Some years ago I published the  following article written by Laura Berman Fortgang, a professional coach.  It still resonates.  She is the author of several books including, Living Your Best Life: Fortgang's insights will help you reach the success and fulfillment you are destined forLiving Your Best Life and Take Yourself to the TopTake Yourself to the Top.  The article is The Lonely Work. . .

Every year begins with a sense of relief. We are released from a timeframe and enter a new dimension where we can be pregnant with hope and expectant of renewal and change. We've been conditioned to anticipate it and often, we can start anew. And yet the statistics on our good intentions are far from impressive. According to psychologists, 23% of us quit on our hopes for ourselves within one week of the new year and 45% by the end of the first month. So much for hope and renewal!

At the heart of the matter is the "Lonely Work". The lonely work is not the goal-setting, it's not the plan, it's not the trainer or the coach or the doctor or the consultant. The lonely work is the work you do all alone. It's just you and your 'bugaboos'. The lonely work is personal and it's the part most people want to run from. The lonely work requires some serious face-time with yourself.

Choice plays a major factor in the Lonely Work. Part of the lonely work is wrestling with the habits you have around your identity, thoughts, moods and impulses. In most cases*, we can choose to change our thinking in order to change . . . .

Read more at a free agent |LIFE.

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Getting Things Done (GTD)"
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Date: Monday, 02 Aug 2010 21:32

  BalanceExceptional achievement is a product of personal vision, focus, commitment, discipline and persistence.  Creating a new business, a new blog, even something as simple a writing a new post requires us to "get out of balance."  Unleashing creativity to achieve any goal requires imbalance.

Read more at a freeagent | LIFE.

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Balanced Living, blogging, blogging tips..."
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Date: Sunday, 01 Aug 2010 18:55

These are my favorite blog posts from the previous week.  My learning focus last week was on creating and improving content.  I hope you find these articles insightful . . .

Blog Content Strategy 101 - From Problogger.  A content strategy is a plan that helps your users achieve their goals, and helps you to achieve your own goals, through your web site’s content.

Writing Tip: Articles Must have Substance - From Dragonblogger.  Readers have a choice of millions of web sites to read, and even if you do manage to SEO and keyword your article to make it into the first page on Google search for your related topic you risk losing your audience and gaining any sort of repeat viewership if you do not have substance to your articles.

Keyword Research for Blogging - From Kikolani.  Finding relevant keywords for your website/blog and having the ability to analyze your competitors is a major key to success.

The Zen of PowerPoint, Facebook and Twitter - From Guy Kawasaki.  Keep your message simple.

Source Quality Content . . . Continuously - From Problogger.  A comprehensive article discussing sources ideas and information to create high quality posts.

An article from my new blog, a freeagent | LIFE
Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Blogging Articles"
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Date: Saturday, 31 Jul 2010 13:52
Internet Marketing An article from a freeagent | LIFE:

This is my list of favorite small business marketing podcasts that I listen to during a morning run or workout.  All of them are free and cover a broad range of topics from marketing strategies to keyword research to link building and much, much more.

  • Small Business Marketing Blog from Duct Tape Marketing - This is John Jantsch's podcast providing small business marketing tips, tactics and resources.  You can find a limited number on iTunes, however I recommend heading to his website for the complete collection going back to June 2009.  A typical episode runs 25 minutes.  This is my favorite program - a lot of great interviews with leading internet marketers and a focus on small business.
  • Internet Marketing This Week - The title for this excellent podcast has always perplexed me.  It's typically produced every 2 to 4 weeks rather than weekly.  The complete collection starting with Episode #1 from November 2008, can be found on iTunes.  The program runs from 50 to 70 minutes and focuses on internet marketing from the "10, 000 foot level".
  • Internet Business Mastery: Business Development and Internet Marketing for the Web 2.0 Age - Produced by Jason Van Orden (Jay) and Jeremy Frandsen (Sterling) of the Internet Business Mastery Academy.  They discuss lifestyle design, how to create an internet-based business and build traffic through classic internet marketing principles and social media.  Approximately 25 programs can be found on iTunes, but if you go to their website you can get access to another 25 programs.  They also provide transcripts of all of their programs on their site.  A typical episode runs 60 minutes.
  • The Smart Passive Income Podcast - Produced by Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income.  Pat just produced his first podcast so this is one to listen to and monitor to see how it develops.   If the material is half as good as his blog, then it should be a terrific podcast.  It' also available on iTunes.
  • Internet Marketing: Insider Tips and Advice for Online Marketing - This podcast comes from SiteVisibility in the UK.  An internet marketing and SEO firm.  As of this writing they have 78 episodes available online, approximately 25 on iTunes with earlier episodes available through their website.  I'm just starting to listen to this, but like the content and presentation.  Their podcasts vary in length from 20 minutes to well over on hour.

Do you have a favorite?  If so, I'd like hear about them and build my list of marketing resources.

Image by Maria Reyes-McDavis via Flickr

Author: "Alec Watson"
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Date: Saturday, 31 Jul 2010 13:37
Just Say No Congratulations, you're getting organized!  Your projects are under control.  You know your priorities and you're making tremendous strides in getting rid of the clutter in your workplace and at home.  So, how to you keep from getting back into the same situation again?  Well, of course, you keep working your system, whether its following David Allen's Getting Things Done or Steven Covey's First Things First, or some other organizing system.  You also have to get control of what you take on and that can mean using a word that many of us are uncomfortable with, especially in the workplace -- "No!"

Well, Ramona Creel at OnlineOrganizing.com can help.  Read her article, 20 Ways to Say No, to help  you to get to "No!! I just can't do that."

An article from a freeagent | LIFE

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Balanced Living"
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Date: Thursday, 29 Jul 2010 01:32

My Home OfficeImage by Hal Bergman Photography via Flickr

I am closing out this blog effective August 15 , 2010.  I have started a new blog - a freeagent | LIFE.  It will focus on creating an independent life - professionally, financially, geographically.  The site will offer articles, resources, tools and other services of interest to entrepreneurs, freelancers, soloists, and other who seek to break away from a traditional 9 to 5 career.

Author: "Alec Watson"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jun 2010 20:22

Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever.

                                                   — Mahatma Gandi

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Quotes"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jun 2010 20:22

Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.

                                                             — Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Quotes"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jun 2010 20:21

Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.

                                                                — Confucius

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Quotes"
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jun 2010 20:19

Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the fastest lion or it will be killed.  Every morning a lion wakes up.  It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve to death.  It doesn't matter whether you are a lion or a gazelle.  When the sun comes up, you better start running.  An African Proverb

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Success Strategies, Change, Excellence, ..."
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Date: Tuesday, 15 Jun 2010 20:18

You can't stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.
                                                                               - Anonymous

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Managing Change, Success Strategies"
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Date: Wednesday, 25 Feb 2009 02:00

Chillin' On The Tundra by Maestro Vecchio

Author: "Alec Watson"
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Date: Monday, 23 Feb 2009 01:00

I recently heard an interview on NPR with Morgan Freeman.  The interviewer was asking Mr. Freeman how he approached his work.

Freeman: "I'm offstage now, the moment doesn't live with me. Onstage, switch on; offstage, switch off."

Interviewer: So he never abandons himself to a role?

Freeman:  "I don't think complete abandon works, it's a job. You have to control it; if it controls you, I think you can get lost."

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Success Strategies"
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Date: Monday, 12 Jan 2009 01:05

Exceptional achievement is a product of personal vision, focus, commitment, discipline and persistence . . . it's about managing personal imbalance.  This article from "The Change Blog" highlights the critical link between perceived imbalance and exceptional achievement.

Author: "Alec Watson" Tags: "Success Strategies, Change, Excellence, ..."
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Date: Monday, 05 Jan 2009 01:31


Flashed an original photo by hotonpictures

It's been 11 months to the day since my last post. I've thought often about this blog, but the motivation was lacking. With this entry I'll begin anew . . . though in small steps and with a few new turns. Ultimately it will reflect a few more of my personal interests and with a new look. Thanks for visiting . . .

Author: "Alec Watson"
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Date: Friday, 14 Nov 2008 07:00

Part Two of "Concentrate So You Will Not Forget" from Lesson Fifteen of the "Power of Concentration":

The important thing to do is to deepen the impression at the very moment it enters your mind. This is made possible, not only by concentrating the mind upon the idea itself, but by surrounding it with all possible association of ideas, so that each one will reinforce the others.

The mind is governed by laws of association, such as the law that ideas which enter the mind at the same time emerge at the same time, one assisting in recalling the others.

The reason why people cannot remember what they want to is that they have not concentrated their minds sufficiently on their purpose at the moment when it was formed.

You can train yourself to remember in this way by the concentration of the attention on your purpose, in accordance with the laws of association.

When once you form this habit, the attention is easily centered and the memory easily trained. Then your memory, instead of failing you at crucial moments, becomes a valuable asset in your every-day work.

Exercise in Memory Concentration. Select some picture; put it on a table and then look at it for two minutes. Concentrate your attention on this picture, observe every detail; then shut your eyes and see how much you can recall about it. Think of what the picture represents; whether it is a good subject; whether it looks natural. Think of objects in foreground, middle ground, background; of details of color and form. Now open your eyes and hold yourself rigidly to the correction of each and every mistake. Close eyes again and notice how much more accurate your picture is. Practice until your mental image corresponds in every particular to the original.

Author: "stirupzebo" Tags: "Personal Development, Power of Concentra..."
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Date: Friday, 22 Feb 2008 04:29

Part Two of "How Concentration Can Fulfill Your Desire" from Lesson Sixteen of the "Power of Concentration":

Man must learn more and more to depend on himself; to seek more for the Infinite within. It is from this source alone that he ever gains the power to solve his practical difficulties. No one should give up when there is always the resources of Infinity. The cause of failure is that men search in the wrong direction for success, because they are not conscious of their real powers that when used are capable of guiding them.

The Infinite within is foreign to those persons who go through life without developing their spiritual powers. But the Infinite helps only he who helps himself. There is no such thing as a Special "Providence." Man will not receive help from the Infinite except to the extent that he believes and hopes and prays for help from this great source.

Concentrate on What You Want and Get It. The weakling is controlled by conditions. The strong man controls conditions. You can be either the conqueror or the conquered. By the law of concentration you can achieve your heart's desire. This law is so powerful that that which at first seems impossible becomes attainable.

By this law what you at first see as a dream becomes a reality.

Remember that the first step in concentration is to form a Mental Image of what you wish to accomplish. This image becomes a thought-seed that attracts thoughts of a similar nature. Around this thought, when it is once planted in the imagination or creative region of the mind, you group or build associated thoughts which continue to grow as long as your desire is keen enough to compel close concentration.

Author: "stirupzebo" Tags: "Personal Development, Power of Concentra..."
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Date: Friday, 22 Feb 2008 04:17

Part One of "How Concentration Can Fulfill Your Desire" from Lesson Sixteen of the "Power of Concentration":

"It is a spiritual law that the desire to do necessarily implies the ability to do."

You have all read of "Aladdin's Lamp," which accomplished such wonderful things. This, of course, is only a fairy story, but it illustrates the fact that man has within him the power, if he is able to use it, to gratify his every wish.

If you are unable to satisfy your deepest longings it is time you learned how to use your God-given powers. You will soon be conscious that you have latent powers within capable when once developed of revealing to you priceless knowledge and unlimited possibilities of success.

Man should have plenty of everything and not merely substance to live on as so many have. All natural desires can be realized. It would be wrong for the Infinite to create wants that could not be supplied. Man's very soul is in his power to think, and it, therefore, is the essence of all created things. Every instinct of man leads to thought, and in every thought there is great possibility because true thought development, when allied to those mysterious powers which perhaps transcend it, has been the cause of all the world's true progress.

In the silence we become conscious of "that something" which transcends thought and which uses thought as a medium for expression. Many have glimpses of "that something," but few ever reach the state where the mind is steady enough to fathom these depths. Silent, concentrated thought is more potent than spoken words, for speech distracts from the focusing power of the mind by drawing more and more attention to the without.

Author: "stirupzebo" Tags: "Personal Development, Power of Concentra..."
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