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Pen Magnet

Pen Magnet

1 year ago

Why Google Staff Doesn't Work

More on Productivity

Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi

Niharikaa Kaur Sodhi

1 year ago

The Only Paid Resources I Turn to as a Solopreneur

Image by the author

4 Pricey Tools That Are Valuable

I pay based on ROI (return on investment).

If a $20/month tool or $500 online course doubles my return, I'm in.

Investing helps me build wealth.

Canva Pro

I initially refused to pay.

My course content needed updating a few months ago. My Google Docs text looked cleaner and more professional in Canva.

I've used it to:

  • product cover pages

  • eBook covers

  • Product page infographics

See my Google Sheets vs. Canva product page graph.

Google Sheets vs Canva

Yesterday, I used it to make a LinkedIn video thumbnail. It took less than 5 minutes and improved my video.

Image by the author via canva

In 30 hours, the video had 39,000 views.

Here's more.

HypeFury

Hypefury rocks!

It builds my brand as I sleep. What else?

Because I'm traveling this weekend, I planned tweets for 10 days. It took me 80 minutes.

So while I travel or am absent, my content mill keeps producing.

Also I like:

  • I can reach hundreds of people thanks to auto-DMs. I utilize it to advertise freebies; for instance, leave an emoji remark to receive my checklist. And they automatically receive a message in their DM.

  • Scheduled Retweets: By appearing in a different time zone, they give my tweet a second chance.

It helps me save time and expand my following, so that's my favorite part.

It’s also super neat:

Image by the author

Zoom Pro

My course involves weekly and monthly calls for alumni.

Google Meet isn't great for group calls. The interface isn't great.

Zoom Pro is expensive, and the monthly payments suck, but it's necessary.

It gives my students a smooth experience.

Previously, we'd do 40-minute meetings and then reconvene.

Zoom's free edition limits group calls to 40 minutes.

This wouldn't be a good online course if I paid hundreds of dollars.

So I felt obligated to help.

YouTube Premium

My laptop has an ad blocker.

I bought an iPad recently.

When you're self-employed and work from home, the line between the two blurs. My bed is only 5 steps away!

When I read or watched videos on my laptop, I'd slide into work mode. Only option was to view on phone, which is awkward.

YouTube premium handles it. No more advertisements and I can listen on the move.

3 Expensive Tools That Aren't Valuable

Marketing strategies are sometimes aimed to make you feel you need 38474 cool features when you don’t.

Certain tools are useless.

I found it useless.

Depending on your needs. As a writer and creator, I get no return.

They could for other jobs.

Shield Analytics

It tracks LinkedIn stats, like:

  • follower growth

  • trend chart for impressions

  • Engagement, views, and comment stats for posts

  • and much more.

Middle-tier creator costs $12/month.

I got a 25% off coupon but canceled my free trial before writing this. It's not worth the discount.

Why?

LinkedIn provides free analytics. See:

Screenshot by the author

Not thorough and won't show top posts.

I don't need to see my top posts because I love experimenting with writing.

Slack Premium

Slack was my classroom. Slack provided me a premium trial during the prior cohort.

I skipped it.

Sure, voice notes are better than a big paragraph. I didn't require pro features.

Marketing methods sometimes make you think you need 38474 amazing features. Don’t fall for it.

Calendly Pro

This may be worth it if you get many calls.

I avoid calls. During my 9-5, I had too many pointless calls.

I don't need:

  • ability to schedule calls for 15, 30, or 60 minutes: I just distribute each link separately.

  • I have a Gumroad consultation page with a payment option.

  • follow-up emails: I hardly ever make calls, so

  • I just use one calendar, therefore I link to various calendars.

I'll admit, the integrations are cool. Not for me.

If you're a coach or consultant, the features may be helpful. Or book meetings.

Conclusion

Investing is spending to make money.

Use my technique — put money in tools that help you make money. This separates it from being an investment instead of an expense.

Try free versions of these tools before buying them since everyone else is.

Jano le Roux

Jano le Roux

1 year ago

Never Heard Of: The Apple Of Email Marketing Tools

Unlimited everything for $19 monthly!?

Flodesk

Even with pretty words, no one wants to read an ugly email.

  • Not Gen Z

  • Not Millennials

  • Not Gen X

  • Not Boomers

I am a minimalist.

I like Mozart. I like avos. I love Apple.

When I hear seamlessly, effortlessly, or Apple's new adverb fluidly, my toes curl.

No email marketing tool gave me that feeling.

As a marketing consultant helping high-growth brands create marketing that doesn't feel like marketing, I've worked with every email marketing platform imaginable, including that naughty monkey and the expensive platform whose sales teams don't stop calling.

Most email marketing platforms are flawed.

  1. They are overpriced.

  2. They use dreadful templates.

  3. They employ a poor visual designer.

  4. The user experience there is awful.

  5. Too many useless buttons are present. (Similar to the TV remote!)

I may have finally found the perfect email marketing tool. It creates strong flows. It helps me focus on storytelling.

It’s called Flodesk.

It’s effortless. It’s seamless. It’s fluid.

Here’s why it excites me.

Unlimited everything for $19 per month

Sends unlimited. Emails unlimited. Signups unlimited.

Most email platforms penalize success.

Pay for performance?

  • $87 for 10k contacts

  • $605 for 100K contacts

  • $1,300+ for 200K contacts

In the 1990s, this made sense, but not now. It reminds me of when ISPs capped internet usage at 5 GB per month.

Flodesk made unlimited email for a low price a reality. Affordable, attractive email marketing isn't just for big companies.

Flodesk doesn't penalize you for growing your list. Price stays the same as lists grow.

Flodesk plans cost $38 per month, but I'll give you a 30-day trial for $19.

Amazingly strong flows

Foster different people's flows.

Email marketing isn't one-size-fits-all.

Different times require different emails.

People don't open emails because they're irrelevant, in my experience. A colder audience needs a nurturing sequence.

Flodesk automates your email funnels so top-funnel prospects fall in love with your brand and values before mid- and bottom-funnel email flows nudge them to take action.

I wish I could save more custom audience fields to further customize the experience.

Dynamic editor

Easy. Effortless.

Flodesk's editor is Apple-like.

You understand how it works almost instantly.

Like many Apple products, it's intentionally limited. No distractions. You can focus on emotional email writing.

Flodesk

Flodesk's inability to add inline HTML to emails is my biggest issue with larger projects. I wish I could upload HTML emails.

Simple sign-up procedures

Dream up joining.

I like how easy it is to create conversion-focused landing pages. Linkly lets you easily create 5 landing pages and A/B test messaging.

Flodesk

I like that you can use signup forms to ask people what they're interested in so they get relevant emails instead of mindless mass emails nobody opens.

Flodesk

I love how easy it is to embed in-line on a website.

Wonderful designer templates

Beautiful, connecting emails.

Flodesk has calm email templates. My designer's eye felt at rest when I received plain text emails with big impacts.

Flodesk

As a typography nerd, I love Flodesk's handpicked designer fonts. It gives emails a designer feel that is hard to replicate on other platforms without coding and custom font licenses.

Small adjustments can have a big impact

Details matter.

Flodesk remembers your brand colors. Flodesk automatically adds your logo and social handles to emails after signup.

Flodesk uses Zapier. This lets you send emails based on a user's action.

A bad live chat can trigger a series of emails to win back a customer.

Flodesk isn't for everyone.

Flodesk is great for Apple users like me.

Mickey Mellen

Mickey Mellen

1 year ago

Shifting from Obsidian to Tana?

I relocated my notes database from Roam Research to Obsidian earlier this year expecting to stay there for a long. Obsidian is a terrific tool, and I explained my move in that post.

Moving everything to Tana faster than intended. Tana? Why?

Tana is just another note-taking app, but it does it differently. Three note-taking apps existed before Tana:

  1. simple note-taking programs like Apple Notes and Google Keep.

  2. Roam Research and Obsidian are two graph-style applications that assisted connect your notes.

  3. You can create effective tables and charts with data-focused tools like Notion and Airtable.

Tana is the first great software I've encountered that combines graph and data notes. Google Keep will certainly remain my rapid notes app of preference. This Shu Omi video gives a good overview:

Tana handles everything I did in Obsidian with books, people, and blog entries, plus more. I can find book quotes, log my workouts, and connect my thoughts more easily. It should make writing blog entries notes easier, so we'll see.

Tana is now invite-only, but if you're interested, visit their site and sign up. As Shu noted in the video above, the product hasn't been published yet but seems quite polished.

Whether I stay with Tana or not, I'm excited to see where these apps are going and how they can benefit us all.

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MAJESTY AliNICOLE WOW!

MAJESTY AliNICOLE WOW!

1 year ago

YouTube's faceless videos are growing in popularity, but this is nothing new.

I've always bucked social media norms. YouTube doesn't compare. Traditional video made me zig when everyone zagged. Audio, picture personality animation, thought movies, and slide show videos are most popular and profitable.

Photo by Rachit Tank on Unsplash

YouTube's business is shifting. While most video experts swear by the idea that YouTube success is all about making personal and professional Face-Share-Videos, those who use YouTube for business know things are different.

In this article, I will share concepts from my mini master class Figures to Followers: Prioritizing Purposeful Profits Over Popularity on YouTube to Create the Win-Win for You, Your Audience & More and my forthcoming publication The WOWTUBE-PRENEUR FACTOR EVOLUTION: The Basics of Powerfully & Profitably Positioning Yourself as a Video Communications Authority to Broadcast Your WOW Effect as a Video Entrepreneur.

I've researched the psychology, anthropology, and anatomy of significant social media platforms as an entrepreneur and social media marketing expert. While building my YouTube empire, I've paid particular attention to what works for short, mid, and long-term success, whether it's a niche-focused, lifestyle, or multi-interest channel.

Most new, semi-new, and seasoned YouTubers feel vlog-style or live-on-camera videos are popular. Faceless, animated, music-text-based, and slideshow videos do well for businesses.

Buyer-consumer vs. content-consumer thinking is totally different when absorbing content. Profitability and popularity are closely related, however most people become popular with traditional means but not profitable.

In my experience, Faceless videos are more profitable, although it depends on the channel's style. Several professionals are now teaching in their courses that non-traditional films are making the difference in their business success and popularity.

Face-Share-Personal-Touch videos make audiences feel like they know the personality, but they're not profitable.

Most spend hours creating articles, videos, and thumbnails to seem good. That's how most YouTubers gained their success in the past, but not anymore.

Looking the part and performing a typical role in videos doesn't convert well, especially for newbie channels.

Working with video marketers and YouTubers for years, I've noticed that most struggle to be consistent with content publishing since they exclusively use formats that need extensive development. Camera and green screen set ups, shooting/filming, and editing for post productions require their time, making it less appealing to post consistently, especially if they're doing all the work themselves.

Because they won't make simple format videos or audio videos with an overlay image, they overcomplicate the procedure (even with YouTube Shorts), and they leave their channels for weeks or months. Again, they believe YouTube only allows specific types of videos. Even though this procedure isn't working, they plan to keep at it.

Photo by Nubelson Fernandes on Unsplash

A successful YouTube channel needs multiple video formats to suit viewer needs, I teach. Face-Share-Personal Touch and Faceless videos are both useful.

How people engage with YouTube content has changed over the years, and the average customer is no longer interested in an all-video channel.

Face-Share-Personal-Touch videos are great

  • Google Live

  • Online training

  • Giving listeners a different way to access your podcast that is being broadcast on sites like Anchor, BlogTalkRadio, Spreaker, Google, Apple Store, and others Many people enjoy using a video camera to record themselves while performing the internet radio, Facebook, or Instagram Live versions of their podcasts.

  • Video Blog Updates

  • even more

Faceless videos are popular for business and benefit both entrepreneurs and audiences.

For the business owner/entrepreneur…

  • Less production time results in time dollar savings.

  • enables the business owner to demonstrate the diversity of content development

For the Audience…

  • The channel offers a variety of appealing content options.

  • The same format is not monotonous or overly repetitive for the viewers.

Below are a couple videos from YouTube guru Make Money Matt's channel, which has over 347K subscribers.

Enjoy

24 Best Niches to Make Money on YouTube Without Showing Your Face

Make Money on YouTube Without Making Videos (Free Course)

In conclusion, you have everything it takes to build your own YouTube brand and empire. Learn the rules, then adapt them to succeed.

Please reread this and the other suggested articles for optimal benefit.

I hope this helped. How has this article helped you? Follow me for more articles like this and more multi-mission expressions.

Daniel Vassallo

Daniel Vassallo

1 year ago

Why I quit a $500K job at Amazon to work for myself

I quit my 8-year Amazon job last week. I wasn't motivated to do another year despite promotions, pay, recognition, and praise.

In AWS, I built developer tools. I could have worked in that field forever.

I became an Amazon developer. Within 3.5 years, I was promoted twice to senior engineer and would have been promoted to principal engineer if I stayed. The company said I had great potential.

Over time, I became a reputed expert and leader within the company. I was respected.

First year I made $75K, last year $511K. If I stayed another two years, I could have made $1M.

Despite Amazon's reputation, my work–life balance was good. I no longer needed to prove myself and could do everything in 40 hours a week. My team worked from home once a week, and I rarely opened my laptop nights or weekends.

My coworkers were great. I had three generous, empathetic managers. I’m very grateful to everyone I worked with.

Everything was going well and getting better. My motivation to go to work each morning was declining despite my career and income growth.

Another promotion, pay raise, or big project wouldn't have boosted my motivation. Motivation was also waning. It was my freedom.

Demotivation

My motivation was high in the beginning. I worked with someone on an internal tool with little scrutiny. I had more freedom to choose how and what to work on than in recent years. Me and another person improved it, talked to users, released updates, and tested it. Whatever we wanted, we did. We did our best and were mostly self-directed.

In recent years, things have changed. My department's most important project had many stakeholders and complex goals. What I could do depended on my ability to convince others it was the best way to achieve our goals.

Amazon was always someone else's terms. The terms started out simple (keep fixing it), but became more complex over time (maximize all goals; satisfy all stakeholders). Working in a large organization imposed restrictions on how to do the work, what to do, what goals to set, and what business to pursue. This situation forced me to do things I didn't want to do.

Finding New Motivation

What would I do forever? Not something I did until I reached a milestone (an exit), but something I'd do until I'm 80. What could I do for the next 45 years that would make me excited to wake up and pay my bills? Is that too unambitious? Nope. Because I'm motivated by two things.

One is an external carrot or stick. I'm not forced to file my taxes every April, but I do because I don't want to go to jail. Or I may not like something but do it anyway because I need to pay the bills or want a nice car. Extrinsic motivation

One is internal. When there's no carrot or stick, this motivates me. This fuels hobbies. I wanted a job that was intrinsically motivated.

Is this too low-key? Extrinsic motivation isn't sustainable. Getting promoted felt good for a week, then it was over. When I hit $100K, I admired my W2 for a few days, but then it wore off. Same thing happened at $200K, $300K, $400K, and $500K. Earning $1M or $10M wouldn't change anything. I feel the same about every material reward or possession. Getting them feels good at first, but quickly fades.

Things I've done since I was a kid, when no one forced me to, don't wear off. Coding, selling my creations, charting my own path, and being honest. Why not always use my strengths and motivation? I'm lucky to live in a time when I can work independently in my field without large investments. So that’s what I’m doing.

What’s Next?

I'm going all-in on independence and will make a living from scratch. I won't do only what I like, but on my terms. My goal is to cover my family's expenses before my savings run out while doing something I enjoy. What more could I want from my work?

You can now follow me on Twitter as I continue to document my journey.


This post is a summary. Read full article here

Amelia Winger-Bearskin

Amelia Winger-Bearskin

1 year ago

Reasons Why AI-Generated Images Remind Me of Nightmares

AI images are like funhouse mirrors.

Google's AI Blog introduced the puppy-slug in the summer of 2015.

Vice / DeepDream

Puppy-slug isn't a single image or character. "Puppy-slug" refers to Google's DeepDream's unsettling psychedelia. This tool uses convolutional neural networks to train models to recognize dataset entities. If researchers feed the model millions of dog pictures, the network will learn to recognize a dog.

DeepDream used neural networks to analyze and classify image data as well as generate its own images. DeepDream's early examples were created by training a convolutional network on dog images and asking it to add "dog-ness" to other images. The models analyzed images to find dog-like pixels and modified surrounding pixels to highlight them.

Puppy-slugs and other DeepDream images are ugly. Even when they don't trigger my trypophobia, they give me vertigo when my mind tries to reconcile familiar features and forms in unnatural, physically impossible arrangements. I feel like I've been poisoned by a forbidden mushroom or a noxious toad. I'm a Lovecraft character going mad from extradimensional exposure. They're gross!

Is this really how AIs see the world? This is possibly an even more unsettling topic that DeepDream raises than the blatant abjection of the images.

When these photographs originally circulated online, many friends were startled and scandalized. People imagined a computer's imagination would be literal, accurate, and boring. We didn't expect vivid hallucinations and organic-looking formations.

DeepDream's images didn't really show the machines' imaginations, at least not in the way that scared some people. DeepDream displays data visualizations. DeepDream reveals the "black box" of convolutional network training.

Some of these images look scary because the models don't "know" anything, at least not in the way we do.

These images are the result of advanced algorithms and calculators that compare pixel values. They can spot and reproduce trends from training data, but can't interpret it. If so, they'd know dogs have two eyes and one face per head. If machines can think creatively, they're keeping it quiet.

You could be forgiven for thinking otherwise, given OpenAI's Dall-impressive E's results. From a technological perspective, it's incredible.

Arthur C. Clarke once said, "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." Dall-magic E's requires a lot of math, computer science, processing power, and research. OpenAI did a great job, and we should applaud them.

Dall-E and similar tools match words and phrases to image data to train generative models. Matching text to images requires sorting and defining the images. Untold millions of low-wage data entry workers, content creators optimizing images for SEO, and anyone who has used a Captcha to access a website make these decisions. These people could live and die without receiving credit for their work, even though the project wouldn't exist without them.

This technique produces images that are less like paintings and more like mirrors that reflect our own beliefs and ideals back at us, albeit via a very complex prism. Due to the limitations and biases that these models portray, we must exercise caution when viewing these images.

The issue was succinctly articulated by artist Mimi Onuoha in her piece "On Algorithmic Violence":

As we continue to see the rise of algorithms being used for civic, social, and cultural decision-making, it becomes that much more important that we name the reality that we are seeing. Not because it is exceptional, but because it is ubiquitous. Not because it creates new inequities, but because it has the power to cloak and amplify existing ones. Not because it is on the horizon, but because it is already here.