Tuesday Tech Tip: Eliminate Social Media Overposting with Buffer

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Instant Gratification: Buffer is a great service that automagically spaces out your social media posts to Facebook and Twitter so you don’t fill up your fans’ news feeds.

I love finding great stuff to share with peeps on the Cake Coaching Facebook Page. But I have two problems. First, I tend to find a bunch of great content at once, followed by a dry spell. Second, I’m too lazy to schedule every post in Hootsuite, which is a great service, by the way. Hootsuite also has an auto-schedule feature which is worth a look. I tried it a couple of times and didn’t like when it was posting or how close together it posted and that’s why I decided to try Buffer.

In comes Buffer, the magical service that lets you quickly and easily add content from all of the web (the Chrome Extension is a must-have) and posts it at the best time. I have to admit, I just started using this service, but so far I’m impressed. You can control how often and when you post to different social networks like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. There’s also a WordPress plugin for automatically putting new blog posts in your Buffer queue. Pretty cool, huh? Keep in mind the free version is pretty limited (you’ll have to choose between your company page or your personal account). The paid version is $10/month, not bad for the time it frees up.

If you have a tendency to overwhelm your followers with content one day and then not post anything for two days, this is a great way to spread things out so that you’re reaching the most people and not being annoying.

Tuesday Tech Tip: Treat Email like Mail Not Texting

Instant Gratification: By turning off instant-notification of new email messages, you put yourself back in control of your workday (and your email).

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Ivan Pavlov discovered classical conditioning when he realized that his dog salivated when he would walk into the room (with or without food). The concept was simple, you bring the dog some food on a regular basis and before you know it, the dog has an automatic response.

You are not a dog. And yet when your phone chimes each time you get a new email you (just like the dog), begin to salivate (figuratively, hopefully). You read it and (more often than not) start to respond right then and there. Do you keep your email open all day? Most people do. We have to stay in touch, right?  Continue reading

Tuesday Tech Tip: Write on PDFs for Free

Today’s tip is a quickie. PDFescape allows you to edit PDFs quickly and easily for free and without signing up. What it lacks in looks (and maybe ease-of-use), it makes up for in simplicity. For those of us who don’t have, use or understand fancy design programs, it’s an earth-killing hassle to have to print off every PDF that comes our way just to fill in a couple of blanks and a signature.

Here’s the play-by-play:

  1. Upload the PDF to www.PDFescape.com
  2. Add your text and images (I like to drop in a .jpg of my signature to skip printing).
  3. Click one button to download the new version to your computer.
  4. Email the form.

Presto! It’s just that easy. And it beats the heck out of getting a PDF emailed to you, downloading the attachment, printing it out, signing it, scanning it and emailing back, then recycling (or heaven forbid, throwing way) a single sheet of paper that was useful for the thirty seconds you needed it.

Save the earth, save your sanity.

 

Tuesday Tech Tip: Awesomify Your Calls with Google Voice in 2013

Instant Gratification: Google Voice allows you to make free phone calls and text messages, forward calls to your cell, screen calls from your mom, read your voice mails, block your ex-girlfriend, and sync your contacts.


Go directly to Google Voice.

It used to be that anyone who had your number could ring your phone. And that was really cool. Until you had an ex-boyfriend. Until you appreciated your sleep at 3am. Until you started getting spammy sales calls from the same number twelve times a day. Then there was Grand Central. And it was awesome. So Google bought it and called it Google Voice.

While it’s not feasible or smart for everyone to switch over to Google Voice, I want to tell you why I use it (exclusively) to run my business. And you can still find some cool uses for it.

Here are my favorite uses for Google Voice:

Free phone calls, forwarding and texting. Google Voice gives you a free number (if you live in the US) with your choice of area code and it even lets you make free calls and texts from your computer. Since I live in Gmail, I love that I can make calls right from my inbox. Living temporarily in Canada, I use the free Talkatone iPhone app so I can even make and take calls on my out-of-country phone. They have an Android app, too. Free texting from the computer is awesome- I get text messages in my email inbox and I can reply just like a normal email. Call forwarding allows me to forward calls to my cell phone or another number forever, or just while I’m at the cabin for the weekend. Continue reading

Tuesday Tech Tip: 3 Evernote Tips for Business

Instant Gratification: By using the slick Evernote iPhone app and unobtrusive browser plug in, you can capture images, audio and text on any device and easily find things later. Evernote even searches the text inside of pictures so it’s perfect for scanning notes or business cards.

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20130126-140545.jpgFor the uninitiated, Evernote is a simple way to keep track of your digital life. You can store notes, pictures, ideas and just about anything else. It’s absolutely free and available on any device. However, if you upload a TON of stuff, you’ll need to upgrade to the premium version for around $45 a year. I want to tell you about my three biggest uses for Evernote.

1. Store Business Cards
I’m not a fan of collecting business cards. But, because you’re a wedding entrepreneur, you’ll inevitably end up with a drawer full of business cards from photographers, DJs, planners and limo drivers. Instead of digging through the drawer when you want to find that florist you met last year, scan the cards with the Evernote iPhone app. Since Evernote has an ever-improving OCR (reading text from pictures) technology, you can search your entire collection and Evernote can find what you’re looking for, just from the words in the picture. It can even read (legible) handwritten notes. How badass is that?

2. Research
Whether I’m doing research for a blog post or trying to find someplace to live, Evernote is awesome for keeping all of the pieces organized. I can create a “notebook” to store everything for my project, which we’ll call “Jeff’s awesome new house.” As I’m walking down the street, I’ll remember that my new house simply must have space for a fireplace. I can use the iPhone app once more, but this time to record a quick audio note saying, “deal breaker: house has to have a fireplace.” *Note: I don’t think Evernote can search (the content of) audio files yet, but I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll roll this out soon. After all, the technology to transcribe voicemails has been around (even if it’s terrible) for years. All you need to do is create a title for your file and slap on a tag like “deal breakers.”

3. Stay Productive and Never Forget
Have you ever found a super interesting article online and didn’t want to lose it so you just read it, even though you meant to be working on something else? Who am I kidding, you probably did that today. In fact, you might be doing right now. Never fear. You can use the Evernote WebClipper browser extension to easily clip things from the web that you want to find later. I have a “movies to watch” tag as well as a “fun for later” tag. Anytime I need a movie to watch, I just search Evernote for anything tagged “movies to watch” and I’ve got a good list of things I want to see. I use my “fun for later” tag to store articles, websites, concepts and TED videos I want to watch later. The power in this is less in being able to find good stuff later (which is completely awesome) and more in my newfound ability to save something for later so I can stay focused on whatever I’m currently working on.

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Everyone has a different use for evernote. You can store meeting notes, recipes, ideas, plans and just about anything else your little heart desires. One alternative I’ve been pretty impressed with is GetPocket, but I haven’t used it enough to recommend. I’d love to hear what others are using and why they like it better than Evernote.

I’m dying to know. How are you going to use Evernote?

*I only endorse products I use and love. I don’t get paid for it. I’ll let you know if that changes. -Jeff*

Tuesday Tech Tip: Use GetHuman to Talk to a Person

Wedding entrepreneurs simply do not have time to waste being on hold with corporations. If you’ve never used gethuman.com, you’re going to love it. I’ve known about the service for years, but for reasons I don’t understand, I keep forgetting to use it. So if you know about Get Human but you haven’t been using it consistently, this is your friendly nudge.

I’m temporarily living in Canada and my Verizon contract is on hold. They only let you suspend your account for three months at a time (but they’ll set it up to automatically go on hold again if you beg them) and there was a glitch so I got a bill. I don’t like getting bills for service I’m not getting. I wanted this resolved asap and while it wasn’t a huge deal, it was definitely a nuisance.
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Tuesday Tech Tip: Develop Better Habits

Develop better habits with "Lift"It’s time for me to share yet another secret weapon with you. I’ve been using the iPhone app Lift for three months now and it’s definitely a keeper. Lift is a clean and simple habit-tracking app with a social element. In the book “Willpower” the authors explain that people with more willpower actually use willpower less. By using their willpower to develop better habits on the front end (like flossing), they don’t have to expend the energy each day to floss, they just do it without thinking. This is a huge concept. It means you don’t need more willpower. You need better habits. Unfortunately, you’re going to need to use some of that willpower to get the ball rolling.

I’m a big fan of measuring everything (see the Quantified Self). Why the excitement around keeping track? For me, it’s motivating to look back at the last week or month and see how I’m doing. Just checking in every day reminds me of my goals and the habits I’m trying to develop.

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You Didn’t Come with a Manual – So Write One

A couple of years ago, I realized that I had a lot in common with my pet hamster (after reading a book called “Caring for Your Hamster”). Besides back hair, we both had needs that had to be met – for survival and to enjoy life to the fullest. Except the hamster came with a manual. As humans, we tend to take care of our own basic needs well enough. I mean, we feed ourselves and get at least some sleep. But we could be doing a whole lot better when it comes to self-care. And when wedding entrepreneurs don’t take good care of themselves, their business suffers. Because they aren’t at their best, they don’t get as many clients as they might want and they end up feeling even more stressed out.

So many of us think we just need more self-discipline.

Good news! You don’t.

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