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How to Learn Technical Skills Faster

July 25, 2017

The following is an excerpt from the best-selling The Complete Software Developer’s Career Guide by John Sonmez.

From the chapter: How to Learn Technical Skills Faster

Now that I’ve given you a nice long list of technical skills to develop, you might be wondering how you are going to develop all of those skills and how long it is going to take you.

Well, as for the length of time—don’t worry—you’ll be developing your technical skills as long as you are a software developer. Think of it as a journey, not a destination.

You will always be able to get better—if you choose to.

I’ve spent plenty of time developing my technical skills the wrong way.

However, in my three years of creating over 50 highly-technical developer training courses on Pluralsight, I’ve also learned how to develop technical skills at a lightning fast speed while teaching others at the same time.

I used to think the best way to learn a technical skill was to take a big reference book and read it cover-to-cover.

Back then, I read too many 800+ page books to count and didn’t benefit much from the exercise; although my arms might have grown from carrying around books of that size.

I don’t want you to make the same mistakes I did, and if you already have, I want to show you a better way.

Learning How to Learn Quickly

Before we get into the specifics about learning technical skills, I think it’s worth taking a second to talk about learning anything quickly and teaching yourself in general.

We’ll go much more in-depth about the topic of teaching yourself in an upcoming chapter in this section, but I want to go over the basics here and talk about a methodology I use to learn anything quickly.

As I mentioned, I spent a large amount of time both learning and teaching various technologies.

I learned whole programming languages in a matter of weeks and then turned around and taught courses on them.

During that process, I developed a reliable system for learning just about anything I needed to learn.

This wasn’t so much a conscious effort as it was a necessity. I was trying to learn at such a rapid rate that I had to come up with efficient ways of doing things, and naturally, patterns of learning developed which helped me to become faster and faster.

I’m just going to cover the basics here, since you can find a whole course I put together on the subject at 10 Steps to Learn or in a few chapters in my Soft Skills book.

Buy John’s book on Amazon.

About the Author

John Sonmez is a developer, entrepreneur, blogger and the author of two best-selling books for software developers. Learn more about John here.

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Establishing Revenue Streams from Your Social Media Efforts

July 7, 2017

By: Josh Weikel

Social media is a vital tool for businesses when it comes to engaging with their customers and reaching new audiences. If you have followed this blog, you already learned how to develop a social platform strategy and what platforms are priorities for your business.

Your social media campaigns should be all about interacting with your customers in genuine, meaningful discussion. However, it’s possible (and easy!) to bring business conversion to your social media efforts without turning your accounts into endless streams of promotions or alienating your followers.
Look at what your competitors are doing for easy wins

Competitor analysis is one of the oldest tricks in the book and remains relevant (and potent) to this day. You can apply a competitor analysis to see what channels they are using and what methods are getting engagements. This can help shape your strategy on what tactics work and what not to waste your time or money on.

Create a list of competitors in your industry. If you’re a small business that serves a local area primarily, be sure to get a healthy mix of small business and larger, regional companies. While that other photography and picture frame company in town may be your most direct competitor, larger companies likely have larger marketing budgets. This means they’ve done a lot more research and investment on social media marketing and engagement.

After you have a solid list of your competitors, it’s time to investigate what platforms and methods they use to bring people to their sites or sale pages. This can come in many forms, including:

  • Twitter hashtags, tweets, and retweets
  • Facebook ads, posts, pages, replies, and comments
  • Reddit threads
  • Instagram posts
  • Snapchat videos

Keep an eye out for times where the competitor funneled followers to their sites or their business partners, especially if it also has strong, positive engagement in the form of likes, replies, or shares. If you spot a common tactic among your competitors that consistently receives positive responses, this is a strong indicator of a worthwhile approach and easy win for you. Also, don’t base your conclusion on just one competitor or a handful of tweets. The more research you do, the better sense you will get of an effective strategy.

Finally, it’s important to consider the size and marketing budgets of your competitors. If you run a small business, don’t spread yourself too thin by trying to do everything that other large companies are doing. Focus on your largest audiences that engage frequently.

Occasionally promoting your business is ok

Occasionally promoting your business with direct or affiliate links is acceptable, but don’t go overboard! Many of your followers are likely already customers so showing them sales or discounts on services they currently have will not further increase your revenue. However, new features, products, services, campaigns, charities, and business partnerships could bring them back into the buying cycle along with new customers.

Look for genuine opportunities to direct users to your service or product. “Did you know you could do this with our service?” posts are a great way to encourage interest from both current and new customers. Answer questions about your service or product – this can be a great way to mention trial or starter deals to potential customers. Some followers may be looking for a feature that is included in a higher level (or pro) package, creating an opportunity for an up sale.

Affiliate partnerships can also be an effective way to benefit your followers and earn money at the same time. Several businesses will pay you for sending them new customers. The important thing to keep in mind is to only become an affiliate for services that compliment your business and are relevant to your social media audience. If you run a site focused on movie news and reviews, consider affiliate programs for ticket buying services or services related to media in general.

Don’t constantly post promotional and affiliate links, but when you do, get the most out of it by following social media best practices:

  • Use URL shorteners for links.
  • Use emojis if it makes sense and feels natural.
  • Arrow emojis or even text-based arrows (?) are a great way to draw attention and encourage clicks.
  • Use pictures and video in your posts as much as possible; they draw much more attention than text alone.
  • One size doesn’t fit all: different platforms will likely require approaches.

There are several platforms out there that can help you assess the engagement and, ultimately, success of your posts. Services like Hootsuite and Sproutsocial will give you great insight into your social media campaigns on various platforms as well as compare your performance to your competitors.

Use social proof to establish trust

Social proof puts names and faces to the people that have actually used your product. By doing so, you build trust and rapport with the people around the initial person who used your service. It’s the online version of word-of-mouth advertising. A simple example of social proof is seeing your friends’ names and faces in the Facebook widget on a site you’re visiting. This becomes a form of social endorsement for the site.

Social proof for your company can accrue naturally, but it’s best to take a proactive approach. When someone uses or buys your service, encourage them to share the good news with an automated tweet or post. This generates positive feedback about your company in hashtags, threads, and discussions and can lead to the customer’s friends and followers seeing the post and checking out your company as well.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

However, you can squeeze even more value out of social proof! Embed or take a screenshot of noteworthy comments and reviews and work these into your landing pages, sidebars, and other types of sales pages. These can be used as testimonials to help build trust with people outside of the original commenters’ circles.

Use social media to promote your lead magnets and squeeze pages

When it comes to online marketing, an email address is the single most powerful bit of information you can have for someone interested in your content or products. Lead magnets and squeeze pages provide an opt-in way to obtain email addresses in exchange for giving users quick, highly-valuable content. From there, you can use the addresses in your email marketing campaigns and sales opportunities.

Turn some of your most valuable content into lead magnets and promote them directly on your social media networks. In exchange for providing useful content (the lead magnet) to your followers, the squeeze page asks for their email which you can use later for marketing. For example, the following tweet promotes the lead magnet for a healthy taco recipe:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Users are directed to a squeeze page that highlights how tasty – but unhealthy – tacos can be and offers to send the user the recipe directly to their email:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

After they enter their email, direct the user to a “thank you” page that reminds them to check their email and whitelist your site if it ends up in spam. This will help your future emails land in their inbox and acclimate the user to seeing your emails. Finally, do send the user the content without any more hoops to jump through. At this point, building trust is vital so follow up on your end of the deal!

About the Writer

Josh Weikel runs WHdb where he helps visitors find web hosting, learn what features they need, and start their own web site. For nearly 10 years, The Web Hosting Database has been a go-to destination for facts on hosts and services in the US and around the world. Josh holds a bachelor’s degree in Web Design and Interactive Media and has worked on several hundreds of sites since graduating in 2009.

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Professional Development in Teaching Code

May 27, 2017

It is well known that code (HTML, CSS, JavaScript, Python) is now an essential subject for students of all ages. Many US states and countries around the world, are making code a core part of their curriculum.

… The challenge many schools are facing though, is finding teachers to teach the coding classes.

StudioWeb’s Professional Development in Teaching Code

After working with many schools in the US and abroad, StudioWeb has developed an effective and engaging professional development program for teachers who have never written a single line of code!

Learn to teach code as you learn the course material for your classes

Teacher’s are super busy, and so it makes sense for them to learn to teach code, with the course material that they will be using to teach their students with. It’s a two for one!! The StudioWeb program has proven to fit that role perfectly.

How does it work?

  1. Teachers do the StudioWeb courses on the subjects they will be teaching … like HTML, JavaScript, Python.
  2. As teachers learn to code, they will also be learning the structure of the lessons, quizzes, projects and the code challenges!
  3. Now teachers know how to code, and they know the courses they will be teaching with!

So rather than learning the coding languages, then having to find or develop a curriculum … professional development with StudioWeb means you get both at the same time.

… Needless to say, teachers love it!

If you are interested in learning how to teach code with our teacher approved (and proven!) curriculum, you are invited to contact us.

Thank you!
Stefan Mischook
StudioWeb

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Python 3 Course for College – for the 2017-18 school year

May 26, 2017

I am excited to announce our upcoming Python course: Powerful Python 3.

A beginners course covering Python 3, students go from an absolute neophyte, to having a working knowledge of object oriented Python.  Course is based on Python 3.6.

StudioWeb course details:

In addition to a set of comprehensive and engaging videos, Power Python 3 will include quizzing, code challenges, and gamification that is provided by the StudioWeb app. Your students will learn Python easily, and they will have fun too!

Each video lesson is supported by 4-5 quiz questions, that are made up of both code challenges and multiple choice questions. All our courses leverage the recursive spiral teaching method that helps us to achieve great outcomes with students.

Professor’s Dream:

From a professor’s perspective, StudioWeb provides classroom automation tools that makes it effortless to manage multiple classrooms. In fact, we have many teachers who simply take on the role of classroom facilitator. StudioWeb does the teaching!

At the time of this writing, we are just finalizing the course in terms of the range of topics covered, from the basics to OOP … I will include the table of contents at the bottom of this post. Thus far 50 lessons are complete. The course should have ~55 lessons.

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A Practical Guide to Developing a Social Strategy across Multiple Social Media Platforms

May 25, 2017

Guest post by: James Cummings

For a social strategy to be maximally effective, it needs to focus on content distribution across multiple social media platforms, utilizing the unique features of each platform in order to get the desired message across in a way that audiences can understand and connect with.

This guide to developing a social media strategy across multiple social media platform is directed at brands that are interested in building awareness among their natural audience.

Why do you need to develop a Social Strategy across Multiple Platforms?

Your brand needs to develop a social strategy across multiple social media platforms for one or more of the following reasons:

  • Potential customers and more generally your target audience are in all likelihood very active on various social networks
  • Every social media platform has key influencers you could use on your team
  • The social web has not showed sign of slowing growth rates
  • Social media has a powerful influence on people’s purchasing choices

Getting Your Campaigns Focused

A social media strategy is developed to serve specific purposes, such as generating leads, growing sales, extending customer service ability or developing business brand awareness. With many companies the goals are – all of the above and more; and the target audience are prospective customers, existing customers, business partners, the press and referral sources.

It is therefore important to first of all understand your goals, and focus on different goals through different campaigns. Sure, there may be some goals that are aligned, which can be tackled within the same campaign, but often you will need to split your campaigns to deliver the right messages in the right places at the times to achieve your goals.

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How To Work Out Which Social Media Platforms To Prioritise In Your Business

May 17, 2017

Guest post by: James Cummings

Businesses are now using multiple social media platforms to market to and communicate with their customers. In this article, we will look at the various characteristics of some of the main social media platforms to help you to prioritise which to use in your business. A killer website these days needs a killer social media marketing strategy.

Projections show that there will be more than 2.67 billion registered social media users spread across various networks by 2018. Facebook is the most famous social network and currently has around 1.97 users every month. The choice of social media platform for private use depends on the taste and preference, but for business depends on applicability and market dynamics. It is often hard for a business to select the most suitable social network because they are many.

The following are crucial factors to consider when selecting social networks for your business.

1. Understand your target audience

Which channels do your potential clients use most? If you target the younger generation, consider using platforms that support videos such as Snapchat and Instagram. Adopting Snapchat when you have a target audience of women who are more than 55 years old will likely be a total miss. It would also be unwise to use Pinterest when your target market is older men because research shows they just don’t tend to be on there that much.

You have to understand the social media demographics and user profiles.

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The entrepreneur grind and learning to code

May 15, 2017

You have to like what you do, because you will face the dreaded business grind. Same thing applies with learning to code.

… They say a picture is worth a 1000 words, so my video has 30 pictures/second, and it is over 8 minutes long … imagine the word count!

Because my courses make learning to code fun, you should pick up my web development course training package: https://shop.killervideostore.com/

Stefan Mischook

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Niche Ai and Small Business

May 15, 2017

A little while back I talked about Ai and job prospects. I mistakenly said in that video, that you were likely going to be working for large organizations if you were interested in Ai work. As it turns out, I was wrong about that one!

In fact, Ai jobs can be found in small businesses too. I actually personally know two companies who are doing it!

One of my former employees and a mentee of mine, went off and cofounded an educational startup that is working hard to integrate Ai into their product. I can’t get into the details because they wouldn’t be too happy if I spilled the beans, but needless to say, it is some interesting stuff!

The other company that is leveraging Ai, is in a completely different field and they are much more advanced in their project. About 90% of the way there, already the app’s Ai implementation is impressive.

… My buddy was showing me demos that were pretty cool.

Here’s my mea culpa video on Ai:

Thanks!

Stefan Mischook

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SITE123 is 100% Responsive Web Design

April 3, 2017

Sponsored post authored by Site123

The concept of responsive design is not a big breakthrough, but it has attracted a lot of attention recently due to the growth of the mobile device market, mainly tablets and cell phones of varying sizes and resolutions.

In this new context of browsers and various resolutions, responsive design emerges as a logical evolution of website design, mostly known as web design.

Early on, much of the internet was composed by very similar resolutions and browser options. Until recently, it was just fine to make a website that worked on Internet Explorer with a maximum resolution of 1024 × 768 pixels and everything was solved. Of course, there were other features, but the vast majority was in the same group. At the opposite side of the spectrum, there were users of Mozilla Firefox. And that was about it.

Today, everything has changed. There are 50″ inch TVs accessing the internet, phones that have 2″ to 5″ screens, 5″ to 7″ “phablets”, 6″ to 14″ (or even more) tablets. And that is not including the computers themselves, which have screen sizes up to Apple’s iMacs, making it a range from 11″ up to over 26″ inches.

So let’s get started by asking one of the most obvious questions, which is of course, the first that comes to mind…

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