Tools to Streamline your Virtual Reading List

How many blogs do you subscribe to?
Do you manage to read all the blog posts you subscribe to each day?
Are you constantly reading blog posts and not doing any other work?

This used to be me, it was a struggle to keep up with the amount of online reading I needed to do, what with everything going on in the social media world and trying to find relevant content to share with my social media fans/followers. It felt like a really tough slog most days until I found ways to streamline my reading. 

I wrote Reading List Overwhelming You? 6 Tips That Will Help! (here’s a spooky fact, I wrote this on 17 January 2012, exactly a year to the day!) which provided some tips to help you with your ever growing reading list.  I also wrote How to Save Time with RSS! which explains how I went about setting up RSS feed subscriptions for all the blogs I follow.

I use two main tools, one I have mentioned many times before, Flipboard. I use it everyday, I would never be able to keep up with all the articles online without it.  I have tried others but they don’t come close to the Flipboard interface as far as I am concerned. You can download the app on both iOS and Android, so you will need a smartphone to use it. Click here for all my articles mentioning Flipboard.

The other tool, which I don’t think I have mentioned on my blog before is Pocket. I have the app on my iPhone and on my iMac, and I think you can get this as a Google Chrome add-on (please correct me if I’m wrong someone?).

Pocket used to be called Read It Later. When I am going through Flipboard in the evenings and I find a really interesting article, instead of reading it all the way through there and then, I will click ‘read later’ on my iPhone and it will be added to Pocket. As I have the app on my iMac, if I get a spare 10 minutes during the day I can quickly find all the articles I want to take another look at, it’s synced between devices which is great!

This is how it looks on my iMac:

As you can see I have quite a few articles still in Pocket to go through, but it’s a safe place to keep them if I want to refer back to them at any stage. I can even add articles to Buffer (yes, mentioning it again) directly from the Pocket app, which is very handy.

Typically on a daily basis I only use these two tools to keep up with the blogs and social media network articles I come across. If I stumble upon a new blog that looks interesting (like I did yesterday, see the article in my Pocket image above) then I add it to my Google Reader account which automatically syncs it through to Flipboard. Simple!

What tools do you use to keep up with blogs you’re subscribed to, or the latest news online?

My Top 10 Posts of 2012

So my very first post of the Ultimate Blog Challenge… Firstly I’d like to wish your all a Happy New Year, or Bonne Année as they say in France!

As I am technically not meant to be working today, I thought I would choose something easy to start with, but I hope that my top 10 posts of 2012 will provide you with lots to read and if anything particularly peaks your interest leave me a comment – most of these posts from 2012 are still relevant for 2013.

I think I’ll start from the bottom up, give you something to scroll down for… so at…

Ten

Get Organised with this Free Resource

Nine

Who do you Follow on Twitter?

Eight 

3 Tools to Optimise your Twitter Account

Seven

How I added a week’s worth of content to Buffer in 1 Hour using Flipboard…

Six

Self Publishing your eBook the DIY Way!

Five

5 Followers NOT to Follow on Twitter!

Four

5 Ways to Analyse Twitter with SocialBro

Three

10 Virtual Assistant Resources

Two

Is Twitter Unfollowing People Randomly

One

5 Little-Known Tips to Improve eBook Formatting

 

Remember that I will be alternating my posts for this challenge, so tomorrow’s will be on my eBook formatting blog.

The 5 Applications of Christmas (I can’t live without…)

It’s that time of year again, yes, Christmas is coming and being self-employed you have to try and juggle work around family life and celebrations and try to get things finished before taking time off work.

This year, in my wisdom (not!) I decided to take a trip to the UK the week before Christmas to see family and friends. When I decided on this break I didn’t really think about the consequences for my work. I am technically taking a week off and then Christmas, so I’ve been working really hard this week to get all client work finished and to ensure that I have lots of things in place for when I’m away.

I decided that you may need some help too on how you can organise yourself before you take any time off, so I have put together a quick blog post about my top tools for keeping your stress at bay over the festive season.

Dropbox

As I work with many clients, Dropbox is really important, especially when I am not going to be in front of my computer for the next week or so. I’ve recently formatted some eBooks for clients, and they may want corrections made while I’m away. I am going to take my netbook to the UK with me, Dropbox is already installed. I have copied the necessary files to Dropbox which I may need while I’m away, so I can easily open them up and make any changes needed.  I keep some important documents in Dropbox at all times so I can easily access them. I have Dropbox installed on all my devices, even my iPhone! My websites are also backed up to Dropbox via a plugin, so wherever I am in the world I’ll have access to my website back-ups, you never know when you might need those!

Out of all the tools I recommend here, I think Dropbox has to be the most important of all. I have never had any problems with it, I now have over 7Gb of space available in my account for free which is great. I tried Google Drive with one client, and it just didn’t come close to Dropbox in terms of reliability!

Buffer

I am always recommending Buffer, it saves me so much time and when I’m away it’s a life saver. I have written a few blog posts about Buffer, so it’s probably easier if you take a look at these instead of me explaining it all over again, here are all the posts tagged as Buffer.

Just yesterday Buffer updated their web app and their iPhone app, they look great and I am off over there shortly to make sure I have enough updates in my accounts to last until I return. Check out the Buffer blog for more information about this.

SocialOomph

SocialOomph again is something I rely on heavily for my Twitter updates. I have queue reservoirs set-up which tweet out updates at set times throughout the day. I pay for this service, but again like Buffer it saves me so much time. Automation isn’t ideal for social media, but as I have stressed in many posts before this one it’s necessary to automate some of your social media updates. The kind of updates I add to my queues are blog posts, links to books I have formatted for clients and interesting tips. You have to remember that Twitter is so fast paced, that you want to spread your advice as far as possible and having it on repeat is a great way to get your voice out there. When I say repeat, I have over 200 updates in my reservoirs and only post every 1.5 hours, so it’s not going to cause repetitive updates each day.

Flipboard

Another tool that I recommend all the time. I will be using Flipboard while away from home to catch up on all the blogs I follow and then send them to my Buffer to keep it topped up. If I don’t have the time to read them then I will save them to Pocket for reading when I return home.

My Smartphone

You all know by now I have an iPhone and it goes everywhere with me. If you remember my post Smartphone Addiction: Are You? you’ll remember that I was unsure what to do when the new iPhone 5 came out. Well for those who are wondering what happened, it caused me such a headache it deserves a whole blog post of it’s own (maybe soon). I have an iPhone 5 now, it’s a French one, so have lost the ability to text my UK friends for free, but it does mean I can use 3G when I am out and about which was the most important feature. I have some 3G problems with the iPhone 5, but I am hoping these will be resolved.

Anyway, heading back to the UK means I will have to pay for roaming or not use it at all unless connected to wi-fi. This will hopefully be ok, I plan to check emails in the morning and evening when I am connected to wi-fi and then turn roaming off while I’m out. It will be interesting to see how this is going to work, but I can’t afford the roaming charges.

My iPhone has lots of apps on it which I use for business, Dropbox, Buffer, Email, PayPal, Flipboard, Skype, Evernote, Bank Account, Reminders… as well as all my social media networks.

If only I could format eBooks on my iPhone! 

If I don’t manage to post again over the Christmas period, I hope everyone has a fab time with family and friends and please come back to visit in 2013 as I have some exciting projects to launch in the New Year!

NB. Some of the links contained in this blog post are affiliate links which means if you sign-up using these link it means I may get a commission if you choose to purchase something I’ve shared with you.

Exciting News & 11 Articles I have Read Today!

I can now see the light at the end of the tunnel.  After weeks of work, a holiday and getting used to entertaining the demands of a new puppy I am starting to see the wood from the trees.  I can now continue to spend my time building my business, getting back to social media, my blog and most importantly entertaining YOU!

Update

First and foremost, I have some exciting news… well it’s exciting to me!  As I have been so successful in the eBook formatting side of my business, I decided to purchase a couple of new domains, www.ebook-formatting.co.uk and www.kindle-formatting.co.uk. At the moment they both reach my eBook formatting service page on this website, but very soon, in a matter of weeks they will point to my brand new website dedicated to eBook formatting. I managed to find a few testers out there to have a sneak peek and give me some feedback, which has been a great success as they came up with some important points.  

I haven’t decided on a launch date yet, but I will be hosting a great giveaway on that day… so be sure to keep an eye on my blog here so you can come and take part.

Great Content

I wanted to give you some great content to read today, so while sitting after lunch and flipping through Flipboard (one of my most used iPhone apps), I decided it would be a great idea for a blog post to share with you the articles I have picked out today to add to my Buffer (again, another overused app).  

Here they are, in no particular order… I hope you find them interesting, these should be popping up on my Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or Twitter soon, so you’re seeing them in advance!

10 Ways Leading Brands Use Facebook Ingeniously For Their Marketing  via @JeffBullas

Smashwords Acquires 100,000 New ISBNs

WordPress for Beginners: The Best WordPress Tutorial Blogs via @danielscocco

75 Tips to Manage Your Social Media Efforts in 2012 

12 Revealing Marketing Stats About Facebook for Business 

A Detailed Anatomy of the New LinkedIn Company Page Design 

Social media – the new cure all pill or not? via @LilachBullock 

How to Create Your Self-Improvement Plan 

The Five Laws Of Micro Business Success via @MicroBizHub

A Comprehensive Guide to Formatting Your WordPress Posts and Pages

3 Ways to Create Highly Valuable Blog Content 

Remember, I’m hosting a giveaway soon to launch my new website… a great way of staying in touch is by signing up to my RSS feed, or following me on Social Media. 

 

Smartphone Addiction: Are You?

N.B. This blog post was written in June.

The Eurostar was running late, trespassers on the line, I still had an hour left to kill and I was bored of my magazine and my iPhone so I thought I would write a blog post.

While sitting in Gard du Nord station in Paris waiting to board I looked around and noticed that pretty much everyone in the vicinity was using a mobile phone, mostly smartphones – I was using one too! I tell a lie there was a woman reading on her Kindle, not her phone.

I have read a few blog posts recently about smartphones, one in particular I remember because the title was ‘Are you sleeping with your smartphone?

I’ve had my iPhone for 2 years now and it goes everywhere with me, currently it is sat on my lap underneath my netbook, while trying to write this post on the Eurostar with it going round bends fast, it’s not easy… The French girl next to me is asleep and I just had to rescue her iPhone from the floor as it flew off the little lap table!

I use my iPhone for many things, I don’t sleep with it but it is the first thing I pick up each morning before I have eaten breakfast and taken a shower. I check my email (business and personal), then I check Facebook (again business and personal), then I check Twitter for any mentions or retweets and I thank those people. I then pop over to Buffer to post out my automated ‘Thanks for following’ tweet to any new followers (I use Ifttt.com to automate this). I think I then get out of bed and get ready for work.

During the day it will sit next to me on the desk and will bing every time I receive a new email or someone retweets or mentions me, I take a quick look to see if it needs an instant reply and if not then I carry on with work. In the evening when I have finished work for the day I sit on the sofa watching the TV and flick through Flipboard, starring things in Google Reader to be added to Buffer, or emailing the links to Buffer instead.

Rumor has it, the iPhone 5 is being released in October and I have a dilemma about what to do. I live in France but my iPhone is currently on a contract  in the UK with Vodafone.

I have a good deal, I get 10 free texts per day back to the UK which does me just fine, as I use WhatsApp with some friends and also plenty of friends have iPhone’s so we can use iMessage for free. I also get 25Mb of Internet free per day, which in general is fine because I don’t tend to use 3G a lot, but there are occasions (like yesterday) when my phone decides to sync so much data that I go over my data allowance and Vodafone send me text messages every few minutes to inform me. I make no calls with my iPhone in France and incoming calls are directed straight to Voicemail so I can decide whether to call people back. It costs me 75p connection charge for up to an hour for every incoming and outgoing call I receive or make.

My dilemma in September when my current contract comes to an end is whether to get a French contract or upgrade my current UK contract. I will lose my 10 free texts back to the UK, but I will gain Internet access (probably not limited). Any calls I make to the UK will no doubt cost more than 75p though, but I never make calls in France and if I do I have a landline to do that (with free calls). Another problem I foresee if I get a French iPhone is that it will be connected to the French iTunes store which I had issues with recently with my iMac purchase. I am English, I want to buy English apps and products even though I live in France.

I use my iPhone for everything, but I wonder whether sticking with my UK contract is the better plan. When I use my iPhone outside of the home (and wifi) it is only to check social media channels and email which I tend to keep within the 25Mb limit anyway.

I’m a freelancer, I work from home and sometimes I need to be flexible with my working environment.  That means when I am out and about I need to be able to check my emails for anything urgent, or take calls from clients during working hours.  In the summer I’d like to sit outside to work, so having a smartphone means I can continue to work away from my desk.

So what would you do?  

I’m not even sure I can upgrade in the UK if I live in France, I think I need to do some more investigation.  I will be totally lost without my iPhone, maybe I shouldn’t upgrade at all and keep my iPhone 4 – do I want to risk losing the contract altogether?!

I guess this concludes that yes, I am addicted to my smartphone!