It’s been a while since I blogged, so as usual I’ll be kickstarting my writing back into life with a course, this time on building responsive websites from Highbrow. Highbrow is a learning website that I didn’t initially get on with, but definitely finally clicked with during Blaugust this summer.
I’ve also been doing a Future Learn course on finance, but that subject matter felt a little too far from the core ideas of this blog to feel right about putting my notes on here, so that one has stayed paper-only.
Elsewhere, I’ve continued to make videos for Manchester Canoe Club, and I’ll be posting another one of those soon.
Also (on a totally different tangent) interesting article of the week- Data breaches and the erosion of trust from Huffpost. Working in marketing, I know that data is both our biggest asset and biggest issue, so this article lays out the problems of how much data companies have on, well, everyone, and how they can try to better protect it, and better help their customers.
Well, we’re at the end of my third Blaugust challenge. Trying as much as possible to keep posts daily and only schedule when necessary definitely made things harder than last year and possibly resulted in some shorter posts, but I’m still very happy with the writing I’ve produced over this month.
Plus, while I rarely worry about or even look at my readership statistics (to me, it’s more important that I’ve done the work and I’m happy with it, regardless of how many people read it) I have had a definite surge in views and I’m happy about that – it shows that at least some of my writing is good quality, interesting work that others have found value in. Either that, or my tags are far more click bait-y than I thought!
It’s interesting that my post views dropped off significantly once I was away, and therefore not posting them to Twitter – clearly that was a big factor in where my views were coming from. Also timing was a big factor, posts earlier in the day did better.
So, another successful challenge completed! #Blaugust out
This isn’t quite a full blog topic (It’s late, after all) but instead it’s an update moment of where I’m at, learning-wise, and where I’m going.
My Highbrow course on Email Marketing finished, and my course on Pinterest for Business is still in full swing. I’ve got prewritten posts on those coming out next week, and a little more left to write up for the second one. I’ve also still got notes from the later weeks of my last Future Learn course ‘Why we Post’ in my notebook and I’ll be making it a priority once I’m back to home to write those up and get them posted.
Elsewhere, I’m still dipping in and out in Duolingo, since signing up in January. I’m still not sure if I’m confident in my French as I’ve had little opportunity to practice since then, but my vocabulary has improved hugely.
I was browsing this article on Digital Trends and wanted to bookmark it here for some of the free courses it offers, especially the Udemy course on marketing for online businesses. In fact, I might try working through most of the listed courses as they all sound useful, though if I do, I won’t be necessarily doing blog write ups for everything!
Sundays seem to have become my little weekly round-up post day during Blaugust. Also, next week will be a) the last Sunday of Blaugust and b) not a round-up post at all, since I’ll be away from my computer and the internet and dry land (for the most part) and everything will be scheduled.
It’s also nice to be writing this now, as I’ve already done a tech article commentary post, and a course notes post which will be auto posting next week. I’ve finally finished all the scheduled posts that I need, which, incredibly, means that I only have three posts left to write in the next three days, and two when I get back – only five! Blaugust feels like it’s nearly over already, which is almost quite sad. I don’t think I could keep up blogging daily constantly, and typically in the past I’ve ended up ‘resting’ from blogging for a few weeks after Blaugust. Instead I might tail it off over the few days afterwards, trying to make an effort for a bit longer but going back to the usual three or so posts per month.
Also, yesterday’s post was pretty short due to the video content that I was working on, and continued to work on today. So I’m happy to say that both the videos are now finished and up and out there, and I’m pretty proud of how quickly I was able to turn some of the footage around. So here they are:
Willow Wood Hospice is a fantastic charity that does incredible work to help people with life-limiting illnesses in the Tameside area (google maps link for non-North West people – it’s a big place). I had the privilege of volunteering there in 2014 and I’ve seen first-hand the hard work that the staff put in and the difference that they make. My mother has also worked there and every day she has some new story – some sad, some happy and some straight up inspirational. Hospices are so much more than where ‘people go to die’ – they are rehab, support networks, therapy and a million other thing, and yes, at the end of someone’s life they are the experts in pain-free dignity, for patients and for families.
Willow Wood depends on charitable donations to keep going – it costs over two million pounds a year to run. So I’ve agreed to jump out of a plane for them on 16 September 2017 (sidenote, I have never been skydiving or anything like it before. Also the costs of the skydive are on me, and on the skydiving company. All money goes towards Willow Wood.)
I have a fundraising page here, and I would love it if you could give even the smallest amount.
You can find out more about Willow Wood at their website, as well as on Facebook and on Twitter (maybe follow them too..?)
Lastly to say that I’m super grateful to the people who have already donated, thank you very much xxxxx, and if you’re reading this now, just sharing my justgiving link or this post can help, and even £1 towards the fund would be amazing.
Image from willowwood.info
Another full week of blogging, and I decided it would be a good time for another quick reflection on how daily writing is going for me.
I’ve quickly got into a pattern of a quick commentary on one particular topic. Sometimes it would be nice to go more in depth with a topic, but there are usually time constraints on my writing. Dividing the writing of a single topic has never really worked out for me (except in the case of posts about online courses), and writing from stuff done in advance would be against the Incidentally I’ve finally stated a new Highbrow course, so there’ll be notes from that coming up. Outside of blogs, I’m also gaining plenty of useful knowledge just by reading through articles while I’ trying to find a topic. Perhaps once August is over, an occasional post of interesting links (plus thoughts) would be a good idea.
Keeping data for advertising purposes in the internet era is an incredibly complex issue – there’s so much data that you collect on a person. We’ve gone very quickly (within the career of several marketing people that I work with) from having at most a person’s address and phone number, plus perhaps a few stated preferences, to knowing literally everything about them – from browsing habits to politics, and we have so much data on so many people that we can extrapolate on how these things affect or line up with consumer habits.
I’ve been thinking about this after reading this article, on Disney being sued over alleged data gathering and selling from apps and games designed for children.
Obviously, if Disney have been doing that, it is illegal and they’ll be found out (though whether a company like Disney might decide to take a court course hit in exchange for valuable data is an entirely different question.) But Disney denies the charges and it may be that they haven’t done anything wrong, and that deep within their app terms of service, parents have been consenting that Disney storing data on their children.
At this point, it becomes not a legal issue but a moral one for marketers. The social and semi-psychological profiling of customers is a powerful tool, and one that improves life for the customer too if they are only being advertised things that they actually want. However, it can lead to manipulative messaging. It’s perhaps one thing to do that with adults, but quite another with children.
Back when I worked in print distribution, I recall having conservations about the ethics of what we referred to as ‘pushchair height print’ – basically bright leaflets and posters placed in public display racks precisely where eagle-eyed, grabby-handed kids could get their hands on them. Totally legal but a moral issue, and data is the same, though with the amount that can be gathered, potentially a much more serious issue.