A Free Source of Useful Information That Most People Don’t Realize Exists

If you’re an information addict like me who likes reading books, blogs, watching Youtube videos, etc. I’m going to teach you a useful source of information that you may or may not already know.

It has been staring us in the face all these years; you’ll be surprised once you know what it is. Ready?

Book reviews in Amazon or Goodreads.

Yes that’s it.

Want an example? Look here.

It’s a review of the book I Will Teach You to Be Rich by Ramit Sethi that is written by a smart gentleman.

I’m not sure about you, but I find that review very informative. It doesn’t mean, though, that I’m not interested anymore in reading the book. For all I know, reading reviews like that (which has a positive rating) makes me want to read the book.

So, what are you waiting for? Want to learn something today? Read a review of a book on a topic that you’re interested in. There’s a chance you’ll learn something new. Good luck reader!

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3 Useful Tips I Learned from 2 Months of Blogging

I’ve been blogging for two months already. Along the way, I picked-up some useful tips, either by reading other blogs or books, or simply by observation.

Here are 3 things I learned that I want to share:

  1. Short paragraphs are easier to read.

    I learned this from Jeff Goin’s site. He advises to keep paragraphs lines as short as 2-3 lines, and no more than 4 lines.

    Even though, I sometimes exceed his recommended maximum of 4 lines, my paragraphs now are definitely a lot shorter, compared to the time before I became a blogger.

    That said, I would also like to point out that line length is affected by the width of paragraphs in a web-page. If your paragraphs are wider (e.g., it’s occupies the full browser window), naturally the lines will be shorter.

    Most blogs I know, though, has an effective paragraph length around half the size of the screen.

  2. Summaries of posts can be helpful.

    I accept that sometimes readers might not read my whole post at all. In that case, I provide a summary, so they can get the core of my message, even though they haven’t read my post entirely.

    For instance, my post on Subvocalizing’s Hidden Benefit, is 240+ words long (minus the summary). I then wrote a summary of that post, which is only 16 words long (including the word “summary”).

    Summary:
    Subvocalizing slows down our reading rate, but it can be useful when editing written work.

    I don’t always write a summary, though, such as when a post is too short or it makes use of bulleted list.

    Nevertheless, I think it’s a great service to the readers of my posts. Regardless of whether they read my whole post or not.

  3. Quotes allow you to communicate your message effectively.

    For me, quotes are mini-posts that pack a punch. You can get to your point quickly, and they are a lot easier to remember.

    For instance, I could have written a post explaining why writers should strive to be better at their craft. Instead, I wrote this quote:

    One of your goals as a writer is to become so good — that people will buy a product just to read a technical manual written by you.

    –Whitebeltblogger (or you can substitute anonymous if you like)

    Like a summary, I bet most people will remember that quote better compared to a 500+ words post.

    But, that does not mean that we bloggers/writers should only write short posts or quotes. Long posts(like this one), have value too, and sometimes you really need a long post to communicate your ideas.

    Also, if you can’t think of a quote, it’s all right to use other people’s quote; just be sure to mention their names before or after the quote, though.

    Lastly, a quote does need to be in its own post — you can also place it inside your regular posts, too, for added effect.

Actually, I learned a lot more than that in my 2 months of blogging (e.g., grammar, punctuation, choice of words, etc.). Though, I think other bloggers would find the 3 tips above most useful.

If you’re a blogger like me, I’m sure you also learned a lot of useful stuff along the way. For me, blogging is a learning process, or you might also call it a journey, if you may.

Summary:
Write short paragraphs — easier to read. Write summaries — help your readers.

Make use of quotes — they are effective.

–Whitebeltblogger (or you can substitute anonymous if you like)

Word One + Word Two = Idea!

If the plus and equal signs in the title alarms you, don’t worry this post won’t be a math lesson. Instead, it will be about words and ideas.

As I was thinking about a topic to post, my eyes wandered to my blog’s tag cloud. The tag cloud is the collection of words with different font-sizes you can find in most blogs. The basic idea is, the more you use a word as a tag, the bigger it gets.

Then I thought, “What if I combine two of these words? Will they give me an idea for a post?” And yes it did, but not the way I intended to. Rather, I’m writing about the idea of combining words to produce ideas.

Here’s how it goes…

Let’s combine: (1) Inspirational and (2) Internet, what idea does it produce?

My answer: “You can get inspiration from the internet by watching youtube videos that motivate you, or if you’re short in time, reading inspirational quotes.”

It’s nice to know, but it’s somewhat common. Let’s try combining words that seem unrelated. Like: (1) Reading and (2) Change, let’s see….

The idea created: “If you read books — or at least blogs and quotes — then sooner or later the way you look at the world will change.”

Let’s try one last pair: (1) Writing and (2) Gym. Thinking… Got it!

Ideas produced:

  • Going to the gym will make you a better writer. Because: (1) Exercise releases endorphins, which make you feel better; if you feel better, then you’ll write better. And, (2) Through exercise you will tend to look better over time, which raises your confidence; having more confidence leads to better writing.
  • Record your gym workouts by writing them on paper or on a computer (or tablet). By looking at what you’ve written, you’ll be reminded of the amount of work you have invested on getting fit, and because of that you’ll be more likely to continue with your fitness journey.
  • Write about any unusual experiences you have at the gym, like the guy who ran on the treadmill the other day — while wearing a walkman.

I have come-up with three ideas, probably because I’m quite familiar with those two words.

I can go and on and on, exhausting every possible combination in my tag cloud. Some of the ideas produced may look like normal everyday stuff to you, but a few can give you a “Eureka” moment.

Also, notice that the words that led to the idea does not need to be exact (e.g.,  inspirational becomes inspiration, writing becomes write, etc.).

You don’t need a blog’s tag cloud to try out this idea though. You can just get a dictionary, whether it’s a physical one, or an online one. Then, let the fun begin…

Summary:
If you combine two random words, you can produce an idea. Some ideas created by those words might seem common or even useless, but you will, at a few times, stumble upon that piece of gold in the goldmine of words.

Learning Through Writing

It has been said that one of the best ways to learn something is to teach what you have learned to someone else.

That said, writing is also a form of teaching, that is, you write what you want your student to learn.

Through that, we can say that one way to learn something better is to write about it.

But if you’re uncomfortable other people seeing what you’ve written then you can make your writing private instead. When you write, you write for your imaginary student. Go on. No need to worry since no one else will be judging you.

As long as you can comprehend what you’ve written. When the time comes you read it again, then it has served its purpose, not only have you learned better by writing about it — you also provided yourself with a handy reviewer.

So what are you waiting for? Want to learn something effectively? Then, read something about a topic which interests you; afterwards, write what you learned as if you’re teaching it to someone else.

After a few days, weeks, or even months, read again what you have written to refresh your mind and congratulate yourself, for you are both a learner and a writer.

Three Things I Learned From Two Weeks of Blogging

I just realized that I have already been blogging for two weeks. Before I tried this craft — I remember having a lot of misconceptions, even though I was already reading about blogging long before I have written my initial post.

So here are three things I have learned through my blogging in the last two weeks:

  1. Blogging takes Discipline.
    During the first few days, I was enthusiastic about writing posts.  There are some days though that I was thinking of not posting, only because I have not prepared an idea for a blog post. But there is just something magical when you start sitting in front of your computer, removing all distractions, focused on the task at hand (which is writing a blog) — Ideas just come.In fact, I just thought of this post awhile ago. The point is: Blogging takes discipline, sometimes writing posts is easy — sometimes you just have to sit there to get started. They say, half of success is just showing up, I agree.
  2. I wrote using bad grammar.
    Yeah, I admit it. Just look at some of my initial posts — If you’re somewhat versed in English grammar, you’ll notice my mistakes. But right now, part of my current blogging process is to use an online spell checker, which I found very helpful (and educational too). I don’t want to be too dependent on it though, I still check my initial drafts for sentences that sound unnatural and I’m (re)learning English grammar at the same time.
  3. Blogging is a form of writing.
    Well, at least for me. In my current blogging platform (WordPress), when you click ‘New Post’, there are various options for a post — Text, Photo, Video, Quote, and Link — by that alone, we can conclude that blogging is not just about writing words. Some people like to post funny pictures, some like to be motivated by quotes, while the rest just want to share useful and/or interesting websites they found while surfing the net. All of the above is OK, if you’re blog is for personal use — if you’re blogging professionally though, experts advice bloggers to write quality content. Content that is useful, unique, and engaging. Since we can’t always write post that fulfills those three qualities, at the very least we should try to be engaging. If you’re writing a post about a ‘rock’ (not Dwayne Johnson), at least do it an elegant manner. (Who knows when I run out of ideas, maybe I’ll try to write a post about a ‘rock’.)

There is it, three things I learned from my two weeks of blogging. What about you? What things have you learned from  your (insert blogging duration here) of blogging?