January can be tough for a lot of reasons. Daylight hours are short and the weather is often gray. The excitement of Christmas and the new year are over and settling back into daily responsibilities can be daunting.
I wanted to share a suggestion for battling the Winter Blahs: running with podcasts.
Cold weather running with podcasts
Body and Mind
Running (or another form of exercise) is known to be a good way to boost moods and to reduce anxiety. I’m recommending running because of its availability. There’s no gym or equipment required and as a solo activity, it’s always available on your schedule.
Podcasts have been around a long time now and are enjoying a kind of renaissance lately. I’m new to the podcast party but have been making up for lost time, listening in to all kinds of shows whenever I find the chance to listen. Podcasts really work for mood when paired with running.
Running provides an extended amount of time to listen to a show or shows without mental distractions and while your brain is enjoying those exercise endorphins. Choose a podcast that’s inspiring or challenging and double down on the positivity. An engaging podcast can distract from the pain and monotony of a long run too. The two activities really are complementary.
Favorite podcasts to run to
- TED Talks – Everyone loves these talks and for good reason. They’re smart, inspirational and uplifting. Most presentations translate well into the audio-only format and range from 15 minutes to 45 minutes.
- Interviews and Biographies – By surrounding yourself with great minds you gain a new perspective for what’s possible.
- History – Podcasts are a great format for learning important lessons from history without cracking open a thick textbook. These shows offer a peak into history’s best stories and characters in an entertaining way.
- Spiritual Development – Sermons and interviews work nicely for a 30-60 minute run. Especially when you’re running outside, this can be a great time to connect with the Lord and to gain an eternal perspective on the stresses of the day.
- Business Skills and Case Studies – See what you can learn by listening to show regularly and hearing what other professionals have achieved.
Some podcasts are quite long or take several episodes to tell a story. You can use that to your advantage by linking podcast listening with your runs. If you only allow yourself to listen to a certain show while you’re running you’ll have another reason to get out and run.
Download episodes on wifi before you leave instead of streaming to save on data and to avoid interruptions when you’re outside of good cell coverage.
Nike+ Running – For tracking distances and workout frequency.
Podcast Addict – For managing shows and playback.
MapMyRun – For discovering routes and planning distances
A Few Favorite Podcasts
“Dear internet, if you’re reading this blog post then you already know. Google Reader is about to be boarded up. The doors. The windows. Everything. We’re going to Feedly. Room 112. I love you, Matt.”
They are taking away my favorite application of all time, Google Reader. And while it’s all very sad, the show must go on. I’ll be taking my subscriptions elsewhere, along with tens of thousands of other Reader users.
Since every moving day offers a chance to clean out accumulated junk, I’ll be doing some Spring cleaning of my feeds. In case you’re doing the same, I’m sharing some of my favorite subscriptions that I read on a daily basis. You can pick and choose individual subscriptions or download a bundle at a time. Consider this post a loving tribute to my soon-to-be dearly departed.
To import all feeds (right click, save as…) http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user%2F18180136181577784927%2Flabel%2Fmarketing
To import http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user%2F18180136181577784927%2Flabel%2Fwedding%20industry To import http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user%2F18180136181577784927%2Flabel%2Finternets To import http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user%2F18180136181577784927%2Flabel%2Ffun To import http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user%2F18180136181577784927%2Flabel%2Fproductivity To import http://www.google.com/reader/public/subscriptions/user%2F18180136181577784927%2Flabel%2Fphotos
In Memoriam, see also http://matt-hamilton.blogspot.com/search/label/RSS
I came across data visualization tool Tableau yesterday and am impressed, especially for what it could mean for link building.
Data In, Brilliance Out
Tableau offers user friendly tools for building interactive interfaces to data. For large data sets and for storytelling involving multiple dimensions, their visualizations are very effective and easy to put together. They even offer a free version for bloggers and other digital publishers.
It may be easy to think of Excel graphs when looking at Tableau’s case studies but these visualizations are different than what comes out of the box from Microsoft. They are built to be interactive. Instead of asking users to stare at lines and numbers to try to make sense of them, Tableau’s product invites people to start clicking and discovering.
We all know that infographics can be a great way to tell the story behind a spreadsheet of dull numbers and as a result, can be great content for link building. With so many infographics out there it can be difficult to make one that stands out. Tableau helps by adding the draw of interaction and movement.
For link builders, these interactive graphics are especially helpful. Because the graphic isn’t just a flat image, it’s more likely that publishers will link to your page rather than simply swiping the .jpg file. Plus because it’s interactive, you’re allowing users to discover their own conclusions. If the blogger you’re pitching uncovers a nugget that’s interesting, they’ll have more ownership of the tool than if you simply handed the insight to them.
But the best reason that Tableau is worth checking out is that it’s easy and free. If you’ve hired a designer to work on infographics before, you know that it can be time consuming and expensive. One firm that I talked to recently wanted to charge double to make a graphic interactive. With the simple desktop software that Tableau offers, you can set up your own graphics with all the control that you like, produce more of them and spend less money to do it.
If you have interesting data that you want to bring to life quickly, Tableau is a nice option.
Wed Dash Combo
When link building, it’s often necessary to gather a large list of targets for a campaign. Here’s one way to quickly get some good URLs, with basic metrics attached, without pulling them one by one.
Let’s say you’ve got a new infographic about coffee and you’re trying to find a list of blogs that would potentially be interested in posting about it. The first step is to find some pages that list the kind of blogs that we’re after. Lists like these are popular on the web so we shouldn’t have too much trouble. Google is a good place to start, either by searching for round up posts or by using the SERPs themselves as a list. Also try Technorati, DMOZ and Alltop.
Once you’ve got a page with a bunch of links listed, copy the URLs. It’s often easiest to use a tool like SEO for Firefox for this. Right click the page and select SEO XRay.
The SEO for Firefox plugin overlays some data on top of the page you’re on. Select external links and export them as a CSV file.
If you need to clean up your list to filter out duplicates, ads and other irrelevant links, pull open your CSV with Excel. Then copy them to your clipboard for the next step.
To add some quick evaluation metrics, try backlinks.in. It’s a tool built on SEOMoz’s Linkscape data and allows you to evaluate up to 1000 URLs per day in bulk. You get page MozRank and the number of backlinks for each URL, which can help you prioritize your potential link targets.
Paste back into Excel and you’re set to start pitching!
*Update – see a bonus use for batch link lists here