When I first started blogging, it had already become old hat for some, and while the term didn’t exist in popular culture there was already a shift happening among the idealists and technophiles: things were moving online that weren’t there before. Today, pretty much any and all information is available online, with more and more mainstream news syndicating their content, dropping pay walls, and bloggers from all over the world both keeping the old guard media in check while also taking the time to report things as they happen.
The biggest things I have learned over my past three years is how to effectively use the tools available to keep me employed as various things shifted online.
There are many great applications available on the web now, and interestingly enough we have gone full circle as people work on ways to get web applications to work on the desktop through things like Adobe AIR and others.
Harnessing web based applications can mean the difference between getting done work each day, or falling more and more behind others that are taking advantage of them. The main reason I am growing more and more happy with storing things in the cloud is how easy it is to access anywhere I have an Internet connection, and the ability to find a connection is slowly becoming more ubiquitous each year. If you think using Open Office (or Neo Office on the Mac) is the cutting edge, you’d be sorely mistaken and need to try out services like Google Docs, which also allows for a level of collaboration that is fairly efficient and effective.
The second thing that I suggest everyone interested in blogging look at is RSS feeds. They can quickly become overwhelming, but if you keep the number of subscriptions you choose to a reasonable amount, you can get key information in a timely manner that you might have otherwise missed.
I suggest using Bloglines or Google Reader, both are online services that allow you to manage and access your RSS feeds from anywhere you can get a connection to the Internet. If you are reading more than one hundred daily updated feeds per day, you are digesting too much information and need to scale back. Over time, if you are trying to keep up with too many sites, you will hit a wall with regards to information overload, which will basically cripple your productivity for a period of time. Usually, I can shake the information overload feeling after a day off, but it isn’t easy.
Now I am going to move into a subject that might scare some geeks: time management. You can’t do a full time blogging job for three years and not have some time management skills. There have been times where I’ve done things contrary to what I should be doing, but most of the time, it was only to give my time and attention to my wife, which I think is a fair excuse. Getting distracted by all of the cool things you can do as a geek can be quite easy, so I recommend finding a work space where you can seclude yourself from everything else. I suggest an office share, a local cafe, or just in the basement or somewhere secluded away from the television, gaming consoles, and other potential distractions.
Stay off services like Twitter, Facebook and whatnot until most of your work is done, or if you are taking a break, make sure you know when you are done your break and thus are done with time sink services like Twitter.
The last thing I wanted to talk about is social skills and networking. I am, for the most part, an introvert, but thankfully the Internet gives me a way to hide from the world, and put my best foot forward in making new connections and networking with people that I might not have had the ability to meet in real life, even given the opportunity. This skill is essential for long term success as someone will always know more about certain things than you, and that is to your advantage because learning everything about everything can be far too time consuming. It is easier just to ask those that might know thank keeping tabs on things like “Who Won the TechCrunch50?”
If you are thinking about going back to school and re-educating in one of the many popular geek oriented courses, many of which are listed on College Crunch, my current blogging project, these skills can benefit you in your studies as well.