I have come up with 13 ways for an author to use Google tools that will enhance your productivity and the final product. I first wrote about writers using Google in 2012. But Google’s array of tools has grown and my needs as an author continue to morph, so I realized it was time for a new list. As you read through my list of both obvious and clever ways to put Google to work for you as an author, keep an open mind that you may have 13 additional ideas. Feel free to share! [Read more…]
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I’m not getting paid by Google to write this and I use a variety of production tools besides Google – some more helpful than the Google counterpart. But just familiarizing yourself with the array of Google products can add productivity to your work as a writer. Here are a few obvious and not so obvious ways that Google can increase your productivity and quality as an author.
1. Docs. Upload and share working document with peer review groups, co-writers, editors, publishers, and anyone else you are asking to make your writing better. Google Docs will soon become Google Drive with more space and features.
2. Calendar. The obvious use of Calendar is time management – and I also use it to sync my appointments between devices – but I also found it incredibly helpful to create a specific calendar while writing a novel to keep track of days, weeks, and months for the events in my storyline.
3. Maps. Want to add authenticity to the addresses, streets, cities, and other places in your writing – Maps even has pictures of the landmarks at street level.
4. Blogger. It’s the absolute easiest way to set up an author website with simple push-button publishing. I’ve used it for years and recommend it – though I know many authors like WordPress better because of the SEO advantages.
5. YouTube. Set up a channel to serve as home for your video blogs to promote your book. I use YouTube as the main video source for my blogs on this website.
6. Translate. Want to add some phrases in another language to your book? Translate is an unbelievably easy and valuable tool to use. Now includes 50 languages.
7. Web Search. I never felt the need to switch to Microsoft’s Bling. Maybe it’s better but I find that hard to believe. No one has helped more people find the information they are looking for faster and more accurately than Google Search. You have an entire library at your fingertips.
8. Groups. Create mailing lists and discussion groups to promote your writing or interact with like-minded creators. This feature might be falling behind and fading fast – but I predict they replace it with something rivals the leading apps in the near future. (Edit: Hangouts arrived.)
9. Specialized Search. Did you know that Google has tools to help you examine search trends – content of blogs – content of scholarly papers – and more? They do. Keep clicking.
10. Analytics. Keep track of what and how people follow your v/blog. And as a bonus way that Google can help you – if you have a growing online following, you don’t want to be without Google Ads to generate income from page views. It takes an enormous amount of page views to add up – but better to set it up early in your online writing career.
You can use iGoogle as your homepage and set up your Google apps – and other apps – just the way you want to see them as on online dashboard – plus a whole lot more.
Google has a great array of products that can help you focus on what your best at, maximizing the value you deliver. And whether your prefer other tools over one or more Google apps, their suite will at least alert you as to what is available to make your work easier and more focused.
I am mostly done with moving my blog from Blogger to WordPress. Look around my site and you will find there is still a lot to update. But I’m far enough along to feel reasonably comfortable in inviting you to stop by. (No housewarming gifts needed, but thank you.)
So why did I make the move from Blogger to WordPress? I must have seen a need to change. And why did I wait seven years? I must have found reasons to stay where I was.
If you are a blogger or considering setting up a blog, my experience might help you understand the best platform for to use and a little of what goes into making a change if you determine that is the best course for you.
EASE OF SET UP
There is nothing easier to set up and run for a blogger than Google’s Blogger platform. I write. I don’t program and design. Blogger was the perfect place for me to start. It was so easy I actually had time to learn the features and customize my website to a reasonably attractive and professional degree. (I did pay a few bucks to a designer to create my own custom header.) Building and changing the layout and adding or moving features was as simple as dragging elements around. Because the layout templet was visual, you knew immediately and exactly what you were going to see with each change.
Another thing that made Blogger easy was it was free.
WordPress requires an immediate decision. Self hosting (.org) or free hosting (.com). If you choose free hosting, you are restricted from adding plugins or widgets like AdSense that monetize your blog. If you do the self hosting you have to install WP into your hosting service before you start setting up and designing your blog.
With WP you next decide on whether to use a free template or a premium template. Either way, the dashboard view is not nearly as intuitive and visual for building your layout and adding features. I’ll quickly note, after the first four or five hours of arranging and rearranging elements, WordPress has gotten quite easy to work with.
I chose the self-hosting option to have the most control and flexibility over my blog, whether or not monetization is a big issue for me. I chose a premium template from a company that has been developing templates for years. I think that provides better insurance that my template will always be up-to-date with the newest version of WP. [Read more…]