Blog to Share Your Passion with a Community

Using Blogs and Social Media Is a Good Way to Get Involved With a Community of Individuals Who Share Your Passion

Right off the bat you may be wondering, “Why would I ever want to create a blog or website?” to which my response would be, “Because you can monetize it!” Setting up a website is more simply done than you may think. It doesn’t take years locked in a dark basement learning how to write code to produce something you can be proud of (I am using WordPress, which is fairly simple and includes tons of useful tools). We all have our own hobbies and interests that we engage in each day, why not try to make a little cash? Check out the following links for examples of people using blogs to share with their community:

FlowingData  Explores how statisticians, designers, data scientists, and others use analysis, visualization, and exploration to understand data and ourselves.
Pop-Up City – Explores ideas that shape the city of the future.
Nerdophiles A Collaborative Blog on Nerd Culture.

These are just a couple blogs that I have found to be entertaining.  No matter what your passion there is a community to share it with. Starting your own website is a great way to build traction within a community and develop awareness of what you do. By creating a blog, and fine tuning it through social media, you will learn more about what you love, you will meet people who share your interest, and you might be surprised to find that you truly enjoy it. Hanging your thoughts out for the world to see can be a little uncomfortable at first, but realizing that people are actually listening is a satisfying reward. Following are a few website creation and sharing tips that I hope can get the creative ball rolling.

1. Do Your Research, Develop Your Voice, and Create Content People Want

Diving in and immediately promoting your interests, or business may seem like a good first step. However, many of us are overwhelmed and turned off by another’s attempt to sell us something. Your website shouldn’t focus solely on you. Your content should be developed around what potential users find interesting; can you spot any trends? If so, take advantage of trends and catch a wave to success. Do research on your subject, become a knowledgeable voice in your field.

Another effective way to position yourself amongst the current big dogs is to watch them. What are their goals, who are they reaching out to, what are their strengths, are they failing to meet a market need on which you can capitalize? By developing a well-rounded understanding of what potential viewers like, or don’t like, you can tailor your content to cater to those needs.

Social Sharing
Connectivity across social networks provides great opportunities.

When creating a blog, it is important to remember that everything you share doesn’t have to be in print. If you have art you would like to share, heard a great new song (maybe you made one!), or saw a funny video, chances are that others exist in this world who will also find similar content interesting. Don’t be afraid to speak to your audience with passion. You have got to do something to break through the noise of every day life and be worth the time to read. When planning to speak to a group it is important to ask, “Why should they listen?”  I may have valuable things to say, but so do a million others. Pair that with peoples’ limited time, and it becomes clear that being unique is very important to grabbing someone’s attention. Understand your audience so you can produce something that matters. Be inspirational, be different, and aspire to talk to your audience in a way that is not only interesting, but also valuable enough to share.

2. Social Media Useful For More than Sharing Cat Videos

Social media sites are great platforms for sharing with those who are interested in what you do (maybe that’s cat videos). People today spend a shocking amount of time on their mobile devices, computers, and social media sites. If you are dedicated to providing entertaining content, technology of today allows us to speak to millions at the touch of a button. That is POWERFUL. However, it will not always be easy and you may experience some failures (but that is ok, because they can be fixed). You may be surprised that your sweet new website fits seamlessly into this advantageous ecosystem designed for sharing. Social media is the best way for you to begin developing awareness of your message. Again, messages to your social media community should not be self-promotions. Do not become another advertisement that is ignored by your followers. Trolling for attention is not attractive either, so be mindful of their needs. Plug in to the topics that they are already interested in. Become content that users are excited to see because it provides them value.

Producing meaningful content will create a loyal following. Loyal followers will allow you to break the mold and can traction with followers.

3. Measure your message

Another great feature to social media and website driven sharing? It is measurable. There is a long list of tools that can be used to measure how interested a community is in your cause. Google and Facebook both provide software programs that will help you paint a clear picture of the way people consume your content. You can see whether or not people interact with your posts, how long to they spend on your site, where do users typically access your content? These are just the tip of the iceberg of web traffic measurables.

Use images to make pages more attractive!
Use images to make pages more attractive!

Measuring your users interest may seem tedious, and at times painful, but allows for us to make our messages better. Did your last blog post flop? Are visitors rarely visiting more than one page on your site? You can either guess-and-check, say a prayer and hope it fixes itself.

Or you can use simple analytic tools to do better next time. Create your site with an online platform like WordPress, Foursquare, or Wix, and they will likely have plugins that allow you to measure and optimize content. Google has powerful tools for measuring online behavior. Find groups and forums that have a shared interested in your topic, share your content with them, and use tools to measure who is responding. Provide more content to those who seem inspired. Alter messages so that they aren’t landing on deaf ears. It is smart to deploy two strategies with the same goal, and compare the two. What worked? What didn’t? You can start to play a game of leap-frog toward improvement.

4. Creating Interest Takes Time, Dont Get Discouraged

Chances are unlikely that you will create a good blog, link it to your social media, go to bed, and wake up to the new Facebook. Your content may be spectacular, your messages on point, and you may truly be making an impact on those who are listening; but considerable growth will take time. Hopefully you have chosen to create around something you find enjoyable, because success will require dedicated involvement.

Be patient,and listen to feedback, while growing followers.
Be patient,and listen to feedback, while growing followers.

Your content must be consistent; both in what it applies to and your timeliness. If you have begun to generate some interest, you better begin to generate more content! This is where all the available measurement tools come into play. Pay attention to trends, to your audience, and to your instincts. Encourage people to share by creating a community, and providing them with something they enjoy. At first it may seem daunting, but as the pieces begin to fall into place it becomes pretty cool. You just might find that in the process of providing others with something they enjoy, you can stumble upon something new and surprising that you enjoy. When you find it, pursue it. Don’t give up, just get better.

If you are interested in more content regarding individual growth, and business development, please check out my blog @ Protect Our Roots

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Why You Should Take More Risks

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Can you think of a time where you wish you would’ve taken a risk instead of playing it safe?

Whether it’s a trip to Cancun you could’ve taken, an employer you could’ve reached out to or that cute barista you’ve wanted to ask out but have said nothing more to than, “I think I’ll grab a 16oz. chai” (solely because she recommended it, even though you’re lactose intolerant.) Most people have something pop into their minds immediately when asked this question. Looking back now, that dilemma, strangely, doesn’t actually seem that complicated anymore. Whereas, in the moment you were sure that even Einstein would’ve been as baffled as you. Then again hindsight is 20/20, right?

In fact, when reading this you most likely have a current situation you’re dealing with where you can identify two options. A “safe” option and a “risky” option. Let’s take a step back to see things a little more clearly and maybe that “risky” option won’t seem so risky after all.

Magnification

As humans, we tend to exaggerate. That fish Pictur1you caught this summer grows an inch every time the story is told and the dog that chased you around the block might as well have been a cheetah hunting a gazelle on the Sahara. It can be fun to embellish a story a little to get your crowd on the edge of their seats! Unfortunately, I think that this exaggeration and magnification can also permeate into our decision making process – and it’s subconscious. When we get asked to do something hard or uncomfortable, our brains turn what was a five-foot jump into a 50-foot jump.

A good way I’ve found to overcome this thought process is using simple logic. Seems like an obvious solution, but it is often overlooked. Taking a few minutes to write down the pros and cons of each possible outcome can bring things back to reality. We can, unintentionally, make the consequences of an outcome seem much more daunting than they are in reality. Sit down, breathe, and think logically to take the blindfold off that you’ve put on yourself.

Discreditation

 When we make our problems big, our own abilities seem to become very, very small. We give ourselves a lot less credit than we deserve. In reality, however, we may have every single experience, skill or attribute necessary to get the job done. So, when you’re bringing your problems down to size, make sure you are giving yourself the credit you deserve as well. We tend to be harder on ourselves than we should. I would highly recommend talking to a few people who know you well and ask for encouragement. You will be pleasantly surprised with the outcome.

The “Risk”

 Once everything is laid out logically, it is time to make a choice. Hopefully at this point the choice at hand does not seem too overwhelming and that “risk” doesn’t seem very risky anymore. We often psych ourselves out of something that can be so very beneficial to us. By taking the steps above, you can very easily overcome that mindset.

However, sometimes the decision is simply too big or life-changing to overcome the nervousness of the situation. In these times I would still advocate for a serious consideration of the riskier choice. Here’s why:

  1. People like being comfortable and secure. It makes sense, it’s the safe choice. But, these types of choices will, more often than not, be available to us. It’s the uncomfortable decisions that come around much less often. Don’t take the opportunity to make one of those decisions for granted.
  2. Everyone wants to improve their quality of life. That’s what keeps this world turning. We wish for more things, opportunities or experiences. But, if those opportunities don’t present themselves in the way they we thought they would come we get nervous. Don’t be scared to walk through a door that was opened for you – you asked for it!
  3. There are not many people who end life thinking, “I wish I would’ve done less. Had less experiences and not had so many opportunities.” However, there are, sadly, many people who end life wondering, “What if…?” Don’t let that happen to you.
  4. There is no time like the present. If not now, when? Things change – relationships end, friends move, babies come, your favorite band will break up and Netflix binging can’t last forever – you will never have the same opportunities in life that you do right now. Carpe diem.
  5. Michael Scott is also an advocate of taking the shot.

Take that risk today and live life to its fullest.

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By: Nate Christoffels

Happily Never After: Montana’s Missed Connections

Welcome to the world of Missed Connections where you can post on Craigslist a short description (or a dramatic poem) about a person you saw and wished you would have “connected with”. And if the majority of the posts weren’t so ridiculously creepy, it could almost be sweet to see how many romantics are out there, tirelessly searching for someone they briefly made eye contact with in line at Taco Bell.

Here’s a few good ones I found in Montana.. And who knows – maybe someone is out there looking for you! You can thank me later when you and your soulmate get connected.

1.The Polygamist.

land and girlfriends montana missed connections

Or do be shy. Unless you’re looking for cheap rent.

2. Connecting on a Connecting Flight.
montana missed connections (2)

 

 

 

 

You know what else is magnificent? Punctuation.

3. The worst post, ever. 

brown girl montana missed connection

I  have a couple things to say about this one..

1)Brown hair? Brown skin? 2) Were you eating a Crunchwrap Supreme, because those do tend to get messy. 3) I can’t imagine that Razr phone’s photo quality is any good 4)I hope your wife takes that 1994 Vintage Aerostar and drives very quickly and very far away from you. 5) Katy, don’t call him.

4. The Spelling Bee Champion.

spelling issues montana missed connections

couldn’t*, were*, wearing*, and again, were*

5.The Hit and Run.

hit and run love

… so do you want my number to go on a date or to make an insurance claim?

6. Searching for an equally insane counterpart.

zombie apocalypse montana missed connection

Play on playa, play on.

7. The enthusiasm is real.

charter guy montana missed connection

He must have been really cute!!!!!!!!!!!!! n really funny !!!!!!!!!! n like so awesome!!!!!!!!!

8. The Tall Cowboy.VERY montana missed connection

 

 

..and this makes us so VERY uncomfortable.

9. Lookin’ Gassy.

Gas Montana Missed Connection

He either bought gasoline or Pepto Bismol.

10. The Hopeless Romantic?

baby jesus Montana missed connection

He’s not just praying to one baby Jesus, he’s praying to ALL of them! aww

Think Government Healthcare is a good idea? Join the Army.

While in the US Army from 2009-2013, I got to experience and listen to many stories from individuals that had received sub-par medical services at the hands of Army Docs. Anytime one of us had to visit a military facility, there was constant harassment of the atrocious things that we believed would happen to that poor bastard when he went in. And it was always funny as long as you weren’t that poor bastard. These jokes didn’t come from nowhere however, and the ranks were full of true stories that made our jokes hit just a little too close to home. Here are two of the best ones that I have heard. Government Healthcare at its finest. While the situations are undoubtedly serious, it wasn’t me in that chair. So you can laugh, cringe, cry, or sob at these, but I knew these guys. And I think it’s funny.

…Staff Sergeant Johnson, of the US Army, laid back onto the large chair in an Army dental office while the doctors and assistants bustled about. He watched them as they busily moved equipment into and out of the room in preparation for the procedure. An IV stand here, a tray of instruments there. Everything was sterile and ready to take care of the man. The nurse finally approached the waiting patient and prepared the gas that would render him unconscious for the duration of the dental work. The assistant asked if he was ready and lowered the mask onto his face.

“Just take a few deep breaths and we’ll see you in a little while Mr. Smith”

Mr. Smith? That’s not right. The Staff Sergeant was fading quickly and barely mumbled,

“I’m not Smith I’m Johnsonnn….”

And that was the last thing he remembered until he woke. Unfortunately for Mr. Smith, he was scheduled for a root canal. Luckily for our Sergeant Johnson, the assistant heard his last minute confession and searched his pockets to find his ID. After confirming they had the right guy and the right file in the same room, they performed the correct procedure. I think the story would have been more fun if he would have gotten the unnecessary root canal.

 

The next story is one that could have been much more serious than a sore jaw, but the remedy to the situation was much more personal.

…Sergeant Akers knee was swollen to twice the size it should have been before he decided that it was time to go in. His wife drove him to the clinic and he hobbled into the ER. It was a busy night and they waited… and waited… and waited. Finally he was taken back to be seen and a flustered doctor blew in to the room a few minutes later. After a quick examination and few questions, the doctor concluded that all was needed was for Akers to “man up” and put some ice on it. Not happy with the answer, but with no other recourse, he hobbled back home.

A few days later, his leg would no longer fit into his uniform and nothing was getting better. It was time to go back in and try again. This time it turned out much differently for him however. Akers had an infection in his knee and was only a day or two away from facing an almost certain amputation. Long story short, he had to have what is called a PICC line inserted. A PICC line is essentially an IV that can be used for an extended amount of time and goes almost directly to the heart. So Akers is getting this inserted under his left arm and they start pushing fluid into the PICC line. This immediately caused him to lose his vision and fade to unconsciousness rapidly. Not normal. When he came to a short time later, he was understandably leery of trying again. The doctor however didn’t feel the same way. He looked at Akers, shrugged, and said,

“Hell, lets try again. See what happens.”

Akers can be a little rowdy anyways and at this point was having no more. When the doctor reached for the plunger, Akers reached out and got a firm hold on his manhood. Looking him right in the eyes, he calmly told him,

“We’re not going to do anything that neither of us want, right?”

Now that he had his attention, they sat there awkwardly and waited for the commander of the hospital to pay the two new best friends a visit. Turns out he was allergic to the medication that was being given to him and the situation was just as serious as Akers believed. Good thing for Akers he wasn’t shy.

 

These stories are just two of many such experiences throughout our armed forces. However, don’t misinterpret these stories. The armed services are full of consummate professionals who are excellent healthcare providers. These stories are simply a product of the system that they are forced to operate in. Overworked and understaffed is many times the norm in these facilities. These stories are meant to be humorous, and not meant to demean those in the medical services. However, the stories are a product of Government Healthcare and should also serve as a warning to those that believe it would be a good idea.

Top 5 Brunch Spots in Missoula

By Aaron Kell

This ranking is purely subjective based off of my own tastes buds and preferences. To determine this I visited many restaurants offering brunch in Missoula, MT. I took into account a few variables: price, menu, and service/wait time. As we all know, the person who invented Brunch deserves a gold medal, some mornings (or afternoons) it’s even a life saver.

 

  1. The Shack
    Address: 222 W Main St, Missoula, MT 59802
    The-Shack“`

 

This place has one of a kind atmosphere with it’s decor. You will feel as if you stepped back in time into a western saloon. The menu has much to offer, from broiled Rainbow Trout, to Chicken Fried Steak, to plain cold cereal.   If you are a fan of omelettes then this is your place!  They have up to 15 omelette varieties to choose from. Optimal dining times would be during work week, as there is a wait usually on weekend mornings.

http://www.theshackcafe.com/

 

 

  1. Hob Nob
    Address: 531 S Higgins Ave, Missoula, MT 59801

HobNob

Just the name itself says “cozy” and that is what Hob Nob is.  This breakfast and lunch spot is the perfect stop before the Missoula Farmers’ Market or riding your bike to campus.  Brunch is now complete with bakery items baked in-house, and ever changing breakfast and lunch specials.  A well kept secret of the Hip Strip is the fantastic burgers Hob Nob offers as a lunchtime special in summertime.

http://www.hobnobonhiggins.com/

  1. Paul’s Pancake Parlor
    Address: 2305 Brooks St, Missoula, MT 59801

paul-s-waffle-house

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course Paul’s kills it with the pancakes, but the Parlor’s menu actually offers much more.  From BLTs and Polish Hot Dogs to Sirloin Steaks and seafood, Paul’s has something for the group that just can’t decide! For the breakfast lovers at heart, Paul’s offers many variations to their breakfast combos to ensure no classic (or new!) favorite pancake flavors or sides are left out.

http://paulspancake.com/

  1. Old Post
    Address: 103 W Spruce St, Missoula, MT 59802

old-post-pub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A classic Missoulian favorite for Sunday brunch with your friends.  Complete with tasty Bloody Mary’s and Mimosas, the deck at The Old Post is the best way to enjoy your eggs. The French Bread in the “Stuffed French Bread” is made from handmade brioche bread, topping scrambled eggs and bacon.  For those who can’t say no to a good breakfast sandwich, give the J-Mac a try.  It’s worth the extra charge to get your egg (cooked over-hard) and sausage on a bagel instead of the English Muffin, if that’s what you prefer.  Something unique about The Old Post is they serve a Southern favorite here, in Missoula, MT! Get it as a side with your next authentic scramble.

 

  1. Catalyst
    Address: 111 N Higgins Ave, Missoula, MT 59802

Catalyst
The Catalyst is a Missoula favorite.  Throughout nearly all hours of service, it’s likely there will be a wait.  However the friendly wait staff and cozy basement with several couches and chairs, and a selection of current magazines make this wait tolerable.  The many different sandwiches and soup specials make The Catalyst is a hot spot for lunch, but brunch is what keeps you coming back.  Whether it’s an omelette, breakfast sandwich, or huevos rancheros, a recommended favorite side dish is the potato casserole, served in its own pastry dish.  For those who can take the heat, try the Green Chili version of the potato casserole.

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