Posts tagged TrainingNOW
Okay, I know I’m supposed to be keeping this blog up to date … I also know I’ve been doing a really bad job of it lately. But there’s a reason.
In the past two weeks TrainingNOW has published two books. TrainingNOW is the publishing arm of LearningCreators.com. You can find it at http://www.trainingnow.ca.
One is “101 Limericks about Public Speaking” which has just been converted to Kindle format. This was actually published as a trade paperback some time ago. We have resisted publishing it in Kindle format because the Kindle (and other eBook readers) can’t really do the illustrations justice. However, we’ve finally bitten the bullet so to speak and released it in Kindle format. Unfortunately, that meant rejigging all the illustrations and reformatting the layout (several times!) to get the best quality.
The other book involved a great deal more work. (And trust me 101 Limericks was a pain).
“How to Blog for Money: 9 Strategies to Get Your Blog Earning Money Online and Off” is the first of
our ( well, mine really) books on blogging. 192 pages long in print format, it is now available on the Kindle and will soon be available in trade paperback. In fact, I sent off the files yesterday and should be ordering the proofs tomorrow. (Don’t hold your breath — it takes a month to get the proofs). We also created a video course on the subject but the editing is taking longer than expected (which is why I converted the script to a book). You can find more information on this topic in our other blog http://www.howtoblogmoney.com aka The Bobblehead Blogger.
So that’s why I’ve been falling behind lately — I’ve written a new eBook, a new course and reformatted an old print book. Oh and I also edited a 100 page website for a client. All in a matter of weeks.
Take that Timothy Ferriss!
(BTW Trade paperback is the large paperback size of 6×9 inches not the pocketbook size).
When I first entered the eBook business, you HAD to publish your own books. (Unless you wanted to go the Clickbank route. ) Prices were high (compared to print books) and learning content providers were known to misrepresent their reports as eBooks. And the major publishers toyed with eBooks but basically considered them as irrelevant.
Then came the Kindle from Amazon and other similar products.
Last year, Amazon tried to force the major publishers to sell their eBooks at much reduced prices. Ultimately, Amazon had to back down. However, they did succeed by introducing the 70% royalty for books under $9.95. Self-publishers and the market did what force, threats and banning couldn’t do.
Unfortunately, other sales outlets aren’t as open-minded as Amazon. Getting Apple, Kobo or Barnes & Noble (the Nook) to carry self-published eBooks is an exercise in frustration — especially if you are from outside the U.S.A. (like TrainingNOW). Simply put, most of the booksellers haven’t gotten the new business model yet.
In any case, the U.S. Justice department has announced that it will investigate the “Cartel” practices of Apple and the big publishers. You can read more about this on ZDNet (part of CBS Interactive) Justice Dept. to sue Apple, other publishers over e-book ‘cartel’ . The European (antitrust) Commission began a similar investigation about three months ago.
It will be interesting to see what the fallout will be.
I’m ticked …
Notice my site … changed a bit hasn’t it.
Used to look consistent. Now … not so much. Used to be a mix-mash of traditional html, WordPress blog and forum. But at least it looked consistent.
Now not so much.
That’s not the least of it. I use WordPress to drive a number of sites that are part of the TrainingNOW family and a number of other companies (e.g. VProz) that I’m either involved in or otherwise have a relationship with (i.e. maintain). The problem is that WordPress broke all my sites in the last update.
Yes, I said broke my sites.
As a “former” techie, this ticks me off. But then again, I come from a platform that doesn’t EVER have legacy code in the way PCs do. Upgrade? Cool. But it had better not break what went before or it’s back to the drawing board. Which means there’s always new stuff to learn without unlearning the old. But that’s a heck of a lot easier than rewriting a million dollars in application code. (For the techies in the group, any html in pages was lost, workarounds around the menu stopped working around, and plugin options suddenly stopped the plugin from working. And oh yes, the theme I was using is no longer maintained so I couldn’t even keep the look consistent.)
But, since we’re all internet marketers here, I’m going to ignore the details and focus on the business effects.
Yesterday, was supposed to be a day of writing a new course. This week is turning into a write-off as appointments get in the way of producing. What was supposed to be a day of squeezing production between the appointments ended up being a day of fixing webpages. Including one that allowed my customers to download a product they had paid for. (At least it didn’t affect LearningCreators!). What really hurt was that this download was actually hit three times by the “changes”. No sooner did I fix one problem but another further down the stream appeared.
So what can we learn from this?
- Being able to download product is critical. (That means test it in full and fix it immediately).
- Don’t upgrade WordPress (or its plugins and theme’s) unless you have time to verify it hasn’t broken anything.
- If the pages need to appear consistent, then use WordPress for the whole site (not just the blog). Replacing a theme is easy. Replacing a theme and customizing it to look like your brand is not that hard. Replacing a theme and then customizing it to look identical to the html version is a major pain. (Technically, you can use a common CSS. But since WordPress has added improved Page handling, it isn’t necessary).
- Identify your critical processes (such as product delivery). Always have a backup ready to go at a moment’s notice. The backup should appear as transparent to the user as possible.
- Be flexible with release dates for product. Build in lots of time between completion and release. Then hope and work toward not needing that time.
- Watch the upgrade sequence. All themes and plugins should be upgraded shortly after a major WordPress release. If not, you need to check that they aren’t obsolete. If they are then you need to start the process of replacing them.
- Be flexible. Stuff happens. And always at the worst possible time.
- Don’t overcommit. You’re running a business (and have a life). That means you need to make appointments. But don’t let the number of appointments overload your ability to work on the business.
- Balance is needed in your business. Too much production and not enough marketing and you won’t sell. Too much marketing and not enough production and you won’t have enough product to sell. Too much production and/or marketing, at the expense of not enough administration and you could find yourself not being able to deliver what you sell. Or know what has sold and what you should produce. (Okay, I’m cheating here. This is actually something I’ve learned over the last six months. I just had it reinforced.)
- Project management rules are really business rules. The good habits that I’ve learned as a project manager are the same habits I need to remember as a business manager and entrepreneur. (Or vice versa)
Good luck with your business!
Hey check it out …
TrainingNOW (our publishing arm) has published a new book How To Build A Raised Garden Bed on the Amazon Kindle. Two seperate step by step plans to build a raised garden bed or box, plus suggestions on how to fill it and lots of ideas on where to go from there! Trust me these are easy to build.
Currently only available on the Kindle. You can buy it from Amazon at http://amzn.com/B005J2MW3W
Oh, yea — price. Would you believe only $4.97 U.S.. (Also available on Amazon U.K. and Amazon Germany)
So why am I announcing it? It was written using our system!
In any learning event there are always four types of skills involved. Unfortunately, the terms change from scholar to scholar so you’ll have to settle for mine in the following discussion.
The four types of skills are:
- Direct Core
- Background Core
When creating a learning content product you need to consider all four skills.
Since I’m selling basic learning content creation let’s use that as our example.
1. Enhanced skills
These are the skills that you don’t have to teach right now. For example, most of my customers haven’t reached the level of needing to prepare curriculums. At most they’re more focused on a single course.
2. Direct core
These are the skills that are the focus of your teaching. For example, I include how to design a course in my courses.
3. Background core
These are called prerequisites when you are referring to a specific course. However, your entire offering has a list of these skills which you may or may not choose to teach. For example, TrainingNOW used to teach Public Speaking which forms the base for audio & video training. At this point, we’ve chosen not to include it in the LearningCreators curriculum. However, we’ve also decided to include some blog entries on it over the next few weeks. Writing English Grammar is another example. As much as it is a requirement for a course on Writing EBooks, it’s something we leave to the public school system.
4. Background skills
These are skills that you definitely aren’t going to teach even though they are related. For example, being able to think a problem through is a requirement for creating learning content. But it’s not something that we are going to teach. Having empathy is another skill that anyone creating learning content has to have. But again, LearningCreators isn’t in the business of teaching soft skills (TrainingNOW is but that’s another issue entirely).
Over the next few weeks, I’m going to try to expand on this concept and how it can be applied to creating learning products.
It’s also a complicated way to announce that we’re going to create a category focused on Public Speaking!
I was hoping to be able to announce a sale starting today. But unfortunately it looks like St. Padraig is going to get the honours all by his lonesome this year.
So what’s the big news?
Well, as you know, I’ve been a little busy for the past while. Too busy to post to the blog on a regular basis in fact. So what have I been busy on, you ask?
When we started TrainingNOW we wrote a book that we were intending to sell from the “back of the room” as it were. Unfortunately, things didn’t quite work the way we hoped and there was no “back of the room”. We put the book up for sale as an eBook but never really tried to market it properly. So there it sat languishing.
We’ve always planned to create TrainingNOW Press as a micro-publishing house. After all, publishing books is one aspect of creating and delivering learning content.
This year, we decided to go for it.
And our first book is “101 Limericks About Public Speaking”.
Unfortunately, it’s taken a wee might longer to get it right than we wished. So keep an eye out on this blog for an announcement of our pre-ordering sale. And a special contest to celebrate our first publication.
Reducing Words per Sentence in Your Writing
The first three techniques I’m going to suggest are designed simply to reduce the number of words in your sentences. After all, as you go through the school system you are taught to create more and more complex thoughts. This complexity often rolls over into your sentence structure. Long, complex sentences are the foe of understanding. They build gates around the mind which the rams of your thoughts must contend against.
Puff, huff, puff, huff …. Salbutamol quick!
Bluntly, keep it super simple! More words. More difficulty reading. Less words. Easier to read.
One thought at a time
The first technique is to keep it simple. One thought = one sentence. Stop trying to cram all the exceptions into one sentence. If I’m trying to explain the rolling of the cart wheels while simultaneously explaining how the wheels are made of wood and iron and the iron has been lovingly smashed by the hand of the big, burly smitty with the burned leg and the secret of the sword, then I’m going to tend to create run-on sentences. Break the sentence apart. Tell me about the rolling cart wheels. Tell me how the wood and iron squeak together. If you must explain that the rim was forged by the same smitty. The burly artificer of the magic sword. But please, please, tell it to me one idea at a time. Lose the run on sentences. Be merciful, us old fogeys can’t follow that many thoughts. We get bored.
Mind you, if you’re writing a how to book you wouldn’t combine a sentence containing several elements of the situation and the story into a single, comprehensive sentence, which causes one to fall asleep by the time the full sentence has been completed, now would you? Not if you’re smart. One thought. One sentence. Multiple thoughts. Multiple sentences.
Conjunctions belong at the beginning
When you were in school, your teacher taught you not to begin sentences with coordinating conjunctions such as and or but. But now that you are an adult … feel free. Conjunctions are used to connect subordinate and co-ordinate phrases. Words like if, and, or and but are used to join multiple thoughts together. As we said earlier, multiple thoughts need multiple sentences, and single sentences should be limited to single thoughts. So break them apart. If only to make it easier to read. Who cares if you end up with a sentence fragment. We think in fragments. We talk in fragments. So write in fragments when appropriate.
Getting blitzed on Adjectives and Adverbs.
Adjectives and adverbs are like fine wine. They compliment the nouns and verbs they accompany. They are selected and blended to add just the right piquancy to the verbal meal. So stop getting blitzed on the Wild Turkey and Strawberry Zinfandel of words.
If every grass blade is a deep, shamrock and moss green, then you probably are using too many words. Scrap probably. You are using too many words. In fact, there is a name for that writing. It’s called purple prose. It was a dark and stormy night. No it was night. The wind was blowing. We get the picture already.
There is no need to write purple prose. Especially when writing how to books. Keep your adjectives and adverbs spare and infrequent. Trust your reader. Anywhere you have multiple adjectives or adverbs per noun or verb … remove them. Light green grass? Try just grass. We already know it should be green. You’ll be surprised how many words per sentence you’ll lose!
As I’ve written this I’d like to blame my tone on Halloween candy. But the truth is that having extremely long sentences is a case of laziness. It’s foolishly used as an ego enhancer. All it takes is a bit of effort. Figure out where you’ve used one of the mistakes above. Rewrite the sentence. Break it up. Shorten it. Your readers will thank you. And your writing will improve immensely.
Keep Learning, Keep Earning
& the LearningCreators team
Well, that was fun NOT! :D
So here’s what happened. We originally set up one site — TrainingNOW.ca. It was meant to be a simple brochure type site advertising our company, its services and our courses.
Unfortunately, things change … (bad word, bad, bad, word) … and we realized that a) we needed to sell our training over the web rather than live b) that we needed to sell other products and c) we were trying to sell too much through TrainingNOW.ca.
Cool. No big deal. Sometimes it takes a bit of convincing. A little learning. We’re not all born marketers, after all. ;>
So we set up a couple of new sites (learningcreators.ca, contentcreators.ca) to promote the extra services beyond the actual courses. No big right? Basic brochure sites. (Okay, so we started to …. it’s a work in progress. Work with me here).
Then we realized that LearningCreators should be doing more than just creating learning content or info products for other people. Better to teach people to fish than to do the fishing ourselves! So we set up LearningCreators.com.
That’s where the first of the problems came in. You see we started out by testing the waters using MyBestCopy.com. When it looked like the market was viable, we created the LearningCreators.com site. Including the blog.
But one of the things we learned was … in order to improve your SEO ratings you really, really need a blog.
No biggee. We created a blog on MyBestCopy.com. It worked. It drew viewers. Just copy it over and we’re set. Right! Nope.
Try as I might, I couldn’t convince any of the sites that www.LearningCreators.com and apps.LearningCreators.com were the same site (domain). So nothing I did on the blog helped the main opt-in & sales pages.
Meanwhile, we’ve been approached to host the training courses of another company. Great. That’s what TrainingNOW.ca is all about. Publishing training and training materials (e.g. books, DVDs etc.). But that meant we needed to upgrade from the basic Doteasy package to the fancy, dancy, super-special Unlimited plan.
Fine. Couple of headaches but no big woop! Cool so far….
But if we did that then there was no need to use the somewhat limited blog facilities provided by Doteasy for their basic customers. We’d be better off switching to WordPress like everyone told us to.
Silly sods … we believed them!
Sit back, grab a coffee. There’s enough material here to keep this blog alive for a week!
For those of you who were hoping I’d start keeping this blasted blog up to date …. sorry.
So what’s happenin’ now?
We’re changing again. We’ve updated the TrainingNOW site to better capabilities and are now going to host LearningCreators.com on it.
Why? Mostly because the site we have now is a proprietary blog tool (DOTEASY provides it) and is actually located in a different location. So Google et al. thinks this is a seperate site.
We, on the other hand, think it should be part of the main LearningCreators.com site.
By moving this site over to the upgraded TrainingNOW site, we get to use WordPress (much more powerful) and also to include it inside the LearningCreators.com site.
But of course, there’s a heck of a lot of work involved. So that’s my focus over the next week. New blog entries need to wait until I can move the site over.
But I will be back …. probably with some comments on spending money.
Keep Learning & Get Earning
Glen Ford & The LearningCreators team.