In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I talk about creating content in seasons and how digital publishers can use smart watches.

You can also listen to the episode online by clicking the play button on the player below this. (If you don’t see the player, click here.) It’s about 21 minutes long.


Smartwatches, Content Seasons, a New Pinterest Feature, and More [DPP049]

Hey everyone, I’m Tristan Higbee, recording today again in Bangkok, Thailand, and this podcast is all about the things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, including blogging, ebook and video creation, podcasting, and other things relating to internet business and online marketing. You can find a full transcript of each episode of this show at DigitalPublishingPodcast.com. I’d really appreciate it if you rated this show in iTunes. Just go to itunes.digitalpublishingpodcast.com and then click the blue “View in iTunes” button in the sidebar to rate and review the podcast in iTunes.

In the podcast today I’ve got four topics and then the pick of the week. Topic #1 is about creating content seasonally. Topic #2 is about reading on a smartwatch and a couple other things I’d want a smartwatch for. Topic #3 is about why you should guest blog if you don’t have a blog of your own. Topic #4 is about the Place Pins feature that Pinterest introduced a couple months ago. And my pick of the week is something called Clef, which is an easier and more secure way to log in to multiple WordPress blogs without having to keep track of passwords.

1. Blog, podcast, and YouTube seasons

Breaking Bad seasonI have an important announcement to make, and that is that I’ll be taking a break from podcasting after this episode. I’ve done 49 of these episodes so far. Each one is written, recorded, and edited entirely by me. That’s a lot of work and a lot of content for a single person to come up with. I’ve been pretty good at doing an episode a week since I started the podcast, though there have been gaps, like when I was in Nepal for a month last fall or last week, when I was in Cambodia. But I’m getting burned out on podcasting, and it’s time for me to take a break. Consider this the end of the year-long first season of the podcast. The OCD side of me is really bothered by the fact that I’m stopping at 49 instead of 50, but that just means I’ll have all the more incentive to come back and record more episodes.

There are a couple more reasons I want to take a break. Since I started podcasting, I’ve barely done any blogging about digital publishing, and I’d like to take that back up again. And doing this podcast takes up a lot of time, and I want to dedicate that time to finally getting Osmosio, my digital publishing education site, up and running.

And by the way, podcast seasons are a real thing. I’m not just making this up. The idea is obviously inspired by TV show seasons, where there is a run of new content followed by a break until the next season starts. I’ve listened to several podcasts in the past that have been done in seasons. I know that seasons are a thing that YouTubers do, too. I don’t think I’ve seen any bloggers work in seasons, but I’m sure they’re out there, and I can’t see any reason why it wouldn’t work.

So if you, like me, need a break for whatever reason, don’t call it quits completely on whatever it is that you’re working on. Take some time off from what you’ve been doing and then come back to it. My break will probably be for at least a month and as much as two or three months. But I really do enjoy podcasting, so I’ll definitely be back eventually. I’m also toying with adding a segment onto the end of each episode that deals with traveling and living abroad, so let me know via Twitter or a comment on the blog if that sounds like something you’d be interested in hearing more about. It would be tacked onto the very end of each episode, so you wouldn’t have to listen to it if you didn’t want to. 

2. Reading on a smartwatch

Pebble SteelSmartwatches are all over the tech blogs these days, and there are even big new blogs like SmartwatchFans.com popping up that are dedicated solely to smartwatches. These are computerized watches that can do things like show you messages and notifications and run simple apps. Some you can talk through or take photos from. Most of the computing power is done through your smartphone, which the watch is tethered to via Bluetooth, and the watch functions mainly as a display.

I want one of these things for a few reasons, but one of the big ones is so that I can read on it. Read it later service Pocket has an app for Samsung’s Galaxy Gear smartwatch, but it only has text-to-speech functionality. You can’t read your articles on it. One of the better-known smartwatches out there right now is the Pebble, and it turns out that there is actually a reading app for it. It’s a plain text reader, so you can read any plain text document on it, including ebooks. Project Gutenberg has thousands of plain text ebooks, including the public domain classics. For some reason, I really like the idea of being able to read on a watch, even though it would undoubtedly be a crappy reading experience. I read mainly on my phone, and a watch would be even one degree more accessible and handy than a phone. And smartwatches like the Pebble have an e-ink screen like the black-and-white Kindles, meaning that you could read outside in full sunlight, which is definitely not fun to do with a smartphone.

And if there were real Pocket or Feedly or even Kindle apps available for the watch? Man. That’d be amazing.

I’d also love a smartwatch so that I could switch between podcast episodes without having to pull out my phone. I usually walk several miles a day and I listen to podcasts while I walk. I burn through a lot of episodes, and it would be nice to be able to control playback from a watch.

I can’t get most of the smartwatches out there because I’m in Thailand, but I do want one.

Having said all of that, I’m not convinced that smartwatches are more than a fad. They’re neat, but they’re still goofy novelties at this point. But if they do stick around, imagine creating watch-only or watch-first content, or in other words, content that is made to be viewed or consumed on a watch. It’s an interesting thought, isn’t it?

3. Guest posting on blogs when you don’t have one

Earlier last month I wrote a couple guest posts for a blog. They were for just for fun, and they were about a topic that I will never make any money from and have no desire to be well known in. I’d been thinking about starting a blog in this niche, but I didn’t want to go through the process of getting a domain name, setting it up, installing WordPress, choosing a theme, creating an about page and contact form, setting up Twitter and Facebook pages, and everything else that goes along with starting a new blog. Mostly I just had these ideas in my head that I wanted to write without dealing with all of that other stuff, so I decided to write a couple guest posts for an existing blog in the niche. It ended up working out great. It was fun to share my ideas. It was fun to interact with people in the comments. It was fun getting to know the guy who runs the blog. And it made me realize that yes, I did want to blog about this more and that I should start a blog in the niche, which I have since done.

I’ve done this kind of thing in the past before and gotten the opposite result. I had a couple ideas that I wanted to get out of my system, so I wrote up blog posts and got them published on someone else’s blog. Once I’d written those things, I realized that I’d written most of what I’d wanted to and that I really didn’t want to start a new blog. And that’s great too. It kept me from registering the domain and doing all that other junk that I talked about, and it ultimately saved me a ton of time.

Another benefit of doing this kind of thing is that if you do decide to launch a blog, you already know someone in the niche that can hopefully help give you some early promotion, and that’s the blogger that you wrote for.

4. Place Pins on Pinterest

Place Pins on PinterestPinterest put out a new feature a couple months ago called Place Pins. It’s essentially a map board. If you don’t use Pinterest very much, boards are thematic groupings of the things you save or “pin.”

I’ve been playing around with the feature for the last couple of days and while it has potential, it’s not yet at the point that I’d like it to be at. My main problem is that the data set of places that’s being used here is taken from FourSquare, and FourSquare doesn’t have as many places in its database as I’d like, and you can’t manually add your own place to the map there on Pinterest.

Here’s an example of what I mean. If I wanted to create a map board on which I pinned the hundred best rock climbing areas in America, I could probably do that easily. I’d bet that most, if not all, of those climbing areas are listed on FourSquare and could therefore be pinned to the map board. But if I wanted to make a map of the best 100 rock climbs at any one of those given areas, I wouldn’t be able to do that. There’s not that much detail or data in FourSquare. Or if you were a realtor and wanted to post a map of your current listings, you couldn’t do that because the individual houses you’ve got probably aren’t on FourSquare either. Or if you want to pin a photo to a very particular location inside of something bigger, that’s not possible. An example here is if you wanted to pin multiple photos that you took in and around the Colosseum in Rome. You wouldn’t be able to pinpoint the location to the north side of the Colosseum or inside and along the southern wall.

And I just tried pinning a couple restaurants that I’ve been to recently here in Bangkok but I couldn’t find them listed. If you go to the official Pinterest blog and look down at the comments on the post that announces Place Pins, the most liked comment there is this: “Awesome idea, but many of my locations aren’t in foursquare so I can’t get them pinned to my board.” That sums it up pretty well. The commenter then goes on to say, “Would be nice if it would let you pin things, say, by latitude and longitude, or better yet, by dropping the pin on the board yourself.” And I definitely agree with that.

You can get around this by creating or adding the location on FourSquare and then adding it to your map on Pinterest, though that is obviously not an ideal situation. I’ve never done it, so I don’t know how easy it is or how long it takes. Here is the FourSquare FAQ page that talks about how to add a location.

Another gripe is that you can’t change a place’s name. There’s a little garden fertility shrine here in Bangkok that is colloquially and affectionately referred to as the Penis Garden or Penis Shrine, but it’s officially called Chao Mae Tuptim Shrine. I found it on Pinterest when I searched for Chao Mae Tuptim, but if I wanted to add it to a map of offbeat things to see or do in Bangkok, I wouldn’t be able to change its name from Chao Mae Tuptim to Penis Garden, and that’s unfortunate.

But I can still see this kind of board being useful for digital publishers who are well acquainted with Pinterest and who blog, write, or talk about location-related subjects. In that post on the Pinterest blog, they list a bunch of example map boards that people have made. A few of them are…

If you can do something along those lines for your niche, great. If not, and I think that most of us are in the “if not” category, let’s hope that Pinterest makes this feature more customizable in the future.

Pick of the week – Clef

ClefAnd that now brings us to my pick of the week. This is where I pick one useful thing to share, and it can be an app, a website, a podcast, or anything else I find valuable. My pick this week is an app and web service called Clef. Clef was first brought to my attention last week by its CEO, who emailed me and asked me to talk about it on the podcast because he thought it would be of interest to my listeners. I get these kinds of requests fairly often. I usually do check out whatever it is that they’re asking me to check out (because I am always looking for interesting things to talk about), but I don’t think I’ve ended up actually talking about their thing before. Until now.

Clef can do a lot of things, but for our purposes, I’m going to say that it provides an easy and secure way of logging into your different WordPress blogs without having to deal with passwords.

Here’s how it works. You download and install the free app to your iOS or Android device. I tested it on my iPhone and it worked great, and tried to use it on my Note 2 but you can apparently only use it with one device, so I didn’t get a chance to try it out. When you download the app and register, you set a 4-digit PIN code. Then you install and configure the free plugin on your WordPress sites.

Setting up the app and the plugin constitutes the whole of the setup experience. When you’re ready to log in to your blogs via any computer, go to your normal WordPress login screen at http://whatever.com/wp-login.php, and you’ll see a new blue button that says “Log in with your phone.” You click that and a blue waveform thing appears on the screen and moves up and down. You then open up the Clef app on your phone, enter in your four-digit PIN code, and then hold the phone up in front of the screen. The app uses the camera on your phone to look at the waveform thing that’s being generated on the computer screen to confirm that you have the permission to access the WordPress dashboard for that site.

If that doesn’t make sense, let me try explaining it another way. Think of it as a QR code. You press the “Log in with your phone” button on the WordPress login page and a QR code appears on the screen. You open up the Clef app on your phone and it scans the QR code. Because Clef knows that the person with that phone is the same person who has access to the WordPress admin stuff, you’re allowed to login. It’s a simple way to achieve two-factor authentication. Or if you just don’t want to deal with passwords anymore for your various WordPress logins, Clef is a good solution. The upshot, of course, is that you need to have your phone with you when you want to login, and your phone needs a data or WiFi connection. You can also have Clef completely replace the need for a password on your site, so that when you go to the WordPress login page, there’s only the “Login with your phone” option, and the username and password fields are gone.

There is an unofficial Chrome extension for Clef called Waltz that lets you use Clef to login to a bunch of different password-protected sites like Tumblr, Twitter, Facebook, and Amazon. I have most of those passwords memorized, so using Clef and Waltz for that isn’t super useful, and I ended up uninstalling the Waltz extension. But I have installed the Clef plugin on a handful of my blogs and will probably install it on others over the coming weeks and months. It really is nice to not have to mess with the WordPress passwords.

You can learn more about Clef at getclef.com. The Clef app is free in both the Google Play and iOS app stores, and the plugin is free in the WordPress plugin repository. You can watch the Clef demo video here.

Final words

And that’s all for episode 49 of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out digitalpublishingpodcast.com for complete transcriptions and other blog posts there at the blog. With the podcasting hiatus that I’ll be on, I actually will be blogging there. Go to digitalpublishingpodcast.com and click the blog link at the top of the page to see those blog posts. Please don’t hesitate to email me any questions you might have regarding digital publishing. I love talking about this stuff, and I’d love to help you out. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.digitalpublishingpodcast.com. That will redirect you to my Twitter account, since my name is a bit tricky to spell. If you do follow me there, be sure to say hi. And again and as always, I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and rated and reviewed this podcast. Thanks for listening, and you’ll hear from me again in a month or two or three.