Travel Smart: 3 Tips for Organized Gadget Travel

I travel quite a bit for both business and for fun, and I can’t think of the last time I went somewhere without some tech in tow, whether a digital camera, my mobile phone, iPad, laptop or netbook, or some other gizmo. These devices are so much a part of our lives that it’s hard for us to go anywhere without them. But how can we take them with us in a way that makes sense, keeps them accessible and organized, and doesn’t leave us with a huge and heavy carry-on bag?

Consolidate – This may seem like strange advice coming from a huge gadget fan, but when traveling, my general philosophy is “the fewer devices, the better.” The less you bring with you, the fewer devices you have to worry about losing, the fewer chargers you need to bring, and less you have to carry. One way to bring less tech with you is to leverage something you probably already use all the time – your mobile phone. Your cell phone can do so much for you – and can save you tons of bulk during a trip by consolidating the functions of many other devices into one. Especially if you have a current smartphone, you can often leave your digital camera, mp3 player, portable video game, camcorder, and GPS unit behind. Granted, you may not get every single feature that you’d have with each and every individual device, but the benefit of leaving them at home is far less bulk, and less to lose. One note: if you’re traveling abroad, make sure to review your data service plan or turn off your data (just leave your phone in flight mode) to avoid exorbitant roaming charges.

Charge smart – It used to be that every device needed its own charger, which can add lots of bulk to your travel case. I remember the days when I’d bring a charger for my laptop, my camera, my cell phone, my mp3 player, and my portable video game – and I’d try to shoehorn it all into one small bag. By the time I was done, my carry-on would be filled with chargers and cords! Luckily, that’s no longer the case. Many current devices can be charged via the USB port on your computer, or via a wall charger with a USB port. Instead of carrying around a wall adapter for each device, instead carry one USB-equipped wall adapter, and use a USB charging cable for your device (most devices, including cell phones, mp3 players, and many digital cameras, already come with such a cable). If you’re bringing your laptop with you, you may not even need to bring the wall adapter at all!

Organize and contain – Even if you have whittled down your devices to just one or two and have consolidated your cables to the bare minimum, you’re still going to have to deal with what can often be a tangled mess. What you don’t want is to open your bag and have to untie a big knot of cables – that’s no way to get a trip started on the right foot! Instead, make sure you’re using the right tools to help organize your cables and keep your devices safe. You’ll want to make sure you have a space for each of your devices, along with any chargers, adapters, extra memory cards, and the like.

When I travel, I like to use the Grid-It system to help keep all my chargers and cables organized. What’s great about this particular system is that it’s flexible and adaptable to whatever combination of gizmos and cables you happen to have with you, and it holds your stuff securely. I also like the Kangaroom Personal Media Pouch which can hold your devices and cables and then can slip into your larger laptop bag or briefcase.

These days, we all travel with something that has a button or a battery. What do you do to keep your tech organized when you travel?


Joshua Zerkel, Productivity Strategist, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and the founder of Custom Living Solutions the San Francisco Bay Area’s premier productivity and organizing consulting firm, and he’s the creator of the Profitable Productivity System. Josh specializes in helping entrepreneurs and small businesses find easy ways to get control of their space, information, time, and technology so they can reduce stress and boost their productivity – and their profits. Visit Custom Living Solutions and get instant access to Josh’s exclusive Special Report “The 7 Must-Have Productivity Systems” and schedule your complimentary “Eliminate the Chaos” strategy session!

Five Uses for YouTube You Might Not Have Thought Of

As most of us know, YouTube is a free online video sharing portal. Recent statistics have said that approximately 24 hours worth of videos are uploaded into YouTube’s system every minute of the day. Wow.

If you’ve never created a YouTube video or you’ve created many, here are some ides to use your online videos:

Introductory Offer Video

Create a short, 60 second video that introduces yourself or your company, and suggests that visitors take advantage of your free offer. You don’t need this video to be searchable, so turn that feature off. Then load it onto your website’s home page or other page so people can either read the text or watch the video.

Studies have shown that people are more likely to take advantage of an online offer if it’s paired with a video. Want to see an example? Go to my website’s home page to see me using it to invite people to download the free report.

Virtual Video Tours

If you have a business that customers visit, give them an online tour. Maybe your customers would like to see the setting that your office provides. Is it quiet and serene or busy? Is it comfortable or modern? Are the staff smiling and friendly? All of these are selling features, and if people can see what it’s like before they step through the door, give them a tour!

Staff Introductions

Similar to your virtual tours, have your employees do a little introduction of themselves. This puts a face to your business so your customers can know who they’ll be working with. Is your staff friendly and smiling? Are they professional? Again, give your future customers the opportunity to meet the staff even before they step through the front door.

Customer Testimonials

Ask your most valued customers to take three minutes to tell how much they love your service or products. Ask them three open-ended questions like “How has our company helped you?” They can tell in their own words what they like best, and it will be genuine.

These videos will be more compelling than reading a bunch of text on a page, because they’re “real people” that your customers will identify with. I did this with some of my customers recently with a little Flip camera. It took about 5 minutes to record, and now I’ve got some great video testimonials.

Complete Your Google Places Account

If you have claimed your Google Places online business listing, they allow you to link up to five YouTube videos to your business. Create any of the above types of videos, then go into your Google Places account and link them in. These can be used to entice other customers to do business with you. In addition, Google rewards you with higher placement in the directory, because your listing is more complete.

There are many more uses for YouTube that I could name, but these are the top five YouTube uses that I thought you could use right away. It’s sure hard to beat free marketing opportunities too!


Thomas Petty is a Certified Internet Consultant at his consulting company, WSI Smart Solutions, and he works with businesses who are struggling to get new clients through the Internet. He also teaches beginning, advanced and master-level SEO classes at the Bay Area Search Engine Academy.

Top 3 YouTube SEO Tips

At last fall’s SMX Expo in New York, I attended a session on SEO and YouTube. Among the things I learned: Search engine users are 50 percent more likely to click on videos in search results than on text-based results. And Google Instant, the recent addition to the Google interface that displays search results as you type, has increased clicks on video results by 28 percent.

Clearly, videos are great for attracting attention from search engine users. Here are 3 quick tips to help your videos rise in search engine rankings:

Use YouTube for your keyword research

As with Google, when you start typing a search query on YouTube, the site will suggest terms related to what you’re typing. If you type “silly pets” in YouTube’s search bar, for instance, YouTube will suggest variations such as “silly pet tricks” and “silly pet videos.” These suggestions give you an idea of the terms YouTubers are using to find videos, which you can then add to your YouTube video titles and descriptions. Keep in mind, however, that the most popular terms are often the most competitive, too, which makes them harder to rank for.

Put your important keywords in your title, description, and tags

As with any SEO effort, put your keyword phrase at the beginning of your video’s title, as well as in the description and the tags. Keep titles within 65 characters (including spaces and punctuation). Longer titles can get clipped in search results. Use the entire space alloted for your description and make it as compelling as possible. Your goal is to motivate people to click to view your video from among the others in the search results.

Look at the analytics of other videos

In many cases, you can see the keywords, URLs, and related videos viewers used to find a video. This can give you ideas for keywords to use for your own videos. Note: Some people don’t allow YouTube to display their analytics to others. Also, don’t forget to monitor your own video’s analytics. If YouTube’s analytics aren’t sufficient, consider third-party tools like VOOT (Video Online Optimization Tracker), a new service currently in invitation-only beta.


James A. MartinJames A. Martin is an SEO copywriter and consultant based in San Francisco.

 

Your Personal Branding Strategy is Not Complete Unless You Include YouTube

Personal branding takes time and dedication, but it’s not that hard to do – IF you just start.

I’m always amazed how long it takes us to get around to doing something which is not that difficult – in this case, starting a YouTube channel and posting short videos about ourselves and our brand. Here are some tips I’ve thought about based on my own YouTube experiences.

Make a List of Topics You Want to Talk About
Think about which topics interest you, and where you are the expert, which ones inspire you – those are the ones you’ll want to put onto a video. Local wisdom says you should do a lot of research about your topics before you make your videos, but I think it is important to just get started.

  • You can delete the early videos if you really hate them
  • Once you have a few under your belt, it gets a lot easier
  • You’ll figure out which topics are well received and which ones are not

Take a Flip Camera and Record Yourself
So, to start, take a Flip camera, get a friend to hold it (or set up a tripod), and talk for 2–3 minutes about a point in your business that you are passionate about and which can establish you as an expert in your field.

Use a Teleprompter
There is software, which you can run during the video shoot that lets you read your text on your computer so that you don’t have to memorize all of your points. It works well if you don’t mind that we can see that you are reading and not speaking freely. For longer videos, that is the way to go.

Be Authentic
No one minds if you have some blips in your speech or if you say a couple of “ahs” and “ems”; it just makes you natural and authentic. That’s the real “you” which people want to see.

Practice, Practice, Practice
The same as for giving a presentation, before you record the video, practice it at least 5 times. That way you come across as very natural and engaging.

Mix Up Your Videos
Some can be serious and give good, lasting ideas – evergreen videos. Some can also be funny and personal. You have different sides to your personality and it’s good to show them.

Keywords Count
Before you upload your video (with the USB connector on your Flip) onto YouTube, Blip.tv, Viddler etc., make sure you write a good description with frequently used keywords about your topic/video. In addition, put these keywords into the tags. That way people might actually find you!

Editing is Easy Nowadays
iMovie for Mac users is easy, and I know that PCs also have manageable software to edit your videos. Once you are up and running and know how to use it, you should think of the look and feel of your brand and feature that consistently in every video.

Include Links on How to Reach You on the Last Slide of Your Videos
Don’t forget to put your information on how to reach you via email or through your web site, as well as on Facebook and Twitter onto a slide at the end of your video.

Promote Your Videos
You can promote your videos on your own blog, on Facebook, through Twitter, and even embed them in LinkedIn. The main thing is that you do it.

And as Always, Have Fun
We have so much stress in our lives nowadays – making these videos can and should be fun. Your personal brand is something you transmit, it is the way others perceive you, so be relaxed and enjoy it, because that’s what will shine through.


Angelika BlendstrupAngelika Blendstrup is an expert at International Business Communications: Personal Branding, Accent Reduction, Presentation/VC Pitch Training; Author & Speaker Professional Business Communications.