Tag Archive | design

Why Why Why Why Why – The Five Whys?

why why why why why five whys

Overview

We just finished listening to Mark Graban’s interview with Lean Startup author Eris Ries. The two talk about Taiichi Ohno’s influence on their lean methodologies.

Taiichi Ohno is considered to be the father of the Toyota Production System, which later became Lean Manufacturing. His written experiences at Toyota heavily influenced the manufacturing industries across the globe.

The two agree that Ohno’s books may lack the western style instruction many readers seek out however do praise the author on his alternative approach to manufacturing and it’s powerful application across all industries.

What stood out from the interview was Eric’s impressions of Ohno’s approach to root cause analysis – the five whys. The approach is a simplistic but powerful method of solving problems. Let us take a look…

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The “5 Whys” Problem Solving Approach

Essentially the five whys ask why until the cause of the problem is identified. This leads to the ultimate question – How do we fix this problem once and for all? You can keep asking why until you drive out all issues.

Here is an example (Wikipedia):

The Problem: The vehicle will not start.

First Why? Why? – The battery is dead.
Second Why? Why? – The alternator is not functioning.
Third Why? Why? – The alternator belt has broken.
Fourth Why? Why? – The alternator belt was well beyond its useful service life and not replaced.
Fifth Why? Why? – The vehicle was not maintained according to the recommended service schedule.
Sixth Why? Why? – Replacement parts are not available because of the extreme age of the vehicle.

Often we overlook the cause of problems; or shy away from asking the simple questions. Sometimes going back to basics can solve the most complex questions.

Did this help? Let us know.

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Top 100 UK Startups (2010)
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening
+ Helpful Startup Tools For Entrepreneurs

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

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Blogging: How Do You Promote Your Blog Posts?

Blog Promotion

Recently on Quora we read the questions: How do you promote your blog posts? and What are the best ways to increase traffic to a Personal Blog? We thought we would share our own experiences and respond.

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The Response

Being relatively new to the “blogosphere” we are no experts on the best methods of promotion. In fact, through our very own experimentation[2] we are still struggling with effectively executing these techniques.

Firstly, we do not believe that quantity is necessary strongly correlated to quality. We think that marketing your blog can almost take too much time away from the actual writing. So it is a personal choice on how much time you devote to writing and promotion.

Nevertheless we have read plenty of articles and hope the below can help others.

In summary you need to spend an extensive amount of time across many methods to successfully promote your blog. Often the popular blogs of today spent months/years trickling along with little to no followers; or they had luck by picking a subject matter that went viral.

(A) Tips & Tricks:

+ All of the below: You will need to put the majority or all of the below to achieve saturation point.

+ Niche: Start small and pick a small niche target market. Become the expert. It may also limit the number of competitors (noise) you need to compete with.

+ Social Media: The vast majority of experienced bloggers will say use Twitter, Facebook, Google+ etc to share your posts. However this takes time and effort to build up a significant or valuable following. It takes time to maintain your presence across these sites.

+ Blog Directories: Add your blog to directory sites.

+ Feeds: Utilise RSS feeds. RSS readers remaining a popular method of readers keeping track of news from various sources.

+ Forums/Communities: Participate in online communities relevant to your blog. Again, beware this take time.

+ Tools: Use tools like IFTTT (If This Then That) to automate your messaging. For example, whenever you post a blog on WordPress, IFTTT can spread the word through all your other social channels automatically! Read the blog platform’s user manual – WordPress has some great advice on spreading the word.

+ SEO: Use your blog content to naturally appear in search results. Avoid paying anyone for this service. This can be achieved by simply being smart about your existing content. This is free.

+ Paid Advertising: This costs money but does work (at a premium). Pay for relevant visitors to your page and not likes or spam. Google Adwords and Facebook frequently hand out free credit to experiment with their tools.

+ Analytics: Use analytics to work out where your traffic is coming from. Know your conversion rates. You are trying to make the most of those visitors who actually visit and stay on your site for more than 2 seconds.

+ Mailing lists: Good old fashioned email is still massively powerful in pulling in traffic.

+ Brand: Be sure to include your blog URL in all your messaging (email, social media, business cards).

+ Networking and Guest Blogging: Speak to other bloggers and people in your ecosystem. Share content and favours for mutually beneficial results.

+ Diversification: Capture your audio through alternative mediums. Think books, videos, podcasts…

+ Time and Perseverance: It will take time for any of these methods to grow. Not all will work, at least not in isolation.

+ Bend the Rules: Leveraged paid advertising, mass marketing (spam) and/or guerilla marketing to build early traffic.

+ Offline: Get out the building. Attend conferences, meet people face-to-face. Often people read a blog because they discovered them in the flesh.

+ Good Writing: Writing and sharing personal and real experiences is always popular.

+ Ignore Frequency: We don’t believe posting regularly is important. Many of the good blogs we find are from discovering brilliant articles published years ago.

(B) Learn From Others:

The guys at SEOmoz write a terrific blog on SEO and other web marketing techniques.

One suggested 22 Tactics to Increase Blog Traffic. They are summarised here but I recommend visiting the site and picking one or two to start implementing:

#1 – Target Your Content to an Audience Likely to Share
#2 – Participate in the Communities Where Your Audience Already Gathers
#3 – Make Your Blog’s Content SEO-Friendly
#4 – Use Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to Share Your Posts & Find New Connections
#5 – Install Analytics and Pay Attention to the Results
#6 – Add Graphics, Photos and Illustrations (with link-back licensing)
#7 – Conduct Keyword Research While Writing Your Posts
#8 – Frequently Reference Your Own Posts and Those of Others
#9 – Participate in Social Sharing Communities Like Reddit + StumbleUpon
#10 – Guest Blog (and Accept the Guest Posts of Others)
#11 – Incorporate Great Design Into Your Site
#12 – Interact on Other Blogs’ Comments
#13 – Participate in Q+A Sites
#14 – Enable Subscriptions via Feed + Email (and track them!)
#16 – Use Your Email Connections (and Signature) to Promote Your Blog
#17 – Survey Your Readers
#18 – Add Value to a Popular Conversation
#19 – Aggregate the Best of Your Niche
#20 – Connect Your Web Profiles and Content to Your Blog
#21 – Uncover the Links of Your Fellow Bloggers (and Nab ’em!)
#22 – Be Consistent and Don’t Give Up

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You might also enjoy:
+ Our Table of Contents
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: How to prepare? (Day 0)

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Creating Your Very Best Startup Business Logo

Startups.co.uk have published a really helpful article getting your logo professionally designed. Your logo will be the face of your company and therefore has importantn consequences to how customers respond.

1. Know the name of your company – Does the name reflect what you do?

2. Style of your business logo – Font based, representative or abstract? Will your logo instantly communicate what you do?

3. The message behind your business logo – What is your unique selling point (USP)?

4. Make a business logo fit for purpose – Where will you use your logo? Websites, instantiation, business cards?

5. Research your designer – Check out their previous work and customer testimonials. Avoid picking on price alone.

99Designs who provide an online market place for designers offer similar logo designing tips and advice.

1. Picture the name – Use images to convey your product or service.

2. Get quirky – Select something different to stand out from the crowd and be memorable.

3. Create a superhero logo – Common themes help customers associate and remember your logo.

4. Twitterize it – The 99Designs article suggests using Twitter as your inspiration. However they better suggestion would be considering how your logo will transcend mediums. How will your logo look in Twitter, Facebook, Google+, YouTube and other social media platforms?

5. Make it 3D – These logo require are more complex to create however add a level of expertise and professionalism. Good examples are Xerox and even Llyoyds Bank.

We hope these tips help. Leave a comment and share a link to your startup logo.

Image Credit: FieldID

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Top Startup Podcasts – Learning From Listening

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

The London Olympics 2012 (In Infographics)

The 2012 Summer Olympic Games are less than a week away and excitement is building for the biggest sporting event on the planet. With 26 sports, 10,500 athletes and millions of spectators the numbers are mind boggling. Fortunately the creative folk have simplified the figures into pretty infographics. (Information graphics are visual representations of information, data or knowledge.)

Here are some of our favourites. Drop us a line on if you find any other Olympic infographcs.

1. Time Out Magazine – The Games by tickets, athletes and torch bearers…

2. Schweppes Abbey Well – The drinks company dives into the Summer Games in terms of liquids…

3. McDonald’s – The sponsorship history of one of the official sponsors…

4. Visa – A breakdown of the estimated economic impact of the Games…

5. Olympic Evolution – The initial games featured 14 nations. Now more than 200 nations compete…

6. New Zealand Herald – Breaking down the all the numbers and statistics surrounding the London 2012 Olympics…

7. Daily Infographic – Shows the evolution of Olympic coverage…

8. Complex – A Design History Of The Olympic Gold Medal…

9. Mashable – How Mobile, Social Will Win the 2012 Olympics…

10. Find Me A Gift – Olympic Events You Won’t See At London 2012…

For more infographics and data visualisations check out the Cool Infographics Blog and Google Maps Mania Blog.

Image Credit: In Graphics’ Flickr Photostream

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+ April Fools Day – Some of Our Favourites
+ Friday 13th – 3 interesting facts
+ Happy New Years – Bring on 2012!

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

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New Startup Lingo – More Buzzwords

A few months ago we launched our very own startup glossary to help others learn the lingo. We collated a list of some of the commonly used buzz words being used in the community. We are now planning to expand the list – so please tell us what you would like added.

We are working to add these (plus more):

A/B Testing
Crowdfunding
Early Adopter
Freemium
Funding
Horizontal
Human Capital
Hyperlocal
Long Tail
Low Hanging Fruit
Minimum Viable Product (MVP)
Monetise
Seed Money
Sweat Equity
Startup
Stealth
Social Media
Stack
Traction
Vertical
Web 2.0

The current glossary includes:

Agile
Angel
Burn Rate
Bootstrap
Business Plan
Business Model
Customer Development Model
Disruption
Elevator Pitch
Entrepreneur
Equity
Incubator
Intraprenuer
Lean Startup
Non Disclosure Agreement (NDA)
Pivot
Venture Capital (VC)

If you cannot wait for our list to be updated, check out Forbes and their Startup Infographic.

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

New Month, New Look – What Do You Think?

After several months we have finally decided to change our WordPress theme. We are now running Origin. This was to replace the Bueno theme that we found difficult to read. We are hoping the new minimalist look and feel will improve general readability and enjoyment!

What do you think? Please let us know.

We wrote about the power of keeping website design simple in an earlier post – Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral. We will report back if keeping it simple makes any difference to our blog.

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You might also enjoy:
+ Social Media Experiment – Twitter, Google+ and now Facebook
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Building a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in One Day


(Source: Go Comics)

Can You Build a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) in One Day? Maybe…

We just finished listening to a Stack Exchange Podcast featuring Eric Ries (Lean Startup) as a guest. During the show Ries explained the importance of getting an idea out to the market to validate your assumptions and avoid wasting time building the wrong product.

This touches on his minimum viable product (MVP) concept that he defines as:

“That version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

Rob Kelly simplifies it even more by breaking down the individual components as follows:

Minimum – There is usually just one or two core problems that excellent products are trying to solve.
Viable – What makes a product viable? Will people use it? Will someone pay for it?
Product – Anything that generates value.

The viable component is crucial to the process. One must distinguish between Minimum Viable Product and Minimum Product.

SPVG define minimal product as the “smallest possible product that actually works”.

They go on further to remind us that this is “often a long way from minimum viable product which not only works, but is something that people actually choose to buy and use”.

One example Ries cites is GroupOn. GroupOn started as ‘The Point’ on a WordPress blog. It was only when Groupon sold its first deal—two pizzas for the price of one in October 2008 that they realised they were onto a good idea (WSJ).

They needed to put a real life product (a MVP) out into the market to discover if customers would take the bait. The customers liked it and all it took was a basic landing page and a bit of hard work.

Neil Patel describes how Dropbox “started with a boring 3 minute video for their minimum viable product. It looks like a normal product demonstration. And that’s all it is. There is no code. When they released the video online, however, their waiting list went from 5,000 people to 75,000 overnight!”

These examples show how small efforts can yield some powerful information. Information that can be used to test your hypothesis and determine where to spend your next efforts.

Ash Mauyra shares his experiences of building his own MVP. He highlights that a landing page is not enough. You need to use the MVP to drive out customer reactions and test your hypothesis (ie will customers buy this product?). It is more about learning than guessing.

This got us thinking on how you go about building your Minimum Viable Product (MVP) and if you could construct something quickly. Could you build your MVP in a day? What could you learn?

So think about adding a video to your website or building a WordPress blog to showcase your MVP. Ask your visitors for feedback and determine where you need to spend your time. Did this experiment stop you from wasting your energies on building the wrong product?

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Project Mackerel – Please Sir… Complete our quick survey?

Work continues on Project Mackerel, our planned online portal to help job seekers impress in interviews. It even may help bright eyed entrepreneurs like you during a sales pitch to a potential investor.

We are calling out to everyone to fill out our quick survey. We essentially want to know if anyone would use our proposed service. The survey is available via the link below:

Click here to take survey (Link will open in a new window)

Share the link or embed within your blog or website:

<a href=”http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/753VK7N”>Click here to take a quick survey on proposed job seekers website</a>

We know that getting responses can be extremely slow and challenging but we are hoping you guys can spread the word. As always, we will keep you informed on the process and share our experiences.

Thanks all!

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Check out these earlier posts on the project:

Project Mackerel – Sneek Peek of Prototype
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers
Project Mackerel – Calling all Beta Testers (Follow Up)

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Weekly Digest #2 – More Golden Resources for Startup Entreprenuers

A few weeks ago we published our first Weekly Digest post titled – How We Stumbled Upon Top Biz Resources. While the posts haven’t been published weekly, we hope you can enjoy the latest installment (albeit a month late)….

The below are some super online resources we have discovered on our quest for knowledge.

1. Useful Resources

The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo – When you enter the realm of startups you discover the massive amount of terminology being thrown around. Check out this mini startup glossary.

Guide To Writing A Business Plan – We have been investigating the differences of Business Model v Business Plan. Whatever tool you use to plan – when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. This link provides a easy reference guide to help with your planning.

Build-your-own-website service Wix.com adds HTML5 support – Need a professional and impressive looking online presence today? WIX is a easy to use web builder to create flash websites. They announced this week that they now support HTML 5.

100 Ivy League Business & Entrepreneurship Courses You Can Take for Free – If you are thinking about going back to university, you may think again after checking out these free online courses. Numerous courses from Introduction to Financial and Managerial Accounting to Competition in Telecommunications.

BrightHub – The Entrepreneurship Channel – A great archive of ‘how to’ articles on starting and running your own business.

2. Inspirational Speakers

10 TED Talks for Entrepreneurs & The Educated Entrepreneur’s Blog – TED are known for their high quality and inspiring speaking sessions. Usually they focus on health, science and medicine. In this link they have picked out their best talks for Entrepreneurs. Some great videos available.

Imagine’ That: Fostering Creativity In The Workplace – This podcast talks about the science behind creativity and innovative thought. Jonah Lehrer, author of ‘Imagine How Creativity Works’ shares what triggers innovative thinking.

3. Smart Bloggers

The following requires it’s very own blog post as it is truly interesting topic. If you want to know more about the ‘Lean Startup’ movement then check out the two blogs below.

Market By Numbers – Brant Cooper

Startup Up Lessons Learned – Eric Ries

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Keep It Simple Stupid (KISS) – Ugly Websites That Went Viral

When we were looking into creating a website to sell random products. We had in our head the idea the site had to look sexy to generate sufficient traffic and sales. It had to have all the bells and whistles and we were willing to pay for someone to build it.

We checked out websites and compared designs. Amazon and most other top end online retailers had nailed it. You could purchase anything in one click and photos and keywords made it clear on what you were buying. Easy – we just take these winning formulae and starting selling?

Then we started thinking more about this. How did these sites start?

Facebook has evolved into being an amazing and versatile application. However it wasn’t always so pretty and powerful. Before it went viral how did it look?

Then you check out Craigslist and PlentyOfFish. Not exactly websites likely to be hanging up in your local art gallery.

Moving on from appearance, how did these websites function? How do they still function? Again, Craigslist is a pretty basic website. Even Twitter is relatively simple. Sure magic may happen on the back end in the server room, nevertheless they are not overly complicated on paper.

A great website we stumbled upon compares pretty and ugly banner adverts. Surprisingly the ugly banners had more clicks. Go figure?
http://www.mrgreen.am/affiliate-marketing/the-ugly-truth/

Another blogger that talks about landing pages raises some smart design concepts:
http://www.workhappy.net/

When thinking about your future website – consider simplicity?

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You might also enjoy:
+ The Startup Dictionary – Learning the Lingo #3
+ Learning From Other Startups – 6 Real Life Stories
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ The Bootstrap Challenge – Walking the Talk

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Web Two is awesome – Web 2.0 changes our surfing experience

We are really only writing this entry to share with anyone who will listen how impressed we are with the Internet. It really is awesome compared to the days you use to ‘dial up’ to your favourite bulletin board.

Back in the past, websites were built by your 10 year old cousin in his bedroom. He typed in line-by-line HTML code into Notepad Text Editor and designed all the images himself in Microsoft Paint. The website was okay and maybe a couple of people would stumble on it by accident every now and then.

Jump forward into 2012 and Web 2.0 dominates. The whole way we view websites has changed – tablets, smartphones, smart TVs, gaming consoles, desktop PCs…

Websites are powerful, pretty, fast and impressive. And everyone can build one themselves with limited to no experience about programming. Your 10 year old cousin isn’t needed anymore. Sorry Jack – you’re fired.

Technologies are changing so fast and we are seeing a ramp up in on line applications. Not all are totally practical and useful. However the opportunities are endless in connecting with your friends, family and customers.

We have listed a few below. Not necessarily because of the current content, or even in terms of functionality, connectivity and technology. They just present websites we were not using a couple of years ago and now visit daily/weekly.

YouTube
Flickr
Google Docs

Drop us a comment with some of your best Web 2.0 sites…

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You might also enjoy:
+ Technology – Is a black pixel on or off?
+ Samsung’s Pivot From Dried Fish to Smartphones
+ Startup Myths – I shall not be fooled again by gurus
+ Startup Weekend: What to expect? How to prepare?

Welcome new readers! If this is your first time here, you might want to start with a new article or read through our older submissions.

Where to next? Check out a random article.

Stay in touch: Check us out via RSS Feed, Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.

Join the conversation: Leave a comment or this post.

Starting a Blog – Don’t expect any Shakespeare

Over the past few months (years) we have realised that almost everyone is now writing a blog. And if they are not writing their own, they are reading many others. We are not the sentimental type however our own blog feels like a smart way to record my journey and capture all the great websites/ideas/thoughts we discover along the way.

So here goes… don’t expect any Shakespeare or Blake. Fingers crossed someone, somewhere in cyberspace will find these posts useful or at least a way to pass the time during their lunch break. Bon appetit!

Hello world!

EDIT: Call us sentimental, but we are leaving this original post here…

Welcome to WordPress.com. After you read this, you should delete and write your own post, with a new title above. Or hit Add New on the left (of the admin dashboard) to start a fresh post.

Here are some suggestions for your first post.

  1. You can find new ideas for what to blog about by reading the Daily Post.
  2. Add PressThis to your browser. It creates a new blog post for you about any interesting  page you read on the web.
  3. Make some changes to this page, and then hit preview on the right. You can always preview any post or edit it before you share it to the world.
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