Welcome, Kim!

Who are you?

Hi, I am Kim Devine, A recent graduate from York College of Pennsylvania and Betamore’s newest intern. In school, I studied a wide range of subjects- my interests varied from Public Relations, Marketing and Communications. While studying and exploring these topics, I found a love for working toward community betterment and helping others achieve their goals. I immediately began dedicating my time to working with nonprofit organizations- raising money and awareness through networking and event planning. Upon graduation, I wanted to continue this passion and bring it into my professional career. After living in New York my entire life, I felt that I needed a big change. I wanted to go to a new city where I could discover new things and encounter new people. When I stumbled upon Betamore, it was obvious that this was the place for me. I was able to move to a new city and learn all about the people and culture, while doing my part in aiding people in the professional world. I am very lucky to be a member of the Betamore team. I plan to use this time not only to fulfill my passion to help others, but to learn all there is to know about networking and the start-up world in Baltimore.

 

Just for fun:

Pancakes or Waffles?

Either, as long as there are chocolate chips in it.

Sarcasm or Seriousness?

Sarcasm. You’ll never find me taking life too seriously.

Sneakers or flip-flops?

Sneakers. I walk too much for flip-flops.

Morning or Night Person?

I strive to be a morning person, but I am perpetually doomed to the night life.

Winter or Summer?

Summer. All the fun things happen outside.

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate, always. No question.

 

Academy Alumni Spotlight: Kate Hollingsworth

Like many other small business owners, I learn new skills to grow my business. I own a boutique salon in Baltimore and love my shop. As it grows, the website needs to reflect our evolving brand, but talking to web developers can be tough, so I decided to take Betamore’s Front-End Web Development course. Now I can build my own website from the ground up!

I’ll be launching a new and improved site soon, but in the meantime, the class gave me some skills that have already proved invaluable to me and my business.

3 ways the FEWD course helped my small business:

Landing pages: I created a page for my website about an upcoming event. It was too much information for just one Facebook post, so I stirred up a little HTML magic. We even used the event page to learn which advertisements get us the most bang for our buck! The analytics were eye-opening.

Better blog posting: Why is that image loading so slowly? Because you didn’t optimize it, silly! Speed matters on the web, don’t let your ranking suffer because your photos are too large or in a bad format.

Knowledge is power: I get ten calls a week from companies that want to sell me their web development services. It used to feel overwhelming until I learned how to use developer tools to inspect the sample websites they were selling. Now I tell them that I’m not interested in paying for a free WordPress theme and some bad stock photos.

Business is booming, my team is growing and I’m grateful to keep evolving as an entrepreneur. Bring on the next class!

Submitted by: Kate Hollingsworth

Academy Alumni Spotlight: Matt Bavosa

Matthew Bavosa is a Web Production Specialist at Money Map Press in the Mt. Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore. In his free time he enjoys jogging and biking, which is actually built into his new daily commute! Recently married, the journey to become a web developer was not the only journey traveled this year and might not be the last. In a technology focused age, Matthew brings a business and sales prospective to a technical world, building the internet one web page and e-mail at a time.

Tell us a little about your professional background before participating in the Betamore course(s).

I was in sales for six year after graduating from Maryland in 2011. I worked for two and a half years doing marketing software sales until I wanted a change. I then worked for three and a half years at TESSCO, still hunting for the right job and considering getting out of sales. With my major being Public Relations, nothing seemed to really click.

Why did you choose to attend a course at Betamore? What about Betamore set it apart from other learning options you were exploring?

It was definitely affordable compared to taking full-time classes. There are no hidden fees. It also worked perfectly with my work schedule; twice a week I would end work at five then drive over for the class at six. Also, the location was awesome. I used to live in Federal Hill, now Canton, but it’s pretty easy to get around here. Other benefits would include the small class environment and the flexibility. It’s not dozens and dozens of people without one on one time. Our class only had nine people, so it is very personal. You get to know the people in the class and the teacher, which fits for someone who needs a lot of attention and asks a lot of questions. Tom is also the right guy to teach this course. It was helpful to know that even though this course only started a few years ago, Tom teaches three classes a year and this was probably his seventh, eighth, or ninth different class that he has done. He definitely knows what he is doing at this point.

Can you tell us a little more about what you’re doing and who you are working for?

I work for this company Money Map Press in Mount Vernon. It is part of a group of companies called the Agora that mostly publishes and produces financial web information. Basically, people pay for a subscription to get these financial publications and advice for investing decisions. My job is entry level, but my title is e-Commerce Production Specialist. When writers and editors write a piece to be published, they send it to us to put into WordPress and with all the right formats. We use Adobe Dreamweaver for a text editor. It isn’t too hard, but this job is a stepping stone for me to grow as a web developer.

Do you have an opportunity to apply what you learned in the course in your current position? In what ways?

The class didn’t focus too much on WordPress because it is a specific platform that some companies use. I wouldn’t be opposed to Tom devoting half of a class to WordPress. I don’t need the JavaScript I learned as much right now, but it will come into play in the future. Overall, just learning the basics of HTML and how work flow operates was very helpful.

Have you gotten involved in any other Betamore offerings, or community user groups such as the Junior Web Developer MeetUp, or Charm City JS?

I haven’t yet, even though I pay attention to them on Slack and online. I know that Tom hosts Saturday meet ups, but I haven’t had any personal time to devote to it yet. I do plan to get more involved and maybe take another Betamore class. The Full Stack course has my attention, but I am not ready for it yet.

Tell us a little about the instructor’s style/learning environment.

It’s very casual, laid-back, and enjoyable. Towards the end of the class, one girl brought in sangria and snacks for everyone. We would always drink beers here in class because part of our fee is stocking the fridge. When you wanted to get serious, to the point, and learn something, Tom had no problem jumping right in and answering questions. He tries his best to get everyone in the class involved. There were some people in my class who were quieter, so over time Tom learned not to pick on them too much because they just wanted to sit back and observe. There also were people who were more active and getting into it.

Did you benefit from the additional supports Betamore provides, such as résumé support, networking, and access to the coworking space?

I think I benefited from the supports more than anyone in my class. From the get-go, with Michele, I was looking for a job; whatever I need to do to get there, I would do it. She went over my résumé and helped me out there. She gave me ideas of where to apply to etc. One time, she posted on slack that later that day there was a job fair at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. I said sign me up, I want to go. I paid the $5 or $10 fee it was to get in and got to talk to a lot of companies, give my résumé to people, and make some networking connections. Even though I didn’t talk to them there, the company I work for now was actually at that fair. I knew the Betamore jobs page had lots of listings especially for people who had little to no experience outside of a Betamore Academy class. Michele connected me with a recruiter at Agora, and I soon landed interviews and a job offer. I looked to Michele for advice throughout the whole process, and she gave me all the tips and advice I needed.

How available and frequent were job fairs and opportunities after your graduation?

The job fair I went to was during the course. It was probably week eight of ten. I actually only had an hour to stay at the fair because I was going to class right after. I was interviewed by the ninth week of the class and got the job a week after the class ended.

Would you recommend this course or instructor to anyone else? What advice would you give to another student looking to take a Betamore course?

I would definitely recommend it — Five Stars. It’s not an accredited course, but this is what you need in this day and age and job market. This class has a set structure, holds you accountable to come in every week for ten weeks, and gives you a chance to become a part of the Betamore community. Talking to Michele and Tom, you can’t experience that while trying to learn on your own. Before the class, I tried to go online through various resources in order to familiarize myself a little bit with things like HTML so it wasn’t as foreign to me the first couple weeks. It is not required to do anything before the class, but I found it beneficial and gave me a jump-start in digesting what we learned in class each day.

Academy Instructor Spotlight: Tom Kraak

Tom Kraak is a software developer at Oath, with a focus on JavaScript and AngularJS. He is passionate about learning, teaching, and the web platform. Tom combines these passions in frequent contributions to his favorite open source projects on GitHub. Besides the long-standing Academy course at Betamore, he teaches and mentors at Thinkful, Baltimore NodeSchool and various local meetups for junior web developers.

Tell us a little about your professional background before teaching Betamore Academy course(s)

I am a self-taught web developer, working on the web for over 10 years in various capacities. I’ve grown over the years into more technical roles, and now work full-time for Oath, a subsidiary of Verizon, which houses 50+ media and technology brands including AOL, Yahoo, and HuffPost. My current role is UI Software Engineer.

What made you want to teach at Betamore?

I have to admit, initially it was pure selfishness — teaching is a great way to learn! Being able to effectively explain something to others forces you to genuinely understand the concept yourself. So, as a self-taught developer, you can read all of the books and blog posts that you come across all day long, until you think you know it and are even putting it into practice. But getting up in front of people and explaining it to them requires a different level of understanding. Then, once I got into it, I quickly learned that people learn in different ways. Some are old-school like me, totally ok with a book or a blog post, but others go straight to YouTube and need somebody actually talking back to them. I have been loving it ever since!

How has your coursework developed over the years?

It has evolved as I’ve picked up on people’s learning styles, new technology has entered the picture, and old things have left the picture. Things that I find important as a growing developer have also made their way into the material.

Tell us a little about your style/teaching environment

If you ask my students or even Michele, they would probably use the word “animated.” I get into it very quickly and am very passionate about every little detail. There is no such thing as a stupid question. You have access to me for 6 hours a week and even beyond that, so make sure you use that time to ask questions. I try to make everybody as comfortable as possible simply by repeating over and over again that everyone started somewhere and everyone can get into software engineering as long as you put your mind to it. It’s not reserved for an elite group or the old school math people; I was terrible at math, so it has nothing to do with that. You are here, that’s a great first step. I’m trying to create the learning environment of “you can do this.” If you have to ask to do this over and over again, we will do this over and over again. I just try to hammer that home. Writing code is hard, but at the same time accessible for everyone.

Can you tell us about which course you teach and what you hope students can accomplish by their last class?

I teach Front End Web Development. There are no technical prerequisites. So as long as you can send an email and find your way around a computer, you are welcome. We start from scratch, literally character by character. The idea is that at the end of 10 weeks, you are able to build a website from start to finish. No drag and drop type WordPress kind of things — you write HTML, CSS, and JavaScript by hand and create a simple website. Most people choose to create their own portfolio page or help out a neighbor to build a small business website. A number of graduates have also gone into various junior-level positions in and around Baltimore with this knowledge.

Who should be taking your course?

I’ve seen people from all walks of life. Recent graduates, people at the height of their career who want a total change and 180 because they are not satisfied with what they’ve been doing, designers who rely on developers who are fed up with that process and just want to understand better, project managers who are in a similar boat with developers — they all come into this class. While I sit here and wish that everyone keeps pushing and potentially pursues this field, I’ve had plenty of people go through the Academy saying that this great to see just what a developer does, or I love my job and it has opened up my world so much that I can do my current job much better. People have different goals and their eyes set on different things, and that is totally fine. But if you really want to become a developer, I will teach you.

What sets your class apart from other courses that explain the same topics?

I would say it is an in person class. So while we have all of these online things going on, schools and bootcamps which are totally fine, it does help to come into a class. I’ve had plenty of people tell me I’m paying for this class so you make me show up twice a week. It’s a motivational thing. You have access to not just myself, but also your classmates. A lot of people have expressed that the classroom setting has attracted them to the program. I make myself available plenty outside of twice a week when we meet. You can talk to me between class or pretty much anytime. We get together on weekends as well, just in order to deepen the material or repeat some stuff. It’s a great atmosphere and creates a great learning environment.

Is there a last piece of advice you have for people considering signing up for the Academy?

Just do it. Don’t be afraid. Never think this is not something for you. If you’ve ever had an interest, now is the time. We know what the job market looks like; there is so much demand for these roles. Don’t wait. Reach out to myself or reach out to Michele if you have any questions on what it would take, and come to the Meet + Greet that we do. Just do not hold back. It is something you can wrap your head around even though you may have reservations about it. See what it’s like, it will change your life.

Betamore Academy Alumni Spotlight: Daniel Lee

I am currently with a local design firm as a web developer intern. I am also on track towards a computer science degree at UMBC. My career interests lie at the intersection of web development and autonomous technologies. You can find me hanging out at a jrWebDev meetup or a local hackathon, looking for new and passionate innovators to join our team!

Why did you choose to attend a course at Betamore? What about Betamore set it apart from other learning options you were exploring?

I googled for a local coding bootcamp. Betamore Academy was the first thing that came up. Timing was perfect in that I was searching just a weeks before the start of the Fall Front-end course. The evening hours of the course, along with Betamore being located in Baltimore, were enough for me to go ahead and submit my application for the Front-end course. I also liked the in-class learning experience. Just as important was Betamore’s network with local tech companies, especially since I was not very good at networking myself.

What did you hope to achieve by taking the course(s)? Did the experience surprise you in any way / lead you down a path you weren’t expecting? If so, how?

I was hooked as soon as I got started with the Front-end course. I ended up taking the Full-stack course as well. Much of my coding style and environment setup (i.e. IDE) can be traced back to the Front-end course. I still cannot believe how much I can do now since becoming a web developer. For example, I am now actively participating in hackathons. In fact, I was part of a team that won 2nd place at last year’s HackUMBC hackathon, something I could not have imagined for myself prior to Betamore. 

Tell us a little about the instructor’s style/learning environment? Did it match your learning style? If not, why?

Being introduced to web development and coding in general by Tom was quite an experience. The things I learned in that class I still heavily use today, from Git version control to mobile-first approach to responsive development. Looking back, I find it brilliant that we were introduced to native CSS with very little mention of Bootstrap and jQuery. Although they are popular libraries, I never used them as a crutch. In fact, I have very rarely used Bootstrap and jQuery since Betamore and practically prefer raw CSS and HTML when possible.

What types of opportunities have you pursued as a result of completing the Betamore course? Did taking the course at Betamore help influence your decision-making? If so, how?

Betamore was and is instrumental in where I am today. Since taking courses, with the help of Michele’s network, I completed a full-stack development internship with a local startup. Although a full-time position as a web developer was very much possible,  I decided to return to school as a part-time student studying Computer Science at UMBC in order to explore fields such as AI. However, I find myself actively engaging in web development because you can now build so much in such a short time.

What advice would you give to another student looking to take a Betamore course? Would you recommend this course or instructor to anyone else?

If you are unsure of which course to take, I would suggest giving the Front-end course a shot, especially if you had no prior exposure to code. As mentioned earlier, I still use the skills I have learned in the course. I would not get too caught up with the shifting meanings behind front-end vs full-stack development. Rather, take control of your own learning as soon as you get setup in the course. Don’t get too caught up with the dizzying amount of libraries and packages that are out there. Focus on developing proper coding habits and developing with raw HTML, CSS, and JS.

Academy Alumni Spotlight: Rachel McFadden

Rachel McFadden will be the first to tell you that with a Masters in Engineering and a degree Civil Engineering, it’s hard not to embrace critical thinking, logic, and reasoning. With each Drio project, Rachel applies left-brain dominance to her work. It is great for clients to know that “under the hood” online strategies are well conceived and applied. But don’t confuse Rachel’s tendencies for all things analytical, it’s her ability to see how online functionality needs to work in a creative world.

Tell us a little about your professional background before participating in the Betamore course(s)

I began my career after college as a Civil Engineer. For the majority of my career, I worked in Construction Management. After my second child was born in 2011, I was looking for a career change. I wanted something that would allow me to have a more flexible schedule in order to balance my work and family life. I began exploring the web world a few years before my second child was born through a blog that I set up about my journey in motherhood.  

What led you to pursue a different set of opportunities?

The blog was a catalyst that taught me some of the background that I needed to know to design and develop websites as well as the tools for internet marketing. At the end of 2011, I decided to ask a few women that I was close with if they were interested in building a business around web design/development and online marketing. It was then that Drio was born.

Why did you choose to attend a course at Betamore? What about Betamore set it apart from other learning options you were exploring?

I chose to attend to the Front-End Web Development course in 2014 to receive some formal training. Before finding the courses at Betamore, I searched around at local colleges for some web development courses but found little that would meet my needs. Some of the college courses required pre-requisites and would be a more expensive and time-intensive road to go down. Betamore was a wonderful resource for a new company looking to make connections in the tech world, and I luckily already knew about them after 2 years of working in the tech field. When I found out that they were offering several continuing education courses, I jumped at the opportunity to sign up.  

What did you hope to achieve by taking the course(s)? Did the experience surprise you in any way / lead you down a path you weren’t expecting? If so, how?

I decided to take the Front-End Development course to grow my knowledge about web-development. Being entirely self-taught, I was excited to be enrolled in a course and to learn from a professional who had been working in web development much longer than myself. By taking this course, I hoped to achieve a well-rounded knowledge of the website development process and to be able to implement this process on projects that Drio was working on.

Tell us a little about the instructor’s style/learning environment? Did it match your learning style? If not, why?

The instructor began the course with lecture slides and some of the basics of web development. His style of teaching changed with the needs of the class to be more hands on. We worked together on developing some websites, working with Photoshop, CSS, HTML, and Javascript. I really enjoyed the hands on learning since I was most interested in using what we were learning on a daily basis at my day job.  

What types of opportunities have you pursued as a result of completing the Betamore course? Did taking the course at Betamore help influence your decision-making? If so, how?

I was a unique student in my class in that I was already working on developing websites on a daily basis. I have continued to grow and expand my web development knowledge to fit the needs of my business. The course at Betamore gave me the confidence to pursue new and more elaborate development projects.

What advice would you give to another student looking to take a Betamore course? Would you recommend this course or instructor to anyone else?

The courses at Betamore are like any college or continuing education course, you will get out of them what you put into them. If you can dedicate the time and energy required, you will get a great take away. I would highly recommend the courses to anyone who is looking for a career change or a new skill set. Your relationship with Betamore won’t conclude with the end of your courses. You can continue to stay involved with them and find a community of support.

Big Prizes and Civic Tech at the Fifth Baltimore Hackathon

The Baltimore Hackathon, now in its fifth iteration, has become a staple for techies in the Baltimore area and we’d like to announce that registration is currently open! Betamore is excited to see two of our fabulous alumni, Chris Guzman and Brigitte Warner, leading the charge this year as co-organizers.

The fifth Baltimore Hackathon takes place April 28–30, 2017 at Open Worksand Impact Hub Baltimore. We’re excited to see the Baltimore community come together and what participants build. Past winners have included high school students, social entrepreneurs, and important community members.

Humble Beginnings

Started by community members of a coworking/incubating space with a limited number of attendees, the Baltimore Hackathon has humble beginnings. However small the first hackathon was, it didn’t limit the impact made by its first attendees. Among the first attendees was popular iOS instructor Ray Wenderlich who made a storytelling iPad app.

The first Baltimore Hackathon also served as the nesting grounds from which organizations like Betamore would emerge. The prizes weren’t much at the first event; they totaled to a bit more than $1,000. Instead, it was all about growing the Baltimore Tech community and playing with new technologies. In the few years between the first Baltimore Hackathon and the most recent one, the number of attendees have jumped to over 150 people. This year the Baltimore Hackathon will offer over $10,000 in prizes, and an even broader exposure to new people and tech.

The Hackathon’s importance to the Baltimore community

The Baltimore Hackathon has always been one of the largest networking events for Baltimore based devs. It has also given student attendees exposure to STEM opportunities. Past attendees & winners include high schoolers, Digital Harbor Foundation students, and representatives from local makerspaces such as the Baltimore Node. It’s incredibly inspiring to watch longtime hackers mentor and give advice to student and youth attendees.

It’s a happy occurrence that all of the core leadership team of the Baltimore Hackathon are all from underrepresented groups in tech. That team is committed to making the event an accessible and inclusive space. In doing so we’ve published a code of conduct to ensure that all participants can enjoy the event.

Since the first year of the Baltimore Hackathon, we’ve always embraced our motto of “Build. Meet People. Have Fun.” Keeping with that theme, there will be three categories of prizes for hackers to participate in. Teams can the software track, the hardware track, or win a prize for audience’s favorite project. The audience’s favorite project will win $1000. While first, second, and third place for the software and hardware tracks will win $2000, $1000, and $500 respectively.

This year attendees will still have a chance to win after we wrap up on Sunday afternoon. There will be a follow up event on July 29th, 2017. Participants will have the time between Sunday’s award ceremony and the follow up event to continue working on their projects. We’ll invite all projects, whether or not they won a prize, to come back and present the progress they’ve made on their hacks for a chance to win one of the follow up prizes worth a combined amount of $3,500.

The Civic Tech Prize

Another change we’re making to the Baltimore Hackathon is the addition of one other prize. We’re going back to our roots and again offering a civic tech prize originally offered at the second Baltimore Hackathon. The grand prize winner for the civic tech track will walk away with $2500, second prize is worth $1250, and third prize is $750. The civic tech prize, sponsored by the Baltimore Mayor’s Office of Information Technology, will be awarded to the team that can build an innovative and creative project, or best use data to solve issues experienced by Baltimore City citizens.

The Baltimore Hackathon has consistently been a venue for social change. One of the winners of last year’s hackathon joined the Social Innovation Lab at Johns Hopkins to promote the availability of tax credits to Baltimore City homeowners. We’re excited to formalize dedication to social innovation with the addition of the civic tech prize. It’s also appropriate to note that our venues will be Open Works: a makerspace in the heart of Baltimore’s up-and-coming arts and entertainment district and Impact Hub Baltimore: an innovation lab, community center, and coworking space that regularly hosts events for social innovators.

See you at the Baltimore Hackathon!

We hope you attend! Tickets are only $20 (less if you’re a student). The ticket includes a free t-shirt, amazing food all weekend long, and the chance to make lifelong connections within the Baltimore community. Register now!

Reposted from AngelHack with permission from the author.

Welcome, Chris!

Who are you?

Hey! My name is Christopher Tiffin, a current junior at Loyola University Maryland. While I am a leader in the classroom and on-campus, my true passions lie in entrepreneurship and design thinking. Starting at 16, I started a landscaping business with three of my best friends. What was intended to be a neighborhood-exclusive endeavor quickly turned into a small business, hiring a handful of fellow high school students. This grass roots beginning, no pun intended, brought on a myriad of entrepreneurial opportunities. I worked as an intern for a wearable tech startup, recognized as a University Innovation Fellow, and consulted on a few small-scale startups. In my spare time, I am working on an app that will (hopefully) revolutionize the college selection and application process.

What are you doing here?

I am blessed to find an internship opportunity where my outlandish ideas and thoughts are not only accepted, but encouraged. While it is my every intention to develop networking skills, I want to use this time as an opportunity to learn – a form of learning unachievable in a formal, academic setting. Moreover, and an interesting phenomenon nonetheless, our society has crafted a fantasized image of entrepreneurship – it’s “cool” to say that you are an entrepreneur. I want to learn what it actually takes to successfully start a business.

                                                             

Just for fun:

Pancakes or waffles?

Either, as long as it’s gluten-free. (No, I am not a hipster nor is it a voluntary decision)

Sarcasm or seriousness?

Neither. No matter what, I am perpetually happy!

Sneakers or flip-flops?

Crocs – the most versatile footwear on the market.

Morning or night person?

5am, every morning.

Winter or summer?

Summer.

Chocolate or Vanilla?

Chocolate-Vanilla Swirl, of course!

Favorite Expression?

“You are the summation of your five best friends” — Mary Tiffin

Digital Design Trends for 2017

Looking back at design trends from recent years and examining new ones is a neat lesson in how user preferences and needs change over time. It’s the job of design to grow with those changes.

In 2015 and 2016, Flat Design and responsive web templates were everywhere in the digital world. Because these trends are minimal, adaptable to every screen, and easy to personalize or replicate they really took off. To give Flat Design credit where it’s due, this method really seemed to be among the first digital design trends that really embraced the screen as its medium. It really struck a harmony between usability and appearances.

There is a catch to the huge popularity and replicability of Flat Design. Maybe you’ve noticed this too: so many websites and apps now look exactly the same.

This infographic about 2017 design trends promises that the design world will shake this up in the coming year. Flat Design will still feature heavily in 2017, but this year is adding some much needed depth, color, and edginess to 2D design. Look out for neon gradient overlays and bold geometric patterns, as well as friendly and funky colors and hand-drawn illustrations.

Here is what you can expect to see across the web this year:

Design Trends 2017 Infographic
Infographic Courtesy of CoastalCreative.com

Digital Marketing Strategy: Four Things I Learned in Class

By Hannah Spurrier, Content Developer at Orange Element

 

I signed up for Betamore’s Digital Marketing Bootcamp this winter for a refresher and to gain a few additional tips I didn’t learn while earning my degree. Three weeks later, I left the classroom with a Digital Marketing Bootcamp certificate, a yummy candy bar, and a head full of marketing tricks I had no idea existed. I was (pleasantly) surprised that I in fact don’t know it all when it comes to the digital marketing world, even if I’m fresh out of graduate school and immersed in it every day. Here are some key takeaways I scribbled in my notebook for future reference.

  1. Conducting Effective Keyword Research
    As Orange Element’s content developer, I’m in charge of creating content for our blog, social media, and other relevant platforms. In addition to content creation, I’m tasked with determining what keywords to use in our headlines, meta descriptions and more. I thought I had a pretty good idea of how to find the best keywords, but this class introduced new tools for even more accuracy and effectiveness: UberSuggest, Answer the Public, and Google Keyword Planner are all great resources to gather comprehensive keyword and topic ideas.
  2. The Importance of H1 Tags and Keyword Placement
    Before taking this class, I’d simply select a primary keyword and place it somewhere in the headline and body copy. Not a bad strategy, but there’s a smarter method to the madness. To improve search rankings, I learned, the primary keyword should ideally be in the main <h1> headline, in the first 90 characters of text, and mentioned three additional times throughout the piece. But that’s not all: secondary keywords are also important for your overall site ranking and authority, and should be placed in <h2> subheads (like the bold ones in this post) and at least once in the body copy.
  3. Tools to Improve Digital Marketing Strategy
    I always look forward to new tools that make my professional life easier. Our instructor showed us numerous tools to simplify our workflow, but two stuck out: Hotjar and Google Search Console. Hotjar provides HTML code to place into your website that produce user heat maps, visitor recordings, and conversion funnels, so you can get actual data about your user experience. Search Console is a free tool you can integrate with your Google Analytics to gather queries, traffic sources, and other search data to improve your search strategy.
  4. The Best Questions to Ask Exiting Customers
    While my background is on the agency side rather than B2C, it’s still useful to know what questions to ask website visitors to get the most valuable information about your business. I learned there are 3 questions to ask exiting customers (whether that’s via a popup form or chat box on your landing page) to discover any content gaps:

    • What were you looking for in today’s visit?
    • Were you able to find it? If not, why?
    • Would you like us to contact you? If so, leave your name and number and we’ll get back to you soon.

The lesson? Never assume you already know it all. Especially in the ever-changing digital landscape, new trends and tools emerge every single day. Everyone could use a refresher, whether that’s only six months after graduate school or ten years as a business owner. Consider signing up for a Google certification or taking in-person classes at community centers like Betamore. Your business strategy (and your brain) will thank you.

Visit Orange Element’s website and read the original blog post here.

 

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