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5 reasons why you should be running online ads

The majority of the well-known, big, as well as established brands, spend a large amount of money on online advertising

Anyone who hears this would surely be wondering why such a big company wants to spend a lot of their profit money on ads. 

It is very interesting to hear the reasons for doing so.

They are the same as for those businesses who are small or who are just getting started. Or we might call it the startup strategy. 

In this article, we will take a look at the top reasons why you should be running online ads for your business. 

If you need help with understanding the art of online marketing, MyCaptain’s LIVE digital marketing workshop should be able to clear your doubts!

 

1. LEADS AND SALES

While maintaining a traditional ‘brick and mortar storefront’, businesses now also allow their customers to purchase their products online. 

As a result, this helps them make a sale around the clock, giving the customers to buy from within the comfort of their homes. 

Once the online stores are created, among other things, online advertising is used to direct visitors to their websites. Online advertising is a great way to get leads as well as boost sales 

Moreover, it will also contribute towards improvement in brand recognition. 

Lastly, serving ads online is a great way to grow internationally as the internet is, well, everywhere. This will also help you take your business to international grounds.

 

2. MOBILE MOVEMENT

Have a glance at your hands – you are probably holding a phone right now. 

Moreover, if you look around you, you will notice the astounding amount of people using a smartphone or other type of mobile device.

There has been a rapid increase in the number of people using mobile devices. Moreover, there has also been an increase in how many of those buy something online via their smartphones.

If you are not marketing your products to those people, you will surely miss out on a lot of sales.

Would you even take time to look at a pamphlet while scrolling through your feed?

A simple thing to realize is that the world is becoming digital and online advertising is the way to go. 

Business owners who say “they do not need to be online to succeed” are likely to see their competitors steal their business. 

Technology is the king nowadays, and if it appears that you are outside this frame, your business is likely to be viewed as archaic. 

As a result, start-ups get a chance to grow rapidly and take a slice of the market. Furthermore, most start-ups also realize how important running online ads really are. This gives them an upper hand over the traditional businesses that don’t run ads over the internet.

3. STAND OUT IN A CROWD

The popularity of online shopping means to us that there are now a lot bigger competitions out there in every single niche. 

Not only is online advertising fun and exciting, but also a creative way to engage with your audience. For instance, so many new start-ups end up having a great social media following during their initial year.

Making your advertisement more and more creative and the presence of catchy phrases is a simple step to advance your business.

For example, even if you own a business that is successful and well established, you still have a responsibility to let your customers know what you are working on. 

This is especially true if you are about to launch a new product or service. You could either create a massive hype within the market or wait till people find out about your product.

The modern customer lives for the “hype” of the product. 

They want to know about a product before anybody else and want to be the first to have it. 

With digital advertising, you can take advantage of that part of human behavior and make a name for yourself despite the heavy competition. 

4. TRACK YOUR SUCCESS ANYTIME ANYWHERE

This is probably the biggest reason why digital marketing is such a huge field right now. It is also one of the two biggest reasons why digital ads are preferred over traditional ones by modern marketers.

As you might know that marketing doesn’t really have a lot of room for guesswork. Every campaign is designed after analyzing data.

And when it comes to measuring data as well as your advertising success, digital marketing wins it all!

With all the campaigns running online, you get to keep track of the various digital marketing metrics. With these metrics, you can get an accurate measure of ROI and other forms of data. 

As a result, online advertising helps you define the areas of improvement and work to make things better for your future marketing efforts. 

Through the use of the analytics tool, marketers can check for different ad contents and manage how audiences react to each campaign. 

Moreover, you can check, 

  • the number of visitors on your website
  • the number of page views
  • the average time spent on your website by each user
  • bounce rates 
  • conversions 
  • analyze your growth over time. 

You can get the best results by simply analyzing and optimizing your marketing strategy according to the above aspects.

5. Targeting and re-targeting

Remembered when we said that the above was one of the two main reasons why digital ads are doing so well? 

Well, this is the second reason. 

With easy to measure and track data, digital marketing provides you with new ways to target your audience and gives your company great exposure to the business around the globe and build your brand recognition. 

Running online ads allow you to precisely target a set audience that will be most interested in your product or service. With just a few clicks, you can choose to target those whose interest, age, gender, education, profession, etc., match your ideal customer. 

Moreover, with various digital marketing strategies, you can easily retarget your audience.

For example, through blogs, you can reach out to those potential customers who like to read a lot. Similarly, with social media ads, you can reach out to those potential customers who like to scroll on Instagram a lot. 

But don’t worry, planning your digital marketing strategy is not that complicated. You just need to define your goals, tactics, and your target audience.

Most successful businesses not only have well-defined strategies but are also continuously spending on these strategies. 

E-Marketer forecasts that by 2020 the digital ad spending will reach 23 billion dollars. If you do not work on building digital marketing strategies, you are at the risk of being left out.

 

As consumers, these days we are looking for more digital content and wish to make each of our purchases unique. Search engines like GOOGLE, YAHOO, and BING are the most popular channel for search. 

So, it is also important that you make your company rate high in searches. Your content needs to be equipped with catchy phrases as well as attractive designs.

How to Become a Successful Blogger During the Lockdown?

So let’s start by understanding what blogging really is.

Blogging is basically publishing your content and writing on online platforms for readers to access and benefit from that information. Blogging has become a popular way to express and share information in today’s world. With blogs, it’s easier and quicker to research things on the net. 

Have you ever thought of giving writing a try? 

If you were passionate about writing back in days, then this is the best time to bring it out into the light and give blogging a try. Who knows your writing could lead to the inspiration of many. 

 

Besides, what’s there to lose anyway. Start today and if after writing some articles you don’t feel like doing it, you will have at least learned a valuable and lucrative skill. 

With ample time in hand during the lockdown, what better thing to do than explore new interests and dive deep into your passions. Seeing the bakers and musicians rise during this lockdown, to get started with blogging, all one needs is some passion for words and a little bit of will to get started.

So why is this quarantine period at home the best time to start blogging? 

 

 

Firstly all blogging needs to get started is just a passion for writing, and yes a laptop as well as a decent internet connection. 

One does not need to be a great writer or need to dedicate hours to writing. Don’t we all start from somewhere and develop our skills with experience? 

With free blogging platforms like WordPress and blogger.com, getting started with blogging is simplified. Just follow the steps and bam you are ready with your own website. Just start writing and keep posting.

Why blogging though? 

In today’s world blogs are becoming popular as they are substituting for hard copy journals and articles. 

Why?

It is much easier to land in blogs that we wish to read. 

Blogs are easily accessible also whenever you want to research or get to know something, where do you read from – Blogs.  

Again, Why?  

Because they give you all the information you need in just a couple of pages. 

With our distracted minds and a reducing attention span, blogs do captivate the reader’s attention. Additionally, while doing so they also serve the purpose of providing all the required information. 

Blogging often involves writing like you are having a conversation. They make a connection with the reader and often feel like a personalized guide to their search. Well, other reasons why blogging could be given a try are,

 

  • One can make money through blogs. If monetizing your writing is the motivating factor, there are plenty of opportunities. To do so blogging has to be done correctly. Even a part-time blogger can expect good earnings if done the right way. 
  • Blogging lets you share your story. As a blogger, you can write about literally anything. From your views on the current quarantine situation to your experiences that you want to share it out with the world. If you have something to express, blogging is the platform to do so. Many bloggers start off with online journal-like blogs that the readers are able to relate to and develop from there onwards.
  • Blogging is an interactive community, you can be a part of it, and discover other bloggers and their work. You get to connect with people, their experiences, and discover opportunities to ultimately learn and be more.

 

How to start blogging?

So let’s get down to the real question, how do you get started as a blogger? 

There are many ways with no specific guidelines but one can learn to start their own blog with these six simple steps.

 

 

1. Pick your niche/topic 

To start a successful blog, first, you will need to find your niche. 

A niche can be called as your area of expertise. For example, if you are a fitness enthusiast, your niche can be health and fitness. 

Decide on the topic you will be interested in writing and covering the most. 

Picking a specific topic will ensure you to write for a specific set of readers and build your audience in that field. 

If you are not sure what to blog about, you can start based on your hobbies. It could be cooking, travel, fashion, sports, science, music, or even art. 

Hobbies let us express ourselves and blogging about them will help us build knowledge and explore them in-depth too.

One key thing to note is that you can always change your niche as you write more and understand your interests better. However, we advise getting started with at least some clarity towards the topics you will be covering. 

You could even start a personal blog, expressing your personal views on current happenings or a blog to voice out your thoughts and musings. You need not be sticking to a set topic but capture whatever you want to focus on through your words.

 

 

2. Get your blog online

The next step would be to get your blog online. Register your blog and get hosting – the whole sha-bang! 

To do so you would need to choose an online platform. Choosing the blogging platform of your choice is important. There are free as well as self-hosting platforms. 

If you want to pick a free platform – WordPress.com, blogger.com, and Tumblr are some free publishing platforms available. 

Under the free platforms, one will have to follow rules and restrictions but if you want to just write and express it out they should be sufficient.

If you’re serious about blogging and monetizing your content, self-hosting platforms will give you full in charge of your content and design for your website. However, they will charge you for it.

 

 

3. Pick a domain name

Your domain name is what your blog will be known by. Thus, it is extremely important.

You can purchase an available domain name for an annual or a monthly fee that your platform provides and you are good to go. Use services like GoDaddy to get your domain. 

Psst… There are even offers where you can get free hosting when you get an annual subscription.

 

 

4. Design your blog

Consider the theme of your blog as the face of your blog, it can help you attract more visitors. 

Create a good design that attracts the readers to your page. Your content should be easily accessible and attractively presented, the first step in it would be a good blog design. 

Be creative yet practical in your design to make in accordance with the theme of your content. You can always customize and change your design as per your blogging needs in the long run.

On the dashboard of your hosting platform, you will find an option to customize your website’s theme. There are many free ones as well as paid ones. 

We can get started with a free one and customize it to your needs and creativity. However, getting a paid one isn’t a bad choice either.

 

5. Write your content and hit publish

Once all the background work for setting up a blog is done, you can finally write down all your thoughts and views and get started with blogging. 

Once your blog is done, publish and share it out to the world. Keep writing more. Be consistent with blogging to build your brand.

You may lack the skills in the beginning but writing is an art that can be learned through iteration. So keep writing and even look into online courses like MyCaptain’s online blogging and content writing workshop

Online classes are a great way to learn and grow your skills. MyCaptain provides LIVE sessions with mentors who you can interact with and clear your queries. 

 

6. Promote your blog

Creating a nicely designed and well-written blog is just the starting. For readers to read your blog, you will need to promote them. 

Promote your blogs on your social media platforms to attract more readers to them. Share and promote your blogs in your inner circle of family and friends. Tell them to show love and spread the word around the town. 

 

 

Tips to become a successful blogger

There are a couple more things to keep in mind while blogging that can help you become a successful blogger,

 

  • Your content needs to speak to a set of readers and must be of value to them in some way or the other. Ensure your content is reader-focused. Write like you are talking to one specific person. 
  • A good blog is descriptive, helping the readers to understand what you want to convey. Moreover, it is important to keep your readers engaged. You can do so by keeping the blog conversational. 
  • Write quality content. Your blog must attract your visitors and encourage them to interact with your content. 
  • Be consistent. Even if you are putting out only two blogs a month, stay consistent at that. Google likes that about websites. 
  • Finally, understand a thing or two about SEO – it will help you gain organic traffic. 

 

Motivated enough to start blogging this lockdown? Enroll with MyCaptain and take up the Blogging workshop to start your blog today!

 

Digital Marketing for Beginners: Strategies that always work

So, what makes digital marketing an important factor for startups?

Digital marketing can often be done at a lesser expenditure than traditional marketing. Print and television advertisements can cost thousands or even lakhs of rupees.

One the other, an online advertisement may only cost a few hundred dollars. 

Also, a blog can reach hundreds of thousands of readers. Digital marketing allows startups to reach new clients and develop relationships at a very fast rate.

SOME STRATEGICAL MOVES!

1. SEO

SEO is arguably one of the most important aspects of digital marketing.

While it’s true that Google’s algorithms can still become confusing, you cans still better grasp how it works when you work more with its concepts.

But don’t worry, you don’t need to learn a bunch of technical skills, at least not right away. In just about a week, you can learn a lot of SEO basics. And trust us when we say that even knowing just the basics of SEO will help you immensely. 

For example, recently, Google has suggested everyone switch to HTTPS pages rather than HTTP pages.

The reasoning behind this is many contact forms using HTTP pages aren’t deemed secure enough.

So learn the basics of SEO and see how it helps your business. 

2. Search Engine Marketing

Usually abbreviated as SEM, Search Engine Marketing is a type of internet marketing used to increase SERPs via paid advertising methods.

You’ll want an expert to help you in this field as well, especially one who’s worked with Google Ads and search/display ads. 

In the case of Google Ads, you’ll want to educate yourself first on how the process works.

What you’ll appreciate the most is Google makes its Google Ads easy to use through their attention to customization. 

They let you choose whether you want graphic display ads, YouTube video ads, text-based search ads, or in-app mobile ads. All of these are going to depend on your business style and the targeted customers you need to reach.

Google makes it easy to track your ad performance with localized ad capabilities as well as superior metrics.

However, don’t forget about other paid ad opportunities, especially Facebook Ads. The latter gives you ample opportunity to customize multiple ad formats.

 

3. Local Search Marketing

You’re seeing a lot more attention to local search marketing in the last few years. It’ll continue being important far into the coming decade as local businesses realize the value of being found by local consumers.

Tools provided by Google are again the best way to get started with local search marketing.

For instance, using Google My Business, you can have your listing showed in front of someone searching for a particular keyword. Moreover, this includes your business appearing even on Google Maps.

Nothing can become out of date since Google has made it easy to update listings as well.

However, You cannot ignore the importance of online reviews and social reputation.

Who wouldn’t want their customers to write positive reviews without any push?

You can reap the benefits of inbound marketing by simply starting a conversation on social media. Inbound techniques help customers come to you over you seeking them

 

4. Content Marketing

Another major way to attract an audience is content marketing. The most essential step in content marketing is making your content valuable. Before putting out any content, ask yourself: Is my content worth spending time on?

This will help you make the most value-driven content for your specific audience. 

In today’s time, you need to focus on creating content that can solve pain points and stay evergreen. Thanks to Google’s advanced algorithms, moving to the top of the search engine using tactics like black hat SEO won’t work.

So always keep in mind that “content is king”, as many like to put it. 

A bit of good advice would be to focus on mobile content, influencer marketing, native advertising, and marketing automation.

Smartphones are already making up for 50% of all global devices. It wouldn’t be logical for anyone to not think about mobile content. Write and design content keeping the mobile audience in mind.

Think about how often do you use your laptop to visit a website you found on social media

5. Remarketing

If prospects do not respond to your ad banner the first time, you can always retarget them. You can use cookies to track visitors and create new ads on relevant sites using the information. This whole process is known as remarketing which is another huge aspect of digital marketing.

Creating new ads on your site can also help you better target your prospects. Moreover, tweak your ads to target pain points using the information gained when visitors visit your website.

Ultimately, remarketing helps you stay more engaged with prospects, aids in brand awareness, and increases conversions.  

6. Responsive Web Design

While this isn’t exactly a strategy to market your business, having responsive web design is always a good practice. Since reaching customers by mobile is more or less the standard now. 

And that’s going to go on into the coming decade. 

Having a responsive web design that adapts to the needs of a mobile user is very important. As mentioned earlier, most people are now on mobile devices. 

So would anyone buy from you if your website doesn’t work on their favorite device?

With responsive programming, you can make your website automatically conform to all mobile screens – from tablets to smartwatches. 

While you’ll have to work with a web designer to make this work, you’ll also want an SEO expert.

AMP (or Accelerated Mobile Pages) is an open-source code help web pages load faster on mobile devices.

Google gives precedence to websites with faster load-time, so take it seriously. If you publish or post content on your website on a regular basis, having faster load time is essential for you.

Moreover, if you have a blog, having AMP is a must

 

7. Email Marketing

You might have taken a jab at email marketing already or have always wondered about how effective it really is. 

The fact is that email marketing is still the greatest tool to generate leads. For the most part, businesses generate more leads through emails over any other marketing method. It can also increase their sales and overall, their conversion rates.

The best part about email marketing is that it is much cheaper than any other method. In some cases, it’s even free.

Moreover, you can also combine it with other media. For instance, you can add social share icons as well as referral reward systems. 

As a result, email marketing is also one of the most integrated marketing methods.

Email marketing ultimately helps you shorten your sales cycles when using compelling content.

However, to craft compelling emails, you must learn the art of content writing as well as copywriting. 

8. Social Media Marketing

We have no doubt that you’ve posted content on social media already. Yet, what can you do to make it more effective this year and the next?

A simple trick is to post your content when you know your audience is reading. 

Moreover, using tools like Hootsuite for post scheduling helps immensely when reaching users in other time zones. 

You’ll also want to curate some content if possible to prove your clout. 

Don’t be too proud to do this since it adds luster to your expertise and brand. When you curate content from others, they’ll likely reciprocate. Plus, don’t forget about hiring influencers to post content for you on popular social media channels.

 

Mastering how to code while the lockdown extends

Staying quarantined away from the outside world gives one plenty of time to try their hand out in a number of skills.

While some are working on their long-forgotten passion and others are on a lookout for fresh skills to learn during the lockdown period. Programming skills are becoming one of the popular skills to learn especially if you are interested in building and working with software programs. 

With lockdown extended, social interactions remain limited but it does give us ample time in our hands. 

So why not try your hand at some programming and venture out into the world of coding?

In this article, we will help you become the Yoda of coding just like thousands of our mentees

Let’s begin…

Why coding though?

Well in today’s highly digital era, every aspect we deal with is in some way or the other relate back to programming. 

In this era, learning how to program would mean contributing to shape and reshape our current world. 

Coding is a simplified form of problem-solving. Every program out there is a puzzle waiting to be solved. 

Even though, through programs you deal with problems in today’s digital world, it is through coding you create your software, apps, and websites. 

While some are simply curious and keen to learn a valuable skill and have time on their hands. Others are uncertain about their jobs and looking for a potential new career.  

Whatever your reasons are, this quarantine does make a great time to learn how to code when compared to hours of binging on Netflix social media.

 

How to learn to code?

With unlimited resources from the internet, the journey into the exciting world of software development is made easy. 

Though the internet makes it easy to access all that we want to learn, coding is how to begin. 

However, there are way too many options on learning how to code.

So do you pick up an online course and workshops or do you learn through some youtube tutorials or read through blogs on languages or learn through books on coding? 

Some more questions that pop up are how long will I take to learn to code? Can I go from a beginner to someone who can be a hired developer within one to three months?  

Well for starters, we suggest you get to know about the world of coding a little before venturing out into it. 

There are more than a dozen coding languages out there but to begin with, we have listed down a few of the coding languages one could pick up during this quarantine. 

Moreover, the steps to start your journey into coding have been broken down accordingly

Step1. Select the programming language that interests you

The mentioned are some of the basic coding languages any coder should be thorough with. 

HTML

When you try to go to the source of any webpage it leads to you the HTML coded lines. 

Hypertext Markup Language is basically the bones of the internet, it defines the structure and semantics of the content of your webpage. It tells you a webpage on what to be displayed, where, and how to fit things within a given style sheet. It creates connections to other web pages through hyperlinks. 

Even though HTML isn’t considered to be a programming language, it is an essential one to learn. 

 

CSS

Well, the next thing to learn in your journey of coding languages would be CSS. Just as HTML holds the basic structure and poise of your webpage, CSS is used to style and layout your webpage. 

It interacts with HTML structures as well as brings out the style and effect to your webpage. 

Pro tip: If you are looking to designing a career in UI/UX design, learning CSS can be truly helpful.

Javascript 

It is a language that brings interaction to the webpage. It is used to add functionality and make users feel more comfortable interacting with the webpages. 

In today’s world javascript has grown to be the most used coding language. It is a natural starting point for anyone learning to program, for the language is in high demand in the programming field.

For example, If you go to a website and click on a button, the javascript makes the button look like you’re actually clicking it.

Python 

Python is a high-level programming language with dynamic interpretation. If one wants to create programs that allow high user interaction in the webpages then python it is. 

It’s simple and easy to learn syntax emphasizes readability and reduces the cost of program maintenance.

For example, if you want to ensure an automatic payment or booking page for your client using python would help you code the best.

Step 2. Opt for Online Courses

Try out online courses on coding as they ensure you understand the coding principles and concepts thoroughly. They allow interaction and step by step process in learning the languages. 

Some of the online courses you could check out to start coding with

  • Codeacademy is a popular site that can help inexperienced coders learn the basics. The site offers a variety of courses that can help you learn programming languages and all their basic aspects for free. So if you’re a beginner this is where you could start.
  • MyCaptain provides Coder’s pack that gives you a start with Java and Python to learn. It provides interactive sessions with experienced coding professionals to learn from and also give in some hands-on experience with live projects as a part of the pack.
  • Coursera – Learn coding with Coursera’s programming for everybody. Coursera provides online certified courses on programming languages like python from top universities and organizations.
  • Coding NinjasTop destination for understanding and building data structures and algorithms. They provide online content and video support and simplify difficult topics and concepts too. Foundation, development, and advanced courses in coding are covered by coding ninja. 
  • MIT is a resourceful platform for curious programmers who want to learn from instructors at the highest level. While this isn’t the best option for beginners as the courses don’t let you interact with instructors, and you may not be able to access all course materials programming knowledge. Look into MIT OpenCourseware if you’d like to move beyond the basics.

Step 3 Practice 

Coding requires a lot of practice. It’s not enough to just understand the concepts. 

To learn to program, you have to write programs and more programs and more programs. 

Create an environment where you can focus on. Coding is an exercise that requires concentration. Moreover, you’ll need to be disciplined enough to set meaningful challenges for yourself. 

Good news though!

Quarantine is great for all that. 

Practice and get a solid hold of your coding basics. While you may not emerge from quarantine with a software development job. But with practice, it’s quite possible that you’ll have pushed through the hardest, most intense part of the journey.

 

Mastering the basics and understanding the world of 0’s and 1’s. 

Effectively using the lockdown to writing your own book

How many times has it been when you’ve begged for some free time? How about that time when you needed some space to think of the story that has been boiling inside your head? 

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has left almost the entire world in a state of lockdown. One may think of this time as a global catastrophe or one can utilize it to learn what they are passionate about

We at MyCaptain, believe that the lockdown is a blessing that many think to be a curse. 

If you are a writer, there has never been a better time to let your thoughts flow. Think about it, we mean really think about it… 

You have the space you needed, the silence you wished for, as well as the time you longed for. However, you might be wondering, 

How do you get started?

Well, don’t worry, we are here to help you write your book and turn that amazing idea into actual words. 

We have impacted thousands of students across the country and in this article, we will discuss a few methods that you can use to start writing your own book

Let’s get started…

 

Spend the first day outlining your book

So it is the first day of you starting your writing journey but it is also the most confusing and difficult one of them all. Chances are that you had tried writing before but couldn’t go beyond one week. 

Why? 

The reason is simple, you didn’t prepare for the battle that is about to come. 

Writing a book is an overwhelming task without a doubt. It leaves new writers getting lost in their own stories, thinking in an endless loop. 

Almost every author has faced that feeling. 

However, there is a solution – outlining your book 

Think of outlining as you building a blueprint of your story. It includes all your characters, plots, scenes, etc. 

Moreover, an outline can be a page long with a few details or it can be detailed and synopsis-sized. It can even be in bullet points or in an essay form. 

Whatever suits you. 

The outline is there to help you navigate as well as plan your book. A couple of things you can include in your outline is the estimated word count as well as the amount of time you will take to write your book. 

Outlining isn’t a necessary step. There are many authors who go with the flow and discover more about their story as they proceed. 

However, we suggest beginner writers have a small brief of their book before getting started. Moreover, using the first day of lockdown to draft a detailed outline will help you started much easier. 

Build a habit first 

It’s probably your first book and you are probably just getting started. Thus, it is important to focus the first week to build the writing habit rather than going all in. 

Most writers fail to finish their book because they fail to build a habit of writing regularly. They jump straight into writing and after finishing a few pages, they don’t see results. This makes them want to stop everything. 

So the key is to focus on building a habit first and focusing more on the process rather than the outcome. 

Use this lockdown to first build a habit. Don’t set goals for yourself and your book just yet. 

Instead, set a minimum of two hours a day aside and dedicate them towards writing your book. No word count needed, just you spending time writing. 

You don’t have to write every day and if you are a human, chances are that you won’t write every day. 

Only this time, you will not judge yourself for making that mistake. We suggest writing for at least two hours for a minimum of five days a week. 

The science behind building a habit is simple, 

  1. Your brain needs a cue – this can be your morning coffee you grab or listening to Lo-fi music
  2. The cue triggers the behavior – As soon as you grab your coffee you automatically open your phone and check Instagram.
  3. A reward follows – A small amount of dopamine rush is released in your brain and you feel good. 

To build a habit, it is important to have all three elements: cue, behavior, and reward. 

For example, force yourself to start writing as soon as you are done brushing your teeth. Once you are finished, eat a bar of chocolate as a reward. 

Soon you would have built a habit

Set goals next

Once your brain gets accustomed to the whole process, you can go ahead and do some goal setting. 

A 2015 study by psychologist Gail Matthews showed that people who wrote down their goals were 33 percent more successful in achieving them than those who formulated outcomes in their heads.

To set your goals, divide the number of words you are aiming to write in the book with the number of days you will take to finish it. 

For example, Let’s say your book is 100,000 words and you want to finish it in three months. That means you will roughly need to write 1100 words every day to finish your first draft in three months. 

As a beginner, it is very important that you first build your habit. But once you find yourself not spending a day when you don’t write, start setting goals to take your skills to the next level. 

Let go of all the distractions 

The number one reason you are probably not able to utilize the lockdown to be productive is all the distractions. 

The constant buzzing of your phone, your friends wanting to play Ludo King, and Netflix releasing new web series and anime. Add to all that the notifications from Instagram and Snapchat. 

We understand that it is difficult to not check your phone while staying home all the time. However, while you are writing, you need to isolate yourself from all the distractions. 

Use tools like Freedom and features like airplane mode or do not disturb mode. Or simply, turn off the WiFi. 

Additionally, you can tell your parents or people you live with to not disturb you during your writing session. 

As a writer, it is very important that you focus and not allow your mind to talk you out of it. 

Why?

Research shows that when we have our phone beside us, our attention span is about as much as 40 seconds. That’s correct!

Only forty seconds before we check our dm’s and other notifications. 

Thus, it is important to turn off all the distractions and focus on one thing and one thing alone – Your dream!

Spend some time learning 

Are you familiar with the philosophy of yin and yang? 

Although there are many meanings, on a basic level yin and yang refers to the balance between two opposite forces. 

Why are we telling you this?

Because only writing isn’t going to work. You’ve probably tried it already. 

The solution is to find a good balance between things. Sure, spend time doing something but also, don’t forget to learn something. 

There are many reasons why you should focus on learning as much as doing but in this case, curiosity plays a big reward. 

Learning keeps your mind curious and as a result, you want to explore more and do more. Moreover, it will help you implement the things you learn today in your next writing session. 

Due to the lockdown, online classes and workshops have become a great way to learn how to write. But you can’t trust them all…

MyCaptain’s Live novel writing workshop connects you with published authors that will become your mentors. We believe in the efficiency of one-on-one learning and thus, we let you connect to your mentors at your own will, whenever you desire. 

Check out our LIVE workshop to know more.

An amazing tip to improve your storytelling

Whether you are writing a fictional or a non-fictional book. Whether your book is about a prince and a dragon or whether it’s a self-help book, one key skill that will help you write a good book is storytelling. 

Storytelling is the foundation of any form of art. Its the basis of human beings and we love to tell a tale despite the methods. 

If you are writing a fictional book, we have an amazing tip to improve your stories 🙂 

Start analyzing the stories of your favourite movies. If your story is inspired by a certain book or a movie or even a TV show, analyze it. 

Learn all about their structures and their characters. Once you’ve done your analysis, we want you to take it a step further and write a particular scene from that story. 

This will help you understand where you stand as a writer as well as a storyteller.

We are encouraging you to simply copy and paste the words but read or watch the story and write it in your own words.

However, the practice of analyzing other stories shouldn’t get in the way of you writing your own book. The point of this practice is to improve by watching or mimicking the pros. 

What are the various ethical hacking certifications you can do?

If you are an IT or tech enthusiast, chances are that you’ve wondered about how you can become an ethical hacker. Well… we don’t blame you. 

Ethical hacking has a certain sense of mystery and vigilance surrounding it. The same has made thousands asking advice to learn ethical hacking or about the various ethical hacking courses available. 

Now, you’ve probably looked around a bit and understood the basics of ethical hacking, how is it different from hacking, or about the various programming languages you’ll be required to master. 

You may also know about the importance of gaining an ethical hacking certification. If you don’t, you can read about it in the last section of this article. Come back here once you are done, words don’t run. 

Assuming you know the value of becoming a certified ethical hacker brings to your career, you must be wondering about the various certifications you can get. 

Because we all like to have our options… there’s a wide range of ethical hacking certifications available. With each providing specific value to your hacking skills, one can’t help but wonder…

What are the best ethical hacking certifications? 

In this article, we will go through some of the best certifications you can gain to become a certified ethical hacker

P.S. You can choose to have multiple of them 😉 

 

Top ethical hacking certifications

Before heading out to acquire any ethical hacking certification(s), you must have a good knowledge of the subjects around it. It is always advisable to first learn ethical hacking, from basic to advanced-level stuff.

Moreover, you must have a strong grip on computing languages and topics like: 

You can learn these topics by reading ethical hacking books or other articles, watching YouTube videos, or by enrolling in an online ethical hacking course

Certified Ethical Hacking Certification (CEH)

If you wish to become an ethical hacker, you’ve probably heard about this one. 

Certified Ethical Hacker or CEH is the most common and broadly used certification program. A person who has gained this ethical hacking certification will be skilled in:

  • Understanding the mindset as well as the tools and techniques used by a malicious hacker
  • Finding vulnerabilities in the system 
  • Looking for weaknesses of the target system so that they can be fixed

CEH is the most basic of certifications and is the one that is sought the most by employers. EC-Council is the most trusted organization to gain CEH certification. They even provide instructor-led lectures and other study materials to assist you in passing the exam.

If you don’t have any training, you can still sit for the exam by submitting proof of two-years of relevant professional experience.  

GIAC Penetration Tester

Here’s a certification you can gain to become an expert on the subject of penetration in addition to the process of breaking into a system. 

Sys Admin, Networking, and Security (SANS) institute are responsible for running the Global Insurance Assurance Certification (GIAC) program.

They offer multiple courses and certifications with GIAC Penetration Tester (GPEN) being amongst the more popular ones. 

A person who wishes to become a certified ethical hacker by gaining a GPEN certification will be skilled in:

  • Attacking password hashes 
  • Advanced password attacks 
  • Initial target scanning
  • Attacks on web application 
  • Pen-testing foundations
  • Exploitation fundamentals
  • Moving files containing exploits 
  • Penetration testing using the Windows command line and power shell
  • Reconnaissance 
  • Vulnerability scanning

We suggest getting a GPEN certification from the SANS institutes.

Why?

Because it proves that you, as a professional has had a good balance between theoretical knowledge and practical training. 

Offensive Security Certified Professional

OSCP is an ethical hacking certification that has only been out for around a decade but has already gained a great reputation. It is advertised as a fully hands-on certification program by Offensive Security.  

OSCP is designed for tech professionals who wish to prove their clear understanding of the entire penetration testing process and lifecycle. 

The certification provides the holder to prove the ability to:

  • Recognize vulnerabilities
  • Exploit hosts
  • Generate and/or alter exploit code
  • Successfully perform tasks on compromised systems over various operating systems

Before you set yourself to sit on the 24-hour long exam, you must have a great understanding of,

  1. networking protocols,
  2. software development, and
  3. systems internals

Moreover, you’ll have to wrap your head around operating Kali Linux, an open-source project managed by Offensive Security. 

CREST Certifications

CREST is an international not-for-profit accreditation and certification body that represents in addition to supporting the technical information security industry. Their certifications are globally recognized across many countries including UK, Europe, Asia, and Australia. 

CREST offers ethical hacking certifications on organizational and individual-level on various topics such as:

  • Penetration Testing
  • Simulated Target Attack & Response/CBEST
  • Incident Response
  • Security Architecture

We suggest going through their website and understanding the entire process of becoming a certified ethical hacker through CREST. 

Certified Penetration Testing Consultant

CPTC certification is designed to teach IT professionals the business side of penetration testing. Mile2 is an organization that provides an accredited online course for gaining this ethical hacking certification

However, you can enroll in courses by other organizations or by Udemy and come back to Mile2 for appearing in the exam. 

CPTC certification proves that you’ve in-depth knowledge of

  1. Penetration testing
  2. Auditing security controls including physical as well as user security.

Moreover, it qualifies you for having 

  • Necessary skills required to work as a penetration testing team
  • Knowledge of the exploitation process 
  • Understanding of creating a buffer overflow against programs running on Windows and Linux while subverting features such as DEP and ASLR

CPTC ethical hacking certification exam consists of two parts. First, the examinee will take a fully hands-on penetration test. Then he/she takes two exams through the online Mile2’s Assessment and Certification System. 

4 out of 5 systems need to be exploited to pass the hands-on exam whereas the 2nd exam has a passing score of 70%. You’ll also need to create a Mile2 account which will be used for submitting fees as well as appearing for the exam.

Certified Penetration Testing Engineer

CPTE is another certification that you can gain through Mile2. However, CPTE is held to be one of the five core cybersecurity credentials and is internationally recognized for the same. 

You can use your Mile2 account to access the exam online. Its a 2-hour long exam consisting of 100 multiple-choice questions. 

Having a CPTE certification qualifies you to have knowledge of five key elements of pen testing:

  • Information Gathering
  • Scanning
  • Enumeration
  • Exploitation
  • Reporting

The cost of the exam is $500 USD which should be purchased from your mile2 account. 

Reasons to become a certified ethical hacker

The amazing element that ethical hacking jobs bring is that the employers hardly care about your educational background. However, this does not mean that they won’t require proof of your skills. 

Most recruiters look for a certified ethical hacker over one that isn’t. The reason behind it is simple, they want the best for the job, and certifications are a way to prove that you are indeed the best. 

Gaining an ethical hacking certification not only proves that you’ve skills but also that you are job-ready. 

Furthermore, gaining an ethical hacking certification also makes your skills globally recognizable. 

Because companies around the world constantly face cyber threats and the risk of getting attacked, they are in a constant lookout for new talents. 

As a result, becoming a certified ethical hacker also boosts your chances of going overseas for work. You can even get a permanent job at top companies like Google, Facebook, IBM, etc. 

Finally, despite your current field, having the ability to handle a cyberattack is always appreciated. Therefore gaining an ethical hacking certification also adds value to you as an employee. Hence, gaining certifications directly results in salary hikes. 

In addition to the above, each and every industry requires ethical hackers. Thus, you can choose to work for Netflix or explore the fashion industry with companies like Calvin Klein!

What is digital marketing – a simple guide to the new era of marketing

If you happen to be up-to-date with the latest marketing trends and tools, chances are that you’ve heard about digital marketing. 

Not only have you constantly come across the term but also seen how Facebook and Google ads are taking over traditional advertising. You’ve noticed how billboards are going out of trend and YouTube ads are the norm. 

Well, all of this falls under the large umbrella of Digital Marketing.

We will take a look at what digital marketing is and the various tactics one can use to fully utilize the digital era. 

What is digital marketing?

Digital marketing is the method to reach your product to the consumers via digital tools like, 

  • Internet
  • Mobile devices 
  • Social media
  • Search engines 
  • And other channels. 

Digital marketing is also considered as the latest and quickly accessible mode of advertising. 

It rescues the companies from the burdens of running behind the advertising firms, spending a lot on them. Why waste your time and money while you have the easiest mode right at your hands!

Furthermore, digital marketing also helps in understanding the pulse of the costumers and developing your brand within the frame of the consumers’ thoughts. 

In other words, it is a broad field to attract costumers via search platforms, content marketing, social media, and all types of possible ways.

So why is digital marketing becoming the new trend amongst marketers?

Let’s say, for instance, your company put out a billboard in a populated area of your city. How many people do you think bought from you after seeing it? 

The answer is: you wouldn’t know. Because there’s no way to measure how many people saw it, opened their phones and bought your product, or even what type of people were interested in it. 

After all the money and efforts, your datasheet will still be empty. 

This is exactly the reason why marketers are turning towards the means of digital marketing. They not only help you measure the metrics but also help you precisely target the audience that will be most interested in your product or service. 

This saves a lot of time, effort as well as money and well frankly, who doesn’t like smart work…

 

Tactics used in digital marketing

As we have gone through the term digital marketing, let us take a quick journey through some digital tactics used by the companies for bagging their customers:

  1. Search engine optimization (SEO)
  2. Content Marketing
  3. Social media marketing
  4. Pay Per Click (PPC)
  5. Affiliate Marketing
  6. Native advertising
  7. Native Advertising
  8. Marketing automation
  9. Email marketing
  10. Online PR

Search engine optimization (SEO)

The main channels that get the benefit of SEO are Blogs, websites, and infographics. 

What ‘Search Engine Optimization’/ SEO is all about?

SEO is the process of making your website eligible to rank higher in search results. As a result, it increases the amount of traffic your website receives. 

The recipe includes the following as the ingredients or in simple words, the types of approaches towards SEO to get qualified traffic to a website are,

  • On-page SEO – In the SEOs of this genre, we focus on the content that is “on the page”. By their search volume and meanings. In this way we can answer the queries of readers, helping us to earn our (SERP), making our website rank higher.
  • Off-page SEO – focus on the things happening “off the page” or outside your website that helps in improving your ranking. 

 

What are the activities happening outside our website that can affect my ranking?

 

They are the inbound links or the backlinks. The number of publishers that link us and the relative “authority” affects our ranking of keywords and how much we care about them.

 

  • Technical SEO; focus on the coding of our website. Image compression, CSS file optimization, structuring of our website, etc. are the factors that increase the loading speed of your website. These are the components that affect the ranking of our website in the views of major search engines like Google.

 

CONTENT MARKETING

It is our creation and promotion of content for creating brand awareness, traffic growth, lead generation, and costumers.

 

What are the factors that play a vital role in our marketing strategies?

 

  • Blog Posts – writing and publishing work in a branded company, blogs make us depict as expert hands and create an organic flow of traffic to our website. Moreover, they help us improve our business, by generating leads and better traffic to the website.    
  • E-books and white papers – generating ebooks and white papers help your website create long forms of communication with the visitor.
  • Infographics are our contents that aim to visualize the contents rather than making the viewers read the whole thing. 

SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING

Social media marketing refers to marketing and advertising using various social media platforms.

Some of the commonly used platforms include;

  • Facebook, Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Snap chat
  • Pinterest
  • YouTube

What if you are new to the social media platform?

Don’t worry, tools like “HubSpot” can be used to connect multiple channels in one place. This will help you schedule as well as monitor your content for multiple channels much easier.

PAY PER CLICK (PPC)

PPC involves you paying a publisher every time somebody clicks on your ad. You don’t pay a lot per click, however, PPC is a great method to drive traffic to your website.

 

Google Ads is the most common example of PPC. You can get your ad on top o a search result page.

 

Ever searched for something and found a couple of links having “Ad” written on the top left?

 

That is an example of PPC

 

Other channels where you can use PPC include:

  • Paid ads on Facebook 
  • Twitter Ads campaigns
  • Sponsored Messages on LinkedIn 

 

AFFILIATE MARKETING

It is a performance-based advertising method, where one gets a commission for the promotion of other’s products or services on their website. 

So, what are the types of marketing channels?

Affiliate marketing is a cheeky way for both businesses and individuals to conduct business together. The online presence of an individual helps them sell the product for which they are rewarded in cash. 

NATIVE ADVERTISING

‘Native advertising’ points to the advertisements that are primarily content-lead, and are featured on a platform along with other non-paid content.

 

Buzzfeed sponsored posts are a good example of native advertising. Social media advertising is also considered to be “native” by the new generation. 

 

Facebook advertisements as well as Instagram advertising are examples of native advertising via social media, which is the best way to advertise in the present scenario.

 

MARKETING AUTOMATION

The term refers to the software, which automates our basic marketing operations. It helps us to do many marketing departments but automated.

 

What are such automated departments?

  • Email newsletters allow us to automatically send emails to our subscribers. Moreover, it can make sure that your newsletters are going only to the people who are willing to see it.
  • Social media post scheduling helps to grow your company’s presence on a social network. For this, you will need to post frequently. Social media scheduling tools push your content to your social media channels so that you can spend more time focusing on our strategy of the content.
  • Lead-nurturing workflows Generation of leads, and converting those leads into customers, can be a long process. 

 

However, we can automate this process by sending leads specific emails, and contents after they fit certain criteria. For example when they download and open an e-book.

  • Campaign tracking and reporting – Marketing campaigns can include different types of people, emails, contents, webpages, phone calls, etc.

 

Marketing automation will help us sort everything we work on, by the campaign it is serving, and track the performance of that campaign. 

E-MAIL MARKETING

Email marketing is one of the biggest ways used by companies as a way of communicating with their readers.

Email is also used to promote the content, discounts as well as events. Moreover, it used to direct people towards the website of the business.

What are the types of emails that you will use for marketing?

  • Blog subscription newsletters.
  • Follow-up emails to website visitors who have downloaded something.
  • Welcoming emails to the costumers.
  • Holiday promotions to program members.
  • Tips or similar types of emails for customer handling.

ONLINE PR

Online PR is known as the practice of securing earned online coverage with digital publications, blogs, and other content-based websites.

Simply put, think of online PR as earning a reputation amongst the digital media

Here are the channels that can be used to maximize your PR efforts:

  • Reporter outreach via social media

Talking to journalists on Twitter or any social networking site is a great way to earn media opportunities for your company.

 

If a well-known blog or author writes about all the good that your company has been doing, people are bound to notice you, in addition, to even buy from you. 

 

 

  • Engaging online reviews of your company 

 

Engaging company reviews help you humanize your brand in addition to protecting your reputation.

 

Replying to the comments as well as reviews is a great way to build trust amongst your customers. Moreover, it shows that your company is active and listening to its customers. 

Complete guide on how to learn UI design

Have you ever found yourself spotting shapes in the clouds? If yes then that is because people are hard-wired to recognize patterns, even when there are none.

It’s the same reason that we often think we know where to click when first experiencing a website — and get frustrated if things aren’t where we think they should be

Choosing the right user interface design is crucial to taking advantage of this natural pattern-spotting. Moreover, it makes the device or website look interesting and worthy of scrolling entirely.

 

What is UI Design exactly?

UI or User Interface design involves a process of creating interfaces that are used in software or computerized devices. UI design focuses heavily on the looks and style of the applications.

It typically refers to graphical user interfaces but also includes others, such as a voice-controlled interface.

UI Designers aim to create designs that users will find easy to use and pleasurable to navigate.

A key focus is to build interfaces that is highly usable and efficient to the users. Thus, a thorough understanding of the contexts users will find themselves in while making those judgments is crucial.

The key is to create designs where users can attain their goals efficiently.

You may ask why UI is so important. The answer to that lies in another question…

Would you use an app that is difficult to navigate or puts a lot of stress on your eyes when you try to read something? 

A good UI design ensures that the visitors stay or use the website or the app for a longer duration of time. This ultimately increases the chances of them turning into a customer. 

 

What are UI design principles?

Everything has rules. And the same goes for UI design, it has three important principles:

  1. Giving the user control over the interface
  2. Reducing the memory burden on the user
  3. Maintaining consistency throughout the interface.

Mastering the basics is the first step in learning anything. Developing a firm understanding and building a foundation of UI design is a key first step. You can then move on to subcategories that dive deeper into the subject.

Let us understand the steps you can take to learn UI designing and become familiar with it. 

 

1. Understand the design fundamentals

Designing of any sort has a set of fundamentals or guidelines that one can follow. There will be times when you can neglect these fundamentals but as a beginner, you should try following them. 

Once you get a grasp on the fundamentals, you can then better understand when and when not to follow them. 

Some basic design elements

  • Colour: A UI designer should know how to use color properly. A simple trick to remember is that your colors should always contrast with each other.
  • Font: Fonts weigh a lot in visual design and is one of the most important elements of UI design. Typically you must stick to only 1 or 2 fonts per design
  • Typography: Typography is the art and technique of arranging text to make the UI design of a website or product readable & elegant.
  • Alignment: Alignment refers to following an invisible margin throughout your design and keeping everything aligned with it. For instance, keeping all your body text aligned to the left side of the page.
  • Visual Hierarchy: Some include this to be a part of alignment but there’s no harm in keeping it separate. Visual hierarchy refers to the chronological order of various elements according to their importance in the overall design. For instance, a headline should be bigger and easier to differentiate from the body text. Visual hierarchy helps your reader understand what you want them to focus on while seeing a webpage or any other visual design. You can achieve visual hierarchy by the use of font, size, colour, etc.
  • Spacing: Also known as negative space, refers to the blank space you keep between various elements. A good rule of thumb is to keep everything spaced sufficiently so that the design has room to breathe.
  • Consistency: Good designs stay consistent with all the elements present in it. Being consistent can involve using the same set of figures (circles, rectangles, etc.), colors, and fonts in your design. It can also be obtained by keeping the same amount of negative space.

 

2. Reproduce the existed designs

It’s hard to start creating at first especially on a blank page. So, we suggest starting by copying existing designs for practice. 

For example, if you are learning to design the UI of a mobile app then you can take a look at your favorite mobile app and start replicating it. 

Replicating these designs will help you get familiar with the tools and also give an amazing practical experience. Trust us when we say that thinking of a design and actually designing your idea are two very separate things. 

So, make a list of UI designs you love and simply start creating them from scratch. You may even find yourself making tweaks and giving it your own touch. 

 

3. Understand the process of creating UI design

Generally speaking, there are three UI design processes:

  1. Structural design: Structural design, also known as conceptual design, is the skeleton of the interface design. In this process, the overall structure of the product is laid out through user research and task analysis. The low-fidelity prototype is always provided for user testing and iteration. Think of it as a rough sketch of the interface you are about to design. In this phase, any and all ideas are accepted because your goal is to come up with something new and amazing. You can’t do that without experimenting.
  2. Interaction design: The purpose of interaction design is to make the product easy for users to use. This is typically where you come up with ideas for aligning and keeping everything simple for better efficiency.  The goal of this phase is to come up with the most efficient and user-friendly design.
  3. Visual design: Once you’ve made a lo-fi design and landed on a final design draft, it’s time for you to start giving it an appearance. Visual design or the third phase involves the use of colors, fonts, pages, and more – all for the purpose of pleasing the user. The third phase is usually followed by an A/B testing phase which refers to the testing of your design when put into a simple language. This is where you let the users use your product and fix the problems they encounter.

UI designing is an iterative and never-ending process. The UI of a product will always be in need of a change or an upgrade. That is the final phase of designing a product – maintaining and improving it. 

 

UI design tools a designer can master

To learn UI design, you must also learn some basic UI design tools. There are many tools today to help you produce digital products and you can choose to master one or all of them.

Sketch: A vector-based tool that helps you create intuitive design interfaces very quickly.

Figma: A relatively new tool that is often compared with Sketch due to its interface. It allows collaboration in real-time, making it an innovative tool. 

InVision Studio: Claims about being the only tool that can conquer all product design processes.

Mockplus iDoc: A powerful product design collaboration tool that facilitates handoff by extracting designs from Sketch, PS, and Adobe XD. Moreover, exporting them into a format capable of generating specs, code snippets, and assets.

Adobe XD: Consists of Design and Prototype tabs. The first features simple vectors and a bunch of text tools that can be used for creating your design. The Prototype tab is used for sharing and previewing your design. It is also the most preferred tool among UI designers. 

 

 

Becoming better in UI design?

To become a UI designer you don’t need a degree in designing nor does your educational background matter. The most important thing is that you have strong design fundamentals and are constantly learning and improving your skills. 

Apart from practicing daily, there are various ways you can become a better designer but we recommend these two ways:

1. UI design books

Don’t Make Me Think – by Steve Krug

This book has been published in several editions. It is considered by many as the bible of the design industry. 

The book is about how to improve the usability of a website through design. It also dives into user psychology research.

 

UI is Communication – by Everett N McKay

This book does not focus on theory; instead, it focuses on providing you with the practical tools you need to solve real-life UI design problems. The author shows how UI design isn’t just about aesthetics but about an objective way of communicating with users. 

Designing with the Mind in Mind – by Jeff Johnson

As a UI designer, it’s important to understand what’s going on in the mind of the user so that we can create the most effective interface for them to use. The book delves into perceptual and cognitive psychology, and how we can use it to create better interface designs. 

The author covers human choice and decision-making, hand-eye coordination, color and vision, and attention span and memory. A worthy read indeed

 

2. UI design online courses

There are so many online UI design courses for both beginner and intermediate-level designers. Here are some free and paid online UI design courses:

Hackdesign: All it requires is an email address and you will have access to this easy to follow online course. Each week, a lesson will be delivered to your email inbox. The mail will contain links to articles, tutorials, and cheat sheets, as well as task lists to get you thinking about good design and working towards improving your skills.

Coursera: Take some of the world’s best courses online. It’s the largest and most eclectic catalog for online higher education. Ranging from 4-12 weeks, you can choose between self-paced of timed classes. Verified certificates and specializations provide proof of participation, which can be shared on LinkedIn.

My.path: Thousands of courses, articles, meet-ups, and videos are all in one place. They’re 100% content-ready so learners can stop wasting time on searching and focus on learning.

SKILLSHARE: Learn a new skill each day. Learn creative skills in just 15 minutes a day with bite-sized lessons you can fit in anywhere, anytime.

GYMNASIUM: Gymnasium offers free online courses designed to teach creative professionals in-demand skills, as indicated by client feedback.

MyCaptain: MyCaptain is an online educational platform that connects students with mentors that are young achievers in their field. You will learn how to design with practical projects and LIVE workshop sessions. 

 

Moreover, you will have the opportunity to network with other UI designers that are taking up the course along with you. 

 

Best Short Films that every filmmaker must watch

Everybody knows about features, and features tend to be the ones that are most commonly talked about and watched. 

Whether five minutes or forty, short films prove to be a lesson for every aspiring filmmaker. Short films show how to tell a complete story in a short amount of time, with a small budget, and with the resources, you have at hand.

Concise storytelling, great performance, and original concepts are few things found common amongst the best short films.

Watching films as a filmmaker is like reading books as an author. Watching films helps filmmakers learn and grow these skills and even if just subconsciously, they get inspired. 

For young filmmakers, watching, studying, and making short films is nothing short than a perfect start. They not only teach you how to tell a story in a shorter amount of time but also how to put everything together with fewer resources.  

You may have already watched shorts like Rogan Josh and Mumbai Varanasi Express, but today we will take a look at some of the classics.

Here are some short films from different genres which might help you to learn more about short films –

 

Drama Short Films

1. “Hair and Brimstone” by KickthePJ

A twenty minutes short film by British YouTuber PJ Ligouri, “Hair and Brimstone.” It tells the story of a hair salon that during the day, caters to the likes of the normal. But at night, it caters to the strange and abnormal in from “the Dark Place.” 

When a hairball goes out of control, the staff has to figure out how to deal with it.

This short film–as with any by PJ–is a lesson in never doubting the absurdity of your idea. “Hair and Brimstone” is lit brilliantly and amazingly to tell the darker side of the story. 

The props are amazing, the set design is cool, and the whole story works together amazingly. This is also one of PJ’s darkest films, widely different from his other films, but still with the KickthePJ style.

 

2.Glory At Sea

Glory At Sea, directed by Ben Zeitlin shows his clever idea to catapult his name into the ranks of serious directors. It went on to helm Beasts of the Southern Wild which earned him Academy Award nominations for directing, writing, and best picture.

This film is great as it plays with reality and the tragedy of death in such a unique way it’s no wonder this is one of the best ever.

 

Comedy Short Film

3. Greener Grass

Greener Grass, directed by Paul Briganti, makes fun of materialism and social competition in a way that doesn’t hold back.

Being accepted by the SCSW film festival, the film has a smart theme, irony, and a bite-size premise.

Horror Short Film

4.Cutting Moments

Cutting Moments gives a truly disturbing cinematic experience. The film chooses to show our own need to be loved and please as the ultimate horror rather than having a supernatural evil.

We don’t want to give any huge details away, but if you love horror but are tired of jump scares and raspy trailer voices, check out this short film. It will also help you understand, how to instill panic amongst your audience. 

 

Sci-fi Short Film

5. Trip To The Moon

Out of the hundreds of films this Godfather of cinema completed, this is the one that has stood the test of time.

The story is this, a group of astronomers explores the surface of the moon. In doing so, they encounter the natives of the moon and return to the earth with a captive.

This short film, Trip to the moon, is cutting-edge special effects… for the time – 1905. There is not one piece of audible dialogue that shows how great the writing behind it is. 

Animated Short Film

6.Geri’s Game

The concept of Geri’s Game is that an older man plays chess with himself in the park.  So simple that it might seem boring, right? 

So how did Pixar tell this story? 

By having the man assume he’s playing the multiple characters in the chess match.

The simple concept, great animated performance, and compelling storytelling are indeed amazing. It works to make this academy award-winning short film as one of the best. 

Experimental Short Film

7. An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge 

The short film was part of a special presentation on an episode of The Twilight Zone seventy years after it was made. Adapted and directed by Roberto Enrico, the film’s simple story is told in a jarring and original manner.

The film won at the Cannes Film Festival. Additionally, An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge received both the BAFTA and the Academy Award for the Best Live Action Short film.

 

Documentary Short Film

8. Night And Fog

Archival footage from all over Europe was blended with writing and structure by Alain Resnais to create this short film.

It uses motion pictures and stills to give a no-nonsense look at the horrors of the Holocaust.

This wasn’t the first film to detail the atrocities of the Second World War.

So what makes it so great?

It is considered to be one of the best short documentaries due to the structure of the film. The story is structured in an essay form yet it tells a complete story around a gripping subject.

A beautiful telling of a nightmarish story.

9. The Death of Kevin Carter

This superb short film paints a tragic portrait of the life of a journalist. The film is only 27 minutes long but packs a punch that many feature-length films lack.

The film is based around the suicide of a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Kevin Carter who had lost a close friend recently. 

It thoroughly examines Carter’s life and the documentary short shows the amount of research that went behind it, making it worthy of its Oscar nominations.

10.Knife Skills

This Oscar-nominated short film of 2017 is one of the few documentary short films that deliver a message of hope and redemption.

This short film follows a simple story of a restaurateur trying to open the best French restaurant in America.  

The catch? 

The restaurant is staffed with ex-convicts that have a few weeks to learn kitchen skills and change their lives.

As a filmmaker, you will learn a lot about story structure through this film.

Its funny at times, and even makes you frustrated how life can take a bad turn, and an all-around pleasure to watch.

Tips and Tricks for Graphic Design Beginners

Ever wondered how they develop the layout and production design for advertisements, brochures, magazines, reports, etc?

Well, Graphic designers are behind these artworks, and most of the artwork you see around you.

They create visual concepts using computer software or by hand to communicate ideas that inspire, inform, as well as captivate consumers. 

And ever wondered can you create designs like that? 

Why not? You can use your creativity to get this done even when you don’t have professional training. 

Graphic Design, simply put, is where art aesthetics and the science of communication meet together. It puts an emphasis on visual communication by making use of a range of elements and various media in order to promote a specific message.

Graphic design can be overwhelming for beginners with no previous experience but there are tools that we have at our disposal now that may help us overcome this.

Let’s get into some basic tips and tricks for getting you started, shall we…

 

Where should you start? 

Firstly, you should choose software that suits you best and let’s say help you express your ideas the better.

Here are some of the effective graphic design software that every beginner should consider in coming up with attractive models, images, and texts. 

  1. Photoshop
  2. Filmora
  3. Canva
  4. Vectr
  5. Adobe Premiere Pro
  6. Adobe InDesign
  7. Inkscape

 

Once you’ve chosen the software you like, your next task will be to learn how to use them. Obviously, you won’t get to know the “how to’s” and use everything in just one go. But once you start, don’t forget to keep exploring all the options. 

Moreover, try out various templates, and once you know how to use them, its time for you to start creating! 

There are primarily three ways you can learn using these tools with:

 

There might be hundreds of rules and principles when it comes to creating stunning designs, both on and off the web. But we all know that our creativity and imagination are the major players when it comes to creating something stunning. 

Here are some of the graphic design basics that will help you get on the right path to creating professional and beautiful designs –

 

Think about who you’re designing for

As a professional, you will be designing for your clients. Never forget about the “who” that you’re designing for. 

This ensures you to create something that the intended audience for your design actually wants to see and something they’ll react favorably to.

Knowing your audience is important. Do your research and create designs that intrigue your or your client’s audience. When you know your audience, you will be able to target them in your artwork.

Creating a customer persona before designing is always an advisable step. It will help you pinpoint exactly who you are talking to. Plus it is fairly simple to create too!

 

Collect inspirational work

Everybody needs inspiration but often times you will find inspiration from the same sets of images rather than finding something new. This is how it works for designing as well. 

Every designer has a folder or an online catalog full of other designers’ work. Start building yours. You can do something as simple as bookmarking images, downloading them to a folder on your computer, or creating a Pinterest board.

Think of it as a list of influencers or a catalog of inspiring work that will help you identify trends, both past, and present in the design world. 

You will start to understand your own style and preference better as you start finding patterns in others’ work. 

For instance, if you find yourself continually saving infographics, you might start looking into specific resources to learn how to create them.

 

Follow your own design rules

Rules, what rules? 

The ones you set for yourself

These probably won’t be specific rules or be found in the designing rule books. But rather cases you observe across your design.

Start observing where you use a particular set of colors, lines, textures, etc. 

If you’re set on that choice, don’t turn around and do something contrary to it. Consistency is huge in design and thus, you should stay consistent, especially with your design rules. This will ensure that your images are overall consistent. You can also tweak your rules according to the project. 

However, keep in mind that if you are designing for a client, company, or brand then they will probably have their own set of rules and design guidelines. While most give room for creativity and innovation, they won’t like you bending their brand too much.  

Creativity and Originality 

Get inspired by the trends but avoid replicating them. Instead, create designs that correspond with your own unique style, leaving a personal stamp on your work.

Clients and recruiters like to see creative and original designs more than anything in your portfolio. So make sure you give them that. 

 

Start with a great color palette

It’s no accident that some of the best designs have great use of colors in them. Choosing an amazing color palette and using those colors optimally is one way to create a great design.

Before beginning to work on any design, choose a set of colors that you are going to be using. Then make sure that you are working within those colors. 

One of the most common mistakes of beginner designers is that they try to use every skill they learned in a single design. As a result, their design gets cluttered with colors, fonts, shapes, and other elements.

You need to give your design some room to breathe. For instance, youwillfindreadingthislineverydifficultbecasuethere’snospaceinit

See how effective an empty space can be?

Furthermore, contrast is good in the design but too much contrast isn’t. So try avoiding red/green, purple/yellow, or orange/blue combinations. 

You need to choose colors that complement each other more subtly. Go for the colors that grasp the mood you aim for.

 

Don’t get carried away with fonts

For the most part, limit yourself to using only 1 or 2 fonts. This keeps you from having to worry about tons of font combinations. A good tip is to use one type of font for the header and another for the body.

Don’t make the mistake of trying to look fancy using special fonts. They will look out of place and end up ruining your entire design’s esthetics. 

 

 

Align your objects

Aligning helps to keep design elements in a presentable order, regardless of their differing sizes. With using alignment properly in your design, you can create sophisticated and professional looking designs with ease. 

Think about it, what is more readable – a design that follows an invisible margin for all its text or one that has just put everything in it without any proper alignment? 

Alignment can also help you determine which part of your design will be seen as superior and which as inferior. 

For example, any piece of text placed above other elements will automatically be considered as a headline or a title. 

 

Plan your design

Let’s keep this tip mid-way through the list of tips to mirror where planning usually falls in most people’s graphic design process.

It is ok to not plan your design when you are just starting out. But if you are working on something professional, even if it’s creating something for your portfolio, planning is essential.

The planning stage doesn’t need to be too long. In fact, it can just be a minute or two. It also helps you create your designs much quicker. 

Think about it… if you already know or have an idea about what you are trying to achieve with the design, you’ll more likely to get things done faster. 

Keep it simple

One of the most important lessons that you will ever receive is to keep it simple. If you go over the board, your designs may not achieve their purpose. 

Creating a simple design will not only help you to make it look elegant but also help you engage your audience.  As Don Draper said, “Make it simple, but significant.” 

More importantly, try out various combinations of different colors, fonts, and backgrounds before you finalize the design. It helps you to know more possible ways to put up the content. 

 

“You can’t use up creativity, the more you use it, the more you have it” 

– Maya Angelou

 

So put our creativity to the best use and give your ideas a new way of expression!

 

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