I have been writing a lot of Tableau articles that are gathered together in a place called 3danim8’s Blog. I do this to help people learn how to solve data-science type problems. These problems arise in business, math and science and I use great software tools like Tableau and Alteryx to find the solutions. I even talk about and publish custom computer codes in this space. I freely publish hints, tips, and tricks for Excel, Vedit, and other programs that I have developed through the years.
After writing this blog for about 1.5 years, I have learned a few things. One very important thing I have learned is the topic of “Blog Subscriptions”. This topic is the widely misunderstood but is critically important if you want to learn fast. In this article, I explain why you should be subscribing to blogs that interest you.
I write this blog on my own time and I assure you that it takes a lot of time! The total amount of money I have received for doing this work is exactly zero. None. Nothing. I don’t want any money and I don’t expect any because I want to remain an unbiased writer. In fact, I have lost money since I have to pay WordPress about $100 per year to host my site! So if you think blogging it is about the money, I can assure you that it isn’t in my case. So now that we have that out of the way, let’s get down to learning.
What Is This Particular Blog Post About?
In this blog post, I want to help you learn how to get value out of the amazing universe of Tableau and other Technical bloggers that exist. Many bloggers, like myself, do this work simply to help other people learn. For our work to have value, we need our readers to understand what we are doing and why we are doing it.
As blog writers, we don’t know when or how it happens, but eventually someone will find our blog posts and learn something from us. Therefore, blogging is mostly an anonymous activity because we cannot see who looked at our work. We only get stats that show us how many times each post has been viewed. We can get a sense of whether or not people like our work by watching the stats, but generally blogging is a time-sink without much reward.
On the blog readership end, blog posts just seem to appear out of nowhere. You do an internet search and you are given a series of links to articles about the topic you searched for. You click the link, read the material and then move on. The information you receive might or might not solve your issue. If it doesn’t, you go back to your search and click the next link until you get a solution. Although you might not have realized it, many of those links that you viewed during your search were actually blog posts written by someone like me.
The problem for us blog writers is that once someone finds our work using the method just described and we help solve their problem, they forget about us. They don’t realize that we are fully committed to helping them solve more than just one problem. The readers of our work do not know that there is a lot more that we can teach them. Most of our readers do not look at our blog holistically, they don’t search our blog for historical articles, and they do not know that we are on a mission to support them over the long term. If we didn’t care, we wouldn’t be writing a blog!
I believe that we are now learning more in real-time than ever before and blogs are a big part of the learning process. To verify this, think of how long it has been since you picked-up a computer programming, math, or science text book to find some information. If you need to find a formula or function call, don’t you just perform an on-line search for it? Since we are connected via the world-wide-web, the on-line resources like blogs are becoming our de-facto standard for finding information. For my blog, about 8 out of 10 hits occur because of a web search.
OK. So what does this mean for you and for me?
Helping You Find Value In Tableau Blogs
Let’s limit our conversation to learning about Tableau, although the premise I’m going to describe is just as valid as learning about Alteryx or any other software tool or technology.
There is a collection of people that have dedicated countless hours of their lives to helping others learn about Tableau. You can find these people by clicking here, and you can find what Tableau has voted as the best of their work by clicking here or reading my original article here.
The reason people donate their time to blogging is that Tableau is a marvelous software tool that can be applied to an unlimited universe of data. There is a wide Tableau user base that already exists across the world. There are people that specialize in using Tableau in many different ways, and some of these people openly share their insights to help others learn. Many of these people write fantastic blogs.
If you want to focus on learning Tableau, you can easily do so by following the work of the Tableau bloggers. It is that simple. In fact, you can have the information that they write delivered to your email box every time they write something new. You can make this happen by subscribing to their blog.
A blog subscription simply means that you will get an email sent to you when the blogger writes something new. This assures you that you will see what they have written as soon as it is created. This form of real-time learning is the best way for you to learn about what people are doing on the cutting-edge of Tableau. Since most people only write a few blog posts per month, you will not get inundated with emails. You will not have your privacy violated or be subjected to any other form of hanky-panky. Subscribing is a one-way ticket to receiving free, focused knowledge and fast learning. It is up to you to make that happen.
How Do You Subscribe To A Blog?
To subscribe to my blog, you can enter your email into two different places. In my posts, I place a subscription form in a convenient location for my readers. This form looks like what is shown in Figure 1.
Many blogs will give you a subscribe button outside of the posts, like the box shown on the right side of Figure 2.
By strategically subscribing to the leading bloggers for a topic, you can quickly learn how they do their work, which will make you better in your work. It is an easy way to learn without having to check multiple websites for new information. The subscription will deliver the timely topics directly to your email inbox. You can choose whether you want to read the article or not.
How Does Subscribing To My Blog Help Me?
Feedback is the best thing a blogger receives. Getting feedback helps us learn in a collaborative way. The only way I get feedback is for people to read my blog. I want people to read my blog, so please please give me five seconds of your time to subscribe!
There have been many instances when I have written blog posts using a method I developed, only to receive feedback from others that helped me revise, extend, or augment what I wrote. Feedback is key to making blogs as accurate as they can be because we are working with tools that are continuously changing.
Simply put, I need feedback for a few reasons as shown below:
- I am motivated to work on my blog when I know that people will read my work;
- Improvements in my work happen when alternative approaches or techniques are suggested;
- I can focus my future blogs based partially on the input I receive;
If you are a blogger and have not given your readers a place to subscribe to your blog, you are doing yourself and your readers a dis-service. If you want to expand your readership, create a blog subscription button on your site.
Alternatives to Blog Subscriptions
I have previously written about using RSS feed readers and new techniques for following multiple blogs are always being developed. For example, you can follow 3danim8’s blog with the bloglovin tool by clicking here. These are fantastic tools but many of them require that you load the application to get results. The bloglovin tool, however, does go one step further and will give you a daily update email, which certainly helps and is a lot like directly subscribing to the blogs. The bloglovin tool is also very smart in that it gives you suggestions of other bloggers that have similar characteristics to people that you already follow.
One other problem with feed readers, is that they only take an initial snapshot of the original blog post. If that post is updated, you will not see it in the version shown in the feed reader. Many of the feed reader tools like feedly will give you a link to go to the live website, however.
I have also written about how I use Tableau Public to manage my blog content. The problem is, nobody uses tools like these, even though we all love Tableau! I have created a variety of such databases, but nobody can find them. If you want to find my tools, click here. For each Tableau workbook, there is a link back to the original blog post I wrote that describes the application. Even with all this documentation and inter-connectedness, this is just another reason why directly subscribing to blogs is so key to effective learning.
If you think I am just blowing smoke with respect to the power of blogging and how it is changing how we learn, have a look at the stats shown in Figure 3. WordPress just published these findings and they are only for the year 2014!
Just Give Me Five Seconds
If you like this article and would like to see more of what I write, please subscribe to my blog by taking 5 seconds to enter your email address below. It is free and it motivates me to continue writing, so thanks!