This article was supported by Dragon Speech Recognition Software.

If you’re a blogger or an entrepreneur, you want to do one thing: write lots and lots of really great and shareable content. That’s a pretty simple aim, but it’s often hard work to achieve.

Great content that is well written and published consistently is what your audience and search engines like Google are looking for. There’s plenty of competition for eyeballs out there, so you need to keep things fresh and keep your words coming fast.

There’s a tool that can help you do just that. It’s a tool that professional writers in the know and others who write for a living swear by: Dragon speech recognition software.

Dragon speech recognition software can save you time and boost your productivity.

How? Simple. Typing is s-l-o-w. Whereas speaking is quick!

A relatively speedy typist might get 40 words a minute down on the page. Compare that to the average rate at which we speak, which tends to fall in the 110 to 160 words per minute range.

Let’s be conservative and say you speak 120 words per minute — that’s still three times faster than a fast typist. Using speech recognition software means you’ll be getting three times as many words down on a page at any given time.

Let’s say you’re averaging about a thousand words a day as a blogger. With the use of speech recognition software you could soon be tripling your output.

Imagine the gains you could be making in terms of not just time saved and blog posts written, but also in more readers and greater recognition for your efforts from search engines like Google.

If you’re accustomed to working by typing to the page as you think you’re in for a shock once you make the shift to dictating your words into speech recognition software. It’s not only quicker; it’s also liberating.

Stand up, walk around, and talk. You’re no longer chained to the keyboard. You’re no longer hunched over, neck and shoulders stooped, hands aching from hours and hours of tapping away at a keyboard.

You do need to get the hang of this way of working and Dragon speech recognition software takes a little bit of time to make your own, but once you do, there’s no going back. Dragon has tutorials to help you with all that.

So are you ready to make your life, especially the writing portion of it, easier? Are you ready for better productivity and a more liberated method of writing? Great. Get to it then!


Dragon has offered all Leaders in Heels readers a 35% discount on their software! Just click here on their software! and use the following code: Bendalls35OffDiscount


Who is Canva?

Canva is an ambitious Aussie start-up changing the landscape for small business owners and bloggers. Created in Surry Hills by founders: Cliff Obrecht, CEO Melanie Perkins, and Cameron Adams. This (not so) little start-up is reaching great heights, securing 3.6 million in its second round of funding and growing to over 600,000 members as of July 2014.

What is Canva?

Canva is a simple design tool making Graphic Design accessible to all. Canva allows you to create everything from newsletters to blog graphics to a Facebook Cover; using drag and drop functionality with stylish and on trend templates.

How much will it cost me?

Well this is the best part about Canva… It’s free! That’s right for standard templates and images there is no cost. Premium fonts, templates and images are charged at $1 each – an affordable expense if needed.

So how do you get started?

Head to www.canva.com, enter in your email, follow the prompts and away you go!

Once logged in you’ll find a user friendly interface with drag and drop functionality to simplify the design process.

Select a new design template. Note* Canva takes all the guess work out for you. If you’re creating a Social Media post it will default to the dimensions required for each social network; a nice little touch.

On the left hand side you’ll find everything you need to get designing. Fonts, backgrounds, layouts, design elements and the upload tab for your own images and logos.

 

 

 

What do I do next?

Once you’ve familiarised yourself with it’s dashboard I recommend heading on over to the Canva Blog & YouTube channel

Canva has a support base for the amateur like you wouldn’t believe. Need help choosing fonts, colour matching or creating an eye catching title? Canva has you sorted! Head to the blog first and learn the basics. Next up visit their YouTube channel and then head over and actually DO their Mini Challenges. Mini Challenges will have you designing like a pro in no time.

 My Hot Design Tip!

K.I.S.S – Keep it simple stupid!

Think clean. Crisp. Fresh. Chant these three words as you design. Oh I’m serious! This little mantra will remind you that simplicity really is best.

 

Manuela Crescenzi

Manuela is a Social Media expert and Editor of SheBlogger.com.au – Australia’s newest ‘go to’ source for the She Blogger.

 


As we grow increasingly reliant on our laptops, tablets and mobiles, it also means they become increasingly vulnerable to theft. We take them with us everywhere–travelling overseas, to the local coffee shop, or just out and about in our handbags. One careless moment, or one daring thief, is all it takes to lose that thousand-dollar laptop, or those priceless holiday snaps or personal documents.

One of the most effective ways to protect your devices from theft is by the use of tracking software. These are apps you install on your laptop, phone or tablet, which allow you to log in online and not only view your laptop’s location, but depending on the app, you can also lock the device, delete all information, or remotely activate features such as the camera or webcam. They run in the background, so you don’t even notice they’re there–until you need them, of course.

Here’s a quick look at two of the most popular device tracking apps out there today.

Prey – The free and simple solution

prey screenshot

Prey is free, and installs on just about any device.  You will also need to create an account with Prey, which you link your devices to. Once installed, you can manage your linked devices. Once you mark a device as missing, Prey will collect the following information from your device on a regular basis: geo-location using the device’s GPS (if available), and any network information such as IP addresses which can also help locate the device. It will even attempt to photograph the thief if the device has a webcam!

The online dashboard also lets you perform certain actions at will, such as setting off an alarm to locate your device (very handy for those who are always misplacing their phones!). You can also send alerts to the device that pop up messages and change the wallpaper, hide the app icon so thieves don’t know its installed, and remotely lock your phone.

The free version allows you to track up to three devices on one account. You can upgrade to the Pro version from $5 a month, which will give you access to additional features (the higher plans also allow you to track more devices on one account).

Absolute LoJack – The “sit back and let someone handle it” solution

LoJack is similar to Prey, though it provides less user-options. You can locate, lock and erase files remotely, and that’s about it. So why use it, you might ask?

Well, the difference with LoJack is that they have a specialised recovery team. Once you report your device missing, they take over. Where Prey and similar software will help you find and identify the person, LoJack will have people hunt it down for you and return it–no vigilante justice or protracted campaigns with the police required.

They also have what they call “persistence technology”, where on certain devices, they can continue to track it even if everything is erased or the hard drive replaced.

Of course, this comes at a cost. LoJack starts at $49 a year for laptops, and $39 a year for tablets and phones.

 

There are many other device tracking software out there, such as Laptop Cop, Android Device Manager, Find my iPhone, or Hidden. Do you use any such software? We’d love to hear about it in the comments!

featured photo: Divine Harvester


For those of us who use images and photos for work or leisure, software that is easy to use for editing, organising, viewing, creation and even naming of files is essential in the home office. Software that is a notch (or notches) higher than that of your stock Microsoft Paint, for example, can vastly improve what you can create from scratch or otherwise.

Though the question is: ‘How much will it cost me?’ The answer is, from a few dollars to thousands of dollars. Or if you know what to look for, you can get it for free.

Below is a list of free image editing software that may come in handy, depending on what you want to get out of your images. Note that although freeware doesn’t cost anything, you’re still bound by copyright laws as it’s only intended for private use.

Paint.net  

pdn35_kirkland

Best for photo or image editing, Paint.net features a bag full of goodies to get you started with easy-to-use controls, unlimited undos, layers and other tools. Although originally developed as a replacement for MS Paint, its performance has been likened to higher end, paid software such as Adobe Photoshop and Corel Paint Shop Pro. Note that it doesn’t have as many features as the paid software, but is great if you’re just starting out and want to play around without too much fuss.

 

GIMP

medium_141583828Image credit: cubicgarden

This is short for GNU Image Manipulation Program and is a free software that can be used to retouch photos, tweak and author images. It’s similar to Paint.Net, but it has many more features and is comparable to Photoshop in terms of power. However, it’s also more complicated to use, and isn’t the best choice if you’re just starting out in the world of image editing.

GIMP is available in many other platforms besides Windows such as GNU/Linux (i386, PPC), Mac OS X, Sun OpenSolaris and FreeBSD. It also reads a wide range of supported file formats and has a customisable interface.

 

Inkscape

medium_5851145784Image credit: j_baer

This is a professional and versatile tool for creating or editing vector graphics, which allow for high quality images. With extensive drawing, shaping, text and path editing tools, Inkscape is widely used for projects that require high scalability like business logos or cartooning. Inkscape is ideal for designers of any expertise. However, greener users may experience some difficulty at first, but its user friendly interface will win you over in no time at all.

 

Irfanview

As the name suggests, this software can be used to view your collection of photos or pictures, but that’s not all. Irfanview can also be used to convert your files, automate repetitive tasks with a batch process, limited photo editing, creating slideshows and playing multimedia, just to name a few. It also supports a huge range of file formats.

As with many things technological, you will need to tinker around and play with what is available to you in order to familiarise yourself with where all the buttons are and what they do. If unsure about anything, help is just around the corner – or you can just click Undo!

Featured image: Buou

Edna Truong

Edna is a Melbourne-based aspiring fantasy writer. She dabbles in everything from playing games to jewellery making and watching anime.