SnagIt: Make Video Tutorials With a Screen Capture Tool

I have been using SnagIt for the past month or so, and now I’m having trouble imagining life without it.

SnagIt is a screen capture tool that allows you to capture images, create videos, and capture text. It came highly recommended to me from a client who uses it all the time.

Since one of the main things I love to do is teach, I’ve found this tool to be invaluable. Have you ever tried describing how to do something even remotely technical to someone?

No matter how detailed you get, it’s never the perfect teaching method because everything depends on the willingness of the person you’re teaching to read through all of your instructions and go through your steps one by one.

There are a lot of people in the world who just don’t learn very well with written instructions. Especially if you’re teaching them how to do something online, it’s really much better to show them.

Today I was trying to help a person who needed to enable IMAP on her gmail account, and even with the written instructions she was having trouble.

So, I decided to try out the video part of SnagIt. I just took a video of my computer screen as I went through the steps of enabling IMAP. I did one shoot without audio (sometimes you don’t need audio when you’re showing someone how to do something online). Then I tried another with audio and I gave verbal instructions of what I was doing on the screen.

Now, anytime a customer asks me how to enable IMAP, I’ll be able to show them how easy it is.

After I made the video, I uploaded it to YouTube so I could easily share it.

Here’s the video tutorial created with SnagIt:

SnagIt is a software that you buy one time, and then you download it on your computer. It’s available for Mac and Windows, and it currently costs about $50.¬†They have a 30 day free trial, so you can get a feel for it before making a commitment.

I’ve only been using SnagIt for a few weeks, so I’ve only touched the tip of the iceberg with it. There are so many other things that it can do, like drawing and editing. I can’t wait to use this tool more and learn the intricacies of it.

Creating video tutorials is not only great for sharing with customers/clients who have technical questions about how to do stuff online, but it’s also a great addition to your business procedure manual. Now, you can add a video to demonstrate how to do a particular task, rather than just writing out the various steps.

Organizing Your Christmas Gift Buying

Christmas shopping season is upon us, and I know that many people absolutely dread this time of year simply because they feel overwhelmed by the prospect of buying a lot of gifts in a short span of time and on a deadline.

I know exactly how you feel–I love buying gifts for people, but there’s something about the Christmas season that is particularly strenuous even for the most avid gift buyer.

Actually, not only do I buy gifts for people on behalf of myself but I also buy gifts on behalf of others. You know that job title “personal shopper”–I would love to do that full time for a living!

Here’s how I organize buying gifts for a lot of different people with the least amount of stress possible:

1 – Set up spreadsheet

You can do this in Google Docs or Excel. Here’s how mine looks:

I like the spreadsheet because it reduces a lot of stress–you don’t have to wonder, “Now, what did I get for Gina?” or “Am I forgetting anybody?”

You know what you gave, how much you spent, when you ordered it, and when you received it.

2 – Email folks asking them for Amazon wish lists or gift suggestions.

The Amazon Wish List is amazingly helpful if you can get the people on your list to create one. They just need an Amazon account, and then they go to “Wish List”, usually found in the upper right hand corner on Amazon.com

The people on your list don’t have to choose items at Amazon–they can put items from any website on their Amazon.com wishlist.

Then, all they need to do is give you the link to the wish list they’ve created for themselves, and you don’t have to even think of what to give them–they’ve already done the thinking for you!

3 – Shop online.

Probably the biggest hassle with Christmas shopping is dealing with the crowds. There’s an easy way to get around that–just shop online. Most major stores have online shopping. You can place your order any time of the day or night, and it’s delivered to your house. It couldn’t be easier!

4 – Be decisive.

When I try to help people with their Christmas shopping, one common source of stress is the fear of “not knowing what to get” and not giving a good gift. It seems like the pressure of coming up with a “good gift” creates a lot of stress in some people.

My strategy is this:

  • First, ask people to provide specific gift suggestions.
  • If they don’t give that info, then I try to think of something general that they would like, such as a gift card to a sporting goods store, a clothing store, or a restaurant. If the person likes to read, a Barnes & Noble gift card is always appreciated.
  • Make the decision and stick with it–don’t buy something and then second guess yourself and consider returning it. Just get a gift receipt (if it’s something other than a gift card), and the recipient can return it if he or she likes.
  • Realize that there is no perfect gift. You could spend hours trying to find “the perfect gift”, and the person you’re giving it to may end up returning it anyway. Even if they keep it, how long witll they remember that individual gift? Most of us can’t remember every gift we received last year–we just remember that a particular person gave us something. It’s truly the thought that counts.

So, don’t feel under a lot of pressure–the idea is to get a thoughtful gift that is within your price range that the person will most likely enjoy. You can discreetly provide a gift receipt in case they would prefer to exchange it for something else.

The important part is that you gave something–you could even make something and have it be really special. That you even thought to give the person a gift is what will make them feel warm and fuzzy inside, not the actual gift itself.

Christmas shopping can be fun if you keep things simple, lower your expectations for yourself, and communicate with the people you’re giving gifts to. The sooner you’re done shopping the better–then you can just relax and enjoy the really memorable parts of the Christmas season: spending time with your family, baking cookies, and whatever other family traditions you have.

Men Who Built America: Strengthening Areas Of Weakness By Outsourcing

I am not a history buff by a long shot, but that show “Men Who Built America” on History Channel has me hooked. I am fascinated by the personalities of Carnegie, Rockefeller, J.P. Morgan, and the others. It’s really opened my eyes to what goes into being a trailblazer and phenomenally successful entrepreneur.

There was one lesson that really stood out to me:

These titans of business would look for business associates who had totally different skill sets from themselves. By adding someone to the team who could do things that they could not, the company developed an edge that it wouldn’t have otherwise.

These men were good at recognizing their strengths and weaknesses and were also good at identifying people who were strong where they were weak.

Several of the modern day business titans interviewed for the TV series agreed that that is how business partnerships today are made as well–you want to work with someone who is good at the things that you’re not good at.

That is also what wise people do who enlist the services of a virtual assistant. They know they are not administrative people–their skills lie in another area. So, instead of spending time trying to do something that they’re not cut out to do, they outsource the parts of their business that someone would do better. That is when the business starts to really take off.

I am an organizer, a teacher, a writer, a customer relations specialist, and administrative get-er-doner. A person with a successful business would not necessarily be strong in those areas, but yet he or she needs someone who is so that the business can thrive.

I knew that principle was at work between me and my clients, but I didn’t realize that it was a principle that legendary business moguls used to get ahead. Really, if they didn’t seek out others who had different strengths from themselves, they would have never accomplished the amazing things they did.

These men from “The Men Who Built America” may have been lone rangers in their personal work styles, but they were not afraid to outsource work to others.

Here are some other things I’ve learned from the “Men Who Build America” series:

  • These men don’t necessarily invent things, but they are good at spotting a good invention and making it so that that invention can make money on an ongoing basis. Carnegie didn’t invent steel or the machine that could refine steel. Instead he searched for the person who had already done that, and he used that invention to make his own steel plants. Interestingly, Carnegie probably made much more money than the original person who figured how to make the steel.
  • They are good at convincing people to invest money in their ideas, and they are willing to risk everything for their idea. They are not careful–they really are risk takers and place everything on the line.
  • They thrive on competition. I get the impression that business is a big game to them, and their goal in life is to win at all costs. Competitors spur them on and make the game fun.
  • They seem less concerned with making money and more concerned with winning. The money is just a tool in the game, a measurement of who is winning.
  • They are never satisfied. No matter how much money they have or how big their business is, they always want to raise the stakes.
  • They think about “going down in history” and leaving a legacy. It is very important to them that they are remembered.
  • They are trying to prove something to themselves and others. The movie went into the motivations of each man. For example, Carnegie came from a very poor family and he had to be the breadwinner from a young age. That early experience really drove him to succeed in business. He never forgot the bad experiences in his life. Rather, he used them to spur him on.
  • All of these men were optimists. When bad breaks happened or things didn’t go their way, they didn’t give up, but rather took it as an opportunity to come up with a different solution. They always believed there was a way for them to win.

In case you haven’t seen the show, here is a clip from the History Channel called “Traits Of A Titan”. (There may be a commercial at the beginning, but you can skip it after a few seconds):