Learning the Digital Design Tool Easil

Alyssa Wright shares her experience learning Easil and the fun she’s had with the tool over the last two days.

For this week’s value prop, I’m designing social media posts. I was initially planning to learn and use Canva, but was turned off by the price barrier. I did a search for free alternatives and found Easil.

For the moment, I’m actually not using the free version. I have a free trial of their premium with all the advanced features that includes.

The tool has a quick, simple tutorial to explain the basic functions. Beyond that, it was easy for me to figure out how to do what I wanted.

At first I built off of their templates. The first image I created I didn’t even change the background image. After that, though, I changed the images, the text, often the fonts. If I used a template it was for a specific element that I knew how to create myself but could save time by not.

Yesterday my blog post was “Robin Hood’s First Theft,” a short narrative poem I wrote in January 2015. In only 20 minutes, I found an image on Pexels that I liked to represent Robin Hood and created a storybook cover for the poem. If you follow the hyperlink at the beginning of the paragraph you can see that image.

I’ve had a lot of fun making graphics for this value prop and for my blog. I’ve temporarily taken a step back from writing for Over the Invisible Wall, but I’m going to make the images for the blog posts in addition to continuing to help edit. The first one will be up tomorrow, so be sure to visit the blog to read the new post and check that out!

Learning SEO in 5 Days

Alyssa Wright details how she taught herself SEO basics in only five days for a value prop.

On Wednesday, Johnny Roccia, one of the Praxis placement advisors shared three open positions at a potential business partner called Fundera. One of them was a staff writer which involved creating frequent blog posts for their niche — small business financials. I was immediately drawn to and excited about applying for this position.

I sketched out a value prop — one blog post for them by today and one to two more by next Monday. I thought of three possible topics, and chose to write a beginner’s guide to SEO.

Before Wednesday, I had never delved into SEO. I had heard of it, seen a blog post from a fellow Praxis participant about her experience learning SEO and how her blog traffic improved upon implementing it. But I had never learned about it myself.

Over the past five days I assigned myself a crash course in SEO from various Youtube videos. (You can check out the resources I found helpful in this playlist I’m making.)

I learned enough about SEO to write an article about metadata, keywords, finding more keywords including long-tail keywords, finding content gaps, backlinks, and conducting an SEO audit.

Not only did I learn the SEO basics in only five days, I simultaneously wrote a ~1500 word article about it for Fundera.

I’m going to pay attention to my traffic, Google rank, and subscribers to compare before and after implementing SEO on my site. This will help me measure how much I learned and how well I applied it for myself. I have yet to do a full-site update, though, so posts about the results will have to wait.


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How Praxis Teaches Self-Directed Learning

Praxis, the one year educational bootcamp and apprenticeship program I’m in, encourages and guides self-directed learning.

Self-directed learning is exactly what it sounds like: Learning you pursue yourself.

In the one to two months of pre-program, Praxis participants build their website, LinkedIn, pitch deck, and professional email address. More detail on that here. This is a foundation to build on throughout the remainder of the bootcamp.

In Module/month 1, those pre-program deliverables are refined and further improved. More things are built, including some blog posts to give insight into who you are, how you work, and how you are growing. More on that here.

In Module/month 2, the self-directed learning really goes into full swing. Now participants think of, plan, and execute a month-long project to showcase existing skills or build a new skill. The project is self-directed with additional guidance and feedback from the program advisors and fellow participants.

This is as far as I’ve gotten in the program, but already I’ve taught myself the basics of making a pitch deck, telling my story on LinkedIn, making a pitch video, some video editing, and how to create and self-publish a poetry collection.

I had guidance and input, but I pursued these and the knowledge required for these on my own. I am being taught how to teach myself.

I’m developing my notetaking skills during the Wednseday calls, while reading books, and in the learning I pursue not directly tied to Praxis.

In all this, I’m being encouraged by my peers and advisors to lean in to my curiosity and seek out knowledge, and to showcase my capturing of that knowledge. That’s primarily on my blog, but I’m working to expand that to YouTube as well.

By doing projects and leaning outside of my comfort zone, I’m learning skills and expanding that comfort zone.

Based on my experience, I would say the best way to effectively master self-directed learning is this: Find or build a community of people who seek out knowledge, share that knowledge, and encourage each other in the pursuit of knowledge. Use what you learn. Do a project to learn something or to show the world you have learned it.

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