A Twist on the Slideshow, How to Create a Site and Other Answers to Reader Questions

Welcome! Since launching this newsletter over a year ago, I’ve received more than 50 reader questions. In this post, I’m sharing a few answers drawn from my email replies. If you have a question or suggestion, reply to this post.

Question: Have a twist on the boring travel slideshow?

"If some wonder tool crosses your brain that would make for a new twist on the boring travel slideshow, I’d be all ears.”

Answer: Magisto and Quik

For a twist on a travel slideshow, take a look at the free Magisto and Quik apps. Both work on iOS and Android. You can also use Magisto on the Web. Both apps let you create neat visual videos created from static photos and/or short video clips. I find they work especially well with travel or event photos.

Both apps are simple. You can create something within a few minutes. Pick from the app’s template options to set the tone for the video. Then select pictures from your camera roll. Add short video clips as well, if you have them, because the resulting videos look better when there’s a mix of stills and video clips. Pick background music from the app’s library. Then wait a moment and watch the resulting algorithmically-generated video. I’ve used these often to share short video highlights after weddings or events.

Tip: Avoid including videos with lots of talking, because some of it may get cut off in the resulting video.

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Question: How do I avoid jumping from app to app?

“I am a student in 11th grade science studying in India. I am a digital productivity fanatic. My only problem is that I am fascinated by all the new apps that I am never able to control myself. I keep jumping from Notion to Todoist to Trello. I would appreciate some advice on this.”

Answer: Pick, Stick and Dig

You're not alone! I also tend to jump from app to app. I’m easily lured in by shiny new things. They’re like little presents✨ waiting to be opened. 🎁

Here are two strategies: First, I give myself designated periods for trying things out. Kind of like dessert after a meal. 🍰🍩 Like an hour on Friday or Sunday afternoon. I try to defer tasting digital treats at other times to stave off constant distraction. 

And I use a PICK, STICK and DIG method to:

  1. PICK sites or apps to try that address an important part of my workflow or leisure. That helps me avoid the temptation to try everything under the sun☀️. How do I choose what to try? Has to be something with potential to help me do something I often do either:

  • better

  • faster

  • cheaper or

  • easier

  1. STICK to whatever I’m trying for long enough to figure out its value. My rule of thumb is to use something at least three times on something real before deciding whether the site or app is worth using in the long run. For instance, I’ll edit three images or videos with an app to see how it works in various contexts.

  2. DIG into the features. I usually check out a product video if it provides a window into multiple features. Then I dive into the menus to identify and try features that separate this tool from others.  

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Question: What’s the best way to start a new site quickly?

What’s the simplest, fastest way to put up a site without coding or hiring someone?

Answer: Medium, Tilda or Carrd

This is one of the questions I get most often. My simple answer is Medium if you mainly want a home for your writing; Tilda if you’re building a personal or professional site or a home for a big project; and Carrd for a quick and dirty landing page.

Medium

If you’re creating a site where you’ll share content on an ongoing basis, the quickest approach I’d recommend is to create a publication on Medium.com. Here’s an example: our Journalism Innovation Medium publication. Our program participants post there about their journeys building journalism ventures.

Medium takes care of the infrastructure; it’s free to use; easy and fast to publish; looks elegant; and lets you focus on writing, without having to mess around with code or site design. And it brings a built-in audience of millions of people searching its archive and poking around for interesting content.

As a potential alternative, consider a newsletter service. I wrote about some recently—like Substack or Convertkit. Those give you sites as well, though they’re most relevant when you’re planning on building an email readership.

Tilda

If you’re creating a static site for your portfolio, to showcase your work, or as a repository for past projects, I’d recommend creating a site on Tilda.cc. That's the site builder I use for my own personal site and my Journalism2030.com site. I wrote a full post about Tilda with more info, images, and examples.

TIlda is modular so you can put whatever elements you want on a page. That means it’s much more flexibile than Medium.com. Even so, it’s easy to use, especially if you use one of the built-in templates, which are sleek.

Considerations: Tilda is free for a basic site or $10/month for more features and to use your own custom URL (yourname.com). I pay $20/month for 5 sites. With Tilda’s flexibility come decisions about what to customize, which can add time and complexity to the process.

Carrd

If you just want a quick free spot online for people to connect with you or find out about a project you’re working on, Carrd is an excellent way to create a simple landing page. It’s free if you just want the front page or pay just $9 or $19 per year if you want pro features. If you’re interested in other landing page options, here’s a list I put together on Product Hunt of 40 landing page options, along with their one-sentence summary so you can see what they offer.