When I moved from Chicago to Austin four years ago, I packed everything I owned in the car and tweeted constant updates about the trip. I\'d been on Twitter a few months and had built up a solid network of music journalists I only knew from tweeting with each other. When I announced I planned on stopping in Memphis the first night, a fellow journalist offered me a place to stay and got me a warm room for free when an unexpected snowstorm hit. It never hurts to know people all over the world, and sometimes all it takes is a few @ replies. Once I got to Austin, it was seemingly one great perk after another, all thanks to Twitter. My first week in town, I got free coffee for helping a new coffee shop owner set-up the store\'s Twitter account and helping him start a contest. But it\'s not 2009 anymore. You can\'t just get free stuff for explaining how Twitter works to coffee shop owners. You have to be the one winning those contests. In the last year, I\'ve won tickets to Matt and Kim, movie tickets, free tacos and a \"Go Local\" card that gets me 10% off of dozens of local businesses. Most Twitter contests happen in the middle of the afternoon, so if you can get away with having Twitter open in the corner of your screen, do that. I keep TweetDeck open in the bottom 20% of my screen at all times at work, and can tell who is tweeting from just the left half of their picture when the rest of my screen is taken up by actual work. Speaking of actual work, when my temp contract ended at Apple, I looked for other jobs, but didn\'t find anything permanent in the first six months. My old boss at Apple kept up with me on Twitter, saw that I was selling toy helicopters in the mall over the holidays, and figured I\'d probably want my old job back. How did he reach out to me? A Twitter DM. He hired me back, brought me on full time and is still my boss two years later. Friends, free tacos, and a great job are pretty spectacular perks just for tweeting, but it\'s not even the best one. Two and a half years ago I was on the shuttle bus home from Austin City Limits festival and overheard a couple girls talking about bands they\'d seen that weekend. I turned around and suggested the band they were struggling to come up with the name of (The Black Keys). When I got off the shuttle, the cutest girl I\'d ever seen tapped me on the shoulder and asked if I\'d crashed the festival all three days. I looked confused, so she said \"You\'re Zack Teibloom, from Festival Crashers, right? I follow you on Twitter.\" She gave me a ride home. Two weeks later we were dressing like Jack and Meg White for Halloween, and we now live together with our dog Scooby. I honestly don\'t know where I\'d be without Twitter.
I credit WordPress with being the dominant factor in transforming me from a casual blogger to a serious webmaster. Sure, Blogger and Tumblr have their place, but when I start a new website (and I\'ve started a dozen) if I want it to be taken at all seriously, I choose WordPress every single time. For me, the allure of WordPress starts with the ability to customize my website. I want full control of how many columns, the color scheme, the design, the way the posts load, etc. While they have tons of dazzling paid options, I\'ve always found a perfectly fine free WordPress theme. Once I\'ve designed the look of my site, I want to feel comfortable in the back end. This is where I spend most of the time on my posts, so it\'s important to feel like I know my way around and can customize the post to look exactly how I envision it. With the wrong content management system, the only thing less comfortable than the back end of your site is the back seat of a Volkswagen. This is not the case in WordPress. It\'s like driving a convertible. Sure, there\'s a bit more work when loading a post than in the overly simple Blogger or Tumblr back end, but that added work pays off. Not only will the post look the way you want, but also will be found thanks to some good plug-ins. The plug-ins are like the apps of your WordPress site. You can do everything from preventing spam to getting your SEO up and integrating your social media. There\'s no limit to what you can do. When it comes down to it, if I want to make a quick fun \"Binders Full of Women\" type of blog, I\'ll throw together a sloppy Tumblr, but if I want a legit website, I\'m going to WordPress. To be entered to win a Nexus 7 Tablet, like Benchmark Email on Facebook & continue the WordPress conversation with a Facebook comment on any Full Court WordPress blog. Contest ends on November 5th at 9 AM PST. Good luck!