Down to basics, or nuts and bolts or whatever you call it. Some simple, very simple tips about the mechanics of blogging.
But first, another dream comment from WP. Publicising their 2014 theme – which I do NOT recommend – far too busy, they pointed out how one blogger frees up valuable real estate. Real estate FFS? This is a blog. We are creating white space (which is a design element) not selling multi-million pound properties. And 99.9% of us are doing this for free with no gain apart from satisfaction with the number of hits or comments (take your pick, depending on which you prefer).
So, easy. Here are the top five. Well, my top five. Ooops, now seven.
Downsize your pix. Do not, repeat not NOT, leave them at full size when you upload them. 600-800 is adequate. There are a number of reasons for this.
It devours your free account capacity on WP.
Should your photos be extremely brilliant, it makes it easier for someone to nick them and fiddle.
- It makes for very slow loading times. Photo heavy/intensive blogs are a nuisance to load and escape from. This blog should be fast because I rarely post either photos or vids.
You can either load each photo individually where you want it into the post, or you can load what you want, to media library, caption, alter and then insert them at the relevant points, or use a gallery or slideshow.
As I take quite a few photos on the iPhone, I often need to rotate them, so it is much easier to load them all into library first rather than doing each photo individually.
Do caption them. I fall into the trap of writing about a photo and publishing it beneath the text, but a caption just looks so much more professional and finishes off the pic. Add a frame if your software allows it and you want your photo/s to stand out even more.
Pix&kardz uses frames imaginatively.
Use your photos to break up your text, illustrate a point, or just generally provide some colour. People like piccies.
As a rule, I’ll post five to seven, maybe ten exceptionally. Any more than that and it needs a gallery or a slideshow. Endless photos are as boring as a blog without paragraphs. A gallery is better for photos of a similar theme. A slideshow is good for a series of different photos. If you have a photo intensive blog, then you can use a mix of the options (eg my dogblog).
For the gallery, I prefer the mosaic option, the thumbnail one looks appalling on blogs to me. For slideshow, I stick to the basic one.
I normally choose large or actual size for my photos without alignment. On this post here, I used smaller photos and aligned them to left and right as I felt it suited the post more. If you go for side aligned you may need to fiddle with either the text or the caption to make sure the paragraph and the photo match up well. In the first photo, the text and the pic are perfectly aligned. In the other two, less so. Side aligned is difficult and fiddly to make look good. It doesn’t work well with lots of pictures either, it can look too bitty. Make sure the pic is relevant to the text in the paragraph.
To © or not to ©? © below.
This may sound stupid, but do draft your posts in some form on your computer first and copy across. I use a Mac, so draft everything in text edit first. If WP is having a bad day you can lose all your text. I then save the original text on the computer as well.
I use the text version on WP rather than visual, so I can write some/all of the HTML into the post beforehand.
Why use text? Well basically I have more control. On the odd occasion that something doesn’t work, often spacing, going into the HTML identifies the problem and it can be sorted.
Use italics and bold for highlighting or cross-heads. I don’t use the varying WP sizes of headings, more KISS, as a simple bold heading is enough without using a lot of different font sizes.
So the next point is learn basic HTML. Even if it is only the relevant brackets, and em, strong, blockquote, del, etc.
I find it easier to add it to my text so that it is virtually ready to publish rather than mess around on WP afterwards. If you use WP text format, you can either highlight a word or phrase you want to emphasise, or you can click on the beginning of the word/phrase, and then the end, which will give you the correct effect. If that doesn’t make sense, try it and see.
With HTML, you can change the size of photos, align text etc. One good site is the about.com one.
You can also add captions to your photos if you have forgotten to do that originally.
When you add a link, do tick the ‘open in separate window box’. It is too easy to click close on the new window of a link and then you have lost the original post you were reading. WP writers on the Daily Post and the news blog (what is the difference I ask myself?) are very bad at doing this. Which just goes to prove my point that they are techies and not users. Anyway, they should make ‘open in new window’ the default. Not much point me asking them though, they’d def dig their heels in on that one 😀
Why is it important? It’s about making your blog as easy to read and navigate as possible. The less clicks the better. Accidentally losing the blog post you were reading because you closed the link might mean someone can’t be bothered to reopen your blog.
Why? Basically because it is yours. If you feel flattered that someone takes your photos or text to reuse, then don’t. Your photos and your text are your intellectual property and no-one should be stealing/using them without your permission. And you certainly aren’t helping people who are trying to make a living out of their photography or writing by promoting the exchange of free photos.
It doesn’t matter whether or not your photos are going to win Photo of the Year Award. It is a point of principle. Sure people can take the photos, remove the © or watermark or whatever you use, but just make it harder for them to do that in the first place.
More on copyright here.
The more junk you have on your sidebar the more
a) it makes your blog longer to load
b) assuming someone has patiently waited for your blog to load, it then distracts the eye from the main point of your post if there are clouds, awards, lists of comments, top posts, community of readers blah blah
I’ve added follow me by email because someone asked for it, but see my comment on that below. Otherwise I normally stick to archives, mainly for my use, but sometimes, I have clicked on other blogs and want to read earlier posts. No-one wants to keep scrolling back through years worths of posts. it could equally well go in pages, I just prefer it on the sidebar.
The same principle applies to backgrounds, any busy-ness will distract from the post. You need to be clever at graphic design to get a good striking one that still makes your post readable. If you aren’t, don’t try it.
One of my favourite blog designs is a very simple lay-out. It’s the Modularity Lite theme, white text on black (which I normally dislike) and has one small black and white image at the top that fits the name and theme of the blog. It’s private so no point me giving the link. However, it is normally a serious text-based blog and the theme and design fit so well together. Make sure your theme fits your overall blog. I saw a good one recently, tried it out on mine and it was a disaster 😀
For me, the cleaner the theme, the better. I dislike the ghastly magazine style themes that WP seems to love at the moment, even 2014 has gone down that road, so I’m sticking with 2010 and 2011. If you follow a blog on Reader, the theme probably makes less difference in terms of magazine layout as you will only see the new post not the home page, just as you don’t always see sidebars on some posts eg mine if you visit from Reader.
It is beyond me why people want email notifications of new blog posts in their inbox. I swear I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them and I would end up deleting them anyway, thereby wasting my time and still not reading the blogs. I think the number of email followers I have is in single figures and often from non-WP bloggers.
In terms of time management, I use a combination of Reader and recent comments on my blog. That’s based on pragmatism. If they have commented, they have been on line, and may have written a post I have missed. And courteousness, if they have commented on mine, I would like to return the visit. Sure I don’t make it all the time, but I do aim for at least 50% of comments on people who visit mine, hopefully higher.
That’s enough. For now.