No! Not more blogging tips … sadly, yes

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.

Photos

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.

    1. It devours your free account capacity on WP.
    1. Should your photos be extremely brilliant, it makes it easier for someone to nick them and fiddle.
    1. 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.

    While most of us use our own photos to add the personal touch, some blogs successfully use internet photos to illustrate their posts. Phil and Clare do a good job of this.

    To © or not to ©? © below.

    Text

    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.

    HTML

    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.

    Links

    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.

    Copyright ©

    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.

    Sidebars

    The more junk you have on your sidebar the more

      a) it makes your blog longer to load

      and

      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.

    Follows

    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.

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    About roughseasinthemed

    I write about my life as an English person living in Spain and Gibraltar, on Roughseas, subjects range from politics and current developments in Gib to book reviews, cooking and getting on with life. My views and thoughts on a variety of topics - depending on my mood of the day - can be found over on Clouds. A few pix are over on Everypic - although it is not a photoblog. And of course my dog had his own blog, but most of you knew that anyway. Pippadogblog etc
    This entry was posted in blogging, wordpress, WPlongform, writing and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

    10 Responses to No! Not more blogging tips … sadly, yes

    1. That’s excellent advice! I noticed one peculiar thing when I recently split my blog. It appears to have copied over all of the images from the previous blog even though there should be no need–all the new blog needs to do is to link the images on the old one. This leaves me in a time-wasting spot now where I have to determine which images to delete from which blog.
      It will likely never get done, LOL!

      Like

      • It’s very basic, but if people have missed any of it then even one piece of shared info is worthwhile.

        I didn’t get into blog imports/exports, having imported a mob of them, I could write a whole post on that alone.

        And if you think deleting photos is time-wasting, try manually copying every single post and every single picture (which need to be downloaded and uploaded) into another blog. Been there, done that. Thanks WP Happiness Engineers for stuff all help there.

        But I did do it. Possibly the worst post was where I had ten or more photos and youtube links for music:
        http://justlandrovers.wordpress.com/2011/01/11/what-a-pane-5-cracked-it/

        Your task is easy 😀

        Like

    2. I’ll check what i’m doing on links…and follow up your other leads too.
      I tend to use blog ‘hubs’ for keeping up with blogs I enjoy….as in many cases one blog will have a number of them on their sidebar and with luck it will be Blogger so they are updated.
      I’ll try to follow your advice on pics too…but not too sure how to downsize them.

      Like

      • Sometimes it’s easy to miss the obvious, I do it all the time. I still have to stop and check have I ticked the box for separate window? For subsequent links, it comes up as the default on that post, unless you clear off to make tea/coffee/drink cava, navigate away, so you still have to check that it is ticked. Aaaagh!

        I haven’t worked out why WP hasn’t snaffled that blogger feature. So good. Much better than reader. I still sometimes look at my old blogger blogs to check out the blogroll, more value for Pippa’s as most of my pals seem to have fallen off the end.

        You must have some software for your camera and your computer to chat. Mine is Canon powershot (ancient) and the software is Photostudio, which has a number of options, image sizing being one of them. Otherwise the freebie ones probably do it too. Because I use the Arcsoft photostudio, I don’t bother with Flickr or Picasa, although I have both of those too. I’d prob try Flickr first if you don’t have anything on your comp.

        Like

    3. EllaDee says:

      Pertinent tips, and I was happy to tick them off mostly as done – the sidebar as much as it ever will be.
      I like the email notifications for new posts, out of habit, I think as I’m used to administering my world via the email. I like the tidiness of deleting them as I comment, like or discard (only usually due to time constraints) a post.
      I’m still confused about the reference to blogging and real estate. What I like about blogging is sharing the virtual space 🙂

      Like

      • Just how I work my blogging, Each to our own. Some tips, are ones I’ve learned from others, eg the photos (see Vicky’s comment below). I don’t really notice your sidebar because I am conditioned to read the text! But year, you have got loads on there, luckily you don’t have a jazzy backround, so your sidebar sort of fades into the distance.

        I follow too many blogs. I don’t read them all, all of the time, but sometimes there is an interesting post, whether it is cycling or politics or animal rights. My comments are maily on the personal ones with whom I hope I have built up a good relationship.

        You could go to town on the real estate comment. Rent out valuable space (eg ads)? Take up vast amount of space for exclusive posts/widgets? Cram a load in for cheap but affordable text? I think not 😀

        Like

    4. Vicky says:

      Some more good tips 🙂

      I remember not long after I started blogging both you and P&K recommended reducing the size of my photos to around 600×800. A good job you did with the amount I post, otherwise I think I’d have exceeded my free allowance by now.
      I’m not quite so hot on copyright as you are, obviously your journalist training kicking in there.
      I do copyright some photos, but not the snapshot ones. I would if I was trying to make a living from them though.

      If I’m trying to post from my iPad, I will usually draft everything (including comments) in the notes app, bitter experience has taught me to do that, but I’m not so conscientious when on bigHal.

      I’ve never really understood HTML, though little tips occasionally sink in and I think wow, I’ll try that 🙂

      Links, I’ve always ticked the ‘open in separate window’ box, for the exact reason you mention. There’s nothing more annoying than losing the original page after following a link, whether it’s a blog post or anything else for that matter.

      As for email notification, I am seriously considering ticking the box. I don’t follow many blogs, so I wouldn’t get inundated with mails, and it would probably be a benefit for me as reader doesn’t always let me know of new posts.
      I do use the notify by email for any comments on my blogs, similar to ED, I reply from that email, then delete, at least that way, hopefully I won’t miss anyone.

      Like

      • I keep thinking oldies know everything, but then see that one or two ideas have slipped by a couple of people, so always worth regurgitating. I probably post more pix than you and I’m still low on the %. I’ll just start a new blog when I get to 100%.

        Yup, the journalist thing does kick in there. Although I was a text journalist, it didn’t mean we didn’t learn about all aspects of the trade, so clearly photography and the law came into it too. When I’m feeling idle I might miss of the odd ©KPJ but normally it goes on, I’m usually downsizing anyway, so might as well add the text. And the occasional saturation boost.

        I write too much, so one experience of drafting on either blogger or WP and losing it was one too experience too many. Plus you get a nice big screen 🙂

        HTML is EASY. I’m sure you would sort it in no time. Pippa had a web site at one point when I was having a fine time playing with it, but it was on my defunct telefonica account 😦 Any basics you want to know, just mail me.

        The links thing is infuriating, why is it not default?

        Don’t you use the little orange thing? I think that’s great. Maybe I’ll write about comments next time around. I have a bad habit of skim reading and going back later (eg I did it with your Family post last night and commented this morning). So email management wouldn’t work for me like that. I flit a lot, but I also carry a lot in my head about who to read next. Emails would bore the leggings off me!

        Like

        • Vicky says:

          When I worked in the photo lab, we were very hot on stopping folk who assumed because it was their child in a school photo, they could scan it for extra copies. Anything looking remotely professional we requested a signed consent form from the photographer. The arguments I had with ‘know it all’ customers were numerous.

          The orange button is OK, but it doesn’t always work properly on my iPad app. so replying to the email works better. Also by keeping the email until I’ve replied, if it’s still in my inbox, I know I haven’t replied.
          I could see problems with it though if I had a lot of comments.

          Like

          • I can imagine the arguments. It would really rack me off that they wanted a cheap copy made instead of paying the photographer their due right. Pretty ethical of Jessops, as you could well have been turning away trade. But did the pro-photogs use you too?

            With the orange button, I use the view archive click on the top right to see if I have missed anything, which is what I’m doing now. Not that I missed the comments/notifications, just knew I had some outstanding ones to reply to. As I say, each to their own.

            I really don’t fancy getting 40 or 50 emails in my inbox and then having to delete them. I would stop blogging!

            Like

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