Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category

 

New Blog Design – Finally Complete!

Friday, January 4th, 2013

If you follow in an RSS reader, you probably didn’t see the new design. Here’s a screenshot for reference:

New Blog Design

I’m very happy with it! One of my goals for 2012 was to learn how to write WordPress themes from scratch. It’s not perfect, but I have a pretty good grasp so far. Next challenge: Write one for others to download.

What do you think of the new design? If you notice anything wonky, please let me know. I’ll even take constructive criticism. :)

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Worth Noting: Blog Improvement

Thursday, January 3rd, 2013

 

2013 is going to be the Year of the Blog, I can just tell. To set you in the right direction, take a look at what some of these fine bloggers have to say about improving your own.

5 Things to Remember Before You Hit Publish at Hey, it’s Justine

40 Ways to Get Your Blog Off On the Right Foot at Campfire Chic

6 Weeks to a Better Blog at Silly Grrl

Primp your Facebook at Her New Leaf

Should I Get Paid for That? at Home to Heather

Why Every Blogger Should Have a Media Kit at VMac & Cheese

10 Reasons to Blog Ahead at Going Home to Roost

Blueprint for the Perfect Blog Post at Business2Community

The Four Faces of Link Building at Shellshock.UK

58 Ways to get Noticed as a New Blogger at Blog World

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Social Media Breakdown

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Do any of us really keep up with “social networking” the way we should? Coming up with content, taking photos, editing… it’s all enough of a task. Then, uploading photos and sharing on every single social media site is adding extra tedium to an already packed schedule.

Yet, it’s never been more important. I’m making an effort to be more proactive when it comes to my blog’s exposure on social media sites; won’t you join me?
Here’s a breakdown of what I’m currently doing (or trying to do more of!)

 

Pinterest:

Pinterest is the easiest, for me! I’d use it whether I had a blog or not. While no one likes spam (constantly and exclusively pinning your own work), it’s a good idea to make sure your stuff gets pinned.

Make this easier:

Create a board that only contains pins from your own site, and then ONLY use that board when pinning your own work.

Make it convenient for users to pin directly from your site - Pinterest provides buttons for both following and pinning, and there are a plethora of WordPress plugins that will add a “Pin It” button to each photo. I use Pinterest Pin It Button for Images.

 

Instagram:

A lot of people don’t think to connect this popular photo sharing network to their blog, but I love following other bloggers on Instagram. It’s like a behind-the-scenes look at their lives. It might be a great way to connect to your audience.

Make this easier:

Services like Followgram allow even non-Instagram users to see your photos, in a regular web browser. If you’re logged in, you can easily follow other users even if you’re away from your phone.
If you’d like to take it a step further, you can use a WordPress plugin like Instagrate, which automatically posts to your blog each time you post to Instagram.

Facebook:

If you haven’t created a Facebook page for your blog yet, you should. And if you have created one, but you never use it (like me…) now is the time to start.
Everyone is on Facebook. Seriously. And regardless of your personal feelings about it, many people use it to get their news about, well, everything. There’s a good chance that if someone likes your page, you’ll have a direct path into their consciousness every day.

Make this easier:

There are a metric ton of plugins and widgets that let you add a “Share on FB” or “Like” buttons to posts and pages; I personally use the sharing options in Jetpack.

I have albums of photos from my different categories and link them back to my posts. You should also be “liking” other bloggers so you can follow them and share interesting things with your fans. Sharing is caring!

(Most of these tips can also apply to Google+, the red-headed stepchild of social networking)

Twitter:

If Google+ is the red-headed stepchild, then Twitter is easily the sweetheart of social networking. You really shouldn’t pass up the opportunity to use this to your advantage.

Make this easier:

Use a plugin that automatically tweets your blog posts, like WP to Twitter. You can even set up a custom shortlink (mine is hzlagn.es – clever, no?) Twitter also provides their own widget for your sidebar, but there are many other ways to do the very same thing. Jetpack has an option for this, as well.
You can also integrate nearly any other service into Twitter – Instagram, for instance, is a big one. Interact with the people you follow and they will interact with you.
Additionally, this is a great way to keep tabs on the rest of the blogosphere (and world in general!) Retweeting useful things is a great way to gain followers.
I used to think that lists were really only meant for yourself, but now I see that they’re a great way to provide useful content to your followers. Having separate lists for bloggers, news, indie companies, and other topics is not only a good way to stay organized, but it also provides a service to your audience.

 

What other tips do you know of for diligently pursuing your social network? Share them in the comments!

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Blog Brunch Blogger Directory

Monday, September 24th, 2012

Have you heard of the Blog Brunch Blogger Directory?
If you’ve participated, you can submit your info and they’ll link you on an interactive map of all the Blog Brunchers. Pretty cool!

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A revolutionary way to support Indie Bloggers and Creators: Flattr

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Most indie bloggers create content and share it with the world in addition to having a “day job”. Some advertise, take on sponsors, or even accept donations, but still: blogging is usually a labor of love, not a career.

But, let’s face it: how much entertainment and information do you get from your favorite blogs and websites each month? As much as you get from your cable TV or Netflix subscription? As much as your favorite magazine?

Beyond bloggers: what about webcomics or videos? Music? Free apps and software? Charities?

Honestly, I spend far more time on the Internet looking at content that was, for the most part, created for free, than I do with any of those other services.

Enter: Flattr. A relatively new platform for supporting those purveyors of content that you’ve grown to appreciate and love. The concept is simple: designate a certain amount of money each month to Flattr content creators with. Whenever you see something you appreciate, you click the “Flattr Me!” button or bookmarklet. At the end of the month, Flattr divvies up your funds amongst those sites.

I encourage everyone to think about the value of the content they get online beyond the price of their Internet connection. This is a really great way to support the people who are working hard to spread information, art, entertainment, and culture.
If you’ve used Flattr in the past, either as a donater or donate-ee, share your experience in the comments!

 

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200th Post!

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Why yes, I would drink champagne out of martini glasses. Because I'm classy like that.

 

I can’t believe it has taken me so long to get to 200 posts, but here we are!

I did some thinking about what to post for awhile… it has to be significant, you know? And a little nerdy. So I got to thinking about HTTP status codes. (Actually, a much nerdier friend suggested this as a concept and I really like it.)

Even if you’ve never heard of HTTP codes, you’ve definitely seen one or two: “404 – Not Found”, “500 – Internal Server Error” (been seeing that one a lot on Pinterest lately!)
Basically, when your browser makes a request to the server, each type of response has an assigned number.

The most common one however is simply: 200, “OK”. So each time you type in a URL and actually see the page you wanted, the server sent back a 200 code, meaning that the connection was successfully established and that your computer and the server can continue talking to each other.

I see the past 199 posts as your request to myself and the world asking “Are you okay with me doing this? Am I ok with doing this? Do I feel good about it? Shall I continue?”  And my life and I answer a full-heartedly: “200 – OK”.

So: a toast to 200 posts and to 200 more posts!

 

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DIY Wire-Bound Blog Planner

Tuesday, June 12th, 2012

I’m a sucker for planners/notebooks, and I was inspired by various blog planners on Pinterest (of course).

Here’s my attempt – from various scraps and papers in my stash and my Zutter Bind-It-All (I seriously love that thing – and on Amazon it’s $53.30- I paid almost $80 for mine at Archivers!)

 

It definitely involves a vast assortment of washi tape. I designed the pages and printed them at home – I used to hesitate to print my own pages for notebooks because I didn’t like the paper quality – then I “splurged” and got the expensive printer paper instead of the cheap copy paper. What a world of difference!

I honestly haven’t written a word in it yet! I’m kind of stumped, haha. Blank-page fright.
What would you put in your ideal blog planner?

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Check out my Contact Form

Monday, May 21st, 2012

Hey ya’ll – I now have a contact form! If you ever want to ask a question or get in touch, just fill it out! I promise to get back to you right away!

 

Contact Me!

(Check it out on the right sidebar!)

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Blog Better Challenge Part 4: Show and Tell

Thursday, April 5th, 2012

I think most of us started out believing (or still do) that if we put something awesome out on the Internet that people will just automatically find it, right? Or even after we learn about SEO and keywords that people will gently filter in via Google and end up becoming lifelong subscribers. ….Erm, unfortunately, that’s not usually good enough.

In fact, that was the tactic I used most regularly on my own blog until recently. Sure, there were a few blogs I commented on, and those bloggers became readers, but that was pretty much the extent of it. It wasn’t good for business.

I imagine the true formula for success goes something more like this:

1. Post something epic.

2. Tell everyone about it.

What kind of “epic” stuff am I talking about? Think about the qualities of the stuff you re-pin or link to -

It’s useful: It’s usually informative or inspirational or something you put on a “to-do” list, right? Maybe it even serves to be humorous or thought-provoking, but the bottom line is that it’s helpful.

It’s *pretty*: I myself put a huge emphasis on visual appeal when I’m mentally assessing something. I’ll bookmark or pin or link to lots of pretty things that might not have a ton of value otherwise.

It’s timely: This is just a nicer way of saying “popular”. Most of us aren’t blessed with the trendsetting gene (though if you are, by all means, take advantage!), so we’re stuck on the bandwagon. Be careful not to over-do it *or* do it too late, though. Best to get on the mason jar train while you still can and forget about moustaches for awhile.

Sometimes ugly, pointless stuff becomes popular. Buuuttttt it’s usually pretty and useful stuff.

 

I, myself, have been challenging myself to put my posts out in the world – more than just on Twitter or to my Facebook friends – and it’s really paying off. Seriously. I’m actually surprised. For example, since one of my tutorials was posted on CraftGawker, I’m averaging around 200 visits per day rather than the 15 I used to get.

Not gonna lie, I get shot down a lot. I’m disappointed that not everyone thinks I’m as awesome as I do (lols). But, I’m going to keep taking baby steps until I’m satisfied.
SO your challenge today is to find something awesome that you’ve posted to your blog – and share it with the world. Find a website that will feature you. Try to get it re-tweeted. Submit it somewhere. Keep trying until you get a lot of people to look at it. Then report back here with the results!

 

PS. In case you didn’t here, the giveaway prize for this challenge is a Hipstaprint notepad! The lucky winner can select a photo or send me one of theirs. It’s not too late to enter!. :)

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Basic HTML for Bloggers: Linking a Photo

Sunday, April 1st, 2012

The lovely Sierra asked a question in the comments of yesterday’s challenge that I thought I’d answer in a post.

How do you link your photo to an external (or internal) page?

I suspect that there is an option to do so directly from your media uploader/inserter on most blogging platforms. I know that in WordPress there is:

 

 

Here’s a diagram of how you’d do it in html. Keep in mind the format <tag attribue=”value”></tag>. If you notice, the “<img>” tag doesn’t have a closing bracket; most html tags require a closing bracket but not all do. You can change the width and/or height to anything you like.

 

 

If you have any questions, I’ll do my best to answer them! Any other html basics you want to learn?

 

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Hazel & Agnes is the creative blog of Natalie Matz. Click above to learn more!