Category Archives: Beginning Blogging

Adding links into your posts.

DaniellaJoe has asked me how I put in the direct links within my posts. I figure that others may not know so thought I would do a quick post as it is something that is really useful to know how to do. It is also easier to explain with pictures rather than just words.

1. Highlight the word you want the link to appear in.

2. Click on the chain-like icon.

link copy

3. This screen then pops up. Simply paste your web page address and click on the add link. It should then work. 🙂

paste

Note:

If you cannot see the link icon make sure that you have highlighted part of the text. If you still cannot see it then you may need to click on the kitchen  sink icon:

kitchen

Finally, if you want to break the link then highlight the ‘link word’ and click on the ‘broken chain’ which appears to the right of the link one.

Really hopes that this makes sense – please ask if you need any clarification. Hope this helps DaniellaJoe?

A proposal

I would like to share a proposal with you. When I am out and about I often hear people saying how they would like to start a blog. This is the reason I started the beginning blogging series in an attempt to help and support people such as this. Unfortunately I know for a fact that there are many who are still (and I understand this) procrastinating (not mentioning any names except for J, K and N? I think you know who you are ;)). So I have had a think.

Would you like to go through the process of setting up a blog as a group? I would review my posts on a weekly basis (starting from the beginning) and allow you to link up on this blog so you can share your experience with others all going through the same thing at the same time? It is the best way that I can think of to give you all a bit of support (and lets be honest a bit of a push) to get going.

I honestly believe that blogging is a truly life changing experience and want as many people as possible to get the benefits from it. You don’t have to have a crafting blog, be local to me, use WordPress or indeed, right at the start of your journey. I just think that it will be a good way to get going and build your confidence without feeling as if you are getting lost in the ether. It would give you a ready made audience of understanding people.

I may be totally wrong and be proposing a really bad idea but if you are interested, or know someone who may be then do please leave me a comment below and I will set it up. I thought that we could start in September? ….

Gmail

Do you have a Gmail e-mail account? Have you noticed the recent changes? I have to say that I haven’t thought too much about them except to be pleased that it breaks up the number of unread e-mails into smaller amounts making them slightly less daunting. Oh and the fact that it only happens on my laptop and not on my phone seems to make it a bit less permanent.

For those of you who are not sure what it is that I am going on about (maybe you don’t have a Gmail account or maybe the changes haven’t got to you yet) this is what my in box now looks like:

GmailWhat they have done is to divide your e-mails into three categories: primary, social and promotions.

To me, I simply go along and open each tab and have a look at the e-mails under each one. Just the same as I used to when it was all in one ‘box’. I gave it no second thought until I read a post someone had written about it.

If you have an e-mail list that you rely on and send around, even if you have e-mail subscribers to your blog you may want to consider the effect that this new organisation may have for you. It is likely that your e-mail and maybe your blog post notifications will find their way into the promotions box. If someone gets a lot of e-mails trying to sell them things etc it may end up with them treating this box like I treat my junk i.e. checking it in a blue moon. Your business may take a bit of a dive.

So what to do? You can educate your recipients in how to move your e-mails into the primary box where it is most likely to get noticed and less likely to get lost (you click and drag on the item and then check the box where it says always put e-mails into this box). More importantly though now (more than ever before) is to make sure your content is unmissable. I am aware   that you will always try to do this but if you now think of little tricks to make people look out for your e-mails then you are less likely to get lost. One suggestion is to run a little numbered series so tat people will notice if they miss one. Do you have any other suggestions of how to make your e-mails completely unmissable?

?

Wonderful Team Membership Award

As usual, rather belatedly I have got around to responding to another wonderful award that I have been awarded:

Wonderful Team Member Readership AwardWonderful Team Member Readership Award.

A huge thank you to Creative Pixie for the nomination. Isn’t it a great name?  Creative Pixie always leaves such wonderful and thoughtful comments on my posts.

To accept this award, there are a few rules I’ll need to follow:
1. The Nominee of the Wonderful Team member Readership Award shall display the logo on his/her blog.
2. The Nominee shall nominate 14 readers they appreciate over a period of 7 days, all at once or little by little.
3. The Nominee shall name his/her Wonderful Team Member Readership Award nominees on a post or on posts during 7 days.

So….time for you to maybe find some new blogs 🙂

Lottieknits, Whatimuptotoday, Crochetmelovely, Prettylittelthingsinabox, Redhenrun, Lovelucie, Feelgoodknitting, nicepieceofwork, Allnightknits, Polkadotsandsparkles, Theredfoxandgown, E1aine, trulymyrtle

A lot of these are fairly new to me so I am hoping that there may be one or two new ones for you to find here.

Finally, I re-read this post yesterday and thought that some of the points made were quite relevant for you (WordPress) bloggers out there looking to be found amongst the crowd. It is about SEO if you are wondering.

Thanks again to Creative Pixie. Hope you are all having a great week 🙂

Pinging and Blog Directories

I am sure that all of you of you who blog want to encourage people to visit your blog? More visitors can mean more followers. (Go on admit it I am sure you check your stats on a fairly regular basis!) I have read somewhere that all bloggers want readers whatever they may admit and I am sure that there is a lot of truth in that.

I recently read a great post written by Hilary on Craft Blog UK. It is entitled

My big fat useful links for crafters.

In it she lists different sites that can be useful for you in getting your blog out there. Some of the sites are what you would expect: e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google plus etc. (No I have not yet managed to get my head around Google plus yet – have you?)

There is also a list of craft forums which I would love to find the time to spend time on but simply just can’t manage it at the moment. The  one  section that I am going to go through today is the one entitled:  Pinging and blog directories. Yep it confused me too!

I decided to do a bit of investigating and go through the list of the sites that she mentions:

  1. Submit Start: http://www.submitstart.com/

This states:

SubmitStart allows you to submit an unlimited number of web pages to search engines such as Google, Yahoo, Bing (MSN) for Free!

I had never thought I needed to do anything like this as I believed that WordPress takes care of this side for me. I did, however think that there is no harm in registering with this site (Hilary has a lot of experience in blogging and I assume she knows what she is talking about).

2.Zimbio.com: http://www.livingly.com/for-bloggers/

Submit your blog to…

1. Share your opinions with a wider audience

2. Interact with our community of like-minded bloggers

3. Promote discovery of your content, helping new readers find your blog

4. Get featured on the Home Page!

Sounds great to me. I have registered – did you spot my lovely new badge shouting it out to the world? I shall again let you know how I get on with this.

3. http://www.dmoz.org

This is a directory of sites – a bit like a huge catalogue. In order to submit your site you have to find the category that is the best match for your site. I have submitted and am now waiting to see if I am accepted. 🙂

4. http://pingomatic.com

Ping-O-Matic is a service to update different search engines that your blog has updated.

This was really easy to do – I filled in my blog name and checked some boxes. It then sent out the pings. I was then told to bookmark the page so I can return and ping later on. Simple and easy. Thumbs up on this one.

5.http://www.bing.com/toolbox/submit-site-url

  • You want traffic and we can help you find it.

    Getting traffic to your site starts with being listed in the search results shown on Bing. Our tools can help you with this step.

Sounds good to me. On a quick glance it looks a bit like google analytic’s (which I am not great at using either.) I have, however signed up for this one as well.

6. https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/submit-url

Again, very quick and easy to submit.

There are a couple more that are listed but I couldn’t get to work:

http://siteexplorer.search.yahoo.com/au/free/submit

http://technorati.com/%20

I shall update you and let you know if I notice any improvements (or otherwise). Should you wish to check out the rest of the post on craft Blog UK you can follow this link.

Let me know if you find any good ones won’t you? (Or if you know any others that you use).

Hootsuite

I realised that I have not introduced you to Hootsuite. What is hootsuite? Well it is a social media platform that allows you to manage your twitter accounts (yes ‘s’ as in if you have work related accounts and private for example) as well as Facebook accounts google+ linked in etc.

What it allows you to do is to follow several different feeds on one page of your computer. eg: One of pages has my general feed / mentions / and Direct messages all on the same page:

https://knitnrun4sanity.files.wordpress.com/2013/07/126ad-hootsuite1.jpg

So here you can see the different feeds that this person has chosen to follow, all on one page. At the top there is a box where you can compose and send your own tweets / updates.

As in Twitter you can easily retweet tweets and edit them before should you wish. You can favourite tweets, dm people and share. In short all the things that you should would expect.

You can also have several tabs like the page above thus increasing the feeds that you can follow. I, for example follow some # on twitter, namely #wirecrochet and the like. This means that I can easily connect with other people doing similar things to me even though I don’t necessarily follow them previously. I have found some lovely people to follow this way. Another one of my tabs is dedicated to Facebook. It is really easy to jiggle between the different feeds as they are all there on the screen in front of you.

The other thing that I love about Hootsuite is the fact that you can schedule tweets in a similar way you can schedule blog posts. Therefore I can schedule tweets containing links about a latest blog post throughout the day. I can choose the time myself manually or allow it to automatically schedule them in according to the time it feels is your most prime time.

One final feature that I particularly like is the little Hootlet that sits on my toolbar:

This cute little owl allows me to compose a tweet on the page that I am on – putting the link in automatically allowing me to share things easily, as I find them.

The final great thing about this program is that it is free and it comes with a mobile version so I have it on my phone too. There are other versions that do similar things such as buffer which I know some of my friends use but I like my Hootlet and as I use it feel able to share some of the workings with you.

Do you use anything like this? If so what are the advantages that you find best?

(This is in no way a sponsored post – it is all my own views and opinions.)

What to write on your About page.

Following on with the initial re-vamp of this blog I have had a go at my ‘about’ page.  In Michael Hyatt’s Book

“Platform. Get noticed in a noisy world”

he points out that the About page is one of his blogs top ten most visited pages.

So What about yours?

I checked mine and guess what? It is hands down the most visited page on my blog. Ever. To date it has had 5,654 views. The next most popular post has ‘only’ had 738! Now go and have a look at yours. Is it similar? If so then the next scary thought is:

Just how much time and thought do you give to this, your most visited page/post on your blog?

I have to say, put like that, nowhere near enough! I expect that on setting up your blog you spent about half an hour typing in a bit of info about yourself and the blog. I know I did. I have revisited it since the very beginning and re-wrote it as my blog evolved but I didn’t give it anywhere near the amount of time that I probably should have done now that I know just how visited it is.

If your aim is to get more followers then this page is arguably THE most important page on the whole blog. Luckily Michael Hyatt does go onto give some tips as to how to optimise this important space on your blog.

This is how my About page used to look:

Hello,

Thank you for taking time to look at my Blog. I am a  Mum of three who runs, knits and crochets in an attempt to stay sane (when I have the time!). Over the last year this blog has also become a huge part of who I am and  helped me to claw back some of ME!
On the creating side I like to be  a bit different and aspire to have a shop selling my unique jewellery as well as some kits so you too can have a go at something a bit different.

Share my passion, the highs and lows of my journey and along the way pick up some tips to help you on your very own journey. Go on, you know you want to. It will be worth it  :)

Happy Crafting, blogging and running,

Alice

This version ticks the first two of the suggestions:

1. It is written in the first person

2. It is written in my style.

The next suggestions I am not so sure about:

3. Start with the reader’s priorities. What do they want to know? Or. in other words what do you want to find out when you read other ‘about’ pages? I know that I want to know what the blog is about. Will it interest me. These are the most important things. I also want to know a bit about the person behind the blog as, as many of you know I am someone who likes to connect with others.

4. Tell them about yourself. As in number three, it is important for the reader to know a bit about you but this was the bit that I found the hardest bit when I started out. I didn’t want people to know too much about me – I was simply too shy. All I can say is that you give as much as you want to give. I believe that my writing style says a lot about me and the type of person I am (indeed my friends say that this blog is like me talking to them) so my advice is to take things as slow as you wish to. You can always make adjustments as you progress.

5. Tell them about your blog. Not in huge detail – more of putting it into a theme. Again I find this tricky as I have quite a varied content on my blog. Having said that it does seem to be working for me so far.

6. Set their expectations. On average, how often you post.

7. Invite them to subscribe.

8. Point them to your top posts: He describes it like being a hostess and giving them a tour or taste of what they will get if they follow your blog.

9. Provide a full Biography. I am not sure that this is totally relevant except if, like him, you are selling your expertise and your training is an important part of it. For most of us ‘hobby bloggers’ qualifications are not usually related. A bit of information however is always going to interest some.

10. Tell them how to contact you: Twitter, Facebook, e-mail ….

So there you have it. It all makes perfect sense to me now. I like structure and order and this certainly provides that. The headings are a useful guide and also break the writing up nicely. People can easily skip any sections that they are not interested in.

Whether or not you apply this format directly I think that there are some useful points to get you thinking. Do you agree? What information are you interested in when you visit an about page?

(If you are wondering how my About page looks now you will have to go and increase the visitor numbers to that page now and have a look :).

A change is as good as a break…

I am assuming that most of you have noticed that I have been doing a bit of housekeeping on my blog over the last few days. This is all down this book that I am reading:

Product Details

It is a book that was recommended by a blogger on her blog . I am ashamed to say that I cannot remember who it was. Sorry (If it is you then please rectify it so I can give you the credit that you deserve).

It is a very informative book and I have picked up some of the tips and applied them to my own little blog. My first hurdle was the theme. I loved my other theme. It is called Shaan and I was originally drawn to it by the colour.

Shaan

This is my original theme: Shaan (from WordPress)

Over the last year I have learnt what features I am looking for from a theme:

  1. I liked to be able to customise my heading (the photo bit)
  2. I like the side bar on the right where I can add all my widgets.
  3. I need it to be one that works on a variety of platforms: mobile, tablet, pc.
  4. I liked being able to choose my own colour.
  5. Ideally I would like to have the menu for categories and pages lower down than on the Shaan to make them a bit more noticeable.

In the end and after a lot of time I chose this theme twenty Twelve. In order to make it feel a bit more like ‘mine’ I immediately:

  1. Changed the background colour to this which is more in line with my shop colours (more on this very soon)
  2. I changed the colour of the title font.
  3. I uploaded my own header photograph (this may need a little more tweaking.)
  4. I added my widgets.

The Widgets that I have included in my sidebar are:

  1. The follow button – I want to give everybody the chance to follow my blog as easily as possible for obvious reasons. 😉
  2. The Facebook link – Mainly to alert people to the fact that I have one!
  3. A twitter link – Same as for the Facebook link
  4. People who are sharing their love – This is following the recommendation from the book. It is a way of giving back a bit of the love that is shown to me. If people comment on my blog they will show up here for all the world to see. It is my little way of saying thank you to them. 🙂
  5. A link to my Flickr account.

Update: I have noticed that there is a bit of a problem with number 4. As I reply to any comments that are left it means that I am the one that shows up the most on the widget which feels completely wrong. I am not sharing the love – simply shouting about me. Not what I was looking for. So, instead I am going to use a different widget which is entitled ‘My Community’. This will post the Gravatar of anyone who likes or comments on my blog.

The other feature that is recommended in the book is to have the number of comments near the post title. It is meant to encourage people to comment and engage with you (and you know how important this is to me!)

So what do you think of my new look? Constructive critism is always welcome, after all you are the people who have to look at it and navigate your way around it.

What are the features that you consider to be the must have for your blog?

 

Pinterest – pros/cons, do’s/dont’s

Thanks to all who gave me your views on Pinterest. I have tried to summarise the points below. I shall start with the POSITIVES:

  • You can pin things craft ideas, patterns and inspirations you like all in one place thus being able to find them easily at a later date.
  • It is very inspiring
  • You can pin your own patterns and tutorials which can be good for business.
  • You can do short micro blogs on projects that you have tried.
  • It is a buzz when you see pictures that you have pinned re-pinned.
  • You can gain lots of visitors to you blog from it.
  • It can brighten up a boring day.
  • You can use it to work collaboratively with someone else – each adding their own ideas and inspirations.
  • You can build your brand identity with it.
  • You can support and help others with it.

Now for the NEGATIVES:

  • The time that it can occupy – ‘it is the biggest time suck of all social media’

Yes there really is only one negative. It is put in a few different ways but that is the long and short of it. The biggest bit of advice is to set yourself a time limit.

THE VERDICT:I do think that I will give it a go. I shall set myself some time limits and go from there.

What about the etiquette?

Whilst writing this it occurred to me that I would have no idea about the etiquette required when using it. I have done a bit of research and this is what I have come up with:

  • Link back to the original sources.
  • Organise your boards carefully.
  • Report spammers
  • If using google images still make sure you find out where it came from so you can link to it.
  • Don’t pin everything – 40 images an hour is too much!
  • Put your pin into context using captions and headings. This will also help your pins be found.
  • You do not have to follow everyone who follows you (although another site suggests that it is polite to do so.)
  • Think about the quality of the pictures that you are pinning. Go for high quality every time.
  • Don’t re-post screen shots from Facebook and twitter.
  • Share interesting, quality items.
  • Show consideration for your followers – don’t pin offensive images.
  • Respect other people’s intellectual property! Be aware of copywrite.
  • Skip the sales pitch. If you audience is interested they will click-through (no full recipes)
  • Allow others to pin your work (blogs etc).
  • Engage and interact with others.
  • Comment on other boards.
  • Think about when and how you pin pictures
  • Be yourself – your boards should tell a story about you and your interests.
  • For every pin you make of your work allow 5-6 of pins that are not your original.

Do you have any that I have missed?

Resources:

Pinterest Etiquette

Pinterest Etiquette (different from the first I promise!)

Pinterest Etiquette – rules to follow

Pinterest Etiquette (again)

Pinterest – Why?

Many of you will know that each week I participate in a ‘link party’ called Handmade Monday. Recently I noticed that when you hovered over the pictures of each contributor with the mouse a

button appeared. I have not yet ventured into Pinterest but. I do realise how potentially useful it can be and therefore thought that it was a good idea. You are meant to be able to add it to WordPress sites and I thought that this would make a great tutorial, however  WordPress says no. Sorry. You can add the button to your side bar but no hovering for us I am afraid.

In case you are thinking what  complete waste of time I do have another purpose to this post and I am throwing it open to you all:

Can you convince me that I should get on Pinterest and that it will not simply just be another drain on my time?

What will I get from it?

What are the benefits?

And anything you else you can think of.

So there you go. I look forward to reading what you have to say. Thank you in advance 🙂