I’ve been at this blogging thing for quite a while now. Honestly, I still surprise myself with some of the skills I’ve learned along the way like, umm, HTML. Seriously I never in a million years thought I’d understand coding. I’m not advanced by any means but I actually get HTML a little bit. That’s hypertext markup language for the lay person. (And that’s the IT recruiter in me coming out. Yes, my rarely mentioned day job.)
So anyway, it seems that many of you have been interested in blogging basics. I’ve been able to encourage a friends and family members to start blogs of their own recently and as a result a few questions have come up. I thought it might be fun to share some blogging basics for the newbies. Let me start with 2 basics that go hand in hand that I live and blog by.
This is an area that I am always trying to improve on. I think that will never change as long as I have an online presence. It is true that a picture captures a thousand words. So take good ones. Use natural light. Know how to use your camera even if it is just a point & shoot or an iPhone. Cell phone technology has advanced so they can take some pretty amazing pics but they can also take lame ones. Only post the good ones so you don’t scare readers away. Let me say again use natural light when photographing your subject. Avoid the flash.
Love your camera. Bond with it. I use a DSLR – Canon Rebel eos T3. How did I make the choice between Nikon and Canon you ask? I admired another bloggers photos for so long that I finally asked her what kind of camera she uses. That’s it. I had no real camera shopping experience but I loved the results she put out there so I inquired. Don’t be afraid to ask for advice. I know I still have a ton to learn about photography and my camera even after using it for a year but what fun would it be if there wasn’t more to learn?
And when your pictures need a little extra boost, edit them. I use www.picmonkey.com. There are about a zillion ways to edit photos but I like to keep them natural. Once in a while I give them a vintage vibe too. This website is 100% free and no login required.
I’ve been asked about how I watermark my photos. This feature can also be found in pic monkey. There is a text overlay option. Just click on the P and it will show you about 25 fonts, choose your color, type your blog or .com and voila, you’ve got a watermark. Yes, you have to do it every single time this way. I am not sure of how to watermark a lot of photos at once so if you do, let me know!
When posting photos on your blog, make sure they are large. Seems simple but this is something that took me a while to catch onto. Look at the difference a small photo
vs. large photo makes. I tend to post on the Large & XL side but you can find a size that works for you when you upload your photos.
So why watermark pictures? Not because I think they’re amazing and want to claim all rights to them necessarily. But as a bibliography of sorts. Remember before the days of the internet when you researched something and had to reference where you found that info? Yeah, like that. Who knows where your picture, idea or story may end up on the world wide web so why not tag it with a reference to your site? After all, you put hard work into it so you should receive the credit.
Which leads me to my next topic…
The main reason I watermark photos is because they end up on pinterest. Have I mentioned the mumkin yet? Oh yeah. Well that has been pinned all over the place and the photos were posted pre my watermarking days. So literally thousands of people have seen that photo without necessarily linking back to my site. In fact other bloggers have reposted it without necessarily linking back to my site (which is bad etiquette BTW). So am I kicking myself now for not watermarking that little project as a reference? No. I chalk it up to a learning experience.
But let’s get back to the basics about what pinterest is and how to use it for those who have been living under a rock in 2012. If you are a blogger, not just a DIY or design blogger, you should have a pinterest account. We are visual creatures and scanning through hundreds of pretty pictures is appealing. We’ll pin them until the cows come home and then most likely link back to the source to read about that visual. Like I said this isn’t just true for design blogs so if you ahem blog about beer reviews, maybe you want to take a really appetizing picture of your beer paired next to a juicy steak (Suddenly I’m hungry.) and upload that photo in your post. Then pin it to pinterest. See what kind of traffic you get from it. It might surprise you. Pinterest is my number one referrer and I don’t think that is going away anytime soon. To do this, install the ‘pin it’ application under your favorites on your computer. Pinterest provides instructions on how to do this. Pin photos from your blog posts with descriptions. You can see what pictures of yours have been pinned and re-pinned by typing pinterest.com/source/yourwebsite into your browser. For example, http://pinterest.com/source/circadee.com/– see I told you lots of mumkins.
Did you also know that pinterest (and all of the other social networks) provide buttons for you to easily upload to your blog to gain followers? True story. After you are logged into your account, go to the goodies page (cheat sheet: http://pinterest.com/about/goodies/) where you will find various follow me buttons along with the HTML that links directly to your account. Cut and paste this into the widget in your blog’s dashboard. Be sure you are pasting in the text view of your blog versus the visual so it recognizes the HTML code. Now your readers can follow you on pinterest with just one click. They don’t need to search for you. This method is pretty much the same across other social media sites too. Just look for the button HTML under help and paste like so…try it!
And one more thing about pinning and pictures. There’s like 100 more things but just one more for today…when you upload your pictures to your blog post, rename them. I only just started doing this. Otherwise they are titled IMG_1905 or something non-descript. You can easily edit the name to something descriptive like ‘Mumkin: easy pumpkin mum fall planter’. When you or a reader pin it, the title is already there and it helps new potential followers on pinterest find your image who may be searching for pumpkin or fall ideas. You can then convert that pinterest user into a new follower of your blog! Plus renaming your pictures is better for Search Engine Optimization of your blog in general.
Oh SEO that is a whole different topic for a whole ‘nother day.
It feels funny to write a post like this being that I’d only consider myself an intermediate blogger but the time seemed right to share these tips since I’ve been fielding related questions from newer bloggers lately. So if you have any other questions or topics for me, leave it in the comments and perhaps I will do a follow up on blogging basics.