Learning the art of blogging….(so let's file this under...Monday meanderings :-)...
Hello! How goes it kindly reader? Does it weird you out as much as it does me when bloggers unnaturally address readers? (it's an art form, truly, when done well, it's great, but I cringe when generically called a "lovely", i.e. "Hello Lovelies!"... gag...sorry!).
Anyway it was a gray, rainy blah sort of Aberdeen weekend. I spent much of it reading about everything blogging: blog design, blog traffic, blog content, you name it. I had dabbled before but frankly there is just so much information and I still sometimes feel I'm nowhere near getting a a handle on so many seemingly basic things. And yes I have a Pinterest board trying to get focused on just a tiny tip of the iceberg of blogging advice (that said I may have gone overboard, 100 pins, so much reading!). The trouble is, some of the links are great, and genuinely helpful. But then some are just...generic and overwritten and super boring. It can be a bit time consuming, there is much weeding through the chaff. I will pick out a few that I find potentially usefully anyway and link them at the bottom of this post for anyone looking for actual helpful advice!
As is probably (painfully) obvious, I have so far approached this blogging lark very much in a “winging it” fashion, but there is something to be said for doing a bit of research I think. For instance on Friday I noticed my blog looked corrupted (was missing letters and such like), so I found a really great quick fix Youtube tutorial here. I have no idea what caused this, but it seems to have done the job. I do love when I have a little blog problem and it's easily sorted without having to read 5,000 words on the subject.
That said...this kind of led me down the rabbit hole of blog tinkering, and I then made an unholy mess of my blog trying to jeuje it up (Blogger I do wish you would give us the opportunity to save our old blogs and tinker with formats at the same time!)*. Or am I missing that too? I accidentally installed a dynamic view template because the wording on the Blogger page made it sound (to me) as if you could have this as an alternate setting of some sort, and that the “dynamic” templates are (so they say) far more captivating to the random blog reader.
I am open to ideas, I would like to jazz up, personalize and prettify my blog in a fun, but also readable way. I have been looking at (outside Blogger) templates also because there is frankly so much more choice to be had. But I am a little bit nervous about the technical aspect of importing an outside template. I make an effort to read various styles of blogs, and I enjoy different formats, but the professionalism of the magazine (or “dynamic”) template can feel a bit impersonal and slightly chaotic if overdone (in my opinion**….did anyone watch The Good Wife this week? U.K. pace? Elspeth …Call Me Maybe! I love her so much, hilarious! J) . I also dislike having to "jump" numerous times on a blog and want to steer clear of this, so many seem to have this set up, I am sure it has something to do with hit counts etc. but it's rather annoying as a reader!
It’s all personal taste I guess and figuring out what best suits your content. My blog is not currently fitting a specific enough niche to justify super glam lifestyle or beauty formatting, the heavy leaning towards text content would suggest I stick with a simple format, but I do think it doesn’t best suit the more visual style posts I also enjoy and want to get better at. Basically I am a blog mutt and wouldn’t be allowed near Crufts! ;-)
Anyway one of my main bugbears with my blog is the dates in the sidebar - well, not the dates so much as the lack of categorizing of posts to go along with them. It just looks a bit messy… I’m sure there is a widget out there somewhere that can do this, or I might need another template altogether. Any advice on this greatly appreciated! I did pin something about it come to think of it….(found it - link at bottom!). Also ideally I would like a blog template that does a little bit more fancy footwork with pictures. I am learning as I go but I know my limitations so it would be nice to find something that gives me a boost here.
Of course this can all be filed under “Things a blogger might do whilst procrastinating actually blogging”, but it is bugging me quite a bit that my blog isn’t quite as user friendly or modern as it might be. But that’s probably just from reading lots of other shiny blogs. It’s all very time consuming and I would actually rather be writing at this stage. I have Amazon Prime shows to dish about...and I finally finished a book this year, and I made French toast yesterday, which was a whole expat thing because Scottish people don’t understand French toast, and HarrisonFord*** almost died and it really freaked me out (Hans!). I have many other less boring (?!) things I could be babbling about!
Anyway I hope everyone else is having a more fun, productive blogging Monday than me! :-)
A Few Handy Dandy Links For "Where do I begin?!" Blogging Confused Types Like Me:
1. (An update here, I realized that to get rid of dates in the sidebar I just had to do this: http://www.ehow.com/how_12140759_make-sidebar-title-tags-blogger.html ), the previous link I supplied was more to do with the blog post dates, which I'm not convinced I want rid of. Now I just have to find a gadget to make the sidebar categories (Blogger Labels) look pretty! I do think Blogger could do more on the design front here, for one thing I had to go back and re-tag all of my posts with simplified labels (I was treating them more as seo tags as I learned from my Weebly days). And I'm still stuck with a few labels that aren't capitalized that I can't use and can't figure out how to delete. #bloggingdunce
2. Picture this: Something I've learned in the past few weeks attempting to do posts that require still photography for the blog - it's hard, y'all. Good bloggers make it look easy, even something as simple as taking a picture of a vase of flowers or a lipstick or a face is deceptively difficult. Sarah has been blogging and photographing things for a good while now, specifically doing a photography blog Two Days The Same that involved posting a picture a day for a WHOLE year (!), and she has shared some of her considerable wisdom on the basics of photography here.
3. Not Dressed As Lamb is a well known fashion blog for forty somethings or you know, everyone (I'm mentioned her before), but on top of that, Catherine has written so many excellent blog advice posts. Since implementing her smart, simple "How To Create An Eye Catching Google+ Post" advice I have seen a noticeable increase in shares (which is saying something for my tiny blog!). Just clicking over there I see she has done a series on blog makeovers - so that is going to the top of my "to read" pile!
4. Tips For Starting a Blogging Calendar : The Sits Girls, again. I only discovered them this week but their website is simply chock a block with helpful and clear cut advice for bloggers. This colourful calendar is just the sort of thing a chaotic, notepad scribbler (seriously in front of me is a piece of paper that has random scrawls all over it.."Stevie Nicks goth glam, yoga smugness, Halston nautical, London Islington, Body Shop Highlighter...etc.. you get the gist). I'm a scribbling, random, disorganized mess, basically (picture Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind but...not nearly so clever). Just looking at the pretty, colour coordinated post-it's in this post soothe me....
Well I think that's more than enough for me to be getting on with today at any rate...please share any tips for websites or other handy blog hints you might be so kind to share with me in the comments!
* It does, there is a button to download your old blog format, which I used after this most recent update - yes I'm a tech dunce!
**Link to vintage Good Wife episode with the "In Your Opinion" judge, because this week's, without Will Gardner, made me saaaad. :-(
***This picture of Harrison Ford made me smile. Now please stop flying ancient planes silly man! :-)