Sketching/ Drawing or Doodling for your Blog

Have you ever drawn something in your print journal? A picture of somewhere you had been? A sketch of something you wanted to remember? You can do the same online, you just need a few more tools. I draw for my blog, scan it, use image software to adjust the scan to an image file and then I can post it to my blog. You don’t have to learn how to use a graphic program to draw. But, those are nice too.

Simple SEO for Your Site

Have a look at URL Appraisal for fun, mainly. See what it says your domain is worth. I think anything not on it’s own domain is already going to score low from this SEO based site. WordGrrls was appraised at $512.80.

I had a look at what they recommend for simple things you can do for SEO (search engine optimization). Two of them are things I am going to work on today:

3. Take advantage of alt and title tags in your URLs and images. When creating an image or link within your HTML, you have the option of including a TITLE attribute in URLs and an ALT attribute to1 images. Use these fields to add additional text about the link/image. This text is picked up by search engine spiders and can add to the keyword content of your pages.

7. Make sure you take advantage of meta tags like keywords and descriptions. Many sites often overlook meta tags. There are a large number of these tags you can add to your html pages to help give search engines a better idea of what’s in your site. Two tags in particular, the description and keywords tags, allow you to write a description of each page and also list relevant keywords contained within your site. Use these on every page of your entire site.

I may go the lazy way and see if I can find a plugin to play around with the meta tags. That way I don’t need to look at my HTML code to add a few words or change a spelling error I am bound to notice once I’ve had it up for a few weeks.

For the titles with links, I’m pretty sure that is set up for you in WordPress already. I’ve just ignored it up to now. So I will vow to do better. It is just adding a description to the link you are typing in. The description you type in will appear if someone hovers their mouse over the clickable link. It is a good thing. You may have noticed it on other sites and wondered how they did that. Now you know! it would be nice if Blogger picked up on this too.

Looking for a Link Exchange?

Want to trade links with me? Let’s not do it the old fashioned way. I don’t want to have a huge list of sites I don’t really want to endorse by giving them a link here. I don’t want to check each link to make sure the content has not had a sudden change of topic. I don’t want to test each of them for link rot either.

Instead, the new way to do link exchanges is by using a network like CMF Ads. Join the forum for a look around. Join your sites to the advertising network and set up your account with a 125 x 125 square image. You don’t have to buy a thing. But you can if you want to speed things up.

Using CMF Ads lets you exchange links the easy way. Someone else has the headaches all you do (once you set up your site to run the widget) is accept or deny ads. Placing ads on other sites is also just that easy.

Personal Choices in Weblog Templates

How often do you change or customize your blog’s template (theme, your word of choice)? I find there is only so much I want to change through tweaking and the rest I hope to find in the template I pick. There are certain things I always look for, mainly to do with readability. I like a clean cut look with a font that looks pleasant and is easy to read. Many templates seem to have tiny fonts lately. I don’t see how a site focused on being content rich can pick a small font and think that is ok.

What do you look for in a blog template?

Here is my list, likely there are some things I will miss but it should give you an idea.

– Clear header, shows the site title and doesn’t blend in with the rest of the site.

– White space so the text doesn’t sink into the design.

– Dated entries. What is the point of making updates if no one can see your blog is being kept active.

–  One sidebar only. I tried 3 and even four but it just gets too cluttered. You have to be bold and cut out some of that stuff you are keeping in sidebars. Move it or lose it.

– A footer that lets you stick some of the clutter away. But don’t use it as a catch all. Everything down there is pulling down the load time for your blog. Is it really worth keeping?

– Clear definining points between posts. This includes having comments be easy to find wtih the blog entry they should be with. Some blogs require you to go back to the newest post to figure out where one entry divides from another and which comment link is the one with the post you were reading.

– Simple, clear font which looks pleasant on the page. I like a font with a little roundness but not to the point of being bloated looking. That may only make sense to me. 🙂

– A layout I can easily adapt by changing backgrounds and other things with the bit of CSS I know or can look up in a book.

– Not a lot of colours. I think I outgrow those first. Black and white may be really traditional but when I see it on another blog I always like it. So I try to stick to that even though I really love colour, especially red.

– I like being able to add links just under the header but it’s not essential. An about section or a place to put a short description under the title or near it. People are getting blind to the content in sidebars so your most essential information (what your blog is about) needs to be in a place where it is very visible.

– A border of whitespace around the blog itself. I like to have the option of adding a background image to fancy it up for special occasions.

– Something that doesn’t look really boxy. I know CSS works in sections and measurements but I prefer the template to look like it isn’t so regimental.

Not Knowing Where You’re Going

“At a moment of heightened awareness there is a confrontation of image and idea. Words come together in a flow, seeking out their own order, their own rhythm; lines measure themselves into a given form; words you didn’t think you knew or had long forgotten suddenly cojoin to tell you what you are feeling, seeking out insight and revelation. In that first flow, all you know is that you are in mid-air between elation and fear. “Keep going, just keep going!” you tell yourself, not knowing where that first line will lead.” – Shulamis Yelin.

That’s how I start writing. I’m not a planner. I don’t have a schedule, a format or any real idea of where I’m going once the idea has germinated from my brain onto the physical plane of my computer screen.

Sometimes the seeds never get past the germination stage. They become part of the cluster of ideas in a folder on my computer. The ‘Idea Folder’ is full of half planted ideas. Now and then I go back and rescue one, add some root hormone, whatever it takes. But, most of them just get kind of sad and pot bound. I forgive myself for letting them stagnate into infinity. You have to forgive yourself. Each idea is like a little soul and you are the only one who can give it the bloom of life. I do feel guilt for not taking those ideas into fruition.

Enough garden terminology?

I read the above quote in an article about writing poetry. As a writer of any style of wordage you should read about all kinds of writing. How to write or better still ‘how I write’ articles and books can be really inspirational. Not just for the art of writing but the craft too. The technique in putting a spin on your words. The ideas about the ideas. You can never have too many ideas. Well, except for those really weird ideas we keep in the closet or swept under some rug or other. I won’t tell if you don’t tell.

Create Yourself in Your Own Image

We know about presenting a good, professional image and using effective body language. If you work in fiction you’ve likely used body language, style and first impressions to create a character. But, do you present a good image of yourself?

If you are in a professional situation do you know how to appear professional and confident. Do you look at people when you speak to them? If you look at someone’s eyes while they speak they will feel you’re really listening. Don’t sit or stand with your body scrunched or folded up. Good posture counts. Also, don’t sprawl and have people tripping over you, but – don’t be afraid to take up some space. When sitting, standing or walking don’t appear small and intimidated, talk with your hands a little, rest your arm on the arm of the chair.

Is your conversation full of slang, do you tend to use any bad language (anything you wouldn’t say in front of a 4 year old)? Coach yourself to speak clearly and avoid pauses with “ummm” and related phrases. If you find yourself stumbling over your words, sounding nervous, stop. Take a breath, a sip of water and remember you’re talking to a fellow human being not a rabid skunk, relax.

Can you carry a conversation, do you have some prepared chit chat? Avoid talking about the weather, politics or religion, come up with something a bit more interesting and uniquely you. If you have hobbies try working them in. Don’t go overboard talking about yourself, just enough to break the ice is fine. Ask questions about their own interests to pull them into the conversation. You don’t have to be full of yourself, you don’t even have to be genuinely confident, but you should appear to know what you’re doing and be at ease.

Take a look at your wardrobe. Do you have at least one ‘interview suit’? If so, do you feel confident when wearing it? If you don’t go shopping for something that flatters you and makes you feel good when you have it on. It should be comfortable to wear so you aren’t distracted by a tight jacket, a colour that makes you feel mousy or any other of a hundred problems that can come up. Yes, you want to be dressy but you don’t want to feel unnatural or inelegant. If your style of dress is casual try finding something casual in a dressy fabric. Or something dressy, like a tailored suit, in a casual fabric.

Of course, you are groomed, have brushed hair and teeth, lathered up (recently) in general. Make sure your fingernails are clean. Give yourself a check over just before the get together. Anything stuck in your teeth? Did that garlic at lunch stay with you? Any dirt, strings, or very tiny aliens, hanging from your clothes?

Writers already have a small image problem. People tend to assume writers slack off and have it easy. We work at home, may not even get dressed or out of bed all day. We don’t work at a ‘real’ job. Don’t assume another writer or editor or publisher will know better. Dress for success. Create the image you want people to have and then be there.

DIY: FavIcon

FavIcon from Pics — how to create a favicon.ico for your website

Absolutely splendid. I made one of that stick figure grrl with the maple leaf. It’s too small to use but I like how easy it was to do with this site. I’m going to come up with a more usable image for the favicon.

FavIcon is a favourite icon. Basically, you create a small graphic (16 X 16 pixels, tiny in fact) which will show up in the address bar when someone looks at your site. It will also show up in their bookmarks alongside your site, if they bookmark your site. It’s a non-essential thing that helps make your site stand out. Plus it gives those us of who are addicted to tweaking and twiddling with their sites, something else to do. It’s not hard to create a favicon. Once you save your tiny graphic as favicon.ico you upload the file to your site, it should be in the root directory so it’s easy for web browsers to locate. Then you add the code (which I can not post in Blogger, I tried) between the head and /head tags in your HTML code. Not so hard was it!

How creative can you get with such a miniscule image? See what you can do and keep it clear to see. The smaller you make your file the blurrier it gets. Have fun, let me know if you load a favicon. I’d like to see what other tweakers and twiddlers come up with.

Wikipedia has a page about Favicons too. You can see examples there. I also found a gallery of favourite favicons.