Wednesday, 20 March 2013

How To Blog and Blog Design


Before you start blogging there are a number of tools you need.

Blogging Tools
  • e-mail Account
  • Internet Connection
  • Imagination
  • Friends
Optional Necessary Tools
  • Camera
  • Laptop or personal desktop computer
  • Smartphone
Optional Tools
  • Video Camera
Having an e-mail account is the most important tool. Besides the fact that you need it start your blog, you also need it to communicate with your followers and those interested in your blog. An internet connection is vital or else no one will ever see your blog posts as they will never be published.

You need an imagination so you make sure you create posts that are out of the box and different to what we have seen before.

Friends are needed so someone can you tell you what they really think about your blog. There are so many bloggers out there who are being lied to. Without an honest opinion, you will never be able to grow as a blogger and your blog will be the same and readers will get bored.

The optional necessary tools include a camera. You will obviously only need this tool if you write a blog that requires you to go out and take photos of people or various subjects you will be writing about.

A laptop or personal PC is a vital tool if you plan to write all your articles from the comfort of your home. Yes you can go to internet café's but it might not be as comfortable.

Smartphone is needed to keep up with your blog from anywhere. All e-mails can be read from smartphones and depending on the blogging platform you chose, some of your notifications can also be sent to your phone.

Optional tools are video camera. If you plan to upload videos of your journeys it would be better to take the videos yourself and edit them yourselves.

Account Details
Once you have all the necessary tools, it is time to start blogging.
First you need to chose the correct platform that will suit your type of blog. Because I have mostly worked with blogger I will be teaching you how to use blogger.

Name and URL
Once you have verified all your details it is time to blog. Make sure your url and blog name are the same or similar. It makes it easier for readers to remember your name and url.

If you decide to be creative with your name, make sure that it makes sense and forms a collaboration with the content of your blog. For example, Scott Schuman's blog, The Sartorialist, is dedicated to not only showing us street style but also the latest fashion week photos.
The term sartorial means of or relating to tailoring, clothes, or style of dress: sartorial elegance.


Another example would be Karla's Closet. She has used her name and another word to describe to the content of her blog.
When visiting Karla's Closet, you'll come across different looks from her closet that she has put together. On occasion she will also blog about different events she has attended.

Design
Once you have a name and url, you need a design. Personally I always prefer a minimalistic design. White or black backgrounds will never give you trouble. When it comes to choosing a colour background, try not to chose the brightest colour in the crayon box. Bright colours just distract users and they personally make my eyes sore. Themed backgrounds or backgrounds with a pattern are a no go area.

In terms of font, always chose a maximum of two fonts for your blog. One for headings and another for the text of the blog post. I use serif for my text, just because I like how it looks like you reading a newspaper. Personally reasons aside, serif is better to read when reading long text. Use sans-serif for your headings.
A very important design rule I wish to enforce on fellow bloggers is: never center the text of your blog posts. The only time you ever center text on your blog is when you are writing a caption for a photo.
When we read newspapers and magazines, the text is never centered so there is no need to do the same online.


Make sure that your body text does not stretch from the one side of the screen to the other. It is difficult to read texts that take up that much screen real estate. The content-wrapper, which wraps the body text always needs to be a few pixels less than the outer-wrapper. The outer-wrapper wraps up the whole blog in one space.

Widgets

Widgets can be described as extra bits and pieces that makes your blog whole. Blogger calls them gadgets but it all does the same thing.
The most important widget you need is the search box. There is nothing more frustrating than visiting someone's blog and looking for something you once saw. At least with a search you can look up any term and all the results will show up. The Blogger search gadget does not only search tags but the whole text of all blog posts ever written which makes it a must have gadget.
The blog archive gadget lets you look at each blog posted for each month or year.

Those are the most important blogger gadgets that will improve your blog. Another important gadget is follow by email. Whether or not you use it is determined by how you intergrate social media on your blog.

Labels or Tags

When I started blogging I was unsure about how to use the labels or tags as other platforms call it. I thought it would make sense to add everything that seemed important in the post as a label so searching would be easier for readers. That is before I knew that search gadgets searched through blog posts.

Labels can be used to categorise blog posts. Not everyone who reads your blog wants to read every article you have ever written. Most readers only like certain posts. Because I write about several topics, I have categorised my blog into those topics and once a reader clicks on the category they can read all the articles that have ever been written under that catgeory.


Pages

There are basic pages you need such as home. If you feel it necessary, add two extra pages, about and contact.

Home obviously takes the reader back to the blog's landing page. Don't forget to make sure that your header, if it is an image, takes the reader back to the landing page as well.

The about page will tell readers about your blog and about yourself if you would like.

The contact page is vital. Readers need to get a hold of you somehow and all your contact details should be on the page. Obviously you will have to use your discretion. Don't add personal phone numbers or addresses, you don't need stalkers.

Social Media Links

Social media has become an integral part of any blog, or online publication. It is essential that you add links to your social media so that readers who do not wish to follow your blog via rss or google friend connect can do so.

You can either use social media buttons or manually create your own links has I have done. Make sure they are visible and that they all work. If you find it necessary to add your social media links to each blog post you could do so, preferably add it at the end.
Do not forget to add social media buttons that allow readers to share your blog posts on various social networks. That can be done by using a gadget. It is usually part of your template so it should not be a problem adding it.

Designing a blog is a lot of work, especially if you are fussy about the design. If you don't want to manually design your whole blog, you can always search for a template online, or use the templates that    blogger provides.
Another option would be to search for a blank template and make it your own, like I did with mine. Because I have studied web development, it is easy for me to design a blog so make sure you know what you doing before you start coding.

Once your blog has been designed you need to start blogging. Do not forget to change your blog layout every now and then just to keep up with the design trends.

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