Typepad 101: Add third-party code for widgets and ads from trusted providers

December 17, 2014

Typepad offers many ways to incorporate third-party widgets, ads, and other tools on your blog. Many third-parties provide useful services to enhance your blog. However, it's always good to remember to only add code from trusted third-parties.

Recently, some Typepad bloggers learned this lesson the hard way when a previously respected website counter, Sitemeter, changed their terms of use and started adding pop-up ads and redirects via the script for their counter without warning to their users.

A third-party script is hosted by the provider, not you or Typepad, which means the script can be changed by the third-party provider any time. Hosting the script is convenient as the third-party provider is able to make improvements and fix bugs without the need for you to update your website with new code regularly. The downside is that the third-party script can be changed in a way which negatively impacts your blog, and you may not be notified in advance of the changes.

To avoid your blog from being seemingly hijacked by a third-party script, we have a few recommendations:

  • Only add widgets which enhance your blog content. Some widgets may be neat but not benefit visitors to your website on a regular basis. Also, a lot of third-party script can slow down loading of your blog. We previously published an article on making sure your sidebar content is relevant with helpful tips.
  • Add code from trusted third-parties only. Not sure who to trust? Ask the Typepad team by opening a help ticket! We look at hundreds of blogs every day and answer questions about various services that other bloggers are using. If we're not familiar with the particular widget or ad service, we'll check it out or recommend a similar service that we know other Typepad bloggers are using effectively.
  • Do some research. Use an online search, like Google, to check out the tool you want to add to your blog. Check out reviews from other bloggers to see if they encountered any issues. Look to see if the third-party provider has a contact information on their website so you can easily report a problem.

The above are just some recommendations to consider before adding code to your blog. Do you have any good or bad experiences with third-party code? Let everyone know in the comments.

If you do have Sitemeter code added to your blog, we would recommend removing it as soon as possible. Instead of Sitemeter, we recommend Google Analytics for getting advanced statistics for your blog.

A Year in Review: Spotlight Posts Module

December 10, 2014

Yearinreviewheader

What a year 2014 has been! We here at Typepad are committed to making Typepad a better service each day, and we've been busy as bees releasing new features and improving the system overall.  This includes offering new themes, adding entirely new features, and more, all the while implementing your own feedback and suggestions.

As a blogger, we'd bet you're always looking for new and unique ways to draw attention to your content. Previously, if you wanted to highlight certain posts in your sidebar, you'd do that manually with a TypeList. With the new Spotlight Posts feature, the work is all done for you. Just give the module a name, select a category to feature, and you're all set. 

Configuring the Spotlight Posts module

The module is great for highlighting any specific content you want to draw readers' attention to. You can use it for new posts that are getting lots of comments, recent posts that have been super popular, or even old favorites that haven't gotten the love they deserve. You can even add multiple Spotlight Posts modules to your sidebar to highlight more than one category.

To see this type of Spotlight in action, check out the "Readers' Favorites" module on Cranks My Tractor. Writer and storyteller BN Heard was looking for ways to highlight his most popular posts. We added the module as part of a Blog Tune-up Service and we think it fits the bill perfectly.

Are you using the Spotlight Posts feature on your blog? Leave a comment and tell us how you're using it - you might just inspire another subscrber to check it out!

A Year in Review: Check Out Typepad's New Features

November 26, 2014

Yearinreviewheader

What a year 2014 has been! We here at Typepad are committed to making Typepad a better service each day, and we've been busy as bees releasing new features and improving the system overall.  This includes offering new themes, adding entirely new features, and more, all the while implementing your own feedback and suggestions.

We know it's hard to keep up with all the Typepad news, so we're going to take a few weeks to look back at some of the features that we've introduced this year to make sure you didn't miss anything.

The next several posts in this special series will be in-depth looks at specific features like the welcome message, but that doesn't mean that those are all the features that we've added this year.  Here's a quick recap of some of the ones that won't be getting their own topic.  Please make sure to check them all out!

First up, we've made some significant additions to the design area.  We'll be going over the addition of responsive themes (including the responsive theme builder), but we've also added themes like Tectonic and improved others with additional layout options.

We had often received requests to make uploading an image to your sidebar an easier process, so with that in mind, at the beginning of the year, we made it dead simple to add images to your sidebar.

We also gussied up the navigation bar and added hover effects to the links you create in your posts.  It's kind of fancy.

Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important features for our subscribers.  With that in mind, we added meta descriptions for Pages.

There was even a new account level - Enterprise - created to allow small companies and organizations a cheaper way to add an administrator to their plans without upgrading to Typepad Business Class.

One of our new favorite features, the Post Carousel, made it easy to add a slideshow of your latest blog posts to the top of your blog.  It's a great way to engage readers and make your blog a little more interactive.

We then went a step further and added the Post Carousel's functionality to the sidebar with the Sidebar Carousel.  We also released the Copyright and Introduction widgets for the sidebar at this time as well.

Just last week, we also announced that we integrated PayPal with Typepad so you could use your PayPal account to pay for your subscription.

Are  you using any of these or our other new features on your blog?  If so, sending us at Tweet at @typepad and maybe we'll showcase your blog!

As you can see, we've been working digilently this year to make Typepad an even better place for your blog content.  Be sure to come back over the next few weeks to learn about other features that we've recently introduced.

Promoting and Marketing Your Content: Wrapping the Whole Shebang Up

November 12, 2014

Content_rock_star

Over the past several weeks, we've introduced you to a new series to help you improve your skills on marketing and promoting your own content.  Let's take a look back on all that you've learned.

On a general level, we've talked about the importance of stepping up and going beyond the basics.  For example, you can pin your own images to Pinterest instead of waiting for your readers to add them to their own boards.  You can make sure that your Tweets and Facebook shares use popular hastags and keywords, making them more likely to get noticed.

Create interesting, eye-catching images for your posts to really draw your readers in.  As they say, a picture is worth a thousand words.

In the same vein, maybe there's an older post that you think is fantastic, but your readers might not be aware of it or perhaps you've got a popular post with lots of related content that you want to showcase.  We've given you information on how to do this both within posts and within your sidebars.

We've also suggested asking guest authors to post to your blog.  It provides a wonderful opportunity to market yourself to your guest's readers and may even set you up to be a guest author on another blog in the future, getting your own posts out to new readers.

Another way to engage readers is to make your blog more interactive with them.  You can ask them to submit images of a specific subject for a post.  Readers get excited to see their images and name on your blog and will most likely even share this post across their own social media, furthering your blog's viewers.  Surveys are also a great way to interact with your readers and can be run on just about any topic.

Finally, we introduced you to link parties, which has a group of bloggers sharing their posts across all the blogs involved.  Talk about getting your message out!

We hope you've enjoyed this special topics series and have learned some great ways to market your blog's content like a rock star.  Are there any ideas that we missed?  We'd love to hear how you market your content!

Typepad 101: Create a Photo Showcase Blog

November 05, 2014

One of the great things about Typepad is the ability to create blogs with many different designs and layouts, including blogs that don't look like a "traditional" blog. Today, we're going to learn how to set up a photo showcase blog.

Photo showcase blog

The photo showcase blog serves as a kind of album or slideshow that puts all the focus on your big, beautiful photos.

The first step is to choose a minimalistic design theme that doesn't distract attention from your photos. We've chosen the Loft theme, one of our great one-click themes, but you can choose from any of our themes, or create your own with the Theme Builder.

Go to the Design > Overview page for your blog and click Choose A Theme. This takes you to a new page where you can view the themes on offer. Loft is one of our featured themes so it's easy to find, or you can select another theme of your choice. Click on the theme you want to use to select it, then click Choose over to the right.

Loft theme

If you're using Loft, you'll be taken to the Colors page to select one of the three available colors. Be sure to select the option "Apply this design to [Blog Name]" (where [Blog Name] is the name of your blog), then save your changes.

Next, you'll want to set up the layout for your blog. We recommend a one column layout to put the full focus on your photos. Go to the Design > Layouts page and choose the "One Column" option, then save your changes. (Please note that depending on the theme you choose, you may see different options on this page. The Theme Builder allows you to customize the width of the main content column.)

One column layout

To create the album or slideshow look, we're going to configure the blog's settings so that only one photo is displayed on each page. Go to the Settings > Posts page for your blog and look for the "Posts to Display" section. Enter "1" as the number of posts to display both on the recent posts page and on the archive pages. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and save your changes.

Posts to display

If you want to go super-minimalistic, go to the Design > Content page and de-select all the options except "Post Title", then save your changes.

Content page

And that's it! Now all you need to do is to start taking photos and uploading them to your blog.

Check out our sample photo showcase blog here - click the "Next" link at the bottom of each page to see how you can page through one photo at a time.

Have you set up a photo showcase blog? Do you have any other design tips? Share them in the comments!

Promoting and Marketing Your Content: Host or Join A Link Party

October 29, 2014

Content_rock_star

Welcome to our series on promoting and marketing your own content. Every other week, we’ll debut a new post designed to help you push your blog content to a wider audience like a marketing rock star, and show you how to build a larger and more engaged community of readers along the way.

So far in this series, we have learned different ways to market your blog like using social media, having guest authors and getting interactive. Today we're introducing a fun way to get your blog and content shown to a new audience. We're talking about "Link Parties" or sometimes called "Blog Hops."

A great example of how a link party works is from Typepad blog "Capture The Moment." They include link parties as part of their "Make It Monday" series:

Screen Shot 2014-09-10 at 3.39.40 PM

This image is an example of a Link Party with a handmade craft theme where each thumbnail links to a different blogger's craft blog post.

You can host a Link Party around a theme (ie: Preparing for the Holidays) where everyone who participates shares a blog post on that specific topic.  You don't always need a theme. You can keep the Link Party open for everyone to share their blog links, which is what we're doing here today.  Keep reading!

If you want to host a link party, a good way to get the word out is to ask some of your blog friends to co-host it with you.  It's a great way to cross-promote each other's blogs.  There are a lot of linking tools available but InLinkz is one of the most popular and easy to use at www.inlinkz.com.

With an easy setup, InLinkz gives you a code to stick in your blog post using your HTML editor tab (and also share this code with your co-hosts). Whenever a link is added to the "party," the widget will update on every blog sharing the Link Party code. We suggest adding any HTML from a third-party as a final step before publishing. This prevents issues that might occur when switching between the HTML tab and the Rich Text editor.

If you hear about a blog hosting a Link Party or Blog Hop, check it out and see if you can add your blog to it. Now is a good time to start.  We are looking for our Typepad bloggers to share their links with us (and everyone!) so click on the blue "Add your link" button, add your blog URL and don't forget to check out your fellow Typepad bloggers!

You can catch up with the rest of our series and check out our previous Promotion and Marketing tips to keep fresh eyes on your blog content.

Promote and Market Your Content: Get Interactive

October 14, 2014

Promote like a rock star.

Welcome to our series on promoting and marketing your own content. Every other week, we’ll debut a new post designed to help you push your blog content to a wider audience like a marketing rock star, and show you how to build a larger and more engaged community of readers along the way.

Running out of ideas what to write about on your blog? There's a source of content you may not have thought about: your own readers. Engaging your readers in the content creation process not only helps you develop fresh new posts for your blog, but they'll likely help you by promoting the posts through their own networks. Not only that, but when your audience is more invested in your blog, they're more likely to remain loyal readers.

We've already talked about guest authors and inviting your readers to submit guest posts is always a great idea. Perhaps they have an experience they'd like to share related to the topics you post about. They may have cooked a recipe you posted or followed your craft tips to create something for their home. Or perhaps they've visited the place you're writing about or used a product or service that you've reviewed (or even that you provide). If you see someone in your comments with a great story to share, why not invite them to write a post for your blog?

Maybe a full guest post requires more time from your readers than they're able to offer. You could instead invite them to submit photos or videos and combine these into one or more posts. Whether they're showing off something they created inspired by your blog or sharing the views at their favorite place to read it, audience-generated photos or videos can make a big impact.

Another option is to run a survey (don't forget to share the poll with your followers on social media). This gives you two posts - one announcing the survey and one talking about the results. Ask their opinions about a hot topic that's come up recently on the blog or invite their views on what you should write about next. If you're ambitious, you could even do a question of the month or the week and make it a regular feature. Be sure to check out our tips on how to add a survey or poll in a post.

Even if you don't directly solicit content from your readers, you may find that your interactions with them, through the comments or on social media, inspire new topics for you to write about. Perhaps a question comes up a lot and you'd like to put your answer where more people can see it. Maybe somebody presented a controversial opinion that you think deserves a full response. Whatever the inspiration, don't be afraid to pull a conversation up out of your comments and feature it in a blog post.

These are just a few suggestions for engaging your audience in the content creation process. Have you created posts through interaction with your readers? Share your experiences or tips in the comments!

Typepad 101: Responsive Instagram Widget for Responsive Designs

October 08, 2014

With more responsive designs being readied for release, we want to help you make the best use of your responsive design by pointing out widgets that help your sidebar content to be fluid as well. In this Typepad 101 article, we'll provide information on how to setup and add the Instagram widget Instansive.

Configure the Widget

Below is the general setup of the widget. The first option available to you is to choose whether you would like to pull in photos from your entire Instagram account, or if you would like to crowdsource Instagram images from a specific hashtag. Use a unique hashtag for certain photos in your account? Even better.

Responsive Instagram widget for your Responsive Design
Responsive Instagram widget for your Responsive Design

Additional options available for customizing the widget are:

  • Type of widget (select from: grid, seen above; slideshown; and columns)
  • number of columns and rows
  • fade in or out
  • preload the images to help with load time
  • show the caption from the shared image
  • remove photo padding so the images sit closer together in the widget

There are advanced options, which many won't need to use, but they allow you to choose a different widget setup depending on the size of the window/device in which the widget loads.

You can use the slider, positioned on the right side of the example, which allows you to adjust the widget size so that you can see what it will look like at different widths.

Get the Code

When you've configured the widget, you can click Preview to confirm it appears the way you would like it to display on your blog. If it's looking good, click the Get Code button and copy the code provided.

Responsive Instagram Widget
Copy the generated code

Add the Widget

With the code copied, log into your Typepad account and go to the Content screen at Design > Content. Click to add the Embed Your Own HTML module. You'll want to give it a name/label so you remember what it is when making future changes to the Content screen. Paste the code into the HTML portion of the configuration pop-up, then click OK and place the module where you would like to see it displayed before saving your changes.

If you would prefer the widget have a header above it, then you can use a Notes Typelist in place of the Embed Your Own HTML module.

When you're done, load your blog in your preferred browser, or on your mobile or tablet device, to see the widget in action.

Responsive Instagram widget
Instagram widget live on blog

Do you know of other services that have responsive-friendly widgets? Leave a comment to let us and others know!

Promote and Market Your Content: Guest Authors

October 01, 2014

Promote like a rock star.

Welcome to our series on promoting and marketing your own content. Every other week, we’ll debut a new post designed to help you push your blog content to a wider audience like a marketing rock star, and show you how to build a larger and more engaged community of readers along the way.

Previously in the series, we pointed out how to highlight previous posts on your blog which readers may have overlooked. Another great way to increase your readership and market your content is to ask another blogger to be a guest author on your blog. You can reach other fans of the invited author and potentially be asked to provide a guest post on one of your favorite blogs in the future!

Is there a blog you read regularly with really great posts that you would like to share with readers of your blog? Ask the blog's author if they would write a guest post for your blog. The blog doesn't even need to be on the same subject.

For instance, you write a cooking blog and one of your favorite blogs is about do-it-yourself projects. Ask the writer of the DIY blog if they'd be inspired to branch out and write on a subject related to your blog. Or even let them write about a DIY project that you think your readers will appreciate. You'll get great content from a blogger you already enjoy to share with your readers and you've started a dialogue with another blogger who can talk up your blog with their readers and can ask you to share a post on their blog. You can see a good example of a guest post on a Typepad blog at Pulp Sushi.

Guest posts are also great if you need to step away from posting for a bit but you still want to keep your blog fresh while you are on vacation. For an example of a guest post series, see Typepad blog Mary Makes Dinner.

Keep in mind you should be writing and publishing high quality, unique guest posts which are meant to reach a wider audience and not just for SEO purposes. Try to avoid linking unnecessarily back to your blog multiple times (once or maybe twice - remember less is more!) and you'll avoid potential penalties by search engines.

Do you like to read guest posts? Are you trading posts with your blogging friends? Share your own tips and links to your guest posts in the comments.

Promote and Market Your Content: Highlighting Hidden Gems

September 17, 2014

Content_rock_star

Welcome to our series on promoting and marketing your own content. Every other week, we’ll debut a new post designed to help you push your blog content to a wider audience like a marketing rock star, and show you how to build a larger and more engaged community of readers along the way.

As a blogger, there is no better feeling than seeing a post get a lot of attention. People are commenting, sharing the link with their friends on social media, and you're feeling the buzz of a successful post. But what about those posts that you put just as much care and work into that haven't quite taken off?

It can be frustrating to look through your old posts and see content that you worked so hard on that hasn't reached its potential. In our first post about marketing your content, we talked about leveraging social media to drive new readers to your blog. Today, we'll explore some ideas for showcasing the posts that aren't getting so much traffic so they get the attention they deserve.

Use Popular Posts to Direct Readers to Related Content

If you have a post that's doing particularly well, you might take that opportunity to link to other posts from there. A simple list of links can be very effective. Using the Unordered or Ordered List option in Compose, you can add a short list of related links of your choosing to the bottom of the post. It could look something like:

Creating the list yourself allows you to handpick the links you want to include and easily change those out later if you want to highlight different content. Positioning the links at the bottom of the post is a natural way for readers to locate related content, so they shouldn't find it intrusive.

For a more automated option, check out the Recommended links and posts feature. The feature's primary function is to link to content on other sites but it can be used to link to just your own content. Zemanta designates content on your own blog with a special icon for easy selection.

Another simple way to let users find more posts like the ones they like is to use the Categories feature. For instance, if you post a book review, you can categorize that with all of your other book reviews and they will all show together on an archive page for that category.

If you add the Category link option in Blogs > Design > Content: Post Footer, a reader will easily be able to click that post footer link to find more reviews.

Use Your Sidebar to Showcase Content

There are several options for directing readers to quality content via your sidebars.

A Link TypeList allows you to create a custom list of links of your choosing and easily add that to your sidebar. It can be edited and updated at any time, so you can easily switch out links and track how content is doing over time.

You can take this idea one step further and use the Sidebar Image module to add image links to your special posts. You can use an image that you included in the post itself, or get creative and make an image just for the sidebar link. Make sure to include a caption so people know where they're clicking to!

If you're a Beta user, the Spotlight Posts feature allows you to showcase posts from a specific category in your sidebar. We recommend creating a category just for posts you want to highlight and then use that category in Spotlight Posts to direct your readers to that content. These can be posts that are getting a lot of traffic but it can be used for any posts, including those that could use some extra attention.

More Tips

Do you have a favorite way to drive traffic to the hidden gems on your blog? Share those in the comments and stay tuned for more posts in our series about marketing your content.

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