A Year in Review, 2014: the Wrap-Up

January 21, 2015

Year in Review: 2014

What a year 2014 was! 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 included offering new themes, adding entirely new features, and more, all the while implementing your own feedback and suggestions. 2014 may be over, but 2015 is looking to be an even bigger and better year.

In the past few months we've shared a new series that was all about reminding you of the features we released in 2014. We had a great year last year, and we loved being able to create, and give you, some oft-requested features that helped your blog, your design, and your readers.

We opened with a general review of the features that were released last year–from new themes and layout options to maintenance pushes, as well as responsive features to sidebar widgets that showcase your content. There was a lot to cover, and with our next few posts we did our best to review the items we thought deserved a spotlight.

The first feature we wanted to remind you about was the Spotlight Posts widget. It's a heavily customizable widget to showcase your posts by category, with options for excerpts, thumbnails, or combined selections. It's perfect for highlighting content if you have a multi-focused blog. Make sure to check that out if you missed it before.

The second feature that we thought needed some high-energy fist pumping was our continued efforts to fight spam comments by integrating the Disqus commenting system. What a great way to help build your community by giving additional options to your readers to interact with you and each other. It's a great tool and a great addition to Typepad.

The last two features we shared were the Welcome Message and Signature Module. We know that there are two important things that can help your blog: reaching your readers; and branding. The Welcome Message allows you to give important information to readers, without having to publish a short post, while the Signature Module is a fantastic way to remind readers who the author is and sell yourself as (part of) a brand.

We hope you enjoyed this special topic series, and make certain to check out the Year in Review series–as well as other great series–for inspiration.

A Year In Review: Welcome Message & Signature Module

January 07, 2015

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've released a lot of great features this year - check out our Year In Review series to learn more! In this post, we'd like to highlight two of the smaller new features that you might have overlooked in the excitement.

First is the Signature Module. This allows you to set up content that will appear automatically at the end of every post on your blog. This could be text, an image, or script code such as for advertising.

To add the Signature module, go to the Design > Content page for your blog, locate the module called "Signature" (it will appear below the "Post Title" module), and click the pencil icon. This will open a pop-up window where you can enter the content you wish to display as your signature. Click "OK" in the pop-up window when you're done, then click "Save Changes" on the Content page itself.

Our Knowledge Base has more information on the Signature Module including tips on adding an image as a signature and on styling the signature content.

Signature module

Second is the Welcome Message. This is a message that will appear at the top of the main content column of your blog, or as a popover (pop-up window), the first time someone visits the blog.

To add a Welcome Message to your blog, go to the Settings > Basics page for the blog. Here you can turn the Welcome Message feature off, or choose whether to display it as a popover or an embedded message. Enter the content you wish to appear in the Welcome Message in the text-entry field. As with the Signature module, you can enter any kind of content, whether it is text, an image, or code such as for advertising or a widget. If you have had a Welcome Message previously, and are updating with new content, put a check in the "New Announcement" box. This will cause the message to appear anew even for repeat visitors to your blog (they will only see it the first time they visit again after this).

The Knowledge Base also has information on the Welcome Message with tips for using each of the available options.

Welcome message

The Signature Module is a great way to add a more personal touch to your blog posts, while the Welcome Message helps you to convey information that you want every visitor to your blog to see the first time they arrive. Two small features that can make a big difference for your blog. Be sure to check them out!

Are you using the Signature Module or Welcome Message? Tell us about your experiences with these features in the comments of this post.

Typepad 101: Tweaking Your Comment Settings

December 31, 2014

We love to talk about the new features we've added to Typepad (be sure to check out our Year in Review posts to learn more about recently released features), but sometimes it's good to take a fresh look at a long-time feature. You might discover options you hadn't realized existed. In this post, we will review just a few of the many settings you can configure in Typepad's default commenting system. You can find all of these options on the Settings > Comments page for your blog.

A big concern for many bloggers is regulating who can post to their blog and what comments can appear. No one likes spam comments, of course, but you may also want to protect your blog against trolls or just take a very active role in making sure discussions stay on topic.

One option that many Typepad bloggers choose is to allow only authenticated commenters on their blog. What is an authenticated commenter? It is a person who has an account with Typepad or another service (many commenters use Facebook or Twitter). They can sign in using their authenticated account. Each time you see their comments, you know what account they are associated with. You can choose to require all commenters to be authenticated, make comment authentication optional, or even turn off this option so that commenters simply type in the information they choose in the comments form.

Comment authentication settings

Requiring comment authentication is the most secure option, but in some cases you may wish to allow people to comment on your blog without having an authenticated account. In this case, we recommend turning on additional security features. There are two options here and you can use one, both, or neither. The first option is to require unauthenticated commenters to enter an email address as well as a name. While some people may choose to enter a fake email address, this setting does allow you to have a better idea of the identities of your commenters. (The email address will not appear on the blog, so your commenters don't have to worry about it being picked up by spammers.) The second option is to require unauthenticated commenters to enter a randomly generated verification code when they submit their comment.

Unauthenticated commenters settings

Even if a person has an authenticated account, that doesn't mean their comments will always be worthwhile. If you feel that you are getting a lot of off-topic comments, you may wish to turn on comment moderation. This means that when a commenter submits their comment, it won't show up on the blog right away. Instead, you will need to review the comment. You can choose to publish it, or delete it if you prefer (or you can just leave it unpublished). Comment moderation may not be the best choice for every blog or every blogger, but in some cases it can help you to ensure that only the highest-quality comments appear on your blog.

Comment moderation settings

A final option that you may find helpful in regulating comments on your blog is auto-closing comments. Many bloggers find that after a certain period of time, only spam and random, off-topic comments get submitted to their posts because the discussion has moved on to their more recent posts. If you notice this happening on your blog, you may wish to close comments on older posts. The auto-close comments setting makes it easy to do this. Choose the period of time after which you want comments to be closed, and Typepad will automatically do the rest for you!

Auto-close comments settings

These four settings - comment authentication, security measures for unauthenticated commenters, comment moderation, and auto-closing comments - can make a big change in how commenters interact with your blog. Each one of these options gives you the blogger more control over who can comment and what comments appear. If you'd like to learn more about these options, be sure to check out our Knowledge Base. And we'd love to hear what comment settings you recommend to other bloggers. Share your thoughts in the comments below!

A Year In Review: DISQUS & Fighting Spam Comments

December 30, 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.

While keeping your blogs running is our top priority, we also know that building your blogging community and communicating with your readers through comments is important. In our continued effort to fight off spam comments, in early 2014 we added more tools to make commenting easier. 

First, we added the option to require that visitors have Javascript turned on in their browsers in order to leave a comment on your blog.  While most visitors should have Javascript already enabled in their browser, most spam sources do not.  Next we teamed up with Akismet, a backend tool we've applied to the Typepad application which requires no setting changes on your part. In doing so, nearly all spam comments are being flagged correctly and not appearing on your blog.

Earlier this year, we've integrated Disqus with Typepad as an alternative option to our built-in commenting features. Disqus comments is now out of Beta and available to all Typepad bloggers. Want to switch your comments over to Disqus? Simply go to Settings > Comments, and look for the "Disqus Comments" option.

Disqus

Disqus lets you review and respond to your comments right from your Disqus account and even download analytic information for your records.  You also have more control on who to blacklist and whitelist on your blog.  You can easily export your previous Typepad comments to Disqus so there are no comments lost in your history.   We have more information on to how integrate Disqus to your blog in our Knowledge Base.

Disqus is one of the largest commenting programs around - we even use it here at Everything Typepad! Disqus is also designed to increase user audience and user connections which can lead to more traffic for your blog. By tapping into their already established community, your blog posts are available to more viewers and potential engaging dialogue.

Have you added Disqus to your blog? Let us know what you think of it so far!

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.

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