Favorite Features: Custom CSS

December 26, 2013

Favorite Features
Welcome to our special series on our favorite Typepad features! Every other week, we'll debut a new article full of valuable tips and tricks for the Typepad team's top feature picks. Each feature is already built-in and available right at your fingertips, ready to help you get the most out of your blogging experience. Miss anything? Check out the other posts in our series here. This week's favorite feature post is from Colleen, who has been part of the Typepad team for over 8 years.

You might notice that we talk about Custom CSS a lot around here. Why? Because it's an awesome feature that allows you to customize your blog's design, no matter what level of expertise you have with coding. Absolute beginners can just copy code, plop it into their design and go on with their day. Or if you're a CSS expert, you can build a whole theme from scratch. You might be surprised how fun it is to see how the code you use translates to the actual blog. It can be really gratifying!

I love Custom CSS because it allows me to change a blog's style without touching the HTML or template tags. I work with a lot of subscribers on creating custom designs for their blogs and I recommend using Custom CSS for most situations. It allows for a great deal of flexibility without losing access to the other design features, like the Content page. If you've been curious about Advanced Templates because you want more flexibility but you're a little intimidated by all the code, then Custom CSS might be the best solution for you.

Three Little Birdies uses the Clean theme and Custom CSS to create a totally unique design
Three Little Birdies uses the Clean theme and Custom CSS to create a totally unique design

Even if you don't want to make a ton of changes to your blog, you can still use Custom CSS to make little customizations to perk things up. Don't like the font your theme uses? Try out a new one. Want to add a snazzy background image to your blog? You can do that, too. You can tweak your banner, style the navigation bar, or even use custom widths for your blog's columns

Are you using Custom CSS on your blog? Tell us it about it in the comments for this post. We love to see our favorite features in action!

Favorite Feature: Scheduled Blog Post

December 17, 2013

Favorite_features_header

Welcome to our special series on our favorite Typepad features! Every other week, we'll debut a new article full of valuable tips and tricks for the Typepad team's top feature picks. Each feature is already built-in and available right at your fingertips, ready to help you get the most out of your blogging experience. Miss anything? Check out the other posts in our series here. This week's favorite feature post is from Marilyn who has blogged with Typepad at Pulp Sushi since 2006 and recently started working with the Typepad support team.

As bloggers with busy schedules, we don't want to let our time get away from us and forget to update our blog.  Typepad's schedule post feature has been a life saver and my favorite feature when working on my own blog. 

Publishon

So if you're full of blog posts ideas but unsure of when you can write it all out, scheduling your posts is the way to go.  My schedule doesn't allow me to write a blog post every day but I still would like to have fresh content to be published daily. This is very easy to do from the Compose page under Status, select Publish On and choose your date and time for publishing.

Screen Shot 2013-12-03 at 8.15.55 PM

If you have a regular feature on your blog that's published monthly or weekly like "Friday Pinterest Picks", why not schedule the entire month in advance?  I like to schedule my blog posts on the weekends for the week ahead.  I use my Google Calendar to map out the month.

Marilyn's Blog Calendar
Here's what my Blog Planner looks like

Having a Blog Planner (many you can find online to download for free) can help make your scheduling even easier.  Here's one you can download and print from Typepad blogger Vale Design.

This could be a helpful tool if you're new to blogging too!  Regularly scheduled blog posts brings structure to your planning, helps build readership, and encourages visitors to come back.

Favorite Features: Rocking the Rich Text Editor

December 10, 2013

Favorite_features_header

Welcome to our special series on our favorite Typepad features! Every other week, we'll debut a new article full of valuable tips and tricks for the Typepad team's top feature picks. Each feature is already built-in and available right at your fingertips, ready to help you get the most out of your blogging experience. Miss anything? Check out the other posts in our series here.

This week's Favorite Feature post is from Mary Helen. Mary Helen has been a professional blogger on The Natural Beauty Workshop and Mary Makes Dinner since 2007, and started working with the Typepad Support Team in June 2013.

If you've been blogging with Typepad for a while, you are probably familiar with the basics of the Rich Text Editor. This is the default method for composing and editing posts on Typepad. This format was designed to be easy to use for everyday blogging, while the HTML tab is available for fine tuning and adding special components such as embed codes. 

While I am a big fan of keeping things simple, there are some special features in the Rich Text Toolbar that go beyond bold, italic, and underline. Today, I'm going to highlight some of my favorite features on the Rich Text Toolbar, helping you make the most out of Rich Text. 

Tips for Formatting Without Hiccups

As a rule, it's best to add formatting to your text after writing your complete post. This helps stop the editor from becoming confused, and can help avoid glitches or errors that can sometimes result from conflicting formatting tags. After you've finished adding the text and images for your post, go back and add changes to font, alignment, and color. 

It's also important to keep in mind that from a design point of view, a little goes a long way when it comes to formatting text. The occasional addition of a larger font or bold lettering can help break up your text, making your posts easier to read. At the same time, adding too many different sizes, colors, and alignments can make your posts look confusing and jumbled. While multi-color fonts can be very exciting, I recommend taking it easy on your readers by keeping things clean and simple.

Blockquote

Have you ever noticed that little quotation-shaped icon in your Rich Text Toolbar? It's easy to overlook the little guy, but by doing so you are missing out on a golden opportunity to customize your blog posts.

The Blockquote tool applies a default set of formatting options detemined by your blog's Theme. Neat, huh? To give you an idea of what Blockquote might look like on your own blog, here's a run-down of how this feature is styled on some of our most popular Themes.

Blockquote indents the text on:

  • Loft
  • Theme Builder
  • Metropolatin
  • Chevron
  • Element 

Blockquote on Loft

Blockquote indents and adds a colored background on:

  • Dapper
  • Block Party
  • Celebration
  • High Bar
  • Polished
  • Tectonic

Blockquote on Dapper

Blockquote indents, and adds a colored background and border on: 

  • Clean
  • Scene

Blockquote on Clean

Unlimited and Premium users can customize the Blockquote on their blog's Theme using Custom CSS. You can choose a border, background color, or even a special font for Blockquote. Check out this Everything Typepad post to learn some simple tricks for Styling the Blockquote tag

So what will you do with your customized Blockquote tool? Blockquote can be used to highlight anecdotes, poems, song lyrics, or of course, quotations. Check out how these Typepad blogs have made use of Blockquote.

  • Mary Makes Dinner: I use Blockquote on my own blog to highlight recipes. 
  • The Ruckus: This blog features song lyrics using a striking white on black Blockquote.

If you are already using Blockquote, leave a link to your blog in the comments below so that we can check it out. If you need help customizing the Blockquote on your blog, just open a help ticket. We'll be happy to help.

Bullets and Numbering

Making a list? Bulleted and numbered lists are great for breaking up long blocks of information. To start a bullet list, simply click the "Unordered List" icon. Start a numbered list by clicking the "Ordered List" icon. Press enter once to add another item to the list. Pressing enter twice will end the list, reverting your list back to regular text. 

Great ways to use lists:

  • List Ingredients
  • Share event dates
  • Linkups and roundups
  • Step-by-step directions

Insert Links, Images, Video, Audio, and Downloadable Files

They say that a picture is worth a thousand words, so how much do you think an mp3 file or pdf goes for? In addition to inserting images into your posts, you can also include audio files, videos, and downloadable files. The Insert Audio feature is great for sharing original music and podcasts. Inserting a video into your post can be a great way to share your favorite music video, recipe tutorial, or YouTube sensation. The Insert File tool is great for sharing spreadsheets, printable PDFs, and full-size graphic files. You can even embed a PDF or Powerpoint File into a post using the File Manager and HTML tab. 

Split Extended Entry

The Split Extended Entry feature allows you to break up your posts into two parts. The shortened version shows up in your Recent Posts, while the full version is available on the post's individual url. If you like to write extra long posts or include lots of photos, videos, or audio files in your posts, you might find that your blog takes a little longer to load than you'd like. Shrinking these posts with the Split Extended Entry feature is a great solution. This tool can also help your readers browse a larger number of posts more easily.

I hope these tips have helped you become a Rich Text Toolbar expert. If you have any questions about the features I've mentioned,  you can leave a comment on this post, start a thread in the Forum, or if you are a Pro Plan user, open a ticket at Help > New Ticket. We'll be happy to help! 

Favorite Features: Blog Feeds

November 26, 2013

Favorite Features

Welcome to our special series on our favorite Typepad features! Every other week, we'll debut a new article full of valuable tips and tricks for the Typepad team's top feature picks. Each feature is already built-in and available right at your fingertips, ready to help you get the most out of your blogging experience. Miss anything? Check out the other posts in our series here. This week's favorite feature post is from Jen, who has been part of the Typepad team for over 8 years.

RSS Feed IconMy favorite feature of Typepad is the ability to quickly enable Atom and RSS feeds for all blogs. You don't have to understand the nerdy details of RSS, Atom, or web feeds, but you should know your blog's feed gives you seemingly endless ways to share the latest updates to your blog around the interwebs - email, Twitter, LinkedIn, and more! Feeds also make it easy for readers of your blog to be notified of the latest posts in the way they prefer to get their news. (If you want some of the nerdy details on feeds, we recommend the Web Feed article at Wikipedia.org.)

To enable Feeds for your blog, go to Settings > Feeds, check the Blog Posts option under Published Feeds, and click Save Changes. Feeds are enabled by default for new Typepad blogs, so you probably already have RSS and Atom feeds set for your blogs! Now, you can utilize the feed to distribute your posts.

The feed URL for your blog is actually your blog's address followed by /atom.xml or /rss.xml. Most services don't have a preference for Atom or RSS 2.0 - both support attachments for podcasting too.

Don't freak out if you see a bunch of code when you try to view the feed URL in a browser. To give you just some of the nerdy details...The feed is actually a bunch of XML code that makes it easy for feed readers to parse and utilize the data in the feed. A feed isn't meant to be viewed directly in your browser as not all browsers are set up to be feed readers. Chrome and some older browsers will show you scary code when you view a feed directly, but Firefox, Safari, and newer versions of Internet Explorer read the feed and display a pretty webpage with the latest posts.

You want to take your blog's feed URL and feed it into a service that reads feeds, and then you can send your new posts everywhere! Some of my favorite things you can do with your blog's feed:

Offer the option to be notified via email of new posts. Your blog's feed can be used to send out an email to subscribers when you publish a new post. You can use FeedBlitz, FeedBurner, MailChimp, or any other emailing service to give readers the option to be notified of new posts in their inbox. A lot of people not familiar with feeds prefer to receive their news by email, and it's great to make this option available.

Share your latest posts to your favorite social media sites. Every time you publish a new post to your blog, the blog's feed is updated immediately with the new post. You can use your blog's feed URL to share your latest post quickly to your Facebook Page Timeline or use IFTTT.com to share to nearly every other social media site. We have the instructions for using IFTTT.com and your blog's feed to share to LinkedIn in the Knowledge Base, and you can follow the same steps to share to other services, like Flickr and Storify.

Share the latest news from your blog on your website. If you have a blog on Typepad and a separate website (either on Typepad or hosted elsewhere), you don't want to just have a link to your blog on your website - you want to give visitors to your website a peek into the latest news on your blog. Using your blog's feed, you can display the links to the latest posts and excerpts directly on your website. Add your blog's feed URL to a bit of RSS to script code and place it on your website. See the Knowledge Base article for the step-by-step instructions.

Add your blog to a community of similar blogs. The Typepad Showcase, BlogHer, and other community sites share the latest posts from around the internet on a single website by utilizing feeds. Community sites promote posts from blogs on similar topics and are great at attracting new readers to your blog. Want to be a part of the Typepad Showcase? Click here to submit your Typepad blog!

You can also take advantage of the multiple settings available for your Typepad blog feeds. You can display full posts or excerpts in your feed. Excerpts are good if you prefer people visit your website to read your posts. If you don't mind if readers can see the entire post in their email or in their feed reader, offer up full posts in your feed (recommended). At Settings > Feeds in Typepad, you can choose Full Posts or Short Excerpts.

You also have the option to offer a feed for individual categories. This is great if you want to display the latest posts in one category elsewhere. Use the Feeds Module and a category feed to display links to the latest posts in one category in the blog's sidebar, for instance.

Typepad also makes it easy to connect to FeedBlitz which gives you statistics for your feed. Track the number of subscribers to the feed, add a custom logo to the feed, configure podcast feed, and more with FeedBlitz - all included as free FeedBlitz features. See the article on connecting to FeedBlitz for more details.

What else can you do with a feed? What's your preferred feed tool? Are blog feeds your favorite feature of Typepad too? Let us know in the forum or below in the comments.

Typepad 101: Transferring a Blog to Another Typepad Account

November 05, 2013

Today's question comes from community member ugarte over on Get Satisfaction. They asked:

I have multiple blogs under the same login. Is it possible to transfer one of the blogs to someone else's login? I am not talking about adding authors; I want someone else to be the primary account on the blog.

Yes, you can and it's super easy. You'll essentially download the content of the original blog and move it to a blog on another account. You won't be phsyically transferring the entire blog but it is easy and quick to move the posts, comments, and images.

First, you'll create an export file of the blog you're transferring. Just go to Blogs > Settings > Import/Export and scroll down to the Export section. Click the Export button and you'll see the page reload and an export progress bar come up.

Export in progress
When the export is complete, right click on the Download link and "Save link as..." to download the file to your computer.

You can then send the file to the person that you're transferring the content to, or log into your other account and import the file in Blogs > Settings > Import/Export. You can learn all about Import/Export in our Knowledge Base.

Just a couple notes:

  • This import will bring over all of the blog's posts, pages, comments, and images.
  • Pages will be brought over as blog posts.
  • It does not bring over the blog's design and other settings. That would need to be re-created in the new account.
  • The blog will use the URL of the new account - it will not preserve the URL from the original account. To help with the transition for search engine indexing, make sure to set the blog as public in the SEO Settings.
  • If the original blog is domain-mapped, you'll need to delete the domain from the original account, edit the CNAME at the registrar to match the new URL, and add the domain to the new account.

Of course, if you need any help with domain mapping, importing, etc. we're always a click away. Just follow the Help link in Typepad to open a ticket. And don't forget: our Get Satisfaction community is open 24/7, too!

How To Save Captions And Other Image Edits

November 04, 2013

We've heard some very useful feedback on some of the recent changes to the Edit Image tools (also referred to as Aviary), so we'd like to give everyone a heads up and tell you how to save changes after editing an image, which has changed slightly with the latest update.

To make changes to the Standard Options for an image - including adding a caption, resizing the image, changing the alignment, and more - double-click on the image to open the Edit Image box. You can make the changes at the bottom of the box.

image from everything.typepad.com

To save any changes to the Standard Options, click the Save button in the upper right of the box. The location of the button to save changes to the image has changed, and now you need to look for the Save button at the top of the box.

image from help-orig.typepad.com

Please note you won't see an added caption reflected in the preview, but you will see it on the post when you click Save.

Similarly, when you make changes using Aviary's special effects tools, you'll be prompted to click Apply followed by Save to update the image in your post or page.

Previously, you would see the Update button in the lower right corner of the box to save changes. The Upgrade (only necessary if you want to add special effects to large images) and Cancel (to not save changes) buttons are still in the old location at the lower right of the box. Please note you do not need to upgrade to make standard changes to a large image, like add a caption or resize the image. You may be given the option to resize if your image is very large, but this is only to help speed things up, and you can simply ignore it by clicking the Ignore link.

We have many more details on the Standard and Aviary tools available to edit images in the Knowledge Base.

Your Best Foot Forward: Rocking The Music Post

October 24, 2013

image from everything.typepad.com


Welcome to our special series on how to write a great blog post! Every other Thursday, we'll debut a new article that will teach you how to write posts for your blog that will engage and inspire your readers, encourage conversation in comments, and keep them coming back for more. Put your best foot forward and watch your audience grow! Late to the party? Check out the other posts in our series here.

If you're looking for new music recommendations, look no further than the Internet, where everyone has an opinion, a critical ear, and the will to write about it. In terms of topics, music blogs are still a fairly niche genre, much like the music covered in some of them. That doesn't mean you shouldn't get in on the game, though; many people include music posts as part of their regular repertoire nowadays, from fashion bloggers to lifestyle bloggers, food bloggers to mommy bloggers. Music is, after all, the universal language.

If you go to a lot of concerts or just have great taste in (or a love of) music, you might want to consider adding a music post or two to your weekly rotation; after all, bringing new music to the masses or finding out that you share a few favorite bands in common with your readers can be both rewarding and illuminating - you might just find yourself on the receiving end of some great recommendations.

There are a few things to consider when writing a music post (and making it great):

The Topic: Unless you fancy yourself a music critic, stick to writing about things you like versus things you dislike. Telling someone why they should listen to your favorite band's new album is going to be a lot more fun (and easier) than pointing out the flaws in a record you regret buying. Leave the panning to Pitchfork.

The Details: Sure, you could stick to the technical facts when describing a show you saw or an album you liked, but the best music writing tells your readers a story that places them in medias res, allowing them to experience it right along with you. Talk about how the music made you feel. Recount the crush of bodies at the barrier, the stage banter, the thrill of hearing your most favorite song at the encore. Talk about the best song on the album, about the lyrics, about what song was playing the moment you met your girlfriend/boyfriend/best friend/dog. Write about how the music changed your life. Music is passion; don't hold back.

The Photos: Including at least one clear, high resolution photo in your post is a must, and more if you're writing about a live show, if possible. If you only had your cell phone with you at the show, do a Flickr search for a photo of the band performing live (and make sure that it has the appropriate Creative Commons license), and place that at the beginning of your post, including any sentimental cell phone photos further down, if you must. Writing about a specific track or album? Make your post header an image of the album cover.


IMG_7572

The Media: Embedding mp3 files from Soundcloud or Spotify gives your readers an even deeper way to relate to what you've written, and it can help increase your post's visibility and discoverability by allowing it to be included in directories like The Hype Machine and Elbo.ws, blog aggregators that allow people to search and browse for music. Embedding videos from YouTube or Vimeo also provides your readers with a richer experience and allows them to hear and see why you love the music.

The Extras: It seems simple enough, but it's smart to include information on where your readers can find the album or track you're writing about, or a band's next stops on their tour schedule. Links to the band's official website, the iTunes store, their webstore or their Bandcamp page gives your readers the next step to take in the new music experience you've brought to them - and it helps support the band, which means more new music for you in the future. Win-win!

The Examples:

- A live show review
- An album review
- An acoustic session with videos

Your Best Foot Forward: Writing a Great Recipe Post

September 26, 2013

Best_foot_header

Welcome to our special series on how to write a great blog post! Every other Thursday, we'll debut a new article that will teach you how to write posts for your blog that will engage and inspire your readers, encourage conversation in comments, and keep them coming back for more.   Put your best foot forward and watch your audience grow! Late to the party? Check out the other posts in our series here.

If you ask me, one of the greatest cultural wonders of our time is the food blog. I'm not just saying this because I love a good meal (and I do). Food blogs are making the world a smaller place, one bite at a time. Thanks to these culinary diaries, you can learn how to make Buckeye State Ice Cream, Spaghetti Carbonara, or Masala Fried Chicken in the comfort of your own home.

Thanks to your favorite food blogs, a simple weeknight meal can become an opportunity to broaden horizons and ignite imaginations. Like a great meal, a recipe post is only as good as its components. Today, we'll go through the basics of writing a REALLY great recipe post. So get ready to dig in, and don't forget to leave room for dessert.

Get Inspired

Before you even think about writing a post, you have to come up with a killer recipe. If you need inspiration, try checking out some of your favorite food blogs, visiting a local farmer's market, or browsing a visual recipe site like Tastespotting or Foodgawker. Whatever you decide to create, take plenty of notes as the dish comes together. Use this opportunity to share teasers, like photos and tweets, as you experiment. This can be a great way to get your audience excited about your upcoming posts.  

Testing Your Recipe

It's not enough to simply invent a great dish, you've got to be sure that the recipe works. It helps to think of your recipe as a formula. Each of your readers will approach this formula with a completely different point of view, so it's absolutely essential that the basic elements, like measurements and instructions have been checked and re-checked.

Testing your own recipe a few times will help you make sure that the formula works, that you've written everything down correctly, and that the dish comes out consistently. It's an extra effort, to be sure, but one that your readers will really appreciate. By providing reliable recipes, you can build up trust and loyalty between you and your readership. 

Formatting Your Recipe

There are a few standard rules of thumb that come into play while formatting a recipe. Professionals use these rules for creating cookbooks. Whether or not your readers know it, they are used to following these rules too. Check out this post from The Kitchn to learn how to Write a Recipe Like a Professional. Here are a few rules of thumb to keep in mind:

  • Ingredients should be listed in the order they are used, and should match the language and steps in your instructions.
  • Ingredient measurements should not be abbreviated. That makes them harder to read, and increases the chances for user error. 
  • Instructions should be given numerically. This simplifies the steps, making them easier to read, understand, and execute.

Another thing to keep in mind while formatting your recipe is how search engines, like Google Recipe View and Yahoo Recipe Search, index these kinds of posts. Formatting your post with that in mind can help drive extra traffic to your blog. Find out more at Google Webmaster Tools.

Keep it Simple

While it is important to provide plenty of information on techniques, ingredients, and prep work, you don't want to overwhelm your readers by making a recipe look too complicated. Try to use simple language during the recipe steps, keeping your instructions concise and specific. If you want to elaborate on a specific technique, consider linking to a special page, or an outside resource. For example, on my blog, Mary Makes Dinner, I created a page titled A Few Ways to Cook Spaghetti Squash so that I could link to it every time I used that ingredient in a recipe. 

Include Visual Aids

It can be helpful to include some step-by-step pictures to go along with your recipe. In her post, The Best Roasted Vegetables Ever, The Wednesday Chef shows several different phases of the recipe. This not only makes for a visually appealing post, it provides helpful details for readers who plan to cook the recipe.

If taking process photos isn't your thing, try searching for Creative Commons content referencing the techniques you are using. Take a look at what I came up with after searching for dumpling folding on Flickr and YouTube. Just make sure to ask permission before re-posting any of the content you find on your blog. 

Tell a Story

While flavor might take up a lot of the spotlight in a recipe post, the story behind the recipe you are sharing is sometimes just as enticing. There are a lot of ways to approach a food story. You could tell a little bit of food history, talk about the food's nutritional benefits, or share some shopping tips for the recipe's main ingredient.

For something more personal and emotive, share what inspired you to cook the recipe, who you like to cook it for, or what was going on in your life when you first started cooking it. If you get stuck, try starting with one of your senses. A smell, a sound, or a flavor can help get the ball rolling. 

Bright, colorful photographs will help engage your audience, so make sure to snap a few really good photos of the finished product.  Need some help getting your food photos looking their best? Check out these 5 Tips for Food Photography from A Beautiful Mess.

Make it Printable

Few people are interested in dragging their laptops into the kitchen or introducing their smart-phones to cookie dough. Typepad blogs are already optimized for printing, but there are a few ways you can make your recipes even more printer-friendly. 

Make it Shareable

Now that you've created a great recipe post, make the most of it by sharing it with the world. In addition to sharing your recipe post on the usual social media channels (hint: Pinterest LOVES recipe posts) check out some food-focused social media sites, like Foodie or Tasty Kitchen. If you've included food photos in your post, try submitting your recipe to visual sites like Tastespotting or Foodgawker for extra attention. 

We hope you will use this tip to inspire you to create your own recipe post. Please click Read on below to see my recipe post and submit a link to your own post in the comments.

Continue reading "Your Best Foot Forward: Writing a Great Recipe Post" »

Your Best Foot Forward: The Travel Post

September 12, 2013

Your Best Foot Forward - Everything Typepad series

Welcome to our special series on how to write a great blog post! Every other Thursday, we'll debut a new article that will teach you how to write posts for your blog that will engage and inspire your readers, encourage conversation in comments, and keep them coming back for more.   Put your best foot forward and watch your audience grow! Late to the party? Check out the other posts in our series here.

Travel blogs and blog posts are exciting for readers; it helps them escape to far-off, and not so far-off, places when they may otherwise not be able to. For the blogger, they reap the reward of the travel but also the stories and photographs they get to take home and share with their friends and family.

Perhaps you've been somewhere recently and would like to share everything you saw and learned; or maybe you want to relive past travels and you believe sharing them with others will help you to look back with fresh eyes. As a blogger, you've got the perfect platform to provide you the outlet. All that's left is to figure out what you want to say, as well as how best to say it.

Tease the Reader

You don't have to write about a trip all at once--turn it into a series!

Sharing bits of your latest adventure, rather than the entirety all at once, helps break your content into digestible amounts, keeping readers from simply scanning the post. The smaller posts also means they're a bit easier for you to write up, leaving you able to schedule the posts to publish ahead of time.

Another reason for breaking your travels up into multiple posts? Knowing there's more to learn about your experience, existing and new readers alike will be hooked and keep returning to read more.

The Big Picture

Use great photos from your trip to help illustrate the story!

There's no reason your post has to be all text, nor should it necessarily be all photographs since that doesn't say much about how you felt, or what you thought, in those moments. Find the right balance of text and photographs for you and the tale you're telling at the time.

Tip 'Em Off

Tips, like "Don't Miss This" lists or soundtrack suggestions for when traveling alone, are stand-out additions that can aid and amuse readers. They'll appreciate the information, and you'll have fun putting it all together. Additionally, if your trip had a specific focus (e.g. food-related; family; bucket list; and so on), gear your tips toward said focus; you'll be providing valuable information, or just a really great story, for your readers to ponder later.

Ready, Go

Consider the above, or come up with your own ideas, to create a travel post with some impact. Click "continue reading…" to see an example post, then make sure to leave a link to your own travel blog or post in the comments.

Continue reading "Your Best Foot Forward: The Travel Post" »

Your Best Foot Forward: Crafting a Solid Tutorial Post

August 29, 2013

Best_foot_header

Welcome to our special series on how to write a great blog post! Every other Thursday, we'll debut a new article that will teach you how to write posts for your blog that will engage and inspire your readers, encourage conversation in comments, and keep them coming back for more.   Put your best foot forward and watch your audience grow! Late to the party? Check out the other posts in our series here.

Crafty folks tend to be drawn to blogs and for good reason - it's a great platform for teaching others how to do and make things from the comfort of their laptops. From knitting to woodworking, there's a whole world of DIY waiting.

Maybe you have a skill or craft that you want to share with the world but you're not sure where to start. Telling someone how to do something is very different from showing them in person. Luckily, there are ways to bridge the gap and create a solid tutorial post.

Why would someone want to learn your hobby?

Before you even get into the how-tos, you might consider covering the whys. Why would a new reader to your blog want to learn how to create their own greeting cards, or how to build a kite, or how to blow glass? Is it fun? Is it profitable? Is it a hobby that will allow them to meet new people? Tell people why and then they'll want to know how.

Start with the basics

When a student is learning anything new, they have start with the very basics. It's the same thing with any craft or skill - start at the very basic level in your first tutorial. For example, if you're an avid crocheter, it doesn't make sense to kick off your tutorials with a sweater - go for something that's quick and easy. People are motivated by success.

Don't get too fancy

A lot of hobbies involve buying pricey supplies - don't be tempted to recommend the most cutting edge products within your niche. Keep it simple and accessible. Most people have easy access to craft and hobby stores, so take a look around in your local craft shop to see what's available for newbies. No one wants to buy a ton of new supplies just to make one thing and get bored.  Hey, we've all done it.

Choose the shortest path to success

Sure, you could hand make your own... everything, but the fun of crafting is in the results. Pick a project that people can whip up quickly. Give them that taste of pride and they'll want to learn more.

Walk through your own steps before clicking Publish

Did you forget a step? Did you leave out an important detail that you've only learned through experience? Read through your post with a critical eye and don't be afraid to include a lot of detail. You might even have someone else read the post and walk through the steps to see if they could complete the project without your help.

Ok, let's write our tutorial post. Don't forget to share yours in the comments. We want to learn, too!

Continue reading "Your Best Foot Forward: Crafting a Solid Tutorial Post" »

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