Posts categorized "Tips and Tricks" Feed

Blog Spring Cleaning Part 2: Settings

Spring is here! If you enjoyed our check list for tidying up your sidebars, we invite you to take a look at your blog's inner-workings. From the Dashboard, click on Settings under Manage My Blogs. There's something to check in each section but it won't take much time.

  • On the Basics page, make sure your Blog Description is up-to-date, especially if it shows on the blog itself.
    • If you have a Welcome Message, check to make sure that's up-to-date as well. This will be the first thing new readers see when they visit your blog!
  • The SEO page has the main option to publicize your blog.
    • If your blog is publicized, you'll want to make sure you've also enabled the Google Sitemap option.
    • Check that your Meta Keywords and Description are relevant and specific, spelled properly,  and truly descriptive. You may want to check out some resources on best practices for tips on how to choose the right description, as well as information on how search engines actually use that content.
  • Your Sharing settings are super important if you're active on social media. Facebook and/or Twitter might be the main sources your readers look to for updates from your blog. Make sure you have those accounts connected and ready for sharing.
  • The Feeds page has everything related to the RSS feeds for your blog. We've added some newer options there for Category and Author feeds, so make sure you check those settings.
  • The Add-ons page has options you may not be aware of.
    • For an enhanced commenting experience, you can turn on Disqus commenting.
    • If you'd like more detailed information about your visitors, you can connect your blog to Google's Analytics service.
    • There are also options for using TypeKit for web fonts and using the bitly link shortening and tracking service.
  • You probably haven't taken a look at the Post settings page in quite some time. Check the settings there to make sure they suit your blog.
    • There's a newer feature at the bottom to automatically show Auto-Generated Excerpts from the posts on the main index and archive pages. This can improve your blog's load time substantially.
  • Categories are a great way to organize your blog's posts by topic. However, too many categories can be counter-productive. We recommend taking some time to go through the Categories and Blogs > Posts listing to see if any categories can be merged or eliminated.
  • For most blogs, the default Comments settings will work wonderfully. We recommend taking a look at the different options to determine which will best suit your blog's needs.

Have you been taking time to spring clean your blog? Share your tips in the comments and we might include those in an upcoming post!


Design Tools: Custom CSS

We recently shared a breakdown of the different theme types available to users, and what they offer. As mentioned in that post, you may want to boost a pre-designed theme to make it closer to the vision you have for your blog's brand. CSS is the ideal go-to, allowing you to make both small and large changes. Thus enters the Custom CSS feature, available to Unlimited accounts and above.

As a design tool, the Custom CSS feature is unequivocally the most valuable feature for Typepad bloggers. It provides users, who don't want to customize from the template code up, an opportunity to customize their blog's look beyond the initial design.

Changes that can be made range from the tiniest tweak, like changing the color of linked text, to complex edits, like utilizing CSS3 animation for the navigation bar or even shifting content around. There's quite a lot that can be achieved with CSS, and we have a large number of posts in our archives that teach you how to make a variety of changes. We have a CSS Cookbook for even further tips and tricks.

Here is a list of common changes that users make to pre-designed themes:

There is a lot you can do with CSS, and the above tips are only to get you started. We recommend utilizing your test blog in order to try different ideas and make the best design decisions for your blog.


Introduce yourself to your blog's visitors

Whether your blog is personal, professional, or somewhere in between, providing a brief introduction to yourself can help you turn first-time visitors into regular readers. With so many blogs out there to choose from, visitors want to know who you are and what expertise you have to write about the subjects you cover.

Providing a brief introduction on the sidebar of your blog helps create a personal connection between you and readers and establishes your authority. Whatever page of your blog visitors arrive on, they will see the introduction and be able to learn more about you.

Typepad's Introduction module makes it easy for you to add a brief introduction to your blog's sidebar. First, think about what you want to say. You may want to provide your name and any professional titles or qualifications that you have which are relevant to the topics you post about. Or you might want to describe your interests and tell readers a bit about your story to create a personal touch. Letting visitors know what topics your blog covers is also a great idea.

Once you have decided on the text of your introduction, go to the Design > Content page for your blog. Locate "Introduction" in the list of modules and click on it to select it. When you click the "Add this module" button, a pop-up window will open with a field where you can enter the text of your introduction. If you want to get fancy, you can include HTML code for formatting in the text.

Introduction module

After you have typed in the text for your introduction, click OK. You can then drag and drop the module to the place you want it to appear in the sidebar. We recommend placing it near the top of the sidebar, so that visitors will be sure to see it.

If you want to change the text of the introduction, return to Design > Content and locate the Introduction module in the sidebar area. Click the pencil icon to open the module for editing.

After you have everything the way you want for your Introduction module, click "View Blog" to view your blog and check out how the introduction appears in the sidebar.

Do you use an Introduction module on your blog? What do you think makes a good introduction? Let us know in the comments!


Updating the Post Settings for the Front Page

If you don't have a landing page set as the front page, you have several options for displaying the recent posts on your blog. Go to Settings > Posts to choose the settings which best meet your needs. When adjusting the settings, keep in mind how visitors will be reading your posts and make it easy for new and longtime readers to navigate around your website.

We are offering up a couple tips for utilizing the available Post Settings:

Posts to Display - We suggest setting the number of posts to display per index page that allows readers to see at least the posts published in the last week. Ten posts per page is a good number. If you post frequently or multiple posts per day, you can keep the front page fresh by displaying only the posts published within the last 1-2 days.

Navigation Links - At the end of the index pages, it is helpful to have clearly identified navigation links allowing readers to visit older posts. Older/Newer and Next/Previous are commonly used terms for website navigation.

Post Settings

Do you have any recommendations for setting up your blog or website? Let us know in the comments!


Share Your Online Shop On Your Blog

Many Typepad bloggers sell their wares through their blogs and we showcase them in our Shop Guide.  Did you know you can set up an online storefront to sell your items, downloads, online classes/workshops, and more by adding a Page? A "Page" is where you can share stand-alone content outside of your blog posts so it's a great place to set up shop!

If you're an Etsy seller who wants to have a professional looking page connecting your blog to your Etsy shop, you can add your Etsy Mini "Gallery" widget to the "HTML" editor tab of your page.

Screen Shot 2016-02-29 at 4.06.27 PMThis is not just limited to Etsy sellers.  You can also also set up something similar if you're an Amazon Affiliate with an aStore or Big Cartel shop.

Even if you do not have an official online store, you can still set up a Page to designate a place where visitors can purchase your e-book or .pdf for download, sign up for an online workshop, or request your professional services.

The last part, and most fun part, is collecting money! The easiest way to collect money for items sold on your blog is by adding a Pay With PayPal button.   It takes a couple of minutes to set up in PayPal, then take the embed code they provide and add it to your Page using the HTML editor tab.

Finally, if you would like to share a little more information about your new Page, you can add the link to your new page in your sidebar or Navigation Bar so readers can easily find it.

 


Blog Spring Cleaning Part 1: Sidebars

The Spring Equinox is swiftly approaching and with it comes sunshine, flowers and lots and lots of spring cleaning. We recommend taking a break from cleaning out your closets and under the stairs to turn your attention to your blog.

The great thing about Typepad is that we do all of the back end heavy lifting for you but it's still great to take some time to tend to your blog's settings and design once in a while.

Today, we're going to start with a simple checklist to keep your blog's sidebars neat and up-to-date. Let's start on the Blogs > Design > Content page. Here are some items to check:

  • If you have an "about me" blurb, is it up-to-date with a recent photo?
  • If you have a copyright notice, are the dates correct?
  • Are your social media profile URLs correct? Do you have any new URLs to add?
  • Are there any Pages that can be updated or pruned?
  • Are there any outdated Photo Albums that can be dropped?
  • Are all of your third-party widgets in working order? Are there any that can be cleared to reduce clutter?
  • Are there any ads that are under-performing? Can those be moved to a different spot or removed entirely?
  • Do you have any redundant or unnecessary modules?
  • Are there any modules on the Content page that you haven't tried before? We have lots to select from!

Next, take a look at Library > Typelists and check the following for any lists you have enabled for your blog:

  • Are all of the links functioning and pointing to the correct location?
  • Are there any links that are outdated or no longer relevant?
  • Do you have the most recent logo for any affiliations or groups you link to?
  • If you have media Typelists for books or music, are those showing recent items?

That's it! A little decluttering can make a big difference with the appearance and load time of your blog. Keep an eye out for more spring cleaning tips in the coming weeks and feel free to share yours in the comments for this post.


Design Tools: Choosing a Theme Type

Tell us if you've heard this one: great design starts from the ground up.

Any of the available themes offered by Typepad can be the starting point for a great design. There are several different theme types on top of which you can build your vision for your blog. Let's cover what those types are and how to apply them to your blog.

Theme Types

First, we have the Classic theme. It comes pre-designed, with varying layout and color options. The themes tend to be set to a fixed width and do not have adaptable style tools. You can use Custom CSS to make adjustments to tweak it to fit your needs. 

Classic theme - Loft
Classic theme - Loft

Second, we have the Classic Custom theme. It's similar to the classic theme, but offers a customization option like uploading your own banner. You can use Custom CSS with this theme type as well. An example of this theme type is our Mosaic theme.

Third, we have the Styleless theme. It's presented to users completely stripped of any CSS, but you have full access to all layout options. Without CSS, it provides you with a blank template to put your design stamp on, via Custom CSS. A true "from the ground up" option.

Fourth, we have the Theme Builder theme. It comes with a base design, with all layout options. If you're a Beta team member, then you'll also have a responsive option. The Theme Builder is a precursor to the Nimble Design Lab, and allows users to select some basic design features and upload a custom banner. Think of it as being half-classic, half-lab. It's a good choice if having too many options is overwhelming for you when you're first starting. You can learn more about the Theme Builder in the Knowledge Base.

Fifth, we have the Responsive theme. It comes pre-designed, with varying layout and color options, but with responsive widths for mobile-friendly viewing. You can use Custom CSS with responsive themes as well. An example of this theme type is our Gourmet theme.

Responsive theme - Gourmet
Responsive theme - Gourmet

Finally, we have the Nimble Design Lab theme. It comes pre-designed, with varying layout, style, and color options, and is fully responsive. Where it differs, however, is that you can customize it without needing to know any CSS. The lab portion of the tool allows you to set styles for the entire blog. You can, of course, use Custom CSS to make any additional tweaks that aren't yet available in the Lab. The Nimble Design Lab is currently in Beta, and you can learn more in our Knowledge Base.

Nimble Design Lab - Pre-Designed 'Marsala Arabesque'
Nimble Design Lab - Pre-Designed 'Marsala Arabesque'

* note: Custom CSS is available to Pro Unlimited plans and above.
Plus users will need to upgrade if they wish to use the feature.

Apply a Theme

To apply any of these theme types, you must first visit the Design tab for the blog in your account. Once there, click the Choose a Theme button to be taken to the selection menu. You will find a few different options available to you.

  • Customizable
    • This is where you will locate the Styleless, Theme Builder, and Nimble Design Lab starting points
  • Nimble Design Lab
    • You can jump right to this section to see pre-designed themes to use as-is or use as the starting point for your design.
  • Personal; Professional; Simple
    • These options will lead to classic and classic custom themes.

Building a great design doesn't need to be difficult, nor does choosing a theme type. You're not locked into your decision once you've selected a theme or type, so we recommend testing your options out on a test blog before making a choice for the design you'll launch on your blog.


Adding a copyright notice to your blog's sidebar

While copyright law automatically protects all original content you post to your blog, adding a copyright notice to the sidebar can be a good way to remind readers and visitors that your content is your own.

Typepad offers a copyright module that you can easily add to your blog's sidebar. Go to the Design > Content page for your blog and locate "Copyright" in the list of modules. When you click the "Add this module" button, a pop-up window will open. This is automatically filled with the code to display a copyright symbol (i.e., ©) and your blog's name. If that's all you need, click OK and then drag and drop the module to the place you'd like to have it in your sidebar.

Copyright module

If you would like to add more information to the copyright notice, or to replace it with different information, make those changes in the content area of the module, then click "OK" and drag and drop the module into place.

When you check your published blog after adding the module, you'll see the copyright notice in the sidebar where you placed it, reminding everybody who reads your blog that you own your content.


Setting Up Your RSS Feed

So that your readers can easily be updated about new content, we strongly recommend setting up your blog's feed. Using the blog's feed, updates can be sent to subscribers through a variety of ways, including e-mail subscriptions.  It's a great way to make sure your readers are keeping up with your blog!

On a Typepad blog, the feed is the blog's URL followed by atom.xml or rss.xml. Both of these feeds contain the same content and it usually doesn't matter which one you use. Here are some examples to get the feel for how they look:

http://example.typepad.com/my-blog/atom.xml
http://www.customdomain.com/my-blog/rss.xml
http://www.exampledomain.net/atom.xml

To turn on your feed, go to Settings > Feeds, and check the box to publish the feed for Blog Posts, and save changes. You can also turn on feeds for comments on individual posts and pages, and also posts by category.

Feeds

The feed for your blog will update immediately when you publish a new post so that your readers can come and take a look right away. You can learn more about feeds in our Knowledge Base.


Set a Landing Page for your Blog or Website

When visitors first arrive at your blog, you may want to present a single webpage which shares the purpose of your site or information you wish to highlight, instead of the list of recent blog posts. By creating a Page and setting it as the Front Page, you can make the page the first page visitors to your site see.

Why would you want to set a landing page?

  • You wish to create a more traditional website with multiple web pages, like for a business or service.
  • A majority of your existing readers receive new posts via a subscription, and you want new visitors to see options to subscribe via email, social media, and more when they find your site from an online search.
  • You want to let visitors know about a promotion or special event.

To set up a Landing Page, create a Page by selecting New Page from the Compose button drop-down menu. Once a Page has been published, go to Settings > Posts for your blog and scroll down to the Front Page section.

Front Page Settings

Select the Display a “Page” as the front page option and choose one of the published pages from the drop-down menu. Finally, click Save Changes.

If you wish to direct visitors from the Landing Page to the list of recent posts, you can include a link to the blog index in the Navigation Bar. The URL for the blog index will be listed in the Front Page settings after you save changes as mentioned above.

For more details on creating a Landing Page, see the article in the Knowledge Base.