March 21, 2017

Bloggers on Blogger, have you seen these fantastic new themes?

Blogger, the free blogging platform of Google, has quietly added some contemporary themes/ templates. 

These themes come in four groups: Contempo, Soho, Emporio and Notable. Each has a number of sub-themes.

new-blog-theme
Notable theme: one option out of many


blogger-theme
Soho: new, bold, theme

One area in which Blogger was supposed to be poorer in comparison to Wordpress was that it did not have modern looking themes. We have seen comments such as 'Blogger blogs are fit for a 16-year old blogger experimenting with her fashion, and not for serious bloggers and in no way for professionals'.

blogger new theme
Contempo: another Blogger theme group

Those on Blogger platform had the facility to play with colors and layout but, yes, their choice for ready-made themes was rather limited. The new addition bridges that gap to a very large extent. With the ability to further customize the themes, bloggers on this platform can now easily create a new blog template of their choice, with dozens of choices of color, font, layout etc within each theme.

Emporio theme on Blogger
A blog on Emporio theme
One word of caution: Minutely study the preview pane (it comes just before the tool tabs, as shown in the images in this post) before applying any new theme, because your assets on the blog may be re-positioned in a way you may not like. When such changes are minor, you can correct them through 'advanced' tools within 'theme' or through 'layout' tools, but when these are too many and big, it would take too much time and energy in fixing them.

March 17, 2017

These 9 actions just before publishing can make your blog post great

The difference between a good blog post and a sloppy one 

...is sometimes just a word, sometimes the time it was posted, sometimes...

Many popular writers/ bloggers are average writers but manage to write while articles written by a large number of skilled and expert writers remain unseen or are not shared. That is ironical, but true.

In a big majority of cases, the good and bad articles travel the same distance and then one becomes very good and the other, average or bad. The turning point quite often is JUST BEFORE THE WRITER HITS THE 'PUBLISH' BUTTON!

Never allow your good article turning bad only because you didn't take the last few actions that are so important for any article, including a blog post.

1. Will you check grammar for just one minute please?

There is no bigger put off than seeing a mis-spelt word or an expression that looks stupidly out of place. 

The bad side of this coin is that most grammatical mistakes are there not because the author didn't know grammar but because he didn't check it before publishing. The good side is that it takes just one minute to check grammar if you know it. One last minute, before you publish your post!

2. Hey, what about the language? Is it flowing, easy, standard? You need a bit of humor? Is it appropriate?

Like the actor, who must act for the audience, the writer must write for the reader. No further arguments if you want to be a good writer, a good blogger. 

Use your creativity, use wit, use persuasion. Depending upon the topic and the type of visitors your blog has, write the way it will appeal them. 

In most cases, write in small sentences. Show more than describe in long passages. Break monotony with change in sentence structure. Illustrate with examples. Tell story, a flowing story. 

 If you have already written an article, why not look for these attributes? Maybe, changing a few expressions makes it less heavy, less verbose, more readable.


    


3. Have you applied the right labels to the post?

Let's now look beyond content. Put labels on posts so that you can group them and put similar articles in one section. (If you are not sure of the value of labels, visit this post on what all can be achieved by putting labels correctly on blog posts.)

4. Does the article has proper links to useful resources?

Links are one of the most useful features of the webpages, and not for no reason. They relate the current article with useful resources, thus adding value to the content.

Check whether you have given links to relevant resources within the blog or elsewhere. If not, take just one minute in deciding what the best linkable places are and then link them. 

One word of caution here. Google likes links, but they should be relevant and in moderate numbers (should not look spammy). 

5. Why not put an image for relief to the reader's eyes if nothing else?

In most cases, you can find an image to supplement the blog's content. It could be a graphic or a slide or a cartoon or a photo. Even highly research-oriented posts will do better with an image: in that case, it could be a graph or a slide or a photo of the machine or...

If you do not have a ready-made library of good images, build one. If in a hurry, go to a license-free picture site (e.g. Pixabay, CreativeCommons), select a picture, look at the terms of licence and use in the blog.

As in the case of links, use only relevant images. A model's photo will not go well with most types of posts.

6. Now that grammar and resources are checked, why not look at formatting? It will take just a few moments.

Like grammar, this is a badly neglected part of the blogging craft, and bloggers pay heavily for neglecting it. 

In general, formatting should aid readability and should be standard across the article. It should not be too experimental and should not disturb reading.

In your last-minute formatting check, you must check whether you need to
  • give sub-titles, 
  • break big paras,
  • increase line space between paragraphs, 
  • make some expressions bold/ italic/ in different color (please do not do it excessively), 
  • change font type and size for better readability,
  • add indent, 
  • put quotes within " " marks, 
  • put bullet points when listing items
7. Have you taken care of attributions and credit if due?

Attributions are a must, from both ethical and practical angles. You must give credit when you copy others' content, even when it is permissible under fair use norms and the law. 

Be sure that you have taken permission of the owner for using the image/ video clip/ long passage that you have used in the post. When in doubt, leave it out.

8. Can you afford to forget optimization when you write for the web, can you?

As we said in one of our earlier posts (why promote the blog), you need to be discovered even if you write the best blog in the world. 

For being discovered, you need to promote the post among friends and others. That is an on-going process. What you need to see just before hitting the publish button is whether the post has expressions around the focus areas. In simple words, what you need is to do is to select one or two key expressions (keywords) for which you'd like the post to come on search pages, and then see that these expressions are there in the article. It also means that your title and sub-titles are such that they catch attention and also support the keyword or key phrases that are unique to that post. 

SEO is a big topic, and so we refer this post in case you are not sure what search optimization is: SEO tips for bloggers

9. Is it the right time for posting? 

Finally, be sure that you are pressing the publish button at the right time. This is very important if your target viewers belong to a fixed location or visit websites at a particular time of the day or your topic has high relevance only during a particular time of the year. 

You won't publish a post on Christmas in the month of February and on winter ailments in summers; that's obvious. But what we often ignore this point when the time relationship is subtle. For example, our visitors' location and their web-surfing habits.

If you have a post ready but you discover that people would be looking for such type of post at some other time, schedule it for that time.