Archive for the 'Blogging' category

Extending The Use Of BlogDesk

blogdesk-logoIn a separate post, I have complained about the shortcomings of the editors available for WordPress, Drupal and other content management systems.

The solution I have been using lately is BlogDesk. I have been using it for months to post on my blogs (I’m using it now). Lately I have extended its use for other projects such as my new allergy information website. That one uses Drupal, and has many types of content (blog, page, story, book …). Some of these need more configuration than BlogDesk can manage, so uploading from my desk top does not work for everything.

What does work well is to use BlogDesk to type text, embed images, format, add links etc. The built-in spell checker is pretty good to. Use only the Post section, not the More section. Add page breaks manually.

You can then view the HTML, where you can make further changes if necessary, such as adding floating DIV blocks etc.

When you are done editing, switch the view to HTML, then copy the entire post.

Disable the editor in the editor in your content management system. Paste the HTML into the body of your post body.

WARNING: Do not attempt to edit your post with a built-in editor at a later time if you use the above method to add additional HTML tags. The editor may remove or alter your carefully constructed HTML code. FCKeditor (for Drupal) seems to alter the HTML less than most.

Is Any Web-Based Built-In Editor Good?

I just disabled the built-in editor for WordPress. After trying several editors for Drupal, I’ve given up on them all. For now, I’ll stick to HTML, thanks.

I love the idea of WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors, but I don’t like what any of these editors do to my posts.

I’ve had problems with TinyMCE, for example, I lost a lot of work when I tried to edit a link, and ended up jumping to the link instead.

Most on-line editors filter the HTML, which is just plain nasty if you are trying to embed elements in floating DIV statements for example (for an example, see this article on how to install TinyMCE in Drupal).

Although the idea of WYSIWYG is great, in practice the available options are wanting.

Typing HTML has problems as well. At first there is a lot to learn, but you get used to it. The problem is typos. Most of the links in my posts open a new window - it would be too easy to mistype “_blank” or leave out a quote somewhere.

The solution I have been using lately is BlogDesk. You can read more about extending the use of BlogDesk on a separate post.

Placing Ads Next to Adsence Ads on your Blog

Google adsenseMore and more blogs are trying to draw attention to their ads by placing graphics next to them, as shown in this sample from Google. The idea is to avoid misleading readers into thinking that the images are associated with the ads.

While Google makes it very clear that any images near an ad should not be associated with the ad by subject, they are not clear about random associations between ads and images, as created by plugins such as Adsense Beautifier. In fact, it is generally hard, if not impossible to know exactly what ads will appear on your site, and in which order, so how could you directly show a connection between your images and a particular ad?

Actually, I have noticed that a number of websites have stopped using Adsense Beautifier, and I think that is a shame. I find plain text ads boring and kind of ugly (but I have them on my site anyway!), and I think that if used tastefully and without the intent to mislead, images near ads can be a good thing, for readers and advertisers.

Google needs to provide more clear guidelines, specifically, what is acceptable. I know this is hard, but I think it is necessary. The alternative is that some people will find alternative methods for monetizing their websites, and others will give up on website revenue all together.

What is your opinion?

Enable Comments or Not on your Blog

This article is inspired by a post on John TP’s blog about comments. He suggests that new bloggers turn off comments. The theory is that if you have comments turned on, and no one comments, then visitors will assume that your blog is unpopular and won’t come back.

I think this is all based in fear - fear of rejection by even techno-geeks!

 

I would not dream of turning comments off. There are a few reasons for this:

  1. Even when I started out, I got a few comments. I even had a few conservations with other website operators by leaving comments on each other’s blog. It was fun, and hey, I got comments!
  2. If I see a blog with comments turned off, I don’t tend to spend much time with it unless it contains vital information. I don’t want to turn away readers from my blog, so I leave comments on. If no one has anything to say, let the comments area stay blank. If they do, it will fill up.
  3. A blog that has been around for a while with comments turned off will look really bad when suddenly comments are turned on again, and there are no comments! Better to grow organically.
  4. I write in an attempt to interest and inform my readers, depending on the post. If they (you for example) get something out of an article, great. I’ve done my job. Comments are just a bonus.

To me, the best strategy around comments on your blog is to leave them on, and work really hard at writing good content to attract readers, and encourage people to post comments (by the way, if you have something to say, feel free to leave a comment here, but don’t feel you have to).

 

I look at my server logs very often, to keep my finger on the pulse of my website. What interests me is the number of visitors I have, and how many go beyond the landing page to look at more of my material. That interests me as much as the comments I get.

Happy Blogging!

Getting Started with Blogging and WordPress

A friend of mine sent me a question about how to get started with blogging. I am sharing my reply to him with all of you, I hope you find it useful!

Just got back from Mexico a few days ago, and am cleaning things up and transitioning back to being here! By the way, you can read about my traveling in Mexico at journal.dougs-travels.com … I’ll be adding to that site for quite a while.

Anyhow, of all my websites, the ones that I have put effort into promoting have all achieved a PR of 4, which I am really happy about! Traffic is increasing, I would not say it is a lot yet, not enough yet to generate significant income, but that will come. I’m on the right trajectory, so if I keep doing what I’ve been doing, and learn to do it better, I will get there alright!

WordPress is easy to use. That does not make it easy to set up in just the way you want. If you like it “out of the box” it is easy, and if you can find a template you like, it is easy to switch the template. Modifying a template or customizing WordPress is more of a challenge, depending on your background. So if use an existing template, you really don’t need to know HTML or programming.

WordPress is very flexible when it comes to changing the layout. Again, if you can’t find a template that does it for you, then you need to roll up your sleeves and get into HTML, CSS and programming (or pay someone to do this for you). Probably this is not necessary when you start out, the first thing to do is generate traffic. I did lots of work on my website, but that’s because doing this sort of work fits in to my big picture plan.

WordPress is open-source, so the software itself is free. The cost is for your server, and your personal time to learn how to use it. There are additional costs to customizing it, either your time, or paying for someone else’s time. I would say on a comparative basis though, it is about the cheapest option for a blog.

In terms of how long it would take to get a blog up and running? Depends on your experience. I could register a domain, and likely have it working with WordPress within an hour, and it might take me a few hours or days to customize a template with which I am already familiar. But it took me years and decades to gain general computer experience, and weeks and months to learn the inner workings of servers and WordPress.

I don’t know how savvy you are with computers. It could take you days or weeks to get started, depending on what you know. Don’t worry if it takes you weeks, that in a way is a good thing, it means you are learning a lot!

Hope all this helps!

WordPress Template Tweak

Wordpress-Template-TweekI’ve been reading other people’s blogs about blogging lately, specifically about template design. This is, in part, because I have not been entirely happy with the finer points of the layout for my travel information website. I already had some changes in mind, and I wanted to get more ideas about the finer points, especially ad placement, since I was going to eliminate the box where one ad had been carefully hidden from day one.

Obviously, hiding your ads is a bad idea if you want your site to make any revenue!

Read on to find out what changes I made, and what I think of the result.

Continue reading

Keep an Eye on your Server Log

I just posted an article to my blog, and then used pingoat to inform the blogsphere that I had updated my blog. Then I did a routine check on my server log. I was surprised to see a 404 (page not found) error on that very post! Yes, someone had come to visit that very post, but it was not there. So whoever visited me from IP 76.186.37.79, my face is a bit #FF000 (i.e. red) in embarrassment! I’ll blame it on BlogDesk, which I had incorrectly configured, and for some reason it set the time for a few hours in the future.

Had I not checked my logs, I’d have missed that. Checking your server log every so often is a good idea!

Ways to Get More Blog Subscribers

rss iconHere is a helpful article on how to increase your blog subscribers. I highly recommend John’s site as a great source of information on blogging and WordPress (among other things).

John has taken his favorite tips from 10 Effective Ways to Get More Blog Subscribers, on copyblogger, and augmented them a bit.

So far, I’ve been following the quality content approach, as well as leaving useful comments on other people’s blogs. The whole idea of social interaction via blogs is really interesting to me. Sure, I’d rather meet people face-to-face, but there is a lot to be said for inter-blog conversations!