So you have a blog, and you have started to get traffic. Yippee. However you have decided you want to go further and really improve your blogs search ability on the web. How do you do it?
One really handy free tool that you can use is Google Webmaster Tools- after all we all know that Google is the biggest search engine and of course we want to be on the good side of Google!
First of all you need to make sure your blog is signed up on the tool. Go to https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/ and log in using your google account. (or register for one free if you haven’t got one) Then on the main dashboard page on the right hand side there is a big red button which says ‘Add a site.’
You will then need to verify your blog so webmaster tools will be able to pick it up. To do this really easily on wordpress go on to ‘alternate methods’ and use the html meta tag method. If you need to do it on another blogging platform, it is also really easy.
You will then need to make sure that you have installed the ‘Google Webmaster Verification’ WordPress Plug In. You can find this easily by searching under ‘Add New’ Plug In. Once you have done this go to the ‘Google Webmaster Verification’ plug in which you will find under the ‘Settings’ menu on your wordpress dashboard.
Simply then add the code from Webmaster tools into the google site verification box at the top. Remember to only install the code rather than the whole thing. Please see below as an example.
Save changes and voila! Your site is now verified. It will take some time for it to fully update your information- the details I am using below aren’t fully up to date for I heart Snapping but it doesn’t matter as it will give you an idea.
There are a few things which are really useful for bloggers within Google Webmaster Tools. Here are just a few of them.
1. Firstly pay attention to your searches as it can give you a really valuable insight into why people are finding your blog.
Impressions are the number of times pages from your site were viewed in search results- the number of days per period defaults to 30, but you can change it at any time. Clicks are the number of times your site was clicked in search results for a query e.g instagram post, and the percentage increase and decrease in the average daily clicks compared to the previous period. (again default of 30 days) CTR is the click through rate of your site for that particular query and the average position is where it will appear in the search results for that particular query. Don’t worry if it doesn’t look that great to start with, it can take some time to collect all your data.
2. Submitting a site map- It is really important to submit a site map because it helps google know what pages to index. As blogs are slightly different to websites which have hundreds of different pages, you can get away with using your RSS feed. Just go to optimisation, click sitemaps and add a sitemap by typing in your RSS feed to the URL box.
3. Links to your site- this is so important as good quality, stable links are essential for good SEO. Go to ‘Traffic’ and then links to your site. From there you can see how many links you have in total, who your top linkers are what your top linked pages are. It is really interesting and you may find sites linking to you which you didn’t realise were doing so.
There are lots of other really interesting aspects to Webmaster Tools, we have only just scratched the surface. If you haven’t set it up already, it is well worth doing so, especially if you are like me and nosey about just what is going on with your website.
Have you ever taken a photo and then looked at it only to realise that it has a yellowy or blue tint to it? However when taking the photo the light and the scene looked completely normal? The reason for this is that images taken in different lights have a different colour or temperature to them. E.g if you take a photo in artificial lighting it may come across as having a slightly blueish tint. There is a large range of temperatures and colours and this range is known as the Kelvin Scale.
White Balance is an important part of photography that people sometimes neglect to take into account. Put simply the reason we adjust white balance is to get the colours in our images as accurate as possible.
The naked eye won’t notice these slight changes in colour, but although our cameras are pretty damn smart, they sometimes don’t have the capabilities of making these adjustments automatically- it might need a little bit of help to get it spot on. In cooler light, blue or green, you may need to tell the camera to warm things up a bit and in warmer light, yellow or orange, you may need to tell it to cool the colour down.
Many DSLR cameras have special presets meaning that you can adjust the white balance really easily. Below are the settings on my Nikon camera:
Auto – this is where the camera makes a best guess on a shot by shot basis. It generally is pretty good and can quite accurately estimate the colour and temperature, however for trickier lights I find it struggles.
Tungsten – this mode is usually symbolized with a little bulb and is for shooting indoors, especially under bulb lighting. It generally cools down the colors in photos.
Fluorescent – this compensates for the ‘cool’ light of fluorescent light and will warm up your shots Really good for artificial lighting such as those horrible strip lights you get in certain places like schools.
Direct Sunlight – This is basically a ‘normal’ white balance setting. It generally will make the light slightly warmer.
Cloudy – this setting generally warms things up a touch more than ‘direct sunlight’ mode.
Flash – the flash of a camera can be quite a cool light so in Flash WB mode you’ll find it warms up your shots a touch.
Shade – the light in shade is generally cooler (bluer) than shooting in direct sunlight so this mode will warm things up slightly.
It is definitely worth playing around with the white balance settings and not just keeping it on auto as you may find that you like some of the results more. I shot my little piggy here at around 3pm in the afternoon in the house with a window behind me.
While the ‘Auto’ setting is ok, I much prefer the Fluorescent setting, it just makes the photo slightly warmer and more appealing. This is just an example but I have seen many shots that would have looked so much nicer if the white balance wasn’t set to auto. Auto is ok and good for snapshots, but if you want to get more creative with your photography then it is definitely worth having a play round with it. Be brave and take it off auto!
Access your white balance menu by going into your camera’s menu settings. The settings available will differ from camera to camera but just have a play around with it and try it out in different lights when you have a bit of time. You will be amazed the difference it can make to your photos.
You have started a blog, you have started to get some readers…but how many? Some people are interested in how many people are looking at their blog and how they are finding it, and if you want to attract PR companies in order to do reviews, then it is useful to find out what your ‘stats’ are.
Blogger has a free statistics tool that you can use if you have a blogger blog. It is really useful in checking out the basic information you need to know- like the amount of visitors and the amount of page views.
Just go to your main blog dashboard and click stats…
The tool is really easy to use, and has more than enough information. It is measured in real time, meaning you can see exactly what is sending you traffic and when.
The next tool worth mentioning is probably the most famous- Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a powerful, free tool that helps you monitor a huge amount of information about you site and it can be used on any blog platform.
To sign up you will need a google account which is quick and easy to set up. If you then go to www.google.com/analytics you will be able to sign up for a analytics account. Once you have done this it will ask you for a little detail about the blog you want to track and then it will take you through to a page which looks something like this.
You will need to paste the above code into your website just above the
</head> tag. If you get stuck then just ask us as it is really easy to do.
Once that is done you are ready to use Analytics! You can track your visitors, traffic sources, keywords and it really gives an insight into who is visiting your site.
Another great free site is Stat Counter and that is the one I use for my personal blog. It works very much in the same way as Google Analytics but I just find it a bit more visually easy to use. It is free, straight forward to use and does the same things as Google’s Analytics tool.
You can see how people are finding you through search engines and break it down either by year, month, week or day…
Here is an example of how people have found my blog via search engines this morning.
You will see that they are really quite random! But they can be a lot worse than that- I have had literally the most crazy keywords! If you click on the magnifying glass it gives you some more details about the search, including how long they stayed on the site and what google ranking result you were.
You can also see links of where your traffic is coming from- this is the part I use the most as it shows you how people are finding you- it is always useful as sometimes you won’t even realise that someone has linked to you.
You can do so much but another thing I like is that you can see what each visitor is doing on your site and what links they are using to exit and what posts they are looking at. For example this one….
You can see how often they have visited the site and what they did on their last visit.
It is certainly worth checking this tool out because you can do so much more than what I have mentioned, it is just to give you an idea.
Finally the last statistics tool which I think is worth a mention is Hit Sniffer. This site is similar to the others, but it just again looks different. It is another quite visual tool and uses a lot of graphs to show you where your traffic is coming from. You do have to pay for it but depending on your traffic, it can work out as just a couple of pounds a month. You can also have a 7 day trial to see whether you like it enough to pay the monthly fee.
It does all the same things that the other tools I have discussed but one thing that it does too which is totally crazy is that you can see how many people are visiting and actually live chat with the visitors that are on your site. I would never ever do this because can you imagine how freaked out you would be if you were the visitor, but I still find it a really clever tool!
So there we have it- our top stat tools for your blog. All the tools I have mentioned here I have tried at one point and I can recommend them all. I nowadays just use Stat Counter as it does all that I want it too, but it is worth having a further look into them to see which one suits you best. They all basically do the same thing, it just depends on the feel you get for them as to which one you prefer. Some people may get on ok with just the basic Blogger stats but some people may want a little bit more information.
The main thing to remember is that whatever your stats are, unless you are blogging for business or to make an income, blogging is just a bit of fun and therefore you shouldn’t get too hung up on checking them too often. However when you do want to check, these tools certainly are a great way of seeing who is looking at your site.
Have you ever seen those buttons on the side of some blogs and wondered what they are? Well those are grab badges. A grab badge is basically a way of publicising your blog- if people like what they read they may put your button on the side of their blog with your link- it is a way of increasing your readers and opening you up to new people you might not necessarily find.
The first thing to do is make a grab badge- over the coming months we will be design ideas. If you have an elaborate design in mind then it may be worth asking a designer to do it for you, (cheeky plug, my hubby and I do blog design at Pink Egg!) however it is really easy to whip up a simple photo grab badge yourself using any number of editing packages we have been showcasing over the last few weeks. I am going to use PicMonkey. Here is a step by step guide to making a super simple badge.
1. Open up PicMonkey and upload the photo you want to use.
2. The first thing you need to do is crop your image so it resembles something of a square. Don’t worry about resizing properly as we will do this later. Just click on crop and then drag the free box around until it resembles a square- it doesn’t have to be exact but get as near to a square as you can.
3. You may want to add some effects to make the photo look a bit more interesting. On PicMonkey just go to the second icon down which looks like a test tube type thing and you will find loads of great effects. Pick one that will make your badge stand out- after all you want people to be drawn to it enough to click to have a look.
4. Now it’s time to add the text. Just click the fourth icon down on the left hand menu which resembles a ‘P’ Here you are greeted with a load of fonts, have a play around with it and add your text on. Remember you can also change the colour and size of the font- it is worth having a few attempts to see which you like best.
5. Finally the last thing to do is resize your photo- if you go on to the first icon- basic edits and right down at the bottom there is resize. It is totally up to you to decide what size you want your badge to be, but around 200 x 200 is a good size- if your photo isn’t exactly a square just make sure you untick ‘keep proportions.’
6. Finally save and voila your new grab badge is ready! This is just a really simple way of getting a badge- but do have a play around because you will be able to make some really nice ones that really sum up what your blog is about- especially put some thought into your photo- you want one that reflects your blog.
Once you have made your badge you now need to create an html code for your image so you can place it on your blog. The best place to do this is using an online photo saving site like photobucket. Below are some step by step instructions- it is really simple.
1. Upload your image to Photobucket.
2. Go to the album which you have placed the photo in, hover your cursor over the photo and you will find a box comes up that has a number of links. Copy the html link which will look something like this.
<a href=”http://s1056.photobucket.com/albums/t372/mummydaddyme/?action=view&current=grab.jpg” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i1056.photobucket.com/albums/t372/mummydaddyme/grab.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Photobucket”></a>
5. You need to add your blog url into the html code so it knows to link back to you. All you need to do is substitute your blog name after the first a ref section.
<a href=”http://www.mummydaddyandmemakesthree.co.uk” target=”_blank”><img src=”http://i1056.photobucket.com/albums/t372/mummydaddyme/grab.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Photobucket”></a>
6. You then need to add it into an widget/gadget or html box on your sidebar. This obviously fully depends what package you are using. For example on blogger you would ‘Add a Gadget’ and then choose html
7. Add the following code into your site. Make sure you change the bits in other colours to your own details.
<a href=”IMAGE LOCATION HTML CODE“ target=”_blank”></a><a href=”YOUR BLOG URL“><img src=”IMAGE LOCATION HTML CODE“></a></a>
<textarea id=”code-source” rows=”3″ cols=”13″ name=”code-source”><a href=“YOUR BLOG URL“><img src=“IMAGE LOCATION HTML CODE“ border”0″ alt=“TITLE OF IMAGE“ /></a></center></textarea>
The image location html code is the code from Photobucket.
Therefore say for example for my old blogger blog it would be something like this-
<a href=”http://s1056.photobucket.com/albums/t372/mummydaddyme/?action=view&current=grab.jpg” target=”_blank”></a><a href=”http://www.mummydaddyandmemakesthree.blogspot.co.uk”><img src=”http://i1056.photobucket.com/albums/t372/mummydaddyme/grab.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Photobucket”></a></a>
<textarea id=”code-source” rows=”3″ cols=”13″ name=”code-source”><a href=”http://www.mummydaddyandmemakesthree.blogspot.com”><img src=”http://i1056.photobucket.com/albums/t372/mummydaddyme/grab.jpg” border”0″ alt=”mummydaddyandme” /></a></center></textarea>
8. Once you have done that you should have made your very own grab badge.
9. That’s it! It is that simple. Now be sure to spread the word and get adding other badges- networking is what will make your blog get more hits.
We said it before when we were talking about giving your blog a ‘look’ and a brand image, but it doesn’t hurt to say it again. Your blog banner, or header or whatever you want to call it, is your business card. It is the first thing people will look at when they visit your blog, and a lot of people will make the decision to stay and read on or leave, completely based on your banner. The whole look of your blog is important, but the banner should tie your whole blog together and tell people what you are about in a quick and visual way.
There are a lot of beautiful banners out there, and it’s really daunting to know where to start, so today I’m going to take you through a hopefully, really simple tutorial of how to make a photo banner. I’m doing a photo banner because that’s what I do best. I use a photo banner on my own personal blog because it is the best way of telling people what I’m all about; my blog includes a lot of photos and is all about a little boy. Thats what Dear Beautiful Boy does and so that is what my banner tells you.
I use Picasa to do all my blog making and designing. Its a free download software for your computer and once you get to grips with it, it’s brilliant for creating photo banners, grab buttons (which we’ll be talking about in a few weeks) and collages. It doesn’t cost anything to give it a try, so why not download it and see what you think.
The great thing with Picasa is that making a photo banner is easy because it automatically shows you all the photos that you have saved in various folders all over your computer. So on launching the software just go to the correct folders to find the pictures you want to use in your banner.
Directly underneath where the folder name and details are, you can see a play button. Next to that is a collage button. By pressing that you go through to the collage editing part of the software and it will automatically take the photos in that folder and place them in your collage for you.
To the left hand side you will find a drop down menu which gives you a selection of different sized boards on which to arrange your pictures. At this stage it doesn’t actually matter what board you use as you will crop it later, but I like to work on a board that has the rough proportions of the finished article so that it is easier to arrange things how I would like.
On the left hand side there is also a tab entitled ‘Clips’ which allows you to add and remove photos that you would like to include. By pressing ‘Get More’ you will go back to the original screen where you selected your folder and you can select more folders of photos to include in your banner.
Then it’s simply a case of arranging the photographs as you would like them. You can resize and angle them to your hearts content. For this design I wanted the pictures the same size and an equal distance apart.
You can change the background colour of your board here too. For a clean look on your blog, it’s a good idea to make sure this background colours is either the same as the background of your blog, or a contrasting colour to make it stand out. When you are happy with your background and photo arrangement you simply click ‘Create Collage’.
This takes you to a different editing screen when you can edit the whole collages as if it were one image, but you can always go back and change the collage around if you need to by clicking ‘Edit Collage’ in the top left hand corner. Once through to the editing stage you need to trim down and tidy up any uneven edges on your banner, using the crop tool. You can also add text and retouch anything you aren’t quite happy with.
You can manually decide the proportions by eye or you can use a preset crop, but with this design I needed to chop off the excess background board to the right of the design.
I left a space at the bottom of my banner to add my blog title. So you simply use the text tool to select your font, size and colour and then move the text into position. Then click ‘Apply’ to make those changes to your banner. The final thing left to do is to export your finished banner to a folder on your computer by clicking on ‘Export’ at the bottom of the screen.
This window will pop up and you need to resize the image to however many pixels wide your blog is. This will differ from one blog design to the next, but is generally somewhere between 800 and 1200 pixels. You can check this first or export a few versions with different pixel sizes and see which one fits best.
And voilà! One simple and easy photo banner for your blog. I would like to apologise for the unexciting and unoriginal banner and blog title I’ve used in my example. It’s simply to give you an idea of how you might go about making a photo banner for your blog.
And remember that this is just a basic idea. Once you’ve got to grips with using Picasa in this way, the restrictions are only on what your head can come up with. Try more pictures, or less pictures. Text at the top, the side, over the pictures, in the middle of a circle of pictures. It’s just a case of letting your creativity flow. You could change your title font and back ground colour each month or season for a different look. You can swap pictures in and out to keep it up to date.
Just keep in mind at all times what your blog is about and how your banner represents that. This is probably one of the reasons why photo banners are so versatile, because you can simply include some of your best blog pictures and you are automatically representing the blog as a whole in your banner. Just take the I Heart Snapping banner; it tell you what we’re all about.
The next free photo editing tool we want to tell you about is Be Funky. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, this editor comes both as an app and also as a free online editor too. I think both tools are good, but the online editor ever so slightly gets my vote.
Like most of the other editors we have discussed, Be Funky is really easy to use. In fact in my opinion, it could be the easiest. What you see is what you get, and what you get is rather nice as well.
This is just a really quick overview of what Be Funky can do, but no doubt we will explain more about it over the coming months. I really like the software- it is very clean and easy to use, and does have a lot of really artistic filters and effects. There are other things that you can do, like add speech bubbles or clipart which I personally wouldn’t use, but they would be very useful for some. If you like adding filters to your photos it is definitely worth a look as it has some really great ones and I love the fact that you can choose to paint only parts of the picture with the effect- it makes for some really interesting and varied photos.
I could play for hours on Be Funky, so if you like photo effects then I would definitely head over to their site and take a look.
One thing that I really struggled with when I first got my camera was getting my head around all the different modes and what the buttons did. Now obviously this varies from camera to camera, I have a Nikon D5100 so that will have different buttons to a Canon for example, but essentially most of the modes and functions are the same. I found the instruction booklet that came with the camera quite hard to get my head around and I wished they laid it out in a simple to understand way- it would have made life a whole lot easier.
So here is my guide below to the main buttons and functions on most cameras- I have left some of the more unique buttons that are specifically for certain makes of camera until another post. Most of the things I have pointed out here will be on most DSLR’s- although the pictures or buttons may look slightly different.
1. One of the most important parts of your camera- the lens. With DSLR’s you can change the lens. The one on my camera is the 18-55 kit lens but we will be talking about different types of lens in the next few weeks.
2. This is another important part of the camera- the shutter-release button, pretty fundamental in taking a photo!
Now I am going to talk about the mode dial- the icons may vary but most DSLR’s will have the same modes.
3. Auto- In full auto mode the camera selects all the settings for you, it is the easiest to use if you are not confident in knowing how to set up the camera to take a photo. However with auto mode you won’t be able to get the creative control that you would if you put the camera on manual mode. The camera will select all the settings based on the scene that it detects in front of the lens. You may be able to do things like turn the automatic flash off but other than that you don’t get an input. You can get some really great shots on auto so don’t be afraid of using it if you want an easy option.
4. Programmed Auto- On the programmed auto mode the camera still selects the aperture (f-stop) and the shutter speed (more about these in another post) so that the exposure is correct, but you can chose from a number of different combinations of both that will product optimal exposure and therefore the best photo. It is worth using for people who want to take a quick snapshot but still have a slight element of control.
5. Shutter priority Auto- This basically means that you select the shutter speed (ISO) yourself and the camera selects the f-stop (Aperture) in order to achieve the best results. When taking shots of fast moving objects, e.g animals or transport you would use this mode or when you want to use a long shutter speed at night time in order to blur motion. e.g car lights. When you want to photography fast moving objects or create motion blur, the shutter speed is the most important thing to consider.
6. Aperture priority Auto- This is the other way round to Shutter Priority- so you select the aperture (f-stop) and the camera will automatically select the shutter speed in order to give the best exposure. This mode is really useful when you want to maximise or minimise depth of field. Simply put depth of field is the range of distance between the nearest and farthest objects that appear sharp. You would use this for portrait photography or perhaps product photography too. We will do a whole post on Aperture but basically the lower the f-stop number the wider the hole and therefore the more light that enters the camera.
7. Manual- This means that everything is down to you. You control everything about the exposure, the aperture, the shutter speed and other aspects as well. However just because it is completely manual doesn’t mean that you need to know everything. In fact some of my favourite photos have been down to playing around with the manual setting on my camera. It can also be a great way of learning about exactly what shutter speed and aperture do to your photographs and how they effect them as you can see from your camera’s LCD screen exactly what settings you used to achieve the result.
8. Effects- Not all cameras will have this setting, but essentially it is just a way of doing photo effects on your camera if you wanted too, rather than doing it in post shot editing.
9. Macro- Macro photography is one of my favourite types of photography- basically it just means close up. Generally using this means that the background will blur so they don’t compete for attention with your main subject- e.g flowers photos or close up product photos.
10. Sports- Sport mode works a lot like shutter priority mode. i.e you would use it to freeze moving objects such as athletics or car racing. However in this mode the shutter speed is set high by default.
11. Child- Child mode works in the same way to portrait mode but it also has a faster shutter speed in order to stop blur from a moving and wriggly child! Clothing, toys and other backgrounds have slightly more vivid colours.
12. Landscape- This mode is a lot like Aperture but this time with a smaller aperture so you have a greater depth of field and therefore the whole image is a lot sharper. The smaller the aperture, the more of the area that will be in focus. But remember a small aperture means a larger f-stop number. Confusing I know but we will talk about this a lot over the next few months.
13. Portrait- This works in the exact opposite way to Landscape mode- it is set to a wider aperture therefore your subject will be sharp and the background will be a lot softer.
14. Scenes- Again not all cameras will have this function but basically this can help create other auto based scenes such as party/indoor, night portrait etc.
15. Auto No Flash- This is again something that not all cameras will have but it is essentially auto with the flash off.
So there you have it. The main modes of your camera and what you can do with them. These will be the same on most cameras so hopefully they will have help demystify them a little bit. Over the next coming months we will develop these ideas further. In the meantime hopefully it will encourage you to take your camera off auto, even if it is just only slightly off!
When I was a new blogger I remember one thing that used to confuse me time and time again- RSS. I saw the term keep cropping up and I had no idea what it was all about. Yet actually your RSS feed is a very important part of your blog and one that new bloggers should be aware of.
Fear not, we are here to demystify it!
RSS stands for Rich Site Summary but is often termed Really Simple Syndication. That clearly means nothing to me so lets simplify it even further…
RSS is a nifty bit of cyber geekery that is being used by thousands of bloggers all across the world, essentially enabling them to keep track of websites and blogs that they love. That way they never miss a post. I remember the old days of copying and pasting website content into Word if I came across one I liked, or book marking or saving the page. With RSS you don’t need to worry about any of this- it automatically accesses new information and sends it to you so you can read it when you have a free moment.
I like to think of it like this. Say you really loved ‘Glamour’ or another monthly magazine and you never wanted to miss a copy. You could sign up for a subscription to the magazine and it would get delivered to your door every month. Perfect now you will never miss an issue. RSS is exactly like that. You subscribe to the blog or website you like and it will automatically get delivered into your inbox each time they write a new post or update their content. The only difference RSS is completely free!
How do I find my blogs RSS Feed?
Atom 1.0: http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default
RSS 2.0: http://blogname.blogspot.com/feeds/posts/default?alt=rss
Try doing it for your blog url and you will be able to find your RSS feed straight away. Another way you can find a sites RSS feed is by clicking on the right hand side corner of the url box…e.g
If you click on this you will be able to get the feed url from the url box. The symbol may vary depending on what browser you are using but the icon should always be on the right hand side.
It is always useful to know where your RSS is as some blog subscription services like ebuzzing or technorati need this in order to proceed with validating your blog. (Don’t worry more about these in a later post!)
Subscribing to another bloggers RSS feed.
Reading blogs and commenting and engaging with others is a huge part of the blogging community. Therefore you may want to subscribe to a few other bloggers RSS feeds. I have hundreds in my reader and try and read as many as I can in a week, but there are a few which I comment on all the time. However it is important to comment on as many as you can so you can involve yourself in the community.
There are a number of ways of subscribing to a bloggers RSS feed.
Firstly you can do it on the blog itself.
Nowadays there are lots of ways in which you can subscribe on the blog itself. You may have seen a number of different icons or widgets, there are lots of different types but basically they all do the same thing. Here are some examples of what you might see.
One big player in this market is Feedburner, I use this for my blog and it allows readers to use a widget box on my blog to subscribe via email. There are lots out there though so if you see something similar to one of the images above, just click on it and follow the instructions and you will be a subscriber in no time!
Another way in which you can subscribe to a blog is via a reader. There are a fair few out there but a popular one is Google Reader. Basically you can group all the blogs you like together in one convenient place, it works a bit like an email software- the unread ones are in bold and you can have the choice of reading them or skipping them and moving on the next one. You can read the post in the reader service, or you can click on it and go through to the actual post if you wanted to comment or look at more. Readers are a great way of getting to grip with RSS as they are really straightforward and easy to use.
Lastly you can follow the RSS feed by clicking on the right hand side of the url box (like discussed above)
When you click on the icon it takes you through to a screen which will look something like this (depending on your browser)
From here you can go down to the bottom right hand side and click ‘subscribe in mail’ or something similar. This is the way I use to read other blogs, it means that when I open Apple Mail I have all my blogs I read listed and I get daily updates depending on whether they have posted or not.
So there we have it. A really simple (hopefully) guide to RSS. I think sometimes these things are a lot less complicated than they appear to be. Hopefully now you will be able to find your RSS feed for your blog and also will be able to follow some other blogs as well.
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If you are anything like myself and Lucy- you love taking photos. And you love putting them on your blog. After all blogs are the perfect space to show off the lovely photos you have taken.
Sometimes just adding lots of photos on your blog can look a little dull and it is nice to make the layout look slightly different by putting them in a collage. I love laying out my photos in different ways, and there are lots of packages out there which will help you. I use Photoshop for mine, but only because I am lucky enough to have a designer as a husband who can afford to pay the extortionate price tag. There is free software out there which can help you instantly make your blog photos look fantastic and we are going to let you into a little secret about one today.
That software is piZap.
If you haven’t heard of piZap before, I suggest you head straight over there now and bookmark it instantly. It is basically just another free online photo editor. It may not look as pretty as Picnik (RIP) or Pic Monkey but it does have some nifty features. Mainly the collage section.
See the above screenshot? That is just some of the collages you can do on Pizap. There really are hundreds of combinations.
It is so straight forward to use that anyone can get to grips with it really easily and if you hover your mouse over any icons that you don’t understand it will explain what they are. For example in the bottom left hand corner you can adjust the colour and opacity.
Here is an example of a collage made from some 366 photos on my computer.
All in all it took me about 2 minutes to create. It really is that simple. There is sure to be a collage design on there to suit everyone.
There are lots of other quirky little bits on there such as web cam effects, clip art and text that you can add to your photos, and backgrounds and borders but some of them are a little tacky and I don’t know how often you would use them. It does have the usual editing functions like crop and rotate which come in handy.
Overall there are a lot of functions on the software that I wouldn’t use, mainly for the fact that they don’t appeal to me, but Pizap has to get a mention purely for the vast variety of collages that it has on offer. Perhaps if you know how to make collages from scratch this software wouldn’t really suit you, but if you are a beginner who wants a way of displaying lots of photos on your blog in a quick and easy way then PiZap is definitely worth a look. Sometimes in blogging you want to write a blog post or publish some photos, but don’t have a lot of time- piZap is excellent for that kind of thing. I love the fact that there are so many different styles, it really will bring a new dimension to the way in which you display photos on your blog.
There are lots of photo editors out there, each good in their own way and it is great to use a combination of a few of them to really make your photos stand out. Over the next few weeks we will be mentioning our favourites, so stick around and hopefully we will be able to give you some tips. In the meantime do go and check out piZap- it may not be the most pretty photo editor in the world, but if you delve deep enough there really are some good functions on there.
Iphoneography is everywhere at the moment- you can’t visit a web page, blog or social media site without seeing some superbly edited photos. As promised we are going to show you our favourites- Between us we must have about 60 app’s- some really well known and some not quite so, so hopefully over the coming weeks we will introduce you to some you haven’t used before.
We are starting on a well known one for most.
iDarkroom is in my opinion- rather fantastic. It is really easy to use and makes photos look really great. It is very easy to find your way around and there is a huge range of effects including 20 filter effects, 11 paper effects, 13 light leak and bokeh effects, 5 vignette effects, 4 noise effects and 10 frame effects. It is the second ever photo app I downloaded and now in my top three.
We really recommend it as a really easy, straightforward app for those who want to give their photos a little bit of an extra edge. Our favourite part is definitely the random editor- it chooses things that you might not necessarily think would go together and makes them look really good.
It is certainly worth a look if you want to take your photo editing to the next level and are bored with the filters that apps like Instagram provide.