Friday, 13 August 2010

Discovering how to use Blogger (and other tricky tales)

I couldn't resist - I adore fountain pens
Well, my 13 lovely followers, I am so flattered you have joined me on my journey in writing this blog. It is so encouraging every time someone joins. I have some inspirational and talented mummy crafty bloggers following (Corrie at Retromummy, Janette at My Sweet Prints,  Pepper at Pepper Stitches, Sonia at Sunday's Child, Ashleigh at Mm is for me and Kylie at Tiges and Weince  take a bow), a Sydney neighbour, Vera, some Sydney mum friends and some other fabulous people I haven't met yet. From the comments I am receiving on my Facebook page, it seems that a lot of other family and friends are following privately as well. Being able to keep in touch with you all through this medium is really making me happy and giving me more direction and focus on PB. Life doesn't seem to be so 'cotton-woolly' anymore (I think my PND is also improving so that helps).

Three weeks in and I have discovered so many things and realised how much more there is to learn! I am feeling my way around Blogger, picking up little tips to improve the page's look. 

Frames around my photos

I've mastered how to add frames around my photos (I was very proud to actually fiddle with my HTML and work it out). Thanks, Sonia and Mel at Feffakookan for trying to help me.  

Do I really need to learn this?!
Discovering HTML

Now, HTML - that's a whole new ballgame for me. My goodness, I can't believe people actually understand it, work with it and actually like it!  Maybe a bridge too far for me - we'll see.

At the moment, I am using 'Add a gadget' and the 'Text' or 'HTML/JavaScript' boxes to add content to the sidebar rather than interfering with the HTML. Is that how you all do it or is there a better way?

Using Flickr to upload photos

I've uploaded photos to Flickr and had someone in Brazil upload them within seconds and save them as his favourites - that felt weird! It was even before I had rotated them or anything. I really felt part of a global community in that instant. He has uploaded more of my photos in the days since, giving me a strange little frisson but also a sense of mild concern in wondering whether I am being 'watched'. The 'pounce' effect was disconcerting. I'm still trying to come to terms with that. However, if I don't make my photos publicly available, I can't use them on my blog, can I? Questions, questions.

Using Picnik and BigHugeLabs to edit photos

The lovely Kirsty at Kootoyoo kindly introduced me to the wonders of Picnik where I created my blog header and am now tweaking my photos by connecting to my Flickr collection. How brilliant is that site?! Now I am able to improve the colours and contrast without having to fork out to buy Photoshop or some other expensive photo editing program. I've used Picnik to upload a slideshow of some of my paintings (more on my artwork another day). Big Huge Labs is fantastic for creating photo montages. I understand Microsoft Publisher might also be helpful for creating montages but I haven't worked out how to do it yet. Have any of you done it? I'd love to hear.

I've also had my fair share of frustration at Blogger reversing the order of the photos in posts but, fingers crossed, that particular glitch seems to have vanished. I'm still working out how to use clip art in my posts. I have found istockphoto easy to use but I don't know if I should always be paying for my images or not. Anyone have any suggestions for good free clip art websites?

Discovering Telstra's limitations

I've discovered Telstra has an upload and download limit on the bundle package we have (begrudgingly, owing to the lack of a proper Optus alternative in Tasmania). That meant I took a whole day trying to upload one photo as Telstra slowed down our speed once we had exceeded our monthly limit. Waiting two days until the new billing month started was irritating. However, I think I should get better at managing that - most of the photos I uploaded to Flickr were ones to store for future posts.

Using LinkWithin

I am a fan of LinkWithin but am waiting on help as to why certain photos aren't appearing in their boxes under 'You might also like'.  I've tried deleting and reposting the same photos without luck.  Has anyone else had the same problem?

Adding widgets to my sidebar

I've learnt how easy it is to upload my Etsy wishlist to my blog but that Made It doesn't have a widget yet - they're working on it (soon I hope).  I've trialled Library Thing and Good Reads, settling on the latter. I've stumbled upon Aussie Mummy Bloggers as a resource and bloggers there have provided kind encouragement.

I've discovered the joys of Pinterest but am waiting to find out whether they have a widget so I can pin my boards to my blog.

StyleFeeder seems fun but I haven't had the time to rate more products so that my style can emerge properly.

Grappling with 'the privacy issue'

The conundrum of blogging - how much do you reveal about yourself?
I've pondered the vexed issue of what photos of the children and our house to use.  Our privacy is paramount, particularly where the pixies are concerned, but I also want to share my life on PB with you all to give a little colour and meaning.

I've looked at other blogs to see how other people handle it - some don't use people at all, some only photograph their children from behind and others cheerfully post dozens of photos of them. I'm still thinking that through. It is a real quandary in this technological age, don't you think?

Crediting photo sources

Giving proper credit for content is very important to me and I will try to attribute appropriately wherever possible. Please let me know if I have overlooked attribution and I will rectify the error immediately. The flip side of that is hoping that people will do me the same courtesy.

Developing 'blog brain'

I have also discovered what I call 'blog brain'. I find myself at odd moments, often in the middle of the night, thinking of ideas for posts and scribbling them down on random pieces of paper. I bought myself a sheet of white cardboard for a backdrop and have started taking photos of things all throughout our house as I suddenly see attractive objects, colours and patterns. I find myself dropping things and racing for my camera as inspiration strikes. I have even (ahem!) found myself ignoring the pixies' cries in order to 'just finish taking this photo'. Are you with me?  Tell me I'm not alone! Being a blogger can become *quite* addictive.  

Discovering memes

I've observed people use regular features (known as memes) such as 'I heart [insert day of week]' and 'My creative space'. I don't have anything to sell but I have a few ideas of recurrent themes I would like to use about life on PB.  Stay tuned! I have also pondered how I would like to blog.  

Some people seem very organised, blogging frequently and with defined themes recurring to keep a 'conversation' going with their followers. Other are more irregular, spontaneous and random.  I'd like to meld the two styles so there is some structure but also flexibility to just run with ideas as they strike. 

However, the thing I have valued the most so far is the warm encouragement you fellow bloggers have given me and the prompt responses to my e-mailed queries. You're the best! I'd love to hear any tips you have about blogging and whether there are any good sites for advice for newbie bloggers. Let's share the love!



  1. Wow Jane, you have been busy. I think I might be coming to you with questions in the future, not the other way around - lol! Thanks for the mention, glad to help you out in any way I can. I love the way everyone is so friendly & helpful in blogland and the connection you can make with complete strangers is just amazing!

  2. I had a blog going a quite a while when I was madly scrapbooking (it helped get my name out there for magazines etc), but it all got lost in cyberspace one day, gone, all gone! I was devestated, so my one hint for you would be to print out each blog post and keep in a folder for later making into a book for yourself. I wish I had done that to record my journey, but sadly all gone! I love your blog Jane, thanks for sharing.

  3. Oh, Sonia, without your helpful tips, I would still be floundering around. I owe you a lot! Yes, I have been overwhelmed by the warmth and care of fellow bloggers. Unbelievable.

    And thanks for the excellent tip, Johanna. What a horrible experience for you. I cannot imagine how distressing that must have been when you had put so much effort in. Yet another reason for us to buy a new printer. I'm so glad you're enjoying it - you must be one of my 'private' followers - I have so much to learn!

  4. I think you know way more about blogging than I do already!

  5. Oh, Kristen, you make me laugh! I am an absolute newbie, learning on the job. I love the clean and elegant design of your blog - you're an inspiration.

  6. How did I only find this now?! You have learnt so much and look at all your followers now! Wow Jane! You go girl!

  7. Why, thanks, Ash! I never imagined that 6 weeks later, I would have 75 followers! I might just re-read this to see what I've learnt on this rollercoaster ride in Blogland ☺. J x

  8. Jane you are outstandingly inspiring. I have broken into a nervous sweat just reading all the things you had discovered as documented in this post only a short time after starting PB blog. My blog is about being brave and new, two things that I struggle desperately with and already feel guilty for looking at your tips and resources and saying to myself - this is all too hard! I am going to break it down into bite-sized pieces and work through your list of tips. You've seen my blog- fairly techno banal, so I will harness your energy, accept your generous gift of shared information and spruce Brave New Me! (accreditation will be coming your way) . . . having said that, where should I start? Probably the title image (or lack there of). I am so grateful to have cyber-met you, you are a generous and kind spirited woman. xxx BTW I totally agree with Sonia Skegg's comment above.

  9. Oh, Fiona, you are a sweetheart. Thanks for the compliments. It's a very long post (I hadn't worked out the 'right' length of a post at that point!) so I'm not surprised it's a bit daunting.

    I'd be happy to help you - send me an email and we can go from there. J x

  10. As a newbie blogger, (2 week anniversary tomorrow hehe), I can't stress to you enough how helpful and reassuring your blogging tips are. Thank you! So grateful to have found them! x

  11. My pleasure, Steph! I hope you enjoy this bloggy caper as much as I do ☺. J x

  12. Wow...Someone took the time to spell this out for me!! I can't tell you how much this helps me!! I have been blogging for a month now and was still trying to figure out how to personalize this more!

  13. HI Emy I'm delighted it helped. I hope you feel less alone now! J x

  14. goodness, i know these are old (back when you had 13 followers - and look at you now!!!) but they are quite helpful. any chance you know how to make LinkWithin more...consistent? i find that it pulls up articles that aren't really related to my current post - even when i've given them the exact same label? minor issue, but would be nice to fix!

  15. Hi Sarah Sorry, I don't. But I have found the LinkWithin staff very helpful at sorting out any problems I've had. Try emailing them. J x

  16. Thanks Jane, the privacy issue really struck a big fat chord with me; it is, I think a HUGE concern. It is something I'm weighing up at the moment, although as my camera is having 'issues' maybe my problem will be solved for me. I will have great privacy ... and no traffic. Okay, so maybe the problem is not solved. I'll think about it when I've bought a new camera.

  17. Hi Enid It's so great to see you over here! If you read my other posts about using photos, you can find out more about Flickr's privacy settings which might allay your concerns. J x


Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts, you gorgeous soul. You've just made my day! J x

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