This is a continuation of my previous month's post on blogging tips: "Five Things Every Blogger Should Know" and if there is something I haven't covered that you're dying to know how to do, leave me a comment and if I don't know how to do it I won't eat or sleep until I've discovered the answer. You have my promise.
1. How do I include a poll in my post? Polls can be fun little things to involve your readers--doesn't everyone love having their opinion requested? You can do two different things: you can put a poll as a permanent fixture on your sidebar which requires you going into your template and adding the HTML there or you can add the HTML to the post itself, as a treat at the end. Either way, one technique that worked for me in Blogger is to go to Twiigs.com and register for a free account. Fill out the information about your poll and it will generate the code for you to paste into your post. The only downside to this is that I've not been able to find a poll site that allows more than one question per poll. If anyone else out there has seen differently I'd be interested to know about it.
2. How do I know when someone has linked to my blog? This one is important because if you can't check your links you won't know when someone has been kind to you and you won't be able to say thanks. Once again, there are several ways to do this, if you are on Typepad or Wordpress they have a system called Trackbacks that automatically notifies the blogger when someone has linked to them. However, Blogger doesn't have this system. If you want this feature in Blogger you have to install a plug-in called Haloscan into your template that will track this information. I don't use Haloscan myself for a couple reasons: first, I didn't like the ads that Haloscan includes with the pop-up commenting box, second, I just didn't want to include it in my template. Call it orneriness or something but I just didn't like it. Third, I found an easier way to keep track.
In Blogger you can enable a link at the bottom of each post that says "Posts that Link Here" and it will show you specific posts that link back to your specific posts. It doesn't show links to your main URL however, but Technorati does. If you go to Technorati and do a search on your main URL it will pull up other blogs that have linked to you in chronological order of posting. Just like that. You may have to do a search on your blog title too, because occasionally I catch links that come through that way, I'm not sure why there is a difference but there it is.
On occasion I miss links, Technorati isn't perfect, but you catch most of them and once you see a link it's only polite to leave a comment saying thanks. It's the nice thing to do.
3. How do I post an audio stream? Theresa at My Fairbanks Life was my source of information on this one, so give her a visit and tell her she's a genius. To include an audio stream with a post here's what to do:
This can be tricky and is probably different for those using Typepad or Wordpress but in Blogger you can following the directions here by first signing up for a free account at WebForm Designer. Next you must decide where you want your messages sent and what your form should look like. For each form there will be a separate code generated but once you have it you can paste it the HTML into your post and publish.
5. How do I make a picture into a graphic or banner? This explanation is long but stick with me, it's worth it I promise. You can use fancy programs like Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop but if you don't want to shell out some money and are already using Microsoft Office there are programs that come with your package that will do a simple job for you.
First, start with a normal sized photograph in your files. One ending in .jpg or .gif. Then, right click on it to open it with Microsoft Digital Image Starter Edition. Once in the program, you can easily add text on top of the photograph by selecting "Insert Text" from the "Text" drop down menu. Then by selecting "Font" from the same menu you can mess around with the color, font and point-size of the text. It's rather intuitive once you know which program is easiest to use.
Once you have the words the way you want them, do a "Save As" to make sure you won't lose your work then again, right click on the saved image to open it with Microsoft Office Picture Manager and click "Edit Picture" at the top. It will give you a tool bar on the right side that allows you to resize your image according to your specifications. The pictures on my sidebar are approximately 159 by 115 pixels, to give you an idea. If you want to make the picture into an avatar and don't want to tweak pixels, you can upload it and resize it in Photobucket to avatar or thumbnail size with two clicks.
For other basic how-to's in blogging here are some other posts:
* JH Seiss at Colloquium with bloggers (and information) you should know part one
* and part two
* Lorelle with Blog Ideas for Brainstorming
* Tips for being a better writer by Liz at Successful Blog
* Leo Babauta has weekly articles for improving your blog
* Here's a Wordpress plugin that shows each of your commentator's most recent posts on their own blogs. Sure wish Blogger had this. Kailani at An Island Life does if you want to see it in action.
Congratulations to Sarah for winning her choice of baby bracelet's from Sher's Wares in this week's Saturday Giveaway. Thanks to all who visited and entered, I love reading your kind comments. The one that wrenched my heart was the mother-to-be who said she was eight days overdue. If I could have handed the prize out right there to her I would have done it. One should get some kind of a prize for carrying a baby that long!
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