Crafting a little blog of your own?

I received this email last week from a Jody, a lovely reader and customer:
“Hi Cinti,
I have been following you for a long time now, I love your shop, your blog and all your tutes!
I have found you to be so inspiring I have decided to create my own blog! It is
something I have wanted to do for a some time now, but have just never had the time to do it!
I am unfortunately not as creative as you, but endeavour to be. I would like my blog to
be about me, my beautiful children, things I make, like and dream of doing. I guess what I am trying to say in a rambling way is, do you have any advice for a newbie?
what software do you use? do you blog from your pc or phone? how did you get your blog to be so pretty? Also what are the rules when it comes to posting things you like from other peoples blogs?
can you link them? I’m sure you must get emails and questions like this all the time, it must drive you crazy, I’m sorry, I just don’t have any one else to ask.(Of course I asked Jody permission to publish this)

I was more than happy to help Jody out, but thought it would be fun to write a blog post so everyone could benefit…
Firstly I’ll preface this with – I’m not a bloggy/techie expert and everything that I know I’ve learnt from google, asking helpful friends and trial and error. I’ve been blogging for nearly 4 years but am still learning new things every day. Lots of questions here, lets start at the beginning. What software do you use?
There are a few blogging platforms available, the most common ones are WordPress, Typepad and Blogger. When i started my blog all that time ago, I chose Blogger because I felt it was the most user friendly at the time. I’m not endorsing blogger over any others, it can be temperamental at times, but it serves it’s purpose and its free.
I write my posts directly into the blogger window, but as I found out recently from
Leni and Rose you can use Windows Live writer to post to your blog. I’ll give it a try one day.

Do you blog from your pc or phone?
I write my blog from my laptop, usually in the evenings when Emma is asleep. I recently learnt how to schedule posts so I can write things like tutorials when i have time and post them at a later date. Here is some info on how to schedule posts on blogger

Blogger does have a free iPhone app BlogPress Lite hat will help you post from your phone. I have probably only used it whilst on holidays. Its handy for quick posts without much text but will only upload small photos. You can see one of my phone posts here.

How did you get your blog to be so pretty?
That took a while…it didn’t always look like this.
There are a few options available.
1. Use a ready made template. Blogger has a new design function now that lets you choose your colours, layout and background image. It will also let you preview how it will look without making any permanent changes.
2. There are thousands of free templates you can download and uses as your blog. They will often have the designers link at the bottom
3. You can engage a designer to design your blog template for you. There will be a cost.
4. You can chose the most basic template – Minima and mess about with the code yourself.

At the time of starting my blog option 1 wasn’t available, I couldn’t find anything pre made that I liked and option 3 was much less accessible, so that left me with the Minima template. It has been the best thing I could have done as lots of HTML coding tutorials are based on the minima template.
I suggest keeping your design simple. In my opinion I’d rather my readers focus on my content than a really busy layout or background.

Start with an nice header image – You can easily create one using Picnik a free online image editor which allows you to overlay text and graphics over photos, make collages and then resize them to your required size.

Background – you can choose a basic colour or image in the blogger design function. If you want to have your own custom one you will have to host it somewhere like photobucket. this option and will take some fiddling with CSS (cascading style sheet) in your HTML template. This is the tutorial I used.
Note: before you start fiddling with HTML code on your template, make a backup!

Pictures – Take and post nice bright pictures. Use some photo-editing software to crop, brighten and make your images more attractive. Blogger will only host and post images upto 400px max. If you want nice big photos you will have to host them on photobucket or Flickr and then upload the url link. I use photobucket which allows me to have 600px wide photos.

Side bar – I created some of my cute buttons using Picnik, uploaded them as photos and then added links.
Add interesting links, like blogs you like to read, where to find you on other social networks (lots of cute free buttons around for these), about you and don’t forget to include a way for people to easily follow you like an RSS or google follower widget.


Tinker with your blog until you are happy with it. It should evolve as you do.

Also what are the rules when it comes to posting things you like from other peoples blogs? can you link them?
OK, pay attention people!
It is the height of blogging rudeness and could infringe on copyright if you don’t credit other bloggers or websites content. It is always best to get permission to use someone’s original images and if you find something through another blog or website, give credit to them as well.
Design sponge has written some excellent posts on blogging etiquette
here
Because reposting images can be a complicated minefield, I tend to use my own original photos. I think that’s what makes it my blog.
You may have noticed a little disclaimer at the bottom of my side bar –> about how I allow my original content to be used and re-posted. You may want to think about how you would like your content to be used by others (if at all) and clearly state that on your blog.

So I hope that answered some of your questions, and has made you think of so many more! Feel free to ask more questions, or topics you would like me to expand on in the comments and I’ll try to answer them in future blog posts. Enjoy your blogging!

BTW: Vintage trims are from L’uccello in Melbourne

www.mypoppet.com.au