Welcome to the second edition of the question and answer portion of the Blog Tip Sharing series.
I feel like I should remind everyone reading that all 11 of these blog tip sharing posts have been based solely on MY experiences and the things I have had success with. You may possibly disagree with my answers and I’d love to hear your opinions. The point? There is no ONE, RIGHT way to be successful blogging.
Okay, then. Let’s get started, shall we?
Question 7 comes from Anne Glamore: (paraphrased) How about explaining HTML coding in your sidebars? For example, explain how you do your reading list, buttons, and widgets. Also could you discuss your thoughts on the effectiveness of the stuff you have in your sidebar, which you like to be clean– like feedjit (love!!) that savvy source thing, the flickr deal, etc?
Ooh, great question! First of all, I think that the majority of the stuff in my sidebars are unnecessary, yet I like them and keep them. As I mentioned in my BTSP post number 6 about sidebars, there are things that are necessary like a subscribe button, a search function…the other fluff could all be done away with. I really love that Feedjit widget and my flickr badge so I keep them, clutter or not!
So onto HTML coding. For simple things like text only things in your sidebar (like my book list), here’s what you do:
1) Find the correct widget from your Dashboard, probably a Text widget.
2) To make a list you have to put breaks in between each item. For example my book list looks like this:
<b>Book List for 2008</b> (The <b>, </b> tag makes it BOLD.)
<br/><br/> (The <br/> tag is a break. Two together makes two spaces, one make one space.)
The Kite Runner
Memory Keeper’s Daughter
Water for Elephants…
To make a button in your sidebar…well, see, that’s tricky. I’ll do my best to explain.
2) Once uploaded, you will be able to get an HTML code for your pic/button. You can change the coding to make it clickable to whereever you wish. To further explain, using an example from Photobucket…
<a href=”http://s75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/jenleah99/?action=view¤t=sowqueen.jpg” target=”_blank“><img src=”http://i75.photobucket.com/albums/i301/jenleah99/hello.jpg” border=”0″ alt=”Photobucket“></a>
I’ve colored each changeable part with different colors…let’s discuss the RED first. This is where you can put the url that you’d like the pic/button to redirect to when clicked. Let’s say, you want to redirect it to Shamelessy Sassy‘s site. Instead of what’s written in RED, you’d write http://shamelesslysassy.com…making sure to keep the quotation marks.
Now, the part that’s PURPLE is where you can write whatever you want. You could say “She rocks!“ Or whatever you want. Once posted, you can place your cursor over the pic/button and see what you’ve said.
See how simple that is?!
Question 8 is from Stacy: What’s your opinion on whether or not to display the labels (or tags or categories) on your website?
After mulling this question over, I think that it’s very important. So important, in fact, that I’ve now added my categories in a pull down menu to my sidebar. I think it’s helpful when you’re searching for something specific in someone’s blog to be able to search their categories. I know that you can search in the Search Box, but sometimes it’s nice to be able to go directly to a category.
Questions 9 and 10 are from Marinka: I noticed that some blogs, including yours, have all those buttony- things at the end of the post–digg it, stumble it, etc. How do they get there?
By magic. Kidding. And for the record, the buttony things are called social bookmarks. With Blogger, it will take some code tweeking in your template. Since I’m not certain exactly how to do this, I’m going to refer everyone to this guide:
With self-hosted WordPress, you can simply add a plugin that will add the buttons for you. There are so many, if you’re interested just Google “wordpress plugin social bookmarking.”
Also, do SiteMeter and StatCounter do pretty much the same things?
Basically, yes. I don’t use StatCounter, but I asked folks on Twitter what they could tell me about the differences. Laurin and Kelly sent me to an article on BlogCoach. The summary of the article: StatCounter gives information on the last 500 visitors, Sitemeter does the last 100. Reportedly, StatCounter shows 1-10% more visitors than Sitemeter. Also Cagey said, “[StatCounter] is the BOMB.” You heard it hear first!
Question 11 is from Kia: What makes for a good Bloggy Giveaway? What products do people want and how do you get word out in the Blog community that you’re having a giveaway?
I hate to cop-out on this one too, but I honestly don’t really know what makes a good bloggy giveaway! I asked some folks on Twitter and got one response: Starbucks gift cards. Maybe expensive items do well? Those of you who do giveaways, can you help?
As far as getting the word out in the blog community, you can use Twitter and Plurk to let people know. You can make a button for your giveaway or ask other’s to help promote it on their blogs by giving those that help 5 extra entries in your contest. Any other suggestions from the peanut gallery would be great. HINT, HINT.
Question 12 is from Sarah: I hear randomly from (a fair amount) of people that it takes FOREVAH for my blog to load on their computer. I was even having this problem myself until I switched to Mozilla Firefox instead of Internet Explorer. Is there something I can do myself to make my blog load faster? Or do I have to boss everyone who complains to just SWITCH TO MOZILLA ALREADY DAMMIT BECAUSE I AM WORTH IT!
Oh Sarah. You ARE worth it. I was so inspired by your question that I have officially switched to Firefox and haven’t looked back, nor have I had to reboot IE 2000 times in an afternoon because it locked up. I wonder, “Why in the hell did I wait so long???”
Firefox is heaven! If you’re not using Firefox, YOU ARE MISSING OUT. This is the last question, so go! GO RIGHT NOW AND DOWNLOAD FIREFOX and make it your browser. DO IT.
Other Blog Tip Sharing Posts HERE!