Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Tech Tip: Pages vs Posts

One of the first things you need to learn as a blogger is the difference between Pages and Posts.

Posts are the life and soul of your blog - the new material you post to it, usually date and time-stamped, like diary entries. When you log into your blog dashboard you are usually prompted to 'create a new post.' Over time, your posts build up into a library of stuff, which is stored in date order. When someone subscribes to your blog, they generally subscribe to your posts.

This is a typical heading to a blog post, with the date stamp. (From designer David Airey's site)

When you create a post, put it into a category if you can. Categories act as repositories for related posts, and make it easy for people to find themed material on your site, rather like in a real library. ( doesn't have Categories as such, but it uses 'Labels' to categorise posts. More about this in another blog post!)

A Page on a blog is static, that is, it is not date-stamped, it stays in place and doesn't appear in your blog archive. An example of a Page would be your 'About' page. Use pages for information or other 'timeless' material. Usually your Pages appear on a menu that's separate from the blog entries.

On the left is the sidebar menu on Designer David has created Pages with the headings 'Hire me', 'My portfolio', 'About me' and 'A few good books'.

Below this menu is a list of categories (which he has called 'Blog Topics') under which you will find all his blog posts.

With some blog software it is possible to make the homepage of your blog a static page, instead of the usual post. This means visitors to the homepage always see the homepage, and to access the blog posts they need to click through. This can be useful is your blog is also your main website/business.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Beware if posting photos that are not your own

Pinterest is hugely popular - but be careful what you pin

Blogging might sometimes seem like a solitary activity, but of course it's not - in that you are part of the blogosphere, and also part of the wider social web.

Whatever social tools you use or communities you belong to, you are bound to come up against the inevitable nasty from time to time: trolls, viruses, spam, bots and other malicious stuff.

No need to panic though - on the web, as in life, MOST people aren't out to get you - however much it might seem like that when you're hit by something bad! The answer is to keep your cool and use common sense precautions.

Today I came across this article in Business Week about how spammers have moved out of email and are invading the social web.  It seems that people are unwittingly downloading viruses or falling prey to spammers by clicking on 'like' buttons or following links.

This came just as I was talking to a client about how one of his computers had been 'fatally' infected after clicking on a spammy image on a Pinterest page.

As regards images, this is something to be careful of - if you link to an image on the web from your blog or Pinterest page or whatever, just be aware that you're putting yourself and your readers at risk. I've been on the bad end of this with another blog, and it's not pretty.

Wherever possible, use your own images or those where you know the provenance, for example from a site selling royalty-free images, such as Dreamstime or iStockphoto. If you see a photo you like on a photo-sharing community such as Flickr, be sure to check with the photographer (who is the copyright owner) whether you can use it or not, and if so, make sure you give it the proper attribution.

Friday, 25 May 2012

Featured Blogger: Ricky Salsberry

Running a blog on your own can be tough. And sometimes, the urge to blog comes from a collaborative endeavour, and what you actually end up starting is a group blog.

This week's featured blog is The Donut Project which is a joint venture under the editorship of Ricky Salsberry, and began in 2009. He describes it as a design blog "created by a group of young designers who aspire to inspire." Ricky is one of the experts to share a tip in Blogging for Creatives.

Design inspiration blog The Donut Project

Although all the contributors are designers, they don't only share design-themed material on the blog. The idea is to present all the stuff that inspires them (or annoys them!) The result is an eclectic mix of visual material ranging from calligraphy to automotive, from branding to fashion.

Blogging with others has many advantages - when creatives get together the results can be amazing, and on a practical note it does mean less pressure on you when you can share the various tasks involved in running a blog and keeping it fresh.

Ricky has some strong advice for new bloggers, such as 'don't post unless you have something awesome to post' (even if it means not posting regularly) and 'don't start a blog to make list posts - you're ruining the internet' which I love, because it's controversial and it's a genuine other viewpoint.

Although it can be great to be given a set of hard and fast guidelines ('this is the right way to do it') your blogging journey is your own, and you'll find what works for you. One of the things that really struck me when I was researching the book was that bloggers all have very distinctive tales to tell - there are no standard routes to growing a successful blog, but you can certainly look at how others have done it and learn from their experience.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Tech Tip: Hosted vs self-hosted blogs

Choosing your blog platform is a big decision. Many experienced bloggers go through a number of different platforms as their blog grows and their demands change.

The easiest way to start blogging is to choose a hosted platform, such as (where this blog is hosted),, Typepad or Tumblr. 'Hosted' means that everything you post to your blog sits on that company's servers. A basic hosted blog is usually free to set up, comes with plenty of online help and support, and allows you a pretty good amount of customisation.

Emma Lamb's blog
Textile designer, crocheter and online shop owner Emma Lamb
has a beautiful Blogger blog at

With so many blogs hosted on these platforms they are communities in themselves, and the software has built-in tools for connecting with other blogs. For example, Google owns Blogger, so it's easy to befriend other Blogger blogs and see their latest posts on your Blogger dashboard.

New Zealander James Squires' internet comic Moonbeard
is hosted at Tumblr -
If you go for a 'self-hosted' option, that means you need to download and install the blogging software on your own webspace. This means you are completely in control of your blog design, content and functionality - but you are also responsible for keeping the software and any plugins you install up to date, hosting, security, promotion and everything else to keep your blog up and running. One of the most popular self-hosted software solutions can be found at (not to be confused with - the same company, but the hosted version of their software.)

Lori Lange's Recipe Girl -
 is a self-hosted blog using the Wordpress platform.
If you are tech savvy, or planning to blog in support of an online business (for example), you may decide the self-hosted option is for you. My own business website is in fact a self-hosted Wordpress blog in disguise, whereas this blog is on a simple template hosted at Blogger. It has a lot less functionality, but  it was easy to set up and it serves its purpose pretty well.

There's more about this topic in Chapter 2 of Blogging for Creatives, and plenty of tips and advice to be found in the blogging community. Do some research and have a think about what is going to be best for you before deciding. Changing blog platforms isn't impossible, but you can't be doing it every few months!

Monday, 21 May 2012

What size font? Is bigger better?

Here's something to think about - designer Jeffrey Zeldman on the reasons why he has used a BIG font on his personal website, and the discussion it caused, from "are you crazy??" to "LOVE the large font size!" Take a look at the post here....

Thanks to The Fox is Black for this (The Fox is Black is an art and design blog that "seeks to discover and share the most interesting and inspiring parts of contemporary life and culture" - and well worth subscribing to.)

What do you think? Do you like the prominence this gives the words on the page? Or do you think visual images are more important/eye-catching/relevant?

Friday, 18 May 2012

Featured Blogger: Laura Trevey

When I was researching the book, one of the really nice parts was discovering so many wonderfully passionate and committed bloggers from around the world.
Photo of Laura Trevey from the Bright, Bold and Beautiful blog
Laura Trevey in her Studio / Office.

So on this blog I'm going to feature a different blogger each week - both those who you will meet in 'Blogging for Creatives' and also others as I come across them.

My first featured blogger is Laura Trevey of Bright, Bold and Beautiful. Laura is a watercolour artist and her blog is not only a showcase for her work but a gorgeous diary of all that inspires her, particularly beautiful interiors, design and fashion.

The Bright, Bold and Beautiful blog is featured in 'Blogging for Creatives'
Bright, Bold and Beautiful blog -
Laura, based in Richmond, Virginia, was one of the first bloggers I approached - not only was she was delighted to contribute to my book, she was a joy to do business with too. Here's what she told me:

"I started a blog called 'Watercolors by Laura Trevey' as an avenue to attract viewers to my online watercolor shop. I immediately fell in love with the whole concept of blogging, and wanted to blog about more than just my art. After 6 months, I started Bright Bold and Beautiful, which was originally on the Blogger platform. Blogger is extremely user-friendly for beginners and you can get set up within minutes. I love Tumblr as well, where the inspiration is endless!"

Art studio of Laura Trevey of Bright, Bold and Beautiful blog
Laura's pride and joy - her art studio/ home office, featuring a custom island
with wide shelves for Laura's watercolour paper.
Here are Laura's top tips for beginner bloggers:
  1. Be Yourself.
  2. Be Original - You will quickly develop a loyal following if you post original content on a regular basis.
  3. Post every day.
  4. Be Kind and Genuine to other bloggers. Believe me, they will become your best friends!
  5. Invest in a good camera, and take quality photos! 
  6. Make sure every post has at least one photo.
I for one am going to try to follow Laura's guidelines as best I can!

Laura has written a great book called smART Business - an Inspirational Guide for Artists and Crafters, which I'd highly recommend. As well as being visually inspiring, it is full of excellent tips on building your brand, organising your time, getting the best from social media, Etsy, art/craft shows, blogging and many more resources. Find out more about smART Business on Bright, Bold and Beautiful.

Do you know of an inspirational blog that should be featured here? Let me know in the comments box, or leave me a message on the Blogging for Creatives Facebook Page!

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Tech Tip: Colour Tools

Today's Wednesday, so it's time for the first Tech Tip!

One of the ways you can make your blog's look unique, even if you're using a free template or theme, is with colour. If (like me) you're not always 100% sure which colours will work well together, help is at hand.

Colour tools are great to play around with and experiment with different looks. Adobe Kuler is one of the most popular. You can create your own combinations, see what other people have created and even rate them, which makes it a community in itself:

Another one to check out is Color Scheme Designer. You can choose a palette, then see how it might look on a webpage. There are loads of other things you can try too, including checking to see how your colour scheme looks to someone who's on the colour blindness spectrum. Amazing.

Monday, 14 May 2012