Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Better Blogging | Pictures, Layout, & Content

Hi! Today's topic is better blogging in terms of photography, the layout/design of your blog, and its content. One of you requested this in the reader survey (or Q & A . . . I'm not remembering at the moment) I did in the beginning of the year -- so thank you to whomever it was :)

PICTURES

I run a fashion blog. (Thank you, Captain Obvious.) Photographs are extremely important on a fashion blog -- as important as a food blogger's pictures and even, I might say, as important as a professional photographer's portfolio. A bad photograph sends the impression that the photographer herself (assuming we're all female fashion bloggers here) is unprofessional. A bad photograph doesn't immediately draw the eye (except to its inferiority) like a good one does; and, as you might imagine, your social media capabilities are shot on platforms such as Pinterest, which revolve around excellent photographs.
I have it on professional authority that this was one of the better pictures I've taken.

THE BOTTOM LINE: Learn to spend time trying to learn how to be better.
Research will always take you a long way with photography, but the fact is that that goes with any craft. You can read books if you want, but these days I find that on some subjects one might be better off browsing the Internet for real-life-bloggers' experience and then applying it to our own practice, or seeking out professionals in our potential area of expertise and asking them to teach us.

IF YOU DO ANYTHING, DO THIS: Widen the layout of your photographs on your blog to 100% of the width of your post.
This is a simple Cascading Style Sheets lesson. Head to your blog and if you still have the Nav bar up, in the upper right corner there will be a hyperlink reading "Design." Hit that, then you'll go to a page where you'll see "Customize." Click that, click "Advanced," scroll down until you see "Add CSS," and now add the following to the text area, exactly like this:
".post-body img {
max-width: 100%;
max-height: auto;
display: block;
margin: auto;
}" (by Helplogger)
This can make it somewhat irritating when photos from Pinterest or elsewhere on the Web come out looking grainy; your alternative is to play around with the photo size in your posts until they come out nearly matching with your set width or commit to using photos only you took (a commitment I'm planning to make in the future when I actually have a working camera).

Why should you be doing this? Well, since I've started doing it myself, I've noticed more and more how small pictures centered in a big post can look uneven and unprofessional. Maybe this doesn't matter to you if your blog is a hobby blog, but since the advent of my fashion writing I've wanted to go big or go home -- my goal is to turn Dance A Real into a small business one day. Professionalism seriously helps with getting noticed.

LAYOUT

THE BOTTOM LINE: Find out what you like and learn what you have to to make it happen.
I will be the first here to admit I don't know nearly as much as I want to about web design. I have an entire draft of a design I would like to implement on Dance A Real . . . the problem is I don't know enough to know how to do it. But that shouldn't stop me, and it shouldn't stop you either. If you like a certain look on somebody's blog, research -- around the Web, in books off Amazon, in graphic/web designers you know -- and figure out how to do something similar. (One disclaimer: Don't plagiarize. Ever.)

IF YOU DO ONLY ONE THING, DO THIS: Learn the basics of CSS and HTML coding. The sky's the limit when you can design your own web space.

CONTENT

THE BOTTOM LINE: Pick a general topic for your blog and stick with it.
There are blogs in the World Wide Web that cover basically every topic under the sun and still have some readership, but in general you'll find the most popular blogs are those with a set topic that only sometimes drifts outside its box.
IF YOU DO ONLY ONE THING, DO THIS: Learn freaking GSP2, people. (Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and proofreading.)

THAT'S IT

That's all for this post. I hope you found it helpful! 

{In the interest of keeping this blog post doable for me (I'm scatterbrained lately with blogging because I'm out of its habit), I only wrote my top pieces of advice. If you want more tips on little changes you can make to improve your corner of the blogosphere, click HERE. Note that in the future I'd like to start posting an array of random tips that can help you out -- stay tuned for that series.} 

6 comments :

  1. It's good to see a post from you again! Love the new blog look!
    -Margaret
    http://happyinheels.blogspot.com/

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    1. Why thank you Margaret! It was nice to post again :D

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  2. So happy to see you posting again! Thanks for the great tips. :)

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    1. Thanks, Ashley! Glad you enjoyed it -- and glad you stopped by! :)

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  3. You've got some great tips in this, Hannah. I love "simple" designs, so that's why I stick with that, but I know some people prefer a "busier" look. Bottom line, blogging is an expression of the writer and I love that it allows for another creative outlet for us to tweak it to be just what we want. :)

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    1. Thanks, Rissi! I'm glad it resonated with you.

      I love that we can customize blogs to our own liking -- it's such an awesome way for us to "vent" or just share our feelings, period -- often in a way we can't do in real life. Sometimes I guess design is just as much a part of that as content :)

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