Bloggy Help:

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Things To Do Instead of Blogging - Here's Your Free Pass

I tried. 

I really did.

 I wanted to be a good blogger and post for ya'll every day in January. 

Didn't happen did it. 

It's the 15th and I got to about 50%. So I apologize for not accomplishing my goal and I hope it hasn't let you down too much. We can always discuss later right?

Today I'm making a list of all the things I did instead of blogging...does your mind work this way too?  Here's what I've been doing:

  • Tiling my kitchen
  • Dealing with a case of head lice and all it entails (see below)
  • Major housework
  • Major laundry
  • Major everything
  • Teaching my kids (homeschoolers)
  • Teaching other people's kids (homeschool classes)
  • Making ribbons for my Etsy shop
  • Celebrating my daughter's 25th birthday (baking)
  • Helping my mom move house
  • Organizing things
  • Moving furniture/redecorating
  • Beginning prep for moving
  • Searching for a new home
  • Shopping and cooking dinner every night
  • Dealing with food allergies
  • Letting dogs in and out every hour (old dog)
  • Binge-watching The Walking Dead and Hell on Wheels while not sleeping
  • More cleaning
  • Cleaning out the garage so we can park in there before it snows
  • Taking furniture and other items to sell to my flea market booth
  • Researching and planning for the Pinterest class I co-teach
  • Breathing, eating, a little sleeping

What have you been doing the past two weeks? Don't envy me...the other half of the time I'm dealing with winter blues...yes, I'm complaining. This So Cal gal does not like winter and lack of sunlight. Anyway!

I just wanted to give you a FREE PASS if you haven't been blogging so far in 2016. 

It's okay. 

In the grand scheme of things, blogging will be there when you get back.

Hope the rest of your month is awesome! 

(Like a trip to Florida or something!)


Day Six - Creating Blog Post Images To Use on Pinterest and Instagram

Tutorial on how to use Picmonkey to make great post images for your blog

When it comes to images on a blog - size matters! If you don't have the correctly sized image then it won't look perfect in its placement. This is one area where you can be perfect and look very professional.

We have a great tutorial to create buttons for it and see if you get some inspiration. If you need tips on sizing your images check the list below.

How to make a button for your blog - tutorial from The Blog Guidebook

You can use this tutorial to make great blog post images that help a reader to click on your image faster, hence getting them to your blog faster.
  • Instagram - 1080 x 1080 pixels
  • Pinterest -  735 x 1102 pixels
  • Facebook - 1200 x 628  
  • Twitter - 1024 x 512
In experimenting with the fastest, easiest way to create images we know will work well in most social media feeds, we came across a couple of image sizes that work well: one size for horizontal (landscape) images and one for vertical (portrait) images.
  • Horizontal (landscape) – 1,024 x 512
  • Vertical (portrait) – 800 x 1,200
Changing Image Size - if you don't have access to Photoshop then I suggest PicMonkey (again), sorry for the repeat!  Upload your image, make any changes and then save at the pixel size you require.  If you're starting from scratch on PicMonkey, you can choose a custom image and start with the size you want it to be, then add your image and graphics to that space.

We've also written about how ALT tags can enhance your images being found in a web search. You can do that from Blogger...and it's easy peasy.

After you'd uploaded an image it is easy to add a link to that image, but you should ALT text on the just added image, and a bar of choices will pop up. You've seen them before. Click on Properties.

Then the box below will pop up and you will type your description in the Alt Text box, then click OK.

Usually in the ALT TEXT box I use a good description and where the photo can be found...something like:  "Useful Guidelines To Blogging at The Blog Guidebook". Etc.

Cropping Your Image -
PicMonkey allows you to crop your image pretty much a click away from when you uploaded it.
You can also change image size via HTML in the sidebar if you're using Firefox as your browser. After you've uploaded your image, click Edit HTML and you can drag the image larger or smaller. It's a great trick, but it doesn't work in Chrome (or others).

I know I've thrown this at you very quickly...but you can do it. Don't be afraid to move things around a bit and try new sizes, fonts, colors etc. You can always put it back the way it was. 

Day Five - Discovering That It's All About the Font

Do you have a favorite font? Are you a font junkie? Have you just discovered the luscious world of fonts and want to know how to get some of your own? As a graphic designer it is easy to create a collection of lovely fonts that can create movement, branding, and imagery...but when you're just starting out, well, the font world can be overwhelming.

Let's dip a few toes in to the pool of letters and type...FONTS!

A font can make your brand recognizable. It can make it bold, happy, friendly, and memorable.
Think about the Star Wars font...if you change it does it look as good? Do you think you would remember it? It really is a font can download it for free.  

Fonts are so interesting...and so are the people that create them. If you want to know more about the history of fonts, you might want to read I Love Typography.

Okay, now you are a font buff, grab a pencil and jot down some ideas on how you can use fonts to customize your blog, your blog name, or just play with fonts.

Here are a few of the BEST FREE (or almost free) font sites:
Check out Font Squirrel's free user guide on how to use free fonts.

Creating your own font: Turn your handwriting into a font 
or check out this article on Buzzfeed

And speaking of Star Wars I thought this little poster was super cute, created by illustrator Vincent Rondia!

If you love fonts you will also love ELEMENTS...check out our short series:

Day Four - Scanning a Hand Made Image to Use On Your Blog

Blogging is a technical thing nowadays, but adding a hand drawn, personalized image somewhere on your site makes it feel less formal, less techie, less cold...makes it more inviting and a little bit friendlier...from my perspective. If your blog is all about business then you may not want to be that friendly, it's up to you. But you can use this method to add a myriad of other images to your blog also, such as collages, textures, children's art, items from nature etc.

When I say scan what do you think of? I always think of a very flat perfect item, like a photo. But scanning doesn't have to be just a flat scan done by your scanner/printer. It can also be a photograph, which you then use like a scan.

For instance, I painted a large poster size zebra from my daughter's birthday a few years ago, and everyone loved it. It was huge, so there was no way I could scan something so big. So I found a bright place (outside is good) with no shadows and took some close up photos at a high resolution setting.

What is high resolution?

Resolution—measured in pixels per inch (ppi)—is the term used to represent this density. Two common resolutions you'll hear are 72 ppi and 300 ppi. 72 ppi is considered “low-res” and 300 ppi is considered the minimum for “high-res.” A 4”x4” image at 72 ppi has 1,152 pixels in it (16 square inches x 72 pixels).

Can I use my phone to take pictures? Yes! That's what I wanted you to see here. You don't even need to scan can use the photo as your main image.
Below is my original image taken with my iPhone. I then emailed the photo to myself and uploaded it to PicMonkey and Photoshop Elements.

 In PicMonkey I added more saturation and cropped the image slightly.

Then in Elements I used the erase tool to start eliminating the background of the plant.
You can see some of the gray bits that still need to be erased, but it takes a while to do it.
PicMonkey doesn't have the capability to do this (as far as I know), so if you use a very white background that could still work well for this purpose.

The image below got erased a little bit too much, as some of the pot is disappearing...

Finally, in the image below I added some text and made a faux banner...

Banner size - if you know the width of your blog you can use that size, I usually choose something between 900 and 1200. For the height, don't go over 350 pixels unless you're wanting quite a tall banner.

Make a banner using PicMonkey

Sidebar size - Here again you would choose the size that you have set on your blog. Most blogs are somewhere between 150 and 300 pixels.

I didn't get into a lot of details here with these tips, if you need more help please let me know. Just remember you can use many different free programs to create images for your blog. I also have a lot of fun shopping for graphics on Etsy...they are very affordable!

Here's a great article I found with tips on creating a banner from Dana at The Wonder Forest.

Don't forget to share your images on Instagram with the hashtag #blogalong...I want to see what ya'll are up to! And of course, you can share this Blog Along Challenge everywhere, by adding to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter etc. But only if you want to. Thanks! Chat with you tomorrow on Day Five!