Tuesday, June 3, 2014

5 Basic yet Fancy Add-ons for Your Blog

Thank you to the lovely Sarah for having me over whilst she welcomes the newest little O to the family!  I can usually be found over @The Hopeful Starfish, where I blog about married life on a little farm in Ohio with two boyos, a part-time visiting nurse job, and one rouge black sheep.




So, you have a blog, but there's a little something missing? Jealous of all the cool kids and their buttons and add-ons? You've come to the right place!

Now, none of these adjustments are rocket science, but it can take a while to get used to the type of thinking/doing that changing things like HTML coding requires.  My first advice is to try to do updates when you have some time (ha!) and aren't pressed with any deadlines or other work for a little bit.  For the most part, with a little bit of poking around, you can find most of what you want to do by Google-ing and trial and error in your settings/layout/template section of your blog.

1. Fancy meme/images
Let's start with something pretty basic. You are good at coming up with snarky-catchy titles to your posts, but not so hot at the images section?The easiest way to make a photo blog-friendly (or pinterest-friendly) is to stick some nice big text on it.  I've found picmonkey.com to be the super-hero in this department, but you can even use the Paint program on your computer (though that can be frustrating).  Picmonkey has you upload an image, and then lets you use all kinds of simple tools to alter it's look (kind of like Instagram) as well as adding text or little hearts etc. Haley @CarrotsforMichaelmas is great at these:

Source / original image used with permission from JFXie (Flickr)
and also:

Source

There are other photo-editing sites online that you may want to try including pixlr.com and fotoflexer.com .  I give picmonkey all the brownie points for simplicity, but the other sites may have more tools available.

Bonus Tip: Try using different fonts within the same picture, experiment with colors, and consider using different text boxes to achieve the look you want, it's easier to format when getting everything to size properly. For the title image above, I used four different fonts and three separate text boxes!

Still can't come up with a good image-with-text option?  Try recitethis.com . It turns any phrase/quote into an instant meme for you, likey so:

voila.


2. Instagram widget!
You've seen all the cool kids with their Instagram slideshow in their blog sidebar?  I was so jealous...and I didn't even have Instagram.  Now, since I've made the plunge and gotten a "smart" phone, I am sure to become "that" girl on your friend list:


How-ever!  This was one alteration that I was genuinely surprised at how easy it was.  Just go to Snap Widget and follow the directions for whichever type of blog you have (Blogger/WordPress).  All I had to do was copy and paste a section of code into an HTML add-on widget in the Blogger template.  Likey so:


Go to "Layout" then click "Add a Gadget" (see orange arrow above).  A window will pop up with all kinds of gadgets you can add to your sidebars:


Pick the "HTML/Java Script" gadget (pink arrow above), paste the fancy code into the box, hit save, and, voila! #thatwaseasy

3. Social media buttons
This next one takes some time and is a bit more difficult.  You can find some great tutorials out there, though.  Not so long ago, Bonnie over @A Knotted Life had a great post about bettering your blogging.  In that, she links to the easiest aid I've seen for adding social media buttons, from Carrie Loves.  Carrie's post has *free* buttons in every color you can think of, any size you want, and video tutorials on how to add them to your blog (Blogger, & Wordpress)!   Carrie is really clear on how you go about doing this, but just to sum up: you have to save the images to your computer, and then upload them into a blank blog post so that you can then grab their HTML code from the editing screen to then plug into an HTML gadget (just like you did with the Instagram one above).  So, a few more steps, and you're there!

source

Bonus Tip: I had to experiment with the spacing a little bit by switching back and forth between the "Compose" and "HTML" windows on my Editor. 

4. Extras: "Pin It" & "Tweet This" buttons
These ones follow right along with what we've gone over so far.  You've got great images, and you're linked to your social media accounts, so now make it easier for your readers to share your stuff!  I recently added the Pinterest button to my images. I found this site the most helpful for explaining what to do, and they provided the code for a button already.  All the process required was copying the code into a certain section of your blog's main HTML code.  If that sounds scary, they also tell you how to save a copy of your current template prior to making changes.  

For a "Tweet This" link to pop up after your more profound bloggy statements, try this site.  It explains how to make a "Click to Tweet" link on your own, or by using an easy website that creates a link for you.  Either the link is at the end of the quote, or the link is the quote, you just have to add this to each individual tweet-quote you want in your posts, so it does require some legwork.

source

Bonus Tip: Make the quote short enough for Twitter, and add a "tiny url" back to your blog post in the link.  You can make a URL "tiny" here

For both of these options, I Googled what I wanted to do, and looked through several posts before I found ones that were most applicable to my blogging platform and level of expertise (beginner!).

5. Social Media Scheduling
Now that your blog looks super-awesome and is all connected up, you have to spend every minute of the day updating Facebook/Twitter/Instagram right?  Nope, nope, nope!  Really, you should just go read Jenna's post over at Santa Clara Design on "Creating a Social Media Schedule", because she is The Boss of this, but the basic thing you want to do is sign up for something like PostCron or HootSuite, where you can tappity-tap out a bunch of traffic-driving and clever thoughts (or just funny pictures!), and schedule them to appear on one or all of your social media pages throughout the day.  Jenna's post even has tips on timing your posts to be most effective.

So, there you have it!  Go make your blog (more!) awesome!  Hit up the comments section with more great ideas or questions, or I'd love to chat over on Facebook or Twitter!



Linking up with the lovely Hallie over @Moxie Wife for Five Favorites!


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This post: 5 Basic yet Fancy Add-ons for Your Blog first appeared on Two Os Plus More on 4 June 2014

6 comments:

  1. Great ideas! Thanks for sharing the recite this site! That will be great.

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  2. Oh, these are some great ideas! Thank you for putting together such detailed instructions too. I really need to enter the world of picmonkey and using Pinterest for more than shopping for recipes and ideas for kids Valentines.

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    1. Picmonkey is really fun and easy :) Thanks for checking the ideas out!

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  3. Wow...that recitethis.com sounds really cool! Never even heard of it before....off to check it out:)

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  4. I just added buttons to my page. So cool. So easy. Thank you thank you!

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    1. :) Aren't they fun? I was so pumped when I got mine up!

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