Friday, March 21, 2014

Blogging Resources 101

Blogging is a crazy whirlwind. When you are first starting out it can become quite overwhelming trying to figure out what direction to take not only with your content but with your actual blog itself. I personally chose Blogger for alaskalove12 because the idea of working with WordPress & having to try to figure out some HTML stuff really freaked me out.
Over the last year that I have been truly dedicated to this blogging ride I have created some posts that I am really proud of & others still have me going... "what was I thinking?!" Beyond the content itself I have learned a few trips & tricks for the overall appearance of my blog. Since I know how hard it is to attempt to figure all of this stuff out on your own, I'm going to share the posts, blogs, & other stuff that has really helped me during alaskalove12's first year.

Let's start with the layout/background/basic appearance of alaskalove12. I knew that when I started AlaskaLove12 that I didn't even want to have to think about designing a layout myself. You see, I'm just not that talented. I just did a google search for blogger layouts & clicked through a couple of pages until I found Beautiful Dawn Designs(Link). Instantly I was in love with the design & look of the site, so I click through until I found some of their pre-made layouts for blogger. I instantly picked their Elegance layout for $30 & then attempted to install the template myself. As you can imagine that was at total failure, I had issues with opening the file & then there was some leftover http bits from my previous free layout that I couldn't get rid of.

 I emailed Beautiful Dawn & they were able to install my template for me. It cost $20 & then I was all set to go! I recommend all of Beautiful Dawn's pre-made layouts for blogger, they are so gorgeous with a bit of a vintage-y feel to them. (Since I went to the Beautiful Dawn site to get a link for this post I saw a new layout I fell in love with! Stay tuned in the next few days to see it installed. By Beautiful Dawn of course!) I should mention that Beautiful Dawn does custom designs for Blogger & Wordpress it is just a bit more expensive. Check out their site for all of their information.
If you do not feel competent with creating/installing your own layout just do a google search as plenty of sites are available for you to purchase pre-made layouts from. The prices range from $30-$300 so just be prepared to spend a little bit, but it makes a HUGE difference!

Once you have your layout all sorted you're going to want to embellish your blog a little bit to make it pop. When it comes to anything extra that I have done or want to do (social media icons, a proper about me page, some ads & so on...) there is one blog I turn to 99.9% of the time. Venus Trapped in Mars, by a wonderful blogging genius named Sarah. Seriously, when I look at her blog I know that I want AlaskaLove12 to be just as amazing someday. For now, I have been utilizing her Saturday Sessions Tutorials to improve & modify what I'm currently working with. The tutorials are very easy, straight forward & extremely helpful. That neat little hello. section that is on the right hand side of my blog now, that was done by following the About Me Gadget Tutorial (Link.) I do need a better & more recent picture of myself for my gadget, but it's a process people. If you are wanting to know how to make glitter letters for your blog or the 5 Things That Every Blog Needs head on over to Venus Trapped in Mars & immerse yourself in some Saturday Sessions Tutorials. (Link)

Another thing that I recently added to AlaskaLove12 was an instagram feed. Now, instagram doesn't have a gadget available for blogger at this time so you have to use a 3rd party's gadget. I used SnapWidget (Link) & followed this tutorial from Snap Creativity (Link). I also attempted to use a tutorial from Blog Guide Book (Link), but it didn't work for me as there was some error with my http on some line...see I'm really quite a dud when it goes beyond the basics! Just know that if you try to do something on your blog once & it doesn't work there are usually some other options. Just take a deep breath, google & all will be right in the blog-o-sphere.

If you are wanting some help on additional gadgets, this is a great tutorial from The-Blogger-Tutor on how to install other & more basic gadgets on your side bar. (Link)

Now that you have your layout all sorted & some gadgets taken care of, it's time for some content TLC. Until recently I have been just chugging along taking pictures with my Canon Rebel t3i & trying to sort out my pictures later. I was always loving blogs filled with pictures where the products really stood out & most of the time they were on a white background. I was stumped on how to pull it off myself, & somewhere I read a tip to just use a piece of white poster board or paper. DUUUUH! I felt like such a blogging-flop when I read that! It is so simple but it has made a huge difference in how my pictures look. On my more recent posts where I've made that one simple change my daily views have TRIPLED! 

When it comes to editing my pictures & adding in the wording, labeling, embellishments or whatever else you see I'm currently using PicMonkey. (Link) PicMonkey has free editing options available but right now for an entire year a membership for access to more & more... is $33 for a year. If you click that link you will be able to try out a week of PicMonkey Royale for free! I totally recommend it to anyone that wants to add some extra beauty to your images & posts. It's like Photoshop without the headache that is Photoshop. I also have Photoshop & Lightroom on our desktop, but I'm not able to use them until we get our whole iPhoto mess sorted. 

PicMonkey Royale Basics...

Beyond my basic pictures & adding some typography to my images I have really been referring to the  Guide to Blogging/Guide to YouTubing Series by Lily Pebbles(Link) & Vivianna Does Make-Up(Link). Back towards the start of 2014 the posted a 6 video series all about the basics of starting a beauty blog. Now, a lot of the things they discuss will work no matter what kind go a blog you are venturing into. I recommend you check out the series & watch all of the blogging videos if you have just started blogging & you aren't sure about what to do next. The girls cover everything from the basics to equipment & content for both blogger & Wordpress.(Link) When you are finished with those videos be sure to check out both Lily & Anna's blogs/channels as they have some of the best beauty/style advice around! Vivianna Does Make Up (Link) & Lily Pebbles (Link).

I also loved Lily's Tech Haul that she posted back in February & I think I purchased just about every single thing from her haul on Amazon. The backpack has seriously changed my life! So check that out if you are into tech-acessories or are in need of some great basic camera/photography equipment. (Link)

Alright you guys, those are all of the resources I have at this time! In the near future I plan to venture into doing some Link-Ups, as well as placing some ads in AlaskaLove12's side bar. As AlaskaLove12 continues to grow & learn more with my own blogging I will be sure to share it with all of you! Thanks for sticking through this ridiculously long post & I hope that there were somethings to help you on your own blogging journey! :)

alaska love,