Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Maybe time to start thinking of expanding your tool set

So Ruby, it appears from your previous post that you are thinking of going a bit more public with your blog. But you don't really want the post about how your ex-sister in law sold you down the river to go viral! (Going viral means that it is picked up by social media and seen by many people, usually internationally, very quickly without you being able to stop it).

Well, if google+ and email aren't giving your friends the access you expected, you may want to explore a new technology to help you communicate with them. I'm sure you've heard of them but have been a bit wary. So my recommendation is that you choose one of the following:

Twitter: This is used mostly as a way to broadcast resources, ideas, information. If your readers are addicted to their cell phones or iphones, this is a good alternative because twitter only allows 140 characters (that's characters, not words. This includes spaces and periods). I use twitter to save blog posts I'm interested in, share blog posts and internet references with others interested in what I'm interested in, find links to resources, keep on the latest news and mark them to read later, and let others know when I've written another blog post (I'll be sharing this post later on twitter).

If you want to use twitter to have others share what you have written, you include a link to your post. But if you want to keep it private among friends, then you can control who sees your tweets (the 140 characters).

Facebook: More and more people are sharing their blog posts on facebook. Facebook used to only be a for social relationships. However, as it became commercial, it now interacts with programs like twitter, a blog, or youtube. Now you can upload the link to your blog post and depending on who you want to see it, can limit it to friends, friends and their friends, or the public in general.

Facebook is used as a place for social interaction and is much more personal than twitter. If you want a dialogue between people about your blog post, Facebook is a good way to let people see it.

Pinterist: Pinterist would be a good program if your blog is about hobbies or recreational. You will need a photo to use pinterist. The most successful way to get people to share your blog is to embed a pinterest button on your blog site so someone only needs to click on it to save it to their Pinterest account. I have seen receipt/cooking and quilting bloggers use Pinterist to share their blog.

Linkedin: Like Facebook, you can share your blog post with a large number of people you know at once. This is appropriate if your blog is professional. By sharing on linkedin you can reinforce your professional image. However, be careful that it reinforces the image you want to project and doesn't create an image you don't want.

Google drive/docs: Google docs is a program where others can interact with documents online. Technically it is a wiki, which is a program that allows others to contribute/revise/comment on a document. This is a good alternative if your post is in Beta (the experimental/draft form). You can click on the document and share it with specific people by emailing the link to them. Only they will be able to see the draft. So if you think that comment you made about your coworker's outfit might be a bit too harsh, you can have others read it before it goes public. You can then cut and paste from the google docs/drive into your blog post.

So now it's your turn. Choose one of these to work on next. Then I'll give you more instructions once you have decided which one you want to focus on.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Bet you thought I was not out here any just working on my blog style and now I have a few questions for myself and my followers (all two of them...thanks Mom, thanks sis)...

1) I have had people who are friends ask how they can follow on the blog.  I have added a few to FAMILY or FRIENDS but I think all of them have gmail.

2) How do I encourage people to respond or make comments?

That should start me off for awhile...thanks Prof!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Adding features that will allow others to be notified when you add a post

So, now that you have started to write a few posts, you'll want to make it easy for your family and friends (and even those that have stumbled upon your blog) to access any updates. This is actually very easy using blogger.

Some blogging software require that you know HTML code. Sometimes, it is just a matter of going through the steps and receiving a "code" which you cut and paste into the blogging software. But thankfully, many blogging platforms (software) have digital wizards who have already figured out how to code so you can easily put links to twitter, facebook, or ereaders that your readers can use to share your post.

Think of it like this: You like a post on something you read. Now, you can email it to your sister or a friend, but that means you have to cut and paste the URL address from your browser into an email, then send the email. Or maybe you communicate with them through facebook. You can cut and paste the URL into facebook (IF you have one) and share the content that way.

But an easier way is to include a link that allows your readers to share on google+, facebook, twitter, or pinterest just by clicking on the link in the menu area of your blog. YOU don't have to have facebook or twitter, but your readers may use that to share posts that they like. So you should make it easy for them.

Integrating buttons and apps onto your blog menu

The first step to sharing your blog posts is to make sure feeders to ereaders (i.e. Ipods, Kindles, Nooks) are turned on. If you go to settings, then click on "other". Make sure the setting for Allow Blog Feed is on "Full". This means others can subscribe to your blog.

Another option is email your posts automatically to your family and friends. You do this my clicking on Settings again, and then clicking on mobile and emails. At the bottom, it says "Email posts to". Now, if you click on Add, you can add email addresses where you want the posts to go to. This can be very time consuming though, since you will need to manually type in each email you want to receive the post. However, if you want to limit who gets the post (as many bloggers do when they are just starting out, until they are comfortable with others reading their posts), this is a good way to share.

However, an even better feature is to add a "gadget" or app which has all the coding done for you. If you go to "Layout" in the menu, you will see a sample of how your blog looks. Included will be a label "gadget" in various parts of the menu. You decide where you want to put links and features for your readers (although I'd put "subscribe", and links to facebook, twitter, and pinterest up towards the top left to make it easy for your readers to share and/or follow you). Click on "gadget" and a pop-up box with different gadgets will come up. Scroll through and click on the one(s) you want to place in each section of the layout. Don't forget to "save" it once you have clicked on it (save is on the bottom). After you have added a gadget and saved it, another box with "save" will pop up above. Follow the same process.

After you have added your gadgets, apps, and/or links, click on View blog at the top of the page. If you don't like how it looks or you don't like the placement, go back to layout and click on edit. You can also drag different gadgets (put your cursor on the gadget and right click using your mouse or finger pad, then keeping your finger down on the mouse/finger pad drag it to where you want it on the webpage).

Using Labels

Finally, once you want to start gaining a broader readership outside of you family and friends, you should use "labels" or "tags". These are key words that search engines pick up when you search for something on google or yahoo. You are helping the search engines find your blog. So, for this post, I will be using the "label" blogging, sharing, gadget, blog share, subscribe, & labels. Anyone who types these words in the search will find this post (although it may be 135987 on the list out of 1.2 million results!). The more your post is shared and read, the higher on the list it will show up.

Labels also are a way for your readers to search your site. I also use labels to revisit ideas I had written about previously. All of my posts are "categorized" since the labels show up on your post list for your blog.

To add a label, click on "labels" in the menu to the left. It is useful is you keep a list of the labels (categories) you want to use and use those consistently. If you capitalize some words or connect them, the same label will show up as two different categories, so make sure you are consistent with spelling and format. Some blogging software only allow one word for a label. In blogger, you can have more than one word. However, you need to put a comma between words to create a separate label in a series. If I typed "blogging sharing gadget blog share" without the comma, that becomes one label in blogger. Someone would have to type that exactly if they were searching for something like that to read. Fortunately, when you begin to type the label, previous labels you have used on your blog will show up below the box and you can just click on the previously used label.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ok Prof. I know you are busy with your collegiate life, and I have a house to clean but you don't see me shying away from asking questions so here goes; I can not always get to my actual GMail account  Wow if you punch in gmail there is this guy that looks like the hunky model on the cover of those bodice rippers you like to read...oops did I reveal too much?  Anyway, how do I have a conversation with some of the people who have sent me a comment without having it post on the blog.  Also, how do I have an on-blog (?) conversation with someone?  I did stumble on how to add some folks to my circles...I will save my thoughts for a later post on who in the Ukraine would want to read this blog...thinking vodka may be involved...

Monday, February 4, 2013

Hey Prof. how do I ask people to follow my blog without being to self-serving and frankly conceited?  I mean I want to make it easier to let others know that I am out here (way out there sometimes) and I would like to invite my friends and family to read along and get a dialog started.  Of course they may not like seeing themselves in the blog but I still want to engage them in witty repartee, plus it would cut down on my phone bill...Is there a way to get them to sign up on the blog so I do not have to keep referring to these multi-colored post it notes with their e-mail addresses on them?

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Blog comments

So Ruby, you asked about making sure you get people you want to read your blog to read it without getting "spam" (sometimes hackers, sometimes machines that find your blog and attach viruses or spyware, sometimes "trolls" or people that want to cause problems on random blogs). To understand this, it's important to understand some of things you can do with comments and privacy settings.


Comments are very useful to get feedback and have a conversation with your readers. As I mentioned in my previous blog post, it helps you to create a community. However, at least in the beginning, you may want to control who comments and what those comments are. When I first started my blog, I started to get a number of inappropriate comments, often very vague with a link. These are often viruses or companies using your blog to get more people to their blog (the same as those inappropriate "you've won a million dollars" or "enlarge your..." emails you receive (now in your spam folder).

Fortunately, Blogger has a filter like most of your email programs do. But you still may want control over your comments. You may decide you want no comments. This you can do also. Click on your blog "dashboard" (the menu with all your blogs listed). On the left hand side menu, at the bottom is "Settings." Click on it, then go to "posts and comments". Scroll down (move your cursor down)to comments. Now choose which ever setting works for you.

1) Comment Location: If you don't want comments on your blog, choose "hide." This means there will be no comment section on your blog. Otherwise, I suggest using full page.

2) Who can comment? You have 4 choices: the first is anonymous. I suggest you NOT choose this option unless you approve ALL comments first (see the moderation section below). This means you (or google) will have difficulty tracing who has posted the comment. Registered User: This means you can trace back who commented, including an email address and/or profile. User with Google Accounts: This limits who can comment to those with google products. This is especially useful if you are using google + because you can limit outsiders from commenting (but not limiting who can read) your blog. Only members of this blog: There is a setting in which readers can "join" your blog. You have their profile information and can even control who is a member and who isn't. If you use this setting and you want comments, you will need to make sure your readers join the blog first.

3) Comment Moderation: This is the section where you have control over which comments are made public. If you choose "always", then any comment you have on a particular post will show up on you "blog post list" and you will need to click on the comment, then click on "accept" or "delete". This is where I keep my comment settings, since I don't look at my blog post every day. This means if there is an unacceptable comment, it won't be up there for many days or even weeks before I get to it. If you think you're going to be accessing your blog every day, you might want to change the setting to "sometimes" or "never." "Sometimes" publishes all comments within a certain time period (i.e. for posts over the last 7 days). This is helpful if you have readers that may comment on something you wrote a while ago. You may not see the new comment because you only check your most recent posts. You may also want a lively interaction around your blog, with people being able to comment frequently. Then choose "never" and make sure you review the comments and delete inappropriate or "spam" comments that Blogger hasn't picked up.

For those more advanced in blogging, you might want to help your readers comment effectively by creating guidelines for comments. This might include rules of good commenting.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Why Blog?

When my sister and I first discussed her need to learn some social media skills, my first thought was to start her with blogging. Why? The technology of blogging is very similar to emails. If you know how to use email, most blogging software is set up like an email.

More importantly, blogging allows you control the communication over the internet. You decide when you want to make a post public, whether or not others can comment on what you have written, and when you are ready to post something. Blogs are easy to edit if you don't like the way it looks.

So what do people new to social media use blogs for? There are 3 main ways to use blogs:

1) Professional information: Blogs are a great way to demonstrate professional credentials and/or expertise. More and more companies have blogs to communicate internally and externally with workers, management, clients, and potential customers. (Hint: when you see text in blue, this is called hyperlink. Clicking on it will bring you to another site that is related to the topic under discussion. In this case, I have a link to a blog written by GE researchers). For those looking for a new career or a "post-retirement" career, this could be a good opportunity to attract potential clients/employers. For those who are afraid that their skill sets may be perceived as obsolete, this is a good way to get HR or management to notice what you can and/or do contribute to the company.

2) Storytelling "Blog" stands for Web Log. Blogging originally was developed by journalists to update their readers "from the field." In other words, blogs were designed with "story-telling" in mind. You will notice that blog posts are chronologically listed, and on the side of the blog, are listed blog posts by month and year.

There are two ways bloggers may tell their story. The first is to add on to a story as it is developing. An example of this would be a trip blog in which pictures and daily excursions are documented either to share with family and friends or for a permanent memory of the trip. Mytripjournal is a blogging software that is set up to help bloggers document their trip, including maps, photo/video uploads, and itineraries.

The second way is to maintain a regular journal which documents life events. This could be thoughts on what is happening, family milestones, or even a discussion of a topic of interest over a period of time. This is a great way to keep in touch with family and friends who are at a distance, or to document your life (and how it has changed) over a period of time.

3) Engage with a Community of Interest One aspect of blogging that is different than email is the ability to engage in discussion with readers. This is accomplished by allowing "comments" (we'll discuss how to do this in an upcoming post). A blogger will share their interests in such subjects as quilting, cooking, TV shows, gardening, photography/videos, or books. In some cases, a blog will have multiple authors (as this blog does) who are interested in the same topic. It is a great way to create an exchange of information and get feedback on hobbies and other interests from others who are interested in the topic.

So, as you can see, there are many things a new "blogger" can do with a blog. You only need to decide what YOU would like to do and start blogging.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

I was trying to update my profile and I must have clicked on something that released the post to all the blogging world because suddenly I saw my blog in a drop down next to Justin Bieber (something I never thought I would say.)  Is it possible if you have more than one blog on the administrator page to only release the blog you want public?  For instance, I am still getting instructions from you Prof so I am not sure I want this blog to be published.  The other blog I have Diary of a Mad Divorce Eh? I might want to publish and get comments...not sure yet...can you give me some advice? Also, I have no followers except a few do I get others to read my blog and offer their comments? I tried to set up a friends or family page but no luck there either...what do I do first?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A couple of items that should be simple but I still am struggling with...printing what I just viewed on a post.  Since I am administrator of the blog why is it so hard for me to print only the blog?  I keep having all the other stuff (half I do not even know what it means ) on the side and the top of the page showing is cutting off the actual post.  Also, when I am viewing the blog post and try to go back to the main page do I just click on the title?  Urrrgh,  this should be me Prof!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writing a Post

So now that you've written your post, you need to upload it. Go back to blogger and click on the blog post name. (DO NOT CLICK ON NEW BLOG. This will create a whole new blog, not a blog post within the blog). Now you are at the menu for the Blog Post. On the side is a menu with a number of actions you can take. Click on the "New Post" botton.

Now a screen will come up which will look a bit like an email template. This is what you will use to create your Blog Post. You can type directly into the template or cut and paste paragraphs from Word.

1. Fill in the top section: Post: Post title. It is important to have a title that is fairly short, but unique to your blog (i.e. Welcome to the Blog for over 50's). If the title is too long it will get cut off when searching; if too short readers won't know what the post is about.

2. In the box below the "compose" button, just start typing or cut and paste your post.

Don't indent; it may not show up on the blog post.
Do "enter" at the end of a paragraph and make sure there is a blank line between paragraphs
Don't put a title at the top of this section since you will have one from the title you typed in in the first section.

3. Once you have completed typing your post, go to the top of the page and click on "publish". "Save" will only save it so you can read and/or edit it later, it won't make it publish. After you have "published", the screen will change. When given the option, "view post" or "view blog" to see what it looks like to anyone accessing the web. I usually proof read at this time since I miss mistakes when it is in the "edit" or "type" mode.

4. If you find a mistake and want to edit, you can click on "new post" on your website, then click on "edit post" or you can go back to google, click on blogger, then click on the title of your blog, then click on "posts" on the side menu. Now a list of all the posts you have created will come up. Next click on "edit post" below the post title. If you click on "view post" you won't be able to change anything on your blog post.

Congratulations! You have just created your first post.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Does HTML mean hotmail?

Some additional directions in using blogs

So Ruby, first things first. Let's get some paragraphs on these blog posts and change the way the blog looks. (I'll write a different blog post on what we are doing in the "Four thumbs, one toe" blog). Once you have set up your blog on blogger (or most any other blog software), you'll want it to look the way you want your readers to look at your online persona. Yes, your identity (or online persona) can be different than who you are in the face to face world! Or you can have it represent who you want to be, who you think you truly are, or who you think others see you as.

How do you do that?

First choose a template (a background, font or writing style, pictures, blog headings) that suits you. So Ruby, I hate the fact that we can't see paragraphs. The current template we have is way too casual and a bit too "flighty" (could be the birds). So here is how you change the template: Go back to your "dashboard"; in other words the main menu that controls your blog.*

On the side menu on the left, second from the bottom is the "settings" heading. After you click on this, you can click on "template" to change the look of your blog or you can click on "layout" if you want to just move around the various menus and features on your blog. So Ruby, click on templates. You will see a graphic that comes up named "live view". Now play around with any of the templates. When you click on them, you can see what it will look like by looking at the live view. Find one that you like and then save it. You may also want to be more adventurous and click on the "customize" button. You can change the font, heading styles, font and background colors, and layout. Don't be afraid to experiment.

Once you have chosen a template/style, and you have a blog post "published" you may want to see how others see your blog. You can do this three different ways. Once you have the post written, and before you click on "publish" click on "preview (up on the top two buttons down from the "publish" button). The second way is to click on "View Blog" at anytime up in the right hand top of the screen. The final way is in the blog post menu (click on "blog posts") you will see options of edit, view, comments. If you click on view, you will go to the public view of your blog post. After you have chosen the template, you may also want to add pictures to your blog. I will post directions for that in a future post. You may also want to add a "label (on the right side of the post settings) which describes your post. You may also want to identify where you were when you wrote your post. This is especially useful if you are using the blog to record a trip. All of these help the reader to relate to who you are as a blogger.

If your view still does not come out the way you want it to, you might want to change the mode in which you are composing. For blogger, you have 2 options for formatting: compose or HTML. HTML is a computer code used to format a web page. It includes commands for bold, links, line brakes, and/or graphics. The HTML mode shows the commands (the commands will be between brackets <> with an abbreviation or word such as br for line break or bold). When writing in HTML mode, you will need to enter lines between paragraphs. Compose mode shows you (pretty much) how your post will look when it is published. However, if you are going to cut and paste your post from a word document, you should use the HTML mode because Word acts weird/doesn't translate well in the compose mode. You can use the edit buttons (B, I, ABC, Link, ")up on top in either mode (compose or HTML) so don't be intimidated with using the HTML view.**

*Note 1: If you are using blogger and you forget how to get to your blog, sign into google (or gmail if you know your gmail account). Your name will show up on the upper right corner. Click on that and a drop down menu will come up. Click on account (below your name on the left side). Click on "products" on the menu the comes up on the far left hand side. Now all the google products that you have signed up for (google +, youtube, gmail, blogger, just to name a few) will show. Click on blogger and now you are at your "dashboard".

** Note 2: I don't have any knowledge of HTML, however I always compose in HTML mode. I can see where the formatting is, in case it doesn't show up in the blog "view". I can then go back and add bolding, line breaks between paragraphs, quotes (in which sections are indented), and links.
My abilities are sorely tested.  I could change the template but unless I read HTML language I am not sure how to actually get paragraphs.  Don't I just hit a space bar?  I did find that cool broken line feature to underline but still doesn't help with the paragraph situation.