Friday, February 8, 2013

Backgroundless Image

Documents can be a pain when it comes to pasting images. Think about having a signature on an electronic resume or a title for your blog. Websites do not always give you the best tools and sometimes you have to do things on your own. This is where software comes into play.

I use adobe Photoshop for these tasks, but I suggest beginners use adobe Photoshop Elements. Elements can run you about $129 CDN but it is about $670 cheaper than Photoshop. Both are Mac and PC compatibility (please check system requirements before purchasing the product to check if your computer is compatible). Before starting the tutorial, you should know the different file types. The one we will be focusing on is Portable Network Graphics (PNG or png).

This file type allows you to save an edited image with a transparent background. I find PNG files to have higher quality than JPEG but lower compatibility with some devices. The following steps are what I took to get my friend Erin’s blog title up and running without a background. Check out her blog here.

Thanks Linda for the guest blog post. If you, or anyone reading this, needs technology advice, tutorial or faces issues, please visit or email me at

Backgroundless Image by

Friday, January 27, 2012

The Purpose of Labels

Labels, tags, keywords - what does that box at the bottom of your new post really accomplish?

What are they? Labels (or tags) make it easy to group related posts, without having to create specific categories for each subject. They give visitors the ability to browse all your posts that relate to a similar subject. When two or more blog posts are given the same label, visitors can easily click on the label to view those posts grouped together in the archive template.

Why should you use them? What’s more important is that these labels also serve as a great way for search engines to find your blog. When I’m deciding which words to use as labels for my post, I always ask myself “if I was searching this topic, which keywords would I enter in Google?”

Keywords are a source of traffic. Considering Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the highest priority in creating a successful blog, these labels will direct the traffic to you.

Mr. Ven of eMoneyMakingOnline.Com offers important advice on using keywords in your blog: “Don’t always write articles to stuff keywords instead “convey the message naturally” and you will ‘use keywords naturally’.”

How to do it? When creating a new post, there is a space at the bottom of your form marked "Labels for this post" (other platforms use “Tags”) Simply enter your keywords (labels), separated by commas. (If you click the "show all" link you’ll see the list of labels you've used before. Then just click on those labels to add them.) When you publish your post, the labels will be listed with it.

You can also add a list of all your labels in the sidebar of your blog, sorted alphabetically or by frequency of use and as a list or by cloud. Until you’ve built up a bank of labels, I would suggest using the list option. To add this list, go to add a gadget and add labels.

Remember: Relevant Labels = SEO.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Blog Design - Keep It Simple

Simplicity is the key to a good looking blog. Today’s web readers are inundated with a plethora of visually stimulating advertisements, ideas, posts and photos. The result is overwhelming, and can be exhausting.
A clean, crisp blog can relax the reader, and make them enjoy their stay on your blog. This doesn’t mean make your site boring - it just means it’s time to throw out the Comic Sans font, and put the fancy photo backgrounds back in your high school yearbook. Here are just a few simple guidelines that will give your blog the air of professionalism, without givin
g up your originality or personality.
Fonts: Step away from the Fancy Fonts. They can make your blog look unprofessional, and often, childish. America’s Most Fonted – the 7 Most Hated Fonts has Comic Sans the worst font of all. Just Google “comic sans” and you’ll find a long list of web designers that share the sentiment, including websites like
The top 7 Most Hated Fonts in order:
1. Comic
2. Bradley Hand ITC
3. Curlz MT4. Papyrus
5. Vivaldi
6. Kristen ITC
7. Viner Hand
A good rule of thumb to follow is to make sure the font you use is “Sans Serif” such as Arial, Calibri, and Verdana. Let me explain.
“Serifs” are the small finishing strokes on the end of a character such as Times New Roman. “Sans serif” fonts do not have these finishing strokes.
Serif fonts have been widely used in traditional printed material such as books and newspapers. But once you start using the web, with varying screen resolutions and sizes, serifs become difficult to read, and hard on the eyes. When it comes to fonts that are being viewed on a screen – SANS SERIF all the way.
Backgrounds:White Text on Black Background is bad. We can’t read your blog. Tatham Oddie explains the scientific reasoning which has to do with your iris opening to receive more light, and create a “fuzzy” effect. Just keep in mind the key is readability. Downloading blog templates can be great, but can also be disastrous. You want our blog to stand out because it’s good, not because it’s a prime example of what not to do. Fancy backgrounds with photos can work if they don’t distract from the most important part – your posting. Make sure the background behind your post is clean, clear and offers enough of a contrast for even the lowest resolution screens.
Photographs/Pictures:We are a visual generation – we need photos. Text only means a boring blog.
Break the monotony with photographs, videos, slideshows, etc. But again, make sure the photos don’t detract from what you’re saying. Also make sure when you are adding photos that they are scaled properly, meaning not out of proportion and check the creative commons for the legality of using someone else’s photo. To get more information on legally using photos go to’s help page on posting photos.

Consistency: A consistent approach to layout, colours and fonts allows readers to adapt quickly to your design and get comfortable. The visual language of your blog is a reflection of who you are and what people can expect. Don’t speak in a number of tongues.
Impress visitors with not only a great first impression, but also an even better lasting impression.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Writing your About Me section

Most people don't like to write about themselves, but the About Me section should not be underestimated and should never be overlooked. Your “About Me” is often the first impression people have of you and your blog. Not only does this give readers the chance to get to know you and your style, but it also validates what you’re talking about by explaining why people should be reading your blog. It’s one thing to talk about the restaurant industry, for example, but by letting people know you actually work as a waitress for the past ten years validates your observations.

It’s important to publish a useful About Me page that tells your readers who you are and why you’re qualified to write about your blog’s topic or what gives you special insight into the topic to make your blog unique and interesting.

There are four main questions that readers want answered on your About Me page:
1. Who you are…
2. Your expertise and how it relates to the blog topic.
3. How you can help with their problem or goal…
4. How to contact you. Remember the key to blogging is connectivity.

Finally, don’t plagiarize your identity; find what’s unique about you and share it honestly. Blogs show personality and passion - never hide who you really are.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Your First Post

This may be the hardest post to write. If you don't know where else to start, how about "Welcome to My Blog"? Explain why you've started your blog, and what kind of things you plan to write about. This launch post will also serve as a reminder to you whenever you find yourself deviating from your theme as you continue to blog. Keep your posts short, develop momentum, stick to what you know. You probably have a lot of helpful information that other people would like to know.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Let's Get Started

Step 2
The rules to blogging are simple:
Be Clear – Simple and concise.
Be Accurate – Spelling and punctuation counts.
Be Yourself – Whether it’s controversial, persuasive or personal, be expressive make it worth reading.

The first thing you need to do to start is determine your focus. What do you want to write about? The more popular your theme is, the more the search engines will like you, remember both theme and frequency of posts will give your blog more “Google Juice”)

Before committing to that theme, ask yourself some questions.
Does it lend itself to ongoing posts and discussions?
Does it excite you? Will the topic motivate you enough to write about in the long term? Do you want to be known as an expert on the topic?
How much time do you have to write and research your topic?

Next, offer the basics in your blog. Make readers feel comfortable and at home. Make sure there is an easy way to leave comments, have clear titles for your postings, offers a blogroll of your favourite blogs and don’t forget to fill in the “About Me” section.

Finally, get connected. Find blogs in your niche area and add value through participate. Comment on their postings and suggest they do the same on yours. There are blog groups for everything from crock-pot cooking to zebra watching, they are easy to find by going to Google and clicking on “search blogs” the same you would select “search the web.”

Meg Hourihan said it best on her blog, “When we talk about weblogs, we’re talking about a way of organizing information, independent of its topic. What we write about does not define us as bloggers; it’s how we write about it (frequently, ad nauseam, peppered with links.” Meg Hourihan, by the way, is co-founder of the company Pyra Labs, the creators of Blogger.

Choosing your Theme

It doesn't matter whether you're a web savvy warblogger, a college student worried about assignments, or a retiree looking for a hobby, there are people out there with the same interests as you. Once you've decided you want to blog, the theme should be a natural progression. What are you passionate about? Is there enough to sustain regular updates? Some write on what's happening to them at the moment - this is truly a "web journal." Others focus on a primary theme, this attracts a loyal following, people with similiar interests who will come back for more. There are no "rules" to blogging, it's okay to deviate from your theme, just remember to be true to your blog. Keep in mind why you started your blog in the first place. Check out other blogs by googling your topic, find you niche then sit back and enjoy. The best advice?
Write to express, not impress.