Jul 27, 2006

Background Images

Here is a great tip that you can use to make your blog different. All the major elements of your Blogger template can be set to display background images. These elements are the Header, Post, Sidebar and Footer containers. You can even put a image as the background of your body which is the gray area below.

As an example, I want you to look at another blog I designed that make use of background images. Below is The-T-Shirt Blogspot which started life as a Blogger Minima template. You can click on the image below to see the actually site.(use your back button to return here)

Here is a list of the background images I used in the different elements. Take a look and you will see how this works.

Header Image

Sidebar Image

Post Image

All of these images were created using Corel Draw and were sized to fit in the container they are the background of. For example the graduated fade from gray to white that was used for the sidebar needed to be 160px wide. The height was not a factor as it floats with the length of information that you put in the sidebar such as all the dropdown menus I have added there.

Adding the images to your template is fairly simple. Once you have found that element in your templates style sheet just add the code in red to set the background. Of course you will have to use the actual address of your image.(the example is setting the sidebar background image)

#sidebar {
background: url(http://yourimage.jpg) no-repeat;

Give it a try, this is the meat of creating a custom appearance to your blog. Be sure to back up your template by copying it to a text file with word or notepad. then you will be safe to experiment. If something goes wrong just delete the entire template and paste your backup file into the template section of blogger and your back to where you started.

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Jul 24, 2006

Blog of the Week 07-24-06

Get-A-Link is a site I put up to help you increase your search engine rating by getting links to your site. You don't have to give out your e-mail address just leave your site info in the comments section. Your link to the site helps all that have joined and has a snowball effect in getting visitors to your site. Do yourself and all of us a favor and link up today! http://getalink.blogspot.com/

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Jul 17, 2006

Blog of the Week 07-17-06

The Reflection in my Irish Eyes is this weeks pick for blog of the week. A personal journal that is the essence of traditional blogging. The young lady that authors this site shares her life experiences and adventures for all to enjoy.

I have to admit that beautiful Irish eyes and flaming red locks leave me quite helpless and could of had an influence in my choice. Still, I found her journal to be quite interesting and will be checking in occasionally to see what's new. I hope you all will as well.

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Jul 16, 2006

Creating Tag Clouds

A Tag Cloud is a weighted list or index of keywords that your blog uses. The keywords or tags are categorized by importance by the size of the font. Larger tags having been used more frequently within your posts. When a visitors clicks on one of these tags they are shown a list of posts that this keyword has been used in. (Try the example in the sidebar)

Tag clouds give your visitors a quick visual representation of what's going on in your blog and aid in navigation by providing additional search options. You have probably seen clouds on popular sites like Flickr and Technorati.

I've added a small tag cloud to blogatech's side bar thanks to Zoom Cloud. Their site will let you produce a tag cloud based on any RSS or Atom feed. They are completely customizable and free.

sign up is very fast and the menus will walk you through the set up process. All you need is your site feed. If your using Blogger you automatically have a Atom feed and the feed address can be found under the Settings tab of your Dashboard. If your not using Blogger you can get a RSS feed at Feed Burner.

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Jul 10, 2006

Blog of Week 07-10-06

This weeks blog is Bubbles in my Head. Billed as a literature and writing resource, it's a great site for anyone looking for tips on creative writing and poetry. The blogspot hosted site has a simple but very creative template. The sites author, Zoe says " Bubbles in my head is my blog attempt to revitalize the love of the written word in mass culture." It's an interesting blog, check it out.

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Jul 7, 2006

Free Topsites

In my last post on improving traffic I talked about Aardvark and their Topsites software. I have since discovered that not only is the software free but i-Topsites will host your Topsites directory for free. They do display some Google ads on the site but you are given access to the HTML so you can customize your directory list to suit your tastes. I set up a Blogatech Visitors Topsite and the process is pretty simple. Please stop by and sign up.

There is also a demo topsites list so you can see all the features in action. Here is a list of features that i-Topsites offers:

  • Members ranks can be shown on their button.
  • 4 different ranking methods
  • Counts unique pageviews, total pageviews, unique hits in, total hits in, unique hits out, and total hits out
  • Customizable categories
  • Customizable skins: make your topsites list look however you want!
  • Multiple pages
  • Member login and lost password retrieval
  • Fast, integrated search
  • Visitors can rate and review members
  • Advanced stats and graphs
  • Powerful control panel
  • Change settings
  • Edit skin
  • Delete members
  • Edit members
  • Email members
  • Best of all, it's completely free!

Something I discovered during the set up process is that images hosted on Image Shack are not allowed to be displayed on Topsites. I e-mailed Image Shack about this and here is their response:
"Topsites usually fit this category:

Copied and pasted from our Terms of Service:

The following types of files may not be uploaded under any circumstances:

the promotion of products or services through direct advertisements for the purpose of commercial profit, without first attaining the permission of ImageShack®. This includes, but is not limited to, email spam and banner advertisements."

This pretty much sucks that they won't let you display a banner to promote your blog, so I won't be promoting Image Shack anymore.

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Jul 6, 2006

Improving Traffic

Increasing traffic to your site is hard work. First off you have to provide good content. This should be your foremost goal, and you do this by posting, posting and posting. Fresh interesting content will bring your readers back for more.

Once a visitor arrives at your site, make it easy for them to come back. Provide them with a RSS feed they can subscribe to with Feedburner. Display the feed on your site in a prominent location. Give them the option to receive updates to your site via e-mail with Feedblitz . Offer button subscriptions to news aggregators like you see in Blogatech's sidebar as well. Remind your visitors to bookmark your site, I don't know how many times I've lost a site I was interested in because I didn't bookmark it. Also, if your using click exchanges to promote your site, and you should be, give those visitors your full URL address.(ie http://blogatech.blogspot.com) Click exchanges run in a separate frame and your address doesn't display in the address bar. If someone want to bookmark your site and all they see is Joe Blow's Blog with no address, it can be a pain to track your site down and mark it.

Optimizing your site to increase your search engine ranking is priority number two. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a complicated science that is ever changing. Primarily it involves creating keywords that are closely associated with all aspects of your content, such as titles, alt tags for your images, word density and more. Spend some time and research the topic. Create good meta tags, description and keywords. Make gradual changes and track your results with Site Meter or Stat Tracker. SEO takes time but will pay off greatly if you put forth the effort. (read more on SEO)

Your next priorty should be getting linked. Links to your website are like flyers in store windows or ads placed in a magazine. They are the internet's form of advertising and for the most part are free. Obviously, If people don't know your site exists your not going to get hits. The more links you can get the better. Links are also a big part of SEO and getting high page level search engine results. Take advantage of any link opportunity that you run across, it's like handing out a business card. If you look around you can find site like http://getalink.blogspot.com or http://bestestblogofalltime.blogspot.com which exist solely to help promote your site with a link.

Blog directories are another way to get linked. Register with as many as you can find. (see list of directories in sidebar) Another type of directory I've seen lately are the ones that rank your site based on how many hits or votes it receives and displays your banner if your in the top percentile. blogelites.com and topblogs.blogadvance.com are a couple of examples. Your going to see a lot of these type of sites popping up as the software needed to host one of these sites is provided free from Aardvark Top Sites

Spend time posting at forums and leaving comments on blogs. Most forums will let you add a link to your site in your signature if your helping them add quality content and not just spamming . The same goes for commenting on blogs. If you like a blog or a particular post, leave a encouraging comment, or even create a post about the subject and track back. You should be tagging your posts for Technorati also. (read more about Technorati)

Incorporate all these methods in your site promotion strategy and employ patience. I think you will be surprised at how they have a snowball effect and how fast your traffic will increase.

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Simple Custom Header

It's one of the first things new bloggers want to do, create a header that is unique. There are plenty of ways to re-design the top of your blog. Here is the easiest if you are using Blogger's Minima template

  1. Find a photograph or graphic that you would like to display in your header.

  2. Upload the photo to a image hosting service.(read more)

  3. Go to Blogger's dashboard and click the template tab.

  4. In the window at the bottom of the screen where the HTML code is, find the portion of code that you see below. The red hi-lited code is what you want to change.

  5. <body>

    <div id="header">

    <h1 id="blog-title">
    <ItemPage><a href="<$BlogURL$>"></ItemPage>
    <p id="description"><$BlogDescription$></p>


  6. Using the address that the image hosting service provided for your photo, change the code above to this. (note: Image URL is the address the hosting service gave you. It will start with http://}

  7. <body>

    <div id="header">

    <h1 id="blog-title">
    <ItemPage><a href="<$BlogURL$>"></ItemPage>
    <img src="Image URL">
    <p id="description"><$BlogDescription$></p>

That's all there is to it. Don't be scared to edit your template. Hot rodding your blog is half the fun of blogging.

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Jul 4, 2006

Blog of the WeeK 07-03-06

Late again but here it is. http://photowebs.blogspot.com Cool pictures what else can I say. Besides I here a cold beer and a burger calling me. Happy 4th to all.