Blogs, Author Platforms, and Connecting (pt. 4)

By Patafisik (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Welcome back.  Ready for the next step?

Today, I’ll be talking about how to set up your posts on a schedule, and finalize any modifications you may wish to make to your blog.  I know, I know, there’s quite a few posts out and about that talk about some of this, I’m just adding my two cents to the pile.

 

So, let’s get started.

I’ll start with the easy one, since that will take up the least amount of time.  If you’ve been following along with this series, you should have a pile of blogs stashed away in your “drafts” folder.  You could come back once or twice a week and open the individual posts you want to publish that day and just hit publish.  For those who intend to just have one post per week, that is probably the best idea, actually.  One, it makes sure you visit your blog regularly to respond to comments, check up on the other blogs you may be following, and do any maintenance you may need to do.

For those who intend to have a more active blog, or whose life is really busy, this is usually not an attractive idea.  I know some who are extremely busy, and just can’t pry the time loose to come over and publish a post regularly.  And, that is one of the things with blogs – if you want it to be found and develop a loyal following, you’ll want the posts to be as regular as possible.  It’s OK to have some down time, but you don’t want to let that happen very often.  (And, from painful experience, try to post a warning before you go silent!)

So, how DO you schedule your posts?

If you’ll take a look at your side bar on the right – where the list of categories, tags, and all that good stuff is – at the top is a box that looks something like this:

Scheduling

If you’re in the new format, it will probably look something like this:

 

Scheduling New

Now, what you’ll want to do:

  1. Open the post you want to schedule
  2. In the “old” menu – click on “publish immediately”
  3. In the “new” menu – click on the date
  4. This should open up a drop down calendar, or at least a menu to choose from
  5. Set the date you want your post to publish.
  6. Set the TIME you want your post to publish – if you’ve set up your blog to reflect your personal time zone, it will post at that time according to your clock.  If you are using the default time, it will post at that time in GREENWICH time.  (Example:  I set this post to go out at 12:01, and it went live at 12:01 AM CST/ 6:01 AM Greenwich).  Normally, this isn’t an issue when scheduling posts, but if you are part of a blog tour or blog hop and are scheduled to post a certain amount of time after the one before (or a certain amount of time before another blog), you’ll need to keep this in mind.
  7. Click that big blue button.  It should say “publish”.  You can add a step if you prefer, by clicking “OK” under the time stamp you just set up if it makes you feel better.  I’ve done both, and will continue to use both.  There’s times I just don’t quite trust the “Publish” button to pick up on the schedule.
  8. Lather, rinse, repeat as often as you like for the rest of your posts.

One thing to be aware of – when you schedule a post, the date is automatically inserted into your post’s URL.  If you are posting into a new month, and sending out links for others to use for prescheduling, you will want to make sure that the link is still good when the months change.  There have been reports of the pre-scheduled posts having bad links because of this issue.  If it’s only for your blog, then this won’t be an issue.  The post will go out live when you scheduled it, and all will be well.

 

Now, to change gears.  You’re blog is coming together, you’re putting out content regularly, and yet … you still want to make your pages feel more like you.  That’s where the customizing comes into play.  Something I highly recommend after a painful, personal experience:  set up a second blog.  It’s not going to be published, or your main focus.  You just want somewhere you can experiment that won’t affect your current blog.  (Yes, anything you do through the customize menu DOES affect your blog, even if you haven’t hit the “publish” or “save” button.  It’s not so bad with new blogs, but once you’ve had yours up and running a while, it can sting quite a bit having to go through and figure out how to fix what you accidentally broke.)

There’s a few things I know folks like to do to tweak the customization more than the standard theme layout allows.  I’ll try to cover these.

Background

With every theme, you are given a default background.  Most of the time, what is offered is fine.  However, if you want to modify it, there is a way.  It will take a little bit of tech savvy to make it work, but it is possible.

  • Hover over “My Sites” and on the drop down menu, click on “Customize”  This will take you back into the customization menu where you started when you set up the blog in the first place.
  • Click on “Colors and Background”  to open up the new menu
  • Hover over the background color, and click “Change” to open the options menu
  • Here you can select your own color, but clicking on that link – just drag the little circle to the color you want, orbackground
  • You can click on “Select Image” to use an image as your background.
    • The thing with using images is that you’ll want to use a small image that tiles properly.
      • You can use a single big image, but with so much of the world today using mobile devices, that image can get shrunk, skewed, or altered into something you wouldn’t recognize, and potentially something offensive.
    • When selecting an image that tiles, try to find one with a pattern on the edge that smoothly flows on all four sides.

puzzle-587812_1280puzzle-587812_1280puzzle-587812_1280

 

This one almost works, and if you are using it for your background, you can probably get away with it.  Maybe.

Note how when you’re transitioning from the first tile on the left to the one beside it, how the puzzle pieces look like they’ve  been sliced.  They have been – that’s the edge of the “tile” image.  This is really what you don’t want to see.  And, the transition from the top tile to the bottom is even worse.  It’s very obvious that there is an edge between the two tiles.

 

The background I use for my blog is an image.  I got it back when I started playing around with building websites, and it is a custom background image.  It was designed to flow smoothly between tiles, so that there were no obvious edges.

If you are someone who likes playing with graphics, there is nothing stopping you from creating your own background image.  Even if you’re not comfortable playing on the artistic side of the street (and not everyone is), you can still find images that will work.  I believe some may still be free, others you may have to pay a small fee to use.  Just make sure you know what the license agreement is.  The last thing you want to have happen is to have a take down notice posted to your blog because you didn’t have the right to use the image.  (goes for any images you use on your blog.)

Depending on the theme you chose, there are a few other image options available.  One of them is the “Featured Image”.  This will set the image you selected at the top of your post.  The downside is that it must be an image you’ve uploaded.  I don’t use this option, preferring to insert my images through the “Add Media” button.  This gives me the flexibility to either find an image on the web that I like, and insert the image via the web address, or upload an image if I can’t find one I like.

 

The other common customization I’ve seen (and used) and wish were used more often helps organize things a bit.  Actually, there are two customizations that fall into this category.  One is the “jump” link which is used for on-page navigation, the other is columns or tables.

For the jump links, the Word Press techs have a nice post about how to do this.  In fact, that’s where I learned to do it for my Reviews page.  You can find the article Here.  It requires a little bit of tech savvy to do this one, but it’s still in the range of “easy”.  I’m going to save Tables and Columns for their own post because that requires a LOT more space, and is a bit more complicated.  I’ll show you my way of doing it, and for anyone else who has ideas, I’d greatly appreciate hearing about it!

Now that you’ve got your blog coming together, and posts going out on a schedule, I’d like to hear back – what do you want to hear about when it comes to platforming and making connections?

 

If you’ve missed the previous installment of the series, you can find it Here and the entire series Here

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