Thursday, February 24, 2011

Sex Up Your Blog

I love blogging! Not only did I find my tribe I could not find here in conservative Phoenix, but I also got the courage to get published and leave a miserable marriage. Seriously, it has changed my life. I live on the opposite side of the country from what little family I have left. My ex's family pretty much just dropped off the earth when I divorced him. So, my family is what I make it and the blog world has become a family of choice.

One thing I love about y'all is how kind people are. When I wanted to know about adsense and how it works, I asked Courtney from Haunt Jaunts. When I sent Max Evel a picture of my face,he turned it into an amazing profile pic. When I was struggling with a new look for my blog, Cullan from Strange State made me this wicked banner at the top of the page. Jeremy from olivezombies made stylish zombie art of me. Recently, I noticed a blogger had tabs and begged him to tell me and Sam Hain at The Halloween Blues told me how. Along the way, people have been amazingly helpful and I don't mind admitting when I have no freaking clue what I'm doing. Bloggers jump in and offer knowledge readily. I love these folks!

I'd like to share some of the love. Let me give you some tips about sexing up your blog. Mine has gone from very standard boring fare to something I am much more proud of and that I think shows what I'm like, organized and multitasking, sassy and unexpected. The things I learned along the way, I will share with you. I don't believe in keeping people in the dark. I have zero competitive bones in my body. So, I am going to help you make your blog awesome and sexy and this is a great time to do it because generally the blog world gets slow through spring until summer gets so hot, people retreat inside again and start thinking about Halloween. On average, the Samhain bug hits people around late July/Early August. By the time the rush comes back to the blog world, you could be attracting attention.

I will begin with the tips about tabs. We all have been asking each other, "how the fuck do I make tabs?" Thank you, Sam Hain at The Halloween Blues for explaining this to me. I will try to make it clear as he made it for me:

First, decide what tabs you want like, "humor," "photos," and "videos."

1. Go to your dashboard.
2. Click on "edit posts"
3. Go down your lists of past posts to find ones that you wish to call "humor"
4. Click on edit to the left of the post's title.
5. Scroll down and there is a box that says "labels for this post" write "humor"
6. Now, click on "publish post" (don't worry, it will keep it in the original date it was put up on the blog).
7. Now, finish finding your other "humor" posts and labeling them.
8. When you're ready to make a tab, go above and click on "design"
9. At the top of your page's design, click on "add a gadget"
10. In the pop-up window, scroll down and choose "Link List"
11. Ignore the title box
12. You may choose to sort tabs alphabetically or use drop down menu to choose other option.
13. Where it asks for New Site URL, put this: your blog's address/search/label/humor
14. Where it asks for "new site name" put "humor"
15. Now click on "add to list"
16. Now click on "save"
You have just added your first tab. All others will be done the same way with a new tab name such as "photos" or "videos"

Now, let's talk about sexing your blog. I might be using some of your own blogs as examples, but don't cringe. This is purely for reasons of admiration and examples of what to do. Since y'all taught me so much, I'm sharing the examples you've created:

Keep it simple, smartie:
This is Bubba's Place showcases his poetry. It's so simple in appearance that it magically relaxes you the minute you get there. He did not spaz it out which is brilliant. Lesson: If you have a comedy or frenetically crazy blog, you can make it visually bright, confusing like a nightclub, otherwise if your blog is about written content, consider keeping it very simple to showcase the writing and if it's more about video and pics, make it dark and sleek to make them pop.

Showcase your biz and impress people that you are legitimate: Paranormal World Blog not only showcases Gregory Branson-Trent's wickedly awesome books, but it makes it easy to see that the man running this blog knows his paranormal stuff. It's kind of like credentials first. Lesson: If you have a biz, don't ignore it. It makes you legitimate to talk about your subject matter. Make it prominent but not obnoxious so curious people can click and connect.

Be classy, be professional, look Hollywood sharp: Max Evel has this pegged. He isn't afraid to change it up and evolve. That tweaking of it helps to bring in new colors, new images, and it's still simple enough to showcase the wickedly cool vids he always finds and shares. Lesson: Consider the entire layout of the page, organize sidebars, make it simple to find content with tabs, keep it all within your theme and no extra bullshit that distracts and makes it tough. You might want to put up other blogs buttons, but consider just putting them on your blog list so people can see what you read. His blog feels like a nightclub which is perfect for his content and his devilish character.

The Banner that makes it possible for newcomers to know immediately all about you:
The best example of this is Bigfoot Lunch Club. It says it simply and easily. You know what you've found before having to read content. Lesson: No one wants to study the page and all its entries to figure out what the blog is about. If the title doesn't say it (like "Ghost Hunting Theories") then put a phrase at the top to specify it quickly and easily.

Curiosity brings you in: Above-The-Norm: Bizarre Arizona does this. It's classy and simple, but the photo at the top visually draws you down and you feel like you know immediately what this place is about. Lesson: Whether it's a stylish banner, photo or saying--you draw people in with the top of your page.

Organized, clean, compartmentalized, straightforward: I'm a Virgo and I appreciate seeing things in compartments, neatly separated, evenly proportioned. I feel like I'm in a neat post modern home when I go to The Halloween Blues blog. Lesson: When the eye travels the page, it needs to find the compartments nicely balanced and easy to find and know how to get to content quickly. If you want people to go deeper into your blog, make the content easy to find and logically organized.

Know yourself. Portray yourself. Share your style:Gnostalgia is literary, classy, and it has a theme that suits all spiritual/paranormal type of writing and all things steampunk that these savvy reviewers cover with a hint of a Victorian library to its feel. They know their content and they know their audience and I always feel welcome arriving there. Lesson: Do not forget your own personal style. All your components and influences come together. Steampunk/books=Gnostalgia.

Over the top, very professional and ridiculously attractive blog with a big audience Octoberfarm is run by someone who is an amazing cook, flea market enthusiast who lives in an autumn/Halloween feeling witchy world all year round. It feels like bits and pieces of "Practical Magic" meets Martha Stewart's Halloween specials. She knows her loves and it shows in every thing that decorates her blog and all its content. She has an adorable chow-chow, Teddy, who is part of her postings and every day a new recipe that blows your mind away. People are sucked into this blog because it's like going to mom's home for Thanksgiving, it's beautiful, it's fragrant, it's nurturing, it's an amazing getaway. Lesson: Your followers are loyal family members and they want to be part of an idyllic family with unconditional love and warmth and comfort and none of the insanity of real families.

Labels can neaten up your blog and free space, make it easier for people to find your shit: Strange State is a brilliant use of labels (left hand side). I often go to blogs and wonder what the person has written about. Those labels down the side of the page help me to find his UFO posts, his other subjects. Instead of tones of stuff to read, it's straightforward and simple to find what I want to read about. Lesson: When Cullan puts up a post on this blog--it's all about the post. Thankfully, because he finds the most wicked awesome paranormal stuff. I so appreciate his intellect on the subject and his sense of humor--very much what I want! It's slender and simple to read, not too lengthy, very thought provoking and you are not distracted by doo-dads and watchamathings.

Manageable bits and pieces/proper use of dark background/light writing: I love when someone has a blog that allows me to just hop in and out and enjoy a little retreat without having to work for it. If you want to do bits and pieces to tantalize and keep the look of the blog simple and nondistracting, try The Misadventures of HalloweeNut. Lesson: This is a good example of the dark background/light writing rule: Dark backgrounds with light writing should generally be used for brief writing and to showcase pictures and videos. For lots of text and not a lot of visuals, don't hurt the eyes and use light to medium background with dark writing. In the case of his blog, this was the ideal combo!

I've given you a lot to think about. One of the first places to consider looking is at your template and colors and fonts. Sometimes, mistakes make it work. Just look at the background on my blog. It's an old background my son put on long ago when I had a different look. I put the new colors on the text blocks and the new banner and it kept bothering me that I had the old background that didn't seem to match. But, over time I realized that by not being too matchy-matchy, it actually gave the page more interest and character, kind of like the weird old abandoned places I enter that have bizarre wallpaper. It makes everything else seem to pop, whereas if I made it to match the text blocks it would make the text blur away to the background instead of looking like blocks popping forward against a clashing surface.

Don't be afraid to test things and get reactions, ask for help. Consider your own personal tastes, the purpose of your blog, whether it should be frenetic and wild like a party or calm and zen-like, organized and neat or loose and flowing. I admit to being out of sorts in blogs that are too busy when the subject is something introspective like poetry or lyrics or witty short comments about life. I also don't feel at all comfortable in a blog that is simple and symmetric and blank, but the subject is about comics and video games. If you have a lot crazy and wild stuff, consider making the blog crazy and wild. Some blogs need caffeine; others need Valium.

Look at your blog like a theme party. If you were having a theme party at your house, you would consider the decorations, costuming, food choices, invitations--everything in keeping. Stay in keeping with the intent of your blog and how you write it. If you have flowery writing and a super metallic modern looking blog, you are not jiving. Be yourself in every way. We can tell the blogs that are genuine because bits of the real person shows through from color choices to pictures to wording and humor or mystery and anonymity. In other words, ultimately, be true to yourself!

13 comments:

  1. Being the fact that I got to hang around some Hollywood freaks may explain things.
    Really tho', thanks for the compliment.
    My deal is to keep it loud, mean,and
    dark. It makes it fun for me, and I love to do the animation, photoshop,
    and videos whenever I have the free time.
    Love your little Demon,and you may now touch my tail !

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  2. Thanks for the mention.... that is one of my favorite pictures from our road trips. I will be making changes to the body of my blog as I always seem to every few months. I like the darkness for my photos, just might change the colors and fonts.

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  3. Thanks for the shout-out! And here I was thinking my layout was boring. I agree with you - a blog and/or website truly is an opportunity to be yourself. Your blog really does show it!

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  4. ... for the kind words. Geez I can't multi-task. lol

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  5. Max;
    You are a handsome demon and I love your lair. I have no nightlife, so you're it, honey. My favorite club.

    Julie;
    I am curious to see where you go with it. You really know yourself well and everything you do relates. It's an awesome thing to watch evolve.

    HN;
    Your blog is my little getaway. I love to hear what's up with you and I must admit to taking a nearly motherly pride in all that you do because you are the next generation of horror/Halloween freaks and you show you can be a wonderful human being and love horror and Halloween and don't have to be all dark and depressing. I adore the genre too, but I'm as cheerful as a person can get. It's not a contraindication. Keep it up!

    Barry;
    Yes, down some caffeine and sit back on your laurels. You take my BP down every time I go to your blog and I never know whether I will be laughing my ass off when you review the godawful paranormal shows or if I'll find some steampunk gem or yet another book to put on my list of must-read-some-day-when-I'm-not-so-freaking-busy-writing...

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  6. I'd like to thank the Academy for this honor. I couldn't have done it without the support of all my fans. (You like me! You really like me!)

    Good advice from a smart blogger!
    (Anybody who mentions my blog is automatically smart in my book! LOL!)

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  7. Eric;
    You crack me up! You did give me a good idea though, maybe I should do some kind of blogger award that is mailed to winners each year. I wonder what that would look like? Perhaps I should just make a bust of myself. Hahaha.

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  8. This is some really good advice. I have been tired of my blog's look for some time but don't have the where with all to "sex it up". As you know, I fall under the eclectic collection category - humor, poetry, other.

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  9. Thank you for sharing. Tabs do sex it up.

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  10. My site is the only thing that's organized in my life. :)

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  11. MM;
    I think if you interject more of your own personality into it, it'll come across. If you're an outodoorsy guy or a bookish guy, a sports freak or a music lover, just let that influence the look of your place. You do your 55's and I think those can showcase nicely on a very sedate and calming background but I'd consider letting us in on who Monkey Man is--what is his color palette? What would his lair look like? What space does MM inhabit? You have a ridiculous sense of humor, so you could even go with that. Perhaps your face mask collection lined up along the top of the page. Give us intrigue. Make yourself known but also an interesting mystery...

    Echo;
    Yes, tabs saved my life as my blog was getting held down by my sidebar and people that came on couldn't figure out what the hell my blog was? I am a bit insane. One day, Dale is writing a post, the next day I'm contemplating electromagnetism. I figured with tabs, they can see all my personalities.

    Sam Hain;
    Thankfully, your blog is not like your sock drawer. We all appreciate that so much! :-)

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  12. Thanks for the inspiration. I used the example here to add pages of titles only.

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