Good things come in spade-fulls for THL, and I’m definitely not complaining! I had 3 companies contact me last week for some unpaid promo work, and I’ve been building some fabulous friendships with my blog friends outside of WordPress’ limits. To add to all of that, The Happy Lifeaholic was nominated twice this month for the Creative Blogger Award.
Twice in one month!
As always, I’m extremely flattered, and accept both nominations. In my March Preview post, I mentioned that Zareen from Orange Shoes Talking was one of my nominees, but the second was Lisa, from Rebirth of Lisa. Thank you, both of you! :) Given that this is a “creative” award, I also took the liberty of re-designing the award logo, which in my humble opinion looked terribly pixelated.
Here’s the old one:
And here’s my new version:
And, since my goal with this blog is to always give back as much warmth to the friendly and loving WordPress community as much as I get from it, I decided to take this opportunity to share my creative blogging tools with you.
Every few months or so, I try to sit back and objectively look at and compare my blog to other successful ones on the blogsphere. I try to think about what it is that usually catches my eye, and makes me stop and explore a certain blog instead of clicking away to a different link. Well, “catches my eye” is the key phrase here.
It isn’t quite everything. Presentation is *almost* everything.
Great content and regular updates are definitely key points to keep in mind for any blogger. But when you’re trying to capitalize on the number of followers/readers/blog quality, looks matter.
You’ve probably heard the adage “first impressions count,” and let’s be real, in an attention deficit world like ours, more than a ton of writing, it is the audio-visual experience that first captures a reader’s attention. Of course, this might vary depending on the age group your blog caters to. Slightly older generations have grown up on books and were surrounded with reading material unlike younger generations who have, perhaps, always been immersed in social media. Again, if you already have an established set of loyal readers, they’ll probably keep coming back to read your material no matter what your blog looks like. But if that’s not the case, you’ve got your work cut out.
Facebook. Youtube. Instagram. Whatsapp. Twitter. We’ve got more social media than time on our hands. And that little time is precious.
140 characters, and then your attention disappears elsewhere. Unless you see pictures. Or hear sounds. Or watch videos that capture your imagination. This is perhaps an unfortunate reality for many aspiring writers out there (including myself), but it is truth nonetheless. At the end of the day, if your goal is to attract more readers, your blog needs to look the part.
WordPress isn’t Youtube. You could try attaching videos of songs and other things to your blog posts, but chances are, unless you’re an upcoming/established Youtuber or are re-posting videos made by an established youtuber, your view counter is going to remain low. So what can you do instead?
Remember when you were really, really young and were learning to read? I’m guessing your family and teachers provided you with picture books at the time, because the pictures captured your attention, and while you were busy staring at the picture of that juicy, red fruit, it was easy for them to supply you with the word “apple” to match the image. The same concept applies to your blog. Good pictures, can make a reader pause, and read the title and words below/around it.
There are a number of ways you can go about this.
[If you’re too lazy to read the whole thing, scroll to the gigantic picture thing at the bottom]
#1. Invest in a camera.
If you’ve got time and money, invest in a good camera, and the world is at your feet. God knows there are enough re-hashed pictures out there, that bloggers like me route out through notorious “Google Images” searches. Be original. People love originality!
#2. If that’s not an option, consider using free images available online.
There are a zillion blog and internet posts on where you can find free images to use on your blog.
Here are 2 articles to get you started:
[They both open in a new tab]
If you want even more options,
[or other image creation wesbites]
My top pick is a wonderful little infographic creator called Piktochart.
All of the images in this post so far, (except for the gif and the old award logo) have been created using Piktochart. While they do have paid benefits (which includes more design options/templates/control etc) they have a bunch of free options that you can use as well. You can create an account using an email id, or alternatively link up with either Gmail or Facebook. Once you’re in, pick a free template, or a blank one and throw in some text, icons and pictures and you’re set. Great quality images and infographics for download.
Of course, since this is an infographic/poster website, their image sizes tend to be a little big. If you’re looking for something a little smaller like the picture right above this section that says “this is what I use,” you could always create your text and then enter Preview mode and take a screenshot of the space/size you require. Messy way of doing thing, but it gives me the results I need. Also be aware, that while the pictures you download from them are big, when you post them on your blog, they might appear tiny. You need to let your readers know that double clicking on the picture will make it open in a new tab where they can zoom in and read it in its actual size. It’s not the best system out there, but there are ways around its problems.
Let me know if you want a detailed ‘How to’ post on piktochart.
This one is a free online picture editing software, and one of the best and most comprehensive ones I’ve come across. I absolutely love the Picmonkey interface. It’s simple to use, and has all the edits, designs and filters I need. Bonus? It’s free! :D
Gifs are the best possible combination of videos and pictures. They function the same way as pictures do, in less than half the amount of time that videos take to watch.
See this one for example? All I had to do, was think of what sort of phrase or emotion I was thinking of, and then Google it. So I ended up Googl-ing “wicked cool gif” and I found this wonderful clip from The Incredibles. Simple, right? Gifs are in many ways more awesome than pictures because they involve the element of motion, which can cover a range of different expressions that a picture just can’t capture. But of course, use gifs with caution. I’ve noticed they tend to lighten up posts rather than add depth to them.
And there you have it, folks! Those are my creative tips for you. In addition, all I’ll say is DO NOT OVERCROWD your blog home page or your post. Less in more, and if you’re going to pile a bunch of things on your homepage (like I did), try to have method to your madness. Figure out the best positions to put things. Use color schemes that add the illusion of space (like white) rather than subtracting space (like black).
And before I leave you to wander forth and be creative, here’s a quick summary of everything I mentioned above:
[if it appears too small to read, double click on it to open in a new tab with zoom/englarged view]
What are your favorite/go-to creative blogging tools? Share them below for everyone to benefit!