BLOG BUILDING

I had absolutely NO experience with creating or designing websites when I started this blog. I have used sources I found on the Internet and knowledgeable friends to figure out what I can and can't do using Blogger and how to do it. A lot of the tutorials I found on the Internet didn't match the way Blogger was working as of September-October 2012 and I had to figure out how older instructions applied to the current tools and screens. It is a SLOW process, esp. for someone who didn't know what a widget or a gadget was a month ago, much less a CSS code. So, it occurred to me that others might benefit from a compilation of some of the things I have learned. I will continue to add to this post with how-tos and resource links. Please remember, I'm only posting what I have found works when I applied it to this blog and I really don't know anything beyond what I add to the post, so I won't be able to answer technical questions other than to try to better explain anything you don't understand about something I write. I will share the working answers I get from my own technical questions I've posted on helpful sites. If you are a tech genius and can improve or add to anything I post, then please do comment and share!


Choosing a blog platform: Some are free (Blogger and Wordpress, for example). Some have fees, such as Typepad. I ended up choosing Blogger (maybe I should have gone with Wordpress, I don't know - Blogger seemed to have more positive reviews, but then after I got started and found it harder than I expected someone experienced asked me why I didn't go with Wordpress). BTW, from one newbie to any others, Blogspot is the address part of blogs created using Blogger. But, you can pay to register your own domain name that will replace the blogspot.com part of your web address. I did this - coulda done it easier thru Blogger but GoDaddy.com was having a sale so I used them. It took several days before Blogger made the "connection" with my custom domain name.

Here are a couple of very basic things I have learned about using Blogger as of October 2012:
You can have up to 20 pages on a blog (older sources say 10 so this may be a new update). On pages other than the home page, you cannot have separate posts, only one long post. You can have a list of links to different places on a page, and sometimes this helps to divide up your page topic content. SOURCES:
https://productforums.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/blogger/FzXwMemmNl8
http://shabbyblogsblog.blogspot.com/2010/03/how-to-add-pages-to-your-blog.html
http://shabbyblogsblogtemplates.blogspot.com/p/tutorials.html
Note: the tutorial on Shabby Blogs for creating/adding pages shows an OLD Blogger view. But there is other info in the comments, and the second link included here is her illustration of putting links on a page that will take the viewer to specific posts placed on the main page. The main page is the only place you can put separate posts, and allow comments for separate posts, and your posts will be chronological with the newest showing on top.


Disturbing & Creepy, but Not to Worry:
I'm sure anyone new to blogging will be as excited as I am to look at the stats about how many views the blog gets each day etc. Blogger shows the "Traffic Sources" with a list of the webplaces from which the views come. Some URLs are familiar, others are not - so naturally I clicked on the unknown site link and...ugh! ICK! I really did NOT want to see what popped up! And I really do not want my lovely, wholesome website associated with that! I found this very helpful article that explains what is going on - simply put, some spammers and websites have figured out that bloggers are going to do exactly what I did (click on the traffic sources) so they deliberately search out every blog they can and view it just so their URL will show up in the stats to lure unsuspecting bloggers to their sites! The good news is that there is NO association created between the blog and these other sites. Here is the article: Referer Spam is Needlessly Alarming Blog Owners


ISAWDOT = I Spent A WHOLE Day On This
I expect to mark future entries on this page with my ISAWDOT code (sigh) - it was not a fun day trying to figure out this weird issue...I am seeing dots and spots before my eyes at this point. I'll edit this when I actually have the complete solution. 
The Problem: when my blog is opened in certain versions of Internet Explorer (seems okay in IE 10, and also Firefox) my sidebars are invisible on the home page (but visible on most of my other pages). Also, images in my posts may or may not be visible. If you click on the title for a post, that usually causes the sidebars to magically appear. However, if the post's image isn't showing, clicking the post doesn't seem to help.
The Cause: it seems to be connected to the codes added to create the Pin It (to Pinterest) buttons for the images.
The Fix? still working on that. As I said, I'll update. It is possible that the whole problem is with the version of Internet Explorer and there is nothing one can do to Pinterest codes or anything else to ensure a blog will properly display on all versions of all browsers.
UPDATE: no firm solution, but it doesn't seem to be a problem in Firefox as much as Internet Explorer.

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Widgets or Gadgets Wherefore Art They?: I started out wanting my "Shop 24/7" button/gadget/widget to be at the top of my posting area on my home page, and I also wanted my "Blog Under Construction" sign up at the top (on top of my banner/header). First roadblock to what I thought would be easy-peasy: the layout tools in Blogger only let you click-n-drag your gadgets to prescribed positions on the layout. In order to put them anywhere else, you have to put in CSS codes in the HTML of the thing. I'm not going into how to do that quite yet, but I did find out how and I did it and nothing was the same for a long time after that...my "Construction" sign kept moving itself, I tried to put my current catalog image/link/gadget next to the shopping button (and I did) but it kept moving slightly up and down so sometimes it covered up my page tab titles.  Why oh why? I will tell you what I have finally figured out (which will also tell you why now my gadget links are all on my sidebars and my construction sign - if it is still there at all when you read this - seems quite nicely placed. Basically it is sort of a conflict of interest between Bloggers layout defaults and the customized positioning codes - sometimes they simply fight for dominance. I couldn't beat them so I joined them - I took out my special positioning codes and put my gadgets in slots the layout offered and since then all seems to stay in place. The construction sign has special spacing, but as the only one the others bow to it and let it hang up there at the top.

SO FEW FONTS & NO CUTE ONES... Whaaat?
I was surprised to find that Blogger offered only a handful of font choices for posts, and none are very cute - even my favorite font "Comic" is not an option. The default options include: Arial, Courier,Georgia, Helvetica, Times, Trebuchet, and Verdana. Note that I did not bold any of these font sample names; some are naturally darker than others, and some you can't see are lighter or darker on the editing view; you have to view the text in your blog.  
Here is a great blog tutorial about getting more options for your posts if you want to take the time and effort:




 

1 comment:

  1. Helpful information Suzanne. I'm also self-taught in blogger, and have learned a few tricks along the way. When I prepare my posts I've learned to prepare the text for my post in notepad and cut and paste to the blog post when I'm ready. It really helps. I always have my notepad open so I can copy web links and URLS along the way. It's most helpful when you are doing links to product codes for your on line store.

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