Archive for : April, 2015

Start it now with Blogger

So, after some days of research, you must have finally decided upon the blogging platform of your choice? Let us guess it! Is it WordPress, for the sake of it being a completely free and an extremely robust and powerful Content Management System? Or is it Blogger, being powered by Google, a hassle free blogging platform which is free, and lets you do a lot in the blogging arena? Or you settled down with some other platform, for the benefits you were able to see in that platform? We hope that whatever be your choice of blogging platform, you considered all your requirements, pros and cons of that blogging platform and the ones, you chose not to go with, and made the wisest possible decision!

Anyways, cutting back to the topic, here we are, taking you on a stroll through Google’s blogging platform, Blogger, which allows you to set up your blog, pretty fast. Why blogger, you might ask? Well, of the freely available platforms, that are easiest to set up, with no limitations to the features like a number of other platforms, such as WordPress.com, wherein, you are restricted by the inability of choosing a custom domain name, free of cost, or, the inability to install third party code snippets into your blog, like adsense ads. Out of the blogging platforms which provide you all their features free of cost, blogger is one of the most used ones. Infact, by usage numbers, blogger is the third most used blogging platform after both flavours of wordpress viz. wordpress.org standing at the first position and wordpress.com closely following at the second position, and blogger being at the third position, lies far behind in terms of adoptability as a free blogging platform, when compared to both the flavours of wordpress combined, and when we try seeing blogger as one or the blogging platforms where the blogger is not supposed to shell out even a single penny, and gets access to all the features available, then blogger is at the forefront.

Why we decided to start off your blogging career with Blogger as the platform of choice? Well, the answer to that is straightforward. You get a no holds barred blogging platform, managed by none other than Google, free of cost, and you get a variety of features as well, without even giving a look at your pocket. Beyond all this, for a beginner, a novice blogger, in our opinion, blogger is one easiest blogging platforms when we try it with other blogging platforms for their features and offerings. So, here we go with taking a stroll through creating your first blog with blogger. All you need is a free gmail account to have your world of blogging kickstarted.

Beginning a new blogger blog is easy, just open blogger.com while you have your gmail account opened in the browser. Like OpenID, your gmail account too works for all the google’s services, like blogger, picasa, youtube, gmail, Google+ to name a few. Once you’re on the page, you get an option, a button to create a new blog, one like the one in the screenshot below.

Blogger Sign-in page

The Blogger Sign-in page comes up when you open blogger.com for the first time.

Blog Creation Page

Blog Creation Page

Once you click that button to create a new blog, Blogger shows you the option to choose a title of your blog, and a blogger.com subdomain like yourblogname.blogspot.com to start off your blog. Below those two things, there are a number of themes to choose from, to get off the mark with a brand new blogger blog. To make things easier for everyone, while you type the subdomain name for your new blog, blogger searches it from its database of already registered blog url’s and tells you if the name you just typed in is available or not. If it’s not, you have to select a different url, and maybe, depending upon that, the blog title too.

Creating a new Blogger Blog

Creating a new Blogger Blog

Creating the new blog

Creating the new blog

Once you have decided upon a name for your new blog, and you have got the desired sub-domain name for your blog, all you have to do is click the button Create Blog, and your blog will be created and you will be taken to your new blog’s dashboard. Ideally, the selection of blog’s name and the sub-domain, is a process that needs a lot of thought, before actually getting them. A blog’s name tells the user what your blog is all about, a domain name, which obviously the user will follow to reach your blog should normally be related to your blog’s name, in some or the other kind, as this ensures that the user does not get confused in remembering your blog’s domain name and your blog’s name. Also, if there is the bleakest possibility of you to take your blog at the next level, you might be interested in getting yourself a domain name for your blog from one of your favourite domain registrars. This helps you secure an online brand identity for your blog, and should you decide to go mainstream, this will prove helpful to you in the aftermath of a few years of blogging. So, in creating a blog, you need to keep three things in mind – a. the subdomain you register should, normally be relevant to your blog’s name. b. if there is even the bleakest possibility of you taking your blog to the next level, you should consider getting a domain name registered, again matching your blog’s name, and c. finally, your blog’s name should be relevant to your sub-domain name or your blog’s domain name, if you are getting yourself a dedicated domain name.

Blogger New Blog Dashboard

Blogger new blog – Dashboard

This is all you needed to start off your blogger blog. Once ready, you can start writing those blogposts instantly, or do some work looking up for a better looking theme for your blog, or if you are among the adverture loving folks, and don’t bother getting your hands dirty with lots of HTML, javascript, JQuery and CSS code,  you might want to add bells and whistles to your blog template, and modify it to your liking. In the next post, we will take a look at how to do these modifications to the Blogger Template (Theme’s) layout, to modify the look of your new blog, and make changes to the other elements like colours, typography (font faces), and more, like adding custom Javascript/ JQuery/ CSS based menus, animated sliders, and a lot more eye candy to make your blog’s theme look really stunning.

post image

Kickstart your blog-Tools-2

So, last time we left you with some of the basic tools that included Text/HTML Editing, Watermarking, HTML Cleanup, Watermarking and Tabulating tools that can do wonders when you are out there blogging. These tools actually help you save a lot of time when you are required to do cumbersome tasks like individually picking up your photos to watermark them in order to save your media from being misused without your permissions. While we are at it, talking about saving out pictures, it is specifically important that when you expect people to respect your works you too do the same with other’s works. That means, whenever you use content created by someone else, do make sure that you are not violating any of the rights of that person by “STEALING” their works. There are a number of free stock image sites, where a lot of generous people, (yes they are generous) share their art works, photographs and illustrations. We won’t go into deep detail about these free image galleries here, as we can discuss that part as an important tool in your blogging journey, later in this post.

So, let us continue beyond where we left in the last post.

5. Reverse Image Lookup: Not only when blogging is concerned, reverse image lookup can help you at a lot of places. You got some image that you were supposed to use up with that project but since the image is very small, it is unusable? Well, reverse image search is there to help you out. Not just that, when you are a photographer, even if you are an amateur one, you click pictures and share those pictures online. One day, you end up seeing your one of your clicks being used up in some classified ad for some shampoo? You were shattered, and then decide to find out which all places are your images being used, but the net is a vast resource. It’s not that easy to find your one or two or even dozen pictures from that mountain of data that includes text, images, videos, and other contents. Here, reverse image search is the answer. Reverse image lookup is not exactly a tool, but a web search mechanism that helps lookup images with the help of a reference image. How does this work? Well, that’s easy. You just have to select one of your reference image that you want to look for on the web, upload this image in one of the reverse image lookup services like Google’s Image Search, or another brilliant free reverse image lookup service called Image Raider, and these will fetch you the images if they are available, and in certain cases similar looking images too.

6. Free Stock Photo sites: The web is made up of a number of elements. Lots of code, serverside and clientside, text, images, illustrations and videos. Various research studies have, time and again, reiterated that human brain can process and remember multimedia contents, images and videos much better than textual contents. Beyond that, multimedia contents like photograps, images and illustrations, and videos help make out content look much more appealing thatn ones without blogposts without these contents. While, one mayclick photographs, and might be able to make illustrations, it is always not possible to click all the pictures one wants and make all the illustrations/videos one needs. In such cases, we are required to use images available on the internet. Now, the problem arises when you lok for these things on the internet. Not everyone releases his/her work for free, and then there are various people who do share their stunning works for everyone to use. And there are a number of different licenses too governing the use of these contents.  You cannot go ahead and use all the contents available on the internet freely without paying a heed to those licenses, or referring the source as internet or whichever search engine found you that image. This is illegal in most, if not all, countries. And this is ethically wrong too. So, a good way to start can be one of our favourite search engines, Google. And believe us when we say that this one works great. Just take a look at this screenshot as what Google Advanced search offers. We will have a followup post on how to use this feature efficiently.

Google_Search_Stock_image_advanced_3

Other than that, there are dozens of free stock image sites, and if you could afford to pay, there are better ones like shutterstock. The free ones however are pretty good enough. A few sites like MorgueFile, Public Domain Archive, Free Images. Just try one of those, or search for more. And did we mention Pixabay, a great site to source your stock photos. Thanks to the great volunteer contributors who provide great photographs, images to be used free of charge. Also, the featured image for this post has been sourced from pixabay only. Now you should really go and checkout one of these free stock photo sites. You won’t be disappointed even if you are not paying. There are lots of people/businesses that help a lot of others. Just make sure that if you are using one of these files, you read the usage rights properly, and make sure that you are providing proper attributes/credits, as applicable. Afterall, you are using someone else’s works, free of cost. Atleast this much generousity can be shown. You can find a bit more about more of these free stock image sites in an upcoming post.

7. Image Editing applications: Whether you are a photoblogger or a regular daily blogger who posts photographs once in a while, image editing applications always comes in handy if you are dealing in photos. Do photoblogging, you’ll need one of these applications to edit your photos, add artistic effects to photographs, edit those photographs to add that fine touch to it. Even if you don’t do photoblogging, you still will need one photo editing application once in a while. If not anything more, then, you might need to resize your photos to be uploaded on your blog, so that unnecessary size of the photo doesn’t harm loading times for your blog. We believe, you might all be knowing about Photoshop, yes Adobe Photoshop. The considered-to-be-ultimate application for editing photographs, it does give you lots of options, and if you are a novice, there are lots of chances that you might get lost in the sea of features it offers. Not to worry, there are dozens of applications, both free and paid, which are just easy to handle and provide good enough features. You want to do those artstic selective colouring in your photographs, or you want to give a HDR (High Dynamic Range) effect to your photographs, or even more, if you want to give some other artistic effects like poster or crayons, these effects can give your regular looking pictures a whole new identity. GIMP, IrfanView, Google’s Picasa Editor are just a few examples, available for free, that do great work with pictures. The good old Microsoft Office Picture Manager, that, unfortunately was dropped after MS Office 2007, comes a lot handy for me when we have to do tiny stuff like just minor retouches to photographs/images, cropping, resizing and other such stuff. It’s a good piece of application, that unfortunately doesn’t feature in the latest iterations of MS Office. Even if you don’t want to spend time downloading and installing an application on your computer, you can still edit your photos on one of the online photo editors, like Pixlr.

Do check out these applications, and if you are using something that can help others get their works done faster, what’s better than that? Do share ones you like using.