Kickstart your blog-Tools

Beginning to blog? Appears to be pretty easy. Indeed it is easy. Once you have an idea of the niche (or no-niche), you have decided on a platform you’ll blog on, you have polished up the skills needed to churn out compelling articles, week after week after week, you are good to go out blogging. Now since you have finally decided to start blogging, let us tell you a few things which you will find helpful in starting your blogging career on a great note, and once you have kickstarted it, there is ample scope of improvements, throughout the years till you choose to blog.

In this episode , we will take a look at some of the tools you might find helpful to blog on and off. Why these tools, you ask? Well, that’s a pretty valid question, for anyone to have, when they know that all they need is an idea to blog on, a laptop/pc/mac or a cellphone/tablet to write articles, and a blogging platform to publish what they write, to let others read and appreciate your articles, your knowledge and writing skills. We would like to inform you that, you are very right when it comes to the bare minimums you need to start blogging. However, blogging is a lot more than writing contents and publishing online. Yes, you read it right. There are a lot of other things, you will feel the need for, as you go on exploring the blogging arena. These things (tools), which, we are discussing about, here, are not among the bare minimums you need to start blogging. These are to help you out blog better, add value to your blog. Using these tools, you can make one of your works easier. Either make compelling illustrations and graphics for one of your articles, give your blog a more professional appeal by tinkering with the CSS, secure your media from getting plagiarised (i.e. copied and used without consent, in many cases, with people claiming it to be their creative works) by watermarking them.

These tools span over a variety of domains, and you will be astonished to know about the number of tools, bloggers use to take their blogs to the next level, and add value to it. These tools include common tools such as Word processors like Microsoft Office Word, Spreadsheet applications like MS Excel, text editors like Notepad++, image editing applications like MS Paint or MS Office Picture Manager, or if someone likes going advanced, then specialised applications like Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, GIMP, InkScape, and such advanced image creation and editing applications. Then there are some not-so-common tools, which not everyone uses. A few examples could be digital image water-marking software for watermarking your media files like illustrations and photos. HTML editors help people to modify the look and feel and layout of their blogs, and their pages and posts.

So, let us take a look at a few tools which, in our opinion, will help you kickstart your blogging career, and might help you reach the next level if you have already started it.

1. Text/HTML Editing: Since all that we write is Text, and is processed as HTML over the internet, applications to edit Text and HTML contents is among one of the most used tools in blogging. Irrespective of whether you are a novice blogger, or a more experienced one, there will be one point in time when you felt the need to edit the text and/or HTML on your blog. One such tools includes Notepad, that comes bundled with the Microsoft Windows OS. It provides you with the very basic of the text/html editing capabilities. If you want to go beyond, you can look for a free application called Notepad++. A pretty robust piece of software that helps you quickly work through a number of programming languages, do a lot more than just text editing. Frankly speaking, Notepad++ is an application a lot of programmers use in their day to day life, as this makes their life easy. Be it editing regular text or working up on complex HTML, CSS, JavaScript or JQuery scripts, you name it and you can happily do it in Notepad++. Owing to its code highlighting capabilities, it can help you work quickly through a piece of HTML code, as it is clearly marked per the language conventions. What more? You can actually record macros to programmatically complete tasks that you are required to do repetitively. The best part is, Notepad++ is under GNU GPL license, and comes free. If you want more, you can get yourself better tools, but, then you will need to pay for it. There’s an application called Sublime Text Editor. A paid application targeted at mostly programmers, Sublime text editor is a great tool for handling

2. HTML Cleanup: A lot of us know the web works on a standard language called HTML, that stands for Hyper Text Markup Language. Irrespective of whatever scripting language we use to make those pages, PHP, HTML, ASP, it all gets translated into HTML on your browser. A lot of us do use MS Word or other word processing applications to compose our posts (like we do, which helps in keeping a copy of the blog’s contents offline, with on our own systems, in the event of something going horribly wrong with the blog, and all the content gets deleted, we can resurrect it again. Additionally, for some other blogs, it helps us manage the formatting of the blogposts). If you have ever tried creating or inserting tables in your blogposts, you would very well understand what we are talking about. While on MS Word, it’s a child’s play to insert and format a table as per your wish, it’s a headache doing the same in HTML, and when it’s to be done in the blogger’s post compose window, you can just imagine how it will be done. Anyways, the idea was to give you some insights into HTML cleanup tools. Let us give you an example, for instance, you compose a post on MS word, and then paste it in your blogger post compose window. MS word transfers with the text, along with a whole lot of information on the text/image formatting you did in MS Word. And believe us when we say, this is a lot of information, so much so that it could easily confuse a novice. Additionally, so much of data on the page makes it unnecessarily heavy for the server to transfer and for the client browser to process. While most of the formatting can be had without so much backpage formatting. For a couple of our posts, we use a few of these tools, like HTML Cleaner. There are a variety of options available to strip down unnecessary HTML tags, which helps making your page lighter and better structured.

3. Watermarking: You call yourself an amateur photographer, to show your work to people, and you put up your pictures online on your blog, and one fine day, you stumble upon a picture being used somewhere, that resemble like one of yours, and on a close examination, you get shocked to see one of your photos being used without your permission. And then, someone else takes the credits for the picture you clicked. This is a scenario that turns into reality a number of times. And if you have your bread and butter linked to your photography, this can have a very negative impact on your earnings. Even if its a hobby for you, seeing someone else take credits for your work hurts, and believe us, it hurts very bad.

The way out, either you put up marks on your photos that you are sharing online, or don’t post them at all. Watermarking photos is considered one of the best ways to protect your pictures from getting abused and plagiarised. And it’s said, better safe than sorry. It’s always better to watermark the pictures before putting them online, rather than being sorry after finding them plagiarised. There have been instances when media files have been plagiarised and the original owners of the work had been denied what rightfully belonged to them. We have been posting media files here, and we make sure that all the media files that we put up online are properly watermarked. While one can choose to use image editing applications like Adobe Photoshop or any other image editing software you like, there are dedicated applications that can be used for specifically this purpose. One of such applications is uMark. While this application is a paid one, a trial version is also available, and even in its trial version, the application is very useful. You can easily use an image file or a custom text to add copyright informationto put up watermark on the photos.

4. Tabulating: Often in your blogging journey, you are be required to put tables in your blogposts. While, it’s pretty easy to add tables in MS Word and paste the table in your blogpost, however, it doesn’t turn out to be the best possible ways. As we have already pointed out earlier, with contents from Microsoft Office applications like MS Excel or MS Word, there comes a lot of unnecessary formatting information, it’s not the best option always. Tableizer, is the thing that can help you fulfill your requirement. Just copy the cells or table from your Excel or Word, paste it here, copy the code, and paste it in the HTML code window of your blogpost composing window.

There are a few more tools that will help you blog better, and it would be better for the sake of keeping it simple and shorter to help readers understand the topics better. We will be sharing the rest of blogging tools in the next post.

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