They don’t call it the Blogosphere for nothing. Blogging is its own little world with plenty of unwritten rules. These are constantly evolving as the internet evolves.
Today, we wanted to share Part I of our Basic Blogging Checklist. We read a lot about blogging before we ever published a post, so we had an idea of what to expect. However, it does not due to live exclusively by the precepts of others.
You have to figure how you want to do things for yourself. So this series is about how we approach blogging after 100+ posts. Maybe we’ll do another series when we are at 1000+ posts!
Content: The Key Ingredient
Content is king in the blog world. We aim for 300-500 words of content. Some may be shorter or longer, but most fall into the aforementioned range. This may seem daunting at first, staring at the blank page and blinking cursor, but the more you write, the easier it becomes. You just have to sit down and do it. See yesterday’s post for more (How to Write Anywhere & End Procrastination For Good).
The content must also have some intrinsic value to the audience. It needs to have a focus and a purpose, for example, to inform or entertain. A scattered blog post is not very helpful to readers, even it can be fun to create.
Images: Visual Value
Everyone seems to have a two second attention span these days. Pictures help break up content for the reader. We tend to use between 3-10 images per post. The internet is a big place with lots of websites competing for viewership; images keep readers captivated. How many times have you stayed on a website to view interesting images?
You can use your own images, get some from flickr under the Creative Commons Licenses, or just google “free stock photos” to find great sites like unsplash. Once you have your photos, you will likely need to do some editing to optimize them for your blog.
We use Photoshop CC from Adobe on a $10/month subscription basis to make minor improvements to photos. We had been using Photoshop Elements happily for a couple years, including to create our very first book cover. (See more in Evolution of an eBook Cover: Part 1).
However, the price of Photoshop CC is well worth the editing power. You could also use a free alternative like PicMonkey. See The 10 Best Photoshop Alternatives You Need To Know from lifehack.org for more.
Optimized Images: Level Up
We usually adjust the levels, curves, and hue/saturation as needed per photo. We also do any crops, rotations, or necessary text additions/watermarking in Photoshop. We have been teaching ourselves how to use Photoshop through YouTube Tutorials, especially those offered by Phlearn, and through some excellent sessions from Creative Live, where you can stream live classes for FREE! There is always more to learn in Photoshop.
Once we are happy with the look of each photo, we reduce the size to 900 pixels wide x (proportionate number) pixels high; sometimes we do 1200 pixels wide if it is an artsy photo. Reducing the size of your images will increase the speed of your website. Also, you don’t need to worry about high resolution – 72 pixels per inch is fine for blog photos.
Now the photo is ready for import to the website. We use wordpress, which makes image optimization a snap. We further reduce the size of our images using the WordPress Plugin: WP Smush. Almost finished…
Finally, we add the photo to the post and add some “alt text.” This seemingly obscure task is important for search engine optimization (SEO). You can read more at Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization from Yoast (of SEO Plugin fame). Basically, you type in words that describe what is in the image into the Alternative Text section of the Image Details. For example, the alt text for the above photo includes: “computer, laptop, photo editing, photoshop.” Another helpful article is from Search Engine Journal: Image Alt Text Vs. Image Title: What’s the Difference?.
We’ll be back with Basic Blogging Checklist Part II next week, so stay tuned!