September 7, 2015

Blogger's Post Writing & Styling Options


Writing this blog posts has been on my mind for quite a while and maybe it should really have been the first post ever in the series of Blogger tutorials. After all, writing posts is what blogging is all about.

I kind of assumed that every blogger knew how to write a blog post, but from working with clients I have learned that I should never assume anything ;-) It got clear to me that while most people are able to open up the 'new post' button themselves to start a new post, a lot of them hardly know what options you have inside the Blogger post writing screen. And by not knowing they miss out on options that can take their posts to the next level. So this post is completely dedicated to writing a blog post in the Blogger 'new post' screen and all the options you have over there.

When you click on the orange 'new post' button on the left top of the screen when you are in your Blogger Dashboard a new screen opens up that looks like this: 


That is the screen in which you will have to write your post, add images and links to it and then publish it when you are satisfied with what you have written.

But this screen has so many options that make life and blog post writing a lot easier and more fun if you know where to find them. So let's look at this screen again, but now with a little explanation on the options:


MIDDLE MENU BAR

1. Title Bar - here you will have to add your blog post title
2. Publish Button - only press this button when your blog post is ready for posting
3. Save Button - this saves your blog post, but doesn't publish it, so it will store the post as a draft
4. Preview Button - this allows you to view how the posts looks so far without actually publishing it
5. Close Button - closes the post writing screen

BOTTOM MENU BAR

6. Compose Button - this shows the normal screen in which you can write your blog post
7. HTML Button - this shows the HTML code behind your blog post, only alter things in here if you know a little about HTML coding, otherwise stick to the compose button
8. Arrow Buttons - click this to remove the last action
9. Font Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it another font style - personally I suggest sticking to one font style since this will give a cleaner and more professional look to your posts
10. Font Size Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it another font size - don't use too many sizes in one post, it will only make a post look messy.
11. Heading Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give that a heading/subheading function - please be aware that the text will take on the layout that is set in the coding for this particular heading. For instance: my sidebar titles on this website have a light grey background. Sidebar titles are so called H2 headings. So if I add that heading function to blog post text it will display that text with a grey background. Personally I like to highlight text in a blog post by typing it in uppercase or making it bold. Again, if you use too many different heading styles in one post it starts to look messy for your readers.
12. Bold Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and make it bold
13. Italic Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and make it italic
14. Underline Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and underline it
15. Strikethrough Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it a strike through
16. Text Color Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it another color
17. Background Color Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and give it another background color
18. Link Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and put a link behind it
19. Image Button - this allows you to add an image to your blog post
20. Video Button - this allows you to add a video link to your blog post, like a link to a Youtube video
21. Jump-Link Button - this is the button that allows you to create a so called 'jump-link' into your post when your post is very long
22. Text Outline Button - this allows you to select a piece of text or the complete blog post text and outline it the way you want: left, right, centered or justified
23. Numbered List Button - use this when you want to create a numbered list in your post
24. Bulled List Button - use this when you want to create a bullet list in your post
25. Quote Button - use this when you want to select a piece of text to put it centered and away from the other text to separate an important quote
26. Remove Formatting Button - if you don't know anything about coding just forget about this button
27. Check Spelling Button - this allows you to select a piece of text and check the spelling
 
POST SETTINGS

28. Labels - label function, add 'keywords' to describe your post
29. Schedule - gives you the option to publish your post at a set date and time
30. Links - gives you the option to change your post's permalink
31. Location - gives you the option to add the location you are writing from
32. Search Description - gives you the option to add a short but strong description of the post content. Do this in the form of a sentence!
33. Options - I suggest only using this option when you want to turn off the comment option for the blog post, otherwise don't bother with it
34. Custom Robots Tags Button - I suggest not messing with this button unless you know quite a bit about Search Engine Optimization and how Robot Tags work


While I have mentioned all the buttons above with a short description of what they do, I want to dive deeper into the use of some of them:

MORE INFO ON THE IMAGE BUTTON
When you add an image to Blogger you can upload it from your computer or from an image storage space online like Photobucket for example. Once your image is uploaded in the blog post you will have some options as where exactly to put it and which size to use.
When you click on your uploaded image with the right mouse button the options are shown to you. You can put the image on the left, the right or the center. And you can change the size to small, medium, large, extra large and the original size. Play around with the size options to see which one looks best. Next to the position and size option there is also an option to add a caption text to your image.



MORE INFO ON THE JUMP-LINK BUTTON
The jump-link buttons is also know as the 'read more' button. When you put a jump-link in your blog post text it will break off the text at that exact position and it will put a 'read more...' at that spot. This comes in handy when you write large blog posts that take up a lot of space on your home page. By cutting them off with the jump-link button you shorten the part that is visible on the home page and your readers can just click on the 'read more...' text to go to the full post. When you add a jump-link in your post it will look like this in the post:



MORE INFO ON THE LABELS BUTTON
Labels are basically keywords that describe the content of a post. In most Blogger templates the labels will be visible in the blog post footer (like with this blog). When readers click on these labels in the footer they will be directed to a page that displays all the posts with that same label. So it is basically an option to make it easier for your readers to find something on your blog. And by making it easier for them they are more likely to spend more time on your blog and read more stories! And that is what you want!


You can really do some nice stuff with labels. Find out more about using your labels in a category/label gadget in your sidebar over here, or read about how you can turn your labels into category pages in your menubar over here.

Personally, I think your blog posts need labels. It's one of those things you don't want to miss out on. But be careful not to overdo it. Use between 1 to 5 labels per post and no more than 30 to 40 different labels throughout your entire blog, otherwise the amount of labels will only confuse your readers.

MORE INFO ON THE LINKS OPTION
When you write a post, Blogger automatically uses your blog title as the permalink to your post. That link becomes visible to the Google search engines so you don't want it to be too long and off target. Let's say you write a post about 10 great places you have visited but you also talk a little about some personal stuff in the post. You might use a title like 'Personal ramblings & Interesting places to visit'. To amp up the permalink to this post and be more usable for the Google search machines you should alter this link for better search results. And this is what you do in the links option. I will only discuss the Custom Permalink option here since that is what I use most.


When opening the Links option you the Custom Permalink box and then type in the permalink you want to give to your post. In case of the title example above you could use a permalink like this: 10-great-places-to-visit-in-the-USA. Always put stripe characters between the words otherwise Blogger won't accept the title. And using a number to start your title with will rank you higher in search results. Same goes for titles that start with 'How to', 'Tips for' etc. Make the permalink short and descriptive.

LESS IS MORE
As with a lot of things in life less is more when it comes to styling a blog post. Your readers are not going to be a bunch of happy campers when you use ten different font styles and sizes and all the colors of the rainbow in one blog post. It might satisfy your creative spark, but it will put them off and they might not come back. So keep things clean and simple and perk it up with beautiful images in between the blog post text.

INVESTMENT PAYS OFF
While it might cost some of your precious time it is so worth it to invest some time into getting to know how a Blogger blog works. Once you get to know all the features it will give you so many options to style your blog and blog posts the way you like it. And it is so worth the time when down the line you are able to tackle all these little style issues yourself instead of having to hire someone to do it for you or just be okay with a crappy blog only because you don't know any better! Knowledge is power!

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