Category Archives: How-to’s

How to create a clickable link

I’ve created two super-short videos showing how to create a clickable link without knowing any html! One is for WordPress, one is for Blogger.

WordPress:

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Blogger:

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Finding and sizing images for your blog or website

Images make webpages and blog posts more interesting, and they’re absolutely essential if you want your content shared to image-focused social media sites like Pinterest. They’ll get your shares more noticed on other sites like Facebook and Twitter, too.

But where to find good images, and how should you size them? I’ve put together three short videos to help you get started!

Image sources

There are lots of great resources for free and cheap images; here are three of my favorites: Pixabay, Unsplash, and Creative Market, and the pros and cons of each.

Links:

Pixabay

Unsplash

Creative Market

(Note: I get a small credit at Creative Market when you purchase through this link. Thanks for your support!)

 

Determining what size your image should be

Sizing your images is important! Too small, and they’ll look jagged and fuzzy. Too big, and they’ll slow down your page load time. Here’s how to determine the pixel width your image should be, based on your website’s theme template.

Link:

piliapp – measure webpage elements

 

Cropping and sizing your image

I like PicMonkey better than Canva for this, because not only is it super-simple to use, but you can control the image quality, allowing you to create smaller, faster-loading files.

Links:

PicMonkey

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Have other image-related questions? Ask me!

How to create a campaign in MailChimp

If you’ve never used MailChimp before, it may seem a little daunting, but really, once you see it done, it will seem so much less intimidating! So I’ve created a couple short videos that walk you through creating an email newsletter, start to finish, in less than 20 minutes.

These videos assume that you’ve created your MailChimp account, and set up or imported your mailing list. And also that you’ve written the text for your newsletter and prepared your images.

The first video is about 10 minutes long and walks you through how to set up the campaign and create a basic newsletter. (The time limit I refer to at the end of the video has nothing to do with MailChimp; it was just the time limit for the video app I was using.)

The second video is about 6 minutes long, and shows how to add images, how to add your links to the social media icons, and how to send the campaign immediately, OR schedule it to send at a future date or time.

starting a blog - the basics

Starting a blog: the basics

I hope to eventually create my own tutorial, but today I discovered a fantastic resource that has tons of useful information for beginning bloggers – Amy Lynn Andrews. But she has SO much info it can be overwhelming, so rather than make you wait for my future course or wade through all of hers, I’ve curated her most basic, most pertinent information right here.

18 Tips for New Bloggers – Lots of reassurance and encouragement as you wade into this new world

How to Find (or Re-find) Your Passion – Great questions to help you explore what you care about enough to blog about long-term

How to Choose a Domain Name – And one place you can do so. (You might also refer to my post, Where should I register my domain?)

How to Start a Blog – VERY thorough; includes how to set up a self-hosted WordPress site.

The Trouble With Blogging – On comparing yourself against others

Hope you find this helpful! As always, please contact me with any questions you’d like to see answered here. Or if you’re ready for someone else to do the heavy lifting, request a free, no-obligation price list! 🙂

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How your website is like a camper: a simple explanation of some confusing terms

I’ve given a detailed explanation of web hosting, domain registration and such elsewhere. Here, I’d like to provide a simple word picture that might help make it simpler to understand.

Imagine that your website is a camper. It’s like a camper because it’s got contents, it has a style, it can be moved from one place to another, and it needs somewhere to park. Let’s also suppose that you’ve given your camper a name: Roadrunner.

The name is like your web address, also called a domain or URL. (See the aforementioned article for more a more detailed explanation. We’re keeping things simple here.) So when someone walks up to your camper, or arrives at your website, they know it’s yours because they recognize the name.

your website is like a camper

(I haven’t created  a graphic for it, but you could also change the name of your website/camper, everything else remains – it’s still your property.)

Maybe you start out with your camper in Monument Valley. But after a while, you get tired of the heat, so you decide to head to the Redwood Forest.

website is like a camper

Same camper, new location.

In the same way, a website can be moved from one host to another. If you get frustrated with some aspect of one host — say, their customer service leaves something to be desired — you can move your website elsewhere.

Now, let’s say you get tired of the yellow color scheme and the font on your sign, so you decide to change things up a bit.

same camper, new color; same website, new theme

This is like changing the theme, fonts, color scheme, or other design elements on your website. It still has the same contents, the same name, and the same location, just different styling.

WordPress sites make it pretty easy to make small design tweaks. Depending on the theme you’re using, you may only be able to change a few things, or you may be able to make significant changes. Look under “Appearances” in the navigation on the lefthand side of your WordPress back end to see what options are available.

If you want some changes that are more complicated than you can do — or you’d just like some friendly coaching while you learn — I know someone who can help!  😉

Contact me.

Request a price list.

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See more help for beginning bloggers.

 

 

I love Trello! – a killer to-do list app

trello-screenshot-470x140

Trello is a super easy-to-use project management app. But it’s not just for teams working on big and/or many projects; it’s also really handy for the solo freelancer and anyone who has to juggle both personal and work tasks on a daily basis. Here’s a quick video on how I use Trello.

The basic version is free, and it works on smart phones, too.

What does “______” mean? A glossary of web-related terms.

 

If you’re talking to a web developer/designer, and feeling overwhelmed by the terms and acronyms being tossed your way, it’s my hope that this list may help you.

Some of these definitions are original, and some are copied in whole or in part from wikipedia.

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CSS — “Cascading style sheets.” A method for building web pages which separates the actual content from the way it is styled, making future maintenance much easier, in addition to other benefits. Can also be used to refer to the part of the code that is in CSS.

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back end / front end — The “back end” is the software system or computer code that provides structure and function to the site. The back end is not visible to the user. The front end (or interface) is the on-screen system that the user interacts with to achieve a specific goal. For example, when you buy books online, the webpages where you put in your name, address, credit card info, etc. are the front end/interface.

blog — Short for “web log.” As a noun, “blog” is a website where entries are made on a regular basis, and usually displayed in reverse chronological order. “Blog” can also be used as a verb, meaning to maintain or add content to a blog.

captcha (or CAPTCHA) — This is a contrived acronym for “Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart.” It is a test to ensure that the responder is a human and not a computer. The most familiar type of CAPTCHA is one which displays distorted letters or digits on the screen, and requires the user to type those same characters into an input box.

content — This refers to the stuff that fills up your website. While technically it may refer to words, pictures, documents, video, etc., it is also sometimes used to refer just to the text/words.

content management system, or CMS — A way of building webpages so that frequent updates can be made quickly and easily by people with no knowledge of html; all that’s required is minimal training in the user-friendly interface. Also, the software used for building such a site.

phone-book-200x150DNS — “Domain Name System.” Think of it as the behind-the-scenes phone book for the internet: it connects human-friendly URL’s (e.g., http://www.janasnyder.com) into computer-friendly addresses (e.g., 321.123.456.78) that networking equipment needs to find your website.

DNS record  — The information that ties your particular URL to your specific IP address. This is kept on record somewhere on the internet. The company you pay for this service is your “DNS registrar.”

This is tied to both  your domain registration and your hosting location, so if one of those changes, this will need to be updated as well.

domain — As commonly used, the human-readable “address” for a given website or webpage: “www.pagenamehere.com”. Synonymous with the term “URL.”

domain registration — The internet equivalent of copyrighting a company name. You purchase the legal right to use that particular domain name, and prevent anyone else from using it. The company you pay for this service is your “Domain registrar.”

This is tied to your DNS record, so if one changes, the other needs to as well.

Flash — The brand name of one brand of software used to create web content with motion, such as scrolling pictures, pictures or words that fade in and out, etc. “Flash pages” means webpages that have one or more areas created in Flash. For a user to see anything created in Flash, they must have Flash Reader.

front end  — See “back end / front end.”

hosting  — The computer where your website lives and is accessed by users on the web.

Your host is tied to your DNS record, so if you change hosts, you’ll need to update your DNS record, too.

In most cases, when you buy hosting from a big-name hosting company, your website is stored redundantly on multiple computers, so that if one computer goes down your website will not. Our web host of choice: LiquidWeb. You can purchase hosting from us that will be a shared part of our servers there. Saves you lots of money; makes a little for us. (They charge $50/month and up; we charge less than $15/month.)

interface — See “back end / front end.”

IP (internet protocol) address — Your website’s location on the internet, which is a string of numbers. eg: 123.456.89.010

site map — A list and/or diagram showing all the pages in a website and, to some extent, their relation to each other.

URL — “Uniform Resource Locator” or “Universal Resource Locator.” The human-readable “address” for a given website or webpage: “www.pagenamehere.com”.

WordPress — A content management system that many websites are based on, providing an excellent structure for creating small, simple websites, as well as large complex ones. Learn lots more here.

Have a question that’s not answered here? Ask it!

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Image source

“How can I increase traffic to my website?” (This may be the wrong question to ask.)

website traffic cop

Let me say up-front that I’m not claiming to be an SEO expert. What follows is my personal opinion, based on what I’ve researched and observed on the web since about 2003.

Site traffic is important for websites which sell products, and critical for site owners who make their income off of advertising sold on their site.

For the average professional who provides a service, however, I believe that, “How can I increase traffic on my website?” is the wrong question to ask.

The vast majority of clients who visit your website do so because they already know about you — either having personally met you, or having been referred by a mutual contact. Therefore, the most important question you can ask about your website is, “How can I get site visitors to contact me once they’ve hit my site?

This is best achieved by:

  1. having a professional-looking site;
  2. making sure the personality or emotional feel of your site is a positive experience for them;
  3. making the information they’re after easy to find;
  4. seamlessly introducing them to info they didn’t know they needed but which tip their choice in your favor (if that is the case);
  5. making it really easy for them to find your “Contact us” buttons and/or links. (But not to the point of being obnoxious.)

There are firms who specialize in SEO, who really know what they’re doing and can help you successfully wade through the complexity of SEO factors. However, most web-design-hosting-package providers who tout their SEO services tend to focus on:

  • meta-tags, which are really just not that important; and
  • submitting your website to Yahoo!, Google, etc., which you can do yourself. OR just wait for it to happen, since search engines are constantly crawling the web and will find new sites within a few months, at most.

The MAJOR factor in a website’s ranking is relevant content. That is, are there appropriate keywords in there (making up no more than 5-10% of the page’s content), and can people find the kind of information they’re looking for?

And lastly, I believe that one of the other major factors that weighs search engine ranking is the age of the domain. That’s one thing you can’t fake.

Hope this helps!