Thanks to Julia at Hooked on Houses for hosting the weekly Hooked on Fridays blog party :-)
We reached a bit of a milestone this week — our 100th post. That’s an average of about a post a day — I think it’s safe to say that Victoria and I are hooked on blogging!!
On January 16, 2009, Victoria and I launched DesignTies. Victoria came up with the name, because “we’re tied by design”. This was my first-ever post: Passion + Focus = Following your dreams
And here’s Victoria’s first post: A Smidge of Creativity, Collaboration… and Where It Takes You! Have you noticed that V is just a bit wordy?? ;-)
We’ve learned a lot about blogging since our first posts, and we’d like to share what we’ve learned with you :-)
(Click the logos to go to the web sites)
If you have a Blogspot blog, you know how annoying composing your posts in Blogger can be. Why do images INSIST on going to the top of the post?! Argh!! Totally NOT user friendly. Luckily, there’s a better tool out there, and it’s free!! Windows Live Writer isn’t perfect, but it’s a lot better than Blogger. It lets you do cool things with pictures, and it’s totally WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get). It’s easy to use and there really isn’t much of a learning curve. Unfortunately, WLW doesn’t work with MACs. But hey, you MAC users can brag about having the best commercials out there!! So it isn’t all bad :-)
FEEDJIT is a cool little widget that shows you where your blog guests come from, how they arrive at your blog, how they leave your blog, and other neat stuff. It’s easy to add it to you sidebar.
FreeOnlineUsers lets you check out the stats for your blog. It keeps track of the number of raw hits and unique visitors to your blog every day. It probably does other stuff too, but those are the only stats we check :-)
Paul at Kitchen and Residential Design is a huge fan of SketchUp. I’ve downloaded it, but haven’t gotten too far with it because the learning curve is pretty steep and I’m technically inept :-) But if you can master SketchUp, you can create fabulous 3D models of rooms, furniture, home exteriors, or anything else that you care to turn into 3D :-)
I love SnagIt. I’ve been using it at work for years. SnagIt lets you take screen captures of your entire screen, the active window, a specific region of the screen… anything you want. And it’ll automatically add cool effects for you, like a faded edge, drop shadow, torn edge… It comes in really handy when you want to save a picture that doesn’t allow you to select the Copy or Save As options. Just take a screen cap with SnagIt!! You can download a 30 day free trial.
Every PC keyboard has the Prt Scr (Print Screen) key. It’s easy to use and is an alternative (albeit an inferior one!!) to SnagIt.
1. Open the screen you want to take a screen cap of.
2. Press Prt Scr.
3. Open Paint (or any other graphics program)
4. From the Edit menu, select Copy (or press Ctrl + V).
The screen cap appears!! If you just want a certain part of the screen cap, crop the image down to the section that you want to keep.
How cute is that logo?! Another tool Paul recommended to me is Gimp. I haven’t tried it out yet, but it’s an open source image manipulation program that you can download for free. It’s similar to Corel Paint Shop Pro, which I wrote about here. Have a picture of a great view but there’s a crane in the way?? You can fix it!!
There are some unwritten blogging “rules” that everybody should follow.
If you visit a blog and like what you see, leave a comment. It’s good manners, and your comment will not only be appreciated, but will probably result in you acquiring another visitor to your blog, because…
Returning the favour
When someone comments on your blog post, it’s good manners to go to the commenter’s blog and leave a comment there.
Make commenting easy
Here are a couple of ways you can make commenting easy for your visitors:
A. Turn off the word identification thing
It’s really not that useful, and it can be frustrating to type in those weird letters and numbers. Especially if you’re participating in a blog party and leaving lots of comments!! We don’t use the word verification thing on our blog, and we don’t get any spam. This is how you do it (all screen caps taken with SnagIt showing different effects):
1. In the upper right corner of your blog page, click Customize.
2. Click the Settings tab.
3. On the Settings tab, click Comments.
4. Next to Show word verification for comments? select No.
5. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Settings.
B. Set up your comments so that the comment box and the post being commented on are both visible on the same page.
When I leave a comment, I like to be able to see the picture or text that I’m commenting on. I have a REALLY bad memory (or maybe it’s a short attention span!!), and I forget things fast!! If you use Blogger, you can change the comment format like this:
1. Follow steps 1 to 3 above.
2. Next to Comment Form Placement, select either Pop-up window OR Embedded below post. DON’T SELECT FULL PAGE!!
3. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Settings.
Why we love blogging
The best thing about blogging is “meeting” so many interesting and creative people through our visits to their blogs and their visits to our blog :-) We’ve made blog friends in Australia, Jordan, USA, across Canada…
There are loads of wonderful inspirational pictures and ideas out there. In fact, this picture of a David Collins room from Studio Annetta may have finally answered the question — “what the heck am I going to do with my dining room?!”
Another fab thing about blogging is that we have complete creative control!! It’s awesome to be able to write about whatever you want, whenever you want :-) Blogging allows me to combine two of my greatest passions — writing and interior decorating/design (for Victoria, add home remodelling to that list). We both love doing anything that’s creative, and blogging is a great way for us to let that creativity flow!! :-)
We want more!!
More evidence that we’re hooked — we’re always looking for ways to improve our blog so that you’ll want to come back every day to see what we’re up to :-) For example, we have a new colour scheme in mind for DesignTies. If you love home décor, you can probably relate — sometimes, you just can’t resist the urge to roll a new colour on the walls and freshen things up!! :-)
We’ve hit our 100 post milestone, and now we’re aiming for 200… 300… world blog dominance…
See, that’s how hooked on blogging we are!
And finally, a big thank you to everyone who visits DesignTies, whether it’s every day, a couple of times a week, or just now and then. We hope that the topics we cover are interesting and informative, and that you like what you see. We hope you have as much fun visiting our blog as we have writing it :-)
You know what to do now… leave a comment!! :-) And then head on back to Julia’s blog party, go visit more blogs, and leave comments for them too!! :-)