Get the Most Out of Image Search

When it comes to bringing search engine traffic to blogs, images  do that. Search terms ie. keywords people type into search engines can result in traffic to your images as well as to your posts. That’s why learning how to optimize images for Google search is an important skill for bloggers to acquire. Continue reading

YouTube gets a makeover

Image representing YouTube as depicted in Crun...

Image via CrunchBase

On December 1, 2011 YouTube got a makeover inluding  a new homepage, Channel design and a fresh coat of digital paint. Here are three ways these updates aim to improve your YouTube experience:

1.  A new homepage – You can now create your own, personal, customizable YouTube Channel line-up,  customize your homepage’s feed; even link your YouTube account to Google+ and Facebook.

2.  Simpler, customizable Channels – There’s a new Channel design and now there are four new Channel templates too.

3.  A new overall design -  Feedback  on the  experimental design called Cosmic Panda insulted in a cleaner and simpler design, with a consistent gray background, bigger video thumbnails and a more streamlined watch page.

Get More Into YouTube

Discussion:

What do you think about these new features? Have they improved your YouTube experience?

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A Photo Collage for Your Blog

If you’re interested is adding some pizzazz to your blog then making a a free photo collage or photo montage online maybe what you are looking for. You can create great collages online without any graphic programs. It’s easy and you don’t need to know about photo collage’s layers or other photo concepts. Just upload your photos. Follow the intuitive process to create your collage and then download it.  You can use your photo collage as a background,  or resize itand use it in blog headers, as well as in posts or pages.

photovisiinstructionsPhotovisi

I liked this site.  Photovisi is a free and easy to use online photo collage maker. No registration required. Select one of the many designs, add your photos and then customize by dragging items around. You can also add text. After the collage is finished, it’s available for download and print! Finished size 1024 x 768  or 1600 x 1200 pixels.  It’s a 3 step process that’s easy to master.

1. Select a template 2.  Add photos. 3.  Download.

Email E-mail collage Twitter_logo Share on Twitter

Want to try it out?

small collage

If you have used any other sites to create a photo collage or photomontage please feel free to comment and let me know which sites you used, as well as posting a link to your creation.

Related post found in this blog: Blogging and Using Media Effectively

Blogging and Using Media Effectively

blog I’m always looking for way to enhance the value of the content in my blog and that includes being privileged to receive and publish posts by guest authors. Today I’m issuing a guest blogger invitation to regular readers and subscribers, who have some specific skills. Those who have the skills required and who will agree become guest bloggers must accept the terms I have set in my Guest Posts policy.

If you are a regular reader/subscriber then have you ever:

  •   Created a how-to video for a blog post?
  •   Created a how-to audio or podcast for your blog?
  •   Created a slide-show for a blog post?
  •   Created a photo montage or gallery for a blog post?
  •   Created your own graphics for a blog post or for your blog?
  1. If you have done any of those 5 things then do you have any tips, tools, or resources to share in a guest post tutorial?
  2. If you have done any of those 5 things then how was what you presented received by your readers?
  3. If you have NOT done any of those 5 things then would you consider doing any or all of them in the future? Why or why not?
  4. How do you as a reader respond to media enhancement of blog posts?

Help! I can’t see my images

don't panic buttonMy images are not visible on my [wordpress] blog. They are visible on my friend’s computer but not on mine. How do I make them appear please?

Whenever we experience these kind of problems the first thing we suspect is a browser issue so we troubleshoot beginning with checking for browser issues.

Where are the images hosted?

  1. There are various ways of linking to images and you will find the three permitted ways described in Images: The Three Link Options.
  2. Did you upload the images from your own computer? If so then be sure the images are accepted file types ie. check the image file type extensions.
  3. Did you link to images in your Media Library?
  4.  Did you remove the images from your Media Library?
  5. Did you link to images in your account on an image hosting site? If you do not have unlimited bandwidth and have exceeded it and/or have not paid for additional bandwidth, then the image host can prevent the display of the images.
  6. Are you “hot-linking” to someone else’s images?

Bandwidth theft or “hotlinking” is direct linking to a web site’s files (images, video, etc.). An example would be using an image tag to display a JPEG image you found on someone else’s web page so it will appear on your own site. Displaying an image or file that doesn’t belong to you could be a violation of copyright, making you open to litigation. Some sites have prevention measures in place so if you attempt to hotlink you can’t. Others have messages that replace the images with a message to the effect of stop stealing our bandwidth as they are paying for it and you aren’t by hotlinking you can cause them to exceed bandwidth limits and have to pay extra. — How do I know I am hotlinking?

There’s another reason not to hotlink images. As the inages are on the other party’s server they can change the image you are “hotlinking” to which results in you having an image you didn’t intend to display on your blog.

If you have tried the troubleshooting strategies above and you still cannot view the images on your blog  then WordPress.com have provided additional troublehooting tips you can try. if those do not work for you then f none of those work for you contact Staff and provide them with all details about what you did and what happened.

WordPress: Create a random post icon

wordpress icon

Click for random post

It’s easy to post a link in a text widget in your wordpress blog’s sidebar that when clicked will display a random post found in your blog. You can use anchor text or not. Simply place the code into a text widget and display it at the top of your blog’s sidebar for reader convenience.  But did you know that the random post URL can be linked to an image of your choice? This post is a step by step tutorial for wordpress beginners.

Here’s just a little easter egg for you to play with: Try adding ?random to the end of your WordPress.com URL and it will redirect you to a random post on your blog. You can link to that address like any other, either in your post or a widget. Update: Based on a suggestion in the comments, I’ve added this to the admin bar so when you’re logged in and you hover over “Blog Info” the first menu item is a random post link. — Get Random

Simply replace example URL with  the Random Post link in the choice you make below.

Example 1 link without anchor text:

http://example.wordpress.com/?random

Example 2 linked to anchor text: Click for random post

<a href=”http://example.wordpress.com/?random”>Click to read a random post</a>

Example 3 linked to an image:

Draft post

  1. Create a draft post that you will later delete.
  2. Select a small image to link to and upload it into your Media Library.
  3. Fill in the Alternate Text.
  4. Type “Click for random post” into the Caption.
  5. Fill in the Description.
  6. Hover over “Blog Info” on the Admin bar and a dropdown menu will appear.
  7. Hover over “Random Post” and copy the URL onto your clipboard.
  8. Paste that URL into Link URL
  9. Click the “Insert into post” button and when that it complete click the X to close the image details box and return to your draft post.
  10. Switch to the HTML edior and copy the image code provided there onto your clipboard.

wordpress image detail box

Text Widget

  1. Proceed to Appearance > Widgets select a text widget and drag and drop it into the position in your sidebar that you want it to appear in and open the widget.
  2. Paste the code you copied out if the HTML editor into it.
  3. Click “Save” and “Close
  4. View the front of your blog. Click your tmage and view a random post.
  5. Delete the draft post as you are done.

WordPress.com: How to add more photos to a slideshow

One of the ways to enhance the way you present information on your blog is by creative use of images. WordPress.com slideshows are simple and straightforward. Upload your photos as a gallery, then click the “Insert slideshow” button, or use the shortcode. The slideshow automatically adjusts its dimensions to fit your blog’s theme. You can create a quick and easy slideshow for your WordPress.com blog on either a post or page by following the illustrated instructions in the support documentation. Or you can by following instructions on How To – Using slidehows on WordPress.com blogs on WordPressTV

“I couldn’t find any instructions from WP Help on how to add photos to an existing slideshow, so thought I’d pass it along. Hope it helps someone out there, as others’ bread crumbs have helped me numerous times.” — Steve Eichenberger, Ceramic Sculptor Artist , Oregon.

How can I add more photos to a slideshow? If that’s your question, here’s the solution:

  1. Open the post where you want to add photos to a slideshow
  2. Select Edit
  3. Delete the slideshow from your post (highlight , hit delete on your keyboard)
  4. Now, with the post still open, upload additional photo(s) from your computer. They will automatically be added to the Gallery for that post.
  5. Click the Upload/Insert Add an Image icon
  6. Select Gallery tab
  7. Your newly uploaded photos should now be at the top of the list, un-numbered
  8. Drag them to where you want them in the slide sequence
  9. Be sure to hit Save All Changes to lock in the sequence
  10. Now click on Insert Slideshow

That should do it!

If your slides are in the wrong sequence, you probably forgot to Save All Changes in step 9, so delete again, and re-do steps 5 – 10. Source

Please note that if you are experiencing difficulty with the Gallery function this is the place to go to > gammagirl -Not the Official WordPress.com Gallery FAQ.

PicApp pulls the shortcode plug

unhappy crowd
Locating free sources of images to enhance blog posts can be a time consumptive chore even when you have a listing of free sources of images as I so on my resources page.  But a year ago now WordPress.com entered an arrangement with PicApp that made that chore and easy breezy one by introducing a shortcode for WordPress.com bloggers to gain free access to PicApp images.  The official announcement on October 9th,  2009 was:

We all love adding great images to our blog posts, and today we’ve enabled a new WordPress.com Shortcode that adds millions of available premium images to the mix, all for free.
The Shortcode is for a service called PicApp, which offers up to the minute sports, news, and celebrity images from some of the top photographers and agencies throughout the world. — Free Access to Premium Images

picapp-com Picture 1

What a difference a year makes!  PicApp will no longer be supporting the WordPress.com shortcode. They have introduced a widget and are discussing how to enable the already-published images to stay on WordPress.com blogs where the shortcode has been used with WordPress.com Staff so stay tuned.

Hi Guys ,
picapp just launch its new product , the picapp widget , that turns every static image into a dynamic photo gallery. We built this tool based on feedback we got from many of you guys and are very pleased from the initial results.
Clarification #1 –> do you have to install the widget? :
no. installing the widget is not mandatory at all. you do it only if you like it and see the value in installing it! what we do ask however is for you to register on the new site.
Clarification #2 –> does the new widget is wp.com supported
no.
Clarification #3 –> does the widget “takes over” images you are not interested to be dynamic?
we specifically designed a dashboard function to enable you to control on which site section you want the widget to be active . we also provide in our support page specific instructions for how to disable a specific image .
Clarification #4 –> what will happen with the already used images and with the shortcode support?
due to insufficient interest , we cant continue to support the shortcode for much longer and we are in discussion with the wp.com team to find a solution that will enable the already-published images to stay on the blogs.
hope this is helpful!
Eyal  — PicApp.com

Discussion

Are you a WordPress.com blogger who has been using the PicApp shortcode?
What’s your reaction to the discontinuation of the use of the shortcode?

Blogging and Troubleshooting

don't panic buttonWe all experience those situations when we click and expect a specific thing to happen and something else presents. The examples are endless and varied including not being able to log-in to your blog account or logging in and then experiencing  problems.

Unable to access my blog!

A few months ago I started noticing that occasionally I cannot log into the dashboard, no matter how many times I tried.  Now I don’t login on the wordpress.com home page. I  scroll down and click on the link to the forum and login there.

Dashboard is Messed Up!

All of a sudden my blog, hosted by wordpress.com, is a mess. All images are suddenly displayed on the front page in a complete mess. Articles cannot be reached from the dashboard when I´m logged in.

White page with nothing on it!

The good news is that some issue can be easily fixed. So don’t push the panic button and try the following troubleshooting techniques instead.

1.  Browser issues

Indent stopped working

All of a sudden I can’t get the “indent” icon Row 1 icon numbered 10 (Indent – move text further right) in the Visual editor to work.

Images not visible!

I recently added a slide show of my photos from photobucket onto my blog. They are visible on my friend’s computer but not on mine. How do I make them appear please.

2.  Flash issues

Can’t see my stats

For the last 2-3 days I could not see the stats graph. I think may be a problem from my computer/settings because I opened my blog dashboard from another computer and the statistic graph is clearly displayed.

3.   Self hosting issues WordPress.org installs

  • Problems can be caused by updating to the latest WordPress version,  but using a theme that has not been updated and is not compatible with it.  You can find the theme designer’s support forum for you particular theme and see if there are known issues and solutions.
  • Issues can also be caused by plugin incompatibilities.  You can find the plugin developer and see if there are known issues and solutions.

4.    Connectivity Issues

The way you connect to the internet (mobile, satellite, DSL, dial-up) and to your blog,  and how many proxy server jumps etc. it takes to connect can cause problems. There maybe be problems with your ISP and/or with the proxy servers. There may be problems with your web host. Check for known issues with your ISP and/or with your web host.

5.   Operating System Updates and Security Program Issues

Sometimes operating system and/or security system updates can cause problems so check for known issues. When you make adjustments to your browser settings — changing privacy settings, deleting cookies or increasing security — you will need to close your window and restart the browser before those new settings become effective.

For WordPress.com bloggers

If none of the above work for you then please file a support ticket with WordPress.com Staff. To streamline the process  do not forget to include details in your support ticket.  Staff need to know what operating system you are using, which browser and version of it you are using, if you tried another browser or not and what the results were, whether or not your Flash is up to date, and how you are connecting to the internet and to WordPress.com.

Supplying these details in your support ticket means Staff won’t have to engage in a back and forth email exchange with you to obtain relevant details. Then  they can identify the source of the problem and provide a solution quickly.

Best wishes for a happy ending.  : )

WordPress.com Followers Widget: No Thanks

followers widget imageFollowers Widgets have become ubiquitous sidebar decorations in blogs as more blogging platforms and social networks are providing them. Followers Widgets dynamically display the visits to the blog by the people behind icons (avatars, gravatars).  Bloggers display them to demonstrate connections other bloggers  that range from mere acquaintanceship to friendship with subscribers who regularly read the blog and comment. Let’s investigate the claims and  uncover what Followers Widgets  do and don’t do for your blog.

Blogger says:

The Followers widget is a great tool to help you grow your blog’s audience. Readers often visit a blog and enjoy it but fail to return. With the followers widget you can get all readers to return and become a fan. We highly recommend that you write a post about your followers widget and encourage all readers to become a follower. Additionally you should put your followers widget at the top of your sidebar so more readers will notice it. Many readers ignore sidebar items so by writing a post about your followers widget and moving the widget to the top of your sidebar, you will inevitably grow your audience. — How to grow your audience with Following

The implication that using a Follower’s Widget will  drive traffic to your blog and  grow your audience is far fetched.  But then most advertising is based upon marketing gar fetched notions to the masses, isn’t it?

Appearance

Followers widgets can spoil the blog design and give the blog an amateurish appearance. Take note that top bloggers in every niche who tend to have customized themes do not to use them, so why should you?

follower widget imageDistraction

Followers Widgets can distract readers’ minds and eyes from reading the content in your blog posts on your front page of your blog and direct them to your sidebar. In sidebars Followers Widgets distract readers’ minds and eyes away from navigational widgets containing links to the deeper content in your blog. If your emphasis is on presenting your content to visitors then why add a distraction to your blog?

followers widget imagePage Loading Time

Followers widgets increase blog speed (page loading time);  and viewers have to wait for widgets to load before they can interact with the blog. Most people surfing the web today are on dial-up service. Also as page loading time has become a Google page ranking factor most bloggers are reducing page loading time, not increasing it.

References:
Why having a well designed blog is important
Widgets: Less is More

follower widget imageGoogle juice

There is no reason to create and display hundreds of links,  as any page with many links looses “weight” or value on a per link basis.  Moreover, too many outbound links can reduce your blog’s PageRank. It is all about balancing the number and quality of outbound links with inbound links.

“1.   Inbound links are links from pages on external sites linking back to your site. Inbound links can bring new users to your site, and when the links are merit-based and freely-volunteered as an editorial choice, they’re also one of the positive signals to Google about your site’s importance.

2.   Outbound links are external sites that you’re linking to.  Outbound links allow us to surf the web — they’re a big reason why the web is so exciting and collaborative. Without outbound links, your site can seem isolated from the community because each page becomes “brochure-ware.”

Relevant outbound links can help your visitors.

  • Provide your readers in-depth information about similar topics;
  • Offer readers your unique commentary on existing resources.

Thoughtful outbound links can help your credibility.

  • Show that you’ve done your research and have expertise in the subject manner;
  • Make visitors want to come back for more analysis on future topics.”
  • Analysis

Analysis: The way I understand this is that every little icon in a Followers Widget is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog. Also every Followers Widget has a link to the site that offers the followers widget.

Suppose some search engine spiders stop indexing when they reach 100 – 115 links on any given page. Consider that most blogs have a sidebar appearing on every page and not just the front page.

Aside from links in Followers Widgets  in most themes Blogroll Links are also displayed in sidebars on every page in the blog,  and every one is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog.

Also every button, chiclet and badge for social media sites, social networks, bookmarking sites,  blog directories, etc. is linked, and  every one is an outbound link (Google juice) flowing out of the blog.

Matt says, build your site for the user experience, and make sure your inbound and outbound links are valid, not spammy, and relevant. Therefore the approach I use is  simply focusing on user experience.

SEO experts advise that a better blogger ensures that the number of inbound and outbound links are kept in balance. Therefore the approach I use is  simply focusing on maintaining a balance between outbound links and inbound links.

Who benefits?

followers widget imageWhen it comes to use of a Followers Widget if a blog reader clicks an icon in a Followers Widget – zoom – they are gone from the blog.

When a blog reader clicks an icon in a Followers Widget the site the widget comes from gets a hit.  If the page is  monetized and/or if the site has PPC (pay per click) the social network site owners get income from every click every visitor makes on the site.

followers widget imageThe follower whose icon was clicked by a blog reader gets a hit on a profile page on a social network site (and maybe an indirect click through that site into their blog).

My criteria for adding widgets is:

I love followers (who doesn’t?) but I do not add a widget to my blog unless it:

1.   improves the functionality of my site by providing reader access to content that is not located on the front page;

2.   redirects readers to high quality sources of relevant information found in authoritative blogs in the same niche.

Discussion questions:

  1. What criteria  have you set for adding widgets to your blog?
  2. Do you have a blog on which you are currently using follower widgets?
  3. If you are a WordPress.COM blogger and a followers widget is introduced at WordPress.COM will you use it?
  4. Why or why not?

 

Grab my button code, generator and tutorials

onecoolsite grab button Would you like to allow your blogging buddies  to copy a button/banner code so that they can help promote your blog by linking back to your blog from theirs? If so, then if you use Blogger or WordPress there are tutorials for creating your “grab my button” code and displaying it, and a generator too. Continue reading

Align Images: HTML Tables for WordPress Blogs

sad girlAligning multiple images in a WordPress blog in an attractive and organized manner is frequently problematic, most particularly for new bloggers. They often ask:  Why don’t my images align the way I want them to?

This second HTML table tutorial is aimed  answering that question and providing a solution.  After wrestling with alignment and spacing in the editor, I discovered placing images in HTML tables  in my WordPress blog presented them extremely well and was easy to do, provided your theme does support HTML tables but not all themes do.

Continue reading

OMG! My Pictures Are Gone!

media library iconIf you  discover that your images are missing from your wordpress blog posts and/or you are seeing  seeing broken images in posts the problem could be that you have deleted the images from your Media Library. If the images are not in the Media Library, you’ll need to edit the post, remove any broken code,  and upload and insert the missing images into it. 

This is how thesacredpath explains it:

Don’t delete images from the Media Library if you want to see them on your posts and pages.

Images are not embedded in posts or pages. They are linked to from  image you uploaded into the Media Library. The browser sees the image code in the post or page and then retrieves the image from the Media Library and displays it where the code is positioned within the post or page.

That is the way the web works. Any image, on any page, anywhere on the web, anywhere in the world, has to be exist somewhere on the web or it cannot be displayed.

If you open any post or page on your blog in the editor that has an image, you will see HTML code something like this:

<img src="http://somewhere.com/image.jpg">

That code tells the browser where to find the image so that it can display it in the post or page. If you upload an image to your media library and insert it into a post or page, and then delete that image from the media library, then the browser can no longer retrieve the image to display it. The image does not exist at that location anymore.

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Protecting your images online from theft

The Perfect Watermark
Image by Jayel Aheram via Flickr

Updated: June 4, 2010 Watermarking any images you place on your blog or website is a practice used in addition to posting a copyright notice or license, and both are used to deter image theft. I have previously reviewed several free watermark generators available online that can be used to display copyright on your images either one at a time or in bulk, prior to uploading them to your blog. This article provides a link to another approach to deterring online image theft that you may wish to consider using.

… here’s a technique for you to make it just a bit harder for someone to get your images. Here, right-click on the image and click on Save Image As or Save Picture As to save it on your computer. See what you “saved”.  — Cover Your Images

Updated: June 4, 2010 Protecting your images from online theft and reblogging

If you need more help then devblog has provided it in a forum thread:

wp.com users cannot add/edit the HTML (or in this case the PHP) files. I’ll try to explain as best as I can.You know, when you add a photo to your post, you click the media button, upload the image to your blog (or link it from another URL) then you click the “insert into post”, right?

Well, after doing that, you would switch to the HTML Editor, then you will see the HTML code that’s behind your post. After switching to the HTML editor, you would need to replace the existing HTML for the image that you just added with the code I provided; of course, you would need to make the necessary changes so that your image is displayed. Basically, the only things you would need to change in the inline CSS are the values of the “background” property as well as the “width” and “height” properties. Those would be the bits in capital letters:  (minus the square brackets)

[<img style="background: transparent url(YOUR-IMG-URL) 0 0 no-repeat; border: 0; height: IMG-HEIGHT; margin: 0 auto; padding: 0; width: IMG-WIDTH;" src="http://tfockler60.files.wordpress.com/YEAR/MONTH/nothing.gif" alt="Helghan Soldier" title="Helghan Soldier" width="IMG-WIDTH" height="IMG-HEIGHT" />]

You would also have to upload the "nothing.gif" to your blog and point to it as shown in the example above (that's why I put YEAR and MONTH in caps because those will be different in your case).

You'd have to repeat this process with every image you want to post (however, you won't have to upload "nothing.gif" everytime you want to do this because you can always point to the same image).

The drawback is that it can be a laborious task if you have LOTS of images...

See also >  Google Webmaster Central > "Hiding text or links in your content can cause your site to be perceived as untrustworthy since it presents information to search engines differently than to visitors. "  Hidden text, links, images, javacript, videos

Related posts found in this blog:
Thumbs down on WordPress reblogging
How to copyright your digital work
Copyright basics for bloggers
What is copyright?

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Gravatar, Avatar, Blavatar

A screenshot of English Wikipedia in Firefox o...
Image via Wikipedia

I have a single image that I use as my Gravatar/Avatar, and Blavatar (favicon) on this blog, but I could use a different image for my Blavatar, if I wanted to. I’m considering which image to use and I’m accepting reader suggestions.

The definitions of gravatar/ avatar and blavatar maybe confusing to some as they certainly were to me, so let’s clear that up by going to the source. Let’s also find the instructions, and best practices for creating a gravatar/avatar and blavatar.

“A Gravatar is an image that follows you from site to site appearing beside your name when you do things like comment or post on a blog. Avatars help identify your posts on blogs and web forums, so why not on any site?”

“On WordPress.com, an Avatar is associated with the email address in your user profile. We use the Gravatar service on WordPress.com to power your user avatar and because Automattic owns both companies, we are able to link your accounts automatically between the two sites.

If you have set an Avatar, it will be displayed when you post to the forums, when you comment on blogs, and if one of your posts is displayed in any of the WordPress.com community features.”

“A Blavatar is a term we came up with by combining Blog + Avatar. A Blavatar is an image associated with a blog. It will be displayed as the favicon for your blog, which shows up in a browser’s address bar and on browser tabs. It will show up in the comments section of a blog if you send out any pingbacks. If anyone create a shortcut to your blog on their iPhone it will also be used as the icon there.”

Below are the best practices for successfully uploading your Gravatar, Avatar and/or Blavatar images:

(1)  Choose an image that does not have any transparency in it and  scales both up and down in size without losing definition. Prepare the image prior to uploading it and make sure it’s 512 x 512 pixels or larger so it will look the best in the widest range of uses.

(2)  The image filetype has to be either PNG, GIF, JPG or JPEG. Make sure the file name contains only letters and numbers – no special characters – and make sure all letters are in lowercase.

(3)  Also make sure the image file name has an extension (Example – image.jpg)

(4)  Be sure your image is saved in  the sRGB color profile.

(5)  Note that there is a time delay while your gravatar image propagates. If you are experiencing problems then go to the gravatar site and read the FAQs as it contains common questions and answers to them

Related posts found in this blog:
How to get your gravatar
Gravatars included in upcoming WordPress release
Got your gravatar yet?

WordPress.com Christmas Goodies

wordpress.com hoilday desktop wallpaperThe free hosted users of wordpress.com have many free features on their blogs and the list of features is growing longer day by day. This year we have already had some Christmas goodies made available to us and I’m not referring to the return of a favorite ie. a little snow for the holidays. We now have wordpress.com holiday desktop wallpaper in seven different sizes, and more goodies are on the way. Continue reading

Free Christmas blog headers and graphics

Updated December 2013. I like making my own blog headers so I’m always on the watch for free photos and graphics. I have been surfing the net and have located some sites that provide free Christmas blog headers and other graphics that I’d like to share with my readers.
Christmas Graphics

  1. Free Christmas PowerPoint Backgrounds
  2. Christmas photos and Christmas images
  3. 35 High Quality Free Christmas Vector Graphics
  4. Public Domain Christmas Pictures
  5. Free Christmas Graphics
  6. Free Christmas Divider Graphics 
  7. Free Christmas header art
  8. Free blog header – Christmas Holly
  9. Free Christmas wallpapers
  10. Animated Christmas banners
  11. Christmas Pictures 
  12. iHolidayClipart
  13. Free Christmas Graphics and Clipart
  14. Free Christmas-related clipart images

Related posts found in this blog:
Free Christmas countdown tickers for your blog
How to add a countdown ticker to your blog

Free Christmas countdown tickers for your blog

xmascatUpdated December 2012.

Yesterday, I located  free 57 Christmas countdown banners (468 pixels x 60 pixels) for you to use on your home page of your website, in blog posts and pages,  or in your email signatures. They use a CGI script to automatically count down the days remaining until Christmas.  I tested them  and the code works on wordpress.COM blogs! Continue reading

Free Cartoons and Drawings for Your Blog

doodle old tree seeking forest to join
It’s officially “the holiday season” and if you wish to spruce up your blog there are free seasonal graphics on the internet you can use to create headers for your blog and sidebar decorations. But I’m about to share with you the sites of two bloggers, who are generously offer free cartoons and drawings to fellow bloggers all year round.

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Aviary for Image Capture, Editing and Effects

aviary graphicAviary is a powerful suite of browser-based design tools for people who create.  This addon for quick screen capture  will perform a screen capture and then open the image instantly in a basic image editor where you can do markup (draw arrows and rectangles), edit (crop, rotate and resize) and get the exact pixel colors of the image.

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Ten Free Online Image Compression and Optimization Programs

Optimized-frost2All images ought to be optimized and re-sized prior to uploading them into your blog. When you decrease the file size for images before you insert them into your blog, uploads and pages will load faster,  you can fit more images into the same space, and using the correct tools means you will not compromise the quality of the image.

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Are you surfing the Google Wave?

Google-Wave-logoAll over the internet we see people saying they have an invitation to try out Google Wave, or crying the blues because they haven’t received one as yet. The two videos below Google Wave Developer Preview at Google I/O 2009 and  Google Wave Overview explain what riding the wave is all about.  It’s an open source personal communication and collaborative tool.

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Social Media Fad or Revolution?

aroundtheworld.jpgIs social media a fad? Or is it the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution?

In the past few years, many social media sites have become huge hits with users. Flickr is a premier photo sharing site and del.icio.us has become a major hub for sharing website recommendations. Twitter passed 50 million unique visitors worldwide in July, according to comScore, reaching 51.6 million UVs at the end of the month. Both Google and Yahoo have purchased social networking sites and many more companies, such as Disney.com and Time Magazine, have revamped their websites to include social networking capabilities.
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Blogging: SEO images enhance your posts

While it’s not always necessary to include images in your posts  doing so adds interest and eye appeal.  Also when it comes to bringing search engine traffic to blogs, images  do that. Even if readers do not like your posts, image searches can bring your blog hits. This post contains tips for SEO of images.

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Blogging: Strategies for reducing page loading time

slow page loading time infuriates

It’s important for bloggers to keep in mind that at least half of all internet users are currently using dial up connections.

What that means to us is that half of our visitors are downloading the pages at about 3-4 kilobytes per second. And it’s estimated that if a page has not loaded with within 3- 5 seconds we can stand to lose one third of our visitors.

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Personalizing your WordPress.com blog: Part 2 – Custom Image Headers

Custom Image Headers by Guest Author Roads

Introduction

Many of the WordPress.com theme templates feature image headers, and these offer the perfect way to personalize your blog, right from the top.

This post provides some tips on how to use image headers, and how to make them work best for your site.

roads of stone front page with custom header image by roadsofstone

I’ll also post some of my own header images at the foot of this post, formatted for the Cutline theme, which you can download and use for yourself if you wish.

How to load a new image header

Header images come in different shapes and sizes, depending on the theme used.

cutline theme for wordpress com by chris pearson

Presently, I am using Cutline on my sites, which features a 770 x 140 pixel header. The theme has a default header image, but it’s possible to change this under

Dashboard -> Appearance -> Custom Header -> Upload New Header Image

where you can add your own header image by uploading the file from your computer. Bear in mind that it’s not presently possible to select an image from elsewhere on the internet or even from your site’s Media Library unless you have downloaded it onto your computer first.

Cropping and resizing header images

You can crop and resize your images directly in WordPress.com, but if you can it’s always best to optimize your image before uploading it. Check the pixel size of the image headers used for your choice of theme, and resize your image accordingly using image software.

irfanview image softwareI use the freeware IrfanView but you might prefer PhotoShop or PaintShopPro instead.

Header image file sizes

Whichever package you use, try to limit the image header file size — compressing to 30kB works well. Less compressed header images will slow down the loading time of all the pages on your site and this will frustrate readers working with slower internet connections.

Composition and header images

Bear in mind that an image which works in portrait format may not be effective once cropped into the horizontally elongated formats which are required for most blog image headers. Landscapes, night panoramas, city skylines and sunsets work well, though — and anything which features a horizon is likely to create a strong visual design impression at the top of your blog.

Likewise, the standard compositional ‘rules’ for placing skylines and points of interest which apply for standard 3:4 or 2:3 image dimensions may not work so well with horizontally elongated images. You’ll have to experiment with different crops to see what works best on your site.

roadsofstone image with text added in irfanviewAdding lettering to an image

You can add simple text directly onto your image directly in IrfanView.

Select a box in the part of the image where you want the text to go, and then follow

Edit -> Inset text into selection…

and then choose your font size and colour as desired.

Header images and branding

Clearly, you’ll want to find custom image headers which help establish the ‘brand’ of your blog. You might choose to incorporate a logo into your header, for example, and at the very least you’ll want the image to show a subject which is relevant to your blog.

Rotating custom image headers

Chris Pearson describes a widget for WordPress.org blogs which allows the random rotation of custom header images. That feature isn’t yet available at WordPress.com, but it’s easy to change custom image headers around to rotate them manually on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

Using header images as update clues

I like to go further, and where possible I aim to load a new header image every time I post. This helps to keep the site looking fresh, and it also means that I can select an image which is directly relevant to my latest writing.

Just as importantly, I’ve found that refreshing the image header with each new post provides an instant visual clue to your readers that the site has been updated. Right from the top, your new image header will catch the eye and let your visitors know that there’s new material posted on your blog.

Captions for header images

Although you can use IrfanView to add text directly onto your header image, there’s not presently a facility for adding captions below your header images in the same way that you can do this for images within a post.

example of masthead image caption and attribution by roadsofstoneHowever, it’s straightforward to add a caption, and a source link if you wish, at the top of your sidebar.

Go to

Dashboard -> Appearance -> Widgets …

add a text widget to the top of the sidebar, click on the widget and compose the caption text you need. Don’t forget to click ‘done’ and ”save changes’ afterwards or else any modifications you make to widgets will (annoyingly) be lost.

Free image headers

Finally, as promised, here is a selection of image headers from my own photography which I’ve previously featured at roads of stone.

Please feel free to use them under the terms of a Creative Commons Licence. An attribution to me as author would be welcome if you’ve found this post useful.

Wishing you all the best of luck, and enjoy personalizing your image headers.

Atlantic Ocean Bermuda by roadsofstone

Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda by roadsofstone

river wey st catherine's lock guildford england by roadsofstone

River Wey at St Catherine’s Lock, Guildford, England by roadsofstone

winter nightfall in almeria spain by roadsofstone

Nightfall in Almería, Spain by roadsofstone

the strength of shiny metal almeria spain crop by roadsofstone

The strength of shiny metal, Almería, Spain by roadsofstone

epsom racecourse surrey england tattenham corner 2 crop by roadsofstone

Epsom Racecourse, Surrey, England by roadsofstone

burgundy vineyards near roche solutre maconnais france by roadsofstone

Burgundy vineyards near Roche Solutré, Maconnais, France by roadsofstone

the future of green houston texas usa by roadsofstone

The future of green, Houston, Texas, USA by roadsofstone

houston-texas-morning-skyline-december-2007-by-roadsofstone

Houston, Texas, USA — morning skyline by roadsofstone

dream world internet cafe and child poverty kenya august 2007 by roadsofstone

Dream World internet cafe and child poverty, Kenya by roadsofstone

dawn, masai mara kenya august 2007 by roadsofstone

Dawn on the Masai Mara, Kenya, August 2007 by roadsofstone

dawn, masai mara kenya august 2007 by roadsofstone

Hogsmill River, Ewell, Surrey, England by roadsofstone

clopton bridge stratford-upon-avon england crop by roadsofstone

Clopton Bridge, Stratford-upon-Avon, England by roadsofstone

camber-sands-panorama-east-sussex-england-by-roadsofstone

Camber Sands panorama, East Sussex, England by roadsofstone

st marthas churchyard in snow at sundown guildford england Feb 2009 by roadsofstone

St Martha’s churchyard in snow at sundown, February 2009 by roadsofstone

Related posts found in this blog:

Personalizing Your WordPress.com Blog

Changing Your Blog? Start With the Colors

Blog Design: Which colors do you use and why?

Swing into Summer: New Themes and Headers

Why having a well designed blog is important

Widgets: Less is More

Easily extract and convert video and audio files

Sharing music, pictures and videos  online has become popular among bloggers.  Roads of  The Price of Love features  music regularly, and sometimes  posts video, too. He has prepared a tutorial that will be useful to all bloggers who need to extract, convert and export video and audio files from digital cameras, mobile phones and YouTube and I’d like to draw reader attention to it. Continue reading

Music in WordPress.com using goear and deezer

Updated May 31, 2010

The blog the tutorial is on has been made “private” and it’s no longer available.

Recently, we posted a link to a method for WordPress.com bloggers to post music playlists using last.fm and playlist.com.

Now Roads, our sometime guest blogger here, has posted a further tutorial showing how to post individual songs using two internationally-based music sites at goear.com and deezer.com.

The method provides a method for linking to an individual track from one of your posts. And the two music sites are definitely worth checking out as well! Click the tutorial link in the paragraph above and get the instructions.

add to del.icio.us :: Add to Blinkslist :: add to furl :: Digg it :: add to ma.gnolia :: Stumble It! :: seed the vine :: reddit :: furl :: TailRank