Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘Blogging Tips’

Welcome Back

WordPress have launched a scheme to encourage you to post daily or weekly, from this I gather lots of people start blogs and for one reason or another end up neglecting them. If you find yourself in that group, here is one way out of the ‘It’s all too much’ trap – a four step plan to save your blogging sanity and get your life back ;) 

There was a campaign popular a few years back that had people post the badge ‘Blogging without obligation’ on their blogs. At the time I hadn’t the experience to know how to add a badge to my blog but I totally agreed with its sentiment. I started this blog all excited about sharing finished projects and ideas and things were great, then my creative inspiration went on holiday for a bit (as they do from time to time). Eeek, I was due to post today but I haven’t made anything; I’ve nothing to say, eek. Another problem that hampers me frequently is either computer problems or internet connection issues. These things have a habit of going wonky on you, just as you have an important post you want to share.  Does all this sound familiar? Is this one of the reasons blogging went from fun to just another chore you resent doing? If so, read on; there is a way out of this circle of sadness ;)

How to put the Fun back into Blogging

There are many reasons people blog. I am writing this for people who write creative blogs like this one, those sharing photos and stories or photos and projects. As this is where my experience lies.

Step 1 – Blog without Obligation

You started a blog because you wanted to share something. Your passion on a particular subject, your finished pieces, what ever it is that got you blogging, I’m guessing it was close to your heart. If things have changed and your passion on a subject has changed, that’s OK! Either create a new blog on your latest exciting hobby, or if your blog has a title that can cover the new subject, evolve what you have. Blog because you want to, about things that make your heart sing. Wait till you have something to say, rather than posting because you think you ‘should’.

Step 2 – Keep it Simple

Now I’m not talking about simplifying what you talk about or show – that is specific to your blog and your audience. What I mean is, a blog that is about too many diverse subjects can be hard work on your readers. No one said you can only have one blog ;)  Dedicate one to the pets ‘n’ family, another to the hobby etc.

Step 3 – A Change is as Good as a Rest

Fed up with the look and feel of your blog? If your blog is on WordPress, there are loads of different themes to choose from. Although your blog name is set, you will be surprised at how different your blog will look in different themes. Give a few a try see what you think ;) If you are sharing a lot of information with your blog, do go for quiet background though; if you have a busy background, it’s harder to concentrate on long written posts.  Try to match your theme to the tone of your blogs content.

Step 4 – If you Want to Get Ahead, Get Ahead

OK here’s where you gotta put the time in. WordPress and many other blog hosts have this wonderful feature called ‘scheduled posting’. It’s the thing you might use to get posts to go up on your blog while you were on holiday. This is your new best friend! To get around unstable technology and internet supplies and to keep some time in your day for the rest of your life use ‘Scheduled posting’. Here’s how it works:

Lets say you were writing a simple ‘Picture and Paragraph’ style of blog. You post a picture of a finished project, with a paragraph about what inspired you to create it or what you used in the project. Lets also assume you are wanting to start to post once a week.

  1. Create or find 4 finished projects.
  2. Photograph your projects and get the photos onto your computer. Edit them as required.
  3. Open your blog and write a post in the normal way, add your photograph and then instead of publish now, click on the date and type in the date you would like your post to go ‘live’ on your blog. On WordPress it will now say ‘Scheduled for: [and the date and time you asked for]‘.
  4. In our example you would choose a day and then post each of your projects for the same day of the week for the next four weeks.

You have just bought yourself a month’s breathing space. To keep your sanity, you now need to work out a schedule that you can manage. Its better to post regularly, than only now and then. If you want to post once a month, choose a day, say first Monday and stick to posting on that first Monday of each month, so your readers know when to expect new content.

Some Drafts are Good

Another option is to ride the inspiration while it lasts and make as many projects as you can, when you are having a creative patch. Photograph things as you make them and write and save posts as you go, save them as drafts. In a while you will have a nice little library to choose from, when your creative mojo goes AWOL again.

With both these options, you don’t need to fear computer issues or internet gremlins spoiling the fun. The trick is to stay ahead. I try to work about 2 weeks ahead of posting dates, but with a bank of drafts as just-in-case projects ;) This has been a really helpful especially when I’ve got injured and am unable to create for a while.

The best thing is all your projects are stored online when you post ahead of time like this, so worst case scenario that your computer expires, if you have access to online from another machine you can get some stuff up from your drafts and buy time till your machine is repaired or replaced ;)

Make time for the things you love to do, photograph as you go, and post when the computer is out. Take the stress away and make time to play :) as the Meerkat says ‘Simples’ :)

Best wishes and thanks for reading see you soon,

Billie :)

Read Full Post »

Welcome Back

Lighting

In today’s post I will share a few tips on how to improve the lighting in your films. In the previous installment of this series, the ‘homework’ was to have a play with your camera and film in several locations and to play back your films.  So how did you get on?

If you are like me on a limited budget but still need extra lighting to improve your films then read on. The thing that surprised me most when I started filming, was just how much light was needed to stop a film looking dark! Areas which I thought were well lit, came out extremely dark on film.

Getting Extra Light

  • Daylight; This was a tip from Suzi Blu but she was right. I filmed right next to a window on a bright day and this was a good light to film in.
  • Anglepoise lamps; I used an anglepoise lamp with a daylight bulb in next to the camera and this improved the lighting.
  • Smaller Desk lamps; You can get extendable desk lamps in WHSmiths for under £10. get a couple and put them either side of your work and this helps eliminate some of the shadows. 

Links

These films shows some more lighting suggestions, all made by Video Maker.com

Lighting Techniques 101

Three Point Lighting Helps reduce shadows

Cheap Lighting Solutions

 

If you would like to see the videos I’ve made so far, here is my home on You Tube.

 

Coming up in Part 5:

Edit your film using your Computer. How a little editing can improve your film.

 

Best wishes and thanks for watching/reading, see you soon

Billie :)

Read Full Post »

Welcome Back

Choosing a Place to Film

In today’s post I’ll cover some tips on how to decide where to film your project. Here is where you get to play!! There isn’t a film maker worth anything who didn’t spend even a little time trying out ideas, before they went public with the results. To get the best you can from your film, spend a while playing with different set ups and locations and play back the results. Choose which location, best suits the projects you are filming.

Getting Started

  • Gather your filming equipment and set it up.
  • Ensure you have a charged battery,  and if you have a camera that uses film, that you have film in it.
  • Attach the camera to the tripod and you are ready to go.
  • Next gather the sort of items you wish to be in your film.
  • Remember this is just a trial run, if you are going to try a project tutorial, like I make, have a few pieces of paper in the colours you often use and some of the tools you would use for a project on your table.
  • Experiment with different camera angles/views and also where you film.
  • Press record and have a play.

This is just a rehersal to learn which locations are best to film in, you don’t need hours of film at this stage, just have fun. 

One of the things to decide early on, is weather or not you want to be seen by the camera.

  • Where you position the camera will affect whether it can see you or not! 
  • If you don’t want to be in the film; set up the camera in front of you but pointing straight down onto your table.
  • You will need to rotate your camera’s screen so you can see what it is looking at. You don’t HAVE to constantly stare into the screen but you will get a much better result if you keep an eye on it when filming to make sure what you are doing stays in shot!
  • If you do want to be in front of the camera; do make sure that your audience ‘ie the camera’ can see what you are doing. A wide shot will show lots of you and your surroundings but if you are doing a film to show the world how to do a technique, they will need a ‘closer’ look to see what is happening.
  • If you have a friend who can be your cameraman/woman, they can zoom in for detail and back out, to focus on you when you are just talking.

As you know I don’t appear on camera in  my films, here is the set up which works well… on a bright day anyway

 

This set up works for me on a bright day

This set up works for me on a bright day

 

As you can see the camera is right next to a window so uses natural lighting, I have placed white paper on the table to make the film as bright as possible. I used this set up for my first Cuttlebug film.

 

For a Great Film…Make a Plan

  • Don’t rush a project, but do have a plan. LONG descriptions on films are time consuming and can be boring to watch. Short projects, with short step by step sections, keep the viewer interested. I will describe how adding transitions during the editing stage can break up longer sequences in Part 5 of this tutorial series.
  • In  previous articles, I wrote about how to plan what to put on a blog and how to write tutorials. You will achieve much better videos with just a little time and thought planning what you want to achieve, before you film. Follow the links to the earlier articles, which will help you decide what you might consider before filming.

 

I’ve made a film, what’s Next?

If you have found the perfect location and have filmed an entire project, play it back to view what you have produced. Unless you are really happy with what you have created, don’t yet feel tempted to upload it anywhere just yet.  Before you upload your video to the world, if you can bare to hold on to your creation just a little longer, have a look at some more of this series of articles.

Editing the film, however great you think it is right now, will make a huge difference to the finished result. Editing isn’t just about cutting out the bits that might have gone wrong, but also adding titles, pictures and maybe narration if you have filmed in silence.

Coming up in Part 4:

Lighting;  How you can improve the lighting for your film.

 

Links

This video by Erin Michelle is another way to record your film, if you want to stay out of shot :) 

If you would like to see the videos I’ve made so far, here is my home on You Tube.

 

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

 

Billie :)

Read Full Post »

Welcome Back

What do I need to start filming?

There are a few things that you will definitely need, to start making films for your blog. The first is a camcorder or camera, the second is a tripod. You may need extra lighting, but that will be discussed in a later article.

Camera

The camcorder I use is a Sony Handycam DCR-SR36. This is a nice sturdy one for the size, without being too bulky or technical for the newbie to use (that’s me too!) I’ve been using it since December 2008 and have been very pleased with the results. I haven’t used other camcorders so I can’t give my usual unbiased opinion ;)

Given that you are considering adding films to your blog, I admit that I thought you would already have a camera at hand or you wouldn’t be considering this medium. Just in case this series inspires and you to want to start filming but want more information on equipment, I have included links to a couple of sites at the end of the post.  These links will be able to give you more detailed advice on specific equipment and how to choose between different models.

Tripod

One piece of equipment that is an essential for getting better results from which ever camera you choose, is a tripod. This will leave you hands free to demonstrate ideas and techniques and reduce any camera-shake that can happen when you try to film without one. This is one of those pieces of equipment that you are better to spend a little more on, to have a better quality tripod. I’m not saying you have to look at three figure prices but a cheap wobbly tripod isn’t worth having.

Things to consider when choosing a Tripod

  • Size; Try out a table top tripod as well as a standard one. They give different results but which you choose will depend on the type of film you are making. So personal preference rules.
  • Weight; If you think you might need to travel with your camera and kit, weight will be an issue. If you are working at home, then go for a heavier version. A heavier tripod will be more stable than a very light weight one. 
  • Price; You get what you pay for! Before you skimp on a tripod remember how much your camera cost. The safety of your camera depends on the stability of your tripod. Very cheap tripods are often less sturdy than the more expensive ones. You don’t want to put a heavy camera on a light, flimsy tripod, or it might fall over! Literally!
  • Stability; If possible, when you are in a store comparing models of tripod, fully extend all of its legs. See how substantial, or not the maximum extension is.

 

So What Do You Use

My Tripod is; Velbon Delta, it is a good weight without being too heavy.

  

Links

To make up for my lack of knowledge on this area, here are some links to those who will give you far more useful and in depth information than I could begin to.

Video Maker.Com This is a wonderful resource as it not only gives you tips it also compares equipment and software

Video Maker on You Tube; All kinds of really useful information about making your own films

Selecting a Camera, Tripod and Microphone for web video. Also by Video Maker

 

If you would like to see the videos I’ve made so far, here is my home on You Tube.

 

Coming up in Part 3:

Place to Film; How to decide what location is best for you to film in.

 

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie :)

Read Full Post »

Welcome Back

Introduction to Blogging Part Six;

Links to Inspiration

Another way to add interest to your blog is to add links to other artists who inspire you. If others are writing about similar topics to you or have created something you love, consider adding a link to their work. You could either link to their website’s home page if you enjoy all their work or to the specific post that you are refering to.

Please don’t be tempted to ‘lift’ pictures from others blogs to put in your own, even if your intention was to say how great the work is. Lifting pictures without the owners permission is not only rude, it is infringing the owners copyright. If you really want to add someone elses picture, contact them and ask permission first.

What I tend to do is have a link section at the bottom of my posts if I have been inspired by the work of others and then say this is what inspired me to make ‘x’ project.

If you want to link to a specific post by someone here’s how to do it.

  • Go to the blog article you are interested in
  • Click on the articles title
  • Copy (Control (and)  C)  the new web address that is displayed in your web browser
  • Paste (Control (and) V) the address into your own post

If you have linked to another blog or website do add the name of the blog to your entry as well as a link to a specific post. A little blog love goes a long way, it is a great way to share your intersets with others. Just as long as you give credit where credit is due. Sharing ideas and making your own projects inspired by others is great, but play nice taking someones ideas and replicating them without their permission or credit is not.

 

Written articles have been covered by this series;

Introduction to Blogging

 

If the idea/project you wish to share can be simply described in a series of photographs with descriptions, then these articles will have covered most options you could use to add them to your blog. However, if you have a more complicated project,  then cosider using video to share your idea.   If you have the technology available to you this can be a great way to cover more complicated ideas.

There will be a new series of articles here in April. These will be covering topics to consider when using video for you blog.

Read Full Post »

Welcome Back

Introduction to Blogging Part Five;

Product Reviews

In this article I’ll describe how I put together my reviews. An important point to make clear at the start of any review is that unless you do work for the manufacturer, that your review is a personal opinion, based on the experience you have had with the item. Your reader will not know that you don’t work for the company and if you have an authoritative style of writing could easily think that you did. 

Introduction;

This is where I write a short paragraph to describe what I will be reviewing. Including a back story as to how or why I bought/received the product.

Photograph;

It is a good idea to include at least one photograph of the item you review

Details;

This would be the manufacturers name, the brand name, item name and any other descriptive information included with the product. For a book I would include ISBN number.

 

Keep in mind when you write the why from Part two. Why would someone read this. What would you want to know if you were considering buying the item.

 

Purpose;

Describe what the item does, what it is designed for.

Pros/Cons

List what is good about the item and what could be better. Rather than a rant about why you hate it, consider making a more constructive comment like ‘this ‘?’ would be improved if…’

Build Quality

Is the product robust and well made? Here is where to add a description about how well put together and how well the item works.

Value for Money;

 This is where to write if you think the item is worth the price. There is little value including the price, as the article could be read some time after it was published, by which time the price may well have changed. If you do include a price add ‘the price at the time this article was written is…’

Good value for money;

Items that are worth the price tag for how well the product performs or how useful it is. 

Poor Value for money;

Items that you feel were over priced for what the item does, perhaps you feel the item doesn’t work as well as the price tag suggests it should.

It is very important to have given details such as pros/cons and build quality and to explain the reasons for your value for money mark. It is also vital to state that this is just your opinion based on what you wanted to use the item for and how well lit did or didn’t do that. This gives a balanced review. Other people may use the item differently or want it for a different purpose to you.

For example, for a tool to which you give a con mark, because you think it is too heavy to carry around to a class, give details as to how much the item weighs so that others can decide for themselves as to weather they would consider it heavy. Your reader might say weight is not an issue for me, as I don’t want to take this to classes.

Would I buy It Again?

List your reason or reasons as to why you would or wouldn’t buy the item again, knowing what you do now having tried it.

Links;

Give links to the manufacturers of the product to enable your reader to discover if there is a store near them. Also add a link to the item itself on the manufacturers site, to enable your reader to look up any details they wish.

 

Remember you are not trying to sell the product,  just giving a review of how you got on with an item. 

 

In the next instalment

Part 6; Links to Inspiration

 

Written articles have been covered by this series;

Introduction to Blogging Series

 

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

Billie

Read Full Post »

Welcome Back

Introduction to Blogging Part Four;

Tutorials

Today’s article is about how I write my tutorials. I think of tutorials as recipes, if someones reads the article and wants to replicate the project, what do they need to know.  Keeping in mind the ‘What, How and Why’ concept from Part Two,  Here is the thought process I use.

Introduction;

This covers the what, with a picture of a finished piece, the why is covered by some suggestions as to the uses for the project, or the reason it was created.

You Will Need;

Here is where to write a list of all the items needed to reproduce the project. This covers the how.

Method;

Break the project into small steps and describe what is happening in each step. Add a photographs which show clear pictures of what you are describing.

Result;

This is a good place to add a few pictures of finished pieces at the end of the article. Different views of the project for example. This is to reward the viewer for sticking with you and reading to the end.

Added Extras;

This is a place to include ideas for taking the project a few steps further, for the more advanced crafter. Leave people room to take the project where they want to go with it.

Links;

Add links to manufacturers websites of the products used in the tutorial. Since the web can give you a global audience, linking to the shop down the road from you is not helpful to someone on the other side of the world. Manufacturers sites generally list ‘Find a stockist near you’ section on their websites, from which your readers will be able to find stores near to them.

Thank You;

Manners count even on-line. I always sign off thanking poeple for reading.

 

Coming up in Part 5; Reviews

In this installment I will share my thought process for product/book reviews. Part 5; Adding Product Reviews

 

Written articles have been covered by this series;

Introduction to Blogging Series

 

Best wishes and thanks for reading, see you soon

 

Billie :)

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 257 other followers