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I’ve moved!

For those of you who follow my blog via the WordPress email option or site option you should know that I’ve moved. My blog is still at the same url (RosemaryJayne.com), but I’ve “gone self-hosted” so I’m not here at WordPress.com anymore. Please come and check it out!

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Dealing with Spam Comments

I know I’m not alone in this one – spam comments. They try and appear on every blog, thankfully if you set up your commenting system “correctly” then they don’t appear to everyone else.

Top Rated Lad!

is one comment that amused me particularly. If the person had taken 2 seconds to glance at my sidebar then they would have seen my photo. I’m a gal, not a lad!

So, how do you prevent them?
With WordPress.com Akismet is pre-installed and activated, it’s an anti-spam plugin that automatically filters comments and decides the obvious spam links for you. On Self-Hosted WordPress/Wordpress.org the plugin comes pre-installed, you just have to activate it and get your API Key (check out your dashboard > Plugins for more information – it tells you what to do with it).
Blogger has its own system built-in.

The other thing to do is to make sure that every commenter has to be approved the first time they comment. Yes this will eat some of your time, but it means that anything that comes through Akismet will be vetted by you first.
In WordPress (hosted and self-hosted) you can set this by going to Settings > Discussion And then under Before a comment appears: tick the second box that says “Comment author must have a previously approved comment”. I wouldn’t tick the first box that says “An administrator must always approve the comment.” as this makes a lot of extra work for you, however if you’re finding a lot of comments “slip through” the process and look like spam then by all means turn it on.

How do you decide what is a spam comment?
This is a hard one, sometimes your gut will just tell you that it’s not “real”, other times there are obvious clues – company or website names instead of human ones, including unrelated links to websites in the comment – this means you should check the links out. If they’ve linked to a post they’ve written on the subject then definitely leave it in. Sometimes your gut instinct might be wrong (it seems fake because their level of English is poor – but in fact they just struggle with the language), but in general go with it.

Should you edit a comment?
This is quite controversial, and as a general rule I would say not to edit comments, however there are always exceptions. For example, someone leaves a great comment, and then at the end chucks in a link to their website – not a specific post, but the homepage, and moreover it’s not related to your blog in any way. Here you could edit the comment to remove the link, and then simply put a link in such as “Unrelated link removed by administrator.”. Be wary of doing this, and perhaps send a quick email to the comment author letting them know you’ve done it – and that if they wish to link to their website there is a link above the box of the comment itself.

What are your favorite spam comments you’ve received?


Definition: Favicon

Yesterday I mentioned a favicon was one thing you could use to customize your WordPress template. But what exactly is it?

Favicon is actually short for Favourites Icon – meaning the icon/picture you see next to a bookmark in your bookmarks bar or menu. It is also usually displayed in the address bar and on the tab.

Favicons are usually 16x16px (pretty small) so any design has to be quite simple. I would recommend that you change your site Favicon to something other than the default (as this is usually the logo of your blog platform – why promote them when you could promote yourself?).

What “blogging terms” would you like to be defined?


The Super Simple Guide to Customizing Your WordPress Theme

I’ve had several people ask how I created my blog theme here, who I paid, etc. And I’ve decided to reveal my “big secret” – it took me 20 minutes to customize my blog theme. I’m serious, granted it took me at least 20 minutes to choose my base theme but after that I spent the same amount of time customizing it and it was done. So – do you want to know how to do it?

  1. Choose your base theme. This was definitely the hardest part for me, I selected at least 15 themes from the WordPress.com database and eventually settled on Clean Home by Mid Mo Design. It’s a free theme but it had a simple design and one killer feature I was looking for – a background separate from the main content background. This is how I’ve got the grey logo behind everything, and white behind my text.
  2. Choose your colour scheme. If you’re not 100% confident on your ability to choose colours then try to stick to a neutral theme. This is why my blog is grey and white with just a hint of blue. I originally had my heart set on purple (it’s my favourite color) – but decided that it might be “too girly” and possibly drive some visitors away from my blog. I like to use Adobe Kuler to play around with the colors and see how they look.
  3. Create a tileable background or choose a background colour. This was the second hardest part. I actually created my header first as I wasn’t sure about the colors so I did quite a bit of playing around there. If you’re going to make a tileable background I would recommend opening photoshop, making a square canvas and going from there. Check out the dimensions of the image WordPress will want you to upload. In my case it was not a square, so I had to tile the image across the width myself. If you want to keep things dead simple then simply choose a background colour. You can find all of this in Admin->Appearance->Background.
  4. Create a header. Check out the dimensions WordPress wants for the header in Admin->Appearance->Header and open a canvas that size in photoshop. Play around with the fonts but keep things in black and white until you’ve decided on the font and spacing – then feel free to go a little nuts with the colors.
  5. Create a favicon. The Favicon is the little box you see next to the post title in your tab/window headline. I simply scaled down the background logo, (to 15x15px) and added some color but you could choose something else. Upload your choice in Admin->Settings->General and voila! Your own Favicon.

I will confess to having used Photoshop for many years and a little experience with design. If you’re in doubt then keep it really simple and just pick one key color and keep the rest in shades of that and/or grey.

Do you have any questions about blog design?


New Year, New Resolutions

It’s a new year and all over the world people have been setting resolutions (and probably breaking them already in some instances), so I thought I’d set some for my blog(s).

  • To get at least 100 RSS and/or email subscribers. Ideally I’d like to achieve this within the next 3 months, but I’ve got a whole year.
  • To be more organised and be at least 24 hours ahead with blog posts at all times. I was caught out a few times this year where work/other events kept me away from my blog and I’d like to know that the post will go up anyway.
  • To finish the eBook I’ve been working on for College Student Magazine and release it.
  • To create a free eBook and a paid for eBook for this blog and release them.
  • To reach out and communicate with more people, mostly using social media.
  • To enjoy blogging as much as possible.

I’ve deliberately set the number of RSS and/or email subscribers pretty low so that at the end of the year I can hopefully look back and say I achieved it 10 times over, per blog (yeah, it’s a wish right now) – but also to make it easier to achieve. Any of you interested in personal finance might have heard of Dave Ramsey’s Debt Snowball. Basically it’s paying off the smallest debt first to motivate you – this is my first snowflake to start the snowball.

So, do you have resolutions for your blog?


What Do You Need to Start a Blog? The Bare Necessities…

You’ve decided you want to start a blog, only you’re a bit lost on where you go after making this decision. What do you need? As in, really need?

  1. A reason to blog. This is perhaps the most obvious place to start. What do you want to write about? Why? I want to write about blogging because I enjoy blogging, you might want to write about your family so you have a record everyone can look at, any reason you choose is a reason to blog.
  2. An email address. You’ll need this to sign up to whatever host and/or platform/software you want to use. It might be a good idea to get a specific email address for your blog and any services you might choose to use with it. I would personally recommend Google, they’re free and you can set up some good security on there.
  3. A blog host. Depending on your blog software you might need to choose a separate blog host, I would recommend BlueHost as they’ve been brilliant with my other blog. Decide what software you want to use and look at what they recommend to host them.
  4. Blog software. If you are choosing a hosted blog software/platform such as Blogger or WordPress.com then this will be pre-installed. If you are choosing self-hosted then you need to choose your software and install it.
  5. A domain. With any form of blog you should get a free subdomain  (such as rosemaryjayne.wordpress.com). If you are paying for a host you might well get a domain for free (such as RosemaryJayne.com), or blog platforms may offer you the option to purchase one.
  6. A theme. This is how your blog looks. Every blog platform will come with a theme installed by default, you can choose among the various themes offered or create your own depending on what hosting option and/or platform you chose. I would recommend picking something other than the default theme as a lot of people don’t – and looking exactly the same as everyone else makes you blend in.
  7. Content. This is the big, must have, part. You need to actually put something on your blog – what that is, is entirely up to you. You can use photos, videos, writing, anything you can upload can be put on your blog.

Optional Extras:

  • A Facebook Page. If you’re intending to monetize your blog at some point, or want to give fans more possibilities to interact with you then you might want a Facebook page. They’re free and easy to set up – just upload an image and remember to update the page regularly.
  • A Twitter Account. You may already have one for yourself, you might want to have a separate one for your blog, but Twitter is a great way of communicating with people, and as a side effect you can promote your blog as well.
  • A Google+ Page. This is somewhere between a Facebook Page and a Twitter Account/Profile. You can use it the same way as you can Facebook and Twitter.
  • Analytics. If you want to track how many people are visiting your blog, which days they come on, which posts are better than others then you want Analytics. Depending on your platform you will probably end up using either Google Analytics, or Jetpack.
  • Promotion. This is more if you want to become well-known within your niche, and/or monetize your blog – but promoting your blog can be done in many ways, from Social Media, to Guest Posting.
  • A goal. Why are you blogging? This really ties back into the first “necessity” for starting a blog, but do you want to make enough money to quit your current job and just work on your blog? How about promote your offline business? Make new friends around the world? Keep a journal or diary of some kind that you can show to your family in the future?

What would you say are the necessities for starting a blog?


Do You Need More Than One Blog?

A blog should be about one topic. I’m not sure I’ve read that exact phrase anywhere before, but it’s certainly been implied. In Darren Rowse’s “Secrets for Blogging Your Way to a Six Figure Income” he acknowledges that one of the reasons his first blog wasn’t so successful is that it had too many topics and very few readers were interested in all of them.

This is tied into how often you post – if you think you can post at least weekly on each subject then I would say have a blog per subject, but it entirely depends on you. For example you might have a blog who’s aim is just to keep your family informed of the day-to-day goings on in your life, in which case you should keep everything together. On the other hand my favorite hobbies are music (making of), photography (learning from an absolute beginner), knitting (pretty proficient & creative), and reading as well as writing romance novels. I can’t think of many people who would happily read a blog every day knowing that the subject might be any of them – but I might have a chance of being “successful” if I split them up and blog weekly or so.

Of course, if you’re just blogging for the sheer love of it and don’t care if people read your blog or not then do whatever you like – it is your blog!

What do you folks think? Should your blog stick to one main theme, or are you OK with several themes?