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Tips for Probloggers from Getting Real – the new e-book by 37 Signals

Rachel CunliffeHi! This is Rachel Cunliffe. I’m a blog designer from New Zealand and I thought I’d share with you some problogger tips from 37 Signals’ new e-book, “Getting Real” (which is selling very well).

If you haven’t come across 37 Signals’ products such as Basecamp, Backpack, Tada, Writeboard and most recently, campfire, it’s worth your time to find out what they offer. I’m finding Basecamp invaluable for managing my blog design clients.

As I read the e-book I realised that there’s also a lot of insight, encouragement and tips for (pro)bloggers. In fact, 37 Signals recommend their book for anyone who is an entrepreneur, designer, programmer or marketer working on a big idea. Their thoughts echo many of Darren’s posts here at Problogger too.

Here are 10 tips from the book along with some comments. [Read more...]

Movable Type Style Generator

Movable-Type-StyleBlog Herald just pointed to a way to get a simple template for your Movable Type blog at Movable Type Style Generator. You start the process by choosing a layout and then have the ability to adapt it by changing colors.

The layout is pretty simple and not amazing in terms of style but it will be useful for beginner bloggers who want a quick and easy way to get a blog up that doesn’t have a default style.

Simplify your Blog Design for Mobile Viewing

Regular ProBlogger reader – IO ERROR – has written a post titled Give your blog design a spring cleaning which might trigger some interesting discussion. He does so after designing a theme for his blog that can be read on a smart phone or other mobile device and realizing just how poorly designed many blogs are when viewed in this way.

How to Create a Blog Theme from Scratch

ProBlogger.net’s blog designer Rachel Cunliffe has started a series of posts that I’m sure many of you who love to play around with your blog’s templates will enjoy. In her post Creating a blog theme from scratch she outlines where she’d headed with it. Her 7 steps are:

  1. Consulting with the client
  2. Constructing a wire frame
  3. Constructing an initial design idea in Fireworks.
  4. Converting the design into the (WordPress/MovableType) template files
  5. Tweaking the design to suit
  6. Re-addressing the blog’s design after it’s been used for a month or two
  7. Blog maintenance

While I’m no designer (and suspect I never will be) I’m looking forward to reading more on how a pro blog designer does it.

Free Studio Designed WordPress Theme

One of my favorite blog design houses, The Blog Studio, have released a second free theme for WordPress 1.5 and 2.0. It’s called Liquid Summer and you can see it in action here. It’s a three column design and has a nice feel about it (even though that green is a little hard on my retinas on my screen.

The cool thing about it is the ‘liquid’ content section that expands and shrinks depending upon how big your reader has their browser window.

Of course the problem with free themes is that they are not unique – but it might suit some bloggers who are just starting out and saving up for a unique pro design.

Liquidsummer

Optimizing your Title Tag for SEO on 3 Different Platforms

This post has been submitted by regular contributor – Aaron Brazell

A lot has been made of SEO as it comes to blogging, both here at Problogger and elsewhere. If you are a regular reader of this site, then this is especially critical to you. You read this blog because you want to know how to most effectively leverage your blog to make money. A lot of those earnings will come on the back of traffic from search engines.

A few weeks ago, we looked at how to get a very effective integration of Adsense into your WordPress-based blog. I realized as I interacted with you in the comments that my affinity for WordPress would help many out but that there are a large portion of you who use non-WordPress solutions.

Today, there’s another tip I’d like to pass along – one that Darren turned me onto and that I have been implementing across my blogs. It’s optimizing your <title> tag for Search Engines. Specifically, how to implement a “Entry Title – Blog Description” style title scheme. This time, I’ll cover more than WordPress.

The Importance of Title Tags

I’m preaching to the choir when I tell you that title tags are important. They could very well be the most important piece of your blog. We know a couple of things about title tags.

  1. Title tags describe a page. They are a one line summary of what the page is about. The common (and semantic) understanding of the tag is to wrap the title of the site. Unfortunately for many people, the title of the site is completely un-descriptive of the content of the blog. For example, my blog is called “Technosailor”. If I put this in the title tag, search engines really have no clue as to the content of my site. It means nothing to spiders. It would be much better for SEO to place a keyword-rich description (e.g. “Technology, Blogging and Politics”) in the title tag.
  2. It’s the Title Used in SERPs! The content of your title tag is what will be displayed in search engine results. Before I optimized Technosailor to use a “Entry Title – Blog Description” titling scheme, I had results like this in Google:

Okay, Title Tags are Good, but How Do I Tweak Them?

Depending on the blog platform you use, and the theme/template in use there are a few options.
[Read more...]

How to: Placing Adsense Strategically Between Posts

Greetings, fellow Probloggers (and those who aspire to be probloggers). It’s somewhat surreal to be posting here. Darren’s highlighted who I am pretty well (though I’m not sure where he dug up that photo!), so I’ll simply add that my strength lies in WordPress. I have been an active part of the WordPress development community for some time, so it will be natural to pass along some things I know from my experience with the platform. Some of the tips I write about will be very easy for some, and hopefully there will be entries that challenge even the most advanced. As long as someone is learning, I’m happy.

A few days ago, Darren posted an entry about ad placement that took an interesting turn in the commentary that followed.

Commenter Tom asked:

What is the plug in that you use to put the ads between the 2nd and 3rd post, or do you do so manually?

That, my friends, is the tip of the day. WordPress is a very flexible platform that allows for quite a bit of “munging” to make things work right. For starters, the basic building block of WordPress is a block of code called “The Loop”. It is called that because, literally, it is where the posts for a given page are “looped” through repeatedly to be displayed on the blog.

The standard Loop in the index.php file, is a block of code that might look a bit like this: [Read more...]

Do Ugly Blogs Convert Better?

I’ve been meaning to link to and comment on Robert Scoble’s post on The role of anti-marketing design (or how ‘ugly’ designs often do better – especially with AdSense). He refers to ‘plentyofffish.com‘ as an example of one site that is reportedly making some big dollars from AdSense despite it’s fairly humble design.

My reaction to Robert’s post is twofold:

1. I don’t want to agree – I appreciate good design in all aspects of life. I like blogs and websites that have obviously had some time put into the way that they look. I also find myself reacting against ‘ugly’ on some levels (yep I’m a bit of a snob – but it’s the way I’m wired). That doesn’t mean I ignore or avoid poorly designed sites – I just am not drawn to them as much and they have to have something really worthwhile in terms of content to get me past their look.

I do believe that well designed blogs have some distinct advantages in terms of branding, marketing, creating first impressions, being stickable and with advertising optimization.

2. There’s some truth in the idea that ‘ugly converts well’ with some forms of advertising – I’ve seen many examples of sites that will never win design awards that are very profitable. I’ve also owned a couple of blogs that have proved it to me also.

[Read more...]

Time Stamps on Blogs – How Many Does a Blog Need?

Rachel has been asking some interesting questions about Time Stamps on blogs in an attempt to de-clutter them.

I think it could be an interesting discussion so head over and have your say.