MAKE YOUR FONTS VISIBLE ON IMAGES.

You have a great piece of writing and a great photo to put it on. You put the words on the image and what happens? You can’t seem to find that happy color of font to show all of your words because a normal photo has a great number of colors in it. Even if your photo is the sky, you have shades of blue ranging from so pale a blue it looks white down to the dark blues to almost dusk. The answer? Overlay images.

A Note: All overlay images were found in the public domain. The actual photo of the building is mine.

Make Your Fonts Visible

One thing to know, this post is not that long, it’s mostly taken up with image examples.

How do you make it work and still see your image? You know you could put a block of color in the sky and put your text in. But that ruins what you’re going for.

Enter picmonkey.com.

I use picmonkey quite often in tandom with pixlr.com, a free photoshop like product online.

Below is a photo from the top of a parking deck on the campus of UGA. You can see the stadium lights to Sanford Stadium over the buildings in the distance. As you can see, my name doesn’t show very well across the building but very well in the sky.

UGA by Ronovan Hester

Below you see the menu inside of picmonkey.com after you have loaded your image. The thing to know first is to create the overlay image/shape you want to use and then type your text. You can then manipulate all you like and the text will be to the forefront. Of course you can always do it the other way around as sort of a see through a veil or curtain affect.

A-Points to the Overlay Icon in the shape of a butterfly. The overlay does exactly as it sounds, it overlays something on top of the image already showing. You can even pull in your own image to overlay on top of the image you first loaded.

B- For the purpose of what I want to do with this image and text I’ll chose the Geometric options.

UGA Picmonkey Overlay Demo

C-I am choosing the rectangular Geometric option because it actually can be manipulated to any height or width. The square, for example, will obviously adjust to remain a square.

UGA Picmonkey Geometric Demo

D-You are able to make the image height taller or shorter by placing your cursor on the point along the edge and dragging the edge down.

E-You are able to increase or decrease the width by doing the same as the above but along the side edges.

F-By placing your cursor over the small circle over the top of the box and then clicking and holding down your mouse you are then able to rotate or tilt the box however you like. Something to keep in mind is making the text and box lines parallel.

UGA Picmonkey Geometric Manipulaiton Demo

G-Here you see the Editing Box for the Geometric Overlay rectangle I used.

H-There are two boxes, one for the outline of the rectangle, and then below it is the inside of the box, the part we’re concerned with today. The box will start out as black, but you can click on the box signified by “H” here and choose a color. You may first want to use the part signified by the “I” first.

I-To make the box fade to transparent you increase the Fade. I left the color as black here and you can see the letters are still more visible as a whole than before.

J-You are able to do some different Overlay manipulation other than simple fading of a selected color by choosing the Blend Modes option. Simply select the different options within and see what they do. Some are very surprising.

UGA Picmonkey Demo

Below you see the final result with the box having been changed to the dark green of the trees in the background to the right of the building. I chose this color by clicking on the black box image, signified by the letter “H” above and choosing the eyedropper. I then clicked on the tree. I could have also let my cursor go over all the colors inside of that letter “H” box and the Faded Geometric rectangle would have changed colors as the cursor passed over each color.

UGA Faded Ronovan Hester Green Demo

And last we have the copyright in the sky with a red background of a box with the same blue lettering as above. Skies are difficult to have attractive lettering in and this will help you accomplish that. Something to consider with what I did here. I moved the box and text up and then tilted everything back to horizontal. Easy? Maybe for some, but what I did, to make certain the text and the box were in line with each other was drag them both to the bottom and line them up with the bottom edge of the screen. Then I moved them to the top.

UGA Ronovan Hester Sky Demo

You may pull in your own images as overlays by choosing the Your Own at the top of the Overlay options. Following are two examples. One is the UGA G, the image was found in the public domain. The photo is mine. It is followed by the same image with a curtain, found in the public domain, overlay over it.

UGA Image Ronovan Hester G

UGA G and Curtain Ronovan Hester

You may have a lot of fun with this feature. I did have to make the G and the Curtain fit the building image. To do that all I had did was take the corner of the image and drag it to increase the size. Try it, you’ll see how easy it is. The other Overlay image options do the same thing as the Geometric and Your Own.

When you save the image, remember to rename it to something other than the original name of the image. That way you keep your original image in its original form.

You are also able to use these techniques when creating book covers.

Enjoy!



Ronovan Hester is an author, with the debut novel Amber Wake: Gabriel Falling due out in December. He shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer through his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com with the hope if inspiring others to overcome and continue on. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com.

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@RonovanWrites

 © Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2015

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10 Tips to Make Blogging Enjoyable. Traps to Avoid.

Sometimes you start to blog, not having blog tips as warnings, you are all excited and you do things to your blog or that involves blogging that ultimately end up being traps that are like quicksand. They drag you down and deplete you of energy as you work to pull yourself out of what has happened.

What you do with your blog is ultimately up to you, because you want your blog to BE you. It represents part of you that you want to put out there.

Today I want to cover 10 things, traps if you will, that will cost you time, cause you weariness, and create misery. Knowing these things ahead of time might be able to save you. As a blogger now, you can maybe head these things off before they get out of hand. Or if you’re neck deep already, perhaps these 10 tips will give you a start on figuring out what has happened to you.10 blogging tips image#1 Sidebar Craziness or Widget Weary

Whichever you want to call it, those sidebars with all those widgets can have side effects you never thought of.

  1. So crowded no one can see what’s there.
  2. So many graphics it slows loading of the blog page down.
  3. Your page looks like an ad for everything, even though you’re not selling anything. Big turn off.

But does that mean sidebar widgets are bad? Of course not.

  1. If you’re advertising something, go for it, like authors want to get their books out there. But some advice to authors: Switch up those images and their order. Maybe even change the side of the screen your sidebar is on. Why? It makes return visitors look around for what might have changed.
  2. The same thing goes for book reviewers or people who have guests on their blogs.
  3. But if your blog is geared toward images, then widgets won’t make a difference.

Remember, graphics on a blog slow it down loading and slow loading may lead a reader to do one of two things.

  1. Leave because they clicked you on impulse.
  2. Leave because they think something is wrong with your page or their browser and then they’re gone.

One thing about your Widgets you may not realize is that many are never even clicked on. I moved my Widgets to my footer areas and I am still working on their order. But my main goal is to make them useful ones. Which ones do I think are most useful?

  1. Most Recent Posts
  2. Most Popular Posts
  3. About.me
  4. Follow me
  5. Search

Those are off the top of my head. Why am I not going to look for other Widgets? Because those are the ones I remember, which says a lot to me, and look for on other blogs. For some blogs the only way I can find their posts is by using their Most Recent Posts Widget.

#2 Image is Everything, or so your Blog says.

Yes, I am still on images. I try to go minimal with images in my post these days unless I’m just having a moment and decide to go crazy. We all do that at times. That’s fine. Images is a sometimes food. Wait, that’s cookies. I warn you, I’m very visual media oriented today. Weird quotes may show up at anytime. Forgive me in advance.

But regardless, keep in mind that many or most of your Widgets are never clicked on. I like the Most Recent Posts and perhaps the Favorite Posts Widgets. Of course you want a Follow Me Widget and a Search one. Notice these are not graphic intensive and are useful.

A tip about Images: Keep in mind how large your image is in reference to how much storage space it uses such as 250 kb or something like that. The larger the file, the more time it takes to load. Sometimes you need to use high definition image. But then there are times you can optimize your image size and still have great definition. Visit 5 Image Things to Know for SEO for more information about this.

#3 The “I want to be cool” blog moment.

We’ve all done it. Okay, so I’ve done it several times. We do these crazy color schemes and then the possible results begin.

  1. People are scared and run away, okay they click away.
  2. People can’t read because of the color scheme. Check out what color blind people can’t see. A tip here. If you have links make sure to underline them and possibly bold them to signify they are links. Most people understand underlined words signify a link is in those words.
  3. The look doesn’t match the content. By this I mean the feel you have created just doesn’t fit.

Your theme style, color and header need to match what you are promoting. Promoting? Yes, you are promoting your posts, as in you. Will my current theme, layout and everything work for what I am promoting? Maybe, maybe not. I experiment. That’s one thing those of us who for some odd reason think we can give blogging tips do, we are the experimenters. I even have a test blog where I play around with themes to see what they look like and can do.

#4 The Following Frenzy

Yes, we follow, follow and follow even more. For some it’s a trick to get followers and for some it’s a reflex in following people in return. What do you end up with?

  1. If you are WordPress then you have a Reader so full you can’t get through everything.
  2. You have so many “friends” you can’t make any FRIENDS.
  3. You get caught up in the needing to get more and more followers as the Following Frenzy engulfs you.

If you’ve fallen into Follower Frenzy spend 10 minutes each day cleaning up that Follow list. (I might actually take my own advice.) Also you can make sure to follow those ones you really do like by subscribing to their email notifications until you do clean up your list.

#5 I’m Gonna Be Better Than That Guy

Competition in blogging is a thing. You may experience it for a brief moment. Once you do believe me when I say that your readers will notice and some might get turned off. There was a time, prior to two years ago when I had a concussion that brought some reality to my world, when I was competitive. It worked for the big job I had way back when, but for life in general, blogging specifically, it just doesn’t work for me.

  1. Most bloggers are not here to, or at least don’t start out to, be some guru or god of blogdom. Sure, we all want to be read and be popular to some extent but in the beginning we all have that little bit of reality, until we begin to see followers happen and the comments and then we see someone else like our blog who is sort of competition.

They aren’t. You just keep writing, write honestly, and write well.

#6 No One Really Likes Me (Insert Frowny Face, Tear.)

We don’t get the views each day, the follows, the likes. We begin to think no one likes us. We visit blogs and we think how much better our posts are than those. We wonder why no one likes us.

  1. You’re new. Be patient.
  2. Veteran blogs sometimes put out content that is perhaps not as well done as their usual content. Why? Time. Goofiness for the day. Lack of inspiration after blogging for so long.

Don’t worry about them. Don’t WORRY about anyone, including yourself. Just keep writing, write honestly, and write well.

#7 But I HAVE to post because my readers will miss me.

Man, this is a tough one, for new and veteran bloggers alike at times. There is this sense of responsibility to our readers. We think they are just waiting for us to post something and if we don’t they may never visit again. Um, do you do that to blogs you follow? Chill dudes and dudettes. I’ve been in the hospital, been sick, had a laptop go down and people still find me, and they still return. Why? I think in part because I’ve built a community that have my blog in common and met through my blog. Did it happen overnight? Nope. It takes time. Patience. What do I do to build a community and keep readers?

Just keep writing, write honestly, and write well.

#8 Size Matters! BIGGER IS BETTER

We discover how to change the font size and we go crazy at first. It’s not a good thing. You should really only use a different sized font for a heading of a section/topic. Think of how I have been using font size in this article. I know sometimes we will use all sizes of fonts, but make that a rarity. Looking at a page full of every size of font imaginable gets eye weary. Also by using your font sizes in a uniform way throughout your articles, you somewhat train your regular readers to know what to expect. And you do need those section headings at time to break up long passages of text.

#9 My Writing Is Amazing and I am an Original and need not worry about standards.

Have you run across those blogs where the entire thing is one paragraph and about 700 words long? Punctuation is by accident? Capitalization happened because of auto-correct somewhere along the way? Do you know how many times I return to those “I am an Original”?

I’m not saying don’t do it that way. If that’s what you are wanting to do and are going for a certain atmosphere, go for it. Some make a success of it. But it takes a certain type of writing to make it work. For most blog readers, they want to click and be able to read and have a pleasant experience without having to figure out what in the world or how in the world they are reading.

#10 I have to write like this because they expect it.

No, I’m not referring to #9. This is about writing about certain topics or in certain styles. There may come a time in your time blogging that you no longer want to blog about whatever it is that got you started. You have two choices.

  1. Start another blog.
  2. Or just start writing what you want to on your current blog.

I’ve written about just about everything here on Ronovan Writes. But then I did choose a good title for the blog to be able to pull that off. I have hits and I have misses and misses and misses. I’m not trying to build a blogdom here.

I simply write what I feel like writing in that moment.

That is the greatest blogging tip you will ever get from anyone. That’s not a brag. That’s telling you like it is. If you write things you don’t care about you are faking it and faking it can be picked up on quickly by blog readers. Some people write about blog tips every day. That’s something they find fascinating. I couldn’t do that and keep it sounding real. Well I might, if I had broken this one down into one per day.

That’s it for me today. 10 things bloggers get trapped into at some point. 10 things to watch out for and avoid. Avoid those traps and you’ll have a pleasant blogging experience for a long time to come.

This article goes somewhat hand in hand with another of my articles I wrote sometime ago called How to Survive the Blog Life. It’s the number one article on my blog.

Much Respect-Much Love

Ronovan

Ron_LWIRonovan is an author, and blogger who shares his life as an amnesiac and Chronic Pain sufferer though his blog RonovanWrites.WordPress.com. His love of poetry, authors and community through his online world has lead to a growing Weekly Haiku Challenge and the creation of a site dedicated to book reviews, interviews and author resources known as LitWorldInterviews.WordPress.com.

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

@RonovanWrites

 © Copyright-All rights reserved by ronovanwrites.wordpress.com 2015

The Haiku Challenge Explained 3: Images.

Day three of The Haiku Challenge Explained discusses images.On day one we talked about Ping Backs, Sharing, Comments. and on day two it was Types of Haiku and How.

Many people like to place their Haiku on an image that relates to the message of the poem they have written. These are also good for Pinterest.

Using an image is entirely up to you. Some do, and some don’t use them. I do sometimes and sometimes I don’t. It really depends on how much time I have or the mood I am in.

Images do not influence anything in regards to the Challenge, but sometimes an image is amazing and is just perfect for the Haiku.

There are plenty of sites to get images from. Many people use their own photography. I make my own images using picmonkey.com or/and pixlr.com.

Within the Challenge post there is an image you may include in your post or not. Sometimes it is customized to the weeks Challenge and then sometimes it’s one simply identifying the Challenge.

Image or not, it doesn’t matter. What matters in the Haiku Challenge is a Haiku. That’s it. For some it is just a bit more fun finding that perfect picture to go with it.

Much Love, Success, and Respect

Ronovan

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5 Image Things to Know for SEO

In a recent article I discussed How to Tag Your Blog Right. In that article I mentioned that to increase SEO results and thus visitors and views to your blog does not mean extra work. Tagging your blog content is something you do anyway, so why not do it properly? I also discussed the permalink change that is no extra effort. Extra effort to me is if I have to do research and search for all the things to do for an article. I like to just go with the flow of the mind waves.

Today is another ‘No Extra Effort, Should Already Be Doing It’ thing to, again, increase SEO results. I harp on SEO results. I don’t do this to try and turn you into a tech savvy market yourself machine. I do it to give you the lingo and the basics of blogging and website management. You write it, you build it, don’t you want it seen?

I get in a rush sometimes and don’t always do this. To be honest, as I have said before, I am not so much focused on really pushing my blog to be some monster machine. I’m happy the way I am. That being said, I should be doing these things. Reading about these things might make it SEEM like there is more to do, but it’s not. It’s just you are reading about what you already do. That always makes it sound like work.

5 image things to know for s e o

Image Type or File Type

When you look at images on your computer you see those letters at the end after the . that are usually JPG, GIF or PNG. Those really are QUALITY things to look at. If you want QUALITY at any size go with the JPG. PNG and GIF would just depend on what you have. I notice that at times a site called picmonkey will save a creation in PNG form. This is not to say it is better than others, it just means that the format is good for that image. How do I know this for certain the JPG is the best quality? I took a picture and did something I will discuss in the next point.  The JPG quality sometimes surpassed PNG and GIF greatly.

You are probably wondering how if you have a GIF how you can turn it into a JPG. In WINDOWS you simply open the file then click;

  • File
  • SAVE AS
  • And Choose JPEG from the Save as type portion of the pop up box that shows up. At least that’s how it works with mine. Most will work similarly. Play with it if yours is different.
  • Save

Right about now you are thinking that is a lot of work. Do it a couple of times and it takes you maybe 30 seconds. My apologies if that ruins your day.

Others of you are asking yourself “What difference does it make since the picture looks fine to me?”

File Size or Web Page Load Speed

You’ve written a catchy sounding title, it’s been clicked on and then it just sits there attempting to load. If I am a passerby visitor I’m gone already. If I am a friend and follower of yours I will refresh to see if it works and if not, I might come back later. Sure I will eventually read your post if I remember. If I have 10,ooo followers on my Blog and another 20,000 on Twitter and I might have shared that post with them at Lunch Time in the New York City time zone and am now sharing it in the 2 AM New York City time zone instead, that might mean a bit of difference to you.

This is a little extra work for you. But it’s quick work.

The smaller your File Size for an image the faster your load time. But be careful of your quality. Reducing File Size means reducing the number of pixels per inch. As you reduce the number of pixels you are basically taking away detail of the image.

  • DynamicDrive has something called Image Optimizer that is free to use online. You can choose a URL to load or an image from your computer. You can convert to a different type, and then compress.  The really great part? You can then scroll down and look at the original photo and compare to the different reduced file sizes for what you like. Yes, they get bad toward the bottom, but the first couple are pretty good. And depending on your purpose for the image, that -21% image might be nice enough. Then you just save the image you want and move on.
  • I Optimized the same photo in all three file types and the jpg was by far the best quality.
  • What you have below is the original photo in JPG form, then reduced by 21% in JPG form, then by 19% in GIF  and then the PNG is the only one they offered.

collaborationstallcollaborationstall_21collaborationstall_19collaborationstall_4Extra Bonus? Less space on your computer taken up as well if it’s something you are just using for a blog post and not a family photo.

Now you know about quality file types. You know about compressing or resizing your file types. Now onto something else that’s important and we will discuss it in three forms. Why? Because there are three different forms

Naming Your Images

File Name or Image Name

This is the name you give it on your computer and then load it to your site or blog. Think key words and simple English. Don’t jam it full of buzz words. Let’s say you have an image of a sunset. Suggested File Name;

  • pink-sunset-over-ocean.jpg

Basically you describe what is in the image with the most important words first, just in case you use too many characters. In a way you are ‘tagging’ your images. Basic and to the point. If you had a vehicle you would put in the details of the vehicle such as blue-honda-accord-2007-se.jpg or something like that. Your images have to have a name so why not make them useful for you and SEO. I have done a bad job of naming some of my images in the early stages and spend forever looking for that one image I need.

Alt  Text

If you look in the Media portion of your site or blog you will see something called an Alternate or Alt Text box. Fill that out. Don’t leave it blank. When you load the image you will already be on this screen with this field staring at you. What do you do? One simple thing would be to take the file name and just replace the dashes with spaces. I know that sounds simple but that is one suggestion. You can also give it a different name such as;

  • sunset over laguna beach pacific ocean

Now you have two different wordings for the same image for the SEO to see. Just remember to use the important words first.

Title

The great thing here is that for WordPress.com users this is already filled in. Now you can always change it for a third descriptive and short blurb. If you have a site or blog that doesn’t fill in the Title go ahead and put something in there. There is no 100% answer to if it does or does not impact SEO but why not? You can even just copy and paste the ALT Text blurb if you like.

So why the big deal about naming?

There are tools out there for the visually impaired that actually read your images. Also SEO reads your images and if you have an image at the beginning of your article or post and there is nothing to read but gibberish File Name numbers that came from your camera then that search is going to skip right by you. I am not certain how far into your content a search goes but make sure those first couple of of paragraphs, images included, have important words in there.

Much Respect

Ronovan

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Blog Tip: How to do a ping back. It’s more than you think.

WordPress has changed a few things on the tech side since I first wrote this about 2 years ago, so here’s an updated take on things.

Ping backs.

A lot of blogs talk about ‘put a ping back to my blog’.

All a ping back is, is you copy the URL of an actual post into your post. I know that sounds simple, and once you’ve done it a time or two it really is. But let’s talk about how you do it and the different ways to do it.

First let’s talk about the word Ping. What a blogger is asking you to do is to have your blog speak to their blog post. That’s called a Ping. By using the URL of the blogger’s Post within your own Post, you create that first step to a Ping.

Now, to make the link active and carry out the actual Ping Back, you need to do the following in WordPress:

  1. Decide if you are going to have the URL visible on your post or if you would rather it be hidden within a word. Some people like to say “Click HERE to see the rest of the entries for the contest.” You can actually hide the URL within the word HERE in the previous sentence. You can even hide it within an image.
  2. You’ve decided on the type of Ping Back you want to do. If you want it within a word like ‘HERE’, or perhaps using the URL just as it appears in the address bar, highlight the word or URL, then click on the Insert/edit link icon in your Toolbar. The icon looks kind of like a paperclip.
  3. After clicking the icon you will get a pop up on your screen where you place the URL within. Do that and then click the Blue Box with the White Arrow in it. You’re done.
  4. If you are placing the URL within an Image, click the Image and then Click the Insert/edit link icon in your Toolbar and repeat #3.

It can be a link in the words you type, you know like a hyperlink thing where it says click HERE to go to something. Well HERE is not the actual URL. HERE is just the word the URL is hiding behind so to speak. An example of a page you could do a ping back for is an About Me. (To learn how to put a link so it is in a word instead of that long ugly URL format, click HERE for a step-by-step with images and you will leave this page. Thanks to Wendy Kate in comments for giving me the idea of noting this putting the link to my article here.)

An example would be like when I suggest putting a ping back to my Haiku Prompt Challenge.

The URL not to use as a Ping Back because it is to a page not a post: https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/

The URL not to use as a Ping Back because it is to a category page not a post: https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/category/haiku-prompt-challenge/

For the week of this article the challenge post URL to use is: https://ronovanwrites.wordpress.com/2014/10/06/ronovanwrites-weekly-haiku-prompt-challenge-13/

Notice the date and the challenge number included for the one to use. Also note the word category in the second one not to use.

Well that’s about it. I hope that ugly little thing that tech people try to make sound kind of difficult is a little easier now.

 

Much Respect

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